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

"Your life will tell you the truth." —Martha Beck, author of The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self

Divided. Compartmentalized. Unable to give what is needed, not by choice, but by pure, sincere inability due to time and energy. Signs of living a life off the track of the way of integrity.

Martha Beck explains in her new book, The Way of Integrity, the word integrity originates from the Latin integer meaning "in tact" and therefore cementing the definition of integrity as "to be one thing, whole and undivided".

When we are not living a life of integrity, we are not being true to ourselves, nor the world. Now you might be thinking about the general and more commonly understood definition of integrity - living by your 'values' or abiding by the morals society applauds, but this is not what Beck writes about in her book. Instead, Beck looks at the true meaning of the word and applies it to each of us individually, daring to step away from any culture’s expectations - a life of integrity is one when you have aligned your body, mind, heart and soul - your actions, your mental strength, your true self - you set yourself free. In the introduction she uses a phrase commonly known on this blog/podcast - you achieve a sustainable joie de vivre. "You may not believe that such a fulfilling life is possible. It is," Beck states with calm, assured confidence and goes on throughout the rest of the book, speaking from her own incredibly challenging and terrifying and finally liberating life journey, indeed what she shares is true.

"No matter how far you think you've strayed from your true path, the moment you say I'm going to trust myself, I'm going to follow my truth, the healing begins."

Beck's book crossed my path just after I had officially and publicly announced a resolve to live my own life of integrity as I had turned in my resignation papers concluding a 20-year career in teaching public education at the secondary level. I arrived at my decision after more than a few years of hemming and hawing about such a choice being necessary for me to live fully in alignment with what I knew to be true in my heart of hearts. And, as I shared in my May episode of the video series A Cuppa Moments (learn more about becoming a TOP Tier subscriber and discover more intimately why I made this decision here), it wasn't about running away; it was about running toward something I loved even more.

Another way of looking at the way of integrity is much like putting together a puzzle. It can be especially hard to rationalize why we should leave something when on paper and to onlookers everything hums along beautifully, but if the puzzle doesn't allow your true nature to be nurtured, as Beck describes, when you are "rushing to conform . . . often ignoring or overruling [y]our genuine feelings—even intense one, like longing or anguish—to please your culture . . . you've divided yourself. [You] aren't in integrity (one thing) but in duplicity (two things)." In other words, the puzzle isn't your puzzle to be a part of. Having the courage to step away from something that works, even if we languish while others shine is not living a life of integrity.

"When you pursue a career that pulls you away from your true self, your talent and enthusiasm will quit on you like a bored intern."

The question we each need to ask ourselves is, “Does the culture nurture your nature?" Pause for a second before answering because I would have answered yes a couple of years ago as the quality of my overall life improved immensely having moved to Bend, Oregon. And what enabled me to move to this dream-of-a-town in my eyes? A teaching job; however, upon reflection, with more truths revealed, and after reading her book, my answer whilst trying to teach and write, is most certainly no.

How do you know if you are out of your integrity?

1."Your life goes pear-shaped"

Beck reveals how our inability to communicate civilly, snapping at people we love, letting ourselves be distracted regularly by rabbit holes on the internet, and on the health side - your "immune system and muscles becomes weaken . . . emotionally feeling grumpy, sad or numb." Focus and clarity — difficult to maintain, sickness is more frequent and energy is depleted. All of these 'symptons' are red flags your life is out of integrity.

Let's end this point on some good news: "Integrity is the cure to unhappiness. Period."

2. Living a life governed by the 'should's and 'supposed to' expectations

Living simply luxuriously, at its core is built upon questioning society, putting into practice critical thinking skills and thereby thinking well. When we think well, removing our biases and acknowledging the short-sightedness as well as true motivations of the culture we live in, we can think clearly and free ourselves from the pressures and guilt placed upon us to live a certain way. Even if 'your way' seems simple compared to significant societal differences such as announcing you are an atheist in a family full of devout believers of any one religious institutional faith, acknowledging your truth regarding your gender even if your family or friends cannot understand your truth, or standing up for a political issue which forces your family to confront their own long-held unconscious biases. Your way of integrity needs to be honored to set yourself free.

Beck writes in detail about her own breaking free from the 'should's when she speaks about her stepping away from Mormonism (receiving death threats for doing so), sharing with the world and her husband that she is gay, and choosing to keep her child who she knew to have Downs Syndrome (even though at the time, people she respected urged her to not to). In great emotional, yet step-by-step detail, she shares how she made it to the other side and because each decision was her truth, her choice, she set herself free. She stopped living the life she was 'supposed to' and stepped courageously into a life of integrity.

3. Emotional Struggles

"Whenever you lose your integrity, you'll feel your own unique brew of bad moods, depending on your personality . . . anxiety and depression [or] . . . free-floating hostility, itching to punch everyone in your office, familiy, zip code [or] . . . full-on panic attacks, especially during special occasions."

