Tue, 20 September 2022
"The best day in your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. It is an amazing journey, and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins." —Anonymous
We wake up each day, often in our own bed, in the home that is ours whether directly or indirectly, and our mind too begins to wake up as well. The wheels turn by habit, and it is the habits we have cultivated that determine how we perceive the world, its possibilities, therefore our possibilities, the possibilities that the day will bring. Not expectations, mind you, which are different and actually distinctly subtly ruinous as when we have expectations, we close our minds off to any other possibilities that may delight, enliven, and deepen the beauty of the day. To awake each day and to hold our minds open to what could be, rather than narrowly focusing on what must or should be, our lives begin to change in the most amazing and beautifully wonderful ways.
So how do we give ourselves the best chance to make today the best day of our lives? Well, it all begins with each of us, as we have the leading role in our story that is our life journey.
Today I would like to share with you 7 ways you can give the best chance to making this the best day of your life.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #340
Sun, 4 April 2021
Today on the podcast, the creators of the new book Artists in Residence join me to talk about not only their collaboration, but also how readers can find inspiration to look at their own sanctuaries as a haven, decorating it in such a way as to nurture presence and the unique creativity each inhabitant would like to share with the world.
Melissa Wyse is the writer and through her research, so many details largely unknown to the wider public are shared about each of the 17 artists' residences and their life stories. Kate Lewis brings to vivid imagery each of the intimate spaces with her illustrations. yYou will find yourself looking at all of the detail, going back and forth between the written word and the painted peek to gain a sense of how the artist lived. Not only a book to feast upon with the eyes, but inspire you to honor your own gifts, find time to explore and share them and motivate others to do the same just as Kate and Melissa have done.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast304
Sun, 19 April 2020
Today's episode is a favorite of listeners from the third season of the show. As we all spending more time inside, I thought listeners may enjoy some inspiration for making their time in our slower schedule more enjoyable and comforting.
SUBSCRIBE to the Podcast on your favorite podcast listening platform:
Wed, 14 August 2019
Each time I have finished reading a beauty book that offers advice I welcome into my regular routine, I think there will be no need to read another book. But the truth is, as we know, as we grow older, so too does are skin; consequently, our need to understand how to best take care of the skin at the age we are become necessary.
Since the publication of Ageless Beauty: The French Way by Clémence von Mueffling, TSLL readers continued to recommend it, and it wasn't until this summer that I purchased it and read it in one afternoon and evening. I highly recommend it if you are looking for specific beauty product recommendations for your skin at every stage of aging - jeunesse (20-35) to maturité (55-older).
Sharing not only specific beauty routine ideas but also offering detailed explanations so that readers can understand why they are doing what they are doing to justify the investment, the book will be a resource I return to in the future as well when I begin to step from plénitude, as she describes 35-55.
But beauty when it comes to products for skincare and makeup are not all that is covered. She writes about food, exercise and carriage, as well as hair and perfume.
Today, what I'd like to share with you are 22 beauty secrets that caught my attention and that I either have found to be high advantageous or are new ideas I am now incorporating into my routine. Let's get started.
~Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as much more detail is shared than what is shared below.
1.Regularly and properly hydrate your skin
A skin's quality determines the aesthetic beauty of one's exterior appearance. "Well-hydrated skin that is dewy and glowing optimally reflects light in a flattering way that makes it look almost like silk."
2. Attention to one's skin must be a regular routine to see the difference you are seeking
3. Attend to proper posture
4. Adopt a cleansing routine that properly cleans and cares for your skin
Mueffling advocates for washing your face twice (the first time to rid your face of impurities, pollution and makeup - preferrably with a creamy product; the second, to clean the topmost layer which "optimizes the skin's natural protection and regeneration which primarily takes place while you're sleeping"). And while I have only been washing my face once each time I wash my face - in the morning and evening, I have now begun to wash my face twice in the evening as she has suggested.
However, as she reminds, the goal is not squeaky, clean skin as that would be counter to what the desired goal is. Rather, it is about cleansing and caring for our skin so that the serums, oils and moisturizes we then apply will be able to properly penetrate enabling the investment we have made in these products to work as they are intended.
Depending upon your skin type, she delineates the different types of cleansers to consider in chapter 2: milk cleanser, foaming cleanser, cleansing gel, cleansing oil, micellar water and toner.
~NOTE 8/16/2019: In the audio version, I incorrectly pronounced "micellar". The "c" should be pronounced softly, like an "s" in "cell", not a hard c as in "crunch". Thank you for the gentle constructive feedback from listeners.
~read about micellar water and why I added this beauty essential to my cleansing routine a couple of years ago and continue to love it.
5. Apply a toner after cleansing with a cotton ball.
What is the purpose of a toner? As she shares, toners have received a bad rap for being "unnecessarily or overly harsh". Case in point, for the past 10 years, I haven't used one, but did during my 20s. She explains that toners when made properly as the more modern, natural toners are that are available, "use plant essences to deliver targeted ingredients deep into the skin". The reason for using a toner after cleansing and before you apply your serums and moisturizers is to make sure that what follows will be absorbed effectively.
~I recently began using Clarins Camomile toner per her recommendation and find it be soothing, as well as affordable.
6. Make sure your skin is pat dry after cleansing and toning and before applying any serums or moisturizers
7. Start early and be consistent
8. Find a quality hydrating moisturizer as it is essential to your skincare routine
I finally found a moisturizer that works well, especially in the arid climate that I live in - La Mer. However, she recommends many moisturizers at varying price points, some below and some above what La Mer is priced.
9. Apply any oils or serums on BEFORE applying your moisturizers
I have read conflicting commentary on which should come first, but I am trusting Clémence on this one. Whether you apply a serum or an oil after your toner, apply it after your toner and before your moisturizers (face and eyes). Why? For the same reason the toner and the second cleansing is used to ensure that the moisturizers can properly penetrate and do their intended job.
10. Consider welcoming a humidifier into your home
Living in an arid climate, for some reason it took me four years to follow this sage recommendation. However, if you live in a tropical or humid climate, there is no need as the moisture that the humidifier provides is already done naturally in the environment in which you live.
Why a humidifier? Remember, the goal is to regularly and adequately hydrate your skin, and especially during your sleep, by keeping your skin hydrated you enable the products to not have to be asked to do more than they are capable of, but your body retains more moisture offering that healthy glow you are looking for.
~1st recommendation (what I use in my home) Honeywell Germ-Free Humidifier (the previous link a model no longer found, this new model is its equivalent and comes highly recommended - Honeywell Cool Moisture Humidifier)
~2nd recommendation Pure Enrichment Mistair humidifier
11. Apply a spritz of thermal spring water
After finishing your evening beauty cleansing and moisturizing routine, spritz a bit of thermal spring water on your face. As well, after cleansing in the morning, apply for a a bit more hydrating and extra dewy glow. Blot off gently after letting it sit on your skin for about one minute.
~I am not using after her recommendation Avène's Thermal Spring Water, and based on the size of the bottle, I will have it for some time.
12. Find and use a hydrating and healing lip balm
It has taken me a long time to find a lip balm that does just these two things, and it was found after reading this book. Bioderma's lip balm stick will cost you $4.90 at the most and is soothing and exactly what I was looking for. Apply throughout the day and especially just before going to bed.
13. High SPFs are a good idea, let me explain AND consider reducing your time in the sun even when you are wearing sunscreen
Perhaps you have heard it as well when you share with others that you are wearing SPF 50 or higher, "beyond [insert number], the SPF doesn't matter". First all, that is incorrect, and second of all, it's absolutely incorrect! Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest. Mueffling explains that SPF is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin and can be used to approximately how many minutes you can remain in the sun without burning. So yes, wearing SPF 60 as I do, especially on your face, it will save you money and time.
But let's back-up what is the difference between UVA (which sunscreens do not protect against) and UVB (which sunscreens do protect against). Understanding the difference has motivated me to stay out of the sun as much as possible during the highest and most direct sun exposure times of the day. UVA (the long waves responsible for aging) are the most harmful because they can cause "the most injury to our cells' they are able to reach inside cells and damage the genetic code, impacting the cells' ability to produce good-quality collagen, hyaluronic acid, and the other proteins needed for proper functioning". UVB rays (the short waves responsible for burning, redness, pigmentation and the superficial damage that occurs immediately after sun exposure) can be protected against with sunscreen (when applied regularly).
So, consider limiting your sun exposure and consider increasing the SPF.
14. Help your skin out while you are traveling, especially on the plane, and refrain from drinking alcohol while in flight
15. Avoid spritzing your face while traveling (plane) as it actually will dry your skin out even more
16. Moisturize your hands regularly
Hand creams to try:
17. Add a facial massage to your weekly beauty routine
Something that you can do at home, she provides three basic techniques for massaging your face with a moisturizer you already use. As our facial muscles need to not be contracted all of the time, so when we give them a massage we are asking them to relax. A facial massage will help your facial muscles retain elasticity and remain firm.
18. Visit a facialist regularly
Depending upon your age, von Mueffling recommends jeunesse receive a professional facial every season (every three months), plénitude every two months and maturité every month.
By visiting a reputable esthetician you can keep your skin in its best shape, combat problems that may arise quickly and accurately without doing more damage and improve the quality of your everyday skincare routine.
19. Eat skin-friendly foods
Sharing a long list of best foods to eat, at the core of such a food regimen is eating food that is sufficient in healthy fats, low in caffeine and very spicy foods, regularly include citrus and offering diversity and brilliant colors.
20. Your Décolleté Needs Extra Care and Attention
From cleansing to moisturizing, remember to not only tend to your face and neck but the area between and just above your breasts.
21. Exercise Regularly and Well
22. Prioritize Quality Sleep
~Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets from three generations of French beauty editors by Clémence von Mueffling
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Le Mystère Henri Pick (2019)
TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . .
SUNDAY August 11th
MONDAY August 12th
TUESDAY August 13th
WEDNESDAY August 14th
Sun, 7 July 2019
"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun." - from Julia Child's memoir My Life in France
During the month of July, The Simple Sophisticate podcast will be airing top episodes from the archives. Why, you might be wondering, as this is the first summer I've taken July off? Don't worry, I am hard at work in the kitchen, exploring new ideas for recipes and producing the second season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen. Premiering on Saturday September 7th, be sure to tune in the cooking show when it returns this fall.
In the meantime, today's listeners' favorite episode from the archives shared six life lessons from Julia Child. The original episode aired in 2017, and as I have just returned from France, I thought paying homage yet again to the woman who continues to inspire me and so many listeners and readers would be a good idea.
To view the original and updated Show Notes for the episode, click here.
Thank you for tuning in, and be sure to stop by the blog each Monday when there is not a new episode of the podcast as there will always be a new Monday Motivational post to kick off the work week.
~MORE Julia Child Posts/Episodes YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~TSLL's image captured during time spent in Rouen, France, at La Couronne, the restaurant that she credits for beginning her love for French food. View the entire post on my experience here.
Sun, 23 June 2019
"San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus of the world — one of the really urbane communities in the United States — one of the truly cosmopolitan places and for many, many years, it always has had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world."—Duke Ellington
In 2002 I began my career in teaching - my first job was teaching 9th grade English in a small town at the bottom of South Lake Tahoe in northern Nevada. And on occasion, maybe two or three, I believe it was two, times I made the four hour drive to San Francisco for long weekends. I found a small boutique hotel near Union Square, walked and drove the hills (becoming more proficient with a clutch than ever before) giving my calves an exquisite workout, enjoyed a delicious brunch at the Empress Hotel with my mentor who showed a bit more of the city to me on a long holiday weekend, as well as drinks at the Top of the Mark, but each of my visits was well before Google Maps and the entire tech sector engulfed Silicon Valley and the city by the Bay, so I wasn't sure really where to go and just visited as far as my feet and my comfort would take me.
