Sun, 15 November 2020
"You shouldn't dream your film, you should make it!" —Steven Spielberg
To live actively requires we take action.
Seems simple enough, but if teaching my students as well as myself to refrain from using passive verbs versus active verbs in writing indicates anything, defaulting to the passive
What if we are defaulting in the same way in our everyday life and, even more largely, in our vision of how our journey will unfold?
A new-to-me podcast, Solo: The Single Person's Guide to a Remarkable Life, shared an insightful approach to living life which caught my attention immediately. What if we, instead of being the hero of our own lives, choose to be the director?
Think about it for a moment. When we look at a film from the point-of-view from the real world, the hero in the film/movie/novel/play merely follows the directions of the person behind the camera - the Greta Gerwigs (Oscar nominated director for Little Women), the Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar winning director for The Hurt Locker), the Steven Spielbergs (Oscar winning director for Lincoln), the Amma Asantes (Mrs. America), the Jennifer Getzingers (Orange is the New Black and Mad Men), the Julie Delpys (2 Days in Paris), and the Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman).
“Humble perseverance and the ability to observe and grow, in pursuit of making what you love and believe in. Really. THAT is the secret”. —Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman
To be the director of our lives assumes the responsibility of having a larger vision for the purpose of each scene, each chapter; however, within each moment, each interaction and revelation, the director knows fully how to craft a scene so as to bring forth a dedication to being present, fully engaged and intentionally clear and knowing about living fully.
Being a hero, in theory, is not a bad directive, but it neglects the reality of being a hero - whether saving themselves or another or an entire vast swath of others - the climatic drama of adversity is assumed. And then there is the tragic hero. No thank you.
This is not to say that we can direct ourselves to avoid all conflict and adversity. No. From such unwanted and unplanned pains, we grow, we learn, and we gain wisdom, clarity, and strength; however, if we only relegate ourselves to being the hero, we follow a script written by another and directed by someone else as well. While there have been directors who directed themselves, there is a reason why only one has done so and been able to capture an Oscar for both roles - Roberto Benigini in Life is Beautiful (1999), which also one for best Foreign Film as well. It's hard to see yourself clearly - your actions, facial expressions, energy on screen with another, etc..
But wait, if you direct your life, aren't you also the hero? Valid point, and an important one to make. Yes. You are in all actuality both the director and the hero, but again, the director decides who leaves a scene when, how the interactions with others will play out, which details must be included in a shot to further understanding for the audience, what remains out of the shot, the colors of the attire, where the scene is set, the background, the music, all of the details as well as the over-arching storyline (and while often the director is also the playwright or at the very least has some say in how the screenplay is depicted and can mold and tweak it to what would be best for the film, the director has the full reins of the production). What I am saying is we must not forget our primary job - to be the director of our one and only life.
Let's take a look at everyday and large over-arching choices and actions imperative for directing our lives well.
1.Who are you?
Taking the time to know yourself, unearth your talents, becoming honest about your weaknesses but refusing to let them halt the direction you wish to travel sits at the foundation of a well-lived life.
~Read this three-part series on How to Get To Know Yourself
2. Learn how to love well
Loving well is a skill. We do not know innately how to love another human being as doing so involves emotional intelligence and self-awareness. Models of love or what is purported as love surround us, but many are faulty and derive from a genesis rooted in control, insecurity and many other unhealthy constructs. To follow leads to pain. Knowing leads to peace. Know how to love, and life will blossom.
~One of my favorite books on love and being loving in a relationship inspired episode #128 - The Quest for a Soulmate: The Myth Hindering an Amazing Love Life
3. Understand the value of boundaries and understand they will evolve
Boundaries define us, as Henry Cloud reminds. Literally, the lines we put in our lives define what we will step forward and try and what we will not. Boundaries can limit us. Boundaries can protect us. Boundaries paradoxically can set us free.
Knowing how to set boundaries after we have discovered what our boundaries need to be for the chapter in our life we find ourselves gifts us with a powerful foundation. Without boundaries, the wind can take us where it will because we don't know what where we want to go and we certainly don't know how to head in the right direction.
On the flipside, rigidity when it comes to boundaries can be harmful if it prevents us from exploring what we are capable of sharing with the world. Ah, a tenuous dance which requires of each of us to do our own homework, not follow, because it is our heart, our life that will be set free when we find the sweet spot between the right boundaries and vulnerability. (Listen to episode #126 to discover the Powerful Couple that is Boundaries & Vulnerability.)
4. Learn the skill of effective nonviolent communication
For every director who wins praise from their cast and crew, there is a director who bullies, rants and whines. Effective communication, nonviolent communication, is a skill we must choose to learn if we want to have a fulfilling life and strong and healthy relationships with others.
To model said communication, observe someone who understands the components of nonviolent communication certainly helps us to acquire the skill, but we must take it one step further to understand why they are communicating as they are. We must again be the student for our lives to reach their fullest potential.
As I shared in episode #293, I highly recommend reading Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. I have read and will reread this book for understanding how to understand anger, understanding the four basic steps of clear, effective, empathetic communication, and how to honor my own journey, letting go of guilt, shame, anything the outside world wishes me to feel in order to stop me from traveling a path that brings joy.
Effective communication with ourselves and others is the way toward directing an award-winning life to continue with the analogy. To clearly convey and know what you wish to materialize, you need to be able to work with others being empathetic and aware along the way, not only of those who will walk with you or cross your path, but with yourself.
5. Understand and practice the fundamental physical components of you
To delve a bit deeper into the physical aspect of #1, knowing how your body, your mind, your temperament function and how they can function well will give you a roadmap of how to design the set of your life. It will also help you clearly understand what your boundaries need to be.
6. Be Brave
Living an active life, being the director of your own life demands of you to take action.
You cannot wait to see what someone else thinks, whether someone else approves, whether the prices will be this or that or another, at some point, you simply need to act.
Wait a second, you may be saying, didn't I say each of us is the director not the actor? Okay, perhaps a poor choice of words, but not really. Remember, you are the director of those actions. You decide when to take the first steps, when to set out and try something for the first time, when to let go, when to say yes, when to determine a certain chapter of your life has now concluded and you will be stepping into the next.
Being brave. A choice made by the director, and it is no act. Being brave takes raw courage after months, perhaps years of deliberating about when or if you should indeed do just that - be brave. Let me reassure you, being brave will set you free. In the meantime, you will quake, but you will not crumble if what you seek aligns with what you know to be true about yourself (remember #1).
“Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” —Helen Keller
The analogy of the director does not perfectly align with living our one and only life. After all, we are talking about a fictitious story capable of being enjoyed for generations. Our lives are anything but fictitious. No, we know our lives are all too real, but do we?
I ask this question because what if poet David Whyte correctly nailed it when he wrote "What if the world is holding its breath - waiting for you to take the place only you can fill?" Why aren't we filling it? Perhaps because we have chosen to follow someone else's script, and not direct our own. Perhaps because we have forgotten to write our own script and direct it as well. We can have chapters in our own lives, the one prior being necessary for the next, not less relevant or bad, simply vital to live the journey we are on, trusting the steps we need to take in a new direction.
Today, tap yourself, hire yourself, assign yourself purposely and intentionally as the director of your life, and I am confident, you will begin to see the positive and desired change which may have only been a dream previously.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life, episode #40
Sun, 8 November 2020
"When we speak a language that denies us choice, we forget the life in ourselves for a robotlike mentality that disconnects us from our own core." —Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Two lives may look like one another, but one may indeed be fulfilling, while the other a life of disdain and pain.
Choosing to live as we do versus living a life out of an expectation, obligation, avoidance of guilt, approval, to avoid shame, or to gain money is to choose a life of integrity according to Marshall Rosenberg. When we choose a life of integrity, we discover the ability to tap into our essential and most sincere self, and enable ourselves to share with the world the gift and talent only we can give.
While sharing a list of actions to refrain from taking as to avoid the latter of the two options mentioned above would certainly simplify how to choose to live, there is no such universal list. Rather, the list of what we choose to do versus what we do out of a feeling of "have-to" will be unique to each of us.
How can we discern the difference? Rosenberg's determinating factor is if the sole motivating force for our actions comes from a place to "simply make life wonderful for others and ourselves" then we are choosing the life we are living. And the latter - making life wonderful for ourselves - is perhaps the most important. We must pay attention to our needs. Rosenberg writes "we cultivate self-compassion by consciously choosing in daily life to act only in service to our own needs and values rather than out of duty, for extrinsic rewards or to avoid guilt, shame and punishment".
Understanding fully and completely what our needs are is the homework we each must tend to in order to live a life everyday that we enjoy living. I highly recommend reading Rosenberg's book as he delineates clearly and in great detail the common societal pushback to his assertion about choosing how you live versus adhering to a life out of anything but choosing it.
The result of any action made void of choice is a deprivation of joy at the very least and resentment, detestation, misery, anger, and a loss of self and a denial to the world of the uniquenesss only we can share at the very worst.
We have been taught falsely and ironically selfishly by outside institutions of many sorts to believe choosing and valuing our needs is hedonistic, wrong and, self-absorbed. Primarily we have accepted such a purported claim because their "marketing department" is skilled in the ways of psychology as they tap into our perceived need to be accepted - approved. However, the needs Rosenberg writes about are fundamental to valuing ourselves, and thus living a life of integrity.
"In fact, when we do things solely in the spirit of enhancing life [for others AND ourselves], we will find others appreciating us. Their appreciation, however, is only a feedback mechanism confirming that our efforts had the intended effect. The recognition that we have chosen to use our power to serve life and have done so successfully brings us the genuine joy of celebrating ourselves in a way that approval from others can never offer."
When we seek to live a life of choice, we contribute positively to the world, and that means contributing positively to others' lives, and the cycle continues forward as others choose to tap into their unique gifts and talents that contribute positively without expectations, simply out of joy of living the life we have the opportunity to live each day.
At the core, we are seeking joy, thus contentment, and both can only be found within.
To live a life out of obligation, guilt, to avoid pain, to avoid shame, may be seen as a survival mechanism, but don't we want to thrive? When we permit ourselves the freedom to fully seek joy in living - to fulfill our unique needs, it becomes far easier to stop the judgment, comparison, blame, criticism, insults, put-down, and labels. Why? Because we recognize each of these negative and unhelpful behaviors are reactions to living a life void of choice.
When we take responsibility for our lives, we take on a weighty task of exploration of our feelings and needs. For so long and in so many cultures, current and past, American and endless others, feelings have been equated to weakness. But human beings have feelings and when we acknowledge them in ourselves, it is far easier to observe them and communicate healthily and helpfully with others to deepen understanding and to discover empathy.
Rosenberg shares it is empathy that is often the missing ingredient in frayed relationships - not only an empathy to acknowledge fully and entirely what others are feeling, but to refrain from being empathetic to ourselves. What do we each need? Why do we feel pained after a conversation with a loved one we are "supposed" to have a relationship with? Why do we feel hurt and disconnected when we go about tasks we thought we chose of our own free-will? Everyone around us applauded when we made said decision, but why doesn't it feel right within ourselves? Each of these and many more feelings are what each of us needs to explore to determine how to live a life we love living. Choice is at the heart of living with true contentment, not obligation, not duty, not to avoid guilt, not to avoid punishment. Choose you and let others choose for themselves as well. The journey forward of both individuals will be unknown, but when lived by choosing the path will be fulfilling and full of respect and true love for ourselves and for those we have set free to be who they truly have always been.
~Read Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
~Note: Some links shared today are affiliates in which upon purchase TSLL receives a small commission. Everything shared on TSLL blog is shared because I recommend it wholeheartedly.
Sun, 1 November 2020
Books about happiness ubiquitously fill the publishing world, but the fundamentals of happiness quite simply are just that, simple. We become overwhelmed, and the it becomes easier to fixate, and often on a veritable rather than a fundamental element of what happiness requires to be deeply and sincerely felt.
When the directions are wrong you will never see materialize what you desire.
Stop the pursuit. This is something I’ve discussed on the blog before, but I think it is worth exploring again. This time, I am going to explore more concretely the fundamental comments of experiences real happiness, and much more of it in our everydays. Let's get to the seven truths below.
1.Discover a tune that is melodic for you
If you enjoy living your life, your everyday life, happiness is the result. Continually, here on TSLL, I have shared that contentment is the feeling we can have at all times. Happiness cannot be infinite 24-hours a day. Happiness is an outcome. Contentment is a state or way of traveling. I had it entirely wrong when I was younger, doodling “Be Happy” on my high school peechee folder while daydreaming in class. You cannot be happy constantly, but you can be content along the way to happy.
2. Spend time doing tasks that enable you to lose track of time
Getting lost in a project, exploring a new [enter a place of curiosity], resting your mind and being in a healthy way.
3. Sharing time with loved ones to simply be in each others’ company.
Giving your life space to be together, even if in silence can be incredibly peaceful, supportive and loving. A contentment shared is happiness reached.
4. Not having existential worries because consciously you know your health, finances and basic needs are tended to
Through the choices we make, we can build the sound and stable foundation that will enable us to feel content in our everydays. Everyone will make choices which align uniquely with their journey which is why outsiders may define the choices as sacrifices. However, a choice is not a sacrifice if it brings you closer and eventually to a way of living that brings you peace and contentment. It is when we achieve contentment that more happy moments can be experienced and savored.
5. Refraining from thinking at any time “when I achieve [enter goal]” or when [enter aupposed life milestone], then I can be happy.
And yes, those are results as shared above, but if the travel does not involve contentment, the outcome you seek is not as likely. Why? It is when you enjoy the journey, when you can be yourself along the way, that the outcome is relinquished, thereby not putting so much pressure on the outcome to hold all the goodness. It is when we expect or assume that we step out of being present along the way, hurting ourselves and others along the way, and thus tainting the outcome so it can never be a source of real happiness if ever it is reached.
6. Find peace in how you travel through life
How you speak and think of yourself, how you engage with others - communication with words, body language, etc. - contentment is felt in our mode of travel, and no matter life’s circumstances, it can be constant. Sleeping well and deep and long is a mode of travel as it allows you to wake up with a clear mind, acting from a place of calm, clarity and full awareness. Taking breaks when our mind needs it, ending the ‘work’ part of our day when we can no longer be productive, eating well and slowing down to savor it, slowing down and refraining from default patterns of speech, being fully aware and listening, then thinking well about what we have heard before responding - all modes/ways of traveling that cultivate contentment as we move through our days.
~Book to explore: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg
7. Letting go of others’ maps for our lives
Certainly a courageous decision. A decision which is exceedingly difficult during the first and second chapter, but with time and support, the journey becomes easier and far more rewarding than any other direction would or could have offered.
All of this is to say that the key to happiness is to discover and cultivate contentment in our everydays so that the happiness deepens and more frequently can be fully observed, savored and appreciated.
~Please do tune to the audio version as each point above is discussed in much more depth.
Check out TSLL's first two books which discover the idea of cultivating a life of contentment that is uniquely your own.
~Book #1 (2014): Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide
~Sunset in the Blue by Melody Gardot (October 2020)
Sponsors for Today's Episode:
Sun, 18 October 2020
“Your inner purpose is to awaken.” —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth
To observe the seamless fluidity of a dancing pair with years of professional dancing experience float across the floor no matter what type of dance is asked of them is to observe a deep awareness and skill of their craft. Foxtrot. No problem. Viennese Waltz. Got it. Tango. Oh my, yes. Swing. Yep!
In 2017, in episode #143, the skill of self-awareness was explored in-depth here on the podcast/blog. For a quick refresher, to be self-aware is to be able to observe ourselves, accept and recognize what we discover and be honest about how we feel, why we act certain ways in particular situations, and the change that we may need to take. It is being able to pay attention and be honest about our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions.
When we are fully self-aware, we gain the instructions of how to live well even though we do not know what the next minute will reveal, the next week, month, year, and so on, will reveal.
When we become self-aware, we are awake and capable of noticing when we need to grow and in what way will help us navigate through whatever life may present.
I chose today's topic because no matter where you find yourself in the mix of stress, loss, pain, and confusion regarding our current situation, many readers have shared with me they are presented with new situations of questions, confusion, doubt, [fill-in-the-blank of an unwanted and somewhat or significantly new emotion] from time to time in a manner that perhaps was not present pre-pandemic.
"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment." —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth
Borrowing Tolle's advice from the quote above, seize these unanticipated and initially unwanted moments and feelings and let them be your guide to deeper self-awareness and an improved everyday life. Assuage any grief, quandary, angst, by reassuring yourself that you have been presented with this moment for a reason. Don't toss it. Don't avoid it. Explore it.
Today I would like to look at six unwanted examples that may be happening in your life and how to step forward and do the latter to each in order to improve the quality of your life moving forward and through our current situation
1.You wake up in the middle of the night, your mind reeling, doubt swirling, fear temporarily winning
Course of action: As a matter of fact, take a pre-action prior to going to bed or whenever you feel most confident - write yourself a note and remind yourself of the truth of how capable you are, words of truth and strength. Place this note by your bed. Okay, back to the moment you wake up.
Take a drink of water, hydrate and wake your mind up so that it is in your control and not the other way around. Read your pre-written note. Read it again. Journal if you need to - what is causing you worry, what are you fearful about. Don't necessarily answer anything. Save the answering and analyzing for a time during the day when you are fully awake so that you can be a good judge of whether or not what you wrote is valid as well as to accurately determine if what you are worried about is within your control. Hint, if it is not, let it go. Turn the lights off, count your breath in a steady beat - in and out. Let yourself fall back to sleep. Whatever you do, do not pick up your technology.
2. You are exhausted from work stress and trying to balance all that you think you have to do
Martyrs die. On the other hand, workers with awareness of the larger picture of why they work, live well. While putting and acknowledging work as important, the latter do not make work the top priority. I have worked with both types of people in the handful of school districts I have worked in over my 19 years. Martyrs tend to be different people in the classroom than they are away from their students or staff (if they are administrators). People who live to live well are the same in the moment of teaching as they are in their everyday life. People who live well are more content, more enjoyable to be around and know how to put work in its place and do so with clarity and a love for not only their own life but for the people who look up to them - in this case their students.
Course of action: Be honest with yourself. What are you aching for? Nobody needs to know your honest answer but you, but be honest with yourself. Do you crave at the most fundamental, sleep? Do you crave a social life? Do you crave to be more comfortable in your body but do not have the time to exercise consistently nor prepare and enjoy healthy, satiating meals? Write it down. This is when your life begins to change for the better.
Whether when given the opportunity or simply taking it, try out living the life you want to live - the schedule you'd like to have - even if temporarily. Stick to it long enough to experience potential benefits - one month, a quarter, etc.. Don't ask for approval from anyone else as to whether what you crave is valid. Honor your own feelings, and give the new temporary schedule a try. You will come back with some answers, maybe not all of the answers, but enough, if you are being honest with yourself, to know whether what you thought what you needed was actually indeed what was lacking.
Upon choosing to make permanent changes to your schedule, if the changes involve others or require others to be involved, communicate clearly and refrain from complaining. While it is okay to vent to a friend or your partner or your journal, doing so is a means to release stress, iradicating faulty thinking if it exists due to past grievances being triggered and to ensure you move forward with a rational mind. Sometimes what we are venting about has more to do with built up stress from a variety of sectors in our lives and not just the one thing we are "cursing" at the moment.
Let me end by saying, be honest with yourself. If you are overwhelmed and exhausted, how could you have prevented the situation if at all possible? Could you have raised your voice when decisions were being made? Could you have made the smarter decision, not the easier decision? Be honest and improvement can be made.
3. Tension in relationships - personal or professional
Course of action: Answer this question for yourself (not for the people in the relationship that is in a state of tension) - what behaviors and feelings are unwanted or undesired, but seem to be a default or at the very least, unhelpful? Use your answers as a guide to what skills you need to explore and better understand. Seek out an expert (i.g. a counselor) or a book from a respected source on the subject.
4. Financial Stress not related to job loss
Course of action: Turn off the advertisements, stop or significantly reduce your scrolling on social media and start living in the present with the world, the real-world, not the virtual world, that surrounds you. If the influences for buying more, or "keeping up" are not coming unconsciously from media (and I know, you might be saying - if they are unconscious, how will you know where they are coming from? But take this moment to take a closer examination of what you feel you 'need' and where that idea is being presented or shown), look to your social circle - chosen or not - and start to tailor who you spend time with and if you can't eradicate entirely unhelpful influences, reduce or limit your time with them.
5. State of the world
Course of action: Choose to educate yourself on topics that are grabbing your attention. Choose to look to experts, credible in the field you are exploring, that you may not have looked to before to deepen your clarity on an issue before you jump to conclusion. However, do not overwhelm your mind. Seek out bits of information and then go about your life, adjusting your choices, actions in which you do have control that will make a difference, no matter how seemingly small. The words you choose, letting go of assumptions and fixations, keeping an open-mind and refraining from group-think, but rather practicing critical thinking regularly so that eventually it becomes your default.
6. A feeling of agitation or lack of purpose
Course of action: find something, no matter how seemingly small which allows you to see an immediate finished, improved, completed outcome. The act of productivity need not be anything to do with your job or career, but simply needs to be something in which you can see a "finished" outcome.
For me, my garden has provided many moments of productivity - weeding, pruning, dead-heading - as soon as I tend to it, I see results. Ahhhh. It sounds silly but as Sue Stuart-Smith shares in The Well-Gardened Mind, "Two essential sources of grounding and balance . . . proximity to nature and fulfilling work" (the author is referring to the lack of nourishment to the psyche prompted by the industrialization in the 19th and early 20th century).
Each one of these life moments of challenge offers an opportunity to course correct, to grow, to evolve as Eckhart Tolle expresses in his quote above. It has been my experience that if I choose to not acknowledge that something within me needs to change - to communicate better, to ground myself in self-confidence, to be brave, the same stress, the same worry, the same event perhaps in a different form, keeps rearing its head.
The pandemic is presenting each one of us with unique opportunities to evolve forward and live a better life. Choose to find the growth opportunity that exists inside of you, and your life will change for the better.
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—Borgen, on Netflix
Tune into the audio version of today's episode to find out more about this Danish Government television drama series, what Borgen means in English and why I am thoroughly enjoying it and highly recommend it.
Sun, 11 October 2020
"Creating an environment in which you can have a greater sense of clarity and calm . . . The result is a mind that feels much calmer and clear." —Andy Puddicomb
Having an abundance of choices is a valuable asset and an extraordinary opportunity. However, unconsciously, when we don't filter our seemingly unlimited choices, we welcome more unnecessary stress into our daily lives.
As someone who wholeheartedly embraces and celebrates choice, understanding the right balance of how much choice is helpful until it tips over into distraction, confusion and paralyzation, upon obtaining, significantly increases the level of contentment in everyday life.
Andy Puddicomb's seemingly simple advice is too often overlooked or forgotten, however is insightful and sage advice if we are seeking tranquility in our everydays.
The clarity we may need to welcome into our lives could be ushered in seemingly anywhere and everywhere. The variable is each of us. Where do we need calm in our lives? Where are we feeling harried, run-down and over-extended? Often we don't realize it is the over-abundance of options that is standing in the way of a sea of calm that carries us more gently and enjoyably through our days.
It has been argued that a large portion of our life experience is determined by a few key decisions. Coined the 80/20 rule, or more officially, the Pareto Principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906 to describe the wealth inequality at the time, the concept has expanded to apply to a variety of aspects of life beyond business.
And while, the formula isn't exact, it is a concept worth pondering. When we think about our choices as investments in our lives, what choices will reap the most benefit, the best and longest lasting outcomes? Whether regarding our health or contentment or financial stability, quality choices, purchases and pursuits are wise investments which eliminate excessive, repetitive and time-consuming choices that may fill up our days and minds unnecessarily.
Today, discover 10 areas of life to consider paring down your choices and thereby, scaling up the overall quality of your everyday life and peace of mind.
10. Wardrobe color palette
On the surface, the choices of what clothes we wear may seem frivolous and inconsequential; however, while our clothing can be unnecessarily attended to and take too much of our time and worry, tending to it just enough so as to lift our spirits and engage in a social world which involves visual communication is to be aware of how to use the tools made available to live well.
From knowing what complements your skin tone, your lifestyle, your silhouette, when you know this information, your decisions become more simplified, but more importantly, more helpful and easier to make.
~Explore this topic further by reading Why Not . . . Build a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget?
9. Outside information
From what the information is about, to where or from whom the information arrives, be consciously selective and deliberate. I know very clearly which news sources I trust, even if they offer up headlines that challenge my way of thinking, I will still take time to read their articles or listen to their news reports. Not all of the time, but regularly. As well, I practice critically thinking (a soft skill) even with headlines I agree with and writers I trust. No only does this ensure I don't slide into unconscious bias, but it also ensures I am not accepting blindly news that could effect my life or decisions that without more time, more answers, more research, should not be jumped upon as fully formed enough to act upon.
8. The food purchased for your home cupboards and refrigerator
Give yourself better options to choose from when you walk through the door upon arriving home from work or travel or life famished, and you will help your body, your mind and end your day well, and extend the good health you wish to maintain.
~Explore this topic further by reading Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well?
7. The focus of your business or work - content/skills/outcomes
Each of our careers will present different options that we will need to tailor based on the purpose of the job, but let me share with you some examples. Education for example, especially this year, but leading up to this unique year of teaching as well, I have been examining closely what the most necessary skills are for my students when it comes to clearly communicating. Recently, I have had to eliminate teaching daily current events, but I continue to teach the skill of critical thinking as well as offer a library of credible news resources so when my students choose to seek out news, they can navigate through each headline effectively.
Another example began this summer here on TSLL. Paring down my regular posting schedule, by focusing on 3-4 posts a week rather than 5-6, my goal was provide myself with more time to write detailed, specific posts designed for the regular and returning Simply Luxurious Life reader rather than the sensational post that procures more clicks from outside random passersby. Again, by reducing the breadth, we deepen the depth and thereby the quality of our lives, and in this case our professional lives. And when we make this shift, we increase the liklihood of improved satisfaction both of ourselves and from those we work with and for.
~Explore this topic further by reading Two Secrets of Living a Life of Quality
6. Where you spend your money
From the simple everyday decisions of whether or not to go out for lunch or make your lunch to what your rent/mortgage payment will be in relationship to your monthly income, you are revealing what is of value in your life. When you prioritize, the line-items that appear closer to the bottom are easier to say "no" to.
For example, the paycheck arrives at the first of the month, the first bill that is paid - what is it? For me, it's my mortgage. Period. No question. Arguably, that is likely the first for most of us, so start from there, what is the order of priority, and be clear about why you have placed each expenditure where you have. Doing so will help wh new items or purchases of interest introduce themselves.
~Explore this topic further by reading TSLL's many posts on money - choose one that speaks to what you'd like to strengthen in your financial life here in TSLL's Archived Money posts.
5. What risks you take
Notice I didn't write - whether or not to take risks. A life lived to our fullest potential, a life of true contentment, will involve risks. Some might say simply living is taking a risk as each next moment is unknown, but we certainly know there is a "safe" way to live for each of us in any given situation, and a "full" way to live for each of us. Marie Forleo suggests examining your choices that may seem risky by asking the question - Will this expand my life or contract it? More specifically, she advises, if it makes you physically in the moment you are simply thinking about taking this risk feel heavy and filled with dread vs. lighter, brighter, perhaps even literally move your body forward and sit more upright, then this is a response to take note of. Keep in mind, that often, our initial response to a risk is trepidatious often because we deeply hope it will work out, but worry it will not.
~Explore this topic further by reading TSLL's 2nd book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self
4. The soft skills you wish to improve
Well honed soft skills are the foundation of a healthy, fulfilling, tranquil social life both with others and ourselves. The key word is "skills", as I shared in my second book in Chapters 8 & 9, the primary difference between skills and strengths is the former we learn, the latter we are gifted with at birth.
Each of us will have grown up with and been surrounded by others with certain skills which we learn seemingly unconsciously, and it may seem as those these skills are innate, and for those skills we don't possess well, we may think we cannot welcome them into our lives, but the good news is, we can. As well, we can strengthen the beneficial soft skills that we have been fortunate to have been around, observe and imitate which will lead to more conscious living and intentional modeling for those around us.
Soft skills include effective communication, listening, critical thinking, body language, mental agility and attitude, how we work with others - any skill that involves emotional intelligence and intuitiveness.
~Explore this topic further by reading Emotional Intelligence: A Crucial Tool for Enhanced Quality of Life and Work, episode #140 and 34 Ways to Attain Emotional Freedom and Cultivate More Joy of Living, episode #275
3. How you spend your free time
Similar to #5, we need to have regular unstructured time in our days. To not allow our days oxygen to breathe, move, adjust and rest, is part of the reason the stress is surmounting and may feel unsurmountable. Whether you spend your time immersed in your favorite hobbies and pastimes, or choosing to not look at the clock and let your days, thoughts and emotions lead you through this regular "unstructured" time, be sure to choose to do so with delight and enthusiasm.
My free time has been to regularly tinker in my garden, read a book, cook in the kitchen, write or yep, nap. Of course, these pastimes and interests may change as our lives and the world change, but either way, keep the window open and soak up the awesome fresh air that it offers every day.
~Explore this topic further by reading/listening to An Everyday Necessity: Deliberate Rest, episode # 139
2. The companions you spend your time with - humans and pets
While this area of choice could be divided up in many ways from our romantic life to our friends to our work contacts, the key is awareness and clarity of what elevates and what depletes us and how we play a role in encouraging behaviors that are either helpful or detrimental. [I speak more about our furry companions on the audio portion.]
~Explore this topic further by listening/ reading The Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being, episode #92
1. What living well looks like to you
Perhaps this last item for today's list is too vague, but at the core of the previous nine items, having clarity about yourself, having clarity about the need to let go of perfection, having clarity about society's influence on your life, having clarity about society, the culture, the past, the present, and so much more is incredibly helpful to being more gentle with yourself and with others. Choose self-kindness. Choose less judgment towards yourself and toward others.
When you make these choices, you will feel lighter, you will eliminate more stress than perhaps you need you were carrying unintentionally. Let go of expectations and learn to dance with life and its rhythm, understanding that when you begin to dance - to really share your true self with the world - you contribute to the symphony which wants you to join. And while you will not know what each line of music will be as the song is not given to us before hand to practice, we can come to the music and become part of the music, thus living fully, living well and enjoy the journey.
~Explore this topic further in TSLL's Archived Lifestyle posts (there are 21 pages, of posts, so find a topic that speaks to what you are curious about).
~Note that Amazon links and some other shopping links are affiliate, which means I may get a small fee if you buy. However, I only recommend books and items I myself use, recommend or am curious about.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #290
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 20 September 2020
The Atlantic recently posted an article asserting there won't be a clear end to the pandemic. Rather, the end for each of us will be as unique and differentiated as each one of us and occur on a different timeline.
Frequently, the yearning for "returning to normal" may be voiced by those around us, strangers or intimate relations, or we may be simply thinking such thoughts, constantly, as we grieve the parts of our lives we enjoyed that are no longer readily available or available at all.
However, even before the pandemic introduced itself and in what seemed for many to change our lives much like a light-switch, the psychological experts have been talking about this word that seems to roll off our tongues more often than ever before in recent times - normal. Writing in 2009 on Pyschology Today, "The fate of normality is very much in the balance," wrote Peter Kramer.
While speaking about individuals as to their neurosis or so-called normal behaviors and the perameters of what constitutes "normal", he shared a final thought which may help reframe how we strive forward in our current times as we are more broadly looking at an entire world, culture, etc. and what "normal", the new normal, may be:
Sun, 6 September 2020
“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain
The thief of joy, if Mark Twain is right, is of our own making.
The good news in this revelation reveals each of us can take back our joy.
Comparing ourselves to others occurs consciously and unconsciously. Consciously, we may be acutely aware that we follow certain people on social media to see how we are doing in relation; unconsciously, when we choose not to speak up to set a boundary, when we set a checklist for our life delineating what should happen by what age.
Each of these three are examples of many more of unhelpful comparison, and while comparison is a primal instinct for survival, the good news evolution and civil society have provided the opportunity and arguably the necessity for each of us of to offer the world our unique talents rather than limiting ourselves to remain part of the herd or tribe.
The habit of comparison is a learned skill, and therefore, it can be unlearned; however, it must be a conscious choice to do so. Fundamentally, when we compare ourselves with others, some part of us believes we are not enough or needs to be reassured that we are enough just as we are.
Today, I will be examining five areas of our lives in which comparison can creep in and become destructive to contentment and living a fulfilling life, and then share how to let go of such comparing with the outside world.
Life Goals, Your Journey
Brené Brown's quote above speaks beautifully to the need for us to let go of the timeline checklist we may have put in place for our lives. This is not to persuade you to let go of setting goals, but rather to examine who such goals are actually for. Who benefits? If the outcome enables you to be accepted by a particular group in your personal life or society, then this item is a checklist item that is being attended to out of comparison; however, if the outcome fulfills something within you that enables you to exercise your talents more fully and share them with the world, then such a checklist item is a keeper.
Social Environment — Who Surrounds You?
A significant reason it can be extremely difficult to be ourselves with and around others has to do with who the "others" are.
From my own experience, one reason I thoroughly enjoy living on my own and my own company has to do with only needing permission from myself to be and do what comes naturally or piques my curioisity without worrying what others think. However, that "worry" sprung out of life experience when I was myself around others.
As young children, we did not know that doing something that was naturally part of who we were or innately drew our interest that prompted dismissal, scorn or laughing to tease and suppress was a reflection of an unhealthy relationship, not a reflection of doing something "wrong". And so we shifted. We edited. We adapted.
Now we are adults. Now we know more and we can return to embracing who we are and have always been, even though we may have kept it under wraps or hidden away for fear of laughter, teasing or dismissal (again, all conditioned fears based on our past experience). Where do we begin? Setting boundaries.
In episode #126, boundaries are discussed in detail. The reason to establish your personal boundaries is because when we don't, "we give away our time, effort, the potential for fun and creativity" as Lucy Sheridan reminds in her book The Comparison Cure. When thought about through that lens, motivation to set boundaries becomes easier.
If you too are someone who finds comfort in your own company, however, wants to welcome people into your life yet fears being unable to be yourself if you do so, be patient with yourself, build the skill of setting boundaries, and when you do, you will begin to meet and then know with confidence who you can welcome into your life so that you can continue to be fully yourself.
Setting boundaries will reveal underlying truths of all of your relationships - who respects and understands, who pushes back, why they were friends or built a relationship with you in the first place. In other words, your social community may shift, but it will shift for the better, opening up room for the right people to enter.
“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – Ru Paul
On the other side of comparing yourself with others is accepting and appreciating where you are in the present moment as well as appreciating and accepting where others are in the same present moment.
When we look outside of ourselves for validation - how should I be dressing (trends, etc.), what should my home look like?, when should I be getting married?, what day of the week is it okay to go to bed early?(this one may sound silly, but when we apologize to others or tease ourselves for habits we love - i.e. going to bed early - we are invalidating our choices) - we have not found contentment with ourselves from within ourselves. We are instead asking the outside world to tell us we are "okay". Such seeking is not loving and is not an acceptance of ourselves.
This habit of seeking outside validation makes it extremely difficult to accept others as they are if they don't "fit in" to our expectations of what they "should be" and "should do", which makes it difficult to build loving, respectful and secure relationships.
I cannot recommend more highly this book for improving our ability to be more loving to ourselves and thereby be able to be a healthy partner in a relationship - How to Be An Adult in Relationships. I will be exploring more of the topics shared in this book in upcoming episodes.
Everyday Life - Contentment
In 2012 I shared this post about competing with others which reiterates the quote above. Comparison with others is a form of competition with others, and it drains, it exhausts, it depletes, it is never a positive effect on our lives.
Even in sports, you can only do your best, even though technically you are on the field/court/stage "competing" with others. However, it doesn't matter what they do. It is your engagement to present your full capabilities that will determine the outcome. Be motivated to improve upon yourself, but do not denigrate yourself for areas you wish to strengthen.
The component that must be present in order to compare only with ourselves and not the outside world is a strong self-confidence. In episode #5 of the podcast, confidence and the strength it brings into our lives is explored. Just as comparison is a learned skill, acquiring and attaining self-confidence is a skill as well - a skill worth acquiring for a contented life.
However, once we have acquired self-confidence, we must not stop exercising it as it will atrophy. Our lives change, new experiences arise and therefore, we are challenged to navigate well through each of the events and engagements with others. Our self-confidence will be challenged and questioned within our own minds, thus why we must exercise it as though it were a muscle, because in many ways it is.
First of all, as Lucy Sheridan points out, "self-confidence is a key step in ridding your life of comparison as it gives you agency over your actions and ownership of your thoughts and behavior".
What happens when we don't have self-confidence?
How to exercise self-confidence, as shared in The Comparison Cure:
Strengthening Your Self-Worth
Each of us is born with self-worth and possesses it our entire lives; however, we often lose track of this truth along our life journey at some point. Let this be your reminder, you innately possess self-worth. Nobody can take that away from you.
Simply put, "Having self-worth is knowing who you are and being okay with it. It's the result of deep inner work, increased self-care, self-love and self-acceptance." Lucy Sheridan goes on to say, "Note that possessing self-worth does not necessarily mean having to reach and retain a constant sense of joyful ecstasy, but it is at least a gentle, palpable appreciation." As I describe it, knowing you have self-worth, consciously knowing this truth, is to bring the ability to be content in your everyday life. It is a grounding, and it enables your self-confidence to come forth in all that you do and in each interaction that you have in a calmly powerful way.
For a detailed post on how to strengthen your self-worth, read this post which shares 10 ways to do just that.
Living a life free of comparison with the outside world becomes a habit after a conscious decision to make it so. A few simple ways to consciously start letting go of comparison in your personal and work life:
The work of letting go of comparison is a practice in making space for a life of deep contentment and fulfillment. It is a life that will resonate most strongly with you and may not make sense to others, but those who love you, with whom you have communicated powerfully, yet respectfully with along the way, will be there to share it with you and their lives with you. Free of comparison and full of celebration and appreciation.
~The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (book #1, 2017)
~The Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (book #2, 2020)
~Seven Kinds of People You Find in a Book Store by Shaun Bythell (November 10, 2020)
~Check out Shaun Bythell's YouTube channel (I've included one video below)
~Follow Shaun on Instagram after reading the books to continue enjoying the daily pondering from a Bookseller.
Download and Listen to the full episode here or listen on the following podcast platforms:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #286
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 16 August 2020
In three weeks the seventh season of The Simple Sophisticate will begin. With 285 episodes already shared, I am excited to explore new books, welcome guests that speak to what living simply luxuriously is all about and sharing motivating and inspiring ways to continue to live a life of quality over quantity.
I have shared the full calendar for Season 7 which spans the next 12 months. You will notice that 2021 has a handful fewer episodes than last season. The reason for this is to give me time to hopefully bring a second season of the cooking show during the spring season.
Keep in mind that every Monday that a new episode does not go live, a brand new Motivational Monday post will be available to read here on the blog, just as there is today.
I want to thank listeners again for sharing the show with their friends and family either by word-of-mouth or on their social media feeds, and for leaving positive reviews that share specifically what they enjoy about the show so that new potential listeners know exactly what they will discover when they tune in.
This September look for topics on building healthy relationships, listen to my conversation with a guest from the cooking world who has worked with the most well-known people in the industry, tips on how to make the most of this incredibly challenging time, and many more topics that are relevant and relatable as well as offering concrete ideas to apply to your own life journey.
Join me on Monday September 7th for a brand new episode wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe below in order to always have the latest episode ready to download and enjoy.
Catch up on all of episodes here, and below I have gathered up episodes from the previous six Septembers to help you kick-off the next season for however your life schedule will be changing as well as possible.
10 Simple, Significant Decor Ideas to Add Luxurious Touches to the Home, Part Une, episode #260 (season 6)
Trust the Transition: How to Step Through and Embrace the Change You Seek, episode #225 (season 5)
The Benefits of Having a Mission Statement & How to Create Your Own, episode #173 (season 4)
14 Ways to Get Back to Calm, episode #121 (season 3)
25 Must-Haves for the Efficient Office Desk, episode #60 (Season 2)
8 Pillars of Building a Simply Luxurious Life, episode #1
~Sponsors of this episode include:
~Beginning on October 1, 2020, a significant change and much anticipated improvements in engagement will be coming to TSLL blog. Only subscribers will be able to view more than five posts a month along with other exclusive content (Shannon's Home & Garden Tours, Giveaways, Saturday Ponderings, etc.). Learn all about TSLL’s Soft Paywall here.
Sun, 19 July 2020
224: How to Welcome Simplicity Into Your Life: Live Differently for One Month (top episode from season 5)
Desired change in our lives can be seemingly elusive when so much of what needs to happen requires more energy, more time, more focus. With already full lives, the desired change remains just that - desired.
However, what if you set aside just one month. Why not for only one month institute the change you seek, and then should if it does not work out, you can return to your old ways? Part of this approach is a bit of a trick of the mind, but the other part is to reduce the stress on your schedule as you can shift your priorities temporarily and only permanently if you choose to at the month's end.
In today's episode, the top episode which kicked off Season #5 of the podcast, discover specific ideas for welcoming simplicity into your everyday life. You can view the full Show Notes for episode #224 here.
Sun, 7 June 2020
"To embrace leisure, we don't have to let go of progress. [Our] constant pushing is now impeding our progress. We work best when we allow for flexibility in our habits . . . [w]e can and must stop treating ourselves like machines that can be driven and pumped and amped and hacked. Instead of limiting and constraining our essential natures, we can celebrate our humanness at work and in idleness. We can better understand our own natures and abilities. We can lean in not to our work but to our inherent gifts." —Celeste Headlee Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing , and Underliving
For the past 10 weeks I have had the good fortune to go to work with both of my dogs. Why? Because I have been working from home.
I am able to take them for a short walk about the neighborhood before I step into my office and remote classroom, then take a break around 10:30 am as we sit on the garden porch, soaking in some sunshine and thinking about what I might want to enjoy for lunch in a few hours time. Lunch is leisurely because I can cook it, savor it, not be rushed to eat it or interrupted and our afternoon outing after about 70-90 minutes of work after lunch is to the mailbox and about the neighborhood. Returning to the office if need be to tie up loose ends, check my work email one more time (I only check my school email three times a day), when the day concludes, I am not exhausted, but I do feel productive.
Admittedly, the scenario I shared above is due to an unwanted global occurrence, and I miss my in-person connections with my students and colleagues, but what I do not miss is the excessive expectation to always be checking my email, regularly being interrupted so that I lose my focus/students' focus and requirement for a long inflexible work day (meaning not healthy breaks, a constant expectation of being "on"), and being rewarded for giving more beyond the work day even if it reduces the quality of my home life and personal relationships.