For me, leaving teaching felt culturally 'wrong'. What I mean by that is, teaching and being a teacher is held in high regard, as, in my bias, yet as much as I can remain objective, it should be. So leaving a profession which society holds in deservedly high esteem felt to already be making the 'wrong' decision. However, as Beck calls them, my 'wild beasts' of bad moods would arise in the weirdest of times. I knew something was not in alignment, but nearly all of my acquaintances, friends and even my mother, were or are teachers. So how do you have a conversation with them about leaving a profession they are already in and most of whom sincerely love and have found their calling? In my case, you keep teaching.

4. Bad habits — can't break them

The bad habits could be an onslaught of a variety of behaviors ranging from less harmful to incredibly life destructive, but anything which does not constructively add to your life and the quality of your days is a bad habit. Whether excessive financial expenditures, harmful drinking or eating habits, relationship failure after failure because you refuse to have the ability to either see or change what needs to be addressed, such habits stay with us because "when [you're] feeling fundamentally lost, afflicted by purposelessness, foul moods, and bad jobs, anything that stimulates the brain's pleasure centers can become an addiction."

I can thankfully say, I had a positive outlet for my lack of finding complete fulfilling purpose in teaching: blogging, which turned into podcasting, which turned into cooking, which became my pleasure and purpose and I am incredibly grateful I honored my curiosity to explore what this 'blogging thing' was all about way back in 2009. I don't think we all have to have horrible habits so much so it becomes painfully obvious to outsiders we are not on the right life path for true integrity, but what I appreciate about Beck's book is bringing to our attention habits which if we are being honest with ourselves, aren't helpful to living a life we sincerely love living, but we keep engaging in said habit because we need the pleasure; we need something to 'feel' good because so much doesn't, and we don't know or don't have the courage yet to step off the path that isn't ours to walk.

How to return or begin to live a life of integrity?

1.Stop lying

"Here's the rub: if you stop lying, you'll eventually, inevitably violate the rules of a culture that matters to you."

Stop lying when responding casually to the question, "How are you doing?" Be comfortable with expressing your exuberance or exhaustion about the day. The passive or a default way of living is not living, and it's not the way of integrity. How we connect with others, truly connect, is to be honest. I find that our culture is more comfortable with complaining even though America strives to be happy at all times. It is as though we must not be 'too happy' lest someone either question what makes us happy or want our happiness, when the truth is, there is not a limited supply. However, most Americans are too exhausted to figure out their own unique path to happiness. But the supposed secret as Beck reveals is simple: finding and living your integrity will lead you to peace, which will lead to the desired outcome of happiness. Again, this is a push-back on culture, not the people living within the culture. Admittedly, yes, a culture is made up by people, but when we recognize we are complicit in any culture which doesn't wish for its people to find peace and contentment, we must question it. Doing so is an exercise in critical thinking. And how we do that is by finding our own way of integrity and living it.

2. Knuckle down for the first step of changing your life - it will be hard

Be prepared, the first step, the first shift you make will be the most difficult and will feel impossible on your way to fully being your true self. But the good news is, it is 'steepest at the start'.

And in even better news, because you are stepping into your integrity, let that energy be your fuel. Just as it did for Dante (Beck's entire book parallels the journey of Dante through the levels of Hell in Dante's Inferno, Part I of The Divine Comedy) who because he wanted to be set free "so damn much" used that "intense wanting" to "propel him forward over terrain he doesn't believe he can cover."

3. Acknowledging and walking away from 'bad or disordered' love

"'Bad' or 'disordered' love emerges when people are well-meaning but mistaken—for example, when we feel loyal to people and ideas that don't match our inner truth."

So many of Beck's anecdotes are specific and clearly teach what she is introducing to readers. On this point she shares, "You might stop laughing at your coworker's crude jokes. You may come out as gay or trans. You may start posting things on social media that shock your loved ones. You may turn into some version of Rosa Parks, refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person." In sharing these examples, she reveals how quickly our lives will change when we step away from 'bad' love. And it happens quickly because while you've known for quite some time your truth, you haven't shared it with those who you've let keep 'loving' you in a way that serves their needs, but neglects yours.

4. Be prepared to contemplate returning to old ways (even if they weren't true to you)

Prior to deciding to leave teaching, I chose to regularly see my counselor, and I am grateful I did. On this point, she reminded me, after always checking in with me about how I was feeling about my decision (once I had decided I would write my resignation letter) that there will be mourning for the 'old misery'. In other words, the life you know and are leaving, you will at times - whether in your dreams or in different states where you are emotionally weak or exhausted (these times especially were when my doubts would arise) - seriously doubt the decision you are about to make. What is happening is natural, and it does subside in time as I can share now after having felt those moments of mourning for the known misery early on after having made my decision. "Studies in psychoneuroimmunology show that if we plunge too quickly into any major change, even a good one, our bodies and minds can't absorb the shock. We must give our psycholoigcal and physiological systems time to adjust."