Fast forward sixteen years, and I finally had the opportunity to return to San Francisco.
Since before moving to Bend, it has been on my list of places to visit. After all, it is in many ways the West Coast's New York City. Understandably, each city is uniquely its own, but having visited Los Angeles, Seattle and many times Portland, Oregon, San Francisco isn't quite like any other west coast urban destination. In fact, I have to agree with Cecil Beaton,"San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities". Now, New Orleans certainly is a destination unique infused with French and Spanish cuisine and history, but San Francisco involves more ease and community than any other major urban city I have visited, sports the most delectable food options, offers transportation that is varied and easier than any other American city I have traveled, as well as a temperate climate that is never too extreme in any season. Again this is my opinion, but perhaps Twiggy is right, "I’m just mad for San Francisco. It is like London and Paris stacked on top of each other".
But I am getting ahead of myself gushing about San Francisco. I'd like to share with you all that we experienced in a mere 72 hours this past week, offer up some recommendations, and perhaps encourage you to either visit or return to the Paris of the West (an old term used primarily in the late nineteenth early 20th century largely because of the three waves of French immigrants arriving in San Francisco beginning in 1849 with the Gold Rush, in 1852-53 when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III offering a national lottery of trips to California to rid the country of his intellectual opponents, and a third wave of many women and children as in San Francisco's early days, the city was comprised of 90% men. In short order, in 1852, six thousand of the city's 36,000 residents were French). No wonder I love this city so much. :)
I've organized today's episode/post into the three fundamental parts for any trip to any country/city to be most successful. Thinking of it as the tripod foundation of traveling with ease: knowing how to get around to wherever you want to go (transportation), knowing you have a comfortable and safe place to sleep at night, and knowing you will be fed to satisfy your appetite. Where to eat, sleep and get about.
Once these three decisions are made, reserved and settled, I am able to loosen up on the itinerary and also relax and look forward to my trip.
Let's begin the 72-hour visit to San Francisco. The good news is you don't have to make your plans too far in advance to still have a wonderful experience. Case in point, for our trip last week, the trip was decided upon in April. Plane tickets and hotel arrangements were made, and then one month prior to the trip, dinner reservations were made as well. The only piece of the three part puzzle was to tend to the on-the-ground transportation, which I had researched, and will talk about more below.
~Fisherman's Wharf - classic fishermen’s boats docked in the bay.~
When to visit:
"The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco."
Depending upon the weather you hope to experience, as one of our Uber drivers who has lived in the city for decades shared with us, don't come in June, July and August and expect traditional summer temperatures. Nope. While there is the rare extremely warm day as there was a couple of weeks ago, the average high in the summer is low 70s - expect the fog to roll in and out throughout the day and if you're by the bay, the wind will rip through in the afternoon.
If you are looking for the idyllic weather, our driver, after sharing Twain's quote above, suggested coming in September and October. I quickly took note. The rain will abate in April and not truly return until November. Again, taking the advice of the driver, so readers who live in the Bay Area or who have lived in the area, please do confirm or correct.
Also, we traveled during the work week. The opportunity to arrive on a Tuesday and return on a Thursday was perfect for the pace of everyday life. Nothing was too extremely tourist-laden (there was still an abundance), the evenings were very quiet on the street as we had a street-side window, and traffic at the airport and getting about was as would be expected in any work day scenario - rush-hour, etc.
Whenever you visit, bring layers. One day we both were kissed by the sunshine more than we expected, but in the evening we needed a jacket. My mother packed her light-weight cashmere scarf, which was perfect. I saw many people with scarves. What did I forget, of all things? A scarf. I won't forget again. It is a city in which to wear a scarf.
How to Get Around Once You Arrive
~waiting for the airport shuttle to take us to the BART airport stop~
Where to Stay
While my list won't be long in this section, what I can share with you is where we did stay during our trip and why I highly recommend it. I know it will not fit everyone's budget nor be what everyone would prefer, but if you are looking for the following, you will be very happy with The Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf:
~Fisherman's Wharf seen directly out our hotel room window.~
~wallpaper in the bathroom~
Where to Eat
As one Uber driver who has lived in the city for 22 years told us, San Francisco has always had a strong food culture. Boasting 5000 restaurants, whatever type of cuisine you prefer, you will be able to find it. While he couldn't guarantee it would be delicious fare at every destination, he did note that you can find many wonderful places throughout the city and Bay Area. So let me share with you four places I HIGHLY recommend.
~the scrambled egg plate and avocado toast~
~the dining room for Boullettes Larder (open to the public for breakfast and lunch; private group dinners in the evening)~
~Bouli Bar (open for lunch and dinners for the public)~
~Pistachio Cake with strawberry ice cream~
~the entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley~
~the menus - guests can keep them~
~dessert: Savarin cake with fresh summer berries and candied pistachios~
Now it's time to tailor it what you love
Each one of us who visits San Francisco will come to the city for different and special reason. As I shared in last Friday's weekly newsletter with subscribers, my visit was all about the food in preparation for The Simply Luxurious Kitchen's upcoming second season. And the city did not disappoint. However, there were a few other places we took the time to see and experience, and I'd like to share them below in case you too might be curious to check them out.
~Ghirardelli's Square in the background, park in the foreground~
With the 72 hour trip nearing an end, we decided to hop in an Uber to take us to the airport as we didn't want to lug our luggage onto BART amongst the crowds, although, it wouldn't have been impossible to do, we were just tired. In a swift 30 minute time period, leaving from our hotel, we were at the airport ready to return to Bend.
While I knew we had soaked up every minute of our trip seeing and exploring and eating, we also were able to take a nap each day which for me was absolutely necessary. But even with the naps, I slept deeply and quite more at length this past weekend than I have in awhile. What a pleasure this trip was, and I am thankful it is only a 90 minute flight away. Needless to say, with even more recommendations from readers, and places I look forward to visiting again, I look forward to returning.
"Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart. You want to linger as long as possible." —Walter Kronkite
Be sure to stop by the blog later in the week for a detailed post on Chez Panisse.
~None of this trip was sponsored and all was entirely planned according to my own curiosities and predilections. However, there are some affiliate links.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Traveling Alone Well, episode #220
~French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux, episode #216
~Written and Co-Produced by Mindy Kaling, starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Reid Scott (VEEP)
~Support women in Hollywood to promote multi-dimensional, diversity in age, ethnicity, life-experience and the varied representation of women that inspires women and young girls to be the hero of their own lives and others, not the playmate in someone else's story. Learn more about the statistics of women in Hollywood. While the numbers are gradually improving, they is progress to be made, and when we go see films that support what we truly applaud and wish to see more of, producers and film executives follow where the money is.
~All images via TSLL, any image with Shannon in them were taken by my mother (thank you Mom!)
Sun, 9 June 2019
"Across the world, despite all prejudices and beliefs against it, singlehood is the growing trend." —Elyakim Kislev , author of Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living
It is highly beneficial to understand the construction of our beliefs regarding singledom, so that after discarding the myths and acknowledging the realities, we can "freely choose whatever lifestyle fits [us] best".
With the life expectancy in most developed countries rising to just under 80 years, it is a statistical probability that all of us will be living single or solo at some point in our lives whether by choice or circumstances, and consequently, knowing how to enjoy being single is a skill that would be most beneficial to acquire.
Depending upon our innate temperaments, which is different than our personalities, each of us is more predisposed to be comfortable or prefer more or less social engagement. And depending upon what we most enjoy doing in our careers and in our free time, we will be more or less inclined to seek out companionship for long or short durations.
Elyakim Kislev's new book, which was released in February, includes extensive research and an abundance of studies that demonstrate the reality of our modern world that no matter what you prefer, will enable each of us to live more consciously and thus more fully, as well as support others in our lives who choose to live in a manner we may not prefer or choose.
The first powerful finding that spoke to me was the acknowledgement of an unspoken truth regarding marriage (these studies involves a large majority of the industrialized world, not just the United States) - why do people step more easily into marriage even with modernizations of the world we live in today.
Studies have actually proven that the 51% of individuals entering into marriage acknowledge that it is "a fear of aging alone or dying without anyone at our bedside that drives us into marriage".
"Marriage may not be such a good way to escape loneliness in old age. Not only do married people feel lonely in surprisingly high numbers, but also long-term singles are often better equipped to deal with loneliness later in life".
Yes, that does then mean 49% of people did not report this as a reason, but that alone should give us pause, especially when we know that the divorce rate is nearly as proportionate and the percentage of a second divorce is higher still. While each couple's situation is uniquely alone, to not address this fear is to place an undeserved burden on individual we are marrying. In fact, studies have proven, when we do address this fear, as those who have never married do, earlier in our lives, the individual is more likely to make the best decision for themselves and thus improve their overall happiness no matter what the decision may be.
Many TSLL readers/listeners know I am single and have been for the majority of my life. Don't worry, this is not a post/episode advocating for being single if you are either already in a happy marriage, happy relationship or wish to be coupled. Rather today's posting will hopefully broaden our understanding of the realities of societal norms, motivations, pressures, expectations, unconscious biases and realities so that whatever your life's journey is and will be, it is one made with a clear mind that has discarded the myths and is then able to make the best decisions for you and the life you wish to lead. True contentment, in other words, is the goal of today's posting.
26 Ways to Ensure Happy Singledom
~Each of these points are discussed in detail in the audio version of this podcast episode. I encourage you to tune in for further clarification of each point or pick up the book Happy Singlehood from which each of these points were inspired.
1.Assess honestly your self-perception of how you define loneliness and where that definition was constucted.
2. Build and continually nurture a strong social well-being
Having a strong social well-being helps eradicate or reduce social loneliness and emotional loneliness as you will have people in your life in which you feel close to and may turn to (emotional), as well as have both intimate and peripheral acquaintances that give you a sense of belonging (social).
~Listen to Episode #92 - Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being - for further discussion on the construction.
3. Conduct a life review: Self-reflect and find peace with your journey thus far
"Happy older singles [have] the ability to look back and gain control over the circumstances that led to being single".
4. Celebrate and exercise the ability to make your own decisions
5. Revel in your solitude - produce your own "show" so to speak
6. Take responsibility for your own contentment
~View a long list of archived posts and episodes on cultivating true contentment or pick up my 2nd book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life
7. Distinguish between the myths regarding marriage and singlehood and reality
Myth versus reality:
"Young people fear being physically vulnerable in old age more than elders [actually] do".
"Fifty-seven percent of the eighteen-to-sixty-four-year old population anticipate memory loss in old age, while only 25 percent of those aged sixty-five and above actually experience it. Furthermore, while 42 percent expect serious illness in old age, only 21 percent of those aged sixty-five and above experience the same."
"While an expectation of loneliness arises among 29 percent of young people, only 17 percent experience loneliness in old age."
8. Foresee and prepare for potential emergencies
In other words, financial planning - engage with it early, often and regularly, craft a living will, construct your own "family" - .
9. Engage with your community for resources, connection and engagement
10. Learn how to socially engage as a singleton in a manner that makes you feel safe and fulfilled
11. Refrain from seeing marriage as a form of "self-validation".
In other words, seek validation from within, as society's values are limiting, dynamic and generalized.
~A post you might enjoy on this topic: First, Seek Self-Approval
12. Use your time being single as a time for self-growth and development - find the road to your truest self
~A post you might enjoy on this topic: Why Not . . . Live Alone for a While?