I am not complaining directly about a system that surrounds so many of us, but trying to be honest about the reality of why I was quietly thankful to have the time at home these past 10 weeks to catch my breath. I did my best to examine why, and while the emotional toll for those of us fortunate enough not to have our health and livelihoods taken away was unhealthy and exhausting, overall, I found great refuge and restoration this spring whilst staying at home, finding a schedule that worked for me as I continued to remotely teach and blog and just be home.
I also found much more time to read books that have been patiently sitting in my shopping cart, and two books furthered my exploration into how exactly improve the working environment when we begin to step back into the workplace. I have a few ideas. Take a look below.
1.Understand the history of the current work culture
"We are investing our time and energy and hard-earned money in things we think will make us more efficient, but those things end up wasting our time, exhausting us, and stressing us out without bringing us closer to or our goals." —Celeste Headlee
Journalist and bestselling author Celeste Headlee reminds readers in her recent book Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing , and Underliving (Amazon; Bookshop) that "[o]ur working habits changed dramatically a little more than two centuries ago" (aka as the Industrial Revolution), and not largely for the better. In fact, humans came to be seen as being capable of producing regularly and steadfastly with minimal breaks much like a machine. Humans are not machines. Our ability to be productive and creative and resilient comes from adequate and regular and in equal measure amounts rest to that of the amount of time we work. No wonder we're exhausted.
2. Enable the mind to think well so you can respond compassionately
Often we are reacting instead of responding to situations in life that arise unexpectedly or unwantingly. At the time, we are not aware because either we have always behaved in such a way or because we do not know or have not been taught a better way. Dr. Sylvia Boorstein speaks about equanimity, and as it pertains to the mind, equanimity "is the capacity of the mind to hold a clear view of whatever is happening, both externally and internally, as well as the ability of the mind to accommodate passion without losing its balance. It's the mind that sees clearly, that meets experience with cordial intent. Becuase it remains steady, and thus unconfused, it is able to correctly asses the situations it meets."
How to become clear thinkers? We acknowledge we do not know everything, and we take a step back and ask helpful questions with a calm tone. We choose to educate ourselves seeking out experts in the field we wish to learn more about - whether in book, audio, video or conversation form. We become comfortable with not having a concrete and absolute response immediately or at all and acknowledging the gray in nearly every situation that presents itself. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we rest the mind regularly and well. This includes good nights of sleep, regularly a slower pace in our schedules, days and weeks and a cultivation of environments that enable us to lower our stress levels and feel safe.
"And because we are humans and have empathy built into our brain structure, when we are touched by what we encounter — and when our minds are balanced — we respond with benevolence." —Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., author of Happiness is an Inside Job (Amazon; Bookshop)
~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145
3. Let go of the busy mentality
When we reduce the constant go-go-go mentality, we give our lives breath, and figuratively speaking, we give our lives oxygen to live better and thus to improve the quality of our lives. Letting go of busy feeds a cycle of life improvement because as you are letting go of busy, you are improving your decision making skills, reducing the unnecessary stress and constantly cultivating the life you want to live rather than creating more problems, more headaches and less time to adequately address and handle them.
Interestingly enough, studies have shown that we may actually think we are busier than we actually are, but it is the delusion of busyness that is the cause for our mind to feel harried and thus our decision-making abilities to suffer. For example, if you feel pressed for time, this perception can lead you to making bad choices about how you spend your time. Conversely, if you feel you have time to spare, the study revealed people feel healthier and happier. So much of the quality of our lives rest in our minds. Harness the awesome tool of your mind, and you will improve your approach to living.
~Listen/Read episode/post #115 - The 8 Benefits of Banishing Busy
4. Quality productivity is not a result of excessive time given.
"If you silence your phone, close your inbox, and really focus on getting a report done, research shows you'll finish 40 percent faster, have fewer errors, and have plenty of time to take a short walk around the building and let your brain relax." — Celeste Headlee
Studies that were done decades ago have proven that more time does not equate to more output and certainly not a quality output. In 1951, researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology discovered that people who put in excessive hours were the least productive of all. The most productive were the workers who worked 2-5 hours a day, so 10-20 hours a week. Recently, in Sweden, a hospital attempted to improve the working conditions for the workers, reducing their hours to six hours a day, and no more than 30 hours a week. The hospital was prepared to hire extra workers to make up for the loss of productivity, but do you know what happened? As reported in The New York Times, "The unit [performed] 20 percent more operations, generating additional business from treatments . . . that would have gone to other hospitals." Quality over quantity and in this case it surpassed even that of the hopeful that it would simply be equitable in output.
5. Allow yourself to focus on a single task entirely and without disruption
Simply, turn off the notifications. If you work at a job that expects you to be constantly responding to emails broach the topic of productivity as studies have demonstrated if we cannot give ourselves fully to a task, we cannot do our best work. What this means for me at home is that I have been checking my school emails three times a day during the school day - when the school day begins, at noon and at the end of the day. If this will be a shift for those expecting to hear from you, perhaps send an automated response for the first month or two (or leave it in your footer) when people can expect to hear from you, how frequently you check your email, etc. so that they are not expecting an immediate response and should not worry when they do not receive one.
6. Invest in leisure
"Research shows employees who feel more detached from their jobs during their time at home are emotionally healthier and more satisfied with their lives. They're less likely to feel emotionally exhausted, and they report getting better sleep." —Celeste Headlee
Leisure time is separate from "free time" or "spare time" as Headlee defines it. Spare time is the time we find in between the work we do for our income. Leisure time is entirely separate from work. As she describes it, leisure time is "unpolluted" by work - no emails, no work calls, nor worrying about how your activity might impact your work life. Speaking for myself, while I and many other educators have been at home these past 10 weeks, it has not been leisure time during the work week. I am still, if I am not teaching online, checking my emails, responding to expectations, grading papers and aware of my actions during the school day, etc. My leisure time begins on the weekend, after the school day has ended each work day and will fully begin when our summer holiday starts later this week.
The mind behaves differently when we are on leisure time, and it is imperative that we regularly welcome it into our daily schedule. Each of us will do it differently during the work week and weekend, and perhaps even our holidays, but do make sure you have leisure time in your life to savor and enjoy. It will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your life.
7. Give your mind space to become clear
"Just take one breath and another and another, with as much attention in every way as you can. The confusion will sort itself out. Inclined in the right direction, the mind takes care of itself." —Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D.
The untrained mind can be a weapon of destruction to ourselves and others. A trained mind, one that is understood, that is strengthened to think well, critically examine and refrain from rash assumptions due to lack of emotional intelligent understanding is an artist's prized possession. However, it is a choice to become a student of our mind. Boorstein writes, "I do not think the mind needs lots of instruction, but I do think it needs to be encouraged and continually inspired." Feed your mind well. Be conscious of what is presented to it (limit social media, be aware of the news and how much you intake, observe how you feel around certain people, the books you read, the videos, shows and television you watch). Choose to feed it with what you are curious about. Delight in learning something new and do not feel guilty for not knowing what the zeitgeist believes is most popular or most noteworthy of the moment. Give your mind space to have clarity, and when it has clarity regularly, it will be your best friend.
~How to be the Master of Your Mind, episode #20
So how can we institute these needed changes if research has repeatedly demonstrated the need to observe that we are human beings, not machines? We need leaders who are well-educated with the resources that demonstrates convincingly that the quality of work will not diminish and likely will increase when we see our employees as human beings. Yes, it is a culture shift, and it will take time, but it takes courage and strong, patient leadership to clearly communicate the benefit to the worker first, knowing that the company, the department, the school, our futures, will be all the better. And even if you are not in a position of leadership at the moment, communication with your leadership body, build a consensus amongst your co-workers. Schedules and approaches change with data, trusted experts and informing the public as well as those it will directly effect, as well as indirectly.
If nothing else, you can start at home and setting boundaries on your work and home life. Cultivate leisure time, practice the strengthening of your mind and begin to see your being settle, relax and enjoy your daily life far more.
~purchase in the states from Chelsea Market Baskets, NY
~purchase in the UK directly from Shortbread House of Edinburgh
Learn more about the history of shortbread below in a short video about the Shortbread House of Edinburgh company.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #283
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 5 April 2020
Today's episode is a favorite from the archives to help you jump well into the new spring season.
The next episode will be a new episode of the podcast, and it will air on Monday May 18th as we kick off TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week.
In the meantime, each Monday in which there is no new episode of the podcast, there will be a new Monday Motivational post. Click here to read today's new Monday Motivational Post - 20 Ideas for Making Working and Staying at Home a Pleasure
Check out the schedule for Season 6 below. The date of each new episode and when it will air is circled in red.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #29
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 8 March 2020
True contentedness is unremarkable to the outside world, or passerby.
Typing away in my cozy chair in the living room in my line of sight Norman eats his breakfast and Oscar acknowledging he will not be able to sneak a bite, takes a long cool drink of water. The croissant for my Sunday morning ritual is proofing in the oven and Sunday Baroque's weekly program fills my home.
Even having lost an hour of the day, I have decided to wake up with the sunset and use the dawn-filled hour to work early before we are able to go for our morning stroll in the woods. All is well, and so much surrounds me for which to be grateful.
I began the morning reading Maria Shriver's weekly email newsletter, and in particular this morning's letter resonated with me, and most likely would you as well as a reader of TSLL. I've included an excerpt below as she describes a moment in which she felt, albeit unexpectedly, truly and sincerely content.
"Over the last few years, I’ve settled into myself. I’ve focused more on my blessings and what I’m doing well rather than my shortcomings and what needs to be adjusted (something I highly recommend). As a result, everything in my mind has calmed down, and therefore my body has calmed down, too. Today, my life finally feels centered, grounded, and solid. I feel like I’ve found my space and my place.
It was one of those profoundly simple, yet headshaking, moments of self-realization that no one ever really talks about. Sure, there are still things in life that give me anxiety (the coronavirus, the election, and Mother Nature as our neighbors in Nashville know all too well). But, through it all, I’ve been able to find my inner fortitude and soothe myself, something I’ve struggled with my entire life.
The truth is I never expected that the peace, joy or success that I chased my whole life would come to me when I was sitting alone, drinking coffee on my porch. I thought I was supposed to find that while giving speeches, accepting awards, and galvanizing change. That’s what our culture teaches us. It’s what infused into our beings at a very young age."
I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that on this International Women’s Day, I’m a woman on my own path. I’m living my one wild, precious, joyful and meaningful life. In the end, my friends, that’s what galvanizes true change. Watching, witnessing and being in community with people who are following their authentic paths is what changes the world one breath at a time. I thought of that every time I washed my hands this week and it made me smile.
So, follow your heart personally, professionally, and politically. Because, when you do, you will discover the feeling I felt the other morning. You will find yourself saying to no one in particular, “Wow, I’m good just the way I am.” —Maria Shriver in her 3/8/2020 letter from the editor of The Sunday Paper newsletter
I realize the excerpt above was long, but hopefully, as it did me, it reassured as to what living well truly is. It's simple and intentional. It's internal and individual. It is purpose driven and intangible. It is also experiential and tactile. It requires of us to be present to be engaged with our world acknowledging much needs us to let go, but so too must we stay involved and aware. It is the daily practice of elevating our daily life by how we walk and open our eyes and minds to all that is around us and that is possible.
Each year when my birthday rolls around, here on the blog, I share a reflection of some sort of life lessons, aha moments and discoveries about the world found along my journey. To share, as well, admittedly, as a way to preserve my own growth, my hope is to prompt introspection amongst readers as sometimes, maybe even often, we do not realize all ways in which we have grown as it can sometimes be hard to see when we are the ones walking through the world each day.
I have yet to share my life lessons for my 41st birthday which fell during the final week of February, so I wanted to take today's episode/post to reflect.
1.Dreams, hopes, wishes can indeed materialize so long as we never let them go, we keep making small, yet steady progress, and keep refusing to not believe it can happen.
2. Clear, respectful, honest communication is to be treasured and a necessary ingredient for healthy relationship of all types.
4. Giving yourself closure on the past is healthy and necessary for being able to fully move forward. Your closure need not make sense to anyone else but yourself, but give yourself this gift of freedom.
5. Some friends, family and/or colleagues may not be able to travel with you into your next life chapter as you choose to grow and evolve or your life simply asks of you to travel a different way or in a different way. Letting go need not be dramatic or radical or even known, but rather a natural going about life's path perhaps to meet again at some other time or maybe not. And that is okay and healthy as it shows awareness of the social support that you need to be well.
6. Give yourself permission to be excited about your life journey, your everyday moments and just be giddy. Let your endorphins soar naturally and see your daily life experience improve as well.
7. Say yes to opportunities that cross your path but out of schedule with when you had hoped they might arrive. My trip to Paris and Normandy was not expected nor planned. In fact, I had told myself I would take at least a year off before returning to Paris since my trip in 2018; however, when an invitation arrived to return in 2019, I had to say yes, and all that I learned, experienced, savored and learned some more was more than evidence that I made the right decision.
8. Less truly can bring more into your life. The unexpected discovery of my now home and sanctuary which is half the size of the home I owned previously is precisely what I instinctively knew I needed to live well. Less to decorate, but what I choose can be investments that will last. Less to clean, so I have more time to explore and create on the weekends, a perfectly medium size yard and petite garden, but exactly what I enjoy to have Mother Nature at my fingertips without a requirement of more time than I can give.
9. Mother Nature, moving my feet in Mother Nature, is my creative muse and her gifts are priceless. While I walk nearly everyday outside on the trails in Bend or near the river that runs through Bend, even walking in San Francisco when I needed to get outside, I did so and saw the famed parrots of the Telescope Hill, and oh what a delight. Inspiration is everywhere when we step out into the fresh air.
10. My dogs have been for the past 15 years and are my companions in this journey of my life as they let me be "Shannon", provide company as well as freedom, yet keep me grounded as well. Savoring every moment with my two elder gentlemen.
11. Cooking, creating in the kitchen, is to play and forever be learning and savoring everyday moments.
12. Love really does live on inside you even after someone dearly loved passes away.
13. Host that dinner party you've been wanting to have. You may just bring beautiful moments and new connections to your guests that they will appreciate more than you will ever know. (read: 10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from my Last Dinner Party, and be sure to check out my first book for details and a menus for hosting a successful gathering.)
14. Traveling with my mom created memories of getting to know each other as where we are now in our lives and wonderful shared experiences that I will never forget. Check out our trip to San Francisco. We also had the opportunity to go to Oregon's Garden which exceeded my expectations and opened my eyes even further to my mom's love and knowledge of "green-thumb" life.
15. Continue to follow your heart, its inklings, its tugs, its curiosities, and you will never be led astray. Even when it doesn't make sense to you, even when you do not have a model to forge the path before you traverse it, your insurance is that it is your heart leading the way. I am reminded of Julia Child's quote which she expressed on the penultimate and onto the final page of her memoir My Life in France.
"In Paris in the 1950s, I had the supreme good fortune to study with a remarkably able group of chefs. From them I learned why good French food is an art, and why it makes such sublime eating: nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. Good results require that one take time and care. If one doesn't use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting, and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture . . . But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal, perhaps even a life-changing experience." —Julia Child
While Julia is directly speaking of her experience in the culinary world of Paris, she indirectly and perhaps most significantly speaks to how to live life well. Invest, have patience, do your homework, and trust the co-mingling of those who know more than you about topics which you love as well as your own passions and curiosities. Beautiful art, the art of life, your life, can materialize in its own time and in its own unique way.
May this birthday year offer insightful and inspired life lessons that elevate the quality of your everyday life even more and bring you all the more contentment, true contentment that you desire.
~A Year in Flowers: Designing Gorgeous Arrangements for Every Season by Erin Benzakein
Sun, 2 February 2020
"Emotional freedom is a homecoming to your own heart and fullest power. It salutes authenticity, not conforming to someone else's notion of what to feel or how to be." —Dr. Judith Orloff, author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate yourself from negative emotions and transform your life (2009)
The middle of the night, before you can fall asleep or early morning thoughts that swirl and fuel agitation, worry and fear preventing you from falling asleep.
The feeling of being lonely and falling prey to the purport by society that the simple solution is to find someone to be romantically involved with.
Ratcheted chronic anxiety that cements you from pursuing something new or chasing your dreams or simply enjoying your everyday life.
An assumed negative default in perspective when it comes to the world, the future, especially your future and what is actually possible no matter what your age.
In sharing each of these scenarios, maybe you most strongly identified with one, or maybe none of them spoke to you, but moments of one or two rear their heads in your life when your energy is depleted or life temporarily becomes exhausting. And hopefully, maybe you recognize your former self in one or more of these and now are able to celebrate having broken free of the counterproductive emotional patterns that were learned and accepted as "how life will be".
Wherever you find yourself on the continuum of learning the skills of attaining emotional freedom, after reading/listening to today's post/episode you will have a clear path forward for identifying with the latter description in the previous paragraph.
I picked up Dr. Judith Orloff's book because I needed to read it. I knew the skills I needed to improve the quality of my emotional life were lacking, but I did not know what they were or, if I had a sense of them, how to strengthen them.
Dr. Judith Orloff defines emotional freedom as increasing your ability to love by cultivating positive emotions and being able to compassionately witness and transform negative ones, whether they're yours or another's.
Choosing to become emotionally free is entirely the choice of the individual. Whether healthy emotional patterns were modeled by your parents or not, you can learn them, apply them and shift how you engage with the world, how you experience the world and thus how you move forward and elevate the quality of your life experience.
Have a look at the benefits of setting yourself free emotionally:
BENEFITS of acquiring the the skill of EMOTIONAL FREEDOM
Now to do the homework, the steady and consistent exercises to welcoming the emotional freedom you seek into your everyday life. Today I would like to share with you 34 tips, practices, ideas and insights that spoke to me and what I thought would speak to TSLL readers/podcast listeners. However, there is far more detail in Dr. Orloff's book, Emotional Freedom, which I highly recommend reading and keeping as a resource to return to as you incorporate and habituate the new practices that can improve the quality of your everyday life and cultivate more joy.
1.Discover your emotional patterns: Know thyself
What emotional type do you most define yourself as? The Intellectual, the Empath, the Rock, the Gusher (chapter 4 details each of these emotional patterns, shares the tendencies, strengths, drawbacks AND most importantly, how to strike a balance to welcome the good and let go of the unhelpful emotional patterns)
2. Take charge of who you want to be
Begin by understanding how you were nurtured as a child and as you grew into an adult and even into your adult years regarding how you were raised by your parents and continue to interact with them. There were most likely strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Orloff suggests observing each with an objective perspective for the purpose of gaining self-knowledge of what have become positive and as well as unproductive ways of emotionally engaging with the world. Once you have done this (this is for you and has no need to be shared with your parents), move forward consciously. "Consciousness [is] the path to freedom". Acquiring self-knowledge will lift the fog as she describes it and show you the way to clear blue skies of clearly, concretely knowing what you want to change and why.
3. Seek calm and eliminate stress
One enhances your overall health, (yes, your physical health too) and the other depletes and destructs it. No doubt you know immediately which does what. Here are a few simple ways to welcome more calm practices into your everyday routine: experience and partake in laughter, exercise, meditate (breathing is powerful), "anything that makes you feel loved".
4. Resist negativity and turn toward and amplify the positive
Becoming emotional free is a choice made by each of us, so it requires that we act and thereby think differently. Actions include what and how we speak. The words we utter and the tone in which we utter those words matter immensely and absolutely. We have control over these two qualities of speech. Orloff explains how words contain energy, and we are transferring that energy when we speak, and how when we say something sincerely positive or kind, the good energy given is accepted and received with love or, if spoken without sincerity, disbelieved and hurt is felt. Again, the reception is determined by the tone in which the words are delivered.
"Words impart energy that can be enlivening or malignant. This is true whether you direct words to yourself or others."
5. Pay attention to your physical reaction around others.
To determine if the people you either choose to be around or have to be around, or are newly introduced to will bring positive energy into your life, observe your physical response to them. Having to do with how someone speaks to you, when they do, observe, Dr. Orloff's suggests, your physical reaction with your body instead of how your brain processes the actual words. Let your physical responses guide you to help you determine who to continue to spend time around and who to walk away from. E.g. The charmer who says the sweetest compliments with a smile but causes your body to physically cringe, yep, that may be a sign that negative energy is coming your way. Walking away may just be the best idea.
6. Use breathing practices to calm/quiet a hyperactive mind.
If you discover you identify your emotional pattern to be the Intellect, your mind is busy. It is busy planning, learning, inquiring, planning some more and trying to figure out how to get it all done. However, when this happens before we can figure out how to fall asleep or need to fall back asleep, it is defined as a hyperactive mind and it is not emotionally helpful. Simply breathe. Get out of your head.
Regularly, aerobically, but also with strengthening and flexibility activities. Exercising requires you to be present; it helps you get out of your head and focus on what you are doing.
8. Engage with others first with empathy and secondly with your head.
9. How to handle an unwanted situation: Think first.
Think all of the details through first, once, and well. In so doing, you are making sure you do not react which would be your emotions taking over and potentially throwing you into a "fizzy" state. How do you think first?
10. Allow regular quiet time for emotional decompression (for the Empaths especially) throughout the day.
11. Honor your empathetic needs.
12. Engage with life
If you have been hurt or if you see yourself as the Rock on the emotional type list, engaging with life will intially be uncomfortable or foreign. However, keep in mind what Brené Brown teaches, vulnerability is needed in order to sincerely connect, but as shared in episode #126, do not forget to partner it with setting healthy boundaries (which plays into #11 - honoring your needs).
13. Simple daily task: express one feeling a day in your journal
Why? To acknowledge honestly how you are feeling and when you are ready, to examine the why. Triggers or prompts. When we partake in this daily practice, we become more knowledgeable of ourselves, but also improve how to better communicate how we feel and why. Even better, we begin to see that emotions are temporary, and that is helpful to keep in mind as well.
14. Are you a gusher? Before seeking advice or support, follow these steps to gain more emotional freedom.
15. Extricate emotional vampires from your life
Sharing a list of the different types of emotional vampires, it was helpful to see their characteristics, and I will admit, I saw my older self in some of the descriptors. Just as important as it is to sweep out the emotional vampires from our lives, we also do not want to be one to others. Evaluating each of the lists is a good practice.
Back to the extrication of E.V.s. It entails clear and calm communication as well as setting boundaries. Once you recognize how they make you physically feel (returning to #5), find your voice, set your boundaries and walk away to seek other nurturing individuals to spend time with.
16. Set limits.
It is important to repeat what has already been mentioned twice thus far - set boundaries. Episode #126 shares in detail how to do this and why it is imperative to your emotional well-being.
17. Be solution-oriented.
Previously here on TSLL and on the podcast it has been shared that complaining about something you dislike or someone you dislike is only a positive contribution to our lives and the lives of others if we are also accompanying the 'complaint' with a sincere solution. Otherwise, let it go and move forward.
18. Understand that fear is a form of stress, and then move beyond your fears
Dr. Orloff explains in biological detail the body's physical response to fear, and it is not good for our health (page 149-152). If you are someone who catastrophizing the future, expects the worst in situations, has fearful thoughts that keep you up at night, are afraid to speak up or go for what you want, then you are letting fear play a significant and consequently harmful role in your overall life. In other words, you are welcoming more stress into your life that need not be present.
Move beyond your fears not by avoiding them but rather by "facing them in a proactive way".
"Courage requires the presence of adversity. In fact, no fear, no courage. WIthout something to overcome, there's no biological push to be brave or conquer negativity, true evolutionary milestones."
19. Seek out and remain close to "emotional nurturers"
20. Identify the fears you'd like to be free from and identify their triggers.
To return to #1, self-knowledge is the fundamental component. We gain clarity when we investigate ourselves and our reasons for feeling the emotions that arise, seemingly out of our control. When we can identify the trigger, we can then successfully change it or eliminate it altogether.
21. "We attract what we are"
"A basic law of emotional energy is that we attract who we are. Fear attracts fear. Courage attracts courage. If you want positivity coming at you, you've got to generate it . . . This influences which people and events keep appearing in your life."
22. Stay optimistic despite fear
Regardless of what goes on in your life, wanted or unwanted, be mindful of your response. In other words, do not react. Take a breathe or take a beat before speaking or taking action. When a fear arises that you won't be able to accomplish what you have set before you to achieve, focus on even the smallest victories - you are still trying, you still care. When you make a habit of positive mindful response, eventually it becomes a track in the mind and when it becomes a track, it then has become your default to not be thwarted by fear but to courageously face fear in a proactive way.
23. Continue to grow into self-awareness
Each of us is continuing to change, as we are dynamic creatures whether we want to be or not. In actuality, it is a good characteristic to be dynamic because it means you have an opportunity to grow. As we are continually growing, should we choose to, that means we have to continue to be aware of ourselves - our needs, emotional responses, etc. and not become complacent. In other words, as the book shares, our life truly is our career. It takes effort, but such effort pays many positive dividends.
24. Overcome frustration with patience
One of the biggest roadblocks to emotional freedom is frustration.
"Making a more deliberate choice to delay instant gratification and cultivate patience will help you achieve emotional freedom, have faith in yourself and your destiny."
25. Let friendships and romances develop slowly
Why? In order to cultivate trust or determine if someone is trustworthy.
26. Find and welcome nurturing sources into your daily life
Nurturing sources need not only be people. Nurturing sources exist within and outside of ourselves. Anything that provides a sense of home is a nurturing source.
27. Foster positive human contact or community
When you engage with others whether at work, your personal life, in your neighborhood, online, choose to make it a positive exchange.
28. Learn the power and skill of meditating.
~I break it all down for you here in a 2014 post Why Not . . . Meditate?
29. Practice gratitude
Something that I have enjoyed sharing each month is my "What Made Me Smile" post, and I look forward to adding to this list as the month unfolds, then sharing a handful here on TSLL. However you practice gratitude, maybe in a daily journal, through prayer, by sending thank you notes, any action that asks of you to reflect and see all that is going well, make this a regular practice, and it will begin to shift your focus (remember #21). We attract what we are, and if we are grateful, we will begin to see even more for which to be grateful.
30. Listen to your intuition.
But first understand what intuition is and what it is not (read this post). Once you can accurately define what your intuition is, then you have a powerful skill in your arsenal to enable you to elevate your everyday life due to the choices you will make.
31. Redefine the traditional paradigm for coupling.
Communicate what energetic preferences and boundaries you need in a relationship so that you are not emotionally engulfed. From how you live together, to how much time you spend together, to sleeping arrangements, if you are an Empath as described in the Emotional Types list, you may deeply want a relationship but fear, based on past experience, that you will not be safe due to all of the energy and emotion of others you absorb. Due to this you have either acquiesced and let yourself become engulfed or spoken up ineffectively (or with a partner that was not right for you) and been berated for being difficult or cold. Neither are true, and effectively communicating and more importantly being with a person who is open to understanding you, is the key to being part of a healthy, nurturing relationship.
32. Take time for solitude regularly
"Solving lonliness involves connecting to yourself as well as others. That's why it's vital to find your own right rhythm of worldly involvement and solitude."
33. Acknolwedge and celebrate current healthy connections
As mentioned in #26, not all healthy connections will involve other humans. From Mother Nature - hiking, gardening, simply being outside; to spending time with animals; to luxuriating in your thoughtfully curated home, these and many more are healthy connections. Invest in them, savor them and do not let others dismiss the value they hold in your life to feel connected and whole.
34. Strengthen the relationship you have with yourself - it's the most important one you will ever have
In other words, invest in understanding how to welcome emotional freedom into your life. It will take time, it will make you uncomfortable for a short duration, but that is the way with change, it is uncomfortable because it is stretching us.
In our personal life toolbox, as shared in detail in Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making your everydays extraordinary and becoming your best self, it is filled with both strengths and skills. Strengths are innate and when we choose to strengthen these talents, we share with the world a unique gift only we can offer. Skills are tools any one of us can learn and apply to our lives to elevate the overall quality. Emotional Intelligence is discussed in detail in my book, which is why today I wanted to talk even more in-depth about why Emotional Freedom is a skill of great benefit.
Personally, upon reading Dr. Judith Orloff's book I had many aha moments, validation moments and clarity-of-how-to-proceed moments, and as it happens on many occasions here on the blog and the podcast, I wanted to share what I learned in hopes that you too will find great value for this skill in your life as you continue to grow and create an everyday that truly delights you.
~Monty Don's American Gardens, BBC2
Sun, 19 January 2020
"By comparison with relationships forged in blood and love, science has historically given friendship short shrift . . . biologists ignored friendships because unlike romantic or mating relationships they were thought not to affect reproductive success . . . most of us are as guilty as scientists of failing to take friendship as seriously as it deserves. We pay lip service to it but prioritize family and romance, ditching our friends when we fall in love, or letting time with them be the first thing to go when we get busy . . . eacg of us is contrainted by time. But we may want to rethink how we apportion the time we have . . . It turns out that friendship does have survival value in the most literal sense—more socially integrated people live longer than those who are less well connected." —Lydia Denworth, author of Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond
Perhaps due to the media I consumed in the 80s and 90s, there was an unconscious understanding that romantic relationships were paramount to platonic. Don't misunderstand me, friendships were clearly portrayed in sitcoms such as FRIENDS, Blossom, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, Will & Grace, Felicity, The Wonder Years just to name a few, but it was clear that the writers were directed to have their leads be in constant pursuit of the desired romantic relationship predominantly and perhaps more importantly.
Subsequently, not aware of the subtle influence of media, in my youth, I made the assumption that friendship was nice, but romance was best. It does appear today, and admittedly maybe due more to my own awareness, that such media portrayals are shifting and broadening to bring to the screen and the pages as well as other media mediums an array of life paths and journeys to find contentment and social connectedness.
The value of quality friendships is arguably one of the most important social components of our lives. For each of us, our quilt of friendships will be unique and include amongst it our acquaintances and community (work and personal) connections as well. It seems to me good, healthy relationships of all types - romantic or platonic - benefit when we have a healthy social well-being which fundamentally rests on our social connections. Of course, a social well-being requires first and continually that we include ourselves as part of the social circle; in other words, we need to honor and respect our true selves and not try to cultivate relationships that are contrary to our true temperament, but rather complement and strengthen.
When we remember to default to regularly checking in with ourselves, we will know when it it best to repair and invest in certain relationships and when it is best to move on. We will respect ourselves enough to know what boundaries to put in place and how to place them.
The great loves of our lives, even the moderately good and life-changing-for-a-period-before-we-both-must-go-our-separate-ways relationships that will hold a special place in our life's journey don't cross our paths frequently. We are fortunate to experience these relationships when we have the courage to step forward and say yes without knowing what the future will hold, but throughout the duration of our lives, it is the friendships, even with those we may fall in love with along the way as we come to know each other intimately, yet honestly, that offer so much more than "filler". They offer love, support, encouragement to step into our best selves and step away from limiting habits. They offer kindness and the reminder when we may doubt it that we are lovely and loved.
Author, Brooklyn-based science journalist and a writer who has contributed to Atlantic and the New York Times, Lydia Denworth has just released a book on Friendship that I was eager to receive as I find it helpful to explore the context of the research we have accepted as absolute truth and that which has thus gone on to influence how we choose to live and construct our lives. Denworth dives deep into the historical and established science and then examines what has been misunderstood or dismissed or ignored. Moving forward she explores the brain and how it learns to be social and then the majority of the book explores how friendship, the desire for it, our ability to connect or not connect plays a role in the quality of our lives and ultimately, how to live a healthy social life full of sound friendships.
Today I would like to share a taste of what I learned as I read Lydia Denworth's new book Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond
~Listening Note: Each of the items shared below are discussed in more detail in the audio version of the episode.
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
1. Our overall health reveals the quality of relationships we have in our lives
"As we age, the effects of the life we have lived—including our relationships—inevitably show up in the body. Some are cumulative, some are short term."
"The strength of your friendships at 50 predicts your health at 80."
2. More education and income leads to having more friends
"Education, physical health, years living in the same place, and the number of daily contacts with friends all predicted friendship style. More education, for example, often leads to better social skills, and higher education makes it easier to socialize more widely (at restaurants and concerts, say)."
3. Friendships help buffer life stress
"After puberty, parents no longer buffer stress for children; friends can take their place."
4. A good friendship can be a template for all other relationships
"At its simplest, as in animals, friendship is positive, long-lasting, and reciprocal. Bonds with these traits have the strongest effect on our health and longevity."
5. Welcome a diversity of types of friendships
"There are three main styles of friendship: discerning, independent, and acquisitive."
6. Friendship circles will evolve, grow, change — and that's okay.
7. Social media isn't as bad for relationships as people believe; in fact it's a net positive
8. Ambivalent relationships ("frenemies") are bad for our health
9. It takes about 50 hours of togetherness to make a friend, 200 to make a best friend.
10. Retirement is something to be savored when we invest in friendships
In a study shared in Robert Waldinger's TEDx Talk about friendship and good relationship that has since garned nearly 30 million views he shared "the people who were happiest in retirement had worked at it. They valued and tended to their relationships. They activiely worked to replace coworkers with new playmates. They put in the time."
Similar to so much of our lives that enrich the quality, it is the conscious choices we make that make a difference in our overall contentment and joy as we go about our everyday lives. Friendship is an undercurrent that when tended to can elevate and bring tranquility or cause unsteadiness and make for a rough journey when neglected or ill-tended.
Knowing more, understanding how, is one of the first components to a strong cultivation of what we wish to grow. Certainly, it is not the only step or the final step, but it is important, and then we must be patient with ourselves and those we are building relationships with. In time, good things and a good life will grow.
"Social bonds have the power to shape the trajectories of our lives. And that means friendship is not a choice or a luxury; it's a necessity that is critical to our ability to succeed and thrive. It can even be a model against which other relationships should be measured."
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Lentil and Kielbasa Salad, adapted from Barefoot Contessa's recipe
Sun, 5 January 2020
The new year rolls around and there is much talk about resolutions and cultivation of a life we wish to live. It is old news to share that many resolutions are unfulfilled; however, BJ Fogg argues that perhaps we have had a faulty instruction manual to be successful in our pursue of lasting change.
Released just this past Tuesday, December 31st, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything asserts in fact that it is the small, seemingly easy changes of habit we make in our lives that will lead to grand transformation of ourselves and therefore our overall lives, even our relationships and especially our health and overall contentment.
After devouring the book in two days during my getaway to the coast, I wanted to share with you eight takeaways that will introduce you to this shift in approach. I have already begun to implement two new tiny habits into my daily routine and look to add a third when my teaching schedule resumes this week.
The good news, if you have already written your 2020 resolutions, is that upon reading the book, you will be able to look at them more closely and construct and approach them in such a way, according to Tiny Habits to ensure their success. And if you have not created resolutions, maybe you have decided due to previous frustration that doing so is just a waste of time, taking a look at the list of takeaways below may shed some light on why past years were less fruitful than you would like and even encourage you to try again and see better results.
1.All behaviors happen due to the occurrence of a prompt
"The Fogg Maxim #1: Help yourself do what you already want to do by designing a good prompt"
Fogg shares many different examples of how prompts permeate all areas of our lives. The example that resonated with me was his example regarding taking a shower, "After a shower, I always dry off. After I dry off, I always walk into the bedroom", etc. etc. etc. There are three different types of prompts that we can choose from and that we are guided by in our behaviorial routines: person, action and context prompts. Action prompts, such as the one shared above are the most useful because they serve as an anchor. Attach the behavior you want to happen to a behavior/action that is already happening and will happen habitually. One I have incorporated over the years and have continued to do without fail (which surprised me at first how quickly it took hold) whether I am in my house or traveling is upon going to bed (which will happen every evening), I take a glass full of water with me and place it by my bed. Upon waking in the morning, the only way it is returned to the kitchen is if it is empty. A hydration habit that encourages me to drink more water.
Fogg also discusses what he titles "Pearl Habits" which are habits that are prompted by an irritant outside of our control. As I shared in the first post of the year, we can only create the change we seek when it involves ourselves and internal responses or behaviors; in other words, to set a goal that involves the behavior of someone else is a futile goal as we have no control over the other person without manipulation. When it comes to Pearl Habits, use the irritant as a prompt to do something that is positive or helpful for your everyday life. The example shared in the book is an ex-wife who coparents with a husband who is quite negative and her response each time his unwanted behavior or comments arise is a prompt to her to practice a mini moment of self-care in her daily routine. Each of our irritants and habits will be unique to our situations and lives, but even the unwanted events beyond our control can be helpful in pursuit of the change we seek in the new year.
2. Remove unwanted prompts
"You can disrupt a behavior you don't want by removing the prompt."
From removing unhealthy food and drink from your cupboards or refrigerator to moving the television into another room to inspire more conversation and gathering in the main living area, removing the prompt that tempts us to return to behaviors and habits that are not helpful is one of the simplest solutions to instituting the permanent change we seek.
3. Understand this truth: You change best by feeling good — not by feeling bad
"What happens in your brain when you experience positive reinforcement isn't magic —it's neuro-chemical."
Fogg refers to Instagram in his example of how positive emotions help to quickly create a habit. We snap a photo, we easily filter the image, we share. The feeling of sharing a "unique artistic creation" bolsters your sense of capability and thus inspires you to continue to use the app. Not only was the Ability part taken care of as it was very simple to do, it was also positively rewarding - the must-have ingredient of emotion. "Emotions create habits. Not repetition. Not frequency. Not fairy dust. Emotions."
4. Celebrate to permanently integrate the habits you want into your life
"Celebration is the best way to create a positive feeling that wires in your new habits . . . in addition, celebration teaches us how to be nice to ourselves — a skill that pays out the biggest dividends of all."
In episode #163, the show shared how improving happiness in your life is a rewiring of the brain, a creating of new neurological tracks. We truly can change how we see the world and go about our days and thus experience more happiness and contentment if we consciously choose to do so. This is where celebrating comes in, and I LOVE this component. :)
Quickly, celebrating is not equivalent to rewards (Fogg explains this in detail), but after reading his explanation: celebration need not be a giving of something to yourself (that is a reward), but celebration must come immediately after you have completed the new behavior you wish to become a habit - that is when the rewiring in your brain begins to take place. It is possible for a reward to simultaneously be a celebration, but not easy to do as it must come immediately afterward. The good news about this distinction is that it will cost you nothing. Celebration is just as it sounds - a burst of exultation, a happy dance, a humming of a happy tune that just makes you happy each time you sing it, a jump into the air with a grand grin on your face.
It may sound silly at first, but think about instances with young children who are learning any skill, even when I think about my pups and training them, when we give immediate praise to those who are under our care, we demonstrate what is wanted and thus makes them feel good due to the praise. This is nurture at its most basic, and we've been nurtured by others our entire lives whether we knew it or not - applauded for certain choices and behaviors, etc. Once we realize we can do this for ourselves to incorporate positive habits into our daily lives, we can be the cheerleader for ourselves, and we need to be. The simple act of celebration begins to gradually and then significantly rewire our brains to seek out the space for the behavior to happen as it actually will prompt the release of dopamine, the feel good hormone.
5. Improve relationships by understanding Fogg's Behavior Model
What is Fogg's Behavior Model (the book provides many helpful visuals), simply it follows this equation: Behavior = Motivation & Ability & Prompt. When these three components converge at the same time, the habit takes root, and Fogg disputes the claims that have been made endlessly, (even here on TSLL, so I am correcting myself now) that there need to be a particular amount of repetitions of a new habit for it to become habituated. Not so, he states because if it feels good to engage in the new behavior (#3), the habit will form very quickly (he brings the readers attention to a teenager receiving a new smart phone and their habit of checking it incessantly if given the freedom to do so without practice).
When we understand the model, and how it works in our lives, we can better observe and therefore, understand the behavior in others. We may not be able to change the behavior as other people need to make their own choices, but if we are providing the prompt, or if we are making the ability easier or if we are providing the motivation, that is what is in our control, and we can change each of these if we do not like the behavior that is the result. Similarly, as a parent or a partner or a loved one, we can have conversations that are based on logic and reasoning allowing the emotion that may have caused electricity in prior conversations (and not the good kind of electricity) for potentially a more productive dialogue.
6. Cultivate an environment that prompts the change you seek
"The skill of redesigning your environment makes your habits easier to do."
Earlier I shared how removing the negative prompts is helpful, but so to is cultivating an environment that encourages the change you seek. If you are working on improving your eating habits, create as Fogg and his partner have done - a SuperFridge - glass containers filled with food ready to eat - food that is healthy, delicious and beckons them to enjoy it. Not only is the food supportive of the healthy habits they seek, but it is also aesthetically pleasing to look at, inviting to the eye. The Motivation component of Fogg's Behavior Model is tended to which then adds to the Ability component and the Prompt is as simple as being hungry and opening the door of the fridge. Boom! A new positive behavior begins.
7. Master your mind, and step into the identity you wish to embody
"When you can let go of old identities and embrace new ones, you will soar in your ability to go from tiny to transformative."
Fogg explains how psychologically "all humans have a strongly rooted drive to act in a way that is consistent with their identity . . . there is a good evolutionary reason for this —when food, shelter, and other resources depend on group unity and collaboration, it is critical to reliably predict what a person is going to do." Simply by understanding why our current identity is something that may be hard to step away from, but also knowing that when we "successfully embrace an identity shift in one area [we] often prompt change in other areas", we increase the skill of mastering our mind.
Fogg suggests going to events or learning the language or spending time or reading books by experts in what you are trying to learn, understand or improve. Simply by shifting your environment, you begin to shift your identity. For example, if you are want to improve your skills in a particular sport or physical activity, attend events or read books or attend lectures by experts in the field. If you wish to improve your ability to cook with ease in the kitchen without recipes, seek out those chefs or cookbooks or even watch Chopped which shares people doing exactly what you hope to do so that you can with ease step into your kitchen each day and cook a delicious, yet far-less-time-consuming meal.
8. Tiny successes, when cultivated consistently, will lead to transformative change
"Start where you want to on your path to change. Allow yourself to feel successful. Then trust the process."
Chapter 6 focuses on the transformative change that can take place when you grow your habits through the Tiny Habits process (a confluence of Motivation+Ability+Prompt). But more importantly, we must begin with a clear idea of the change we wish to make. Fogg uses the analogy of designing a garden we wish to grow into a beautiful and abundant space of Mother Earth in our own backyard. Once we know what want to grow, we can then begin cultivating the behaviors that will enable what we plant to successfully reach their fullest potential. Where to begin? Start small (refer back to the quote above). Start so small, it is almost too easy to think, you are creating new habits. Fogg began his flossing habit, but simply flossing one tooth at a time. Yep, one tooth. This allowed him to feel successful from the first attempt. And as he reminds, "Success leads to success". The reason for the first attempt to be successful is that you want to create momentum, so remove the "demotivators. This allows the natural motivator (often it's hope) to blossom, which in turn can sustain the new behavior over time". Once your motivation begins to rise, you begin to see your confidence in your own ability to make the necessary change rise, and you begin to understand you can do harder behaviors as well.