How we give ourselves this time is where the phrase "mourning the known misery" comes from. And it is knowing that such a temporary state exists that we are able to better navigate through this time and into a life in which we are fully embracing our true nature. A few words from Beck on this subject,

"If you start honoring your true nature and find yourself missing your old culture, don't panic. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself time and space to grieve. Confide in loved ones. If they don't understand, find a coach or therapist. But don't think that missing your old life means you should go back to it."

5. A life transformed for the better

"Whatever you do to heal the world, it will replace [bad health, habits, moods, etc. - what Beck refers to as 'dark wood of error symptoms'] with purpose, happiness, vitality, love, abundance, and fascination that specifically match your true nature."

Perhaps this all sounds too good to be true, but simply the fact that you are thinking that is the hope you have unconsciously, that you hope it can be true. That it can be possible.

Benefits of finding your way to integrity and living it daily

1. A life full of "meaning, enchantment and fascination"

The world needs what you uniquely can give to it. When we each find the courage to honor our nature especially when the culture doesn't nurture it, we step forward toward a life full of meaning, and we as well become uplifted and enthralled with the awesome life we have the good fortune to live.

Beck points out that thankfully, 'nature doesn't give up without a fight', so if you are doubting that it is too late, that you've waited too long, no, it's not and no, you haven't. The mere fact that you are still contemplating, wishing, hoping, wondering is nature's strength of hanging on until you finally take action to courageously find your way of integrity.

2. Breath-taking moments are experienced beyond what the culture tells you is possible

"Obviously, no one will have taught you how to navigate such wonders. No worries. You'll learn fast. You were born for it."

If happiness, and based on having read Beck’s book, I think more deeply it fits the definition of contentment, if contentment is something you could buy in the store and be promised a life of awe, wonder, peace, would you buy it? What if I told you it was free? I have a feeling some would question it must be too good to be true, but that is our conditioning when it comes to believing in how possible living well is. We have been conditioned to believe happiness can only be pursued, not attained, AND that only so many people are capable of attaining it so we must hurry up and chase it down, ignoring the present and constantly live in the future. But that is errant thinking.

The ability to attain contentment for free is possible because it exists within us each already. Our answer resides in each of us. Our true nature, our true selves, has always been with us. We now just need to let it speak. In other words, let ourselves speak honestly, truthfully, and the world begins to change for the better. Not only for each one of us who courageously takes this step, but for all of us, as we begin to see who each of us actually is, how diverse and awesome we actually are and how to think well without unconscious manipulation.

3. A stronger you both physically and emotionally

As you begin to step off the wrong path and onto your way of integrity, there will be push-back, but wonderfully, you will be more capable than you might have ever imagined because, "Even if the people around [you] raise merry hell, [you] find yourself coping—more than that, thriving—more easily than [you'd] imagined."

4. A more peaceful you

The truth about feeling drained, emotionally exhausted, is not necessarily the environment's fault, but rather that we shouldn't be in that environment. We are needed some place else. Find that place and find your peace.

5. A life of inner harmony

True contentment, as shared on TSLL many times previously, is capable of being experienced even during the most difficult of moments and heartbreaking days and events. Why? When you've found and know what inner harmony is, an alignment of your true self - body, mind, heart and soul - you acknowledge and tend to what you have control over and clearly recognize and let go of what you don't. You are living a life of truth in your actions, words and thoughts, and you are strengthened knowing how to navigate forward well, modeling and, when applicable, and you are capable, nurturing those around you forward as well with kindness and compassion.

6. Find your people who 'get' you

"If you don't walk your true path, you don't find your true people."

Ah, while I have met so many amazing people during my years as a teacher whether the staff and colleagues I have been incredibly fortunate and privileged to work alongside, the many, many parents who's love and tireless efforts to raise children in a world that is ever-changing, and especially the awesome students who through their natural strengths and honed skills, learning from struggles and finding truths along the way, my connection has been professional as I kept, for the most part, my writing life compartmentalized from my teaching life.

Once I finally began talking about what I love about blogging, which was only this spring (except to one, maybe two people over the years), a burden on my shoulders was lifted and I felt free. Some don't understand what I am stepping fully into, and consequently, our relationships, even though respectfully collegial, have lessened, but to others, we've had far more honest conversations than we have ever had. And this is just the beginning of a positive shift.

"We simply can't chart a course to happiness by linking up with others who are as lost as we are. The path to true love—true anything—is the way of integrity."

In order to fully and deeply connect with others, we must be our true selves - no holding back, no editing, no 'hoping they like us'. When we are our true selves, it doesn't matter if everyone ‘gets’ us so long as we let ourselves be set free, and that is what draws others of similar understanding and those who can see our honest and raw expression and who appreciate such strength into our lives. These are the people you want to connect with. These are the people with whom healthy, loving relationships grow.