13. Maintain and strengthen your overall health - physical and mental
~An episode you might enjoy on this topic: The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212
14. If you are a pet person, welcome a pet into your life.
15. Confront the fears that are causing you to assume marriage is the answer to assuage them before you get married for the wrong reasons.
16. Simply be aware of the social stigmas, discrimination and pressures placed on singles.
Doing so will enable you to confront and effectively deal with situations when they arise in a productive way to potentially bring more awareness to the realities and discrimination that exists.
17. Have a positive self-image and self-perception of your life as someone who is single
Present yourself to the world, whether at work or in your personal life as the confident and happy person that you are - some who happens to be single - knowing that is not all that defines you. Gradually, images change when we put a face to the reality.
18. Build your self-confidence
Find work and hobbies in which you feel valued and accomplished - this could be in your career, in your hobbies or in your social network. Be willing to try new things, and as you see that you can learn, change, improve and grow, you begin to realize you hold more power to cultivate the life you love than you may have realized - thus your confidence grows.
~An episode you might enjoy on the topic: Confidence: How to Gain It & Why It's Invaluable, episode #5
19. Consciously avoid the social pressure and discrimination
In other words, your attention gives validation. And if you choose not speak up, what is said or done is deemed as acceptable. Whether it is the conversations you listen to or engage in, the people you spend time with, the films you pay to see, the music you listen to, etc., your time, money and attention are powerful - give it consciously.
20. Speak up and confront discrimination when it occurs
Often people aren't even aware of their bias regarding marriage being the "best" option. Construct a parallel question to those who ask "Why are you still single?" or "I'm still keeping an eye out for you." There are some great ones in the book. Make sure to keep the comment or question equal to what was received so that the speaker can see the error of their words and assumptions.
21. Seek a career or a calling that gives you purpose, in which you feel you are contributing something of value to the world.
22. Find a balance with work and leisure
23. Let your curiosities guide you to seek out educational opportunities for growth
24. Strengthen your three pillars of good health - physical, mental and financial
25. Acknowledge and cultivate manageable household responsibilites
26. Recognize that choosing and embracing being single is not out of weakness or selfishness, but of strength and awareness to connect often more consciously.
"As singles, we know more than anybody else that true independence is actually interdependence."
We liberate ourselves when we recognize there are many different ways to live well in our modern world. And even for those who do not fully or will never accept that there is more than one traditional way to live contentedly and contribute to society positively, as well as giving ourselves the opportunity to be self-actualized, when we model the reality rather than the myth, we encourage others to explore and reach their full potential as well. A more content world is a peaceful world.
If anyone is so fortunate to find a partner to enjoy life with should they wish to and be able to reach their fullest potential without feeling they are limited, confined or lonely in something they "should" be doing, what a magnificent awesome union. Losing such a person, no matter what our age would be heartbreaking, but we can only control and strengthen ourselves, and when we strengthen the muscle of self-reflection, acknowlegement of fears rather than a suppression, we set ourselves free to live well throughout the entirity of our life's journey.
The responsibility each of us has is to not place upon someone else's shoulders that which we are capable of doing ourselves. When we take on this responsibility of cultivating our own happiness and contentment, we will see more clearly what path we truly wish to travel, we will strengthen all of our relationships as we recognize we are interconnected in large and small ways, and we will give ourselves a deep breath of relief and excitement for the next step in our journey forward.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Truths & Myths of the Independent, Single Woman, episode #94
~Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Curry
Sun, 12 May 2019
Today's post and episode is the penultimate episode/post before a new episode returns next Monday.
I want to thank you as readers and listeners for your patience as I had scheduled to take the entire month of April off in order to for the intense time of the school year that is the final weeks prior to AP testing for my juniors. I have never taken so much time off, and while it was scheduled (have a look at season 5's schedule here), it was new.
I certainly found myself coming up with a long list of ideas for upcoming podcast episodes, reading more than a handful of books and discovering Petit Plaisir I cannot wait to share, but it was odd being away from the microphone.
Thank you for understanding, and I cannot wait to share a new episode next Monday as TSLL's first annual British Week begins.
With that said, I wanted to share a listeners' top episode from the second season of the podcast as it speaks to something I am thoroughly immersing myself in, and have been since this last summer. Case in point, the image above. My home is becoming just that, more and more of a home, and a large part of the reason I love it so much is that is it smaller and thoughtfully tailored to the inhabitants (myself and my dogs and occasional guests) that spend time there.
This particular episode, episode #97, shares 11 ways to live small and simply, curating a signature sanctuary that we thoroughly enjoy returning to each and every night and waking up in every morning.
~Read the full show notes of Episode #97 here
I do hope you enjoy.
Sun, 20 January 2019
"Finding an ease with what you are thinking, feeling, the world as it is, not necessarily accepting it, but not resisting it. This is contentment." —Andy Puddicombe
The truth about contentment is that it is different than being happy. We cannot know what it feels like to be happy if we have not been sad, so therefore we cannot feel both simultaneously. The argument may be made that, feeling sad and happy at the same time is possible; that is the definition of a moment being bittersweet. But if you examine such an argument closely, that is why we give it another name - bittersweet - rather than happy or sad.
Contentment resides within each of us. It is not something that comes to us from an external source - someone loving us, success in our hobbies or careers, celebrating an awesome moment in the world around us. Sadness arrives conversely, when we have to say goodbye to someone who has brought much happiness into our lives, when we stumble or hit a road block in our careers or something tragic happens in the world.
But through each of these instances both happiness and sadness, we can be content. Indeed, it is true. We can be content during happy times (which may seem easy to do) and during sad times (which may seem impossible and contrary), but it is true in both instances to be content.
Contentment is a state of understanding yourself. It is an awareness of your strengths, your capabilities, your understanding of how to navigate well in the world no matter what the circumstances. In other words, contentment is a skill that can be strengthened because you hold the keys, the muscles, to either strengthen or let atrophy.
At this point, you may be asking, how do I cultivate and build the strength of contentment. The good news is, it is has been a central topic of TSLL for years, and in fact is thoroughly examined in my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self. In the meantime, you can read and listen to posts and episodes from the archives that go into great detail about how contentment can be attained.
Most wonderfully, when contentment is achieved, our happy moments become grander and our sad moments more bearable. As well, upon understanding and welcoming true contentment into our lives we let go of false means of contentment that are really energy or resource zappers and teasers such as the desire for more and the feeling of lack (which is disquised as "want").
True contentment finds us in the now, not gazing at the future.
True contentment is a state of mindfulness. Meditation can play a helpful role in training the muscle that is our mind to be present, to not be overrun by our thoughts, and help us to engage fully in the moment without asking for more and simply savoring the now.
Truthfully, contentment is possible wherever and with whomever we are with, but initially it is not easy to build in particular moments until we grasp its gifts. Below are two instances when reaching a state of contentment can be difficult initially:
Contentment begins the moment we wake up, when we realize the little beautiful gifts around us - whether it is the peace and quiet of a safe home, the loved ones sleeping calmly or having our home to ourselves, seeing the soft snow fall to the ground, blanketing the yard and neighbood with a paintbrush of beauty, seeing the first light climb above the horizon, hearing the birds begin their business of hellos. But still, the events outside of us, each of the moments listed above, are not what bring you contentment.
What brings us contentment is being able to find, recognize and appreciate them. Because in that same moment, we can easily be noticing that we have woke up too early and wish desperately we could fall back asleep, observe the house that we wish we had cleaned up a bit more, bemoan the fact that our home is full and there is too much to do for others and not enough time to do for ourselves or bemoan the fact that we are waking up alone, or remembering that it is a day of the week that is full of tasks we are not thrilled to tend to, or wishing it wasn't snowing because we will have to drive in it, or lamenting that the sun up because we want a bit more sleep.
You see, it is all about our engagement with the world. Contentment comes from our choice of choosing to recognize the power we have each day to engage in such a way that will open the doors of opportunity to a positive energy.
Contentment doesn't guarantee seemingly much, but upon closer examination, it guarantees a much more fulfilling life that can be savored every single day of our lives. It makes sure that so long as we are in the situation, we will find the goodness, we will find the opportunity, we will make the day better simply by the attitude we bring to it. That energy has a direct effect on our overall well being, and if we are sharing the moment with others, it will have a positive effect on them as well whether they understand it initially or not.
Now, let's go back to those two above mentioned moments that initially are difficult in which to find contement: being by ourselves and being with others who haven't yet welcomed contentment into their lives.
Once you know who you are, you begin to savor days and moments to yourself because being alone doesn't mean you fear what you will find in your own company. In fact, you revel in it.
Spending time with people becomes a joy because you begin to realize the power of the type of people you surround yourself with. You are thoughtful about who you spend your time with, communicate clear boundaries and when you do not have a choice over who you spend your time with you steady yourself to limit the interactions. Listen to episode #92 in which I share The Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being and how to do each of these things when it comes to spending time with others.
The gift of contentment is priceless and it is also free. You don't have to buy one more thing (in fact, you may want to let go of some things), you simply need to understand how to focus on understanding how to cultivate contentment and let go of the pursuit of happiness.
~Concept and Project Planners (many more colors), they sell the signature paperclips as well.
Sun, 26 August 2018
Next Monday, on September 3rd, the fifth season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast will begin.
The first four seasons have covered topics on living your best life, whether that was about self-care, lifestyle, health, decor, travel, relationships, or anything that involves living the simply luxurious life, bien sûr! With now 223 episodes complete, of which there were 22 interviews with guests from the around the United States and France. And of course, each episode concluded with a Petit Plaisir - anything that is a simple pleasure to satiate your sophisticated taste. I look forward to continuing into the fifth season with the same approach - more inspiration for cultivating true contentment, more ideas for building the skills that will enable you to be your best self and reach your fullest potential, all the while sharing insights into discovering how to elevate the everyday each day. As well, more guests, and at the end of each episode - a Petit Plaisir!
Regarding potential guests in the fifth season, if there is an author, a musician, an artist, an entrepreneur or simply an inspiring person you feel The Simple Sophisticate should be introduced to or you want to hear on the podcast, email me and I will do all that I can to invite them onto the show.
And now to Season 5!
As I mentioned in episode #221 and #222, the new season will offer 30 episodes (in previous seasons, 52 episodes were aired). The reason for the shift in amount of episodes . . .
Season 5 Schedule
Below you will find the week-by-week schedule of when new episodes will air. You will see podcast Mondays are circled in blue. You can print this schedule out by clicking here or by clicking on the image below.
Print save the pdf of the 2018/19 schedule
The TOP 10 Episodes from Season 4 based on # of downloads:
~Find all of the podcast episodes here (on the blog), iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Podbean or Youtube. And if you enjoy tuning in and listening to The Simple Sophisticate, I would appreciate your time to share a review on whichever platform you listen. By sharing what you specifically enjoy about the podcast, new and potential listeners will discover exactly what they will find when they tune in. For everyone who has already shared, I want to thank you, as well, as I try to regularly share one review each week upon receiving them as a small way of expressing my appreciation.
Thanks for stopping by and be sure to visit today's Monday Motivational post (as promised, even though there isn't a new episode of the podcast, there is a new post to help start the week well!). Until then, I'll see you in Season 5!