The more I read Fogg's book and came to better understand his Behavior Model, the more I realized what he claimed to be true in the introduction: Many of us have had the wrong instruction manual all along, and while some of us may have been successful in spite of the misdirection, none of us should blame ourselves for not being successful in our pursuit to welcome positive change into our lives. I am of the understanding that as Marie Forleo shared and titled her new book Everything is Figureoutable, and as Tiny Habits reveals, we just need to understand more fully how the mind works when it comes to habit creation. Thankfully, it truly can be more simple than we may have thought. We can feel good throughout the process of improving our health, relationships, daily routines, etc. We do not have to punish ourselves and we do not have to have an expensive reward to motivate us to try to do something that seems difficult. We need only to increase the motivation, remove the unhelpful prompts, chose an easier task so we believe we can do it from the beginning and then celebrate immediately when we complete the new behavior each time.
I am confident we can each apply this method.
I shared at the top of the post that I have already begun to implement two new tiny habits into my daily routine after reading the book, so I wanted to share:
If you are determined, as I am to institute changes into your life that will fundamentally support the quality life you wish to live, I highly recommend BJ Fogg's new book Tiny Habits. Hopefully today's episode gave you insight into what the book entails. I appreciated his detailed explanations and visuals, and his ability to share a multitude of examples helped tremendously.
~Learn more about the book: —BJ Fogg, PhD., author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything (Dec. 31, 2019)
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Road to Success is Paved with Happiness, episode #194
~Attaining the Change You Seek in the New Year, episode #241
~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93
~Little Women, the film, Greta Gerwig's adaptation
95% - Rotten Tomatoes; Roger & Ebert 4/4 stars
~Listen to Audible's new version of Little Women, read by Lauren Dern (I highly recommend after listening during a 7 hour car ride over the holidays - multiple character voices and sound effects). Remember to go to audible.com/simplesophisticate to earn a 30-free trial AND one free audio book.
Opening weekend and Christmas Day release earnings: $16.5-million weekend and a five-day total of $29 million since its Christmas opening, a major performance for a smaller-audience film with a budget dwarfed by the top two films. —U.S. News, source
Sun, 22 December 2019
Season 6 of The Simple Sophisticate is well underway as 2019 wraps up and we head into 2020. As I reflect back to September 2014 when the show premiered, I could not have fathomed the engagement it would inspire, the topics and books we would cover and explore nor the people who would wish to be on the show.
This year, Apple changed its categories for podcasts, and in so doing prompted me to reconsider how to label the show for new and potential listeners, which turned out to be a boon for the show and new listeners discovering it.
With the help of you, the listeners the podcast and readers of TSLL, the selections that were decided upon (#1— Education: Self-Improvement; #2 — Society & Culture; #3 — Leisure: Home & Garden) in no small part contributed to the podcast reaching #33 in the United States' ALL-Time Self-Improvement podcasts. And, as the podcast has a strong Francophile following, when episode #269 - 32 Ways to Be Parisian Chic went live earlier this month, the podcast soared to #5 for the daily Self-Improvement podcasts.
As listeners share how and when they listen to the show — while running the NYC marathon, while spring cleaning, while starting the day in Australia, while commuting via car or train or subway, while walking/running with their pups, while strolling along a river in the European countryside, while strolling through a park throughout the vast United States, while winding down at the end of the day in a cozy abode in Canada, and in so many countries around the globe as listeners go about their lives (the show ranked #16 in South Africa, #12 in Hong Kong, #23 in Romania, #6 in Oman, and #2 in Spain!) — I am humbled as well as tickled to realize how TSLL community stretches far and wide, but more so how similiar we are no matter where we call home regarding our interests to live a life of contentment, a life of deep joy and understanding of the world around us as we strive to contribute positively to its future as we savor the everyday moments.
How to rankings work? The combination of number of downloads and positive reviews and rankings drive up a show on the charts, and for both of these contributions by listeners, I want to say thank you. So many of you have left positive reviews and high rankings, and as I try to share all of the reviews, sprinkling a few in each podcast episode, thank you for your time to share specifically what draws you to the show. (you can leave a review here on Apple iTunes)
Now to the top 10 episodes of 2019 based on the number of downloads.
34 Inspiring Daily Rituals to Ignite Your Creativity, episode #255
A Lesson, for Women Especially, to Learn Sooner, episode #249
Why Not . . . Tailor Your Life to Fit You? , episode #246
A well-designed life is a life that makes sense . . . a marvelous portfolio of experiences, of adventures, of failures that taught you important lessons, of hardships that made you stronger and helped you know yourself better, and of achievements and satisfactions." —Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Mary Beth Janssen describes in her 2017 The Book of Self-Care, "No amount of massages, hot baths, aromatherapy, healthy food or exercise will sustain us over the span of our lives if not experienced from the layer of our being that is pure consciousness." In other words, there is deeper work that needs to be done, but we can still incorporate these surface, pleasure-finding practices into our self-care regimen.
36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life, episode #253
"I firmly believe that it's the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary." —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living
12 Ways to Make Your Mornings Magical, episode #243
"When you take control of your mornings, you take control of your days. You get to engage with the world under your terms. You can act, instead of react." —Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning Millionaires
Attaining the Change You Seek in the New Year, episode #241
“In bringing about genuine inner transformation and change, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of making a sustained effort. It is a gradual process.” —The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
The next new episode will go live wherever you listen to podcasts on Monday January 6, 2020. I'll "see" you in the new year!
TOP PODCAST EPISODES FROM PREVIOUS YEARS:
Top 10 Episodes of 2015 & Fall/Winter 2014 (the show's premiere!)
Sun, 8 December 2019
"We have the choice to change our life, to be courageous and to live true to our heart, one that will see us die and live without regret." —Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
Dying, death and loss has unwantingly been on my mind this past fall. Rest assured, today's episode will uplift, inspire and remind, but the reason I share what has been occupying my mind these past few months is because I likely would not have picked up Bronnie Ware's new book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. But I am very grateful that I did.
Ware's entire book shares her experience working in the palliative care system in New South Wales, Australia, which sprung up from what was originally a blog post. Subsequently, after more than three million people viewed the post, it was thankfully turned into a book which shares detailed five lessons and those special individuals she had the opportunity to spend time with in their final days. Along the way, Ware shares her own journey of self-growth and discovery and how she has applied the lessons she has learned.
It is not lost on me that often the books we need find us, and after the loss of a special woman in my life who was very much akin to a grandmother, who having lived a wonderful life of nearly 95 years reminded me with each visit and time spent together the power of a happy heart, and after a cancer scare with one of my parents (they are in full recovery now), along with my beloved boys (my dogs) each in their double digit years, it quickly becomes apparent that life is short, precious and up to each of us to make it something we are proud to have lived, shared and experienced.
While we will all make mistakes in our lives, that is the gift of being a human :), we do not have to suffer needlessly if we are willing to open our minds to the stories and life experiernces of others. In the past ten years I have come to enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies to soak up as many life lessons as I can that I would have otherwise not known about (Julia Child is one of my favorite teachers, but so are many others). Today what I would like to share with you are nine Life Lessons that caught my attention as I was reading Bronnie Ware's book. While her book focuses on five overarching regrets, interwoven amongst each are smaller, no less important lessons, to understand and apply to our lives moving forward.
As I was reading, I began to celebrate as I discovered that much of what is shared aligns with living a simply luxurious life, and especially if you've read TSLL's 2nd book, you will know that nearly all of these topics are explored in depth. I cannot fully understand the emotional strength Bronnie exercised in each of her experiences, as well, and more importantly, the individuals who shared their stories in their final days, but I am determined to make sure their lessons are learned and applied forward as we go about our daily lives. Let's take a look at the list.
~Reader/Listener Note: Each point shared below is discussed in more detail in the audio version.
1.Extend Kindness and Forgiveness to Yourself as well as Others
"The bravery needed to change your life is easier to find when you are kind to yourself. Good things take time, so patience is also required."
2. Appreciate the Daily Journey - Find Joy in the Everyday
"Things fall into place when happiness is already found."
3. Let Go of the Need for Validation and Share Yourself with the World
"Taking risks requires courage, but we cannot control everything . . . learning and daring to think without limitations, and not trying to control how things will flow to us."
The most common regret: "wishing they had been true to themselves".
~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself? (3 part series)
~Explore TSLL's 1st book in which a detailed conversation is shared about how to tap into your true self.
4. Simplify to "Untrap" Yourself
"The things we often think we need are sometimes the things that keep us trapped in an unfulfilled life. Simplicity is the key to changing this. Letting go of the need for validation through ownership or the expectations of others also brings freedom."
5. Make the Scary Changes
"Just as [trappings] were created over time . . . they can be undone over time. It is a delicate process of determination, bravery and, at times, letting go. It is having the courage to stop unhealthy relationships in their tracks and say 'Enough'. It is treating yourself with respect and kindness, both of which we deserve."
~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Your Fear is Speaking
6. Overcome and Become the Master of Your Mind
"It is the heart that guides us to joy, not the mind. Overcoming the mind and letting go of others' opinions allows us to hear our own heart. Having the courage to then follow it is where true happiness lies. In the meantime, keep cultivating the heart while mastering the mind. As the heart grows, life brings more joy and peace. A happy life want us , as much as we want it."
~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: How to be the Master of Your Mind, episode #20
7. Be honest with yourself, and get out of your own way
"My lessons had been in how to allow [fulfillment and pleasure], which was through faith and self-love. I just had to get out of my own way first. That was where the real work lay — learning to own my own thoughts, by clearing away the debris that stopped me [from] letting it all flow."
8. Smile at your humanness, let go of perfectionism
"If occasional blockages now surface, I am patient and loving with myself while working through them. Self-discovery is more joyful. I can smile at my humanness."
~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Why Not . . . Stop Getting in Your Own Way?
9. Understand Being Yourself Will Require Great Courage
"It takes enormous courage sometimes. But being who we are, whoever that is, sometimes cannot even be articulated at first even to ourself. All we know is there is a yearning within that is not being fulfilled by the life we are currently living."
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Sun, 10 November 2019
Here in the states, we may officially wait for the holiday energy to be set free, but by the time November arrives, it can easily begin to feel as though the holidays have begun. Whether that is due in part to marketers and shops shifting from Halloween on October 31st to red and green everything on November 1st, or an earnest desire for the holidays to begin by the public, I cannot quite be sure, but what I do know is that I love the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving of which I am calling the "pre-holiday" season.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the holiday time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but during the first third of November (Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November which this year is quite late in the month), I just linger with absolute contentment.
Today I would like to share with you 10 activities or ideas for savoring the pre-season period as the year that is begins to wind down to celebration and festive gathering.
1.Set the mood in your home without pulling out the decorations
From placing simmering spices on the stovetop to fill the house with luscious, warm and citrus as well as spice-filled flavors (check out my simple recipe here) or simply switching the wreath on the front door to an autumn theme (if you have not done so already), protect, yet acknowledge this time of year that is truly meant to be savored after a summer and early fall of harvest as we gear up for the bustle of the holiday season.
2. Put the yard and exterior of the home to bed for the winter
Depending upon where you live and when the temperatures begin to drop, take this time to be outside and winterize the home, tend to the plants that need to be mulched and trim the perennials, as well as plant the new bulbs that will emerge in the spring. Tending to the exterior of your home will enable you to sleep soundly at night during the snowstorms and frigid temperatures knowing all is taken care of so that you can simply enjoy the winter wonderland that appears out the front door.
~Trusted British gardener Monty Don shares a worth-keeping monthly list of what to tend to in the garden during the month of November.
3. Assess your fitness routine and improve now to feel your best during the holidays
When we are conscious of the benefit of a good and regular fitness routine as well as a well-balanced eating regimen, we are more likely to do well during the holidays. Establish or cement what is working well and plan now to figure out how you will maintain your ability to stay active and eat well even if you are traveling or removed from your regular environment.
4. Make a favorite fall dessert or main dish for you and the household just because it's fall.
From Apple Tart Tatin (check out my recipe and video tutorial below) to butternut squash and apples roasted to perfection for a lovely side dish with pork chops. (The image at the top of the post is a favorite fall dessert inspired by Julia Child - look for my adaptation to be shared in season 3 of the cooking show!)
~Quick recipe for roasted butternut squash and apples: Combine cubes of butternut squash and apples on a parchment lined sheet pan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, toss the squash and apples with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and enjoy!
5. Make sure you have something to look forward to just after the holidays wrap up - something simple, low-key and maybe just for yourself.
6. Have fun with fall foliage - arrangements, playing in the leaves, taking photos of unique compositions that catch your eye
7. Take advantage of weekend sales as businesses clear out inventory for the holiday season.
Currently many business are having sales during our long weekend here in the states, but that is just a start to what is to come. Whether you are beginning to shop for gifts for the holidays or have a list of items you love but are waiting for a sale, be sure to take advantage if the price is right and the item is exactly what you want. As I shared yesterday, I am looking for a fresh holiday wreath for my front door, and was pleased with Williams-Sonoma' 20% off sale.
As well, examine your fall, winter and holiday wardrobe: Do you have what you need? Are there any gaps? The fall collections are about to go on drastic reduction and scooping up your preferred and needed items at great prices will make you and your budget quite happy, not to mention ensure you look your best and feel comfortable going about your day.
8. Forage for the arts and literature and culture you love
On Wednesday of this week I will share a list of books, podcasts, television shows and art exhibits to enjoy during the winter season, but what I love most about these three weeks leading up to the holidays is that I cozy inside my house far more than I would during warmer weather and pull out a book (or two, or three) and let the time pass by. The same happens when I discover a great show or when I toodling about the house or walking the boys while listening to a podcast in which I learn something but lifts my spirits or ensures my day will be better after listening to it by either teaching me something or deepending my understanding on something that matters.
Perhaps why I enjoyed my visit to Portland last weekend so much and stopping (and lingering) at Powell's Independent Book Store was because books and late fall and winter, along with the shorter days means more time to get lost in a book. Of course reading is savoring year-round, but there is all the more reason to further our knowledge and let ideas percolate giving them time to germinate so that they can bloom fully when spring arrives and summer follows.
9. Get cosy often and lose track of time
At the foundation of these three weeks is time without apology for self-care. Self-care needs to happen year-round and on a regular basis most certainly, but since we know what awaits in the near future, no matter how much we greatly look forward to it, we can enjoy it all the more with a fully rested self.
As 2019 began, the first Petit Plaisir of the year was the book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir. Released in early November 2018, her timing was not on accident. The cosy/cozy season truly feels as though it begins with November's arrival.
10. Find time to be with yourself, not just introverts researchs finds~image via The New York Times~
In a recent New York Times article, research was shared that "valuing solitude doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it". Why?
With the new and different, wanted and unwanted people you will see and spend time with during the holiday season, there will undoubtedly be swells of emotion, good and perhaps not so good. Knowing how to regulate our emotions will help us navigate what has the potential to be a truly joyous time of year well and most beneficially not only for our own mental health but those around us. And it is with giving ourselves time to be alone that we learn to regulate our emotions.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is something we have talked about often here on the blog, podcast and in TSLL's 2nd book, and continued research finds that mastering this skill has life enhancing qualities. By giving ourselves time to learn how to monitor our emotions which when we are alone with ourselves and our thoughts expectedly will provide plenty of practice until we learn how to calm the tide and just be present, we give ourselves an awesome gift. Perhaps the best give to give during the holiday season, non? ;)
So cosy up in your favorite spot, turn on a lovely playlist that will wash over you and just do something that you love. At this very moment I am snuggled up with Oscar by my side in my oversized, very well-used chaise armchair, the jazz fills the house and I am watching the many birds dance around the birdfeeder determining who will have the opportunity to snack for a moment. The emotions are certainly swimming about, especially after the week my family has had with the loss of someone truly special to all of us, but because of much practice spending time with myself, I savor such moments and am thankful to have them.
May these three weeks, this "pre-holiday" season prior to the holiday festivities be joy-filled and provide many moments of contentment.
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~based on Brian Stelter's 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV
~Habitually Chic's post: Outfits Inspired by Jennifer Aniston's Wardrobe on The Morning Show
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #266
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Listen and download the episode here.
~For TSLL reader information: Some of the links shared on the blog are affiliate links, earning TSLL a small commission at no cost to you. Please know, I recommend only products I genuinely like. Thank you so much.
Sun, 22 September 2019
"When we learn how to spot the narratives that get in the way of our happiness, we improve our chances of taking control of the stories that have for so long controlled us." —Paul Dolan, author of Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life
"There are countless stories about how we ought to live our lives . . . as such, many of these stories end up creating a kind of social dissonance whereby, perversely, they cause more harm than good. They become . . . narrative traps, which together form the myth of the perfect life."
NOTE: Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as a detailed introduction and other conversation is shared.
1. Understand the difference between having wealth and being rich.
Wealth is defined as accumulated assets in the form of savings, investment and property and is more difficult to measure. Rich is often understood to be a numerical amount of cash earned in income. Looking at one's wealth is a better reflection of a person's purchasing power. In other words, simply because someone "looks rich", does not mean they are rich.
"Getting richer does not necessarily bring more happiness, partly becasue we upwardly adjust the people we compare ourselves to."
2. A happy life doesn't require you to have children
"Happy and fulfilled lives are often supported by, but certainly do not require children. There are good reasons not to have children, both at the micro and macro level. It is not helpful, therefore, to push the 'have your own kids' narrative on everyone. Finding a way to celebrate rather than undermine people's decisions to remain childfree by loosening our hold on the social narrative can have a positive societal impact."
3. Stop comparing yourself to others and putting yourself in a position to be tempted to compare.
Dolan suggests, if you are going to make comparisons, to make a comparison to any one of the other 7 billion people on our planet. Most likely you are doing very well financially. Not only will this provide perspective but also humility.
4. Let go of the pursuit for more money
Once you have a enough money to live a life in which you are not struggling for the basic necessities, Dolan suggests taking the path to "just enough". Why? When we become aware of what we truly need, we are demonstrating we are cognizant of the social comparisons and status markers that may have pushed us to pursue more in the past. Understanding why we are pursuing what we are pursuing, to truly get to the core of the urge, is to make sure we are indeed thinking for ourselevs and not being unconsciously led around by the nose due to the narrative traps we are unaware surround us constantly.
Once you stop pursuing more money, "you can stop constantly worrying". And what a gift to give yourself as your everydays will elevate immediately.
5. Reexamine what your success looks like, and let go of the pursuit for status
Conscious living is at the heart of what we're talking about today, and becoming clear about what we are pursuiting and what is pushing us to achieve it is crucial to live a more contented life.
If at the core of why you are pursuing a particular career is because of the status it will bring, applause you imagine will happen, then you are being led around by a narrative trap; however, if you are instead pursuing a field of study that ignites you, allows you to come to life and aligns with talents that naturally are easy to share, then you are on the right path for the success that will be unique to you.
6. Pursue a career in which many skills are utilized and your contributions are valued
Dolan found that those individuals who work on a job that uses a variety of skills are happier. As well, if your work is valued, that too cultivates a work environment of enjoyment. Not only is a job that asks our minds and sometimes bodies to work different skill sets and tasks healthy regular exercise for our brains and beings, but it leads to a feeling of productivity at the end of the day which is very satisfying. Add the knowledge that what we are doing is contributing something of value that we are proud of that the pair is the perfect natural medicine for a sound and peaceful night of rest.
7. Women and girls and education
Dolan found that receiving a basic education for girls had a significant effect on the overall happiness of their lives. In other words, making sure all people, but especially girls enables them to have agency over their own lives. Largely because the world is dominated by patriarchies, educating women to understand the world they live in and how to advocate for their own rights as well as navigate in the world that may not, depending upon where they live, want them to think for themselves, is crucial for the individual's happiness.
8. Understand the difference between passionate and companionate love
"Given the way that love is portrayed in literature, film and the media, the prevailing narrative clearly places a high premium on its passionate aspect, most often in manipulatively uplifing ways."
As shared previously on TSLL, being married is not the causation of happiness, but rather, if the happiness lasts beyond the short-term (as it does bring a feeling of euphoria to have met society's standard or expectation), it is due to two happy people finding each other. In other words, they knew how to be happy on their own and the happiness together, being happy in their choice to come together, likely increased their feelings of contentment. Dolan points these findings out as well.
When it comes to falling for the trap of passionate love and trying to mold it into happily ever after, I have fallen into that narrative trap as well. The narrative of intense chemistry swirls around us constantly in the media, and it is up to us to be aware of what it is and what would be best for a long-lasting, healthy, loving relationship.
9. Be married, be single, it does not matter when it comes to happiness
More and more studies are revealing that those who are married and happy are no more happy than any other group - single, widowed, divorced.
The social narrative of promoting marriage as the goal is prevalent in our society and has been for decades in our modern lives (in previous centuries, due to lack of equality laws, it was often a necessity). When we can recognize the narrative trap, and be clear about what is speaking to us for how we wish to live our lives, we set ourselves free to live our best lives - whether that is with or without someone.
Dolan books continues on to explore many other topics such as health, volition, monogamy and altruism. I encourage you to read it as it provides an exercise for the brain regarding the narrative traps we may have stepped into and did not realize it.
To make a blanket statement and say that all social narratives are bad is not wise, but all should be explored, and likely, at least for me, you may find that most should be challenged. That is the difficult part as you are going against the grain of what society expects. Dolan reminds that any narrative that is predominant "always serves the interests of those in power, the groups they serve best will depend on the context". What he is suggesting we keep in mind whenever we talk about or consider and examine any narrative is to closely look at the narrative to understand all of the nuances and not make sweeping assumptions or statements.
Fundamentally, when we let go of what no longer serves us, we set ourselves free, and much like fall and the as the quote below reminds, it is a lovely revealing of what we have the opportunity to experience as we go about living a life that will bring us far more contentment than we ever thought possible.
"Trees are about ready to show us how lovely it is to let things go." —Emily Ley, A Simplified Life
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Play with the pumpkins
~Sponsors of today’s episode:
Sun, 4 August 2019
159: 18 Ways to Define Your Classic Style in Life and Within Your Closet (top episode from Season 4)
Cultivating our signature style takes time because it involves understanding ourselves and bringing our truest selves forth. In other words, our signature style is more than what we see on the surface.
When we discover what our signature style is, it will become a classic for us uniquely because it is a timeless revelation that will not subside with time. It may ebb and flow to adjust with the offerings of sartorial collections of the zeitgeist, but at the core, who you are, remains the same. What you value - characteristics of importance - i.e. integrity and warmth; what brings forth your most beautiful and best self - a particular silhouette and a particular fit so you feel most comfortable as well as stunning; each of these and more are small, but significant parts of your classic, and thus signature style.
In today's episode of the podcast, a readers' favorite from last season, discover 18 ways to define your very own classic style. With each point, there will be great discussion and examples, so be sure to tune in to the audio version.
~View the show notes for episode #159 here
~Images 2 & 3 - previous posts shared on IG of Shannon's style over the years
Sun, 28 July 2019
While it may appear that everyone outside of ourselves is living lives full of amazing, surreal moments from distant lands or dining out at amazing restaurants, even wearing the perfect item of clothing or experiencing bucket list events with every scroll on our social media apps, the reality is that we too are living an amazing life each and everyday even if it doesn't make our social media page to share with the world.
Whether looking about as we take our morning walk with our pups as I did yesterday morning (shared in the image above), waking up in a home that provides the feeling of safety and warmth, conversing with loved ones as we share how our days have unfolded or any number of seemingly quotidian details, all of them are something to celebrate and savor.
In today's episode of the podcast, one of the top five episodes of season two in early 2016, you will hear shared and discussed 15 ways to elevate the everyday. In spring 2016 I had been living in Bend for about nine months, and I hadn't left the area since arriving in July 2015. The everyday of my life in Bend to me was electric. I can vividly remember pinching myself nearly every week at the reality I had the opportunity to experience, and while in between now and then, I finally did venture outside of Deschutes County to see my family, travel abroad as well as experience a few moments of frustration, I do my best on a regular basis to remember how fortunate I am, and get excited about the everyday things that make life truly extraordinary.
Speaking of those hot air balloons, today's Monday's Motivational post was inspired by them. Have a look at the post here - A Life Lesson from a Hot Air Balloon.
I hope you enjoy this episode, and thank you for stopping by.
~View the full show notes of the original episode and post here
Images: captured by TSLL in Bend, Oregon, and shared on IG. If you look closely between the cattails you can see two hot air balloons.
Sun, 21 July 2019
I find that the summer months are a wonderful time for assessment and reassessing what works well in my daily routines and why.
Similar to the French's La Rentrée which occurs in September after residents have returned from their holidays and school and life and everyday routines return to their regular pace, so too do many of us find ourselves determined to make everything we do run a bit more smoothly. So I will admit, I wasn't surprised when this episode, which was shared in the first season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, was a listeners' favorite.
With some aspects of our daily routines, there are supplies we need to always have on hand to make our everydays run seamlessly, and that is primarily what a Modern Woman's Lifestyle Grocery List is all about. And if you're like me, I take a look at this list every year and update it for my life as it may have changed or improved and different details of each or some of the items may need to be updated, substituted or replaced. I do hope you enjoy and thank you for stopping by and tuning in.
~View the original show notes for episode #28 here.
Sun, 16 June 2019
We talk quite often about the importance of routine, and how by having a routine, we actually set ourselves free, especially our minds. And it is in that vein that Mason Curry shares his two books Daily Rituals. His second is focused entirely on Women at Work, sharing the routines and preferences of creative women who lived and created over the past four centuries.
I thoroughly enjoyed his second book, even more than the first which I also found great inspiration. It was refreshing to see so many women living their lives in a variety of different ways, but all in which they discovered worked well for them and the craft they most loved.
Not all of the ideas resonated with me, but it was wonderful to get into the minds for a moment of these women and how they approached their days. I highlighted vigorously from beginning to end, and would like to share 34 daily routines to consider to enable your creative ideas to flow freely and without withdrawal.
Some will speak to you, some will not, but each one is inspired by a woman's routine which is shared in the book: Daily Rituals: Woman at Work - 143 artists on how they paint, write, perform, direct, choreograph, design, sclpt, compose, dance, etc.
~Be sure to tune into the audio version of the podcast where much more discussion takes place on each point.
1.Begin with a hot glass of lemon water
Designer Elsa Schiaparelli woke up at 8 am, sipped lemon-juice-and-water and a cup of tea for breakfast as she read the papers, handled private correspondence, made telephone calls and gave the menus of the day to the cook.
2. Wake up early if that is when your creativity is most fruitful
—Lillian Hellman would wake up at 6am.
—Marie Bashkirtseff would wake up at 6am
—Maggie Hambling wakes up at 5am each morning
"I get up between three or four o'clock in the morning, because that's my best writing time." —Octavia Butler
3. If spending less time with people fuels your creativity, embrace it fully
"I enjoy people best if I can be alone much of the time. I used to worry about it because my family worried about it. And I finally realized: This is the way I am. That's that." —Octavia Butler in 1998
4. If traditional "holidays" don't work for you, create your own, or dive into what you love.
Coco Chanel worked six days a week, and dreaded Sundays and holidays. As she told one confidant, "That word, 'vacation,' makes me sweat."
5. Greet the day in a habitual way that sets the tone for a great day
6. Live your ideas, don't talk about them
"People would sit around and talk about things constantly. I never really went in for that. If you talk something out, you will never do it. You can spend every evening talking with your friends and colleagues about your dreams, but they will remain just that —dreams." —choreographer Martha Graham
7. Keep a small journal next to your bed to capture ideas
"I always have notebook and pencil on the table at my bedside. I may wake up in the middle of the night with something I want to put down." —American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay
8. If you work at home, carve out a part of the day to get out of the house and just absorb inspiration or let go of the day completely
"In the nocturnal evening, I get the hell out to some movie or damn play and I come back and sleep like a rock." —Frida Kahlo
9. Figure out the ingredients that are needed to let the ideas find you
To develop a new work of choreography, Agnes de Mille needed 'a pot of tea, walking space, privacy and an idea'.
10. Don't feel obligated to keep the same schedule when you are in the middle of creating your art or craft
Margaret Bourke-White required long periods of solitude to write, with as few interruptions as possible." In an interview with a Life photographer Nina Leen, Leen remembers after asking her if she would have lunch with her, "She told me she was writing a book and there was no hope of a lunch for several years.
11. Don't feel bad for loving your work and working on what you love beyond the traditional work hours.
"Everything seems petty and uninteresting, everything except my work . . . ". Russian-born painter and sculptor Marie Bashkirtseff
12. Do something during the day that is relaxing and keeps you present
'I relax before lunch by arranging flowers . . . When these are all beautifully arranged in bowls and vases, it's usually lunch time." —English actress Gertrude Lawrence
13. Have a studio or space of your own to create
"The most important thing is to have a studio and establish and preserve its atmosphere." —Agnes Martin
14. If you love solitude, embrace it
"But it is, as Yeats said, a 'solitary sedentary trade.' And I did a lot of gardening and cooked my own food, and listened to music, and of course I would read. I was really very happy. I can live a solitary life for month at a time, and it does me good." —poet Katherine Anne Porter
15. Trust your intuition as to what works best for you
"It's not right if it doesn't feel right." —English painter Bridget Riley
16. Find regular time to just read what you love
Rachel Whiteread [English sculptor] would "at some point stop for lunch, and she'd often spend an hour of the day reading sitting in a comfortable chair away from her desk.
17. Establish a flexible routine to work with what you need
Morning routine: "Zittel feeds her chickens, waters plants, and performs other outdoor chores before meditating, taking a shower, making breakfast and getting dressed. In the winter, Zittel's morning schedule reverses: She meditates, showers and eats breakfast first; then, once the sun has raised the outdoor temperature, she heads out on her hike and does chores. 'It's really all about establishing a flexible routine."Andrea Zittel, an American artist, in 2017
18. Don't quit trying to live the life you wish to live
"It never occurred to me that I couldn't live the life I wanted to lead. It never occurred to me that I could be stopped . . . I had this very simple view: that the reason people who start out with ideals or aspirations don't do what they dream of doing when they're young is because they quit. I thought, well, I won't quit." —Susan Sontag
19. Try a crossword puzzle like Joan Mitchell
20. Determine what view in your studio/sanctuary/work space is most productive for inspiration
"Where do I write? In a Morris chair beside the window, where I can see a few trees and a patch of sky, more or less blue." —Kate Chopin, American writer
21. End the day with a signal to your mind to relax
"During the performance I drink water with breadcrumbs, which is most refeshing. After the ballet I have a bath as soon as possible. Then I go out to dinner, as by that time I have an unmerciful hunger. When I get home I drink tea." —Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova
22. Let baths be your creative muse
"Baths also played a part in her creative process - a post-breakfast bath enjoyed regularly by Virginia Woolf.
23. Let lunch be a true mid-day break
At 1:00 p.m., Hambling has lunch, takes her Tibetan terrier, Lux, for a walk, and switches on the television to satisfy her tennis addiction.
24. Write when inspiration hits - even if it is in bed in the morning so as not lose the ideas.
25. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air
"Fresh air and cold water are my stimulants." —Harriet Martineau - the first female sociologist
26. Enjoy someone's company for tea, lunch or a walk regularly
Emily Post would regularly welcome a guest or two for tea in the afternoon.
27. It's okay for your personal time to be less than what others feel is acceptable
"It seems to me you have to have your personal life organized so that it takes as little of your time as possible. Otherwise you can't make your art." –Eleanor Antin
28. Don't expect the routine to come naturally, create one and stick with it as it enables you to flourish
29. Cook and walk
"The only other essential component of her day is a twice-daily walk with her dog, during which she avoids thinking about her writing project. In the evening, she makes herself a simple dinner and goes to bed at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.." —Isabel Allende
30. Create space for your ideas to be seen
"Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient." — Hilary Mantel
"I think the way to become inspired is to empty your mind and let things come into your mind." —Joan Jonas
31. Do you and don't apologize
"I live here as in Paris. I rise every day at 5 o'clock; I drink my two large glasses of hot water; I take my coffee; I write when I am alone, which is rare; I do my hair in company; I dine every day with the king, chez lui, or with him and les seigneurs. I make calls after dinner; I go to the theater; I return to my place at ten o'clock; I drink my hot water , and I go to bed." —Marie-Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, a major salonniéres of the French Englightenment
32. Turn on music paired with your favorite drink to start the day
"I wake about nine, turn on the symphony and have juice, fruit and a pot of black coffee . . . " —Grace Hartigan, American painter
33. Leave evenings open for your social engagements
"In the evening, she would see a friend for dinner or attend another social engagement. But the real key to this perfect writing day, she said, was to know that the following day would be exactly the same." —Eudora Welty
34. Be patient until you find what works, then cherish it
"Trial and error, and then when you've found your needs, what feeds you, what is your instinctive rhythm and routine, then cherish it." —novelist Doris Lessing
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, a Patricia Wells recipe, click here for the recipe
~Check out TSLL's IG account, see the Highlights and Part 3 of my FR Trip '18 - mid-roll to see the presentation of the dish in Provence.
~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, enjoyed in Provence with Patricia Wells and the other cooking class students during the summer of 2018~
~the same dish served this past weekend as the second course during a dinner party at my home. Cool and crisp cucumber and yogurt soup.~
Sun, 26 May 2019
Today's episode is a top post from season one. And as it addresses the topic of authenticity, it pairs rather well with today's new Monday Motivational post - A Simple Way to Find Lasting Respect & Inner Peace.
Also mentioned at the beginning of today's episode:
~Visit all of The Simple Sophisticate podcast episodes here.
~View the entire schedule for Season 5 of the podcast (also, see below).
Sun, 19 May 2019
252: The Characteristics of Being a Late Bloomer, and How Embracing This Gift Could Change the World for Everyone
"By necessity, we late bloomers are on a different, more challenging trajectory. As we travel through life, we encounter obstacles like the push for conformity, the oppression of groupthink, and the pains of self-doubt. But . . . in all these challenges, we find our hidden treasure. We unearth our individuality. We see that a path to excellence, to reaching our true potential, is available to all of us. Within these challenges lies our true power, our covert talents and secret advantages as late bloomers." —Rich Karlgaard, author of Late Bloomers: The Power of Patience in a World Obsesses with Early Achievement.
Unsurprisingly, the new book by Rich Karlgaard spoke to me and offered an abundance of reassurance and exhilaration. If the comments on IG a few weeks ago when I posted an excerpt from the book are any indication, you are or will be as well.
Especially as Americans we greatly celebrate, strive for, and thus put pressure upon ourselves, and either unconsciously or consciously, to figure out our path early, to achieve success quickly and when we don't we make faulty assumptions about what we can contribute which can erode our self-confidence and potentially prevent the gem that resides within us all to be discovered and then shared with the world enabling us to find deep, lasting inner contentment.
Karlgaard's new book is worth reading in-depth, from cover to cover as he delineates the obstacles that our culture currently needs to address with historical details, new studies, multiple anecdotal examples of how indeed the "late bloomer" simply needs time, patience and awareness to blossom at their own time, as well as the most difficult support to refute findings - neurology.
So while I will encourage you to read the entire book, in today's episode/post, I wanted to share with you the characteristics that you might find yourself identifying with when it comes to being a Late Bloomer and not realizing the gift of opportunity you have given yourself to enjoy the rest of your life.
15 Characteristics of a Late Bloomer
1.Curiosity is the late bloomer's fuel
"By its very nature, curiosity demonstrates an independence of mind."
To keep on blooming throughout the entirity of our lives, forever remain curious.
2. We are predisposed to be compassionate
"In facing the ups and downs of life, many late bloomers gain a greater sense of compassion. They show greater reflective thinking, diminished ego-centeredness, and a deeper appreciation of others' challenges."
Because late bloomers have faced struggles along the way, have refrained from conforming at the expense of our social connections and acceptance into "the group", we can more easily put ourselves into the shoes of others, we are more empathetic.
3.Better leadership skills are developed
Due to elevated compassion, workers view leaders more favorably, and combined with "authenticity and integrity", this trifecta of skills "improves retention and employee performance".
4. Resilience is developed and strengthened
"When it comes to developing resilience, the regulation of emotions gives mature people an advantange over the young: 'There is a naturally learnable set of behaviors that contribute to resilience. Those are the behaviors that we gravitate to more and more as we age'."
5. Emotion regulation is easier which cultivates a calmer demeanor which leads to more effectiveness and better relationships
"Our brains are driven to seek calmness as we age. Columnbia University social psychologist Heidi Grant Halvorson claims that calmness is central to happiness . . . research has long established that calm leaders are more effective".
Late bloomers naturally develop the skills necessary to find calmness if we choose to keep exploring, learning, listening and observing what works and what does not. This is where our curiosity helps tremendously leading us to the blooming stage of our lives that is authentic and unique to each of us.
6. Extensive insight
"Our insights are the result of us drawing on our full mental library of experience, patterns, and context, yielding an idea of extraordinary value."
Karlgaard explains that "the right hemisphere [of the brain] matures in childhood; the development of the left is consistent with the development of the prefrontal cortex, which is not fully mature until the mid-twenties". Due to the left-side's difference in development compared to the right, it takes time for us to see the connection of the awesome or unique events, sights and experiences of our lives and make sense of how we can utilize them in our unique way.
7. Navigation of life's ambiguity becomes easier
"Perhaps this is the perfection defintion of wisdom: reasoning and cognition based on knowledge and experience".
In other words, we are not born wise, but so long as we choose to be curious, continue to be life-long learners, we begin to build it. "Wisdom is the ability to see the layers of light that were harder to see when one was younger". And consequently, we have the opportunity to hone our intuition as to how to best navigate our journey even with the unknowns that are presented.
8. More easily determine what's important versus what's trivial
To piggy-back onto #7, because we have acquired knowledge about the world over time and have made the conscious choice to continue to learn, we are then better at discern patterns faster and jump to logical solutions more quickly.
9. A desire to cut the apron strings with your parents
"To fully bloom, we must declare our independence from our family. That doesn't mean we must reject their love . . . it means only that we must reach our own conclusions about what does and doesn't support our blooming."
Creating a healthy culture in which to bloom is analogous to the proper soil and conditions for a plant to flourish. Each plant will need different types of soil, different amounts of sunshine and shade, varying temperatures - some extreme, some moderate, and it all depends on the plant. Unlike the saying, "bloom where you are planted", we should instead get out of the soil we have been planted in and explore to discover where we truly thrive.
10. Adult peer pressure is real, and if you've felt it and tried successfully or not to not succumb, you may be a late bloomer
"Some of this [peer group] influence can be healthy and positive, as when we join a hiking club or sign up for a program to quit smoking. But not every peer push leads us to a better version of ourselves; not all communities support growth and positive change."
To break free from our peer group, even when we don't know why it feels uncomfortable or wrong (but we know it does), is not easy and it takes great inner strength to do so. However, it does become easier because we eventually begin to feel more in tune with our true selves, we feel a burden lift, we feel our energy surge because we are no longer trying to be or do something that isn't truly in line with what we can offer the world.
11. Societal pressure to conform is limiting to our true potential
"[Today's media] also promote cultural, racial or gender biases, either through stereotyping roles and behaviors, or under- or overrepresentation of minorities. And repeated exposure to media content can lead viewers to begin to accept media portrayals as representations of reality."
From the media's portrayal of how to socially engage, what dating should look like, what children should be doing at certain ages based on their gender, the values are repeatedly shared and included in endless amounts of media such as video games, movies, television, newspapers, magazines, books and radio, and since it is a passive medium, unless we are critical thinkers questioning everything we receive, it is easy to accept what is applauded as normal and what we should adhere to regarding our life's journey.
12. Letting go of comparisons
"Mass media ask us to compare our body shape, sex life, marriage, house, car, family and community to unattainable television versions of perfection. Social media ask us to compare our own commonplace or even boring reality against the curated accounts of how absoutely wonderful someone else's life is — people we know!"
When we stop comparing and start celebrating, we liberate ourselves and enable the opportunity to observe our own awesomeness without the outside world's close-minded criticism or limited acceptance.
The author shared something that I think is worth sharing here as a reminder that there are many paths to success, to reaching a goal, to attaining contentment. He writes, "There are always many ways to achieve a goal, gain expertise, or find success. In sports or music, they are easy to see . . . But it's not as easy to see multiple paths for success in most endeavors . . . [which leads to confusion. As a result,] we default to following norms and take the road everyone else is taking". And these paths to success have as much to do with professional "success" as well as personal "success". Your definition of a life of contentment, as I have said many times before on the blog and in my books, will most likely be very different than mine, but that doesn't mean we both cannot feel the contentment that is spoken about and written about that provides deep satisfaction and peace.
It is important that we all recognize that each of us will bloom at a different time.
"Each of us deserves the opportunity to bloom in our own way."
When we do this there are many invaluable benefits:
1.We protect ourselves, and others we encourage to bloom, in our own time from the consequences of disappoitnment or failure. (this doesn't mean there won't be bumps along the way, but it reminds us that it takes time to understand where we are headed and why)
2.We learn how to work with self-doubt and let it be our superpower.
"To bloom, we all must learn not to fear self-doubt but to embrace it as a normally occurring opportunity for growth and improved performance . . . The key to harnessesing self-doubt starts at the very core of our individual beliefs about ourselves . . . self-efficacy".
3. We strengthen our self-efficacy
Self-efficacy is an individual's confidence in their ability to accomplish what they set out to do.
4. Obstacles begin to be seen as opportunities to grow rather than road-blocks
"While you may feel a general sense of self-doubt . . . [you] proceed anyway".
5. Improved positive self-talk
"Positive self-talk can improve our performance by helping us regulate our emotions, thoughts and energy".
When we begin to see skill-sets that render positive results, we are more likely to invest in them. For example, positive self talk leads to more confidence, a strengthening our self-efficacy and thus improved performance with whatever task is in front of us. And so we continue to practice positive self-talk and it becomes stronger with this skill rendering more positive outcomes.
6. Stronger, healthier relationships
When you bloom, gravitate toward those who celebrate your blooming, and for those who initially are not, give them a moment to understand why your blooming makes them uncomfortable. Depending upon the person, they may not realize that their discomfort with your growth is a reflection of their disappointment in what they feel they could have achieved but didn't. This is all about them. Some will grow from this and remain in your life, others will not, and you will need to move on. But all of the skills you have acquired and applied will help lead you toward building not only healthier relationships with others, but a healthier, less critical relationship with yourself.