7. Balance

Yes, balance is possible (although our culture would have us believe otherwise, believing the skill to master is not balance but rather being constantly thrown from side to side, stressor to next stressor. Don’t buy into this myth!). In The Divine Comedy, Virgil writes something that 'stuns Dante. All these 'sins' are actually based in love. Sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust are simply unbalanced relationships with rest, abundance, nourishment and sex. We can err by either compulsively indulging or rigidly repressing our natural relationship with these things. This lack of balance doesn't come when we allow union with our true nature, but when we split ourselves away from it. It's misguided thinking, not natural behavior, that causes us to stray from our innocence."

Our innocence is our true selves. Our true self is found and experienced when we step into the way of integrity. Bravely doing so, courageously striding, becoming ever stronger and exhilarated with each step.

8. Fulfill your long-term heart's desires

For this last point in today's post/episode, I'll leave you with Beck's words as she reflects on her own life journey and teaches us one of the grandest benefits of finding your own way of integrity, embracing your true self:

"As this internal shift occurred, life seemed to deliver more and more of the things I'd longed for during my life. I began to imagine that the universe works like this: whenever we humans long for something, the Powers That Be immediately send it. But everything we've ordered is always delivered to our real home address: peace. This is why we struggle for things in a state of desperation, they don't come to us—nothing works when it's misaligned. But when we return to a state of peace, the things we've 'ordered' can finally reach us."

— Martha Beck, The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self (2021)

The way of integrity is a path through and with life that makes you excited simply to envision it for a moment during your day. You may breathe a sigh of relief and a smile may even creep upon your face spontaneously each time you dare to think what you imagine could be your real life.

I have been so incredibly excited to share today's episode with you because while my last day of teaching doesn't occur for another two weeks, the announcement has been made, the reality has been put into place, and a peace not-yet-known-until-now is already being felt (yes, moments of mourning the known misery creep up, but they are fewer and fewer, and now I know immediately where they stem from and how to navigate respectfully through these feelings).

Living simply luxuriously doesn't just happen, and it indeed takes time. When we learn the skills necessary for living a life of true contentment, we can then begin to build what will be unique to each of us. The foundation of a fulfilling, joy-filled life, is to realign yourself with your true self. To conclude with more sagacity from Martha Beck on making our way to integrity, "Not because this path is virtuous, but because it aligns you with reality, with truth. Your life will work for the same reason a well-built plane will fly. Not a reward for good behavior. Just physics." Logical and simultaneously honoring the full humanity of each and every one of us.

SHOP Martha Beck's book The Way of Integrity | Amazon |


~Lupin, on Netflix

~Learn more about this episode's Petit Plaisir on this specially dedicated post.

PART ONE, Trailer (season 1)

PART ONE, Trailer (season 1)

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #307

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

Direct download: 307Integrity.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

Season 5 of the podcast has wrapped up, and I cannot quite believe The Simple Sophisticate has been producing episodes for five years (debuting in September 2014). But it indeed has, and I am very grateful for listeners and their continued interest, positive reviews and sharing what you love with friends and family.

Today, the full schedule of Season 6 is available (see above). As you can see, it is very similar to Season five's schedule with at least three new episodes for every month through March. While there may be a few more new episodes shared than scheduled, what you see above are the dates on which new episodes are guaranteed to be shared.

If you are new to the podcast, let me explain why I am taking the weeks off in the particular months you see above:

  • April was taken off entirely last year, and it worked out very well for my teaching schedule. As an AP teacher, this is the month we call crunch time as the exam is just a few weeks away.
  • In May, there is only one new episode, but it will be during the second annual British Week which is held during the third full week of May.
  • July was also taken off this fifth season to make time for the production and taping of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen vodcast. Thank you for all listeners for being understanding of this needed month off from the podcast as it was put to good use. I cannot wait for Season 2 to premiere on Saturday September 7th. With that said, next year, I will be including this time to focus on the cooking show again.
  • August: The only new episode in August will be shared during the annual French Week, but as I hope was listeners experience this year, I promise I will make it a knock out episode. :)

Looking forward to the Season 6 kicking off with a new episode on Monday September 2nd! Thank you for tuning in and have a wonderful week.

~View all episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.

Direct download: Season6.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 7:00pm PDT

"I see inspiration everywhere - from the fashion flitting past as I am crossing 7th Avenue to the overgrown flowers exploding from the window boxes of the brownstones of the West Village to the monkeys blinking back at my son and me as we wander through the tropical zone of The Central Park Zoo. It is all waiting to be painted. I often feel giddy, dizzy, overwhelmed by all that there is to paint."Inslee Fariss

In February 2011 I first came across the watercolor fashion illustrations by Inslee. At the time, my blog was just over a year old, and I was looking for a way to put my signature on the heading. With four images including one of Sarah Jessica Parker in a favorite final scene of SATC, one of Ines de la Fressange and yet another one of Henry Bendel's illustrations of stylish women, I reached out to Inslee who was in Washington D.C. at the time. In a matter of two weeks, after a couple of emails back and forth and one phone call, the first TSLL woman was complete, and I was over the moon (see the woman below in the white dress with red clutch (center)). 