Mon, 14 May 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #208
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
"Health is the outcome of the small choices you make on a daily basis." —Dr. Frank Lipman, author of How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy LifeThe pillars of a healthy life have been enumerated by many an expert, but it was in Frank Lipman's book How to Be Well that delineated and described them in such a way that found me nodding my head in agreement throughout the entire book. The concept of living simply luxuriously adheres beautifully with Lipman's six pillars: what we Eat, the Sleep we get, the Movement we engage in, how we Protect and prevent, finding regular time to Unwind and quality opportunities to Connect all contribute to build a life of good health beyond our physical, but as well including our mental and social lives as well. At the core it is about knowledge and understanding, and just as importantly, it is about understanding the propaganda that swirls around us claiming to offer health hacks, but in reality prevent us from truly living a life of true wellness.
What ideas, products and beliefs should we let go of to live well?1. Counting calories ~Love Food, Love Your Body - 10 Simple Tips, episode #8 ~Why Not . . . Learn How to Cook? ~Why Not . . . Treat Your Body Like a Temple?
2. Sugar~From altering your hormones so that your body is not registering hunger correctly which then makes you eat more as well as increasing your cravings for sugar, sugar as Lipman calls it is "public enemy number one". With 80,000 processed foods on the market, 58% of them contain added sugar and that includes items you would never have thought to contain such an ingredient (granola, pickles, baked beans, protein bars, etc.).
3. Processed FoodsCompared to malware on our computer that jumbles the information in order to confuse, Lipman recognizes that most of us know that processed foods are bad, but we can be bamboozled into eating them never-the-less. When I read Michael Moss' book Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, I was mortified by their antics, but then felt empowered to eat smarter and not fall prey.
4. Prioritizing exercise over sleep
"Sleep is not a luxury; it is an absolutely esential act of daily mainteance, and it is your ally in keeping your brain sharp and youthful."
5. Remove toxic cleaning productsForget most labels, such as "green", "natural" or "with essential oils" as they often do not adhere to U.S. federal law when it comes to hazardous compounds. As well antibacterial products for hands and household use can contribute to drug-resistant bacteria. In lieu of fabric softeners and dryer sheets, Lipman recommends using a little vinegar in the rinse cycle instead.
6. Grooming products with toxic chemicalsCheck out the "Never List" at beautycounter.com to determine which products to look for and to never purchase products which contain them (they also have a downloadable pdf which is pocket-size for easy reference).
7. Multi-tasking~4 reasons to stop multi-tasking
8. Chasing blissInstead pursue a purpose. While it will take time to figure out what gives your life purpose as you come to better understand yourself, your gifts, the world, etc., choosing to pursue a perpetual state of happiness is a fool's pursuit. ~From Seeking Happiness to Cultivating Contentment: A Shift in Pursuit, episode #162
What ideas should we embrace?
1. Fat (healthy fat)Fat does the opposite of added sugar; it is something we need in our diet and it gives us stable, longer-lasting energy, controls hunger and helps to regulate our metabolism. Lipman's rule of thumb when it comes to fats: If it comes from nature, it's probably healthy, and if it's made in a factory, be it feedlot or process plant, it's probably not.
2. Become a savvy food shopperJust as in life it is important to be a critical thinker about the information we receive, this also encompasses the food we purchase. First and foremost, eat whole foods when possible. When fresh produce, local meats and dairy are available, support your local farmers and ranchers that way you know how your food came to be on your table. Lipman shares, "We have an industrial food supply that has favored profit over health for so long that it's made disease-causing foods mainstream and health-giving foods fringe." Food for thought - pun intended.
3. Enjoy brothLipman shares that the collagen in broth is gentle yet nourishing, healing and supportive for overworked and damaged digestive systems as well broth delivers healthy fats, fat-soluble vitamins and minerals to our bodies, counters inflammation and supports the joints and skin, as well it boosts the immune system. A recipe is included in his book for bone broth as well as pairing ideas.
4. Salt (just not highly processed table salt)~As an essential micronutrient, it plays an important role in our body helping it to regulate muscle, heart, nervous system and brain function, as well as blood flow and fluid balance. Lipman reassures that so long as you are "eating a clean, whole-food diet and our seasoning your food with salt to taste, your body makes the adjustments to maintain equilibrium". Just make sure to eat unrefined salt, rather than regular table salt (highly processed salt). ~Listen to my conversation with American expat living in France and cookbook author and cooking class instructor Susan Hermann Loomis in episode #192 as she gives some insight into cooking and eating salt.
5. Simplify cooking~Why Not . . . Keep It Simple in the Kitchen? ~Discover a Capsule Menu: What it is and how to create your own ~Watch the pilot episode of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen, TSLL's new vodcast. Let go of recipes, use a slow cooker, let the quality of the food bring the flavor.
6. Eat the stalksFrom broccoli to cauliflower, even the woody asparagus stalks, these hard-to-digest carbohydrates give good bacteria a feast (the is a good thing). Lipman shares that the prebiotic benefits include ensuring a thriving microbiome. Munch on these chewy options raw or cook them along with the rest of the vegetable.
7. Go to bed when you are tiredOur sleep cycles are smart (which is why jet lag is brutal). When we listen to them, we are listening to a wise sleep sage.
8. Investigate when your sleep goes awryOften when we are unable to sleep, it is a sign that something in our lives needs to be addressed, adjusted or effectively dealt with so we can move forward.
9. Follow a strength training programSince most of us do not work at jobs that require physical exertion, it is important we welcome this healthy stress to onto our physical bodies regularly. Offering protection from disease as well as enabling our bodies to "meet the demands of and carry the loads of life (joints, tends, ligaments, muscles, etc.), strength training can also reduce the risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and cancer. ~Have a look at what I learned when I scheduled time with a personal trainer earlier this year to set up my own strength training routine, episode #201.
10. MoveAny opportunity you have to move, seize it. From the exercise routine you follow, to walking to the market, taking the stairs or getting outside on your lunch break to take a stroll, do so. ~To Get and Stay Fit: Keep It Simple, episode #190
11. Use a foam rollerLipman recommends using a foam roller five to ten minutes a day to massage the tired muscles and tendons we have kept quite sedentary throughout the day. Also, using a roller helps with circulation and kneading sore muscles which also increases the oxygen flow to the brain. ~Shop foam rollers here.
12. Shop at farmers markets when you can~How to make the most of the farmers market no matter where you live ~David Lebovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home, episode #182
13. Dry brush your entire bodySimilar to using a roller, dry brushing your body from head to toe improves circulation. Making strokes with your brush that all run to your heart, making this a habit will also improve your body's glow as dead skin cells are also being removed. ~Shop dry body brushes here and here
14. Become mindfulBeing mindful is the opposite of choosing to multitask. When we choose to be mindful, we are choosing to be present, to be self-aware, to respond rather than react. While being mindful is not something we can do once and make it a default that we do without thinking, it is something that requires of us to be entirely present thus improving the quality of everything we do throughout our days. ~11 Ways to Live More Mindfully
15. Say no to overcommittingOne of the benefits of being mindful is that we are aware of what we are capable of and respond in kind rather than by default. Saying no could be literally saying "no thank you" to invitations or creating "no work zones" in your home. ~Discover how to let go of the busy mentality
16. Rest~An Everyday Necessity: Deliberate Rest, episode #139
17. Commit random acts of kindnessKindness in our behavior, in our words, in our expression of sincere appreciation. When we choose to commit random acts of kindness, we experience what Lipman calls the "helper's high". Physically our bodies do change as serotonin levels rise and cortisol (released when we are stressed) goes down, as well as our blood pressure.
18. Learn something new each weekNot only is it exciting and confidence boosting when we learn something we weren't aware of previously, we are actually helping our brain out as well. By learning new tasks and information, we are creating new neural pathways which "can prevent degenerative diseases like dementia". ~3 part series - The Benefits of Reading
19. Celebrate small victoriesPerfection can be the barrier that stands in our way of celebrating along our journey. Lipman states "This anxious pursuit of perfection can be a hindrance to getting and staying healthy because it denies the reality of nature: Health is a dynamic state, constantly changing and in flux, and it is different for each person. There is no 'perfect point' of guaranteed balance, and striving for it can drive you crazy." I wanted to end on this point because even though the book offers how to live well, we are always on the journey toward refining our lives. We will never reach a point of perfect health and be able to stay there. We must be diligent and regularly apply the knowledge we knew which was reaffirmed today, apply the new information we discovered and continue to learn more about our unique bodies, lives and selves. The first step is understanding and once we know how, we can then go about living well so that we can enjoy our lives to the fullest. ~Perfectionist vs. High Achiever: The Difference
Petit Plaisir:Discover the many benefits of enjoying an avocado Download the Episode
Mon, 19 February 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #196
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
"Style is a simple way of saying complicated things." —Jean Cocteau
With the collections for Fall 2018 being revealed this month, I am always on a treasure hunt to find unique and worthwhile takes on the classics. At the same time, I am reminded as the trends shift each and every season, of the benefits to adhering to a signature style that complements the individual wearing the clothes rather than the individual bringing applause or attention to the trend du jour.
Much of how I have narrowed in on my own style and what has been the muse for simply luxurious style has been shaped by what I have read, observed and learned from French, especially Parisian women. Now, don't get me wrong, there are brilliantly stylish people around the globe, and the classic, effortless approach is not something only seen in Paris. However, the French have claimed it, owned it and demonstrate it regularly. Why? Well, put simply, it works and transcends years and decades of infinite trends that have been paraded down the runways.
Today I'd like to share with you 10 style and beauty lessons I have learned from the French along my own journey of discovering my signature style and how to approach shopping as well as dressing each day regardless of the season. Some have been standing principles of the simply luxurious approach and others are new to me as well in the past couple of years. However, all of them work and enable you to look your best.
1. Less make-up, but still some make-up
The best face to present to the world is your face. Less hiding what your visage is and more showcasing its beauty. Beginning with your skincare regimen, well-hydrated skin will always offer a palette to be enhance ever so slightly, and at the same time, hardly at all. Choose a primer, the proper hued concealor, tinted moisturizer and subtle eye makeup. Choose one feature to bring to the forefront — your lips, your eyes or your cheeks and simply brighten the rest.
~8 Ways to Create Glowing Skin, episode #13
Heels are nice, but heels have their time and place. Flats, whether ballet or boots are smart, versatile and comfortable. And we must not forget, stylish. Purchase well made designs, make sure they fit your foot and wear them for years.
3. Trends? No thank you.
If we are busy chasing down trends, we do not have the ability to hone our signature style. And while discovering our signature style takes time, once we do discover it, the shopping is simpler and less frequent. Whereas when we chase trends, we are endlessly shopping and constantly shelling out money. Remember, let your uniqueness shine. No else will have precisely your style, so you will have do the work of getting to know yourself, your body, skin tone and the most enjoyable, what you love to wear which makes you feel your most confident.
4. Neutral color palette
Neutrals are not just beige, so don't worry. Remember, start with an understanding of your skin tone and work from there. Certain colors can be neutral for you as well. Navy and even prints can be neutral and easy to mix and match with other colors in your wardrobe - polka dots or leopard, for example. Shopping for neutrals and keeping them in your closet enables your items to endure as what you purchase down the road will still have the opportunity to pair with what you already own.
5. Fewer clothes, better quality
Cost per wear. Invest in high priced items if they are well-made with quality fabrics and are classic pieces rather than trends. And most important, you like the item and it fits well (remember to tailor as needed). Less frequent shopping and in the long run, less money spent.
6. Lace over cotton (when it comes to undergarments)
The French and lingerie. Wear beautiful lingerie each day for you and for you. Yes, I repeated myself on purpose. In the United States, some brands would have us believe that it is what we look like to others in our lingerie, but rather it should be how our lingerie makes us feel. After all, we are the one's wearing it and when we feel comfortable we will be comfortable and more confident. Whether it is going about errands, hopping on a plane or going on a date.