7. Excellence will arrive when you let your curiosity take over
"When [curiosity takes over], a sense of exploration also takes over. I get in the zone, and I go for it. I feel pulled, not pushed — pulled by a beautiful power I cannot explain."
8. The courage to repot when necessary
"When it comes to repotting, late bloomers have a distinct advatnage over early bloomers. We're naturally curious and resilient. We're not afraid to follow a different path or break free of convention. We genuinely want to see what's around the corner or over the hill. These late bloomer strengths enable —even propel— the change we need to find the right people and the right place to help us thrive."
Once you have a clearer understanding of who you are and what cultures and communities are best suited for you to bloom, you will have strengthened, as was mentioned above in the first list, an awesome skill set. This skill set will be your bedrock for being able to repot when and if it is necessary.
"We need to give ourselves a break. We need to recognize and celebrate the fact that we're all different, with different skill sets, developmental profiles and backgrounds and that each of us will forge a different path toward blooming."
Being a late bloomer is most certainly something to celebrate, and when we "change our story, we can change our behavior and even our life".
Let me leave you with this lasting thought from the book that resonately powerfully with me:
~The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding by Jennifer Robson
~read my review and reason for recommendation here.
TSLL BRITISH WEEK 2019 Posts:
Sunday May 19th
~Do you enjoy reading TSLL blog and visit regularly, but would prefer to read the blog without ads? I have some good news for you. For a limited time, during British Week, the price for a monthly or yearly ad-free subscription has been reduced. Simply use the following promo codes below when you subscribe (or learn how to subscribe) here. The discount runs through Sunday May 26, 2019.
Sun, 17 March 2019
"Most people are in a constant state of falling for whatever the most interesting thing is. Falling for whatever the most popular person is doing . . . This introduces the endless cycle of constantly ‘shopping’ for experiences. An endless search for novelty, hedonism, and just a dash of escapism. Because they do not conduct the orchestra of their own lives, they search out the best possible maestro to do it for them." —Eric Brown, High Existence blog, article "Conquer FOMO Forever: Embracing the Joy of Missing Out"
The simple creation of an acronym such as FOMO (the fear of missing out) creates exclusivity. Consequently, creating yet another acronym to combat it is hypocritical as it too requires one to know the meaning without being told, but it was the apprecation for pushback on the former social media acronym that I applauded as while it may have been designed to speak about the current moment one is posting about, it is a celebration of living one's life with courage, thoughtfulness and clarity.
The quote above speaks to social influence of a mass population: If we don't know what to do, at least we know if we follow along, we will not be left out or behind. As I mentioned in the introduction of my first book, the only maestro that will create a fulfilling life for each of us is the one we see in the mirror.
But taking on the job of being the maestro is frightening, intimidating and brimming with uncertainty if our journey doesn't emulate the crowd's.
But it also opens the only door that will lead to joy and thus true contentment.
When we make decisions from a place of fear, we are not in the driver's seat. And in order to remain in the car, so to speak, we don't have our hands on the wheel and must go along with with the journey someone else is navigating. We don't have the opportunity to respond to our curiosities, something we see out the window that grabs our attention unexpectedly or even stop at the rest stop when our body needs a break.
When we give fear the driver's seat, we may live, but we have given up the opportunity to live well. Because only we know what is inside of us, consciously or unconsciously, that wishes to be realized and shared with the world. And if the form that it takes is at odds with society's "approval", then there will be great pressure to conform. But by living a life ascribing to FOMO dictates, we lose the opportunity to experience true joy.
The Benefits of Choosing JOMO (the joy of missing out)
When we understand how to cultivate joy in our lives, we come to realize as Eckhart Tolle teaches, that joy is found within us, whereas, pleasure is found outside of ourselves. Therefore, when we choose to live a life of joy, we can experience said emotion which is equivalent to contentment, every single day whether we are doing what the masses are doing or not.
~Read a detailed post on The Difference between Pleasure and Joy
We can be happy for others when they do what they enjoy doing and all the while not feel envy or jealousy as we have discovered how to cultivate our own joy in our lives.
The key, as with everything when it comes to living a fulfiling life, is to begin with getting to know yourself (discover how in TSLL's 1st book and captialize on what you learn with tools shared in TSLL's 2nd book). Such knowledge remedies what the quote above shares in the reason so many people gravitate and fall into following due to the FOMO: We don't exactly know what to do, so we do what others are doing.
So much of historical trends, societal expectations and norms are fertilized with the constant sprinkling of FOMO. However, if you choose to live a life inspired by the JOMO, your journey will be like no one else's even if it has similarities at times to others living now or in the past.
Reading a recent post of Garance Doré's (which has since been removed, as to why, I am not sure) , in which she speaks about the limiting clichés that American society attempts to place on women, and men as well, based on their age, relationship status or whether or not she or he is a parent, she offered inspiration for celebrating as demonstrated by where she finds herself along her journey - being single, something she has stated is the first time since she was 13, and being child-free at 43, - advocating for society to embrace the variety of ways women and men can live, and live well, while being themselves sincerely, relinquishing the games, the disingenuousness and instead, liberate ourselves.
When we let go of the societal clichés and refuse to let the culture berate us emotionally for not cowering and acquiescing, we cast off the doubt society would have us put on ourselves and the life journey we have discovered to be aligned with our unique strengths and cultivated skills.
Such assumed clichés of desperation if one hasn't chosen to be married or is no longer married at a certain age or has chosen to live child-free or is without children at a certain age, is the tool society attempts to use to limit people, confine them and attempt to guilt them into being what it wants and supposedly understands. In other words, it wants you to be less if for some reason you have elected not to follow what society applauds collectively.
Modern men as well as modern women perhaps are going through a struggle of consciously letting go of society restraints, and upon doing so, are setting themselves free to be who they fully are and can be, thus strengthening society as a whole if all people recognize the vise grip that unconsciously wanted them to stay within the confines of societal expectation.
It appears to me that a movement is strengthening as more modern women and men are exemplifying lives of being content within themselves and bringing calm and acceptance to those around them without tossing aside their boundaries when society pushes back.
When we refuse to follow because it doesn't align with our sense of well-being, we begin to lead ourselves along a more authentic path that aligns instead with the person we enjoy being and we begin to build a life we are enthusiastic about living each day. And it is in such a moment that we reach the state of JOMO.
Funny enough, it is by sort of an accident, that we do lead, but it is not a leadership by force, but instead with organic inspiration.
The world will always change, evolve and continue to try to suggest what is better or preferred or "right", but it is with an open mind and curious attitude dedicated to continuing to learn that we can recognize what is an aha moment and what is a "thanks, but not for me" idea.
When we understand ourselves, but also how the world moves, gets along, and how it has done so in the past, including the knowledge of social, psychological and economical motivators, we can observe, contemplate and feel confident in how we will move with or speak out (either with our actions or our voice) against or suggest or model a new or adjusted ideas that has not yet been introduced. Such is the case with JOMO. A simple concept, but a 180-degree shift in perspective of what had been put forth as the motivation for leading one's life.
Specific examples of living a life inspired by the JOMO:
A modern woman or man embracing JOMO understands . . .
. . . there will be pressure from society to conform, but when we recognize it for what it is — ignornace, fear of the unknown, a want of power or control over another — we can say no confidently, liberating ourselves and others.
. . . romantic love is not the only rich, nurturing, kind, respectful, enriching love that is available to welcome into our daily lives.
. . . respecting others, no matter how little or significantly they play a role in our lives, is an exercise in respecting ourselves as well. This understanding requires us to communicate clearly and without falsehood or insincerity. And it also recognizes we may have to correct ourselves as bad habits and defaults take time to change, especially if society has rewarded us for behaving disrespectfully (either in subtle or not so subtle ways).
. . . loaded language is a common way for societies to nudge (or guilt) individuals into ascribing to a particular way of living (i.e. "childless", "unmarried" - both include a negative connotation in either the suffix or prefix to suggest something is lacking). It is when we live more consciously, welcome more knowledge into our lives about the constructs of society, why they were put into place, we can recognize the defaults others may fall into unknowingly when they use such diction in conversation.
. . . meeting, engaging and conversing with people - men or women - during our everyday lives can be a bright moment. Simply being friendly and sincerely engaged in the exchange is a reflection of who we are as a person and not of a wanting something more than the current moment which offers friendly human connection and kindness.
. . . the potential the future holds upon recognizing and refusing to be limited by the confines of societal expectations and savors the present moment in which they find themselves as they, by simply living a life of joy, can model and inspire others to feel comfortable to do the same.
Enjoying the journey moving forward
A modern woman need not be defined by their romantic relationship status or parental status (neither should a modern man, but fewer stigmas are attached to men as opposed to women in our current culture). Welcoming love into our lives, good, real love, is available in so many forms and for each of us will follow its own timeline. It begins with a love for the life we find ourselves in at this very moment — not wishing for something more or fearing we are missing out if certain events or outside opportunities don't present themselves "on time".
Love, and thus a discovery of joy, is available via a multitude of avenues and communities. Explore, embrace and nurture where the love is in the journey you are on at this moment because it is uniquely yours and most certainly worth celebrating.
—Queer Eye, Season 3 premiere, Netflix
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #251
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Sun, 3 March 2019
Oprah: What is a lesson that took you the longest to learn that you kept repeating and it kept showing up wearing a different something, but was the same lesson?
Julia Roberts: I think we as people, or as women, or me just myself who I am in this world that I make myself less for someone else to feel more of whatever that "thing" was.
When I heard Julia Roberts share with Oprah on her podcast Super Soul Conversations this past October the lesson that took her the longest to learn, it struck a chord. Actually, having seen the above Instagram post on Oprah's feed prior to the interview which prompted me to download the episode (airing on October 23 & 24 - it's a two-part conversation), I finally felt I had found a word for what I had been doing for quite some time in my life but couldn't understand what it was and why it was causing me so much frustration.
Shrinking, unconsciously becoming less of who we are so that others feel more comfortable, either to avoid confrontation that is unwarranted, but still we choose to prevent it from occurring by not being our full and awesome selves, or by not partaking in a life path because we don't want to upset others or deal with the push back, can become a habit and mistakenly become accepted as who we actually are.
The habit of shrinking is something I became accustomed to for a long time - with my family, with my friends, in relationships - but thankfully, I find myself in the past 5-8 years refusing to do so, and the blessings of this conscious choice have been beautiful - primarily, a sense of peace and tranquility within myself which is especially felt when I am in own and only company. And more importantly, I have begun to find people who accept me for who I truly am, and have been more keen to gravitate to others who as well are being themselves and do not ask or expect or want me to shrink.
A common reaction to onlookers or individuals who have interacted with those of us who have become conditioned to self-select to become less is that we are 'too much of ourselves'. In other words, arrogant. They skip over the observation of one simply being confident and jump to, she/he is too confident. Too full of themselves. But what they are really communicating is "I am not comfortable with you not being who I want you to be or what I am used to you being". And often, it is women who when they choose to let go of being less, receive the comment from others of being 'too confident'. I rarely hear this about men who are confident, and even those men who are well into the arrogant tier of confidence. Nope, primarily women. And this is what is known as social conditioning.
Even more unfortunate, it is often women, but men too, if they haven't been conditioned or around women or any individual who is not adhering to what they believe to be 'their societal role' , they will push back. The irony is, if they are women pushing back against women, they are pushing themselves down as well.
What does 'refusing to make yourself less' look like? Certainly, women can step into the realm of arrogance and go beyond simply being confident just as men can, but too often we fear this misstep and thus never even dabble or try to exude our confidence of being exactly who we are. And being exactly who we are is what the world needs.
How to Be Your Full Self, Not Less, Not More
1.Understand what true self-confidence is
To possess and exude confidence is to establish a "firm trust" with someone else as defined in the dictionary. In episode 5 of the podcast, we detail how to gain confidence and why it is invaluable, an episode inspired by the book The Confidence Code .
And it is imperative, that in order to not convey arrogance, but rather confidence, you refuse to fake it. In other words, let go of the life advice maxim that seems to be quite ubiquitous - "fake it until you make it". If you fake it, you overstep, you don't have the credibility and people will not trust you. The goal is to gain authentically other people's trust, which means, you need to be you and do what you love and what comes naturally, where you find your flow and where you acknowledge others' strengths and successes, where you recognize new ideas and thus adjust your ideas. Being adamant is not being confident, especially so, if your stance on any issue needs to be adjusted as new knowledge is put forth.
In other words, excluding true confidence comes from showing, not telling. Simply put, our actions, how we carry ourselves, how we handle difficult situations, how we prepare for our projects/conferences/speeches/etc., how we respond to questions when asked, when we engage in conversations - what it is that we share and how we speak - our tone, listening skills, responses, etc., how we go about our lives when nobody is necessarily watching, etc.
Confidence is gained from continual growth, a bit of vulnerability to put yourself out there and show your strengths, but also a recognition that it is in your actions,, that build upon themselves to build trust with others and to demonstrate to yourself that yes, what you have to offer is valuable, but first you must acknowledge this truth to yourself.
2. Let go of the need of wanting everyone to like or approve of what you do/say
Become more comfortable walking away and not taking it personally when someone doesn't "approve" of your behavior, ideas, lifestyle, etc. First, this is where having confidence will help strengthen your resolve to not be so shaken when someone speaks ill of you or your work. Second, this doesn't mean constructive feedback shouldn't be considered. After all, in order to grow, so long as the source who is relaying the feedback is trusted, credible and wishes only to help, not tear down what you have put out into the world, consider their feedback.
On the other hand, whether it is with relationships, career pursuits, lifestyle choices, or political ideologies, while we may intrinsically want others to like us, agree with us, go along with our ideas, accept us, date us, marry us, hire us, vote for us, etc., we want them to like our full self, not a version of what we think they would accept. Because in time, we will no longer be able to stay confined inside the box we have initially put ourselves in and the other has accepted that we stay. Our breaking out will come in all different forms - getting angry, ending a relationship, etc. - but rest assured, it will come eventually.
3. Find the courage to be vulnerable
The most frightening part of being our fullest selves is knowing that there is a possibility we will be dismissed, rejected, ignored, laughed at, simply not accepted for who we are. But the comfort, the safety net so to speak, is the self-confidence we have built up and take with us everywhere we go.
If you understand your self-worth, which has been with you since the day you were born and will be with you your entire life, you know that you have immense value that the world is fortunate to have. In 2011, I wrote a post sharing 10 Ways to Strengthen Self-Worth and one vital point shared was that "we all have self-worth; itâ€™s a matter of finding it within ourselves. Once we accept and acknowledge, and know, that we are worthy, the amazing journey of finding our purpose, of discovering our passions and living our most fulfilling life can really begin."
Once you acknowledge how awesome you are all on your own, those rejections, those negative responses that none of us are seeking, will more easily become a part of the past and roll off your back. But first you must establish your self-confidence.
"Itâ€™s no surprise that confidence is the foundation that makes it okay to be vulnerable. Itâ€™s the layer of self-trust that allows you to take a few bricks out of that wall and know youâ€™ll be okay, to really show up and to show others who you are. Real, natural confidence is trust rather than second-guessing. Itâ€™s congruity rather than compartmentalization. Itâ€™s ease rather than resistance." â€”Steve Errey, a confidence coach
If you are someone as well who has felt they have had to shrink themselves in order to live life, then you know how uncomfortable and confining it can be to live such a life. Such experience is not wasted because now that we know how to become our full selves we can make sure we don't expect others to shrink or become less around us. With empathy we can make sure this harm to others doesn't continue - to women or men. But we must stand strong in our full selves and become comfortable with walking way, communicatively clearly, but with clarity and calm certainty and recognizing that these are both skills - the shrinking to be less and the expanding to be our full selves - and so while it took time to learn how to shrink, it will take time to learn how to be fully who we truly are out in the world.
For me, there are three aspects that are the most difficult part of being fully who I am: not holding on to the past of how I have been treated by the same people I am trying to be fully myself with and bringing unhelpful rash and reactionary emotions with me (while I have walked away from those I could, sometimes we don't have a choice as we either work for or with them or are related to them and see them at holiday occasions whether by our own invitation or not); letting go of the guilt that had been instilled by society for being stronger than it wanted me to be - whether that guilt was exhibited by having a voice, an idea or letting someone go; and lastly, believing in what I wanted to bring to the world more and considering the certain critics that will inevitably arise less.
As you can see, it takes time, and awareness of what is most difficult for each of us, but we each can attain the place of being fully who we are each day and moment of our lives no matter who we are with. And in knowing this, we can support and nurture others who are daring to take this brave step to be themselves and encourage them, not laugh or limit or dismiss, so that we all rise to our best selves. However, it starts with supporting yourself and giving yourself permission to be exactly who you are. Just be you. And in your being, you will dazzle, amaze and find the people who delight in exactly who you are. Trust your journey.
â€”Agatha and the Truth of Murder, on Netflix
starring Irish actress Ruth Bradley as Agatha Christie at the age of 36 as her marriage to Archibald Christie was coming to an end.
Set in December 1926, during the 11 day period in which the novelist went missing. The movie is a fictionalized version of what might have happened.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #249
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 3 February 2019
"A well-designed life is a life that makes sense . . . a marvelous portfolio of experiences, of adventures, of failures that taught you important lessons, of hardships that made you stronger and helped you know yourself better, and of achievements and satisfactions." —Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
At the heart of choosing and the actively living a simply luxurious life, is to live a life tailored to each of us. It will be unique, it will be thoughtfully constructed and a dynamic being, as our lives continually grow, evolve and expand due to our curious natures.
As I share in my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Selves, I have been tailoring my life unconsciously since I was a young girl, and now consciously as an adult for the past two decades. Tailoring takes energy, intention and a desire to understand and then the courage to apply what we learn to our lives. It can be difficult at times, but ultimately, it is greatly rewarding as we are living in accordance to our true nature and discovering all the potential we have within us.
Editing our lives - removing what does not align with our priorities and dreams, and making room for what enlivens us and brings us joy is a highly beneficial process.
Imagine that dress that looks exquisite on the model or the hanger, and you know the color is precisely what will make your skin and smile glow if only you could shorten (or lengthen as it usually is in my case) the hem, taper the waist, but broaden the width of the shoulders and make the neckline fit just so.
The dress in this instance is your life - you love living life, you are consciously aware of how awesome it is and the opportunities that could potentially come forth if only you had the time and energy to see them and then capitalize upon them.
The tailor that will make the necessary changes to make the dress fit perfectly for you uniquely is you (with the help of experts in their field - i.e. books, writers, etc.). And yes, the tailoring will take time, but with careful awareness, the little changes begin to make a significant positive difference in how your daily and overall life begin to feel as you live the changes you have made.
This is to tailor your life to fit you. And it is absolutely worth the time it will take. In fact, I have a feeling if you are a reader/listener of this blog/podcast, you had already been a tailor of your life for some time. But as the quote below reminds, a well-designed life isn't something you tend to once and complete. Nope. Much like our favorite dress, we may need to adjust it over the years in all sorts of ways, but the dress (i.e. our life) is capable of adapting if we have made good decisions along the way.
After all, our skin tone, eye color, hair color (okay, this can change if we want it too), height, shoe size and temperament do not change. We simply become better at understanding how to complement and enhance and thus, bring forth to the world who we truly are. And that is why we need to be a tailor of our lives, which is an ongoing job.
"A well-designed life isn't a noun — it's a verb . . . your life is not a thing, it's an experience; the fun comes from designing and enjoying the experience."
1. Follow What Brings You Joy
"Follow the joy; follow what engages and excites you, what brings you life."
2. Create an Activity Log for 2-4 months
Log your energy and engagement levels for each activity, noting the specifics of said activity, the environment you find yourself (physical, emotional, social, etc.), what type of interactions you have with other people, other things - machines, etc., what objects were part of the experience - technology, analog, sporting equipment, instruments, etc. and who else was with you as you engaged in the activity?
3. Plan small rewards after completing "energy-negative" tasks
4. Let go of Agonizing over what the "best choice" is
"You can't make 'the best choice' because you can't know what the best choice was until all the consequences have played out. You can work on making the best choice you can, given what's knowable at the moment."
When I read this part of the book, I acknowledged that I can agonize from time to time, especially when it involves decisions of great risk or great change, but when I read the quote above, I was put at ease. When we replay over and over again in our minds the "what if's", we are agonizing and thus expending energy that would be better placed moving forward and letting go. Moving forward and letting go, trusting that we made the best choice with the information we had at the time will enable more 'best choices' to be made in the future.
5. Practice self-discipline
The art of letting go of agonizing and being able to move on takes self-discipline as it will be a habit you will have to break if you have been a seasoned 'agonizer'. However, eventually the skill of letting go once the decision has been made and moving forward takes place will become habit as well. To frame it different, choose happiness. Better still, choose contentment. If agonizing does not bring you either of these feelings, then let it go.
"Happiness is letting go of what you don't need."
Now that you know in what ways your life would be best tailored to you, below are a few concrete areas to consider so that your everyday life - the want-tos AND the have-tos - can work best for the life you want to live.
1.Automate what you can
Last year, I shared 12 ways to automate your life. Be sure to check out the post to discover specifics everyday or routine tasks that can be tended to once and not repeatedly. Some of the ideas include finances, savings, bill paying, regular beauty items, etc.
2. House cleaning
Whether you have the luxury of hiring someone to do the deep cleaning regularly or you are the cleaner of the house, find a system that is efficient both in energy and time. I have done both, and currently, feel fortunate to be able to have someone clean my house once a month while I maintain it with weekly pick-up cleaning sessions in between. However, this hasn't always been an option, so I have followed a weekly and then seasonal cleaning schedule that enabled me to not have too large of tasks if I had put them off, but also make sure the big items (windows, refrigerator) were cleaned on a regular basis.
3. Reading material
Thoughtfully edit out and welcome what you enjoy, what keeps you informed, but without the excess. I recently discovered that simply by asking for a particular partial delivery (weekends only), which was more to my reading schedule and interest, I could not only save money, but reduce the amount of newspapers I was having to recycle.
Currently, I have reduced the number of magazines I subscribe to (here is a list of all of the magazines I have subscribed to at one time or another, but I do not subscribe to all of these now), and I also subscribe to three newspapers: The New York Times (Sundays), The Wall Street Journal (weekend) and The Washington Post (digital).
4. The Market Shopping
From making sure your canvas totes are already at the ready, as well as cotton mesh bags for produce so that no more plastic needs to come home with you, creating a place for these items will reduce extra bags that you will need to recycle and help the planet as well which will make you feel good for doing a small part to help.
5. Bring in the Small Luxuries
What brings you joy? What delights you during your day in your home or in your daily life at work or going about your regular business? We have spoken abundantly about small luxuries on the blog/podcast, so this idea will come as no surprise, but this is where you tailor the small luxuries that will elevate your everyday - whether it is always having fresh flowers in the house, to having beautiful French candles to help you wind down at the end of each day, welcome small luxuries into your life. Discover 27 ideas for bringing simple luxuries into your life in this 2013 post.
6. How to Best Stay Informed without Becoming Overwhelmed and Anxiety-Ridden
In 2017, episode #187, I shared a list of 9 ways to Create a Healthy Approach to Staying Abreast of the News, and ever the advocate for staying informed, I also have experienced first-hand that there is also a breaking point for all of us when it negatively effects our lives. This is where tailoring is crucial for our mental and emotional health, which does contribute to our physical and then overall health.
One significant change I have made over the past year is HOW I receive the news. Instead of watching it (the only news programming I view is NBR - Nightly Business Report - which focuses on solely economic news), I read or listen to the news. By doing this I am choosing when I listen, and or read, and I read my daily news brief each morning, sometimes a few articles that interest me and then save my Sunday reading for reading the entire papers (the sections that most interest me). This has helped me make the shift to be less reactive and more responsive thoughtfully and when I see necessary.
~episode #145, Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference
7. The environments in which you live and work
Whether it is our home where we have much more control to design our environments or our workplaces, where we may not have as much, but we can still pay attention to what we do, doing so for each is one of the most significant tailoring jobs we can take on to improve the quality of our lives.
~Why Not . . . Create a Sanctuary? 7 Ways to Get Started
~11 Ways to Make Any Home Your Sanctuary, episode #108
~For Introverts in the Workplace: 8 Ways for Introverts to Thrive in the Workplace, #6 speaks to cultivating a sanctuary at work
~The Importance of Cultivating a Sanctuary, episode #46
8. Your Signature Style
Style, whether it is our clothing, our homes, how we speak or how we go about living our lives, is a form of communicating with the world our life experience, our values and our dreams. To not at least be aware of this power, is to ignore a powerful way we can engage with our lives more fully and elevate them with our choices when they align with our true selves.
I have an entire Archived Section of posts dedicated to finding your signature style, but this episode/post will help you get started , episode #15.-
9. How we eat
Do you make food a source of pleasure as well as nourishment? Do you celebrate with food small and large moments of your life with those you love?
Food and how we approach engaging with food, how we speak about food, is an everyday part of our lives. If we curse food, that is negative energy we are bringing into our lives. If we berate ourselves for eating certain foods, that is a choice we are making before and after that negatively affects our lives, but we can tailor this part of our lives as well.
As we become knowledgeable about food, recognizing that we do not need to deprive ourselves, the food we eat, how we prepare it and how we approach creating the meals we enjoy with ourselves and others, can become a wonderful source of joy. Check out TSLL's archives on Health which is all about Elevating the Everyday Meal with Seasonal Fare (and also check out TSLL's new venture into the cooking show genre with The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - 8 episodes are now available).
10. The Big Life Decisions
So much of what is shared on TSLL is about designing your best life and tailoring to the unique person you are. Hopefully the above list will jumpstart you in the direction of paying attention to the little details that when tended to thoughtfully will make an impressive positive difference.
Most importantly, our lives our ours to curate. Often, we don't realize how powerful changes in our default thinking, in our default way of living can change the quality of our lives. The key is to live consciously, make the best decision we can at the moment and continue to enjoy the living part, which is the only part that truly matters. Even with the have-tos that will bring us to the destination we seek, there is goodness to be savored, appreciated and enjoyed. Living thoughtfully, letting go of what is done and making the most of what is and potentially can be has the power to make your life an awesome experience each and every day.
~TSLL's 2nd book is specially written to help readers tailor their lives to their most authentic selves. Discover how to cultivate and strengthen the many tools that will elevate success in your everyday life, career, relationships and much more.
~Monty Don's French and Italian Gardens, Netflix
~French Gardens (3 part series), 2013
~Italian Gardens (4 part series), 2011
~Discover Monty Don's gardening books here
~Visit Monty Don's website for he posts monthly tips for gardening.
Monty Don's Italian Gardens trailer
Monty Don's French Gardens, clip
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #246
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 13 January 2019
"When you take control of your mornings, you take control of your days. You get to engage with the world under your terms. You can act, instead of react." —Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning Millionaires
Reflect on those mornings in which you eagerly step out of bed regardless of the early hour. What was to happen in that day? Most likely, it was something you were excited to enjoy or partake in. Most likely it was something you loved doing or felt fortunate to have the opportunity to be a part of.
However, what if I told you that having such a day actually begins with cultivating mornings, mornings that will heighten the overall quality of your life because a good morning is where you invest, a good morning is where you captures your ideas that are bouncing about asking to be caught, a good morning is where your good mood begins and what you carry with you throughout the day?
1.Invest in yourself
Hal Elrod, author of Miracle Morning Millionaires reminds that the most popular personal financial advice is to 'pay ourselves first'. Referencing compound interest, this premise correlates to tapping into our true potential and bringing it forth. He states, "Time is similar. Developing yourself is the most powerful tool in the world." Making the argument that our mornings, each day are a boon of abundance of opportunity to leverage wisdom, productivity and clarity in order to invest in ourselves. And based on my own experience and after reading his book, I would wholeheartedly agree. Let's break down how the morning can indeed be a magical time of day to make the entire day awesome as well as contribute to the success we seek.
2. Give yourself time to ease into the morning
" . . . Wake up slowly. Make awakening a delightful ritual." — Mary Beth Janssen
Elrod shares in his book an acronym for specifically how to structure your mornings - S.A.V.E.R.S. (Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing). While he breaks down each in great detail, after reading the book, as each of us will do should we read it, I began to intrepret it for myself - examine what I am curently doing that works and how it may fall into this structure, what I am doing differently and what I am not doing and ask myself why not and do I want to consider tweaking my routine.
One detail that I feel is quite powerful to begin the day well is to ease into the day. For some, that may be silence (prayer, meditation, deep breathing, gratitude, etc.), for others it may be talking or snuggling with your partner (or pets). For me, easing into the morning is turning on my morning classical music station as a Breakfast with Bach is always being played at 5:05 for about 10-20 minutes (8:05 Philadelphia time as it is WRTI.org).
Over the past year, I have found this practice to be gentle and not jarring, but something to ensure my mind begins dancing in the right direction to start the day well.
For each of us, our "delightful ritual" as Mary Beth Janssen suggests, will be unique, but I encourage you to find a gentle way to wake up in the morning during those first few minutes before you set the intention for your day.
3. Drink 2 cups of water upon waking up
Before you go to bed each night, have a pitcher or carafe of water (similar to the one shared on last week's This & That) next to your bed. While drinking water before bed is a good ideas as well, you will want to drink two cups of water upon waking up. Not only will this begin the process of cleansing your body of the toxins it has worked to rid from your system while you slept, but it will hydrate you and ultimately, help wake you up.
4. Shift your mindset about mornings
"People do transform their lives, every day . . . The key, it turns out, is to simply start behaving like the person you want to become." —Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger
It may seem overly simplified to state, "be the change you seek", but studies have proven this guidance to be true. In an article written for Psychology Today by the author above Jeff Wise, he writes, "Act out the change you want, and day by day, the weight of evidence will become undeniable. Before long, the person you pretend to be becomes the person that you are."
And while we should not take on too much change all at once. In fact, sound advice is to take one one thing at a time, but if the change you are seeking is to be able to wake up in the morning well and rested, be proactive and start going to be earlier, start understanding how the mind works regarding neural patterns and put helpful "bumpers" in place to make it easier to be successful at being the morning person you want to become.
Your mindset when it shifts to seeing the potential and magic that, when done well, of morning routines will enliven your eagerness to wake up because this is the part of the day that you have the most control over and, as well, have the most potential to improve your entire day.
5. Write down your thoughts
Elizabeth Gilbert wrote in Big Magic:
"When an idea thinks it has found somebody – say, you – who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit. It will try to get your attention . . . The idea will try to wave you down (perhaps for a few moments; perhaps for a few months; perhaps even for a few years), but when it finally realises that you’re oblivious to its message, it will move on to someone else."
Beside my bed is a notepad, and each morning, as I am lying in bed listening to my classical music or simply in silence, when ideas pop up that I do not want to forget (because I have in the past, so I know I will even if I swear I won't), I write them down. It is not a journal entry, it is not long, it is just the idea.
When I read Elizabeth Gilbert's book Big Magic a few years ago (listen to my podcast episode #70 inspired by my reading and listening to her speak at a local book reading), it resonated with me for a variety of reasons, but one was that we have within us so many treasures waiting to be discovered if only we would pay attention. And it is when we are quiet, the day is quiet, the world is quiet that we can best hear ideas that may not make sense fully to us now, but it is important that we capture them.
"Creativity arises from silence and stillness." —Andy Puddicombe
6. Become clear in your mind about your journey and desired destination
In other words, practice visualization.
"Many people don't feel comfortable visualizing success and are subsconsciously scared to succeed . . . consider that the greatest gift you can give to those you love — and those you lead — is to live to your full potential." —Hal Elrod
The goal is to change your subconscious. When you shift your mindset (this can be done through affirmations - spoken or written), and pair it with gaining clarity about what you are striving to create or become or do, you strengthen your motivation, overcome "self-limiting beliefs, as well as self-limiting habits such as procrastination" and make yourself available to attaining the success you seek.
7. Exercise regularly
At this point you may feel this directive has been stated ad nauseum, but when it comes to our brain health and thus are overall health and finally our quality of life, did you know that "the best preditor of brain speed is aerobic capacity"? Yep. Dr. Steven Masley, a Florida physician and nutritionalist shares, "The average person going into [a corporate wellness program] will increase brain speed by 25-30 percent".
But why is it preferable to exercise regularly in the morning? First of all, the exercise need not be extremely strenuous. it simply needs to be regular - a short 7 minute walk if that is all you have time for, but when we work out in the morning we give ourselves an energy boost that we can carry into our day.
Personally, I love working out in the morning before I sit down to work fully, but currently, my teaching schedule makes this very difficult as I like to exercise with my dogs and prefer not to walk in the dark. With that said, I walk, ski, take a yoga class or paddle board 5-7 days a week after school when school is in session, otherwise, I do work out in the morning. The key is understanding the power and necessity of exercising regularly.
8. Read, Learn, Forever be a Student
With many recommendations for how much we should read a day, the most important part is what you are reading. Read something that teaches you something, that deepens your understanding, stretches and challenges your mind and asks you to broaden your perspective, improves your communication skills which will improve your relationships.
Active reading has been proven to deepen comprehension of the content being absorbed which involves annotating as you read - underlining, circling, margin notes, summarizing in writing at the end of each chapter, etc. - and do not feel as though you have to finish each book you start or read it in order if it is a non-fiction book. Reading feeds your mind, and as you may have noticed, in many of our points discussed today, it is the mind that will lead us to success if we become its master and care for it properly.
I prefer to read newspapers, articles I have saved from the weekend deliveries, or online Life & Science articles from my newspaper subscriptions. I also read a daily briefing each morning from my national newspaper. Depending upon your schedule you might read a few pages from a book in the morning. Each of us again will be different as to what we want to read when, but I usually keep my books for lunchtime reading or evening reading unless it is a research topic I am doing for TSLL.
9. Enjoy a delicious, satiating, energy-boosting breakfast
I have shared multiple times that I enjoy nearly the same breakfast each morning (I even produced a cooking show episode around it), and at a recent book signing here in Bend I shared that I actually wake up looking forward to my morning routine, especially my breakfast.
Along with what you choose to eat to begin your nutritional day, design a morning breakfast ritual that is inviting, fun (yes, fun!) and contributes to the overall morning routine that helps you ease into your day with eagerness and clarity.
Here is a glimpse of what is part of my morning breakfast (aside from the food itself - click here to learn more and see the recipes).
Perhaps your moment of meditation takes place as you ease into the day, first thing in the morning. I prefer to go through most of my morning routine and following breakfast, once my mind and body are fed, sit down for morning meditation of 5-10 minutes.
The calm moments I have leading up to this moment, and then the actual moments engaged in meditation further solidify a positive tone that I wish to carry with me throughout my day.
11. Check in to make sure all is well with your business and view the plan for the day
This will depend upon what your work is. But checking in can also include the other people in your household. This is a time to check in with each others' schedules, for example, as well as your own. For me, this is when I check my email and make sure all is going well before I return to my office (after my walk or after school) and get started with my work day. I take a look at my daily schedule, remind myself of appointments, errands, etc. that need to be completed through the day.
Another idea is to set your three goals you want to accomplish for the day. Yes, three. And put them in order of importance. In other words, at the end of the day, having completed what three tasks will make you feel productive and satisfied. If only one item is complete, make sure it is the one at the top of your list and move the two that have yet to be completed to the top of the list tomorrow.
12. Waking up early is a skill
Believe it or not, once you are an adult (adolescent brains require more sleep and actually do fall asleep later than young children and adults as their melatonin kicks in two hours later than which is what evokes one to feel sleepy), you create the habit that will make you either a morning person or not. Why? Because you will create neural patterns in your brain that make it habituated to going to sleep or waking up at certains times of day.
If you have experienced jetlag, traveled or lived in a distant land, only to return weeks, months or years later, you know that with time, you can adjust your circadian rhythms, but it does take time and conscious effort.
The magic of our mornings will likely surpass what you believe will be possible. Our mornings become the springboard, the starting off point, and the more bounce we have, the higher we are capable of soaring.
"When you wake up with excitement and create a purposeful, powerful, productive morning, you set yourself up to win the day." —Hal Elrod
When it comes to cultivating a day and thus a life you love living, if you love the way your life is at this very moment and it is working for you, then keep doing what you are doing. But if you recognize that the way the day begins can be improved, or you feel you have more to give if only you could restructure how you go about your day, or you just don't know what to do to improve the quality of your days and thus life, look no further than your mornings. It truly is that simple.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Ensure a Bountiful Harvest (in Life), episode #177
~My Daily Breakfast & More Morning Meal Ideas: Steel Oats, Soft Boiled Eggs & Soldiers, episode #3 of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen (cooking show)
~Listen to my conversation with Kimberly Wilson on her podcast, Tranquility du Jour, where we talk about my new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life in a recent episode on her show, #438
~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter
~7 Days Out, Netflix
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #243
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 6 January 2019
If you Google "self-care", more than two billion posts, articles, books and videos pop up. For a variety of reasons, many valid, self-care is topic of discussion in the world, and the reality that stress levels in America have increased for the first time in 10 years is evidence that perhaps we all would benefit from understanding the value of proper self-care.
The topic is something that is indirectly discussed here on TSLL blog and the podcast since both were founded. But today I wanted to dig down to understand what self-care is and the benefits of incorporating it regularly into our daily lives.
The Oxford Dictionary defines self-care as "to preserve or improve one’s own health", and while often self-care is explained as being free and easy, the truth is, real self-care is not initially easy if we haven't incorporated it into our lives properly. Eventually, it will become habituated, but with any new skill we are choosing to bring into our lives, there is a period of struggle, of frustration.
Mary Beth Janssen describes in her 2017 The Book of Self-Care, "No amount of massages, hot baths, aromatherapy, healthy food or exercise will sustain us over the span of our lives if not experienced from the layer of our being that is pure consciousness." In other words, there is deeper work that needs to be done, but we can still incorporate these surface, pleasure-finding practices into our self-care regimen.
True self-care enables each of us to attain optimal well-being, thus the opportunity to practice the art of living well, a fundamental component of living simply luxuriously. Again, Mary Beth Janssen:
"Self-care is the ultimate healing mechanism for wholeness in mind, body and soul . . . preventative health care at its best."
How do we pay attention and practice optimal well-being? Let's take a look.
1.Start with getting to know yourself.
~Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself?, 3-part series
2. Practice Self-Compassion
As human, Janssen reminds, "Beyond basic physiological needs, fundamental human needs are for attention, affection, appreciation and acceptance". In summation, we all need love, and that includes self-love.
~Why Not . . . Have Self-Compassion?, episode #122
3. Refrain from letting your emotions run your life
Our perceptions of the world, of those around us and of ourselves are powerful. When we change our mind, our thoughts, our understanding, we truly can change our world.
4. Choose to understand the Ego's role in your life
There are positive effects of having an Ego - "when in higher states of consciousness, [it] ensures that our basic needs are being met so that we may fulfill our life's purpose", but it can act as a result of fear. When we feel we are losing control, power or needs, but does not have approval from the external world, it can get nasty.
5.Choose to respond, rather than react to daily events that are unexpected and unwanted.
~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145
6. Practice being present each moment - improve your mindfulness
7. Cultivate daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal and annual rituals
8. Spend time in Nature
In the kitchen, in the studio, on the dance floor, on the computer, in your home, in the museum, you get the idea.
10. Celebrate seemingly ordinary events that truly are extraordinary upon closer inspection
The changing of the seasons, mini and major life milestones
11. Practice compassion
A study by the National Institutes of Health in 2015 revealed that "brain imaging shows how the practice of compassion stimulates the same pleasure centers associated with the desire for food, water and sex."
12. Understand the detrimental power of stress and change what creating the distress
Janssen points out that stress is "triggered by the body's instinct to defend itself - the 'fight or flight' response", but if we leave this feeling unchecked and allow it to become a regular state, distress accumulates and then a long stretching list of chronic and acute diseases can follow. Eliminating distress is in fact preventative health care. And thus, it is self-care.
Remember #5 and practice responding rather than reacting as when we react, the potential for our stress to rise increases.
13. Schedule regular time to rejuvenate
14. Become a regular journal writer
15. Practice regular meditation
As talked about before on the blog and in my recent book, mediation is a powerful skill, and often one that is misunderstood to those who have yet to understand what it truly is. First of all, I too used to be one of those who misunderstood meditation. I used to errantly believe I had to stop my thought, not think at all. This is absolutely incorrect. Meditation, is the ability to "observe our thoughts, breathing with them, allowing them to happen without judging, believing, arguing or interacting with them." And with regular practice, Janssen states, "you learn to interrupt conditioned behavior —the habitual reactivity to our thoughts . . . observing our thoughts allows us to interrupt this process."
16. Stay hydrated
Place a reminder on your phone four different times each day to remind yourself to drink 16 ounces of water (2 cups). If you adhere to this schedule, you will meet the recommended 64 ounces of water a day.
17. Improve time management
Instead of simply rearranging what you do, eliminate what are no longer priorities in your life.
18. Enjoy regular, deep nights of sleep
19. Cultivate an environment - home, work, personal - of support, optimism and respect
20. Enjoy eating well and with the seasons
~The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - Seasonal Meals to Elevate the Everyday
21. Let go of what you cannot control
22. Play a lot! In other words, exercise, but change the term you use to describe it it.
23. Set healthy boundaries
Boundaries exhibit self-awareness of what you need to live well, productively and feel respected and loved. Cultivating healthy boundaries involves being able to say no without apologizing, and doing so in a non confrontational manner. Read more about how to set boundaries and why they are vital to building a life you love living and relationships that are strong, loving and full of mutual respect.
"Remember, when you claim your boundaries, you're not defining, attacking or judging someone as a person. Rather, you are defining a behavior that needs to change for you to feel comfortable. This is the boundary."
~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability, episode #126
24. "Express gratitude to those who respect your boundaries"
25. Understand what mindfulness is and practice
"Live life from [your] depths", not on the surface. In other words, don't be dependent upon outer circumstances for your happiness. In fact, that is what happiness is - "hap" is the Old Norse (medieval Norwegian language) for luck. Instead, find your calm, your contentedness, from within. I loved this quote that was shared in the book, so I want to share it with you:
"There is pleasure in being in a ship beaten about by a storm, when we are sure that it will not founder." —Pascal
26. Become "Mindfully Curious"
Another way to become more present in your everyday is to practice the term coined by Janssen, "mindful curiosity". Let your youthful, playful side come forth. Stop editing yourself and experience what is right in front of you and all around you. See the beauty, see the awesomeness and celebrate it in your own way.
~This week's Petit Plaisir exemplifies the act of being mindfully curious.