Since our first collaboration, Inslee's painting career has blossomed, and she has been living and working in New York City with a studio in the West Village. Painting for Rachel Zoe, working with Elizabeth Arden and many other well known names, she also works on private commissions, some for businesses like TSLL and many for personal stationery, imagery, etc. 

As you will hear in our conversation in today's episode of the podcast, she shares her journey to finding what working environment works best for her to create regularly, how and when she knew she had a gift, as well as how one of her figure drawings (nude silhouettes) ended up being purchased by the now Duchess of Sussex (Meghan Markle). 

~Inslee's illustration purchased by Meghan Markle as discussed on today's episode~

Her observations about enjoying the everyday, what it feels like being a mother to her 17-month-old boy Jackson and where she finds inspiration for her annual calendar are also topics that she talks about. 

Since 2011, I feel extremely fortunate to have received 15 exclusive, commissioned illustrations for the blog (12 of which appear in TSLL's 1st book, one which was created for my teaching blog and the final two which appear on TSLL's new book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life and the blog's header). All of the illustrations are below.

As we discuss in today's episode, one of her amazing talents is to create what her customers are envisioning in their minds. She brings to the canvas her knowledge of fashion and style, the human body, as well as the observations of everyday life that we may dismiss or take for granted, but when appreciated can enliven the quotidian moments more than we might have imagined. 

Be sure to stop by Inslee's website, shop her recent launch of the 2019 desktop and wall calendars (Book Worm & Botanical) as well as her newly launched 2019 Planners complete with exclusive illustrations and beautiful leather binders from Neely & Chloe (the steel blue one has my eye, but there are more beautiful colors available). You can also shop prints of her illustrations and contact her for a commission project. 

As was mentioned in the episode, her Instagram (especially her Stories) will brighten your day. (follow @inslee). 

Lastly, I want to extend my deep appreciation to Inslee for being a guest on The Simple Sophisticate. Until our next collaboration together! 

~2019 Book Worm desk top (March)~

~2019 Wall and desktop Botanical calendar, September~

~2019 Desktop and Wall Calendars, May~

~Steel Blue Planner and binder~

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #233

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Sponsors for today’s episode:

Direct download: 233Inslee.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 9:00pm PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #155
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~Julia Child's kitchen as seen at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington D.C., as it was in Cambridge, Massachusetts~

The more I read about Julia Child, especially in her own words, the more I find inspiration regarding how to successfully journey through life. Saying yes to life, remaining curious and refusing to be intimidated by obstacles, unknowns and not knowing how to do something, we all could probably learn something from Julia Child whether we enjoy cooking or just eating good food. And the lessons she provides are applicable in every arena of our lives.

After reading and loving My Life in France, the Petit Plaisir in episode #152, I wanted to come up with a list of some of the life lessons unearthed about how to navigate each of our journeys successfully in Julia's own words. Below are six, but there are far more. If the list intrigues you, I highly recommend picking up her memoir which was published just after her death, as she herself, along with her nephew having completed it just prior.

~Be sure to tune in to the audio as far more detail and conversation are shared on each point.

1. Listen to what stirs you. When a passion worth pursuing presents itself, you'll know. 

"Now that I had started writing, I found cookbookery such fulfilling work that I intended to keep at it for years and years."

2. If we choose to, we can change.

"After driving to Rouen, we stopped in for lunch at La Couronne, where we ordered exactly the same meal that we'd had on my first day in France, more than two and a half years earlier: portugaise (oysters), sole meunière, salade verte, fromage blanc, and café filter. Ah me! The meal was just as sublime the second time around, only now I could identify the smells in the air quicker than Paul, order my own food without help, and truly appreciate the artistry of the kitchen. La Couronne was the same, but I had become a different person."

~During the summer of 2018, I had the opportunity while in northern France, to dine at La Couronne. Have a look at my experience in the video below:


3. Self-doubt is natural, and a sign that you truly care about what you are trying to do. Continue to push forward.

"Ah me. There was still so much to learn, and cooking was only half of it. I felt I'd have to teach at least a hundred classes before I really knew what I was doing."

4. Often the first rejection is a test to determine your true desire.

"I sighed. It just might be that The Book was unpublishable. I wasn't feeling sorry for myself.I had gotten the job done, I was proud of it, and now I had a whole batch of foolproof recipes to use. Besides, I had found myself through the arduous writing process. Even if we were never able to publish our book, I had discovered my raison d'être in life, and would continue my self-training and teaching."