7. A luxury investment handbag
Quality accessories make a statement, and a well-made handbag (no exterior label is needed to show the world what you own) completes a look, enables the woman to keep her life and business organized and tucked away all the while going about her business.
8. Find a Versatile Trench
"Wear it on the weekends with jeans, over gowns to formal events, layered with a fur stole when the weather gets colder, over your shoulders during the spring—the possibilities are endless." —Leah Bourne
I am new to this idea, but after reading Leah Bourne's piece for Stylecaster, I could not agree more. Choose a quality trench, one that is the right length for your body that can be worn for day, evening or play. Choose a color and fabric that aligns with your signature style and make it your go-to coat nearly, if not the entire, year round.
9. Trust stripes
A broken record I am when it comes to stripes. Wear them when it comes to tee shirts, wear striped sweaters, striped dresses and even blouses. Stripes are a stunning neutral inspired by the French marinére or Breton top, and as was shared a couple of weeks ago, their versatility makes them a wise and savvy choice.
10. Find your signature style and stick to it
"Parisian fashionistas develop a signature look, and stick with it. They might update their wardrobe with a few trends, but they always stick to a similar aesthetic. This also makes shopping a heck of a lot easier." —Leah Bourne, Stylecaster
The more simplicity we can bring into our lives the less complexity we have to navigate, but initially the process of knowing what to strip away takes time and careful attention. Curating our signature style occurs in precisely the same manner. Check out this post in which I break down precisely how to determine your signature, and then I believe you will find the shopping experience becomes easier and more enjoyable and your style quotient will steadily rise.
~Tune in to French-Living inspired posts/episodes from the Archives:
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~NPR interview with creator David Collins
~Correction from the podcast episode: This series makes over both straight and gay men whereas the original series focused only on straight men. Episode #4 is especially moving.
Mon, 15 January 2018
191: Ask Shannon: Paris Travel Attire, Savvy Investment Shopping, Simple, Weekday Dinner Ideas & Totes
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #191
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
Quality Leather Totes
~The Vintage Tote Bag, by WP + Standards, $195 (monogram available), ships for free in the U.S. if order is over $75
~Leather Passport Wallet, by WP + Standards, $95 (monogram available)
~Able, Mamuye Leather Tote (more colors available), learn more about the company founded on the mission of being "a lifestyle brand focused on ending generational poverty by working with women who have often overcome extraordinary circumstances. We manufacture directly in the communities we wish to impact, both locally and globally, creating jobs and ending the cycle of charity dependency" here. $178
~Mark & Graham's East/West Leather Tote (red, black and navy available as well) $199
~Mark & Graham Brooklyn Tote, new colors, $225
~Madewell's Transport Tote (on sale) $168
~Everlane Day Market Tote, (four colors available), $165
SHOP THE OPTIONS:
How to Know Which Quality Clothing Items to Invest In
I am currently binge listening to the podcasts for the umpteenth time and you speak to quality over quantity frequently, with which I completely agree. However, how is one to determine what brands/items are quality without having to spend a fortune playing trial and error... Thanks so much in advance! Keep up the awesome work, I look forward to every post and podcast! —Jennifer
Follow these tips:
Simple Seasonal Eating for a Busy Schedule
What to Pack for a Trip to Paris in the Spring
SHOP THE OPTIONS BELOW: [show_shopthepost_widget id="2988959"] ~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:
~Ask Shannon Episode of 2017, episode #163
~How to Cultivate Your Style All Year Long, episode #149
~International Travel Prep List, episode #183
Mon, 4 December 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #186
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"It is paradoxical, yet true, to say, that the more we know, the more ignorant we become in the absolute sense, for it is only through enlightenment that we become conscious of our limitations. Precisely one of the most gratifying results of intellectual evolution is the continuous opening up of new and greater prospects." —Nikola Tesla
Have you heard someone else or maybe yourself say something similar to the following: Well, when you reach a certain age, things just start falling apart; or I am forty. I should have it all figured it out by now; or I'll never be able to [insert anything from touching your toes, to be being able to find real love, to earning a certain amount of money or travel around the world].
A year of quality continues. As we began this month-by-month examination of how we each can improve the quality of our lives in a variety of different arenas, November was chosen to focus on self-imposed limitations and how to eradicate them. While I am a few days into December, if you'd like to take a look at the entire 12 month list, click here. The perplexity with self-imposed limitation is that we don't believe we are setting them. We think they are real. We think they are reality. Take for example the age limitation shared above. Many people sincerely believe that at particular ages, certain things must happen, but they would be incorrect. It just so happens you are at an age when biologically, due to bad health, lack of attention to your body or lack of understanding how to better take care of your body combined with the genetics you were given from your parents that at a particular age in someone you observed, certain occurrences were observed. To continue to understand the level of perplexity, anything you have control over are self-imposed limitations, but so often, as I just described above, we don't realize how much control we actually have and we sadly toss it away and assume it is "how things occur". Thus, anyone who is ignorant to, in this particular example, is still stuck in level one of consciousness. Psychology Today explains there are three levels of consciousness: (1) the level of the senses; (2) level of conscious awareness; and (3) level of conscious connection. Level two requires of an individual to be self-aware. In episode #143 I broke down in detail what self-awareness is, how to attain it and the many benefits of doing so. Defined succinctly, self-awarenss is the act of "creating connection to ourselves, questioning our expectations, ideas and assumptions and exploring our perceptions" as stated by Psychology Today. In other words, examining what we have accepted blindly, what the world has told us without our own examination of the information and discerning the difference between how we truly feel and why and what others have told us is the reason we feel the way we do. Once we have reached the second level of consciousness we are able to see what is or isn't in our control. As well, we can determine why we are setting limitations. We are able to have a better understanding of our own emotions, detaching from them and examining them. Being honest with ourselves and getting to the root of fears, questions and doubts. (If you are looking to become better attuned with your own emotional awareness, tune in or read episode #140.) What you will discover once you reached the second stage of consciousness is that you have more in your life that you can control that you most likely previously understood to be malleable as you wish it to be. From your thoughts, your decisions, your assumptions, your understanding of the world and how it functions, the world may look and feel anew to you. Such an aha moment is exhilarating. Then, in the next breath it can perhaps seem daunting because if you succeed, it is you who navigated to where you wished, but if you don't, then it is you who navigated to where you did not want to go. In other words, we are truly the navigator of our ships which comes with an immense amount of responsibility. But once you wrap your head around the gift you have been given, you realize you have just set yourself free. Free from worries that you are not doing as you should (a particular career, having children, not being married, marrying the person who your family approves, voting a certain way, living a certain way, etc., etc. etc.), free from the zeitgeist of generational mores, free from the parochial limitations of how you spend your time, and the list goes on. You are free. Now it is up to you do something which is authentic to you and in so doing you begin to enjoy the present moment. The reason you begin to savor and be fully present each day is because you begin to enjoy the life you are living. You are not hoping something will happen down the road (yes, you can have goals), but you are enjoying how you are living in the everydays. You are not biding your time or hoping your desires will change so that somehow who you are will morph into what people approve of which prevents you from enjoying the "right now" moment. Why? Because if you don't think who you are right now is okay, is good enough, is worthy enough, you can't savor the gift that is you at this very moment. And you are - a gift. Your ideas, your passions, your curiosities, even many of them that may not have been found, are waiting for you to let go of the limitations and let them bloom. But you can only do that when you are present and aware. When you are able to step into the present moment, the change you seek begins to reveal itself. Gradually over time that evolution will be significant and this process is conscious connection, the third level of consciousness. Now you are connecting to what is the truth after having stripped away what is not and freeing it to become, freeing yourself to become, your most authentic and magnificent, and thus the world around you to shine as well. Long story short, self-imposed limitations will hold you back, but now that you know you most likely have at least one or two you have accepted and now need to reëxamine, you will be able to set yourself free and elevate your life. ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Examining the Benefits of Self-Awareness (episode #137)
~24 Ways to Live Beyond Labels (episode #153)
~Dave Koz and Friends 20th Anniversary Christmas (Dave Koz & David Benoit & Rick Braun & Peter White)
~enter by 12/4/17 to win the giveaway of the above print (18 in x 24 in or 45.7 cm x 61.0 cm)~
Sponsors for today's episode:
Mon, 21 August 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #171
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Introverts are finding their voice, and one author and blogger who is helping to make this possible is Jenn Granneman. With her new book which was just released on August 1st, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World and her internationally enjoyed blog Introvert, Dear, she shares the science, conversations with multiple introverts as well the insights gained from sitting down with researchers in the study of the brain to share the secrets of introverts. Having her on the podcast was a treat as I, as well, self-identify as an introvert. And what was I appreciated was the focus to celebrate on what each of our gifts our, which is something she talks about as well. I do hope you'll tune in.
The Book: The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World by Jenn Granneman
Jenn's blog: Introvert, Dear
Other books mentioned on this episode: ~The Introvert's Advantage: How Quiet People Can Thrive in an Extrovert World by Marti Olsen Laney Psy.D. (Author) ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~8 Ways for Introverts to Thrive in the Workplace, episode #68 ~Why Not . . . Enjoy Being an Introvert? SPONSOR of today’s episode: KIND bars ~To pick up a free sample box, go to KindSnacks.com/tss ~Join the Snack Club
Mon, 17 April 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #151
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"There is something about the French woman, a sense of freedom that must read and show in the way we dress." —Marion Cotillard
No one has yet pinpointed when the allure of French style came to epitomize the pinnacle of effortless, chic style, but nonetheless, the flattering stereotype continues to be perpetuated and this post will do the same.
Why? In all honesty, if you have been to France, you have seen it. You have crossed paths with the style seen in Paris that embodies classic staples worn with such ease and confidence that the woman appears to be on her own catwalk wherever she goes. Now not every French woman embodies the qualities oft associated with simple, chic, effortlessness just as not every American woman is intrigued by fast fashion and putting more in her closet (if you are a reader of TSLL, I am pretty confident you do not fall into that traditional American stereotype).
But since the French woman has lessons to share when it comes to the style of quality over quantity, and demonstrates how magnificent it can look, people from around the globe have taken note, which may be why so many non-French women have impeccable, signature style as well.
"What defines French Style? An effortless chic attitude - the Parisienne always wears great basics. It's about clever mix and match." -Evelyne Chétrite
Wherever we find the inspiration that moves us to shift and change our wardrobe, it is worth investigating exactly what the fundamentals are of that particular approach to style.
To begin, I must make a confession, I am not someone who enjoys shopping for clothes, but I do thoroughly appreciate and feel most confident when I know the clothes I am wearing work well on my body for whatever occasion I may be involved in. Thus, I have always wanted to drill down to how to cultivate a dependable, chic wardrobe that is versatile and lasts. So it was not a surprise when the French woman's approach to style caught my attention.
Let's take a look at how to incorporate the 10 fundamentals of French style into our lives so that we too can look our best, spend our money wisely and limit the time we spend in shops and online boutiques so that we can go about enjoying the simply luxurious lives we have created.
1. Staples over trends
"In an era of excess, Frenchness speaks to a certain kind of abstinence - but also of a noble refusal to compromise on quality, as well as the confidence to resist tacky gimmicks." —Lisa Armstrong, The Daily Telegraph
Watching the seasonal runway shows are great fun and full of inspiration and ideas what new way to wear a button up blouse or what to pair with a knee-length skirts, but don't hop on the bandwagon if it's a one-season phenomenon. How do you know if it's a one season phenomenon? Ask yourself, would you wear it if you hadn't seen it on the runway or if wasn't cheered by Vogue and the fashion elites? If the answer is no, then just appreciate it and move on.