27. Slow down
28. Discover the power of the colors that surround you and welcome more natural light into your world
29. Limit or Eliminate exposure to upsetting imagery and events and people
30. Continue to be a forever learner and become okay with not knowing
31. Heal what hurts
"If you want to change your thinking, heal your heart." Understand how to be emotional intelligent.
Self-care is mandatory, not a luxury. When we choose to regular practice self-care we are being respectful to ourselves, but also modeling to others' that they too are worthy of the same kindness. And when we practice kindness, receive kindness and understand what true kindness is, we can better extend it to others without expectation and we can recognize unkindness and walk away as a means of being respectful to ourselves.
As a new year begins, why not strengthen the foundation of what will enable you to be your best self, but enjoy your everyday all the more and thus create a life you love living and sharing with others?
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~16 Ideas for Simple Everyday Self-Care, episode #227
~Queen to Play (Joueuse)
~based on Bertina Hendrich's novel The Chess Player
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #242
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Mon, 31 December 2018
"In bringing about genuine inner transformation and change, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of making a sustained effort. It is a gradual process." —The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.
The resolutions whether you have concretely written them down or potential ideas of what you wish could improve in this new year are dancing about in your mind, are being considered because you recognize growth that you'd like to see in yourself and in your way of living.
In redoing my office space this past weekend, I was reintroduced to The Art of Happiness - a book that I purchased in 1999, read with eager curiosity, and only now is able to more deeply understand what was written.
Much of what is shared reinforces what the art of living well consists of - a better understanding of one's mind, as well as one's self, giving yourself permission to delve into your emotions, becoming comfortable with letting go of attachment, and being willing to have patience, put forth great effort. Also, becoming conscious of how society and the culture each of us resides influences us and our ways of living that we may not be fully aware.
In chapter 12, the subject focuses on "Bringing About Change", and the three components of success and lasting change are determination, effort and time.
A reminder of this truth is apropos this time of year, but truthfully at any time of the year when we choose to make an improvement, and especially when we think the change is impossible or becomes too difficult.
On the subject of the change we seek being difficult to attain, the Dalai Lama was asked the following question by Dr. Howard C. Cutler,
"People often want to make positive changes in their lives, engage in healthier behaviors, and so on. But sometimes there just seems to be a sort of inertia or resistance . . . How would you explain how that occurs?"
The Dalai Lama responds, "That's quite easy . . . It's because we simply become habituated or accustomed to doing things in certain ways. And then, we become sort of spoiled, doing only the things that we like to do, that we are used to doing."
When asked how can a person overcome this, he responds, "By using habituation to our advantage. Through constant familiarity, we can definitely establish new behavior patterns . . . by making a steady effort, I think we can overcome any form of negative conditioning and make positive changes in our lives. But you still need to realize that genuine change doesn't happen overnight."
Being realistic is certainly a good idea when it comes to setting goals and making resolutions, but we also should not be afraid of making significant change even if we aren't sure how long it will take.
If new year's resolutions revolve around the theme of losing weight, refrain from the quick fixes and instead cultivate a healthy and enjoyable way of living. This includes not only diet, but exercise and a balanced daily life that does not leave you exhausted and chronically stressed. Look at the habits that are helpful and be honest about the unhelpful defaults.
If new year's resolutions have to do with completing a significant project or task, be realistic about your schedule and prioritize and perhaps eliminate other activities or responsibilities in order to give your best effort.
Today is the day when we set an intention, but the immediate next step once we have outlined the journey to arrive at our desired destination, is to put into action the activities, new habits and mindset we need to be successful. And since we're on the topic of success, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom "examined the lives of some of America's most accomplished artists, athletes and scientists. He discovered that drive and determination, not great natural talent, led to the success in their respective fields."
In other words, be persistent, when it becomes difficult, read my New Year's 2018 post and recite Marie Forleo's saying, "And this is what I want". And then keep doing the daily work, consciously sticking to the habits that will eventually become part of your muscle memory, and eventually, you too will see the awesome change you seek.
The new year holds an abundance of promise. Seek out that promise because you do have what it takes to attain it. Bonne année! Happy New Year!
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~episode #137: Welcoming A Year of Quality, One Month at a Time
~Shop Etsy for French Compotes and other treasure finds for the home and getting cosy.
~Follow me on Etsy and discover my favorite shops!
~SHOP A FEW FINDS FOUND BY SHANNON:~a compote in Sharon Santoni's guest cottage full of fresh fruit upon my arrival this summer. See more here.~
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #241
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 30 December 2018
Mon, 24 December 2018
Sun, 9 December 2018
"Things in their original simplicity contain their own natural power, power that is easily spoiled and lost when that simplicity is changed." —Benjamin Hoff, author of The Tao of Pooh
~Below is a list of the life lessons shared on today's podcast episode. For detailed conversation about each point, be sure to listen to the audio version as Shannon elaborates on each point.
~Correction 12/11/2018: The copyright of The Tao of Pooh is 1982. The copyright of The Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is 1926.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #237
The written character P’u (pronounced Pooh) is defined as natural, simple, plain, honest. This basic Taoist principle not only applies to things, but to people too
1.Find what you can uniquely give the world
"The Way of Self-Reliance begins with recognizing who we are. Each of us has something special hidden inside somewhere. But until we recognize that it’s there, what can we do but splash around, treading water? The first thing we need to do is recognize and trust our own Inner Nature, and not lose sight of it." P. 65
2.Life can be truly fun, no matter what your age
“When you discard arrogance, complexity, and a few other things that get in the way, sooner or later you discover that simple, childlike and mysterious secret known to those of the Uncarved Life: Life is Fun.”
Cleverness has its limitations. It’s mechanical judgments and clever remarks tend to prove inaccurate with passing time, because it doesn’t look very deeply into things to begin with. P37
3. Just be yourself, embrace your awesome
"When you know and respect your inner nature, you know where you belong."
"Cottleston Pie - a way of saying inner nature. No two people are the same either. Everything has its own inner nature. Unlike other forms of life, though, people are easily led away from what’s right for them, because people have brain and the brain can be fooled. But many people do not look at it or listen to it, and consequently do not understand themselves very much. Having little understanding of themselves, they have little respect for themselves, and are therefore easily influenced by others. "P. 57
4. The change you want does not exist outside of yourself
"Real progress involves growing and developing, which involves changing inside."
5. Be patient on your journey
"No matter how useful we may be, sometimes it takes us a while to recognize our own value." p. 117
6. Being an optimist will serve you well
"The play-it-safe pessimists of the world never accomplish much of anything, because they don’t look clearly and objectively at situations, they don’t recognize or believe their own abilities, and they won’t stretch those abilities to overcome even the smallest amount of risk." P. 122
"Wisdom, Happiness, and Courage are not waiting somewhere out beyond sight at the end of a straight line; they are part of a continuous cycle that begins right here . . . it's sometimes referred to as the Snowball Effect, which can remind you of the time you pushed that little ball of snow along, and it got bigger and bigger until it got so big you couldn't stop it . . . now the principle can work negatively or positively. It can promote cynicism as easily as it can encourage hope . . . the important thing is to make it work for yourself and for the benefit of others."
7. Discover the Power and Opportunity for Rejuvenation with Time Spent with Yourself
"Music is the space between the notes - emptiness cleans out the messy mind and charges up the batteries of spiritual energies - Loneliness actually begins when all the spaces are full and the tv gets turned on to make it go away. The power of a clear mind is beyond description."
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Live Alone Well, episode #33
~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93
~Authenticity: The Courage to Be Yourself, episode #6
~TSLL's New Book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self (released November 13, 2018)
~Learn more about TSLL's Weekly Newsletter
The Simple Sophisticate podcast, Season 5 Schedule
~The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Season 2 (especially episode 2 as it is set in Paris)
Sun, 18 November 2018
"Heat is the element of transformation. It is was takes raw to cooked, flabby to firm. Pale to golden brown. " —Salt, Fat, Heat, Acid, documentary, Samin Nosrat
The topic of butterflies has been abundant here on TSLL blog - in 2011, What Butterflies Have Taught Me; in 2016 - The Butterfly Moment in Life: Don't Wait, Just Live Well, episode #160; in 2010 - With Balance and Determination - and after reading these past posts, you will quickly see my long-held fascination with this transformative insect with a large pair of brilliantly, uniquely colored wings (and Norman's too as explained in the first post listed).
Let be being this conversation by sharing an interesting note: caterpillars are associated with both butterflies and moths, and there are far more moths than butterflies (6-11% butterflies as opposed to 89-94% moths), but often the opposite is believed to be true because moths are nocturnal and butterflies fly about during the day.
Taking a mere couple of weeks (sometimes months, a for a few butterflies, years), the process, while some may describe it as "beautiful" due to its magnificence and eventual outcome, it actually can be quite odd, not typically majestic aesthetically and perhaps to some, gross. I won't describe all that takes place (you can read about that here), but yeah, part of the process is icky (I use this elementary term only to further my next point - what Mother Nature is enabling to happen as the butterfly transforms from a caterpillar is nothing short of awesome).
When you have the courage to step forward into transformation, to cultivate a life that welcomes contentment, to let go of what is no longer supporting the person you wish and somewhere within you unconsciously or consciously knows you can become, there will be stages that are "icky", uncomfortable, frustrating, doubt-filled and maybe even painful figuratively/emotionally speaking. But that is part of the necessary process.
Last weekend, I posted this image on Instagram (see below). For those listening, it is an image of my new maghony bed frame. Complete with a footboard and headboard, at the top of each is a carefully carved butterfly. I call it, not surprisingly, my butterfly bed. As I shared in my Instragam post, it was a find at a secondhand store for a price that was far below what it should have been marked, but this treasure had gone unnoticed for many months and the owner of the shop was eager to move it. Knowing the carpenter, artist is a more apt word, Steve Arment, who is a dear family acquaintance in Wallowa County, I knew a treasure when I found one and welcomed this piece of art into my home tout suite.
Much of TSLL's new book Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self) is about the chosen transformation to travel your singular journey in order to attain, and live each day, your best life. A life of contentment, a life of realizing your true potential.
And it is a book inspired by my own choosing to step into the stages of transformation.
There are countless blog posts, and even books on the process of personal transformation, but it warrants a closer, yet concise look at the realities and the benefits of the process.
When I heard the quote shared at the top of this post shared by the author of the wildly successful book and now docu-series Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat Samin Nosrat in the Heat episode, an image of a butterfly struggling to free itself from its cocoon was on the screen. I pressed pause. I rewound and listened again to what she said. I listened again and proceeded to write down the words shared today. Admittedly, she is talking immediately about food, but she could just as well be talking about any change we seek in our own lives. In order to cultivate change, we must create friction which causes heat, which mobilizes the ability for the change we seek to occur.
1.Give yourself permission to become more
"There is power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there's grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become." —Michelle Obama, in her memoir Becoming
Whether it is society or our own limiting thoughts, obstacles of the transformation we know vaguely awaits us should we choose to step forward to change will flash before us repeatedly attempting to thwart any decision to proceed. But you must be daring. You must be brave because as former First Lady Michelle Obama shares in her new memoir and directly in this quote, when you choose to become more, you empower yourself and now have the ability to help others step into their fullest potential as well.
2. Give yourself permission to be content.
Sometimes, especially as women, we need to hear that our actions will help others in order to give ourselves permission to do something that will improve our lives and make us more content. But in this particular step, I want to give you permission, and thus for you to give yourself permission, to let yourself be truly content. Each of us is living different lives, each of us has different responsibilities, that is why your journey will be unique and only you will truly know what you can let go of, what you need to remain committed to and what you no longer need to be a part of, but your happiness will spilleth over if it comes from a place of authenticity of an opportunity to improve the world and its contentment.
There will always be shamers, guilt-trippers, and fear-mongers to attempt to "put you back into your place", which is why you need to find your support system (TSLL is here for you too!), but first be your own support system and give yourself permission to be content. A better you will help cultivate a better world.
3.Remind yourself of your unique strengths and past successes
"By staying in touch with your accomplishments, you build true, authentic confidence to move on to make new things happen. Appreciating your success enables you to take responsibility for your greatness so that your life . . . [is about] finding ways to use your own gifts to make a difference." —Jinny S. Ditzler, author of Your Best Year Yet
When we are in the middle of transforming, doubt inevitably creeps in. We begin to wonder if we really do have something the world needs and whether our investment of time and resources will be worth it. In these moments, take time to slow down and remind yourself of both your unique strengths and your past successes - those actions and abilities that inspired you to begin the journey you are currently on. Perhaps you need to check in with that dear friend of yours that is your constant cheerleader if you cannot seem to remember your awesomeness because it is there and once you remember these truths about yourself, a deep breath will emerge, your chin will rise just enough for you to look forward so that you can keep on striving.
4. Understand that constructing a solid foundation begins with instability
Your world will feel as though it is shaking at times, unstable, some of the previous strongholds - perhaps financially, perhaps socially, etc.. You will feel emotionally drained and tapped to find an ounce of energy to power through. You may have moments of floods of tears, anger due to disrespect or lack of understanding. Keep your composure in public, seek out those you trust for comfort and reassurance in private, take time to find balance and strength, and know these moments are part of the building a more solid foundation.
I was recently watching a segment on Oregon's Public Broadcasting which spotlighted the building of Portland's Japanese Gardens, Oregon Art Beat. And in the segment, the first natural design one sees when they enter the garden before hiking up to the full Japanese natural space are the dry stone walls. The architect explained that this architectural approach of stacking rocks without cement or binder ironically enables the wall to become stronger with each shake of the earth, each shift of the ground beneath it. Why? Because as the earth moves, the rocks begin to settle more and more firmly into their place. The key is to have chosen the pieces carefully when first designing the wall.
You are the architect of your life, and so long as you trust your journey, understand your unique gifts (something that is discussed in detail regarding how to do in chapters 8 & 9 of TSLL’s new book), with each shake that comes from society, from a critic, from individuals who challenge what you are doing, it will ultimately only strengthen your foundation, but at first, it will feel unstable as it is new.
5. Remain open to opportunities you initially may not recognize
Opportunities often take time to materialize and thus for us to recognize as opportunities when they first dance across our paths. Because we are seeking or traveling down a path that is new to us as we have chosen the path of transformation away from our previous existence and toward a new one, opportunities will be, and initially look, different.
Much like continuing to date the same type of person, we cannot expect to seize the same type of opportunity over and over again and expect a different result. It seems obvious, but it is hard in practice initially because we have become trained to see opportunities that we now know do not serve us for our new journey. Which is why we must remain open to opportunities that may be unrecognizable initially. How?
What I have learned is that opportunities often take time to fully take shape. In fact, we have to do the homework beforehand, take a risk often times and then be patient to see how it will all work out. The most important step is doing our homework. In other words, what investments have the best chance of helping us to attain the outcome we seek. Instead of seeking the option that will give us an outcome quickly, but not the best outcome, we need to be patient and simply let it unfold once we've put forth the effort.
Eventually, the opportunity will become clear, but along the way, it will be foreign as we are a new student to this language.
This past summer, I spoke often about my trip to France. It was a trip, while not my first, that is most memorable for a long list of reasons. And it was on this trip that a butterfly came so close to my face on multiple occasions it felt surreal. As we sat down for lunch throughout my week at the Provence cooking school, the butterflies would dance down the center of the arced table overlooking the valley in Vaison la Romaine. I would catch the eye of fellow students immediately after it would happen and we would just smile in adoration and disbelief at what we had just seen, no words needed to be exchanged. Of course, I had my own reasons for smiling, much of what is explained here, but it was when I came across my new bed (that I was not shopping for - in fact I was shopping for a round pedestal dining room table that I continue to shop for), that I smiled again spontaneously.
If you too are fascinated with butterflies, you will have your own reasons for smiling when you see them as we are each choosing to travel along our own transformative path, but I find my bed to be even more now a place of support and encouragement. And the transformation in my most private sanctuary a welcomed change as a new chapter of sorts begins.
It is a curious feeling sharing a creative piece of yourself, in my case, a book which shares many different personal details, with the world. As many readers have coined, it is somewhat like a "book baby". You work on it for years, you read it and reread it and reread it multiple times, but it isn't until it is put out into the world that you feel particular feelings at their most visceral level - vulnerability, hope, relief, just to name a few. The relief is one of emotional expenditure, and perhaps the bed came at the perfect time with its comfort provided because I have slept longer and more deeply in the past two weeks than I have for some time. I am recharging.
Heat is created when we choose to take action. The action may not be understood by everyone during the process of transformation, but when you trust your journey, when you understand yourself, when you emerge, you will be strong enough to explain, introduce and share your newly transformed, beautiful self to the world.
~TSLL's New Book is Released! Let's Live Our Best Lives - the Official Release Day - View and Listen to interviews and learn much more about the book in this detailed post.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #233
Sponsors for today’s episode:
Sun, 28 October 2018
"Just by being a strong and kind, ambitious and likeable, empathetic and decisive, confident and flexible woman, you can help turn around the double standards we all face and permanently change the way women at work are perceived." —Fran Hauser, author of The Myth of the Nice Girl: Achieving a Career You Love Without Becoming a Person You Hate
Authenticity is crucial for success, but for some reason, those of us who embody a propensity to be nice (both women and yes, men too) have often been made to believe that nice won't help us reach the success in our careers that could be possible. Especially with the double standards often placed upon women who do dare to step out of the nice box, society would like us to think that being nice won't work, but actually, being gruff (if that is not our natural nature) won't either.
So what is the best approach for building a career you love? Be yourself. Be that nice individual you have always been, but let go of the fickleness, let go of the passive-aggressiveness and become more confident in what you know to be true about your strengths, set clear boundaries, all the while building positive relationships with others, and remembering the research done by FastCompany in 2015, that a positive work environment leads to greater productivity, lower turnover, and even better health outcomes for workers. A win-win.
After reading Fran Hauser's new book, I wanted to share 13 takeaways that spoke to me and caught my eye due to emails and comments I have received from readers. While I have boiled them down to their nuts and bolts, if this topic is speaking to you, be sure to take at the book as she offers a multitude of specific examples from her own career and others as well as step by step, specific pointers and tips for navigating remaining nice as well as strong.
1.Understand the difference between Nice and being a People Pleaser
"Nice is: Positive, yet honest and straightforward; People Pleaser is: Sweeping things under the rug to avoid making waves."
2. Remember to be strong as well as nice
Hauser argues that indeed we can be both, even though the myth is perpetuated that we cannot. How? Hauser suggests speak up, and be humble, be a team player, but still look out for your best interests, and accommodate, but communicate clearly and be assertive.
3. Understand there are enough opportunities for everyone and refrain from competing with others, especially other women.
A necessary shift from generations past is moving beyond women competing with other women as though there was only one that could make it to the top. Historically, due to gender biases and stereotypes, this was sadly accepted and perpetuated, but times have and are continuing to change. Women can be collaborative, generous and in so doing, lift everyone who is contributing great work.
When we realize opportunities are in abundance when we shift the work culture and mentality, productivity rises, as does the peace of mind in the work place. How? By having confidence that we have something of value to offer and we can benefit from the talents of others.
4. Claim your niceness and use it intentionally
As an authentically nice person, to go against your nature will not only gradually deplete you, but it will also feel unnatural. When we choose to use our niceness intentionally, it can appear in how we build relationships with those we work with, and as a result, clients and colleagues show more loyalty as they appreciate the sincere connection and recognition of them individually.
5. You may have to clarify that your niceness is not to misunderstood for ignornace, lack or knowledge, in other words as a weakness
Hauser shares some helpful statements to respond to those who may doubt that being nice is indeed a preferred way to work, but once you make your stance clear, you will have to explain this truth far less often.
6. Be humble, but don't put yourself down
Returning to the topic of being nice versus being a people pleaser, when we are humble and don't take ourselves too seriously, we come across as more relatable. This doesn't mean we should diminish our successes or strengths. In other words, never talk about yourself in a way that degrades your competence or paints a negative picture. When you begin to do this, you create potential doubt in clients, colleagues and higher ups who oversee your job.
7. Speak with confidence
Refrain from prefaces what you are about to share by casting doubt on what hasn't even been spoken. Instead choose your words carefully. Hauser gives the example of stating we need to speak declaratively rather than interrogatively. In other words, observe how you end your sentences in which you are stating a fact. Do you still end it with a questioning tone? This projects lack of confidence. Instead, state it with confidence what you have found to work, to be true or an idea you would like to share. Give credit to those who deserve it if you came to the idea with the help of others, and if necessary, state your reasons for why you feel your idea would be helpful to more than just yourself. When you frame what you say constructively, speak with confidence and refrain from prefacing with doubtful statements such as "I believe" or "I could be wrong", you are already on your way to gaining the trust from your peers and supervisors.
8. Apply critical thinking skills to tactful disagreement
If you disagree with someone's initial statement, instead of stating this opinion forthwith, ask questions, seek outside perspectives and dive deeper into the subject at hand before jumping to conclusions. When we do all of these things, we step away from any initial emotional reaction and give ourselves time to thoughtfully respond and perhaps gain some more understanding and respect due to our process along the way.
9. Set emotional boundaries to weed out the bullies and build stronger relationships
"Often, we 'nice girls' carry around a tiny seed of doubt that a conflict is somehow our fault. When a bully spots that doubt, he or she will be very likely to prey on it."
When I read this section of the book, I took a big sigh. For some reason, even after many years as an adult, and even in my youth, this was a tremendous aha for me.
This particular section is helpful for navigating situations in which a colleague bullies intentionally or unintentionally, but isn't clear about the boundaries, and how to effectively deal with either situation. From the get-go it begins with setting clear emotional boundaries. Begin by seeking out allies you trust, then remember to not be sucked into the drama created by the bully. As well, confront the behavior head on after you have taken a deep breath, but don't wait too long. Sometimes this is an opportunity to strengthen a relationship based on a misunderstanding, and in other scenarios, it clearly states to the bully, you may be nice, but you are not weak and will not tolerate such behavior. Lastly, document the facts of each incident should you need to talk to a supervisor.
10. Negotiate Effectively, by Playing to Your Strengths
When you marry reason and emotion, studies have shown that you are more likely to be successful, as a woman, receiving the wage, the contract, the [fill in the blank item you are seeking].
When it comes to reason, understand your value. In other words, what skills, expertise, etc. do you bring to the table, and how valuable is your time. Also, do your homework, and have the data ready to demonstrate what you want those you are speaking to to recognize. As well understand all of the options for improving your success (not only salary, but stock options, bonuses, schedule, vacation time, other bonuses such as memberships to gyms, etc. and maybe even four day weeks during the slow time of the year).
On the emotional side, being nice has its benefits, and this is one. Most likely you are observant of others and what makes them happy, what makes them upset, the best times during the day to talk to them, etc. I can remember a principal I used to work for, and early on in my career, the vice principal always advised to speak with him in the afternoon as he was not a morning person. This was helpful and it made me realize, that we are all human, and if we want the best outcome, it would be best to talk with the individual or individuals at the time of day they are more inclined to be awake and open-minded.
At the core is to have confidence in ourselves, to know we are worthy of asking for fair and equal pay, and to not feel bad for asking for what we know we are worth.
11. Create filters at work
Protect your time. Once you know what your priorities are at work, where you are most needed and valued, and where you can contribute the most, delegate the rest or filter it out completely.
12. Devise a schedule that elevates your productivity
Part of being both nice and productive is setting clear boundaries around when you will do certain tasks and communicating this effectively to others. Perhaps it is when you will check your email during the day (this is you communicating to yourself as much as it is others), or maybe it is when you will be scheduling meetings and for how long. Be clear about what is necessary to be productive and then communicate your availablity.
13. Become comfortable with saying no to respect your productivity and schedule
Hauser calls it the skill of the "kind No". And again, this is playing to the strengths of someone who is nice, but it is also exhibiting the strength that is necessary to be clear about what you can and cannot do. People will inevitably ask, and that is okay. But what needs to become okay with you is saying no. So long as you do so thoughtfully, and honestly (this doesn't mean you have to share in detail why you cannot say yes), you have been respectful and they can now seek out someone else to help them.
~Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat - Netflix
~Inspired by her book of the same name Salt Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking (2017)
Sponsors for today’s episode:
Sun, 21 October 2018
Faith Salie's recent commentary on Breaking News and its meandering into becoming of lesser and lesser importance for the viewers to be interrupted sparked my attention when Salie offered a simple suggestion: more depth, less drama.
As soon as she said it, my ears and mind perked up.
What a simple approach to living well. An approach to welcome more substance, less stress, more enjoyment, less unnecessary conflict and more tranquility and less anxiety.
Could it really be that simple?
Let's start with the drama we unnecessarily welcome into our lives and what we might potential replace it with to improve the quality of our everydays:
1. Viewing Entertainment
Less . . .
More . . .
Less . . .
More . . .
3. Daily Routine
Less . . .
More . . .
~Archived TSLL posts on Relationships
~Archived TSLL posts on Money
~Today's image is a glimpse of one of my favorite weekly routines as shared on Instagram - Sunday morning.
Less . . .
More . . .
5. Understanding Priorities
Less . . .
More . . .
~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145
6. Friendships & Relationships
Less . . .
More . . .
7. Mastering of One's Mind
Less . . .
More . . .
Less . . .
More . . .
~A Powerful Couple: Vulnerability & Boundaries, episode #126
The beauty in choosing a life of depth over drama is that we won't even fully be aware of the drama we have avoided by living a life of depth because we no longer entertain it as an option. And that is what gives us more energy, more time and more space to spend our lives doing what we love, investing in what we care about and building relationships that we want to welcome and strengthen in our lives.
~read the interview with the writer and director Victor Levin (writer for Mad About You, 5 to 7) which appeared in The Washington Post
Sponsors for today's episode:
~Image: One of my favorite weekly routines is captured - Sunday morning breakfast and reading material (via IG)
Sun, 14 October 2018
Autumn brings many revelations and rewards. From the harvest of bountiful fruits and vegetables that have been waiting for months to reach their peak of flavor to the brilliant turning of colors seen in the leaves and needles from deciduous and the rare deciduous conifer trees (American Larch or Tamarack).
Autumn also reveals how well taken care of, how attentive we have been, to said crops and woods to enable them to reach this seasonal stage of harvest naturally and offer their full expression.
As it pertains to each of us, we too are on a journey of self-discovery if we choose to be. I was recently listening to Ina Garten in a conversation she had with Katie Couric about her career with food, and at one point, she offers the advice of looking to our youth, perhaps as young as our early childhood to be reminded of what fascinated us. For her, it was cooking and baking, something she enjoyed as a young child, but not something encouraged in her family. This something for Ina wasn't heeded until she was 30, at which point she opened her speciality grocery Barefoot Contessa, and then at thet age of 50 wrote her first cookbook.
As I have shared in the past, timing plays a role in our lives, and so too does the tenacity to remain curious about discovering our deepest and most sincere truths.
Truths such as why you enjoy the company you enjoy versus the company that never quite leaves you inspired or perhaps worse. Truths such as what sparks your laughter, deepens your joy and elevates your motivation to try something new.
The editor of the Pulitzer Prize winning journalistic endeavor that broke the Watergate investigation in 1973, Ben Bradlee is well known for a simple phrase, "The truth emerges". And while yes, he is speaking more specifically about investigative reporting, I have experienced it to be true in the journey of life as well.
If we examine the significant decisions that have led us to where we are today, at the time, we may not have known with deep, insightful clarity why we were drawn to a particular college, a particular person, a certain hobby or destination on the globe, but if we take the time to thoughtfully examine in hindsight, the powerful ahas as to why may become more crystalized.
I began to do this for myself regarding why I prefer to live on my own, and have my entire adult-life after undergrad. It has taken me nearly 20 years to understand this truth for myself.
That's the key - for ourselves. We cannot take someone else's truth and apply it to our lives. In a way that is plagiarizing, and no one can ever truly be appreciative of a life that is not sincerely constructed. Yes, we can absolutely gain inspiration from others' lives, but then we must apply that inspiration to the individual that we are.
The truth I came to see with unwavering clarity was that as a young girl, being busy was valued, and being still not so much. Only with a few select people was enjoying my own company allowed (being able to be silent while together with another is truly one of the most comforting aspects of a partnership or friendship for me). And even fewer still accepted not only my being with my own company, but truly being who I am. Which is why I have curated a life where I can be exactly who I am when I am at home and let my creativity dance as it wishes. The truth, in this lesson, truly has been liberating.
So how can each of us encourage the truth to come forth? Live consciously.
Living consciously doesn't mean you have to examine every little detail of your life to death, but it does ask of you one of the fundamental premises of living simply luxuriously - make sure you aren't being led around by the nose. What draws you to the decisions you are making? Is it you intrinsically, or is it external influence? Ask yourself, what brings you peace? What brings you joy? As well, what brings you pleasure?
There are many factors in life that we can neither control or influence, but we can learn to recognize more confidently opportunity and information that will help us live our lives more authentically. But we can only do this if we are paying attention, listening and letting go of expectations.
The truth of who we are and who we will become is forever emerging as we are dynamic individuals full of more potential than our limited perspectives can imagine at this moment. But so long as we are striving forward, so long as we remain curious, new aha moments will cross our paths as more truth is given. So why not keep exploring, keep applying what you learn and with each piece of information you gather, your world becomes more enriching, more enjoyable and more inspired as others observe you growing and thus blossoming.
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the CIty of Light by Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #229
Sun, 30 September 2018
"Cozy living is about creating an atmosphere of warmth, contentment, and pleasure within your home and in your life. It is increasing your awareness of and focusing on embracing the simple, everyday moments to rise above problems, release stress, enjoy friends and family, and to appreciate all you experience." —Melissa Alvarez, author of The Simplicity of Cozy: Hygge, Lagom & the Energy of Everyday Pleasures
Over the weekend, I took a day to spend time doing simple activities I don't always have time to immerse myself in as the school year is in full swing. I took a day to exercise the important habit of being present, taking in the beauty of what was surrounding me and let myself feel what I felt.
For many people, the past week was a week of external events affecting our emotions in ways we may not have expected and thus were not prepared for. Add on top of that a busy week of regular to-dos, meetings, responsibilities, etc., and it may have become overwhelming.
During such weeks whenever they arise, but also when weeks are going well, tending to our self-care is essential. A few years ago on the podcast (episode #122) self-compassion was discussed as well as the seven benefits of choosing not to be our harshest critic, but rather being more gentle with ourselves as we do our best each day, which can be different depending upon the day.
Part of having self-compassion is taking good care of ourselves, being aware of our emotional tendencies, being tough and persevering when necessary, but also respecting that with more self-care, the persevering becomes easier. In other words, simply pushing through without the self-care makes it all the more difficult and the quality of what we produce is often severely diminished.
While I referenced this week as an example for making the effort to practice self-care, the practice itself is most effective when used preventively. In other words, by instituing regularly routines, rituals and choices into our everyday lives that elevate the quality, we are practicing self-care and thus elevating what we can endure and how well we work through any day that comes our way.
Today I'd like to share with you 16 ways to welcome self-care into your everyday way of living. Some are as simple as what types of ingredients you use in your kitchen to cook your meals, while others pertain to your relationships, and even others your sanctuary and daily routine. Let's get started!
1.Buy Quality Butter - look for a high butter-fat count. Often these brands will be from Europe - Plugra, Kerrygold and many French butters. Spend a little more and improve the simple experience with everything you enjoy butter.
2. Make a delicious fall dessert (see today's Petit Plaisir for an idea that will melt in your mouth and is simple as apple pie.)
3. Let yourself wake up without an alarm clock.
4. Take a hot shower and just let the hot water run down your body - stand still, close your eyes and enjoy.
5. Spend time in a bookstore or library.
6. Visit a winery or go wine tasting and enjoy sipping while gazing out upon the fall foliage.
7. Hire someone to clean your house, even if just once is all you can afford. Relish walking through the door and seeing an immaculately clean house asking nothing of you but to sit, relax and enjoy your space.
8. Purchase a luxurious candle, pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers, choose a movie you are curious to watch, either pick up your favorite take out or cook a wonderful comfort meal, and enjoy a truly luxurious solitary evening.
9. Sit outside at dawn or dusk or the middle of the day and just listen and watch the world, Mother Nature, the moment.
10. Cuddle with someone you love.
11. Bring a small bud or bouquet of flowers into your bedroom.
12. Slip into linen sheets spritz with lavender linen spray and dive into a delicious book.
13. Pick up a book that celebrates the seasons. I highly recommend Sharon Santoni's My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons
14. Plan a weekend away, even if just a town away where you can spoil yourself with mini adventures and dining adventures you have been eager to try.
15. Eat a chocolate truffle at the end of the day and sip a lovely cup of tea.
16. Soak in a hot bubble bath with your favorite tunes, candles lit and finish a good book. (I recently did exactly this and finished a delightful book on living in Paris.)
The gift of self-care is not only what it brings to us and enriches in our daily experience, but how it improves our daily interactions and relationships with others. We begin to become more aware of our own feelings and needs as we listen more closely, and as it is a muscle, we can be better to observe when others are in need of a breather, a rest or a boost as well.
When we invest in ourselves before the attention is needed, we avoid scenarios and situations we do not want to go through without realizing they may have occurred had we not been dutifully tending to ourselves on a regular basis.
Today examine when and what you'd like to do to welcome a few self-care practices into your daily and weekly routine. Enjoy planning and looking forward and when in the moment of these self-care practices, simply savor and soak in the needed nourishment.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Why Not . . . Revel in Simple Pleasures? (two part series)
~The Hygge Phenomenon and Living Simply Luxuriously, episode #148
~What are people saying about TSLL's new venture into vodcasting? The Simply Luxurious Kitchen is an 8 episode video series where readers/listeners can now view Shannon cooking in her own kitchen sharing simple tips and ideas to elevate the everyday meal. Be sure to check out the most recent episode (episode #4) and enjoy the remaining 4 episodes each Saturday here on the blog until the end of October.
~Apple Tarte Tatin
~View the detailed recipe here.
~listen to my interview with Sharon Santoni as she talks about her latest book My French Country Home: Entertaining Through the Seasons from which this recipe was inspired.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #227
Sun, 16 September 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #226
Sun, 9 September 2018
“Times of transition are strenuous but I love them. They are an opportunity to purge, rethink priorities, and be intentional about new habits. We can make our new normal any way we want.” —Kristin Armstrong, three-time Olympic gold medalist - road cycling
As September arrives I find myself torn between the schedule I love during the summer months and the rigorous schedule I know that awaits me with school's commencement.
It doesn't mean I don't enjoy what the new school year brings - new students, new connections, an energy of excitement and curiosity that is a large part of why I love teaching, but when any transition knocks on our door, if we are happy with where we are, it is hard to welcome it in. No matter what amazing opportunities it may be bringing as a hostess gift.
In such a scenario where there is the gift of what we have loved and the potential for something awesome to be revealed as we go through the transition that is letting us know, that just the way it is, if we shift our perspective to one of gratitude, the moving through and forward becomes easier.
How fortunate are any one of us to not remain stagnant? Think for a moment about a stagnant individual. They may feel safe, they may feel certain, but such certainty is false. After all, as children the reason it is imperative that we learn how to communicate, how to care for our bodies and feed our minds is to initially survive, but then to thrive and enrich our lives. This momentum, this way of life is a good way to live our entire lives. Why? Because the world never stops shifting, progressing and offering opportunities to improve. Never.
It can be tempting as adults when we think we have figured it all out to slow down, and even stop and just be. This is not to say we shouldn't relax from time to time, find a healthier balance, etc., but so long as a new generation is graduating, growing up and trying to find their place in the world, there will always be new ideas, and often, so long as we remain nimble, we can benefit from them as well, and even partake in the sharing of knowledge.
Part of a civilized society is knowing how to move and work together with a diverse breadth of people, and along the way enabling all to find their way without taking away the basic rights of any human being who is living consciously and respectfully of others.
With all of this said, transitions can be scary or exciting, exhilarating and even full of learning opportunities. It is simply a manner of how we view them. Today I'd like to share with you eight ways to step into and through any transition that you may be confronted with at the moment, and even go so far as to embrace it.
Grasp the reason for the difficulty
Psychologist Shannon Kolakowaki points out that a significant reason for the difficulty of any transition in which are lives are changing as we once knew them is because our identity, how we may have defined ourselves or were seen by others, is changing.
Recognize the power you are giving the transition to affect your emotions
Psychology Today reminds that there isn't a predefined type of transition that is harder than another. We give a transition the power of either being difficult or easy to maneuver through. In other words, our minds play a crucial role in how we approach the changes we are going through.
If we choose to see the transition as an opportunity or a goal we have worked long and hard for, such change would be reason to become excited; however, if it is a change that is thrust upon us, we can drag our feet and make it even more difficult by fighting what is inevitable.
Honor the transition
Any life transition, whether it is relocating to a new city, moving through a divorce or going through menopause benefits being recognized for playing a role in our life journey. As Sonia Choquette shared in our conversation about her own divorce after more than 20 years, she wasn't angry at her ex, but rather appreciative for the love and time that was shared, but also observant that it was time to move forward.
One of the hardest transitions in nearly everyone's life has been found to be the relocation from a home we have felt safe in or found great peace. During such times of transition, pay homage in your own unique way in order to provide closure, but also to celebrate the time you spent and the memories that will forever be with you.
Become a great student of the transition that awaits
When you know a transition is in your future, perhaps transitioning from college to a career or from a career to retirement, become a student of the transition you will inevitably go through. By learning all that you can, you maximize the experience, enabling it be as positive as possible.
Reflect and remind
Everyone goes through some type of transition throughout their lives, and often many. If we take a moment, we probably have moved through some transitions quite effortlessly because we didn't think twice or try to fight it. But on the flip-side, there were inevitably transitions we can remember vividly - during adolescence, making career changes, making relationship changes, making lifestyle changes.
As you go through the transition you are in at the moment or will be in due time, reflect on those transitions that went well for you. And even regarding those that were hard, assess why they were hard and how you can change what was in your control to improve the next transition in your life.
Celebrate the opportunity for a rebirth of sorts
Whether the transition is something you want or something you'd prefer not to have to go through, shift your perspective. Something as common as getting older, shift how you perceive "getting older". As we are seeing today, those in their fifties and sixties are far from what I recall of generations past in the same decade. With more knowledge, comes better ways of living and improving the quality of one's experience. In such an instance, celebrate all the experience and knowledge you have acquired and keep using those tools to learn more, explore more and enrich your life even more as well.
Surround yourself with positive energy
Maybe you have children who are leaving home for college which opens up your schedule, maybe you are moving into a different line of work - taking on more responsibility, maybe you are returning from a life-changing experience and want to transition into a new way of living. Whatever your transition is, step fully into it and spend time with those who will support you along your new path.
As there will be times of excitement where new adventures and experiences have your full attention, there will also be times when you question what you have chosen to do (or if not chosen, question if you can be as happy as you once were). In these moments, having people that will be understanding of your journey, but not wallow and wax nostalgic about the past, wishing in some small way, that the way it was would return, is imperative to navigating successfully through these hiccups that are inevitable.
The good news is that they will subside, but perhaps never entirely disappear. After all, that is a good thing, in my opinion, as it means your journey has been rich, memorable and deeply and intensely lived fully.
Trust that what is not being revealed is worth seeing and experiencing
Even when we do step eagerly toward a new way of living, we can begin to doubt that we made the right decision. When in fact, what you are feeling is probably fear rather than doubt (read this post - The Difference Between Being Scared and Having Doubts). And if you are feeling fear, it is actually good sign as it an indication that you are indeed living a life that is true to your most authentic self. Why? Because what you are feeling in that moment is a deep ache for what you wish you attain, or a way of living you wish to make your own. If you didn't want it, if you didn't believe in it, you wouldn't be fearful that it wouldn't happen.
The universe will not tell us how it will all work out. Nope, that is where faith in yourself, trust in your instincts about what is best for you and what you are willing to work for comes into play.
Transitions are opportunities. If we shift our perspective to accept this, the journey through them becomes far easier to navigate and even at times quite pleasurable to enjoy.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter
~Visit your favorite local bakery to pick up a fresh loaf of bread for the week.
Whether you enjoy toast in the morning (such as avocado toast), bread for sandwiches for lunch or bread with dinner, knowing it is homemade and a varietal you love welcomes a simple extra flavor to your week.
-my weekly fresh bread pick-up at a favorite local bakery in Bend (I often pick up my loaf bi-weekly as I freeze half of the loaf)~
Sponsor for Today's Episode:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #225
Sun, 2 September 2018
"One of the greatest challenges we all face is to find a happy balance between the opportunities that are available to us, the media-implanted urge to have them all, and our own desire to keep focused on the things that really matter." —Elaine St. James in Living The Simple Life: A Guide to Scaling Down and Enjoying More
Momentum is a powerful source of energy, and even though I am far from being a physicist, I understand the basic concept that since all objects have mass, and if an object is moving, it will have momentum, thus power/energy. We are objects of energy when we keep our schedules and lives running.
Whatever pace you are moving at currently, if it is a pace you have become accustomed to for some time, it is easier to keep moving along at this pace than it is to slow down, even to speed up.
As we begin Season 5 of the The Simple Sophisticate podcast today (check out the full schedule of episodes here), many of us are stepping back into a full schedule, or at least one slightly different from the previous season. Whether it is simply a busier schedule due to clients and staff returning from their holidays, or perhaps you as well, the pace tends to pick up, and if we aren't careful or conscious, we can move along with this energy without realizing that it may not work well for the balance we know is best.
Now, granted, the pace you are stepping back into may be something you relish and works well; in this case, savor it, but simply be conscious of the energy that rolls forward and is easy to become swept up in without our being aware.
If, however, the pace that fall (or the new season) brings is something you wish to shift, to improve, I have some ideas about how to instill a new pace of momentum that works best for your life.
For the third time I read Elaine St. James' Living the Simple Life (1996), and it was upon reading it this summer that a few ideas she shared jumped out at me that had not previously. Most predominantly, taking a full month to live your life differently as a way to assess what you really need and determine what is helpful and what is actually hindering the quality of your life.
As I read this, I recognized my own experience having had the opportunity to travel in France for an entire month this summer. During this time, as I shared in a couple of blog posts (Doubt the Default: How My Trip to France Woke Me Up, episode #218 and Why Not . . . Let Your Brain Calm Down?), the clarity I gained about what was helping and was was obstructing the quality of my life was illuminated. But upon reflection, it was the duration of the trip that enabled this to be more readily recognizable.
Partly, this was because after spending four weeks in another culture, you are more acclimated than you realize, and so upon returning, there is an element of shock to your system (at least there was for me due to my fondness for the French culture). However, I am confident that we do not need to 'get away' to another country to have the same experience.