5. The key to delicious food is quality ingredients.

"This is the kind of food I had fallen in love with: not trendy, souped-up fantasies, just something very good to eat. It was classic French cooking, where the ingredients have been carefully selected and beautifully and knowingly prepared. Or, in the words of the famous gastronome Curnonsky, 'Food that tastes of what it is'."

~TSLL Capsule Menu (how to create it and the Fall Sample Menu)

6. Time, perseverance and asking for help from experts does pay off

"It would eventually take us two years and something like 284 pounds of flour to try out all the home-style recipes for French bread we could find. We used two French textbooks on baking and tutored ourselves on the fine points of yeasts and flours, yet our best efforts still fell short . . . One day I read a newspaper article about Professor Raymond Calvel, an eminent baker and teacher at the École Française de Meunerie . . . Professor Calvel showed us what we'd been doing wrong, and taught us all about making proper French bread . . . By the end of the day, our loaves were turning out just right, and I was feeling euphoric. It was as though the sun in all his glory had suddenly broken through the shades of gloom!"

~Mastering the Art of French Cooking Volume II by Julia Child & Simone Beck


~Decor Inspiration: Julia Child's Provence Home, rent it!

~Julia Child Rules

~11 Life Truths About Contentment That Seem Impossible Until We Experience Them

~Petit Plaisir

~Dark Chocolate Truffles, click here for the recipe

Download the Episode

Download the Episode

Download the Episode

Direct download: 155JuliaChild.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #152

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"If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." —Henry David Thoreau

To dream big. To dream beyond others' imagination is a risk. However, to dream so vastly is to reveal one's capacity for hope of what could possibly become reality. Do you remember what you dreamt about as a child, in particular your daydreams when the sky truly was the limit? Do you remember why you dreamt what you did? More often than not what we dreamt about had more to do with what we thought we would feel, how we presumed our way of life would be and thus the contentment or fulfillment we would reach. And the exciting news I want to share with you today is that the sky still is the limit. Even as we step into adulthood, our dreams are a roadmap of where we want to go, of what we are passionate about.  The important part that we must consciously engage ourselves in is the dissecting of the dreams that refuse to be forgotten. In other words, look closely at your dreams from childhood. In some form, which ones are you still dreaming about? Maybe as a child you dreamed of traveling the world, partaking in safaris and scaling Mt. Rushmore. Examine now what is dancing through your daydreams. Is it the same thing or is it adventures, perhaps more tame? Look less at the specific destination itself and instead at how you conjectured it would make you feel when you had the opportunity to travel to parts unknown. Perhaps it was the freedom you wanted to always have in your life. Or maybe it was the comfort of nature surrounding you. If you have the courage to investigate why you dream about what you dream, what you dare to dream in other words, you will find a roadmap to your truest contentment. Along the way as you unearth the truth, you may discover a need to become better skilled in certain arenas, and so you do just that. As you continue to proceed, you are aware of what, while being low on your priority list, is impeding your progress, so you understand why you must let some things go that no longer align with your truest path. The gift of dreaming big and having the courage to pursue what you've imagined is that what we focus on, in which pursuits we deposit our energy, we help to manifest and eventually nurture into reality.

“The future you see is the future you get.” – Robert G Allen

While it may seem impossible as you gaze at your dream from afar having only just begun or having so much further to travel, the good news is so long as you stay focused, journal regularly, check your subgoals weekly or monthly, you will gradually come closer to what you wish for. Why? Because you are no longer wishing, you are doing. And with each step, with each task completed and each exercise of willpower to say no to what might jeopardize or get in the way, you are inching closer toward making it your reality.

“At first, dreams seem impossible, then improbable, and eventually inevitable.” – Christopher Reeve

Upon moving to Bend, an amazing dream became a reality, calling Bend my hometown. Something I honestly had doubts along the way would ever come true, living, calling home this beautiful mountain, nature-loving, small-town feel with a big city undercurrent. But I never gave up doing what I could to put myself in the best position to give it the potential it needed to materialize.

Now that I have lived here almost two years, a few of my other dreams have seemingly been stalled while others have blossomed beyond my expectation. And as I consider the latter of those two realities, I am reminded that never giving up completely is always the best idea. Sometimes we have to put dreams on the back burner or at least keep working towards them habitually, but what is needed is letting go of the expectation of when they may come to be what we hope they might be. As we do this, we're still making progress, but we're letting go of the pressure, we're recognizing that maybe we really don't have all of the control, but so long as we control what we are able, when the right opportunity presents itself, we will be able to seize the moment.

In moments of doubt, when I am not sure if my dream is even a possibility anymore, I find myself shaking my head. When a step back or a regression of progress appears to be taking place, I want to kick myself and then more doubt is piled on. But then I wonder, what would life be if we didn't have dreams to pursue? Dreams are a form of curiosity, of wondering, can I do this? Am I up to the task? Am I capable? The reassuring answer is, you are absolutely capable, and along the way some pretty amazing moments could happen as well that might open even more unexpectedly splendid doors. And those temporary setbacks, they are going to happen. First, look at why they occurred, and often what you will find is that you were living life, and balancing as you moved forward to navigate what you had to navigate. Simply because you had to take a step back, doesn't mean your progress toward your dream is dashed. It simply means, you may have to reroute, or refuel earlier than expected. But you can do that, no? Because if it is a dream you are ardently passionate about, you will refuel, you will reboot and you will figure out a way to reach your goal.