Staples may seem safe or boring, but as we will discuss in #2, when you purchase well, know your body and tailor to your needs, you will shine. And the key word is you. You, rather than your clothes will be what everyone will notice and that is the intent to dressing well each time we step into our closets. Instead of considering what will draw attention, what will shock, what will woo onlookers, ask yourself "what will look best on me and help me elevate to feel and do my best?" Return to those clothes again and again and again, and you will never be disappointed.
2. Invest, don't skimp
A French woman will have Chanel ballet flats and maybe even a Mulberry tote, but she won't have oodles of ballet flats in her closet or more than a few handbags unlike an average American's closet that is overflowing with bargain finds that may have looked wonderful on the rack at Ross but no longer shine two or even five years later.
Hone in on what you need, save up and purchase what you love and will continue to use for years to come. My Lanvin ballet flats were an investment (always order one to a half-size larger than your regular size), but they were exactly what I had always wanted for years. When I finally purchased my first (I have two now - beige and black) pair, the price was expected, and I continue wear them at least 2-4 times a week (they continue to look wonderful and work with a long list of outfits).
3. Subtle over shocking
Choose neutral hues that work with your skin tone in order to infuse a multitude of options. The white jersey tee works beautifully under your blazer, but it can also be tucked into a pencil skirt worn with heels to offer a high/low look to the office. Don't forget to wear it under your leather jacket as well paired with your favorite jeans.
Shocking, while fun, has a shelf-life. Subtle again allows the woman to shine rather than the clothing.
4. Fewer but better
You will have fewer items in your closet and what a beautiful sight that will be when you walk in. Clutter is stressful, too many choices can numb us and make it difficult to choose. Fewer, but better options simplifies the process but amplifies the outcome.
5. A skill rather than a sport
As I mentioned at the top of the post, I honestly do not like to shop for clothing. Beginning when I was a young girl, I became quickly frustrated looking for clothing that fit my tall frame and thus began to see wardrobe building as the goal, not a sport that would waste hours of my day.
A significant part of why I share what I learn and discover about style on TSLL is because I want to alleviate the frustration that I had so that you too, whether you love shopping or not, will be able to shop well each and every time, utilizing your time wisely so that you can enjoy the life you have built.
Do I love beautiful attire and the craftsmanship, absolutely. If I could snap my fingers and have the wardrobe of 10-15 staple items for each season hanging in my closet that look brilliant on my body, I would snap away and spend the time I would have been shopping walking my dogs, working on a creative project, traveling or any one of the hobbies I enjoy. And so TSLL exists to reveal the tools we all can possess so that we each can build our signature wardrobe without feeling we have to do so each season, because we truly do not if we shop well.
6. Keep it simple
A beautiful silk blouse paired with designer jeans that fall just to the ankle worn with a stunning pair of Roger Vivier flats. Nothing else. Classic pieces, quality pieces.
Trust your purchases so that when you do pull them on and pair with them with the other items, you will know they work. Another reason to have fewer, but better items in your closet is that you become more familiar with them as you will have had them in your closet for many seasons. You will begin then to trust what you have, what looks flattering on your body and what other items might pair well with it.
The simplifying of the process is a significant factor to loving and trusting your style.
7. Subtle, but sincere statement pieces
Begin to let go of the costume jewelry. I used to regularly have my large tear-drop earrings that were not that expensive but fun conversational pieces, and then I began to realize I didn't want my clothing to be the conversational piece, I wanted to be talking about topics of more substance. So I purchased these earrings and wear them with nearly every outfit. They are simple, basic, but just the right femininity for work and play. A simple pair of diamond studs would also work beautifully.
The key is to not be afraid to invest in a few investment statement pieces, but make sure they are subtle so that you can wear them for years and perhaps a lifetime.
8. Find what works and wear it regularly
If blazers are your flattering cut similar to Emmanuel Alt, then include a couple of quality blazers in a variety of hues in your closet. If you know crew necks are better than v-necks, stay loyal and do not deviate.
Such a discovery of our style takes time, but so long as we pay attention, are willing to explore and try something new if other approaches aren't working, we will eventually find what works for our bodies, lives and comfort.
Over the past few years, one of the trends that has become my signature is the jumpsuit. Not everyone loves the jumpsuit, but it has been a staple in my wardrobe - layering with blazers, wearing long-sleeve monochromatic versions in the winter and splurging on a versatile silk jumper by Vanessa Seward when it went on sale that takes me to work and is ideal of cool summer afternoons with sandals.
9. Mix the high and low
As much as your investment items are the foundation of the French woman's wardrobe, not every item you wear has to be über sophisticated. Wear a pair of boyfriend jeans with heels (low/casual - boyfriend jeans; high/dressed-up - heels) or a bomber jacket over a camisole worn with an over-the-knee pencil skirt and sandals. The balance of seriousness with playful displays prowess of how to build and wear a wardrobe exuding confidence and personality.
10. Elevate yourself, don't hide
The clothing you wear is meant to spotlight the talented, intelligent, fun and curious woman who you are. While clothing can offer some armor in a world that can be difficult at times, don't hide completely behind your sartorial choices. Let your signature shine. Choose clothing that regardless of the designer label is made well and elevates your confidence. Stick to what works, let go of what doesn't and dress for you, not to mimic what you should do.
Part of embracing the French woman's approach to style is reconciling with the clothes you must get rid of, but on the flip side when you don't have to go shopping as often to fill the gaps or find that one item that you just don't seem to have, you will discover an ease with knowing what to wear when that will be priceless.
As much as I love the power of the sartorial choices we make, I have always wanted the clothing to be the background (an impressive background, but still in the background). While being known for what one wears is initially flattering and a temporary confidence boost, it is knowing that the woman each one of us offers to the world is more than what she wears is valued far more than the clothing and image she projects that motivates me to fine tune and all but perfect my approach to style. And each time I gain more clarity, I look forward to sharing what I learn with you.
May we all fine-tune our wardrobe so that we may make a worthwhile first-impression but follow through with a breath-taking performance offered by our intelligence, charm and wit.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Francophile's Style Guide: The 14 Essentials (podcast episode)
~20 Ways to Live Like a Parisienne (podcast episode
~How to Cultivate Your True Style All Year Long - inspired by Ines de la Fressange's new Parisian Lookbook (podcast episode)
~Shop TSLL Capsule Wardrobe boutique here
~As my way of saying thank you to listeners of the podcast, I have produced two new episodes for this week due to my loss of voice last week and inability to have a new episode as each Monday for over two years (except in one other instance) there has always been one. I appreciate your understanding, your well wishes and your interest in living simply luxuriously. Here is the link to episode #150. Have a lovely week.
~The Curse of La Fontaine: A Verlaque and Bonnet mystery by M.L. Longworth
~begin with the first novel in the cozy, set in Aix-en-Provence mystery series, Death at the Chateau Bremont
Mon, 27 February 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #144
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
Recently a good friend of mine who is learning French as well, and inspires me with her advanced abilities, asked how my learning was progressing. Disappointed even to say it out loud, I stated I haven't been studying regularly. And while that is entirely true, I find myself playing with the little bit of the language I do know unconsciously throughout my days and in conversations and activities spent with those who know the language.
I continue to share and be enticed by French-themed posts, articles and books, and have shared much of what I find on my Twitter feed, but it became glaringly apparent that I haven't written a Francophile post/episode in quite some time.
However, as my recent daily schedule has shifted ever-so-slightly to make time for a special individual in my life, I am even more appreciative of the simply luxurious approach to living. In fact, it is the approach I write about here on TSLL and share on the podcast that enable me to let go, appreciate, and savor the everyday moments and unexpected extraordinary moments in the ordinary routine. The realization of the approach of letting go of the unnecessary and focusing on the necessary being the key to easily flexing with life has inspired me to ardently protect and cultivate further these aspects, many of which are inspired by what I appreciate about the French, and some would argue western-European culture.
1. Depend on flavors from herbs, spices and ordinary cooking staples to enhance the flavor of food
After a recent conversation with an acquaintance from Belgium, I was reminded of the flavorful approach the French and other European countries take to cooking. First of all, they cook, they play with the food and the flavors and they don't bury their food in thick, sugar-laden sauces. The simple sautéing of garlic and shallots in olive oil to provide a flavorful aromatic base or finishing with lemon to maximize the flavor. How about adding some thyme or rosemary and don't forget the salt and pepper while you are cooking.
2. Discover the pleasure of thoughtful conversation; let go of small talk
Part of being a good conversationalist is caring about what your fellow-converser is saying. Secondly, it requires of both to let go of where the conversation might lead. This is not easy for goal-driven, busy Americans. We want to accomplish something, complete it and move on. However, deeper, more intimate relationships cannot be built on demand. Slow down, relax and let the conversation flow naturally. Forget looking at the clock and just enjoy the moment.
3. Cook at home unless a restaurant can do it better
Stock and prepare a kitchen that lends itself well to cooking whatever may be in the refrigerator on any given night. Make sure your Épicerie is properly stocked and the necessary cooking utensils are at the ready. Then, begin to experiment. Initially, this can be intimating, but with advice from those who know how, observation and practice, you will be whipping up delicious, simple, satiating meals Monday through Sunday if you so desire. (Learn more about how to become a cook in your kitchen here and here.)
4. Reexamine your diet. Eat flavorful, satiating food rather than empty calories.
Eating well involves an appreciation of the food your are eating as well as respecting your body. We shouldn't have to swear off the delicious in order to tend to our cholesterol, etc. Moderation is the key and that requires of each of us knowledge about how the foods we eat affect our bodies. While eating is necessary, doing so mindlessly shouldn't be part of our approach. For example, reduce the soda intake and increase the fruit and vegetable consumption.
5. Savor a glass of wine with a home cooked meal, any day of the week
To complement, not to cloud. Wine with dinner, a beautifully thoughtful dinner carefully prepared and presented deserves a savory partner in the form of a glass of wine. Sip, nibble, slow down and savor the culinary moment in front of you.
6. Reduce refined sugar
White sugar, white flour, packaged, processed foods with additives. In other words, know what you are putting into your body and what those ingredients do to you body. (Read more here about my January - one month resolution to reduce or eliminate refined sugar.)
7. Think for yourself
Have an opinion grounded in fact. Take the time to be aware of the world around you and refrain from rash assumptions. Being tactful in your approach and being aware of your audience reduces the need to be politically correct. Rather be honest, thoughtful and open to discussion.
8. Fall in love with daily rituals
From my morning ritual breakfast of steel oats to my Friday evening unwind that begins with a long walk with the boys, cultivating daily, even weekly and monthly rituals gives us something to look forward to regularly. As someone who loves to step into the kitchen and prepare a meal, this daily ritual is something I enjoy beyond measure. Maybe for you it is your weekly yoga class or sitting down with the newspaper or a new magazine. Whatever your rituals are, protect them and cherish them.
9. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate
In #11 below, skincare will be discussed and part of an effective skincare routine is drinking water. Keep the consumption of alcohol and sugar drinks low and making water your drink of choice.
Sit down for meals, set the table, turn off the television, converse, slow down. Add some flowers to the table to make it inviting even when not in use. Create a space that beckons to guests, asking them to sit down and enjoy a memorable moment.
11. Master a skincare routine
Last month I shared with you eight of my favorite skincare products. Some items are inexpensive and some are an investment. However, the attention we pay to our skin is not a vain task. It is a task modeling respect for ourselves and the visage and therefore, the woman we present to the world. Figuring out the skincare routine that will work best for your skin and age will take time and will in some aspects be an ever evolving process, but most items you discover that work for you, will work for you throughout your lifetime. Go, explore and then, pamper yourself each day.