As a teacher, each summer I feel I am given this opportunity to reassess what is working and what isn't, but it is my choice to reflect and then put into place the changes I realize would be beneficial. So here's the challenge and the opportunity - for one entire month, make one, some or all of the following changes to your lifestyle as inspired by Elaine St. James and my own experience and observations to free up more time in your life to do what you love or do nothing at all, simple to relax, sleep more, dream more, savor time with loved ones more, simply live as you please. With the month's conclusion, take an hour or a morning or an afternoon and reassess to see what differences (positive or negative) you experienced.
Initially this list may seem impossible, but remember, it is only for one month, AND choose what piques your interest. Again, remind yourself as you begin the month with anything that may be difficult, It is only for one month.
For one month I didn't watch the news, and by doing this, it made it far simpler to return to the states and not turn it on at home. As I mentioned last week, how I have adjusted is to watch the NBR (Nightly Business Report) and read a daily brief each morning. Anything else is quite jarring to me, far more than I recognized prior to my trip. The key for the changes you seek to become more comfortable is to give yourself this one month of practice or living or doing without. This is where momentum comes into play. It is very hard to shift gears as behaviors become habituated, even behaviors that are not helpful. And so when we initially begin to change the habit or behavior, we think the difficulty is due to it not being what is best. However, in truth, it is simple science - anything new, any shift of energy is slow and awkward until it gets going at a good and steady pace. Give yourself the full month to make the shift and redirect your momentum.
When we discover that the blue sky was deeply blue today, far more than it was last week, we realize the pace we had been living previously was not allowing us the ability to be present, to observe and to appreciate. Such appreciation is part of improving the quality of our lives. And when we return after the month we challenged ourselves to above and begin to watch some television for example, we do so more discerningly, more thoughtfully, as we now recognize that indeed what we watch indirectly affects our emotions.
May in one month's time, you have more free time and therefore a life of increased quality.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Learn more and sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter.
~TSLL Fall Shopping Guide 2018 was just released this past weekend.
~Saturday September 8th - The Simply Luxurious Kitchen vodcast debuts its first season!
~The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society film on Netflix
Sponsors of Today's Episode:
Sun, 19 August 2018
“The French have a special word for it, La Rentrée; in English it is simply referred to as ‘Back to school’. However we choose to call the September post-vacation return, and no matter how far our schooldays are behind us, few would deny that this really is the moment in the year that shouts ‘new beginnings’, ushering in a renewed sense of resolve and purpose that has far more potency than any January resolution. As grown-ups, the brand new pencil case and shiny new pair of school shoes that signal a fresh start are replaced by the new-season updates that we hope will deliver so much more than just the latest look: the confidence-boosting coat, that uplifting new shade of lipstick . . . But it really is the change of attitude that matters most, the yearning to be smarter, more balanced – in short, the eternal quest to finally get life ‘right’.” – Lucy Yeomans, editor-in-chief Porter magazine
The attitude we approach anything with undeniably plays a role in how successful the endeavor we are embarking on will play out, and while here in the states businesses don’t shut down entirely for the month of August or July as well sometimes as they do in France, when Labor Day travel winds down, there is a shift in everyday routines, expectations at work and at school, and a mental shift is expected to occur.
The French expression “À la rentrée” is loosely translated to “See you in the fall!” (literally translated to “at the return”), but it is understood September is the date at which all will return – from their extended vacations, from their respite from school, from everyday expectations and regular activity that occurs the other 10 or 11 months out of the year.
Studies have shown, repeatedly that taking the time to literally get away from work, putting down the technology and truly being on vacation can have highly beneficial effects on the brain. When we allow our brains to rest and think freely – problems magically seem to have solutions, creative ideas spring up like daffodils in early spring and we are renewed and reenergized.
So no wonder the French celebrate the return from their vacations. September and thereafter offers an opportunity to put our best self forward, to, as the quote above states, ‘finally get it right’. And while nothing will ever be perfect, improving and fine-tuning will always continue to bring different results than if we did the same thing over and over again.
Over the past handful of years, I have written posts to help ensure a strong fall. With one short list here, and another short list there, some of them shared a few similarities, while also offering new ideas. However, none of them have been a podcast episode, and now I have a few more items I would like to add. So today, I’ve made a list of 23 ways we can all welcome the beginning of fall (or spring for my southern hemisphere readers!) with optimism, hope and the best possible path too living a more balanced and enjoyable everyday life. This is the actual list I look at each year (and as I mentioned, it is tweaked and improved each year as my life evolves), and I have organized into arenas of our lives: health, wardrobe, beauty, organization, sanctuary, and regular balance/tranquility. In some arenas, things may be moving along quite well, but perhaps in others we know we could improve. Home in on where areas you want to improve, and take a day, or a few hours in a quiet, relaxing setting to curate a life that excites you to wake up to each day.
Overall Health (physical & mental - peace of mind included)
1. Ask yourself this question, “What has made my life more enjoyable these past 2-3 months?” or “What routines/habits have made my life easier, healthier and brought more contentment these past 2-3 months?”
Often when our schedule changes with the summer months, we unconsciously change our ways of living, ways that we love (or not so much as it will depend upon the individual). However, I have a feeling, you have a few habits that you will miss when the fall season begins. Ask yourself, and be honest, is there any way you can bring them into your year-round routine? Can or should you shift your priorities if it indeed is bringing so much joy and satisfaction into your life? Remember, simply because we used to do something one way or do something at all, doesn’t mean we cannot stop and incorporate something more fulfilling. In fact, we should.
2. Create a default capsule weekly menu & establish a food shopping plan.
~Learn more about TSLL's seasonal capsule menus here (summer will be posted this Wednesday - August 22).
As I was taking my lunch break today, I was reminded that I needed to restock my favorite balsamic vinegar which reminded me that having our épicerie stocked and ready for whatever meal we’d prefer to cook is a simple thing to do now to enhance the seamless flow of a day that has little time to wiggle. Here is a post to remind you of the necessities to have on hand.
4. Plan a regular fitness routine that works with your daily work/school demands. Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve. You don’t want to burn out and quit altogether. Remember it is consistency that will make the difference. So choose activities that blend enjoyment with challenge.
5. Balance your budget and know where you stand financially. Due to your schedule potentially changing, financial expectations may change as well, so know exactly where you are and how much you can spend.
6. Make appointments now
Just as our schedules change, so do the schedules of our doctors, dentists, aestheticians and other professionals we wish to make appointments with. While their schedules may have been more limited, but as well, with more availability during the summer months, often that changes in the fall. So why not be proactive, and design your schedule with what works best for you by making those appointments early?
7. Clean your home/office/bedroom/car thoroughly. It will simply make you feel better when you enter each and every time.
8. Purchase any necessary supplies for your office, desk and planner
9. Spruce up and stock up your handbag
Whether you have found your favorite go-to day handbag, take a few minutes, to clean out, and then restock for the new season. Chapstick, Tide-to-Go, hand lotion, breath mints, a favorite pen, anything to get you through your day – stock it up, and then toss the rest so that it is neat and tidy.
10. Assess your wardrobe
On Saturday September 1st TSLL Fall Seasonal Shopping Guide will be posted here on the blog (no longer do you need to subscribe to receive it!). Full of splurge and save items when it comes to the new trends as well as many items I have hand-picked for your fall capsule wardrobe, knowing exactly what you need makes the shopping easier and brings fewer regrets. (Have a look at the 2018 Spring Shopping Guide here.)
~Shop TSLL Capsule Wardrobe Boutique here to view the essentials for each season.
11. Take anything to the dry-cleaners that you’ll be wearing for fall (coats, tops, dresses, skirts, sweaters, etc)
12. Stock up make-up supplies that are running low. Visit your make-up counter for make-up to try out the new fall products.
13. Confirm and/or schedule your regular hair appointment
14. Plan/Schedule Beauty Routines and/or appointments. From the beauty routines you can do at home - pedicures and manicures, to the seasonal facials at your local spa to not only give yourself a luxurious hour or so to relax, but also help your skin, tend to these appointments is a way to feel and look your best, but also find a balance in your everyday routine.
Creating Regular Balance & Tranquility
15. Stock up or put together a home pampering kit (bubble bath, truffles, wine, candles, music, etc). There will be days when your heels are ready to be taken off, your mind is a jumble and emotional stamina has been exhausted. Be prepared in advance and have what you need to relax stocked and ready to go.
16. Do you have a travel coffee mug or water bottle that works? For only $15 make sure you have a reliable mug that you can take with you to meetings, lectures, on the commute to help you get your day started off right.
17. Create a morning routine to look forward to and set the right tone for the entire day.
18. Create a bedtime ritual
The amount of sleep we receive each night is a strong determiner in the day we will have, so be cognizant to the small details that you have control over. You might be surprised of the significant benefits you will reap each evening when you turn in. A few things to try: remove the television and all technology (especially your phone), light a soothing scented candle (lavender, chamomile, bergamot, jasmine, or sandalwood) – this is my favorite as it has a fantastic scent and lasts for 60 hours, write in a gratitude journal to end your day on a positive note, meditate (find out how & why here), or read a book.
19. Order or Check-Out/Put on Hold Reading Material to Enjoy
I can’t wait for the time to snuggle in when it’s raining out or I’ve wrapped up my to-do list, and dive in. A true simple luxury. And since now I have the time to peruse and put them on my wish list, I can rest-assured I will always have reading material to enjoy.
20. Pick up a journal
As I mentioned above, the daily ritual of writing in a gratitude journal is a simple idea to end the day on a positive note. And even if you’ve had one of those days, there really are things to be grateful for – check this list if you find yourself at a loss for what to write down. Simply taking note of positive events (or non-events – the car didn’t break down!), can be a wonderful reminder that things are going better than we might have first thought.
Create a welcoming sanctuary
21. Visit your local nursery
Fall plants will begin appearing at nurseries to finish the blooming season – check out mums, daisies and sunflowers. Add a few to your porch or vases throughout the house.
22. Look closely at your home's decor
Perhaps you traveled this summer, or maybe you attended a course in which you saw personal growth and a shift in what you value and/or love. Welcome in who you now, let go of what no longer inspires you, and create a space that best reflects you and welcomes you home as well as you guests.
Putting It All Together
23. Set your intention
Often when a yoga class begins, one of the reminders at the beginning of our session is to set our intention – what do we wish to receive or achieve by attending class – do we want to push ourselves further, do we simply just want to make it through class, do we want to be more aware of staying focused and letting go of outside thoughts – whatever our intention is, it is ours. So what will your intention be for the fall season and beyond?
Choose one, write it down and reflect upon it from time to time. Create daily rituals and habits that help this intention become your reality. I think you will be surprised that what you focus on, you are more likely to create – much like the attitude we bring to any new venture or beginning. If we’re excited, that excitement spreads and invigorates, but if we’re leery or cynical, moments of wonder are less likely to be enjoyed and discovered.
Wishing you a lovely start to a beautiful new season, and thank you for stopping by.
~PODCAST NEWS: Season 5 will begin on Monday September 3rd, and the new schedule for Season 5 will be shared right here on the blog on Monday August 27th in lieu of a podcast episode. Don't worry, there will always be a motivating post to kick off your work week - right here on TSLL blog. I will explain the entire schedule (there will be 30 new episodes in the coming 12 months) and share specific dates when episodes will air. Looking forward to another season and so tickled we have had such an amazing four years!
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Mini Portable Chargers
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #223
Sun, 29 July 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #219
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
"Your environment, where you live and how you shape your surroundings, is the biggest, most important and most impactful thing you can do to favor your own happiness." —Dan Buettner, The Blue Zones of Happiness
Have you ever said to yourself - if only I lived [insert your dream destination], I would be happier? First of all, that is perfectly human, and partially correct. Author and researcher Dan Buettner shares in his books and website Blue Zones, which dial into the blue zones of happiness, that while indeed where we live does make a difference to our levels of happiness as we adapt or become conditioned to the habits and way of life around us, so too do the following (as shared on his website - read more here):
As I look around my surroundings in Bend, I am examining, asking and then answering these questions for myself. As well, I am doing the same thing with the English countryside and French countryside as both excursions to these countries saw my happiness pique for a variety of reasons, some that were similar and some that were not. But we cannot always pack up and move simply because we aren't feeling as content or as happy as we want. Making such a decision isn't something done lightly or swiftly for most people, but what we can do no matter where we live is tend to what surrounds us right now. Keeping in mind the list above, I'd like to break those down in more detail, paying special attention to specific areas in our lives that we can look at more closely and discover that indeed we can make some improvements to elevate the overall quality of our everyday lives no matter where we call home.
1. Understand how to cultivate healthy relationships
The only person we have control over is ourselves. But it is imperative that we find a community in which we are accepted and supported as we are able to be ourselves. Within this community that you cultivate, honor this ability for others as well. I have written a detailed post sharing seven ways to build healthy relationship here.
2. Invest in your social well-being
3. Keep tribalism to a minimum
Looking at point #2 above, if we only spend time, live, and congregate with people who think just like us, look just like us and do not engage in healthy disagreements, we are not practicing tolerance of other ideas, cultures and people that live differently than we do. While there is a limit to what each of us can tolerate, understand what is most important as we get to know others outside of our tribe - kindness, respect of others rights and boundaries, and the abillity for individuals to become self-actualized to name a few that come to my mind. If we catch ourselves being judgmental, controlling and stereotyping someone based on something they have no control over, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we are contributing to the problem of a healthy society.
4. Examine your health and finesse your diet and fitness routines
5. Build and then strengthen your income and financial future
6. Cultivate a sanctuary that feels like home
One of the aspects of my recent trip to France was that I chose rentals that would enable me to feel as at home as possible since I was so far away from my own home and would be for some time. Details matter, less but better matters, and choosing details and furniture that enable us to live the life within our homes that is not only functional but comfortable when we do what we love. Some takeaways for me that I will be looking to add to my current living space:
Below is a list of other detailed posts to offer more ideas and inspiration for making your home a sanctuary. As well, be sure to check out my first book Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide as an entire chapter is dedicated to cultivating a sanctuary. 22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Up's Living Space Why Not . . . Make Simple Home Touch-Ups? ~many more archived Decor posts here
7. Spend time regularly enjoying hobbies that enable you to be fully present
When we engage in hobbies that allow separation from our work world, even our social world as much as we personally need, we actually are giving our mind and being a rest. And when we let our minds rest, we reduce our stress, thereby increasing potential ideas and problem solving to happen naturally.
8. Be conscious of the media that you expose to your mind
We may not be able to control the world around us, but we can control whether or not we put ourselves in a situation to consume information that isn't what we know will increase the quality of our lives. Check out this post about giving your brain a chance to calm down.
9. Come up with daily, weekly, seasonal and annual rituals you enjoy and will look forward to
10. Take time to explore what you are truly capable of and can offer the world
The easiest way I have found to grow is to follow my curiosity. After all, when we follow what catches our attention and we wish to learn more, it doesn't feel like effort. In fact, such efforts may actually fuel us. And when we find what we love, what we enjoy doing, our contentment rises. Fred Rogers once shared about people who were successful, “The thing I remember best about successful people I've met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they're doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success.” And if we can find a place in this world, whether it is in the town we currently call home, or if we have to move to make such a career possible, our happiness will soar. It doesn't mean we won't face obstacles, but we will be able to work through them because we sincerely care and enjoy what we are doing. Today, consider what surrounds you - structurally - the home you live in, the physical work space; socially - the people you spend time with; concepts and ideas that are heard, seen, read - the media, ideas shared by others and the culture you call home; and what you have accepted as out of your control. Often much of what is in our control can be improved simply by being conscious of what influences our environment. Often it is in the stepping away from our everyday environment, whether because of a weekend getaway or a trip to another country, because when we return we see that life goes on in a myriad of different ways. We have the ability to construct the ways our world unfolds on a daily basis in more ways than we may realize. But when we do realize, more contentment can be ours. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~7 Ways to Become What You Were Truly Meant to Be, episode #193
—Won't You Be My Neighbor? documentary film of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Fred Rogers
~View the conversation on TSLL's Instagram post about the film here. https://youtu.be/FhwktRDG_aQ
Image: TSLL's Instagram
Sun, 22 July 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #218
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
“A nail is driven out by another nail; habit is overcome by habit.” ― Erasmus
While traveling during the past four weeks in France, I found that I was finally able to default in conversation to a handful of expressions to, on the most basic level, demonstrate I comprehended what was being said - bien sur, absolutement, parfait, ouai, je comprends, merci, de rein, à demain. Again, as you can see, a very basic level. But, there was no longer a pause before I spoke whenever any of these words or phrases was warranted. My mind no longer had to think, I just spoke. In this instance, I was tickled. Finally, an aspect of the French language, after many years of sporadic studying, was becoming a default in my brain. A muscle had been strengthened to the point of habit. But, again, my responses were basic, simple, surface. "Doubt the default." When I heard Adam Grant utter this simple, concise, alliterative statement in his TED Talk about original thinkers, my attention was captured. It happened three years ago upon arriving in Bend and moving into my new home that I ran into a new neighbor. The circumstances were we didn't know each other, simply put, and I uttered in conversation with this perfect stranger, "trust me, I understand what you mean." At the time, I didn't think about that phrase before I said it, I didn't really consider the weight of such words - "trust me", I just said it out of habit. Default. And I wouldn't have even reflected upon this fact had the woman engaging me in conversation not said, "I don't know you to trust you." The topic of our conversation was about our dogs, but the truth was, she didn't know me, and she was fully present in the conversation. While I thought I was, the words I chose said otherwise. Ever since this conversation, I have thought carefully about what I say in conversations out of habit, filler, silence-enders, space holders. I have done my best to eliminate words such as "like" from my informal speech after I recognized how many times I would say it when, had you asked me, I would have guessed the word never entered into my syntax. Aside from the words I chose, I began to dive into my living habits, my thinking patterns, and it was with my trip to France that I recognized many cultural defaults as well that I had not even considered addressing. Quickly, another word for "default" is a habit. By definition, a habit is something that frees our mind up to focus on other tasks. So as long as the habit is helpful and contributes to the quality of the life we desire, a habit is a very good thing. Selecting water as your drink of choice, looking for the positive, smiling instead of frowning, wearing the same uniform to work to eliminate wasting time in the morning - all very helpful habits. But habits, defaults, can also be hindering our ability to live a better life, a more thoughtful life, a more engaging life, especially when we don't even realize we have these unhelpful defaults. Below I'd like to share with you a list of potential defaults already in your life inspired by what I saw, experienced as well as caught myself doing without thinking.
1. Not taking a grocery tote into the market
In France, when you go to a supermarket, they will not provide you for free with a plastic or paper bag to place your groceries. If you, as I did on my first occasion, do not bring in your canvas tote, market tote, or anything to carry your groceries, you will have to pay for their grocery bags (ones you can use on your next visit). The price was quite small - ten centimes - but it caught my attention immediately. A good habit could easily become ingrained in my memory of bringing a grocery tote to the store if I knew I would have to pay for a new bag each time I shopped throughout the week. (In one instance, I simply placed all of my groceries into my tote - handbag; and I also saw many people bringing their market baskets to the brick and mortar stores as well - multi-purpose.)
2. Expressing a negative energy during first impressions
When I travel, I love to listen. When I listen, I am better able to observe, and it also enables me to see more clearly, and more accurately, someone's true nature. What do I mean by this? Having had the opportunity to meet many people from all different walks of life, it was often the first impression that upon reflection was the most accurate to their true disposition. When we don't know someone, and the environment is safe, what is your first reaction when you meet them? Most of the people I met expressed warmth which made those few who did not stick out like a sore thumb. Because it is the first impression, their negative or positive energy has little or nothing to do with me, and much more to do with where they are in their life at that moment.
3. Driving faster than necessary
Driving on the roads in France, the country roads, the autoroutes and everywhere in between, it became quickly apparent that most French drivers drove the speed limit. I later had a conversation with Sharon Santoni about the laws of the road and my observation, and once she explained the drivers' point system (each Euro driver begins with 12 points and they can be lost for speeding (automatic surveillance along the roads), using a cell phone, etc.), it became clear as to why the pace of the roadways felt very civilized. No matter where in the world you drive, it would be interesting to consider the defaults you adhere to when you are behind the wheel. What is deemed acceptable, what is not? Buckling up - good. Glancing at your cell phone - bad. Driving a manual car during my entire trip which was something I am accustomed to, but my current car for the past four years here in the states is not a stick, upon arriving home, my left foot automatically began looking for the clutch without success. My brain had defaulted in four short weeks to expecting to use a clutch. This is good news. Not only can we change the defaults that are not helping us, but they can be "reprogrammed" quite quickly with frequent, repeated practice.
4. Not greeting the shop keeper, artisan, taxi driver, etc.
The many travel writers and travelers of the world, have done a magnificent job of sharing the importance of saying "bonjour" if one is in France, but in nearly every other country in the world as well, upon entering any business, vendor, etc. in order to begin to set a cordial tone. From time to time, I would notice a traveler, in my case, I zoomed in on Americans, but that's not to say other world citizens don't make the same mistake as well, immediately begin making an inquiry of the proprietor without extending a salutation. And while often, the staff would attempt to help them, an opportunity to build a better rapport was missed. I began thinking about this simple habit of focusing first on the human connection before homing in on the task which brought us to the store, market, etc. The difference is there are feelings and emotions involved that must be considered when we choose to first focus on making a human connection. And when we do this, we are being present. No, we do not know how the interaction will go, but the chances that it will go well are greatly increased.
5. Assuming a market will always be open
I quickly learned that I needed to plan my grocery shopping well before my stomach became hungry. While this detail was something I remembered from my previous trips, staying in vacation rentals, I usually wanted to cook my own meals, so making sure a market of some sort was open (restaurants are usually opened each day of the week for at least lunch and dinner) was a shift from my approach in the states. In the states, if I have forgotten an ingredient for dinner on a Sunday, I don't think twice about heading to the market for a quick pick up. Having to know in some capacity that I had what I needed for my meals in advance also enabled me to just relax and enjoy a leisurely Sunday or any afternoon during the week as the outdoor markets wrapped up around 1pm and most restaurants in the small towns shut down between lunch and dinner.
6. Eating the same food year round
In Provence, the melons were nearing their peak ripeness, but green asparagus season was all but over. White beans were a treasure to be purchased and savored during these months strawberries were to indulge upon like candy. However, if I were to return in November, as most of the markets are opened year-round, I would see completely different selections. Now, we know the seasons offer different fruits and vegetables, even seafood, but it can sometimes become easy to forget when we shop in a supermarket and only stick to the same food each trip. The appreciation for the food that only comes once a year is something we can celebrate in our cooking as we dine on the rich flavors. In so doing, we actually do help our waistline as we become satiated more quickly and do not overeat as we are eating real food with natural, wonderful flavor.
7. Perfect and impersonal
The idea of a perfect home, a perfect outfit, perfect hair, a perfect life, as we know is a futile pursuit. And to this point, most intensely, it was the decor that woke me up throughout this trip as I appreciated the signature touches made available by the treasures one can find at the many brocante markets. Now this is not to say, one cannot decorate a home outside of France without the access to brocantes. Absolutely not, but what I think is tempting is to make everything look ideal immediately in our homes - paintings, furniture, tabletop vignettes, etc. And as Sharon Santoni and I were talking, a beautiful home that is the sanctuary for the inhabitants is one that has layers of unique and thoughtful decor choices, and these layers take time. When I stepped foot onto Sharon's property, enjoyed meals with her family, and stayed in her guest cottage, it was immediately clear that they lived there. I couldn't purchase her decor details", but I could be inspired by them because it was more than the things, it was the stories that came with them.
8. Speedy and surface conversations
As I shared at the beginning of my post, it can be easy to say certain catch phrases without really thinking about what the words themselves mean. While idioms exist in every culture, sayings that mean more than what they are literally saying, it's not the idioms I am talking about here. When we are in a different culture that asks of us to reach beyond the language we are most comfortable with, often the conversation can be slow. While this may be frustrating as we want to talk quickly like locals, it shows thoughtful care. We want to make sure what we wish to say is said and not something that will offend or confuse. I find that sometimes in conversations we say more words than our necessary. Just as in every other arena of our lives, quality over quantity. When we choose our words carefully, we can say so much more. Excessive use of superlatives (best, largest, toughest, most amazing, prettiest) waters down the actual compliment if all you use are superlatives for something you either love or loathe. Precise words and thoughtful timing of when we engage in conversation, demonstrates we are listening, we care and we are trying to understand.
9. Drama is necessary and thus inevitable
Initially, it was my lack of access to the regular news sources I look to or listen to on a typical day when I am in the states that made me realize that I had been accepting the noise of problems, clashes and pain as normal. But even with the shows and books we read, we can come to expect, even look for, the clash, the conflict, the drama, that must be there somewhere. The truth is, often things to work out. In fact, it is human nature biologically to remember the instances that didn't work out more readily than the times that did for survival. But when we accept this biology, we ignore that when we are aware of why this happens, we can shift our expectations, our reactions and instead rest more easy, enjoy the steady, even balance of our lives that go well quite often. Why look for the drama when it truly doesn't need to be there?
10. Assuming an incapability
I can't travel alone. I can't drive in another country. I can't live without [insert something that you cannot travel with]. Often when we travel we discover something, if not many, things about ourselves we were not consciously aware of. Many of these discoveries are awesome, exciting bits of information that awakens us to our best selves, but sometimes we discover that we have been limiting ourselves unnecessarily. If our default in our minds is "I can't" instead of even just "I'll give it a shot" when a new task or new experience is placed in front of us, we may miss out on the most beautiful London plane trees lined country roads in France (see below), or meeting Walter Wells (I ended up after attempting to walk to class at Patricia Wells' cooking class the first night, getting lost, and ended up calling Walter who came and found me and picked me up in his car to take me to their property for dinner - we had a lovely conversation). We often sell ourselves short regarding what we are truly capable of doing, and we especially do so when our default setting is immediately "I can't". Yes, you can. You may have to do a bit more homework, save a bit more money, or have some patience, but "I can't" is often more an expression of hoping that we could so badly but we just don't know how.
"Default choices often remain unchanged for no reason other than being the default, either because of this lack of information or humans' status quo bias." —Marvin Ammori
Adam Grant was right, we should doubt our defaults because when we don't we are either living unconsciously or not living as full of a life as we could if only we had more information to make different choices and take different actions. Kristin Armstrong states it frankly, "We either live with intention or exist by default." When we live with intention, we are living well. We may not have success on our first attempts at speaking differently, acting differently or engaging differently, but we are doing it out of a conscious choice to live more authentically, thoughtfully and more engaged with the world we are living. While traveling to France made this concept of living with defaults quite glaring to me, we don't have to travel outside of even our own town to know that we may have defaults that are not serving us or defaults that are limiting our full potential whether it be in our appreciation of life, our relationships, even our success at work. All it takes is a choice to reflect and ponder, why do I greet people the way I do? Is that the energy I want to extend? If so, that's awesome, but if you recognize you want to make a change, you can do that too. When we doubt the default, we are choosing to be selective about the habits we allow to be habits in our lives. It's when we do not know we have these habits that we step on our own toes, so to speak, and trip ourselves up without realizing we are the ones slowing our progress down. And that is great news, we each have the skills and the opportunity to stop tripping and start striding into the life we love living. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~20 Ways to Live Like a Parisian, episode #127
~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93
~Filt shopping bags (made in Normandy, France)
~Sponsor of today's episode:
Sun, 24 June 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #214
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | SpotifyToday's episode is over one hour of Q & As. Questions from TSLL readers and podcast listeners and answers from me, Shannon. :) This annual episode began last year, and was so well received (the most downloaded episode of the year), it has returned. I do hope you enjoy and thank you to every listener who emailed me your questions. Below you will see a list of topics that are discussed and as well as more specific points. And, the final Q & A is a lengthy excerpt from TSLL's new book, so have a listen if you've already ordered your signed copy or would like to. Be sure to tune in to the episode as I go in-depth on each topic. The links included in today's show notes are recommended to further what is discussed during the episode. I do hope you enjoy the episode, and if you'd like to listen to last year's inaugural episode, have a look/listen here (#161). I also did a mini Ask Shannon episode in January 2018(#191) in which traveling to Paris was one of the topics (what to pack), favorite totes and much more. Health & Beauty:
Petit Plaisir:~The New Paris podcast with Lindsey Tramuta (Lost in Cheeseland blog) ~inspired by her latest book The New Paris (2017)
~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:
Mon, 18 June 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #213
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
"Alone, we can plumb local markets and examine their wares closely. We can breathe in and relish the flavors in a sauce, or the coolness of a pitcher of cream. We don't necessarily take time to do these things in the presence of company, particularly during lively conversation. A solo meal is an opportunity to go slow; to savor."
—Stephanie Rosenbloom, Alone Time
Discovering an enticing book and being delighting with the contents even more than expected, wanting the pages, vivid images and revelations to continue beyond the last chapter. Experiencing a day long anticipated that unfolds seamlessly, exceeding expectation. Sitting down for a meal bursting with precisely paired flavors which make it all but impossible not to solely absorb and beg your memory to remember each moment of the experience. Savoring, as Stephanie Rosenbloom shares in her new book about solo traveling, has been long recognized by social scientists to be one of a number of ways to enhance our levels of happiness. And psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky shares the benefits of becoming skilled in savoring, "People who become skilled at 'capturing the joy of the present moment', are also 'less likely to experience depression, stress, guilt and shame." Okay, the skill of savoring, count me in! Now let's talk about how exactly to invite more opportunities to savor into our everyday lives.
1.Become acutely aware of all of the goodness in each moment
Citing Fred B. Bryant's book Savoring: A New Model of Positive Experience, we must come to be able to recognize when we are experiencing an positive moment. And in the moment "aim for the most joy to be found". That is the definition of savoring.
2. Utilize all of your senses
Rosenbloom cites Julia Child enjoying her first meal in France at La Couronne in Rouen and Poilâne founder's granddaughter as precise examples of becoming aware of what each sense is experiencing. From what something not only looks like, but smells, feels, sounds and tastes like.
3. Take your time
When we rush, we miss out. We miss the butterfly dancing around our nose, the passersby's exquisite sartorial taste displayed in the most subtle, but creative manner, and the scent of the boulangerie's freshly made bread in the morning as we walk to work. Savoring requires of us to slow down, to reduce the amount of "to-do"s and prioritize what we truly need as well as want to do. When we edit well, we live well as it permits us time to be fully present. And when we are full present, we are able to pause, observe the detail in the pastry we are looking forward to enjoying, but appreciating the artistry and attention to detail that was spent.
4. Give your full attention
Case in point, in order to savor, we must be in the moment, we must not be distracted. Not only must we not be distracted by our phones, but our minds and the ideas and thoughts that swirl about. Of course, we should use our minds and when we get lost in our minds, we can discover the most creative ideas we never thought would be possible, but when we are experiencing a positive moment, choose to set the thoughts aside and soak up all that the current experience is offering you.
5. Let go of habits that don't enhance opportunities for savoring
In some instances, adhering to habits can be a truly beneficial concept to welcome into your life, but it is imperative to examine closely the habits you follow. Rosenbloom suggests letting go of "multi-tasking, worrying, latching on to what's wrong or negative, and ruminating about the past or future."
6. Focus on what you want and you'll find it more often
In order to find something to savor, we must look for it, desire it, imagine it, come to understand it. And if we are thinking about positive outcomes and experiences, we are more likely to come across them in the present moment.
7. Limit how often you let your mind wander
According to a study conducted by Matthew A. Killingsworth, A Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society scholar, and Harvard psychologist Daniel T. Gilbert, "one of the strongest predictors of happiness is whether or not your attention is focused where you are in the present . . . people are substantially less happy when their minds are wandering than when they're not."
8. Appreciate every moment as finite
When we recognize that any moment is precisely that - a moment - the skill of "temporal awareness" Rosenbloom states heightens our ability to savor and thus our enjoyment of said moment. For example, today we have three more days of spring. Why not do something in the next three days that you will not be able to do when summer arrives? Drink up this activity, relish it, get lost in it, so that when summer arrives you can know you drank up all that spring offered and are ready to be fully present in the new season.
9. Plan ahead to appreciate the event even more
Studies have also revealed that planning well ahead of any trip or event heightens the appreciation when it arrives as well as our happiness leading up to it in anticipation. The recognition of the work and effort paid to make the plans and either bring people together or attain a particular experience. So upon being in the moment (the trip or the event), we are more readily prepared to be present and savor the experience. While Rosenbloom's book is focused on travel, and specifically solo travel, when we welcome the skill of savoring into our everyday lives, we begin to enhance the quality, reduce the need to cling and trust that we will be able to find something to savor each day - some may be grander than others, but each offers a gift to experience happiness. Ultimately, when we acquire the skill of savoring, we are creating a memory in our minds, a file of sorts of our experiences from each day, trip or event, so that when we want to get lost in our past in a positive way, we can recall the beauty that we had experienced, and thus be encouraged about how amazing our life has been and will continue to be. And so last Friday on the concluding day of school and the commencement of summer holiday, I put into practice the skill of savoring. The boys and I went to a local bakery, found a cozy seat and table outside, ordered tea and pastry, and just took in the beautiful weather, the temporal company and a very good book. It was something I knew I wouldn't experiencing for another 12 months and I did my best to soak it up in its entirety. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
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Mon, 4 June 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #211
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
In America we have the story that ... your sex drive evaporates. ... Nobody wants to sleep with you, but you don't want to sleep with them either. ... And it turns out that that is really much more of a cultural story than a biological story, and ... people's behavior responds to this cultural story. ...
In France there's a slightly different narrative. ... Women in their 50s and 60s in France are much more sexually active than women in America are. So I don't think you can ... snap your fingers and switch cultural narratives. But just knowing that it's not biologically inevitable I think gives you some power over it." —Pamela Druckerman, author of the new book There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story (read the entire NPR interview here)Over the past four or five years I have taken notice of how women step into each year of their life after forty. Whether women who are in my inner circle or women in the media spotlight, I listen to how they speak about their physical capabilities, their physical beauty, their curiosities, their chapters in life, the roles and careers they wish to stay or become a part of. As someone who is 39 and has truly let my age just be a number, not centering my identity around my age as it is one detail I cannot control (sometimes I forget my age, does that happen to anyone else?), I am intrigued in the shift in what is expected of women by women - and thus society - as they age through the decades. Because our message to each other has power, and that message in large part tells the world what will be accepted or ignored. As someone bringing up the tail-end of Generation X and partially straddling into the Millennial Generation, I certainly have seen a shift in the knowledge and thus attention to good health when it comes to fitness and well-being as opposed to my grandmother's generation. A tremendous shift in society in the late 20th century brought to our attention what our bodies and minds are truly capable of so long as we care for them well. I think of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her whip-smart, savvy prowess on the Highest Court in the country at the age of 85. I think of Dame Helen Mirren who at the age of 72 continues to playfully immerse herself in her acting career and her life as she explores the world. I think of 52-year old Oscar winning actress Viola Davis and her determination and talent on the big screen and small screen, as well as her physical good health and Sandra Bullock as well as Cate Blanchett and Michelle Obama and Diane Keaton and and and and . . . the list goes on. Each one of these women marries knowledge with curiosity and applies it to their mental as well as physical health. Physical maladies can certainly befall us due to genetics, but there is far more health obstacles that are avoidable so long as we provide ourselves with the information and live in such a way to be preventative. Two situations happened over the past couple of years that found me responding in frustration internally, but saying nothing in the moment. The first was a situation with my own mother and my young pre-teen niece in which my mother said something about what was physically inevitable when you hit "her age". In actuality, what she shared was false, and I later did say something in private to my mom as I am someone who has heard such "untruths" from older women when I was young. I know now that what they shared was their ignorance regarding how the body grows and ages, but I didn't want my niece to have to navigate toward to the truth when the knowledge was readily available. The second situation is an ongoing one as I have a dear friend who refuses to say her age or acknowledge her birthday as her husband told me she is "sensitive about her age". While I respected this wish, I also want her to know how much I want to celebrate her because I think she is absolutely amazing, talented and uber intelligent. The truth is if we as women will let go of identifying ourselves with our age, then half of the world will stop seeing us through the narrow lens of assumption regarding what "should be" happening at a particular point. We all know that with different people, different things happen at different periods of our lives. Case in point, actress Rachel Weisz is pregnant at 48, yet press in the U.K. is fearful it may be nearly too late for Meghan Markle to conceive. Are you kidding me? What we consume or accept as a culture can either limit us or liberate us. What we allow to be accepted because we do not contradict it when we know it is utterly false will continue to be perpetuated. We can either speak up or act in such a way that demonstrates the falsehoods are indeed false. Each of us will choose what is most comfortable for us - speaking or acting, but I implore you to not shrink to fit inside the limiting box that society would have women at any age stay within. Part of the difficulty with staying relevant, man or woman, is staying apprised of the dynamic world we live in. With each year we are layering more information on top of what we already know and in so doing we become acutely aware of how much we still have to learn. It can become overwhelming. It happened this year as a teacher who began teaching at 22 and knew how to relate culturally with the students - the music, the films, the colloquialisms, each far simpler to grasp and understand because I was partially still in their bubble - that I acknowledged and took note that I could be considered two generations removed from my students. While I still understood some of the references made by students, there were cultural allusions that no more my students grasped (the 80s hit sitcom Cheers, for example). While some cult classics are returning and being devoured by teenagers thanks to Netflix and YouTube - FRIENDS, The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross on PBS, etc. - but after listening to different podcasts my students will bring my attention to or music my students will mention in class, I am reminded that we all live and will always live in a dynamic world. And the key is to understand how to remain involved, knowledgable and curious instead of quailing, shrinking or removing ourselves due to fear or confusion or exhaustion.
How to remain a part of the ever-changing world:
1. Build a social network of all agesOne of the benefits of teaching is that there is youth everywhere each and every year. While yes, it's kind of like Groundhog's Day (the film), the benefits far outweigh the negatives as I am reminded that learning is always available if we choose to seize the knowledge and therefore change is perpetually constant. Progress is always possible and staying the same is never a good idea if we wish to reach our full potential. And so why not build friendships, acquaintances, mentor or mentee relationships with individuals of all ages? When we do and do so with an open mind, our perspective is broaden, our understanding deepens and we come to appreciate where we've been, how far we've come or become even more excited about where we are heading.
2. Refrain from ageist comments (younger or older)The quickest way to shut-down an opportunity to get to know someone is to make assumptions about what is expected at a certain age. When we do this, instead of seeing the individual and being patient enough to get to know the individual, we are telling them (consciously or unconsciously), who they truly are and who they are capable of becoming is not all that important to us. As well, when we make ageist comments we perpetuate limitations that we ourselves will eventually be subjected to. In other words, we have the power with the words we do or do not utter to change how society views anyone at any age.
3. Master your mind and cultivate a positive mindset
“When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day.” ~Marty BuccellaProvidence, St. Joseph Health shares, "Negativity saps vitality and creates stress, which affects your health and well-being." So literally, by being cynical, negative or close-minded, we are exacerbating the aging process and making ourselves physically older unnecessarily.
4. Let go of the word "should"Whether speaking to others and expressing what you think they "should" be doing or the internal dialogue that runs through your head saying you "should" be doing something in your life at any given point, stop. Nobody wants to hear what they should be doing. Instead inspire others to do something with how you live your life or simply let them navigate their way in their own way.
5. Seek out diverse experiences that stretch youWhether with the places you travel to, the food you eat, the books you read, the podcasts you listen to or the people you engage with in conversation, let your curiosity be fed. Often the reason individuals regress into what they've known and the "way it has always been" or "when I was younger" constructs and wish to stay there is because they are fearful of the unknown. What they know is comfortable, and we all somewhere along the continuum want comfort. However, too often, when we don't know about a particular culture, a particular way of life that becomes more prevalent in society due to news coverage or a change in economic structure, until we explore, prompts people to make limiting assumptions that shrink our world. The world is big, vast, amazing and from my experience here on the blog and in my own travels meeting people from around the world, the majority of us are seeking contentment, love and peace. This may sound over-simplified, but truly, our general goal is the same, it is a matter of having the courage to keep asking questions, keep making ourselves vulnerable and recognize that we do not have all the answers and respecting all people as they too are trying to figure it out.
How to enjoy each passing year more than the last:
1. Learn something new regularly
“For the unlearned, old age is winter; for the learned, it is the season of the harvest.” ~Hasidic sayingI have seen the deterioration of one's mind in late age when a particular octogenarian who prided himself on having only read one book in his life gradually sees the quality of his life diminish. Knowledge is power in not only understanding how to live, but in keeping ourselves vibrant and able to engage with the world fully. Studies have recently been shared that regular cognitive challenges - problem-solving, learning a new skills, in other words brain exercises - are good for brain health. It is something we keep alive or by not giving it "homework" passively let wither away. Once we have the knowledge and understand how to continue to acquire it as we move through life, then we can apply it and see the benefits of the efforts we've made - thus the harvest. So keep planting seeds and continue to see your harvest become richer and richer with each passing year.
2. Choose to understand the worldProviding context as to why events happened, why people made the decisions they made and why people reacted as they did deepens not only our understanding of the world but also how to move and live successfully in it so as to live a life we are proud to share with the world as well as reflect upon. Never settle for one person's version of events, explore, ask questions, pick up a biography of someone else who lived in that time, read a historical account from multiple perspectives and come to understand that the world isn't simple, events aren't a singular cause and effect, but more often a confluence of causes that create the outcome that after some time has passed becomes simplified into a singular soundbite. As well, come to understand the social sciences - psychology and sociology and how people interact with others, how our minds work, how our bodies work regarding hormones, endorphins, adrenaline, etc. Choosing to understand the full human experience paired with the events of the world that led us to where we as a world are today is empowering and can assist us as we figure out how we wish to move forward.
3. Contribute to the worldIn another study, it demonstrated that we must live in such a way that goes beyond giving, or "feeling useful"; we must take action so as to do something that leaves the world better than when we found it. Taking action will be different for each of us, but just giving of our time to help the next generation isn't enough (it's a start). Sometimes taking action will not be comfortable for those around us. Sometimes it will not be comfortable to us as we will have to push ourselves to learn something new, shift our views and understanding about something we had become accustomed to but now we realize we were wrong, misled or misinformed. But when we find a purpose that fuels us, that we truly have a passion for, we will find the fuel to push forward. And in pushing forward, the example we share with the world will potentially alter how society comes to understand what is possible at any given age. 4. Let go of negative stereotypes and stop perpetuating them regardless of your age
“Age is no barrier. It’s a limitation you put on your mind.” ~Jackie Joyner-KerseeA study conducted at Yale revealed that "older adults who held more positive age stereotypes lived 7.5 years longer than their peers who held negative age-related stereotypes". Not only should we shift away from negative age stereotypes we should stop burdening others with these beliefs as well. Whether it is our observation and commentary about strangers on the street, in the store or mere acquaintances, refrain from defaulting to ageist remarks (about those older or younger than you). When we assume, we limit what we are willing to explore as we get to know people, and I am confident none of us would want to be limited.