“Capture your dreams and your life becomes full.” – Nikita Koloff

Imagine the story your life is writing right now. Imagine the anecdotes you are collecting along the way to be appreciated once again upon reflection. View your life as a story, make the choices that will make the reader smile, and since it is a story, accept that there will be moments you do not want or expect, but if you are the savvy writer that I know you are capable of being, you will figure out a way to write a happy ending.

Dream big and let your dreams guide you along your magnificent journey of life.


~Dare to Turn Your Dreams Into Reality

~11 Things You Must Do to Create the Life of Your Dreams

~Why Not . . . Achieve Your Dreams? (3 part series)

~Petit Plaisir

~My Life in France by Julia Child and Alex Prud'homme

~Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Direct download: 152dreamfirstPlanlater_.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.” ― Confucius

Having never experienced a particular event, feeling or sensation, it can be hard to trust that attaining what we have marked as our goal as something other than difficult to achieve. After all, if it were easy, we would have experienced it by now. But what has lacked in the past is the proper recipe. What I mean by the proper recipe is if we are trying to make mayonnaise (which requires few, but specific simple ingredients: 1 large egg yolk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon cold water, and ¾ cup neutral oil such as safflower or canola), but if we pulled out a recipe for a vinaigrette (extra virgin olive oil, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and black pepper), no matter how hard or long we whisked the ingredients, we will never make mayonnaise.  This seems obvious, but often in life we are using ingredients (whether it be particular people, misunderstood facts regarding science, neuroscience and biology or confusion when it comes to math) that cannot add up to what we desire no matter how hopeful we are. But when we do finally have the proper ingredients, in other words quality ingredients and stop trying to force an apple to become an orange, the results we desire materialize without involving much effort. And in that moment it seems almost miraculous as we've been thwarted for so long so often in our previous attempts. Today I've made a list of eleven life skills I have found to be far easier than I had once thought. Perhaps you have a few others you would like to add. And if so, please do share in the comments. 1. Boiling the perfect egg  On Sunday I made my first Niçoise salad, and of course, boiled eggs are a quintessential ingredient. Wanting a boiled egg in which the white was solid, but moist and the yolk was runny, I looked to Julia Child. On page 118 in her iconic Mastering the Art of French Cooking, the recipe for an alternative to poached eggs (as I wanter to cook the eggs with the shell on) can be found. Put simply: bring water to boil, place eggs in the boiling water for six minutes, pour out the hot water and run cold water over the eggs for one minute. The perfect boiled egg for salads, breakfast or a mid-day snack. View my recipe for soft boiled eggs and soldiers here. 2. Meditating For years I thought something was wrong with me for not being able to mediate. I assumed, errantly, I had to be able to sit without thinking for endless amounts of minutes (20-30). I was wrong on two points: It's not about stopping your thoughts, but recognizing when they wander and bringing your mind back to the present and longer doesn't mean better. Five minutes is fine, simply observing and knowing your mind is wandering is a significant and successful mediation experience. Learn more about who to incorporate mediation into your daily routine (even if daily is a hope and the reality is a few days a week - the difference is quite positive on your overall quality of life.) 3. Asking clarifying questions Just ask why. Most likely you are not the only person in the room who did not understand the allusion the speaker or teacher made. Ask for clarification. Don't apologize for not knowing, simply ask what they were referring to. Confidence of a student and their sincerity to learn is revealed in asking for further understanding. Be a student of life and regularly ask questions, especially of people who are experts in their fields. Even if they do not know the answer, they would be the best persons to point you in the right direction. Often an expert takes for granted what the listener knows. It's not a negative thing, it's a reality when someone has been working with a particular idea or content for some time. Their perspective has shifted. So simply ask, and no doubt others in the room will appreciate your courage. 4. Letting go of what no longer supports the life you are building Looking at the possibility of letting go of a way of life, a person, a job or anything that you have become accustomed to is a thorny prospect. But the actual letting go and moving forward is easy. It's the decision of what to let go that takes time and careful examination. For when you finally let go, it cannot weigh you down and you begin to feel a lightness that you could never have known prior to letting go. 5. Welcoming love into your life When we have been mistreated, taken advantage of or been around insecure individuals and errant assumptions about what love is (co-dependent, needy, clingy, formulaic, etc.), we can understandably be cautious about believing genuine love exists. Genuine or real love is something we discussed here and here in-depth, but the good news is that it does indeed exist, and when you're ready and able to recognize it, even if you don't believe it when you see it or experience it,  welcoming it into your life is easy. Put down the armor, put down the cynical protections you've been using, stop the mishegas thinking and let yourself be loved. Just be you. Stop assuming the worst, stop thinking about anything that may thwart love's growth, and when you do that, love walks in. 6. Broadening your vocabulary Read. Read often. Read a little every day from any source that piques your interest. Look up one word a week that you run across and do not know. Listen to the diction being used in academic, political, historical films, newscasts and productions. Be curious and read and watch and look up what you do not understand. The more precise your vocabulary, the better able you are to effectively communicate and the more heightened your ability for emotional intelligence. 7. Backgammon My favorite board game to play is backgammon. While I have always wanted to learn chess, I have yet to do so (of this feat I will accomplish at some point in my life, I am nothing but determined). But since I was a young girl, backgammon was the game my father and I would play, and we still do when I return home for holidays. It's simple: move all of your checkers to your home base and remove them before the other player. Yes, there are other strategies and details to consider, but for a board game that looks fancy when it is displayed, it truly is quite simple. Discover the rules here. 8. Saving money for retirement Set it and forget it. Set up an automatic pay reduction each month to be withdrawn from your paycheck. The sooner you do this is your career, the less you will pay no mind to the money that is not going into your checking account for the present moment. 9. Practicing self-compassion The patient is you. And the attending is you as well. Treat yourself the way you already treat those you care about. The love you are able to give outwardly becomes strengthened when you have been giving the same compassion to yourself regularly. Learn more about self-compassion here in episode #122 of the podcast. 10. Improving your health and your skin Yes, using particular moisturizers, sunscreen and oils do indeed make a difference, but the cheapest and simplest way to improve your health (ridding your body of toxins) and enable your skin to look radiant is to drink a glass of water before you go to bed and when you wake up. In between, make water your drink of choice. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 11. Staying healthy and trim It's less about your activity and more about the fuel you feed your body. However, physical exercise reduces stress and keeps the mind balanced. Back to the eating component: Eat a well balanced diet (knowledge of what you eat and what it does for your body is key), don't deprive yourself, moderation. And as far as exercise,  simply walk 5 times a week 20-40 minutes, add some weight bearing exercises two times a week (strength, pilates or yoga). The take away I have discovered is often it is our approach that is thwarting the success, happiness and contentment we seek from materializing. And the problem is that we are not better informed on how to actually attain what we seek. Make sure that anything that is not working at the moment doesn't actually have an easier solution. Are you using the proper ingredients? Do you have the right recipe or did the pages stick together and you, like Rachel in FRIENDS accidentally make a dessert truffle with ground beef? The right recipe can make all of the difference. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:

~Easy Is Never Appreciated

~Simple Rules for a Good Life

~Small & Simple = A Grand & Full Life

Petit Plaisir

~Victoria on PBS, Season 1

~Queen Victoria's diaries made available to the public  

Image: source


Download the Episode

Direct download: 146simple_-_31217_3.06_PM.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 1:00am PDT

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #141

~Subscribe to The Simple SophisticateiTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio

Montreal author Isabelle LaFlèche has been an inspiration to me for many reasons. One of which is her tenacity to let go of what she knew and leap into what she loved. All it took was a nudge from an unexpected stranger to remind her of the creative talent patiently waiting to be released. J'adore New York was first published in 2011 to great success and was immediately followed by her second novel following the journey of her protagonist with a conscious when it came to fashion and ample intelligence in J'adore Paris.  Two more J'adore journeys have followed taking her readers to Rome and Montreal.

Tune into the interview where Isabelle shared the fateful meeting that changed her life in a matter of months, what it means to have it all, the gift and discovery of taking a risk and much more.   Quotes, books and other ideas discussed during the interview:

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”-Anaïs Nin

The Great Gatsby

Under the Tuscan Sun

Learn more about author Isabelle LaFleche::

~Discover more interviews with inspiring women on The Simple Sophisticate podcast:

Petit Plaisir:

~Hidden Figures

Book: Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly Film: see trailer below ~Sponsor of today's episode is Plum Deluxe teas. Based in Portland, Oregon, and offering handcrafted, fresh, organic fair trade teas. Join the monthly tea club and receive an exclusive seasonal tea, free shipping and more for only $10/month. Learn more here.

Download the Episode

Direct download: 141IsabelleLaFLECHE_.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 12:00am PDT

The obstacles in life can understandably be frustrating, but perhaps a reframing of them is all we need to see the beauty in them. Tune in today to see exactly why that obstacles that's been keeping you stuck in your tracks is exactly what will help you soar beyond your expectations.

In this week's Petit Plaisir, I'm sharing my go-to breakfast for nearly everyday of the week: simple, delicious and satiating. Buttery Steel Cut Oats. 

Direct download: 99Obstacles.mp3
Category:inspiration -- posted at: 1:00am PDT