12. Embrace the capsule approach to style
Less is more and simple, well curated style speaks volumes, beautiful, powerful volumes, about the woman wearing the clothes. Learn more about the capsule wardrobe approach here.
13. Reserve social media for what inspires you
The reason I follow the Instagram accounts I do is to tap into inspiration, beauty and a reminder of all that is full of goodness, diversity and unexpected magnificence in simplicity that surrounds us each day. Rarely do the accounts I follow include selfies, but rather city and nature scapes, a creative fashion combination, books, museum exhibits and vignettes of my favorite places around the world. Why not share with the world what inspires you and never know who will be moved.
Last Monday morning I woke up to sunshine and blue skies in Bend, Oregon. The birds were beginning to chirp and the snow was gradually melting. I looked outside and I just smiled. Sometimes, we get in our own way of savoring the gift that is life. In all of its simplicity, for some reason we think it has to be hard, and if it's not, we make it so by over-analyzing, doubting, sabotaging and over-extending ourselves.
Life and how we exist in it is simple, and it begins with being present, savoring the everyday, listening to yourself and adjusting to let go of what doesn't serve you and seek out what does and how you can contribute positively to the world. The everydays are the best part. And while it is a grand and necessary task to set goals, set them and then focus on what can be done today, allowing the unexpected to occur and dance with the days as they unfold.
15. Savor a piece of dark chocolate regularly
Whenever I share my daily ritual of eating a dark chocolate truffle with a cup of hot tea each evening I do not partake in dessert, some nod their head and contemplate adding it to their routine and others chuckle at its either decadence or simplicity. Either way, I love this daily ritual and have been incorporating into my life since near the blog's commencement. The powers of dark chocolate are subtle, yet powerful and the flavor is magnificent.
16. Keep your Sundays sacred
Speaking of rituals, one of my favorite rituals takes place on Sunday (last week it took place on Monday due to my schedule, but I made sure to savor it all the same - see below). The Sunday newspapers arrive (three in total), the hot tea is poured after a long walk with the boys and a croissant is often part of the moment as well. Hours can pass before I've made it through all of the intriguing articles.
No matter how you prefer to spend your Sunday, protect, guard it and remember that doing so is an investment in the quality of your life and specifically in the kicking off of the week to come, ensuring it has its best chance possible to be a week to enjoy.
~The New Essentials of French Cooking via The New York Times~
17. Think critically
A few years ago I shared a post inspired by a book titled The Thinking Life: How to Thrive in the Age of Distraction . And in sharing and in teaching rhetoric in my second job that isn't blogging, I continue to be more convinced that the thinking life is the best way to live. Taking in all that we are exposed to can be overwhelming, but knowing how to do so effectively will enable us to live well. By applying the tools of rhetoric established by Aristotle to examine any piece of information that we come across, we can make sure we are not being led around by the nose and are indeed thinking for ourselves.
America is a self-help culture, and while there is absolutely nothing wrong with continuing to grow (see #19), not believing we are enough or not accepting ourselves for who we are in this moment, right now, is not easy for many of us. After all, if we could just lose those last few pounds, if we could just earn a slightly larger paycheck, if we could just fix our relationship status, focusing entirely, constantly on these "small" changes robs us of the now. And who you are right now, however flawed, is a beautiful thing.
19. Invest in Intellectual Wealth
Make learning one of your favorite pastimes. Whether it is learning how to skate ski (as I did this winter season for the first time), learning how the three branches of the U.S. government work regarding checks and balances, or learning how to cook Sole Meunière. Tickle your mind and follow your curiosity and you will always find youth to be alive within you.
20. Quality over Quantity in all things
The following 19 ways to incorporate the French culture into your everyday life, at their core, involve appreciating the experience and allowing what works well to exist without the excess. Quality, quality, quality. Above all else quality. And what works well for you may not be what works well for someone else, so what each of us chooses to invest in will indeed be different. But if your goal is to build a life that enables you to enjoy the everyday, and not constantly be dreaming about tomorrow, then your tomorrows need not to be worried about for you are ensuring now, today, in this moment, that they will be magnificent as well.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY FROM THE ARCHIVES:
~The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life (podcast #23)
src="https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/5109889/height/90/width/700/theme/custom/autonext/no/thumbnail/yes/autoplay/no/preload/no/no_addthis/no/direction/forward/render-playlist/no/custom-color/a8c7e4/" height="90" width="700"
Mon, 20 February 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #143
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"People need to know that they have all the tools within themselves. Self-awareness, which means awareness of their body, awareness of their mental space, awareness of their relationships - not only with each other, but with life and the ecosystem." —Deepak Chopra
Feeling happy is one thing. Knowing why you feel happy is another. In fact, understanding precisely why and what caused you to reach a state of happiness is the sign of a person who is self-aware. And when we become self-aware, we become better able to cultivate more of what enlivens us and eliminate or effectively navigate what does not.
Let me share an example of both. During the Snowmagedeon of 2017 here in Bend, Oregon, tending to removal of the snow on your roof whether a homeowner or a tenant became a regular activity for a couple of weeks. It was not rare to see more than a few people on their roofs at the same time as you drove through your neighborhood. However, I was only able to eliminate the edges of my home from snow which kept me in a more than regular state of uncertainty. It not only effected my sleep, but my days as well, as I was regularly gazing at my ceiling, something I hadn't done in earnest to note changes until now. I felt anxiety because I didn't know. I didn't know the house (I am a renter), and felt I didn't have control. On the flip side, I recently spent the holidays at the Oregon coast, and it was the not owning and not having to tend to the cabin I had rented that provided much relaxation, peace and comfort. The lack of have-tos, should-dos and must-dos allowed my mind to relax and my body to find calm.
Knowing why you are feeling the way you are in any given situation requires each of us to pay attention. While we are most certainly aware and probably by default pay attention to all the external events in our lives, sometimes we neglect to observe ourselves. And not only observe, but then inquire as to why we see what we see, why we feel what we feel.
To be more precise, having self-awareness is:
Being able to observe ourselves, accept and recognize what we discover and be honest about how we feel, why we act certain ways in particular situations, and the change that we may need to take. It is being able to pay attention and be honest about our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. When we choose this approach, we choose to welcome a life of quality, a life of fulfillment, a life of contentment.
Earlier this year, Emotional Intelligence was discussed in depth on the blog and podcast. And one of the four components of cultivating EQ was having self-awareness. But what exactly is self-awareness? Sounds simple, but upon closer examinations it is a skill that will take our undivided attention, time and then patience as we put what we learn into practice.
But first, let's look at what it isn't:
In other words, not being self-aware involves not noticing how our behavior adversely effects those around us and how our unhelpful behavior sabotages the relationships we are trying to build.
Benefits of having self-awareness
"Self-awareness is not self-centeredness, and spirituality is not narcissism. 'Know thyself' is not a narcissistic pursuit." —Marianne Williamson
1. Become more at peace with yourself
When you take the time to listen to how you are feeling and investigate why you are feeling what you are, you become more in tune with your most authentic self. You begin the journey of searching out what piques your curiosity and thus gravitate toward moments that will cultivate more peace and harmony in your life.
2. Become better able to communicate with clarity
By understanding yourself, especially the "why", you can clearly communicate with others your joy, your sadness, your frustration, your hopes. And when you speak clearly, others who truly are listening will come to know who you truly are.
3. Decision making is simplified
Knowing what you want is the most significant part to making the best decision. And when we finally discover what we want, we can say no quickly to the rest.
4. Clear purpose and direction
While we can always appreciate different paths that others take, when we know the direction we need to take and why we are on it, it is easier to stay focused and not stray.
5. An enriched life experience
The crucial crux to reaching self-awareness is understanding the why. Magnificent power is given to each of us when we answer with clarity the "why". Upon knowing what enlivens us, what makes us shrink in fear or what tickles our curiosity, we can then seek out what will enrich us, what will heighten our experience and thus what will enrich our lives.
6. Find true fulfillment and contentment
Living an enriched life is discovering what fulfillment and contentment are. Being fully present in the moment, in the lives we have created for ourselves and wanting to be there, and then having the chance to experience this similar moment everyday in varying degrees is to attain fulfillment. And we can only do that if we are honest with ourselves about what we feel and why in any given situation.
7. Optimism rises
Optimism will rise as we begin to see evidence that applying what we learn about ourselves to life truly does lead us down a path that enlivens our lives. And when we see a fulfilling life is possible, we begin to believe again that life can be a truly amazing gift.
8. Reduction of guilt and regrets
Due to the ability to make better decisions, the guilt and the regrets are diminished. When we confidently make decisions, being aware of how we feel and how our decision will effect others, we know the outcome, by and large, before we leap. And once we leap we accept that not everyone will applaud, but we won't regret it and we will be able to let go of judgment from others as we own our decision.
9. Improve relationships
Self-awareness is a key component of having emotional intelligence, and as was discussed here, developing our EQ improves our relationships because we are cognizant of our actions and how they effect those around us, and we know how to handle ourselves effectively as we can observe accurately what we feel and why.
How to develop self-awareness:
"Every human has four endowments - self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom... The power to choose, to respond, to change." —Stephen Covey
The development of soft skills, personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively and harmoniously with other people, are entirely in each of our control. We can choose to recognize their power and find the patience to cultivate them as they will take time, or we can ignore an opportunity to enhance the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.
If we seek the development we are choosing to be more present in ourselves, we are choosing to be active participants and come to a better understanding of our role in the world and how we can best be a part of it.
At times the process to become more self-aware may be uncomfortable, but the unease and discomfort is only temporary as it is alerting you to something that needs to be tended to before you can move forward. Tend to it and discover an increased quality of life.
~L'art de la Simplicité: How to Live More with Less by Dominique Loreau
Mon, 19 December 2016
“It is within the boundaries of reflection we are able to become aware of insights that can lead us to understanding.”
Mon, 12 December 2016
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #134
"A startling paradox that bespeaks how we, as a culture, cripple ourselves in the journey to love — if one wanted to learn about cars, one would 'without question study about automobiles'; if one wanted to become a gourmet cook, one would 'certainly study the art of cooking, perhaps even attend a cooking class.' But when it comes to love, Buscaglia points out, we expect the skill of it will magically bestow itself upon us. 'No mechanic or cook,' he writes, 'would ever believe that by ‘willing’ the knowledge in his field, he’d ever become an expert in it.'” -on Leo Buscaglia's Why Love is a Learned Language
Successful business mogul Warren Buffett has famously advised to write down 25 things we want to do in life and then promptly focus solely on the top five and forget about the other 20. Why? The time we have to dedicate to anything is finite, therefore if we want to achieve something of quality: a skill, a reputation, an invention, a business, anything at all, we have to give it our full attention. And if we have a laundry list of things we want to achieve, we are often distracted by what we are not able to do and not fully giving ourselves to what we should be focused on.
Along the same argument, in Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling book Outliers, he shares research that finds that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to develop the level of proficiency of most professionals (Gladwell further clarifies that this holds true primarily in cognitively demanding fields, but assists tremendously in others such as sports).
Taking into consideration these two components, I couldn't help but ascertain that the combination of focus and practice, deliberate practice, while helpful in our professional pursuits and pursuit of realizing our dreams would be quite beneficial within our everyday lives as well. For example, perhaps we too should deliberately practice as well as pay close attention to learning how to cultivate stronger relationships, a deeper, more fulfilling everyday experience and overall contentment as we proceed through life.