5. Revel in each year
“The trouble is, when a number—your age—becomes your identity, you’ve given away your power to choose your future.” ~Richard J. LeiderRight now I am soaking up all that the remainder of my third decade on this glorious planet will share with me. As well, I am excited to enter into my fourth. When we choose to be present in our lives, we create memories that will always be with us. No we cannot go back and relive them literally, but we can in our memories and that is a gift we can take with us for any age we reach down the road. Each year has the opportunity to be your singular definition of what it is to be [pick a number]. And it is important to remember that that is your definition and yours alone. To place it on someone else and expect them to live the same as you is to limit what they may be curious about. On the flip side, embrace what you are curious about each year. Embrace what the universe has given to you in this particular year and drink it up like it was water in the desert. When you revel, you enliven your being and you share with the world your exuberance. That is how we shift age stereotypes.
6. Take the riskMaybe you've had a dream in your mind for years, but you have never known anyone who took such a risk. At least not anyone in what you perceive to be your "situation". Let go of needed a model to follow. Let go of thinking the dream shall remain a dream and instead take the risk. Do the necessary homework and then give yourself permission to get so absolutely excited about living the life you have dreamed about. Yes, you can live that life. And that will enliven you like you never could have imagined. From time to time I will catch myself pushing back against progress when it finds me quite comfortable with where I am in my life (a state that is not always easy to attain for any one of us as we strive toward goals), and then I poke myself. It is at that moment that I remind myself that progress is good as it demonstrates to all of us that we are alive, the world is alive and has the capability of improving. Even when we think we are comfortable (as I have felt in those moments), we often are limiting what we understand to be possible in the quality of our lives. Often I do think part of the push back to progress is exhaustion (which is why it is imperative to get a regular night's sleep - I kid only slightly). Perhaps not physical, but emotional exhaustion as we have seen and experienced and worked for so much and we don't know if we have the energy to continue to strive, shift and improve like we have in the past. But that is when we need to seek out others who see the world and all of its potential as we do, and then we can find the energy we think has been lost. Thus another reason to build a social network of all ages. The world is greater with more diverse voices, lives and experiences. And with each year of our lives we deepen what we bring to the world so long as we continue to truly live each year we are given. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~fresh seasonal fruit, in my case most recently - Oregon strawberriesRecipes to try:
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Mon, 7 May 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #207
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"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need." — Marcus Tullius Cicero
Claude Monet's gardens at Giverny, Butchart Gardens near Victoria, Canada, or the grounds of Versailles in France.
Each and many more outdoor masterpieces which utilize the gifts of Mother Nature to enchant visitors are as glorious as they are intimidating to those of us who are curious to welcome similar beauty onto our own properties and sanctuaries.
Having grown up with a mother who has a sincere love for gardening and whose canvas is more than a few acres, I watched as she painstakingly watered by hand all of her flower beds, raised garden boxes for years until automatic sprinklers were put in. During the winter months she still goes through the garden catalogs and plants seeds far in advance of the spring season, nursing them in her sunroom and then in her green house before planting them in their final destination in the yard or garden.
Needless to say, the effort master gardeners put into their plants, flowers and landscapes can easily be a full-time job. And while many of us may want and appreciate the gifts that spending time around such natural beauty brings into our lives, we may not all either have the space, property or ability due to renting or the time or devoted passion.
I find myself a little in both camps for my reasons for not having a bountiful garden and yard. While in my previous home, of which I owned, I invested much money installing automatic sprinklers, planting new trees, installing a cedar fence, along with the seasonal attention that is required, part of me is quite relieved to not have to rake 40 bags of leaves each year or worry about investing in a landscape architect to mold my yard into an oasis because I am currently renting and do not know the cottage I call home at the moment. However, on the flipside, I derive great pleasure from being outdoors, enjoying the vegetables, herbs and somtimes fruit from my garden as well as arriving home to a bevy of daffodils in the spring, lavender in the summer and lush hostas tucked into the shade in my flower beds surrounding my front porch. Mother Nature is an elixir, a form of comfort and a destination to unwind, relax and appreciate the natural beauty that can surround us should we choose to welcome it into our lives.
So today I wanted to share with you how you too can welcome the gifts of a yard and garden into your life without being someone who has the Master Gardener credientials or even wants them. Rather by adopting a few or all of these ideas shared below, you can cultivate the simple, yet powerful gifts a thoughtful approach to tending to your garden and yard can bring.
1. Keep it simple
As with other areas of our lives, keeping what is necessary and valued and letting go of what is not enables simplicity to be the guiding principle. Even if we are in awe of our neighbor's yard, our space, time and budget may be different. Taking an approach to welcoming more color and fresh plants as well as a gardening space must work for you. So take a look at what your space and time allow (each spring I know I will be planting five pots, looking for one hanging basket and planting my garden which is 4 feet by 8 feet), and enjoy the process of enriching what you have and celebrating, not comparing what you have createed with others.
2. Find your Hardiness Zone
Depending upon where you live, you will have more success with some plants than others. For example, as IG followers know, I am a fan of hydrangeas, but I have never had luck growing them in either of the locations I have attempted due to the zone in which I grow them. While yes, there are often hardier variations available, the classic hydrangeas with the huge mopheads are not something at the moment, I have the opportunity to grow. Therefore, I do not invest in them. If you live in the states, check out this website to determine your hardiness zone based on your zip code, if you live in the United Kingdom, check out this website, and if you live in Canada, check out this website. For all other countries, simply type in "hardiness zone and your country" and you should be able to find a similar website.
3. Shop smart (when and what)
Now that you know what types of plants to buy (good news, often the local nurseries will primarily stock what does grow well in your area), keep in mind that shopping early in the nursey season will ensure you have the best selection. As I shared a few weeks ago when my favorite local nursey opened its doors for the first time of the season, I made sure my list of annual plants was ready based on what I needed, and stopped by within the first 48 hours.
Now, keep in mind, shopping early is key for those particular items you are going to want that often sell out quickly and are not restocked. For example, Creeping Jenny plants (see here) tend to be hard to find later in the spring as they are quite popular pot drapers. And flowering bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and lilies can be planted in spring as well. But other plants or bulbs will not become available until, for example, late summer and fall such as daffodils as you plant the bulb in the fall so that they will flower in early spring.
~Check out the Ultimate Flower Calendar here for which flowers to shop for and when to plant.
4. Grow an herb garden
No matter how big or small or even whether you have outdoor space or not, you can always have an herb garden, and I highly recommend that you do. Especially if you are someone who enjoys cooking, you will be saving yourself a decent chunk of change by having, for example, a basil plant (and paying $3-5) than paying $4-5 at the grocery store each time you want fresh basil leaves.
In 2013 I wrote a detailed post on how to create your own mini garden, and part of the mini garden details having an herb garden, as well as the herbs to include. If you do plant an herb garden outside, some of your herbs will not need to be replanted each year. Sage, rosemary, flat leaf parsley and even oregano have demonstrated in my own garden to be quite hardy.
5. How to pot a pot: Basics that Work
There are three components to shopping for the plants to put in your outdoor pots. Whether they will be in the sunshine or in the shade (hanging baskets can follow this prescription as well - although I often buy a basket full of one plant to simplify), include these three components (just three different types of plants - you can buy multiples if your pot is large enough) thriller (for height), filler and spiller Successfully Grow Plants in Containers. Paul Allen Smith is my garden guru and his terminology of what to put in the pots is easy to rememember. Read his detailed post about how to .
For example, in my front porch which is in shade for most of the day my basic formula is a hosta for the height (thriller), coleus for the filler, and sweet potato vines for the spiller (they are very delicate, so while I bought them in April, I kept them inside until just a few days ago when the last frost was well behind us). When summer and early fall has past, I plant the hosta (which is a perennial plant) in my flower bed to continue to bring more green, lush filler to the front of my house.
6. Add a few perennials to your yard each year
Perennials can be expensive, but part of the reason their price tag is higher is they last for more than one season. Whether it is a shrub, a hedge, the bulbs for tulips or daffodils, roses, or anything thing you determine would complement your yard and survive in your climate, gradually bring a few more into your yard each year as your budget allows.
Take time when making decisions about perennials and watch how the sunlight falls in different areas of your yard to determine exactly what plant or tree would be best.
7. Follow an expert or a few who offers ample inspiration and information
TSLL blog is not a gardening blog as readers know, but I am regularly encouraging time spent with nature as a means for a more content life. If I can do anything to assist you in your journey to welcome more Mother Nature into your home, it is to offer the encouragement to indeed welcome her with open arms.
There are many fantastic gardening blogs available to read and follow. Some offer expert advice (as I mentioned Paul Allen Smith above is my trusted go-to), some offer visual inspiration (I love Sharon Santoni's home and yard), and some offer it all along with the ability to purchase the flowers they grow such as Floret's Flowers (her dahlias are her rock-star product, but her daffodils are amazing as well).
8. Water regularly
As with anything we want to grow, regular watering is a must. Now for those of who travel, this can become difficult as we want to travel during the summer, but we've also invested some money in our plants and we want to return to a home with living, beautiful blooms. Consider carefully placing your pots so that your automated sprinkler will reach them or ask a trusted neighbor to water your pots once or every other day as necessary.
9. Use good soil
Quality matters as well when it comes to gardening. This year I purchased a yard of organic soil builder - compost - from our local county recycling business for $15. Now I also had to pay for them to deliver it, but I wanted to give my garden an extra rich, nutritious foundation. You can also buy something similar in bags at your local nursery, but price per pound, this was an amazing deal, and I didn't want to pass it up.
"Feeding" your soil and ensuring it is of good quality is the key to building a successful garden. There are other ways you can tend to your soil organically as shared by Better Homes & Gardens - add shredded leaves, animal manures or cover crops. Read more here.
10. Make a plan and map it out
Whether it is planning for which plants to put in your pots, how your landscaping will look or the layout in your garden (which vegetables and fruit go where), plan it out first. Better Homes & Gardens offers a Garden Planner which is simple and easy to use, but you can also simply pencil it out on a pad of paper. I find myself over-buying of one plant and not purchasing enough of another, only having to make a second trip (which I don't mind, but it would simplify the process to get what I need in one trip).
11. Visit your local farmers market
Whether you have a garden or not, flowers or not, an outdoor herb garden or not, knowing you can always slip away to your local farmers market to pick up fresh produce, a beautiful seasonal bouquet of flowers for the home and perhaps a potted basil plant for the window sill, is a perfect way to soak in Mother Nature's gifts and welcome them into your home.
When we take the time to savor the seasonal bounty having pulled the carrot from the soil, plucked the fresh strawberry from the vine or picked the apples from the tree, we are respecting what Mother Nature has provided and tending to our health and wellbeing along the way.
I hope you have discovered a few tips and ideas for beginning or enhancing your home yard and garden experience. For me, having an outdoor space, no matter how small, has always been soothing and necessary to find the balance of my days. However, initially all of the decisions made available when I stepping into a necessary put me in sensory and selection overload. While I still delight in visiting nurseries, I more clearly trust my decision making and enjoy the experience knowing that when I bring home what I have found, my space will become more welcoming and more of a sanctuary than it already is (all the while saving my budget).
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Farmers Markets: How to Make the Most of Your Visit No Matter Where You Live (Bend's Farmers Markets are Shared as well)
~Watch the pilot episode of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen: Seasonal Fare to Elevate the Everyday (season 1 begins on Satuday September 8th)
~ASK SHANNON 2018, Submit your questions now.
~other books by Luke Barr - Provence, 1970: M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, James Beard and the Reinvention of American Taste
Sponsor of this week’s episode:
Images: (1) from TSLL's home in Bend, Oregon (potted plants, fuchsia, Japanese maple, hostas, coleus and sweet potato vines) (2) pics captured at Bend's first day of the farmers market
Mon, 30 April 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #206
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
I am all about simplifying life's daily routines and events, and especially when our schedules become full, our time is precious. As of late, my spring has been bursting. From finishing TSLL's 2nd book, finalizing my summer travel plans, preparing my students from AP testing in May, tending to my pup Norman's mini leg injury and well, just living everyday life, knowing that the necessities that enable life to run well are tended to is way to strengthen the core of our lives. When these necessities are neglected, we can just feel "off", out of sync or unable to fully rest in the little time we have to do so. I have gathered a few of the "life hacks" or simple approaches to ensure no matter how harried a day or week becomes unexpectedly, we can successfully find ourselves feeling rested, calm and free of angst.
1. Take a day off
While this may sound impossible initially, take a moment and consider the quality of the life you are living. The key to living well is to ensure how you are navigating your life is savvy. And if you do not have the energy to do so well, take a day to recharge. Some call such days "wellness days", but no matter what you call it, they are necessary from time to time. Last week, and for the past few weeks, my motor has been geared in high. With unexpected events, finishing up projects and stress levels that didn't have time to descend, I found myself in need of a day to just do nothing. So this past Saturday, that is all I did. Staying at home for me was a necessity that I recognized I needed to fully reboot.
2. Fresh Bouquets that Last for Weeks
Having flowers around my house just make me happy. The house doesn't feel complete without a fresh bouquet of either hydrangeas (yes, they seem to be my year-round flower of choice - #tsllhydrangeas), or any other seasonal bloom I find in the store at a great price. And when they arrive home, I do my best to enable them to last as long as possible. How? Trim stems and add fresh water every 4-7 days. Slice up the stem about 1/4 -1/2 inch to enable the stem to absorb the water. I do my best to buy the most freshly cut flowers, and while sometimes it is hard to tell in the store, look for tighter buds that haven't fully blossomed. Within a day or so, they will be in full bloom and your house will have their full life.
3. Facial masque, put on before stepping into the shower
I try to give my skin either a moisturizing masque treatment or a pore-cleansing treatment 1-2 times a week, but my time is limited. The best advice my long-time estetician gave me was the go-ahead to simply apply my masque (after cleansing), then step into the shower and let the steam work its magic. Rinse in the shower (less mess to clean up), and voilà, two for one!
4. Express gratitude
As a child I had heard the advice that giving and expressing thanks is a powerful ingredient to feeling contentment and finding peace. However, at the time, it didn't compute. Don't get me wrong, I observed this behavior in my parents and those around me, but it wasn't until I was an adult that it truly was understood. When we feel as those much of our lives is out of our control or overwhelming, one of the aspects we do have control over is how we interact with others. When it appears that very little is functioning as it should, or your energy level is depleted, looking around to see what see what we are thankful for and expressing that appreciation not only will paradoxically fuel us with positive energy, but build a stronger, positive bond with those in our lives and community. The purpose is not to gain adulation or something in return, but it is the exchanging of good energy, paying recognition to others and their lives and how they are living and giving of themselves that assuages any negative energy in our lives. The two need not have any connection, but when we focus on the good, we have less time to worry about what we cannot control.
5. Exhaust your physical being
While we all know that adhering to a regular routine is important, it is vitally so when we are overwhelmed to do something to get our blood pumping. Even when I do not have time to work out, I remind myself that it is essential for me to feel better at the end of the day, it will help me sleep better and it will be one less thing to stress about that I did not do. Sometimes the workout can come in a different form such as working in the garden to set up for the spring season or making love with your partner. Whatever exhaustion you prefer, make it a priority. Part of the reason working out is effective when our lives seem overwhelmed is that our minds are forced to be in the present moment. We have to focus if it is an intense strength training session to keep our form correct, or hold Warrior Poise #3 in yoga and not fall on our nose. When we turn our minds off for even 30 minutes, we encourage our bodies to destress.
6. Read a book without a plot or how-tos
I recognized recently that if I am having an particularly stressful week, the last thing I want to do is get absorbed by more drama in the plot of a novel, or feel I need to add one more "to-do" to my self-improvement list by reading a non-fiction self-help book. What I have found to be some of the best reading for such weeks are books about food or travel. An escape into a pleasure that is blissful, relaxing for the mind and an opportunity to unwind. I highly recommend Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries (a diary of his meals through the season) or any of his books/cookbooks.
7. Take a detoxifying bath
Simply add two cups of Epsom salt and let the day wash away. Epsom salt offers sulfate and magnesium, both of which can be absorbed through the skin and magnesium is what stress reduces from our body, so we do need to replenish. As well, epsom salt easing muscle soreness, softens skin and the sulfate helps to flush toxins from our bodies. When I began my strength training program with my trainer, my body had intense muscle soreness, and I was immediately advised to take a bath with epsom salts. Needless to say, sometimes the relief we need can be simple and pleasurable. (Read more about epsom salt here from mindbodygreen.)
8. Reduce unnecessary time using technology
I am just as guilty as the next person for looking at my screen (phone or computer) when it isn't necessary and is simply out of habit. However, it was clear to me that constantly having my eyes on a screen was something that was not helping my stress levels. Put down the phone, plug it in to be charged and walk away. Once we find a spot in our day when we have completed the necessary tasks, and we do not need to be available for a text or phone call, put it in another room. Having it close by increases the likelihood that we will check it, just to see.
9. Talk to someone who is trusted and calm
When we talk to someone who knows us, understands our life, but at the same time can recognize when we need to breathe, reboot and not be so hard on ourselves, we are reminded why we need to connect with others. However, we also come to see the power in the types of people who are in our lives. It is during these stressful moments in our lives that we can be thankful we have built and nurtured such loving, supportive relationships because sometimes we cannot give ourselves the advice we know we need.
10. Turn on a relaxing playlist and turn off the news
Yesterday I shared an Everyday Jazz playlist which is often my music of choice when I want to take a deep breath and unwind. Whether at school, home or traveling, jazz, as well as classical is the remedy to lower my stress-levels and just get me tapping my toe, swaying my head or slowing letting go of anything that came before. While staying abreast of the news is important (we talked about how to find the right balance in this episode/post), too much can be detrimental. Finding an alternative that offers the comfort and pleasure that you are looking for is a simple click of a button away.
11. Sip some tea
The type of tea you choose will be up to you, but for me, since I have a high tolerance for caffeine, I always go to my black teas. The something hot, something delicious and something to sip slowly, slows me down and calms me down as well. Read this post from the archives regarding the many benefits of tea, as well as see my list of favorite teas. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~How to Ensure a Bountiful Harvest (in life), episode #177
~Sign up for TSLL's Weekly Newsletter or the Book Release News Updates newsletter here
Ines de la Fressange's new style guide - The Parisian Field Guide to Men's Style, released May 15th
SPONSOR OF TODAY'S EPISODE:
Mon, 23 April 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #205
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
"Today's accomplishments were yesterday's impossibilities." —Robert H. Schuller
I was recently watching a documentary on Julia Child, and prior to meeting Paul, falling in love with French food and becoming the revolutionary figure she became in the food industry, there was a point in her life where she felt "ordinary", and not as special as she had assumed. It was shortly after the death of her mother to whom she was quite close and also during a time when a man she had been deeply interested in, married someone else. She returned to her parent's California home despondent and not sure of which way to go or with a clue of what to do with her life. Then World War II occurred and she chose to take part in any way she could. The rest is history in many ways, but this lull in her life provided a time of uncertainty about the future and a recognition that what lay ahead for her wasn't something she could predict or foresee.
If you are someone who listens to their life, but also does all that you can to plan and put the odds in your favor, you, like me, have no doubt realized that there are still moments, some short in duration and some quite long, that seemingly give no clue how our lives will unfold. Such times are excruciatingly uncomfortable. Excruciating because we do not know if what we are doing is a lost investment or a wise investment.
In such moments we begin to question whether we should have perhaps just "played it safe", not stretched so far, dreamed so vastly and swam so far from the shore. While I cannot sit here and write to each reader and confirm without a doubt that all of your dreams will come true, I can confirm that I am on such a ride right now and have been my entire life in many ways. But I have arrived on the other side of many of my worries in the past to see a beautiful reality that at some point along the way only seemed a dream, and in many cases, an impossible dream.
Today I'd like to share with you eight things to either do or ways to shift your mind that will help you travel through these inevitable times that we will be introduced to along our journey should we be strong enough to walk away from the "safe" route. I put it in parenthesis because nothing is assured or 100% safe. In fact, when it comes to our mind, I have come to realize that we often have fear that our dreams won't manifest because we want them so badly. If we didn't, we wouldn't give them a second thought. In this instance, we are creating a sense of anxiety that we can actually let go of which leads me to my first point.
1.Make a plan and keep striving forward
It's one thing to be worried your plan won't materialize if you haven't done the work. It is an entirely different scenario when you have done the work. Now this is not to say that there is a cookie-cutter approach and then voila! what you want will appear. But the key is to do what you can, keep steadily moving forward, each day, little by little tending to the necessary business and tasks and let go of the "when".
2. Seek meaning
In Andrew Soloman's TedTalk regarding one's identity, he shares, "Forge meaning, build identity. Forge meaning, build identity. And then invite the world to share your joy." Another key to the success we seek, the goals we wish to attain is to strive toward something that is meaningful to you. Make sure you are seeking something that is of great value to you. If a particular political issue draws your ire as to how it is being handled, step forward in a manner you are comfortable with and work for the change you seek. As you begin to do so, you will be able to step into areas that you never thought you'd be comfortable going, but it will be your passion for the cause, if it is sincere, that will armor you from the most common doubts. Whatever you are working towards, so long as there is deeper purpose that is fundamental to how you live life or wish to live it, you will have infinite fuel to carry you along the journey.
3. Find the answers to the unknown questions
While we may not be able to find all of the answers we seek, the primary reason we are fearful is because of the ambiguity. When we know, we can relax. And based on my mistake of not fully understanding the benefits of taking my business to the next level (LLC or an S-corp), I wasted years and much money because I didn't ask the questions from people who know the answers. When I finally did ask the questions from my now business lawyer, I could have kicked myself. My fears were assuaged because I had the answers, and the answers gave me back the power to make better decisions to determine my financial and personal future.
4. Reflect on your past
As I look back over my past and consider the other uncertain times and what eventually unfolded, I am reminded that so many unknowns that I could not have predicted eventually revealed themselves. So long as I refused to stop striving forward, opportunities presented themselves. The key is to keep striving forward, putting forth your best and most sincere effort, being present and being excited about what you will find. Use your past as a confidence boost and apply the lessons you learned along the way.
5. Leave the familiar path
Even if the crowd or others in your field have been successful doing something a particular way, it doesn't mean you have to travel in kind if that doesn't work or sit well or feel authentic to you. While it is always a good idea to look around to see what inspiration others can spark in you, as Oprah teaches, stay in your lane. Do it your way, do it well. I like to think of it as taking the time to learn the rules, but then breaking them as necessary as you move forward along your own journey.
6. A quick list to remember
7. Become more comfortable with a little messiness
If every day each wheel of your machine called life was working smoothly, every email was answered in fewer than 24 hours, the house was always spick and span clean, every bill was paid in advance without a tinge of worry, and debts were paid in full each month even while we were investing, I would be dancing with glee the rest of my life. Some readers may be saying, but that is possible. Having seen what was going on in my life when such a vision was a reality, I can say only from my experience that I saw it as an opportunity to grow, to stretch, to see what else I was capable of, and so I took risks. I invested in my dreams.
Now, as I advance in life, I do hope to become more settled, but the reason I kept stretching was because I knew there was more I wanted to experience, more ways in which I wanted to grow and more I wanted to explore. Because of these pulls and interests, I needed to take risks. And when that decision was made or being considered, my mind and my office (and inbox) were sometimes a mess. Not a mess to clean up, but a mess to work through, a mess that needed to materialize in order to strive toward a dream that I could not have made sense of at the time. But with time, each of us can see the beauty of what the mess can give us. We just have to stop thinking everything must be perfect all of the time. We need to allow our lives to be messy temporarily, sort through it, toss and keep what we should and then see the beauty that we were meant to find.
8. Become more comfortable with not knowing
Julie Benezet, who in 1999 was working as a director of global real estate for an online company called Amazon as they sought advice on how to best survive and grow their business, in her book The Journey of Not Knowing shares, "I noticed that when people take chances, they get farther ahead. Too often what happens is people go a more conservative route, because they don't want to deal with the uncomfortable feeling of trying something new when you don't know how it's going to turn out." The key to being willing to take these risks without knowing how they will work out is to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. In this article she shares four approaches to further yourself in business when it comes to risk taking, and while you don't want to jump head-first without doing your homework, it is important to know that when you have already done the necessary work, you will still feel a bit of fear. Recognize this truth, become more comfortable with this truth, and it will set you free to soar.
Whether it is the economy that we wish we could predict, the future of the government we live under, or whether or not our boss will say yes, or the weather will cooperate, the unknown is actually a norm in our lives. What lens we see this unknown through will determine how we navigate through the ambiguity, that while temporary, is inevitable. So take a deep breath, get out of your own way, follow the above eight ideas and enjoy the unique journey you are on.
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Ask Shannon Episode is coming soon!
~Subscribe to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter, learn more here.
~Independent Bookstore Day, the last Saturday in April (April 28, 2018)
~Visit an Independent Bookstore in your community or wherever you find yourself traveling.
“Consumers control the marketplace by deciding where to spend their money. If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore. If you feel that the experience of reading a book is valuable, then read the book. This is how we change the world: we grab hold of it. We change ourselves.” ― Ann Patchett, bestselling author and co-owner of Parnassus Books
~Roundabout Books, Bend, Oregon~
Mon, 16 April 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #204
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
The Harvard Business Review pointed out in 2011 that there are many networks we each need in our lives to be successful. Looking at this concept from a business perspective, HBR shared that a manager and leader needs three networks to be successful: operational, developmental, and strategic. As I shared in this post written in 2014, whether at work or at home or while playing, we are our own brand. How we live our lives is a message to the world at large and more powerfully to those we share our lives with, so I wanted to incorporate these three networks into both our professional and personal lives. In successful entrepreneur Julia Pimsleur's book Million Dollar Women, she shares that while women tend to have strong personal networking skills, it is their professional networking skills that must be strengthened. Modeling what she encourages readers to do, Pimsleur's nonprofit and for-profit earnings of more than $20 million dollars demonstrate she knows how to network and network well. Offering masterclasses, coaching and workshops, understanding how to network and the importance of doing so is a skill, and we can all learn how to master it. It is important to note, in order to be successful in our careers, we must have our personal lives well-structured as well. And we cannot do it all if we want to do it well, so we must build what I am calling a Life Network that will optimize both our professional and personal lives. Today, I'd like to break these three networks down, and while using the definitions of each given by HBR, I will be applying them to both aspects of our lives. As I examined my own life, I made a list of all of the people, businesses, groups I interact with through any given year. Some I will see more often than others, some will only be once a year, but all of them are essential parts of my Life Network. I then added a few more to each list that may be individuals most people in certain walks of life need to thrive. Now there may be other networks you need or have in your life, so I have included the definition of each of the networks so that you can decide in which group they would fall based on what they bring into your life.
Even if you are not currently in the market to buy a house or maybe you are not working on a project with the contractors you will hire, maintaining that relationships, being cognizant that it is a relationship and being appreciative of it is the strength of your network. Whether it is the holiday extra tip that is given to your hair stylist, paying your bills on time when it comes to your accountant, editor or lawyer, being respectful of the reality that they are running a business, and having paying clients is what enables them to live and work and thrive, reveals how much you respect and appreciate the work they have done for you.
No one can predict the future, but the longer we are in our fields professionally, and the longer we live in this world, the more we understand the causes and effects of events that occur. While we may not know precisely when or exactly how they will unfold, we can know that the economy will ebb and flow. We can know that people retire and new team members will be added; we also know that our good health doesn't just happen and interest doesn't accrue unless we invest. Putting the odds in your favor by being preventative with your health, saving intelligently and early for your retirement, building strong relationships with people within your work environment is being aware that there will be a tomorrow and you want to put yourself in the best situation possible.
Personal (HBR calls this network Developmental)
The premise of living well is to remain curious and continually seek new information. We are dynamic as human beings, and our world as well is dynamic. As much as we may want things to stay exactly as they are once we find a way of life that works best for us, we know that everything else is changing, and so too must we stay privy as well as a student of the world. However, the world can knock us down sometimes, so we must know where to replenish our strength as well as contribute positively to others' lives. So long as we remember we are always a work in progress and will always have the opportunity to grow should we choose, this network will enable us to do so in both our personal and professional lives. As someone who appreciates clarity where it is possible to have it, this list helps me not only be clear about what is necessary to reach my dreams, live securely and enjoyably, but also enable me to recognize that we are a part of a web of other people in this world, and we truly do not succeed on our own. While we may be have the dream, we need the team to help it come into fruition. While we may bring home the salary that pays the bills, we need to handle the money we work so hard for well, so that it serves us the best it possibly can. Lastly, so long as we are aware and appreciative, we will begin to build networks in all three areas that will improve the quality of our lives. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life, episode #40
~25 Must-Haves for the Efficient Office Desk, episode #60
~Secrets of Wealthy Women via WSJ podcast
Sponsors of this week’s episode:
~Image: TSLL's Office, via IG
Mon, 19 March 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #200
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
On Tuesday morning at 9:15 Pacific time in the western hemisphere spring will arrive. No weather prediction can change this reality. Even if it continues to snow where you live (the snow in England and France this past weekend have made me feel as a kindred spirit to the residents as we had snow this weekend as well), the calendar affirms, it will be spring at this time on Tuesday. But no matter when the snow decides to cease falling, we know it will (and even when it does, it melts nearly as quickly, non?). What I have found to be a wonderful activity during such times, along with indoor projects that must be completed, is to tend to spring cleaning of the home. And when the sun comes out, spring cleaning in the yard as well. So yes! Spring cleaning has begun! And oh, does it feel good! (Too cheesy?) Last week, my white burber carpets received their bi-annual thoroughly cleansing (see above), and in so doing returned a brightness to the house. Simply tending to these seasonal tasks, whether we do them or hire someone due to our time constraints, when we do, we begin to officially shift forward to the new season that is beginning. And as it is spring, a fresh start, a feeling of renewed opportunity and revitalized energy. Below are 22 spring cleaning tasks to perhaps welcome into your annual routine as you too say goodbye to winter and hello to the much anticipated spring season.
1. Let in the light! Clean the windows
As soon as you are able to get outside and the sun is expected to shine nearly all day (although a cloudy day is claimed to be best as the cleaning solution will dry less quickly, reducing the amount of streaks), take a couple of hours to clean the windows inside and out. My mom always made a point of washing windows in the morning to enable the ability to see better the streaks as the natural light is shining more directly through the windows (you can also do this in the evening, but again, we're usually tired or have other plans). And the approach is simple, grab a bucket of water and vinegar, the newspapers you just recycled from yesterday's or that morning's reading session and before you know it, you will be bathed in more sunlight. (Yes, newspapers are a great option instead of rags - they are not only cheaper, but will not scratch the glass and are quite absorbent - learn more here.)
2. The floors (and rugs, although not as often) get their special treatment
If you have carpet, welcome in a carpet cleaner, if you have hardwoods, follow the special instructions of care for your particular wood floors. Typically a damp mop (not wet mop) with a few drops of dishwashing liquid is all you need to do (in fact, some experts recommend doing this monthly). Here is a list of recommendations for wood floor care from RealSimple. If you have area rugs, deep cleaning them need only be every 3-5 years as over-cleaning contributes to too much wear and tear.
3. Tend to the window coverings
Whether you have blinds or drapes, dust, wash or send to the dry-cleaners for special careful cleaning.
4. Clean the dishwasher
House Beautiful in their annual spring cleaning guide recommended giving your dishwasher a deep clean, and with the amount of use most of us give our kitchen time-saving machine, it is a good idea. Using a special dishwasher cleaner pack (this one from Cascade will remove the grease, odors and limescale and includes two for fewer than $14), run it with an empty dishwasher and begin the new season with a "like-new" dish-cleaning machine.
5. The remainder of the Kitchen Triangle: the stove and the refrigerator
Give your refrigerator a thorough clean out and cleaning, something I like to do bi-annually as well. Not only does this enable an opportunity to see which staples you have regarding condiments, etc., but it also is a great opportunity to organize your refrigerator into sections. For example, keep your meat and proteins in one section, your cheeses in another, your fruit in one bin and your vegetables in another. Also, drinks have their designation as well. Especially if you are living with others, but even living by yourself, when you give the refrigerator a quick glance before you head to the market, you will know exactly what is needed for your weekly capsule menu shopping. And, do not forget the stove. I will admit, I do not like sticking my head in an oven (for many people who have self-cleaning, just turn it on to work its magic while you clean the refrigerator), or maybe that is just the English teacher in me, but since I do keep tin foil at the bottom of my stove, I find many messy clean-ups are avoided. So find a sturdy oven cleaner, put some gloves on and tend to this annual task. The more regular we do, the less daunting it will be each time.
6. The linens beyond sheets
While bed sheets are typically cleaned every week or two weeks, wash the duvet cover, the coverlets, the throws, the pillow shams and any other linen that does not get regularly weekly attention. Some of these items may need to be taken to the dry-cleaner, so allow for 1-2 weeks to be without. Perhaps you are going on a spring holiday, so plan on taking your linens to the dry-cleaner before you leave, so when you return your linens are returned as well as fresh and clean for the new season.
7. Flip and clean the mattress
A simple flip or rotation of your mattress is easy to do to prevent overuse in one area. As well, vacuum your mattress to remove any unwanted debris.
8. Sinks and faucet cleaning
If you have found you have lime deposits around faucets in your house, HGTV offers a simple solution: Lay a papertowel over the area, pour vinegar over the top and let it sit for an hour. After the allotted time, the lime should have softened, making it easier to remove.
9. Make the stainless steel shine
Now this is something that can be done each time the kitchen is cleaned, but its worth doing for spring cleaning as well. Again HGTV shared this gem: using a spray bottle full of 50% rubbing alcohol and 50% water, clean your chrome, glass or stainless steel finishes and polish to reveal their brilliance.
10. Assess and organize the pantry
In January I shared one of my winter projects which was to organize my cupboards, which for me includes my pantry items. Similar to cleaning out the refrigerator, when we know what we have, we know what we need. Here is a list of the 34 items to keep at all times in your pantry, or épicerie (episode #109).
11. The closet clean-out
Bi-annually, clearing out, assessing and reorganizing our closet is a wonderful idea to prevent overspending, but also enable savvy purchases as the new season begins. I have detailed how to approach this task in a dedicated post, so if you're curious, be sure to take a look.
12. Seasonal clothing swap
Now is the time to take your winter coats, sweaters and scarves to the cleaners for their annual maintenance. Perhaps you took your spring and summer items in the fall, but if you haven't take them now so they are ready to shine with the beginning of the new season.
13. The walls need your attention
This may sound odd, but while we are surrounded by the walls of our homes, we often do not see them. Cobwebs can form, dust accumulates especially if furniture is in front of them, and all it takes is a simple damp cloth wrapped over a broom stick (to reach high points by the ceiling) and an extra hour or so of a day. If you need to clean stains from the wall, use a few drops of dishsoap, then go over it again with a clean damp cloth to remove the soap.
14. Clean the cushions of your furniture
Pull the cushions out from your sofa and chairs and clean underneath as well as the cushions themselves. You will most likely just need to vacuum them both, but doing so will ensure that all is clean whether it is seen or unseen.
15. Put away the winter
Whether you have certain decor, wreaths, candles of a darker hued color or books that align with the winter season, take this time to swap them for the spring and summer editions. While you are doing this, you are also able to do a little extra cleaning that may not get your attention each week.
16. Bring forth the outdoor furniture
While this may be something you, as I, don't get to do until April, it is still a seasonal ritual to tend to. Bring out the lawn furniture, the patio chairs and tables and giving them a good wash with soapy water. Then the pots come out as well as soon they will be filled with fresh blooms from the nursery.
17. Clean the trash cans
Indoors and out, suds up the trash collectors and wash and rinse them out. A simple task that is quite satisfying.
18. File away taxes of 2017 and organize the office
Most of us have completed our tax returns or will be soon, so now organize them and place them where they need to be and move forward into the new year. As well, dust the shelves, countertops, desktops of your work space. Dust the screen of your computer, dust the top of your printer and other machines you may have and why not bring in at minimum a bud vase for a touch of spring to enjoy as you work?
19. Update your podcast subscriptions
I recently tended to this task as many of the podcasts I had on my list were no longer offering new episodes, so I went through and streamlined my podcast subscriptions to include only the ones that were still offering new episodes as well as episodes I continued to always select to listen to on my walks and travels.
20. Clean and organize your handbags
This may seem obvious, but our lives get busy and before we know it our totes are carrying receipts from two months ago, lipgloss that has been empty and who knows what else. This shouldn't take but a few minutes, but sometimes we have to be reminded of the simple organization that makes a big difference in our daily lives. As well, our wallets need our attention: why do you need so many of others' business cards in your wallet, do you use that particular rewards card anymore? Slimming down your wallet feels good as well.
21. Assess Makeup and beauty supplies
While these tasks can be done at any point in the year, the inspiration behind spring cleaning is an opportunity to start fresh and what better way when it comes to our beauty than to make sure our supplies enable us to shine our brightest. Clean your brushes as well with simple facial cleanser mixed with warm water until it is bubbly and dunk, dunk, dunk and then rinse.
22. Bad habits out, good habits in
Admittedly, when there is less sun, as there is in the winter, it affects our mood, some more than others, but either way, it does play a role in our emotions. Take a moment before you step forward into spring, as we continue to gain more daylight each day for the next three months, to assess what habits are working for you, and which are not. Sometimes simply having more daylight to tend to what is a priority makes a difference in our successfully acquiring the habit. Whether it is meditating in the morning, walking in the evening, eating more seasonally ripe produce or turning on classical music to start your day instead of the news (in episode #197 we looked at the benefits of classical music), spring gives you an opportunity to be more successful, because when our moods are improved, the confidence we have in ourselves to be successful with whatever we pursue also has a better chance for improving as well. Ultimately each one of us will tend to what we need to start fresh with this new season. Perhaps a handful or more, but maybe just one or two of the ideas spoke to you. Whatever you choose to do to welcome spring, and literally or figuratively clean out the clutter of the old season, be sure to take the time to do so as I am confident you will be giving yourself a bit or a signficant bounce to your step as the excitement of what the new year has in store begins to come forth. Welcome the spring season and may this first week (beginning tomorrow - Tuesday) be an auspicious omen for what is to come. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Subscribe to the weekly TSLL newsletter
~A Taste for Provence by Helen Lefkowitz Horowitz
~Learn more about the author who is a professor emerita at Smith College here
Sponsors of this week’s episode:
Image: TSLL's Instagram
Mon, 12 March 2018
199: 9 Reasons to Savor Being in the "Choosing Seat": The Gift of Being Single in Your 30s, 40s, 50s and Beyond
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #199
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
"The best part of being single is that I get to know men and see what I love about them in a way that, when I was 19, I never afforded myself the opportunity. At 19, I would think, 'Oh, I got picked!' and I would just go along with it, happy to be picked by a man, instead of choosing, and now, I'm in the choosing seat." —Laura Dern on being 50 and divorced
~Based on feedback from last week's episode (#198), I highly recommend tuning in to today's episode (audio) as much more is talked about than what is revealed in the show notes below. My thoughts on last week's episode are shared along with a review from a long-time listener that offered valuable constructive criticism that I wanted to honor. Whether you are single and have never been married, or you are divorced or widowed, whether you have children or your only children are of the four-legged variety, when you step into a time of your life in which you are not romantically attached to someone, some will embrace the change immediately while some will dread the loss of a partner. Today's episode/post was inspired by multiple components. First, actress Laura Dern's above quote sparked my thinking about the misconceptions many of us when we are young unconsciously accept when it comes to dating due to a self-confidence that has yet to find its footing, and secondly, last week's conversation (episode #198) with Jenna Birth on the evolution of modern romance and how to navigate it well in order to find and cultivate a healthy, loving partnership. As I examine and savor my own singleness at the moment, I would not want anything else at this point in my life. I reflect on what the past ten years has revealed itself capable of when it comes to my career, and I know, based on my personality, had my energies been shifted, my life would be significantly different. And from my perspective, based on my dreams, desires and ideas of a quality life, I would not be content. That again, is based on knowing myself. Each individual will define their best life differently and that is where we must say "Good for you, but not for me" (thank you Amy Poehler for succinctly coining a phrase needed for us to understand and accept different ways of living well). As we step away from our twenties and into our thirties, forties, fifties and beyond I find single living can be ever more attractive, and due to this, make it easier to find a partner that we truly mesh with should we choose to do so. How so? Let's take a look at nine reasons being single can be a powerful time of growth, rejuvenation and clarification. 1.You become clear about what is and is not in alignment with your authentic self When you are your own company you become particularly clear and more understanding of what you say yes to without forethought, but at the same time, why you say yes (or no) to anything life presents you with. As will be discussed in #7, once we learn what is sincerely us and what is influenced by the outside world, we can then choose to understand why it is hard to break molds that are merely masks and finally remove them entirely. 2. You become able to differentiate between true connection and lust provoked purely by physical attraction Ah, the innocence of youth. The movies, the media, even everyday people we may find ourselves around at any given time, perpetuate the idea that physical attractiveness need be an primary ingredient (if not the most important ingredient) in order to build a relationship with someone. Oh, the silliness of this belief. Whether we learn this sooner or later, when we finally learn it, we can be far more conscious of why we are drawn to someone. And while it is absolutely healthy and natural to be drawn to someone because of their looks, we also become aware that we need more to pursue for the pursue of a lasting relationship. Celebrate this difference is growth, and makes life and meeting the myriad of people we meet, all the enjoyable. 3. You can invest entirely and build with your full energy a career you love As I mentioned above, the decade of my thirties has been an amazing gift. If I had been in any of the relationships I let go of during the course of this time period, I know for certain, my energy would not have been enough to tend to the goals I set for myself. Now, to find a partner that would support my goals would have been wonderful, as the support should be for both involved, but that was never the case (which is in large part, why we went our separate ways). 4. You date thoughtfully Case in point, you begin to learn what strengths and gifts would work well for you in a partnership and you begin to date more thoughtfully. I have found that as I get older, those people I date are more lovely in general, but my needs for a relationship to work are also more clear as well. 5. You can travel to destinations that pique your curiosity and yours alone Ah, the gift of traveling to and doing what you've always dreamt about. Whether it is venturing to destinations on your bucket list, or returning to the same place again and again, you can and you can enjoy every minute, stay as long or as little as you'd like and meeting amazing people along the way because you are traveling with the world. 6. You become comfortable in your body and understand the necessity of taking care of your overall well-being There is a love for your body that begins as you recognize all that it does for you and that it has enabled you to do thus far. And as we begin to yes, understand, our bodies are like nobody else's, we also begin to want to take proper and thoughtful care of it so that it can perform at its best. I especially have found this to be true the latter half of my thirties and am so grateful for the gift my body is. 7. You have more time to tend to areas of personal growth that need attention (insecurities, self-awareness, etc.) As mentioned in #1, when we become more in tune with who we truly are, we discover our tendencies, we reflect upon our past, come to understand what has been nurtured into our personality and what is truly innate. And when we don't understand something or understand and want to improve, we have the courage to recognize seeking out an expert is an investment in ourselves, not a sign of weakness. By investing in ourselves, we are investing in the overall quality of our lives not only will we enjoy our own company more, the relationships we choose to build will be healthier and have the potential to be stronger should we wish them to grow. 8. You focus on a passion project So much more time can be dedicated to what we are curious to dive into and explore when we are single. Working through the weekend or late into the evenings or waking up early to tend to tasks before we head to work, we can do any or all of these things, and we will be fueled by the results we begin to see and understand how important it truly is to listen to our passions and follow our curiosities. 9. You have a sincere understanding that another person will not complete you, as that is your responsiblity alone As you move through each of the previous eight points, you will begin to realize that what you have been searching for cannot be found outside of yourself; it can only be found within. Doing so does not mean you will be single forever if you do not want to be, but you learn the amazing gift you give yourself by letting yourself be with yourself completely. And depending upon what you unearth to be the life you wish to live, you will know how to proceed successfully forward into your future. The time that we have the opportunity to be single is a time realize that strength we already have within us whether we are in a relationship or not and carry that forward into our next relationship or into the life we will build for ourselves. Just as the image at the top of the post reveals, there is a bright and beautiful, sunlit side but too often we dwell on the negative, what we've lost or what we think we are supposed to have. The truth is, the greatest gift is to unearth our fullest potential and embrace and then share with the world what we discover. ~SIMILAR EPISODES/POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~episode #170, Being Single is Luxurious Living
~episode #94, Truths and Myths of the Single, Independent Woman
~Sign-up for the Weekly Newsletter
~Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey
~The blog where it all began, Daily Routines
Mon, 12 February 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #195
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
The 43rd time was the charm. At least in the case for currently number one ranked women's tennis player Caroline Wozniacki. Winning her first grand slam title with the Austrialian Open at the end of this past January, Wozniacki, after 43 entries at grand slam events, earned her first in 2018 after 12 years on the tour. As Caroline's and many other successful dreamers have demonstrated upon finally reaching the summit they had in their sights from the beginning, it takes time. Often more time than one expected upon stepping forward toward their dream, but it is possible. The mindset that a worthwhile dream will be easy is often understood, but what isn't initially understood is what you will have to "pay" so to speak to attain your goal. Much like upkeep on a house, in order to accrue interest, in order to increase the value of your investment, time must pass. As we look at the real estate market today, some will not have to wait long in certain parts of the country while others wait decades to see a worthwhile increase should they wish to sell for a pretty profit. Along the way of living in our homes, there are certain bills that we expect to pay and some we do not. We expect to pay utilities, we expect to pay for upkeep of the roof, siding, etc., but we don't anticipate disasters such as broken boilers or a tree after being struck by lightening sliding down the side of your home and requiring a tree service to remove promptly from the street (the latter examples were both experienced at my last owned home and the tree service was my father). Each of these incidents, expected or not, are bills that must be paid if we want to maintain our home, if we want to someday be able to sell it and receive a return on our investment. Dreamers who set lofty goals are not to be laughed at because what they are choosing to do is courageous as it will require great tenacity, perseverance and willpower paired with clarity of vision. As you will see below, there will be some "bills" that must be paid along the way that most likely were expected by the dreamer, but there will be some that cannot be predicted until we set about on our journey. However, hopefully today's list of "bills" to expect will ease your mind as you run up against each one, reassuring you that such occurrences are not a sign to stop or give up, but rather par for the course. Your dream is waiting to be materialized and now you will know what to be prepared for.