Two books (here and here) I have read in the past six months shared a common message about one's success in love. Not to equate love as a competition, but rather to be successful in making healthy, deep, sincere connections with others, choosing to learn how to love is crucial.
Considering that expectations, mores and gender roles have been in constant flux for centuries, we don't enter the world knowing how to love and love well. It is a learned behavior. As Dr. Leo Buscaglia reveals in Love: What Life is All About, "One cannot give what he does not possess. To give love you must possess love." And in order to possess love and then know how to give it, we must become a student of love.
Imagine for a moment as far back as you are able of what love looked like to you. Maybe it was your parents, maybe it was revealed in the fairy tales read to you, maybe it was the television shows or your older sibling talking about their adventures in relationships. While all of these may have contained aspects of love, some far more than others, love is an action that we only learn how to exercise in our own lives if we practice it. And we can only become successful if we practice it properly. Much like watching a cook demonstrate how to slice an onion, we don't become proficient by observing, we become proficient by doing. We cannot buy love, we cannot hire love. No. Instead, we have to become a student of love, and live it every day.
Which leads me to the most magnificent and hopeful news I want to share with you today. Each one of us can cultivate the love we want in our lives. Each one of us has the potential, and it all begins with us and then what we begin to put out into the world.
"It’s simply this — the limitless potential of love within each person eager to be recognized, waiting to be developed, learning to grow." —Leo Buscaglia
With that understanding, let the journey begin. Or should I say let the course on love begin. I, perhaps like you, have always loved the idea of love. But now I have to ask myself, was I errantly and ignorantly getting in my own way?
As the new year begins and the first episode of the podcast goes live on Monday January 2, tune and discover what I have found out and am looking forward to sharing.
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
—Ma Vie à Paris (English & French versions) - deliverable to EU countries
—created by French Home Goods company Astier de Villatte, owners Ivan Pericoli and Benoît Astier de Villatte
—Pick up a copy in Bend, Oregon, at Nicole Michelle Decor
—Special order at your local bookstore.
~Learn more about the SAIG Linotype printing press machine here and the process of printing this one of a kind Parisian guide book here.
~hand drawn maps and black and white photos on nearly every page~
Mon, 5 December 2016
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #133
Maybe you've had a few or many past failed relationships. Perhaps you are currently single or married or in a relationship at the moment, but maybe it just doesn't feel as though you know how to make it stronger, healthier, but there is some part of you that knows it is possible. Even if you aren't in a relationship, you understand that it is a healthy relationship you seek because at the moment, life is grand on your own and far better than being in a dysfunctional partnership.
As you reflect on the past, remember this: You gave love, you were hopeful, you did your best with what you knew at the time. Let go. And forgive yourself.
"Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn't know before you learned it."
As I look back on my own past that contains a handful of relationships, all of which were unique and different, and began and ended for different reasons, I know I am a different person now, I know that I have learned much more to be a far better partner, but also to be a far better, and more content individual whether I am in a relationship or not. I know now, but I didn't then because I didn't know either what I needed or where to find the knowledge I sought. I either had models that were dysfunctional and I didn't recognize it or I didn't have a deeper understanding of what I was modeling my life after. Most importantly, I was still growing and discovering myself, and thankfully, that journey has never ceased.
Why am I thankful that the journey has continued? Because it has finally lead me to resources, valuable and worthwhile resources to understand what I was lacking when it came to being someone who was indeed ready to be in a healthy relationship. And this is what I have discovered.
1. Explore what interests you
In episode #131, the philosopher Bertrand Russell's approach to happiness was discussed in detail and at the top of the list of 38 ways to attain happiness was the idea of exploring what interests you. The key is sincerity of interest and the other component is to have more than just a few interests. For if one falls through or wanes, you have other interests which can fill the gaps and ease the loss in your daily routine of doing what you love and enjoy.
To put all of our time and interest into one basket of interest is to put a tremendous amount of pressure on that focus in our lives. Often that focus is a relationship, and while tending to and investing in a relationship that brings us much joy is a worthwhile interest, it shouldn't be the only interest we have. Pursue your love of the French language, pursue your love of cooking, your itch to travel, working in the yard, caring for a pet, time in your art studio, anything that you are naturally drawn to and build a wealthy life of interests that fill your schedule without weighing you down.
2. Investigate and explore your barriers to healthy relationships
“The good news is that every morning we have the choice; not to be controlled by circumstances nor our past but by purposely designing our day, hence our lives better. Not to react to life but to respond with love.” ― Bernard Kelvin Clive
The work behind the scenes that nobody sees, the internal work, is the work that will reap awesome, lasting benefits enabling you to see and experience lasting growth from which you can continue to build on to build the strong and healthy relationships you want but perhaps didn't know how to attain because you kept getting in your own way unconsciously due to either buried fears, insecurities, a past history that played a negative thought track that prevented you from seeing the amazing possibilities you were presented with.
Investing in ourselves by scheduling time with a counselor or an expert in the field in which we know we need to grow is an investment in a quality way of life that will not only equip you to attain true contentment but you will be demonstrating that to the world around you and providing an environment and a model of how to live well.
3. Learn how to communicate effectively
Some of us as children were able to observe healthy and effective communication habits. The most powerful communication that is often hard to see modeled is when two individuals disagree. How do they express how they are feeling, feel respected without attacking and move forward? If we haven't seen this modeled in our own lives, it is up to each of us to learn, and thankfully, the information on this topic is abundant.
Ultimately, in order to communicate well, we must know what we want to say and why we want to say it. And in order to understand the "why", which is actually a difficult truth to unearth, we must get to know ourselves. It sounds odd perhaps, but we need to understand why we are angry in particular moments; we need to understand why we are fearful; why we get defensive; why we get jealous, and look within ourselves to understand our unconscious reactions before we speak and do damage unnecessarily.
On the flip-side, we must not cower into ourselves and become passive. There will never be a healthy relationship that involves a passive individual if the relationship wants to grow stronger. We must communicate without attacking, express how we feel, be able to objectively observe our emotions, and listen with intent to learn and understand more deeply. Click here for a more in-depth post on each of these and more tips to effective communication.
4. Cultivate a healthy, strong social life
Our social worlds are often tied to our interests as well as our work, and as discussed in episode #36, while they take time to build, the gift is you feel free to be yourself and thus your social life becomes a place of enjoyment, pleasure, respite and an integral piece to your contented life. With a clear list of people to let go of (of which there on nine) and six people to welcome into your life, the episode reveals that it is who is in your life that will help alleviate your stress and you theirs as well as allowing them and you to be truly free to be yourself that will enhance all arenas of your life.
5. Actively pursue your dreams
“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” ― Eleanor Roosevelt
Let go of the have-tos and must-dos of the lives we see modeled around us whether by family members, the media or community and/or national institutions and instead dive into your dream. Perhaps your dream requires you to work on the weekends or each night after work a few hours. Maybe your dream prevents you from celebrating when Friday evening arrives, but enables you to come alive when you immerse yourself in the pursuit. Trust your dreams, not the fears that are thrown at you by the outside world that you are not doing what you should be doing.
People are intrigued and appreciative of those who have the courage to tap into something and pursue it doggedly. Not everyone will understand, but those who respect it and admire it will be people with whom you will connect with. And you, in pursuing your dreams will find a contentment that at first will be hard to describe to anyone who is simply following a path that everyone else is one, but then you will learn it is the only way to be truly alive and authentically you.
6. Cultivate self-compassion
When we look within ourselves for compassion, we give ourselves permission to be imperfect. We begin to recognize that we must first be kind to ourselves in order for others to know that is how we deserve to be treated. Yes, some will be kind anyway, as it is their way, and a very good way indeed, but for those who may attempt to push our boundaries, we recognize the attempt and can keep them out of our lives unable to do harm.
Often we are the harshest critics in our lives, as discussed in episode #122, but the belief that doing so is the best path to success is false. In fact, it is quite detrimental. Rather, being self-compassionate reveals a higher emotional intelligence as we are able to have a broad perspective on our circumstances and move on rather than get bogged down in self-criticism.
And when we are the cheerleaders of our own lives, when we are not the bully in our own heads, we look less to the outside world to build us up and are able to build healthier relationships as we can take care of our own emotional needs.
7. Become comfortable with validating yourself
If we do not first validate ourselves, approve of the life and the decisions we make within our lives, we will be constantly running around seeking approval from others, dependent upon it, desperate for acceptance, and we will only be harming ourselves, never able to find true contentment. As shared in a post in 2011, “You can succeed if nobody else believes it, but you will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.” But why do many of us fall into the trap of first asking if we should do something and instead simply trusting what we know will fulfill us, what we know will bring pure joy, what we know will make us happy? We want to bond with others, we want love, we want to feel love. This is human. But what it does is bonds us with people who we may not want to bond with.
Wouldn't you rather bond with someone who was fascinated with your decision after the fact? After you had made the big decision to pursue that dream which may have appeared ridiculous to some, but made complete sense to you? Wouldn't you want an authentic connection?
Yes, it is scary to refrain from seeking validation from others, especially from our parents, peers and those we may have been (or currently are) in relationships with, but when we forget about the power of our own self-approval, we limit the quality of life we could be living.
8. Build a life you love living on your own
“Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.” ― Emily Dickinson
Cultivating a simply luxurious life centers around the premise of building something that is congruent with your authentic and most true self, letting go of building the life you think you should and upon incorporating the former rather than the latter approach, the quality way of living you seek will materialize.
A funny thing happened over the weekend. As I mentioned in a previous This & That post, I have been contemplating picking out a significantly smaller tree for my house this holiday season. Well, I in fact did just that, and as I look around my smaller house (nearly 1000 sq feet smaller than what I had lived in previously) after having decorated the tree, having added a few decorations to the tabletops (I found mistletoe!) and having hung the stockings for the boys (my dogs - Norman and Oscar) and myself, I still had energy and more money than previous seasons in my checking account for holiday expenditures.
When we begin to truly listen to what works for us, rather than gravitate toward what we've done, what has been done, what we've seen, what we know, we begin to curate a life that is in alignment with our values. We begin to curate a life that enables us to live and pursuit what we love and thus become enlivened from within. We are the gardeners of a rich and more fulfilling life, if only we will listen to ourselves.
When it comes to relationships, we will undoubtedly be involved in many different types, all having the gift of teaching us something about ourselves and the world. But when it comes to lasting relationships, relationships that will endure, however, keeping in mind that nothing is infinite, we multiply the happiness quotient for not only ourselves no matter what we may be doing but also for those we love.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Under the Tuscan Sun: 20th Anniversary Edition by Frances Mayes, (paperback copy) (e-book edition)
~Visit Frances Mayes blog and website here.
~tour the house that was seen in the movie (which was remodeled in 2006) here. Frances Mayes house was not the set for the movie.
Mon, 7 March 2016
The "everydays" make up the quality of our lives, so it is how we spend these days that is vitally important. Discover 15 everyday habits to practice and by incorporating will create ensure everyday is full of contentment and true happiness.
In this week's Petit Plaisir, a simple decor addition to establish a ritual that will enhance your everyday life.
Mon, 7 December 2015
Inspired after reading Ernest Hemingway's iconic portrayal of the City of Light in his memoir A Moveable Feast, Shannon shares a learned lesson from the reading. Discussing the courage to let go and how to move forward when what we love is taken away from us, she speaks about how to ensure tomorrow will be brighter and far better than yesterday.
In this week's Petit Plaisir, Shannon reviews and enthusiastically recommends Cairo Time, starring Patricia Clarkson and Alexander Siddig. Have a listen to the trailer and the soundtrack.