1. The errant belief that it's not possible and the courage to dismiss said belief
Support along our journey toward our dream is vital; however, the catch is that because you are pursuing something that many people have not acquired, you may not have as much support as you would expect. Fear not. The first foundational form of support begins with you. So long as you have an unwavering determination and belief in what you are pursuing, that will reveal to the supporters that do stand by your side to stand tall with you. The supporters that stand with you need not be people who entirely understand what or why you are traversing towards; however, if they know you well, they are confident in your abilities. In other words, it is the quality of support you surround yourself, not a vast amount of supporters. Once you are clear as to why you are pursuing what you have set out to attain, the clarity will be the roots for courage to blossom when unknowns and confusing moments arise.
2. Stepping forward without seeing the tangible outcome
No one can predict the future, even people who are following a prescribed plan of their life based on what society, their family or their community has modeled for them. No one can know for certain what lays ahead for any one of us, but we can put the odds in our favor. We can investigate individuals who have while maybe not having pursued the exact path we are choosing to walk along, have, for example, chosen the entrepreneurial path. We can look to them for the obstacles they maneuvered around and outcomes they attained. Different times combined with different people and talents will render a different outcome each time, but you are the constant. And when you know with clarity where and why you are choosing your path, the outcome doesn't have to be readily visible, but your confidence to step forward does need to be present.
3. Running into obstacles
They will happen. Guaranteed. But as I shared in my conversation on Afternoon Live last week with regards to sticking to your New Year's resolutions, often the universe is double-checking to make sure you indeed want what you say you want. Be sure to have a look at that particular segment to hear more about this inevitable moment.
4. Evolution of your mind and habits
Last week I took a moment to contemplate what my life was like 10 years ago, and I immediately recognized that I could not have predicted in ANY way where I am today and what I am doing. It was only 9 years ago that I began the blog, but 10 years ago if you would have told me I would have not only a blog, a podcast, a vodcast and working on my second book while officially setting up my business as a corporation, I would have been perplexed (in other words, I might have said "what's a vodcast?"). This truth, this "bill" is an exciting bill to pay because it is growth. It is each of us stepping into our full potential and sharing with the world what we uniquely have to offer. We do not often know what it is the world needs and what precisely we can give when we begin, but we figure it out along the way and we figure out the growth we would like to undergo as well in order to achieve what we see as necessary and possible.
5. A trust in your vision that is unwavering
I was recently listening to the second season of the podcast "Making . . . " on WBEZ Chicago (their first season focused on Oprah). Focusing on Obama and his years leading up to the Presidency, the first episode dives into his time as a community organizer and why he chose from that experience to pursue public service. His decision was predicated on the reality that in order to help the people in the African American communities of Chicago and around the country, they needed a voice. From the time in 1984 (he graduated from Columbia University in 1983) upon taking the organizer's job (which paid $12K/year) through this three year time period, his purpose never waivered, he just realized he had to change the methods to making the change plausible. You too will adjust as you make your way toward your dream. You will come to realize that the initial approach you began with is no longer serving the purpose you had hoped it would, and so you will tweak your method. So long as you trust your vision, how you change it won't matter or that you changed it, what will matter is that you remained laser focused on why you are making the changes. The word "bills" is not one we enjoy seeing unless we are the ones being paid, but the truth is that whether we pay with our time, our tenacity, or our money, when we invest wisely with clarity of purpose, the dream will be realized in its own time. Hang in there and you too, like Caroline Wozniacki will find yourself in disbelief, but at the same time reassured, that your journey, your effort and your sincere desire was right on track and on time. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Give Yourself Permission to Be Awkward, episode #185
~How to Build a Life for Ladybugs: Choosing Hope Over Fear, episode #154
~The Love Gap: A Radical Plan to Win in Life and Love by Jenna Birch
Sponsor of this week’s episode: Lifesum
~Visit the Top Ranked Health & Fitness app and receive 30% off the Premium Membership. ~Visit lifesum.com/simple
Mon, 29 January 2018
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #193
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube
"Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be." —Shonda Rhimes
In order to feel good in one's skin (or to feel well in one's skin as the French state it, bien dans sa peau), we first must know what skin we are inhabiting. However, it is not about what we see on the surface, but rather what talents, curiosities and passions are within us waiting to be discovered. I clarify this distinction because the other day someone made the common statement about finding ease within oneself, and they described it as "becoming comfortable in one's skin". I immediately responded and shared that at least for me, it doesn't feel so much as a "trying to make something feel better", but rather an exploration of what and who I truly have the potential to become, what I truly value, what I innately am capable of, etc. And so it has instead been a journey of discovering "what my skin was" so to speak. The journey of discovery for each of us will have different lengths, different shedding of exterior skins placed upon us and even skins we placed upon ourselves as we believed we weren't enough just as we are. When I came across Shonda Rhimes' quote, it spoke to me immediately. Here is a woman who has built her own production company inspired by her passion to write, to tell stories. Who, as a self-described introvert, shares in her book Year of Yes how she transformed her life by stepping into it and enabling herself to be her own person. In her commencement address to the graduates of Dartmouth in 2014 she shared a speech titled "Dreams are for Losers", and she nailed it. She shares many anecdotes but her revelation about initially dreaming of being a Nobel Prize winning author ... Toni Morrison ... to be more precise, is a point that caught my attention. As she points out, Toni Morrison already had that job, and Shonda had to be who she was and was meant to be. Funny enough, Rhimes eventually had the opportunity to have dinner with Morrison. And do you know what Morrison wanted to talk to Rhimes about? Grey's Anatomy. Case in point, your journey is unique, so just keep striving forward and stop dreaming. Just do. The bigger question is how. How do we each become who we were meant to be?
1. Step away from your life
Often it can be difficult to give a true and helpful life assessment while we're in the middle of living it. Sonif it is possible, step away from the daily routine, step away even from the town you live in for a short duration - a weekend, but better yet a week, and if at all possible a good month (hello, a grand vacation!). I do often find that I am able to assess my life more fairly when I go on vacation. I come back with a clear perspective of what is a priority and what is not, the worries that I can let go of and what changes I need to make, as well as the relationships that matter and the ones that just don't. When we step away, we also step away from the people we hear on a regular basis telling us what they think and perhaps what we should think, and therefore, we begin to think on our own. Better yet, if you are in a foreign country and the language is not your own, you can't be influenced by what anyone is saying because you do not know what they are saying. In all sincerity, in order to clear the outside influences, even your own assumed preferences, step away and outside of your daily life and just be with yourself. Journaling out your thoughts is also something I have found that helps me make sense of what I am feeling. Not that I will find an answer, but I will have to think through what is going through my mind because I have to write it on the page.
2. Allow yourself to feel the fear and do not run from it
I can remember vividly when I went to France for the first time as a 20-year-old college junior. I was to be there for a month. It would be the first time in a foreign country in which I didn't know the language well (if at all), and my first time traveling by myself beyond just a day or weekend trip. I was ecstatic. I had been dreaming about this experience for months. Upon my arrival, once the jet lag wore off, I experienced emotions I had never experienced, and it was uncomfortable to say the least. Little did I know was that I was growing, I was stretching. And part of the reason it brought tears to my eyes during my calls home (of which were few as it was a different day and age) was because it was seemingly painful. Well, it seemed painful in the moment, but it was simply new and simply put, full of unknowns. I have shared before that sometime during that trip, even though I was extremely delighted to come home, upon reflection, I realize I was broken open. And I am so thankful I was.
3. Shed the layers
As I was watching an interview with Sharon Stone recently on CBS Sunday Morning, she shared an observation that hit home for me: Women of a certain generation (alluding to her own - the Baby Boomer and before her) were raised to be accommodating. And finally I understood why I was so perplexed by my parents' relationship and how their approach never felt right for me. While my mom and dad are the only two people who can say and know whether they are happy or not, for me, a young girl who was raised to do her best in sports and extracurriculars as well as school, there was a reason relationships didn't last long for me because the accommodating (which was the only model I had witnessed in my childhood) limited what I knew I was capable of as an individual, let alone in a relationship. Yes, it took me over 30 years to understand that this layer was one I needed to shed, but it's gone finally, and I can breathe much deeper now as I am aware of what values a partnership needs to embody for me to step into a commitment. Now this is just one example of a layer that needs to be shed, but there are many more. Upon closer examination we can identify them, but they are easy to miss if we just go about our lives as we are expected. As a woman here are a few more that have come to my attention: that I must be covetous, desired and sexually appealing, that I am supposed to have children because women supposedly are innately nurturing (please read this study by the American Psychology Association on the realities of how society conditions both men and women) and that career paths are better suited for certain genders. All of these and so many more are myths and layers that need to be shed so that your true and brightest light can shine, offering the world what only you can innately give. (Much more is shared in the podcast on this point. I would encourage you to listen if this issue caught your attention.)
4. Follow your curiosity
In many ways, our curiosity is our Linus blanket. In other words our security, our foundation that we can trust when it comes to knowing where to take our lives. As I shared last year in a post about our unique journeys and knowing how to navigate them successfully,
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” —Joseph Campbell
We cannot know what hasn't been written. We write our journey to become who we are truly capable of becoming by trusting our inner compass, by trusting our curiosity. So follow the simple, yet significant wonders of your heart. Be brave enough to step out and try something grand that no one else you know as attempted. For when you do, you gain information about where to go next, and that is part of the journey toward yourself.
5. Read, experience, observe
I recently read an article encouraging more reading as an everyday habit. Speaking about Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, one quote that was shared was stated by Charlie Munger - self-made billionaire & Warren Buffett’s longtime business partner, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time — none. Zero” and he has a point. With regards to being wise in life, but also being wise about who we can become, we need to keep learning through the books we read, the theater we enjoy, the travels we take. Information surrounds us offering guideposts as to where to go next and what we are capable of achieving. We just have to be brave enough to say there is so much more to learn in life and each of us is only getting started.
6. Attain the skills necessary
Susan Hermann Loomis shared in episode #192 the reason she went to cooking school in France was that she wanted to learn from the best. If she was going to do something, she was going to do it right and well, thus France or Japan came to mind, and France was her choice.
7. Follow Shonda Rhimes' advice: Just keep moving forward
With each step forward, as we follow our curiosities, as we do what we have to do, as we let go of what no longer is serving us, we bring ourselves ever closer to where we are meant to be. Let go of the desire to have absolute control of your life and you will unlock the greatest gift of discovery: who you were truly meant to be. The world swirls around us, seemingly at breakneck speeds it can seem, but we are the constant in the whirlwind. When we ground ourselves in our truth and understanding of who we are and what we can offer to the world, we may bend every so slightly, but we will be strong enough to reach our destination even if we don't know where we are heading as we put one foot in front of the other. I too am stepping what feels like somewhat blindly forward. However, I am following what provokes my curiosity, I am following the creative ideas that pop up when I least expect it or can't explain to the outside world as to why they arrived. And with each step, with each book, with each experience, the exterior layers that are not me are being left behind and the journey is all the more enjoyable and my confidence gradually strengthens that I am traveling the right path. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Give Yourself Permission to Be Awkward, episode #185
~The Importance of Finding Contentment, episode #181
~How to Let Go of Self-Imposed Limitations, episode #186
~Remodelista, The Organized Home: Simple, Stylish Storage Ideas for All Over the House by Julie Carlson and Margot Guralnick
~Remodelista blog post worth reading . . . The Organized Pantry: 8 Rules for Decanting Dried Goods ~See how I put some of the ideas shared in the book to work in my kitchen: 9 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen, Improve Your Health & Help Out the Planet
Sponsor of this week’s episode: Lifesum
Mon, 18 December 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #188
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"But I love New Year's Day, because I can never get over the generosity of the fact that we all get a BRAND NEW YEAR, totally for FREE — with no dents, or dinks, or mistakes yet. It's the ultimate REFRESH button." —Elizabeth Gilbert
With 2018 just two weeks away, I am, as I am with each new years, inclined to be quite excited for a fresh start. No matter what the current year shared with me, surprised or delighted me with, the gift of a chance to improve is a priceless opportunity that only arrives once every 365 days. And so, I readily choose to seize it and apply what I have learned over the past 12 months and put it to practice, to improve upon who I reveal myself to be the previous year. As I look ahead to the new year with plans to finally get back to France since far too long ago (2013), I couldn't help but look to my collection of French living and culture books which I didn't fully realized is as plentiful as it turned out to be in my personal library (a sampling captured recently of many of my French themed books) for inspiration as to how to step forward into 2018. Below I've gathered 18 quotes of wisdom, insights and inspiration for beginning anew, renewed and brilliantly rested and ready to make 2018 the year we wish it to be.
You Know More Than You Realize
1."a quarter to a third of all English words come from French, and good thing; otherwise, learning this language would be even harder than it is." —William Alexander in Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me & Nearly Broke My Heart
Read Books Like You Need Them to Breathe
2. "France retains a reverence for the printed book. As independent bookstores crash and burn in the United States, the market here is healthier, largely thanks to government protections that treat the stores as national treasures . . . in France, booksellers —including Amazon —may not discount books more than 5 percent below the publisher's list price." —Elaine Sciolino in The Only Street in Paris: Life on the Rue des Martyrs
The Gift of a Balanced Life is a Beautiful Life to Savor
3. "So here is a trilogy: food/movement/know thyself. Again, these are important elements in my life and also in the lives of French women who don't get fat (and perhaps do not want or need facelifts)." —Mireille Guiliano in French Women Don't Get Facelifts: The Secret of Aging with Style & Attitude
Trust Your Journey, and As You Travel, Just Be Yourself
4. "'Seize the moment . . . pay attention to your life right now' . . . What I failed to see, sitting around the coffee table on those nights, was the possibility that I didn't have to keep looking for a family to belong to; I could create one of my own. I had conflated my deep need to belong to something bigger than myself with a more superficial need to fit in, to look and dress and act like others. But fitting in is not belonging. This seems so clear now, but at the time I didn't understand the difference. I was still floating between New York and Paris, at least in the sense that my identity was tied to both cities. I lived in New York and worked at a New Yorker's pace, but I couldn't let go of Paris —Paris, which had shaped me more deeply than college or even my Manhattan childhood. Returning to Paris felt as if I was reawakening some part of myself that had been asleep since I'd left." —Kate Betts in My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine
On Style: Mix It Up
5. "Forget the 'total look.' Frenchwomen love to mix and match. Pascale Camart, womenswear buying manager for the Galeries Lafayette, told me that having designer labels next to ordinary ones on the same floor was 'on purpose. The Frenchwoman likes to put different things together.' The Parisienne, she says, doesn't buy evening dresses. She sticks with basics and then finds the one distinctive jacket or scarf or top that will make the ensemble a knockout." —Harriet Welty Rochefort in Joie de Vivre: Secrets of Wining, Dining and Romancing Like the French
The Importance of Elevating the Everyday
6. " You don't go overboard, exhausting yourself over the holidays when you make every day an occasion for friendship and family, fun and celebration." —Jamie Cat Callan in Bonjour, Happiness: Secrets to Finding Your Joie de Vivre
Choose Quality in Your Food and in Your Life to Elevate the Experience
7. "Édith Piaf famously sang, Non, je ne regrette rien ('No, I regret nothing'). Although I have my share of regrets, using good chocolate to make a soufflé is never one of them." —David Lebovitz in L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home
Let Your Body Tell You What It Needs and Listen
8. "She knows exactly what she has 'a taste' for, and once she's had enough, that's it. She eats what she wants, when she wants it, until she is satisfied. Food is not a moral or emotional issue for her. She does not describe foods as good or bad; to her they are neutral, just food." —Carol Cottrill in The French Twist: Twelve Secrets of Decadent Dining and Natural Weight Management
The Essence of Real Beauty Goes Beyond the Surface
9. "Style without substance is unacceptable, largely because it's boring, one-dimensional. In France, it's inadmissible to provoke ennui. Real style is built upon a solid foundation of informed intelligence, quick wit, and an impressive panopoly of culture references. One must hold her own in a lively conversation. The essence of beauty is to continue educating oneself and constantly to learn something new. Simply put: these are the keys to eternal youth." Tish Jett in Forever Chic: Frenchwomen's Secrets for Timeless Beauty, Style and Substance
Keep Persevering to Create More 'Luck' in Your Life
10. "Persevering is often not simply a matter of working hard and refusing to quit; often, by trying again, failing again, and failing better, we inadvertently place ourselves in the way of luck. Yet another reason to keep on keeping on." —Karen Karbo in Julia Child Rules: Lessons on Savoring Life
Cooking Need Not Be Complicated & Thus an Necessary Element of Socializing Well in Everyday Life
11. "Yes, Parisians have more fun when they go out. But they're also ten times less likely to eat out. And in Paris, there's no ordering in —you cook. It's simple cooking, really: You can have five friends over, create a fast, delicious pasta with zucchini and mint. Or you just buy cheese, figs, wine and call it a night." — Garance Doré in Love, Style, Life
Opening Your World to Other Languages & Cultures Deepens Appreciation and Perspective
12. "Linguists call America 'the graveyard of languages' because of its singular ability to take in millions of immigrants and extinguish their native languages in a few generations. A study of thirty-five nations found that 'in no other country . . . did the rate of the mother tongue shift toward (English) monolingualism approach the radity of that found in the United States.' Immigrants to America lose languages quickly; natives of America fail to acquire them. Only 18 percent of American schoolchildren are enrolled in foreign language courses, while 94 percent of European high-school students are studying English." —Lauren Collins in When in French: Love in a Second Language
Incorporate the Arts into Your Life
13. "As often as you can, take an evening off and seek out the arts. Attend the ballet, visit an art show at your local coffee shop, go see an independent theatre, attend a symphony performance or a rock concern. These moments are often too few and far between, especially when family and work life seem to always come first. Indulging in the pleasure of the arts feels decadent and is a magnificent way to recharge your soul. Purchase your tickets in advance. Knowing that you are going to attend the ballet in three weeks gives you something delightful to look forward to." — Jennifer L. Scott in At Home with Madame Chic
Luck is Hard Earned
14. "In truth, her luck was not yet finished. Not even close. These two daring shipments were to make her one of the most famous women in Europe and her wine one of the most highly prized commodities of the nineteenth century. As Louis told her, it was a succes born out of 'your judicious manner of operating, your excellent wine, and the marvelous similarity of your ideas, which produced the most splendid unity and action and execution — we did it well, and I give a million thanks to the bounty of the divine Providence who saw fit to make me one of his instrument in your future well-being . . . certainly you merit all the glory possible after your misfortunes, your perseverance, and your obvious talents.'" —Tilar J. Mazzeo in The Widow Clicquot: The Story of a Champagne Empire and the Woman Who Ruled It
On What Is Worth Appreciating and Savoring
15. "The weight of history means that the French don't wipe the slate clean to make way for progress the way Americans do. Because of their centuries-old attachment to the land, restriction is their second nature, not expansion. The French have completely different ideas about what's public and what's private, and those ideas influence how they think about money, morality, eating, manners, conversation, and even political accountability. The French glorify what's elevated and grand, not what's common and accessible. They value form as much as content. And finally, they created many of their instituions to try to deal with the after-affects of two major wars. These factors don't add up to a neat picture that diametrically opposes French and Anglo-Americans. They just explain a lot about why the French think the way they do. Unless Americans recognize these differences, they will never understand the French." —Jean-Benoît Nadeau & Julie Barlow in Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France, but Not the French
Stop and Nourish Your Body & Mind Daily
16. "No matter how fraught our workload, we stop and have a proper meal. It helps us calm our brains and bodies, and we know we will work more efficiently afterward." —Mathilde Thomas in The French Beauty Solution: Time-Tested Secrets to Look and Feel Beautiful Inside and Out
The Importance of Quality Living for the Individual Living It, Not for Outward Applause
17. "Ambition—another virtue that becomes a vice when taken too seriously. Time is not money for the French. It's an ephemeral currency and should be spent doing the things that make life worth living. Remember, the French woman might have an acute sense of breveity of time and the immediacy of pleasure; that said, she also has a strong predilection to enjoy not only the finer things in life but the things that make life fine." —Debra Ollivier in What French Women Know: About Love, Sex and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind
Let Your Dreams Lead the Way and Never Stop Striving Forward
18. "Willa Carter believed that if you have a wish for something from a young age and you nourish it, if you continually make an effort to nurture this wish and stay connected to this dream, then you will live a fulfilled life. If you believe in something, it invests everything you do with meaning. Paris has always stayed with me, close to me, and I've continually felt nourished by it." —Kate Betts in My Paris Dream: An Education in Style, Slang, and Seduction in the Great City on the Seine At the core of living well is appreciating the value of now and tempering longings and future hopes so that we are soley living in the future. Our lives are indeed right now. Just for a moment, examine where you were in your life one year ago today, now five years ago, now 10. Could you have precisely known where you would be when looking toward the future as your younger self? The future is exciting, but as many of the sage words remind, it is often the simple, the patient and present that make life truly fulfilling. Thank you for stopping by, and remember to stop by next Monday when the Top Episodes of 2017 will be shared. A new episode will return on Monday January 1st with Francophile author Jamie Cat Callan (her new book Parisian Charm School: French Secrets for Cultivating Love, Joy and that Certain je ne sais quoi will be released on January 2, 2018) as well as an excited giveaway for listeners and readers (hint: it is something for your kitchen). ~Tune in to French-Living inspired posts/episodes from the Archives: ~#4: 10 Ways to Unearth Your Inner Francophile ~#23: The French Way: How to Create a Luxurious Everyday Life ~#32: The Francophile Style Guide: The 14 Essentials ~#96: Everyday Living in France - My Interview with Sharon Santoni ~#127: 20 Ways to Live Like a Parisienne ~#144: 20 Ways to Incorporate Your Love for the French Culture into Your Everyday ~#151: 10 Style Tips to Embrace the French Woman's Approach to Effortless Chic ~#155: 6 Life Lessons for Living Well from Julia Child ~#167: My Good Life in France: Author Janine Marsh ~#168: Everyday Living with Author & Blogger Sharon Santoni ~#169: Understanding the French Culture: My Interview with Géraldine Lepere of Comme une Française ~#182: David Leibovitz Talks About Making Paris His Home ~Check out the new addition to TSLL destination: The Simply Luxurious Kitchen. Have a look at the pilot episode below and learn more about this new venture into vodcasting in which we will focus on "Seasonal fare to elevate the everyday meal" here.
~Salmon en Papillote (Salmon in Paper) - view the entire recipe here
Sponsors for today’s episode:
Mon, 11 December 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #187
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
~The following episode/post is part of the year-long series Welcoming in the Quality in 2017, One Month at a Time. To view other monthly topics touching on all arenas of our lives from style to money to eating well, click here. Upon stepping off the plane at Heathrow last month and wandering into the Devon countryside for a week, I also drastically limited my access to American news. My focus was initially on successfully arriving at my destinations, not missing my train, exploring desired sites and soaking in all of the beauty of the landscape and the culture. While I did turn on the BBC from time to time out of curiosity of what Britain's culture was focused on and their observations as an outsider of American news, I did so for brief windows of time each morning and evening. Stepping out of my routine of regularly having news radio on in the background while working and scanning my social media, which prior to my trip contained a long list of news sources that I would frequently check out throughout the day happening without conscious intention initially, and going about my days with this new unconscious habit revealed a lightness about my day that I haven't experienced for some time. Due to this observation upon arriving back in the states, I set out to revamp how I took in the news. Now at this point in the post, some readers may be nodding their heads and going so far as to say, "I never read/watch/view the news. It's so depressing." And while, yes, it can be tempting to refrain from all sources of news and go about our days in our own bubble, I would advise that it would be dangerous to do so. As I have shared in 2012, staying abreast of current events is, at its core, crucial to being an informed citizen. And to toss away the power to be able to think critically is a foundational component of living well and creating a world for ourselves and around us now and in the future that we wish to live. In 2020, the United States will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment (women's suffrage), and to understand the struggle and suppression women fought to rise above should never be forgotten. Our voices are reflected in our vote and with such a powerful responsibility, we must stay informed. However, there is a healthy balance to be struck, and while I do need to stay abreast of the news for my teaching curriculum as well as for my own knowledge, I became determined to find a better way of staying informed without decreasing the quality of my life. In a study by the University of Sussex, researchers found that indeed viewing negative news has a negative effect on our well-being. However, as it is important to remain an informed citizen, how does one balance the two? The effect of negative news:
As mentioned above, I wrote a post regarding the benefits of staying abreast of the current events of the day, and the last reason is a point I want to break down and examine today: become an educated citizen. It can be tempting to ignore news all together. The positive effects on your mind, and lightness of being will be immediately felt as I discovered during my week long holiday in England. But, when we say no to all news, we also say no to progress, not only improving our own lives, but the lives of those we love, the lives of the generations which will come after us and the quality of life and the quality of the world and the environment of which we call home. There is a reason the founding fathers chose to organize a representative government rather than a direct democracy. They didn't trust the common man (or woman as it eventually became her right) to choose well when it came to elections. In other words, they didn't feel the public was educated enough on matters they would be making decisions. And while we should all have the right to vote as free and fair elections are the cornerstone of a democratic society, we wouldn't want ignorant voters to place a vote based on lack of understanding of how a particular system of government works. Below are a few reasons to not run away from the news all together:
So while yes, the peace I so deeply enjoyed while traveling was something I wanted to return home with, I also knew a balance needed to be struck, as there are many benefits: The Benefits of a Healthy Balance:
Each of us will make different changes, so it is important to understand ourselves and how/why we do welcome excessive news into our lives. With the first suggestion, we will drill down to the core of the shift that needs to be made and then follow with eight more ideas for striking a healthy balance that elevates the quality of your everyday without leaving you in the dark.
1.Become aware of the changes you wish to make and why
Come to understand the cue and why you respond the way you do. What is the reward you think you are going to receive? Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and author Charles Duhigg wrote The Power of Habit, and within the book he explains how habits occur and how to break them if they are not serving us well. It comes down to understanding the three part cycle: Cue, Reward, Routine (see the detailed graphic here). Part of why I turn on the radio, the news, or scan my social media to stay apprised of current events, is that it is part of my routine. Within in that routine, I am seeking a particular outcome. In other words, I am craving something that I think this habit will satisfy. Once I identified that I wanted to learn, and knowing that this routine is not procurring the outcome I actually desire, I can shift the routine. But first, I needed to understand the cue that shifted my attention to feeling the need to stay aware or learn something. Also, in some moments during the day (because he suggests looking at the time of day in which the habit takes place), it was merely to have background company while I worked. Understanding these three components is a significant step toward altering the habit that you've discovered, in this case watching, reading or hearing too much news. In the following steps we'll talk about how to create new habits that satiate the craving.
2. Understand the tactics and all the purposes of the news business
While yes, the news is meant to inform (find the who, what, when, where and the why), the networks/channels need to keep you watching as each station is funded by advertiser dollars (BBC and PBS being exceptions) and thus, need to keep your eyeballs on the television for as long as possible. Often the "why" is something that cannot be answered immediately; however, the anchors would like you to think they can find the answer: the answer will reveal itself with the next guest that will be chatting in the next segment, and that is one way to keep you tuned in.
3. Adjust the sites, channels you view
Either view a neutral news site or challenge yourself to view the opposing columnists, news sites, opinions and commentaries to better understand their argument. One assignment I give my rhetoric students each year is to read a columnist who leans to the left on political issues (domestic and international) for the first semester, followed by reading a columnist from the opposing side the second (have a look at the list here - I am always adding to and tweaking it). I too continue to read columnists from the left and right to better understand the issues at a level that is far deeper than the short talking points shared in headlines, comment sections, etc. Often, what I find is that I become a bit calmer after reading the opposition (credible source is a must) as the fear mongering has been reduced and I am able to better understand why the other side adheres to their ideology on a particular topic. Another site I would recommend you checking out to view multiple sides of issues is a source our school's librarian has shared with our staff: AllSides. As you will see, it is organized just as the name alludes: each column is placed on its respective place on the continuum, so you can have at your fingertips, multiple sources and opinions about a current event topic.
4. Welcome a deeper understanding of history into your reading repetoire
Part of the fear and angst that intensifies is due to a lack of knowledge of what has happened in the past. A deep understanding. The cause, the effect. It's one thing to memorize the dates of events, but its another to understand the catalyst that led to the event occurring and the outcome that followed. This takes time. This requires more than a viewing of a three minute segment on the news. Pick up a book on a topic that interests you that has parallels to the issues that matter to you and dive deep into the archives of history.
5. Adjust how you receive the news
Perhaps turning off the notifications on your phone is the first step toward change that will limit your stress. Then look to how you are receiving the news: social media or newspapers; radio or television? Often we take in news without being prepared to receive it. In other words, we are passive receivers of the news - we are letting the news come to us when it wants to arrive. Instead, choose to be an active receiver. Choose when and how you will receive the news of the day. I prefer the radio and the newspaper as I have more control as to when I am ready to learn what is going on in the world. I recently went through my Twitter account and unfollowed nearly 100 different people who were associated with news or world events that typically shared information that stressed me out to read. Now my feed contains primarily inspiring, trusted and less inflammatory sources of individuals. I also have chosen to receive a daily news email that arrives in my inbox each morning (rather than alerts), so that I can determine when I see the news and prepare myself for it, read it, and move forward with my day. Most major news sites have an email subscription service like this. Some even have daily podcast episodes: short and current - such as NPR's Up First app (10 minute rundown each weekday morning with the Morning Edition team). The Daily Skimm is another great news source to receive the headlines of the day upon waking up to start your day. Another idea that will also tickle your interest of other cultures is to read the news through the lense of another country. Part of the reason I enjoyed the news a bit more in England was the distance and perspective an outsider gave to the perceived pressing issues of the United States.
6. Set a time limit
One show I thoroughly enjoy each week is Sunday's Weekend Edition on NPR: the puzzle with Will Shortz, the music and book interviews, as well as a glance at world and domestic news and politics. Also, CBS's Sunday Morning with Jane Pauley. However, once I've heard or viewed them, the radio and television goes off and I enjoy my leisurely or project-driven day to do as I please without rachetting up the worry.
7. Satiate your need for learning with other non-news sources
As I mentioned at the top of the post, part of the reason I sought out the news was to continue my learning, but as I knew but didn't apply, there are many other ways and sources to garner knowledge. Perhaps you have a list of blogs you read each morning or once a week, or maybe you view a particular show or public television program that tickles your fancy for travel or history or antiques or art or the list could go on for some time which means there is a wealth of ways we can welcome knowledge into our lives. Carve out time for these activities as they are a healthy choice for living well and staying informed.
8. Take action
Often part of the reason the abundance of news we receive overwhelms us is that we feel helpless. And while we may not be a politician or an individual who holds a seat in government at the moment, why not do something that supports the cause or causes you believe in. Begin by donating or volunteering your time, but in all sincerity, why not consider running for an office locally? Or if you are someone who prefers to stay behind the scenes, investigate who is running for offices in your local community, state or your state's federally elected senate and representative seats and see how you can support them.
9. Find alternatives to replace previous news viewing/listening/reading moments
Classical music, walking, reading a different section of the newspaper, reading deeper more investigative articles rather than viewing snippets on the news, all of these are ideas I incorporate into my life and now I have added a few more. I recently shared on Instagram Stories that I found the app I have been looking for for months: WRTI, a classical and jazz music station based in Philadelphia (an NPR affiliate). The primary reason I am most a fan of this app is that it has an alarm clock to enable me to wake up to classical music rather than the news radio app I used to use or a beeping sound (it also has a sleep timer). I tend to listen to classic music in the morning and jazz during my work day. If you have found alternatives that are working for you, please do share, as each of us will design the balance of staying informed and reducing stress thereby elevating the overall quality of our lives in our own unique way, and the more ideas, the more options to see what might work best. While my shift is fairly recent and I will continue to share my progress and the changes I observe, I have already noticed a return (or maintenance) of the lightness I so enjoyed while exploring and relaxing in the English countryside. I am certain we all can strike the right balance so long as we know how. And in so doing, continuing to fine tune the dial, we will find the precise spot that works best for us individually. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment (episode #93)
My Paris Kitchen: Recipes and Stories by David Lebovitz
~read this post by David of the process of My Paris Kitchen finally coming to publication ~Listen to my interview with David Leibovitz (episode #182) about his recent book L'Appart in which the purchase and renovation of his now Paris apartment which took place while he was trying to write and publish My Paris Kitchen.
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Image: TSLL Instagram
Mon, 27 November 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #185
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
By default we choose comfort over a better life, but we don’t think that is what we’re doing. We think we are choosing the better life. Why? We don’t know what or how the “better life” will unfold, but we do at least know what is somewhat okay.
For example, we may have gathered up the gumption to let go of a partner because the person we were becoming or the life that was evolving was shrinking or limiting or unhealthy in a myriad of ways, but after a few weeks or months or maybe even a few years, we think, well, at least I know how it will unfold. At least I know.
Another example is the job that doesn’t excite us, but it pays decently or enough and at least we know we have a job; we have a rhythm, even if that rhythm includes complaining more than we are cheering.
Yet another, our weight is not what we know it should or could be, but we are comfortable with our daily eating and exercise habits. We like the food we are eating, and yes, the food we eat brings comfort, even if we know it doesn’t bring us the best health for our body and mind.
Let me share two more examples: the location on this planet we call home. Yes, we can make wherever we are home, but maybe it is too much or too little. Too unkempt or too parochial. Too noisy or unstimulating. But, we think to ourselves, at least we know how the days will unfold, who we will run into in the streets, how to drive on the left or right side of the road, how much are property taxes will be each month or how much our rent will be from month to month.
Lastly, our attitude. The words we utter, the thoughts we allow to pop up unsupervised often become a default, and because we know how to navigate in our world with these thoughts, we keep allowing them to have their way. Even if we know we may be a bit too snarky, sarcastic, cynical or negative about the likelihood of unknowns, at least we won’t be made a fool. At least those around us know what to expect, and we know what to expect of their reaction.
Since it is the holiday season, I would like to say, and feel free to join me in doing so, bah humbug! Bah humbug to each of these comforts and most certainly more that I could share that limit us, that stand in the way of living a better life that allows us to experience reaching our fullest potential.
How can we step out of the comfort zone of each of these? By giving ourselves permission to feel awkward.
As many of you know who virtually came along with me on my weeklong trip to England either via Instagram, Facebook or here on the blog, the trip was full of beautiful experiences. And many of these experiences were opportunities to feel awkward.
Never before had I rented a car in a foreign country, let alone drove on the left side of the road and in the car. Never before had I traveled internationally during the holiday season, never before had I ventured outside of the metropolis of London.
Now for those of you who may have had the opportunity to do any or all of these opportunities, they may seem simple, easy, and/or nothing to stress one’s self about. But to others who have never done them, the response may be quite different. Why? Because we see the comfortable life, the good life, the better life, through our own experience.
Some readers who have always wanted to get out of the city and explore the countryside may be daunted by the idea of having to drive in a foreign country in order to spend time in a lovely rustic cottage, or others may dismiss international travel at all, but the truth is, if the only reason you don’t do what you wish to do, long to do, is because it will be uncomfortable and full of unknowns, most likely putting you in a position to feel and appear very awkward, that is actually the sign you need to see. Because that is precisely the new venture that will open your world up and reveal to you a better and more amazing way of life that you couldn’t have imagined if you only kept dreaming.
While my experiences in England are timely for me and with the fresh feeling of feeling awkward (I drove quite slow on the narrow, beautiful country farm-lined roads), this is just one example of how giving yourself permission to feel awkward is the right choice.
Let’s go back to the list of examples I talked about at the top of the post.
Relationships. If you are used to being in a relationship, having a partner, and after months or years of being together, you are no longer in each others’ lives, for some it will be awkward to be alone. I would argue for most of us it will be awkward depending upon how long we’ve been with our partner. But again, allow yourself to feel the awkwardness. Revel in it, dance it, laugh about it, journal about it and then step into it and eventually you will step through it. After time passes, you will look back on your old journal entries, recognize the discomfort you were feeling, but also see that such feelings, while natural, were simply part of the process of growing, of expanding into the life you wanted to live, were capable of living, even though there were many unknowns in front of you.
Yes, it would have been easy for me to say, nope, I cannot go to England, stay in the dream country cottage I discovered (more on the details of this cottage on December 15) during the holidays because it isn’t fair to leave my dogs with a dog sitter, who travels alone on the holidays and I don’t want to worry about driving as the English. But instead I said yes. I said yes, and as someone who does know the experience of things not going as we might have hoped, I was truly fortunate for my plans to unfold beautifully and even exceed my expectations.
And that is the gift of giving yourself permission to feel awkward: you discover how beautiful the world can be in reality and not just in your dreams, you discover strengths and preferences you may not have been sure about regarding yourself, you begin to trust people and the world again (or at least a little bit more after considerable vetting – doing your homework truly does pay off), and you build a deeper appreciation for life and the clarity of the life you want to build.
So whether you are allowing yourself to feel awkward trying a new sport, taking a more challenging fitness class, stepping into a new career, meeting a new person or trying to become more comfortable with your own company, know that feeling awkward as you begin the journey is a brilliant sign that you doing exactly what you should.
~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
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Mon, 13 November 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #183
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
The arrival of the holiday issue of The English Home in my mailbox brought a larger smile to my face than previous years. As I flipped through the pages of recommendations by the editors of special holiday events in which to partake in London and around the city (Liberty London holiday windows, visiting the Borough Market, and strolling down Regent's street), I immediately began to add the ideas that caught my eye and interest to my itinerary. After five years since my last visit to England, TSLL will be returning for the kick-off of the holiday season, and to say I am excited to do so in and around London is to only express a morsel of my eagerness to arrive in the land of Jane Austen. As such, I am fine-tuning my preparation for international travel. Five years ago I shared a three-part series on International Travel which is also included in TSLL's first book with further details not included on the blog. With each trip I have since taken requiring a passport, my travel experience deepens and prompts me to want to share what I have discovered.
1. Check Visa requirements and Renew Passport, if necessary
A simple check on this U.S. government website will confirm whether or not you need a Visa or merely your passport to travel to the international country on your itinerary. For example, if traveling to Australia from the U.S., you will need a Visa. A U.S. passport is valid for 10 years (five years for children under 16) and the renewal fee for an adult passport book is $110 (an additional $30 for a passport card). On the website, it states that renewals take between 4-6 weeks, but to be safe, do it at least three months in advance.
2. Apply for a TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry
One of the best $85 I spent was going through the process to receive my Known Travel Number (KTN). In fewer than five minutes in any U.S. airport, I was moved through security without having to take my shoes off or empty my bags. I do still have to run my carry-on through security, but I was able to remain clothed and not take out all of my personal items. The ease set the tone for the trip that was pleasurable and less harried. Remember to renew within five years. Now for international travelers, the TSA Pre-Check works for our departures, but once we are abroad, we will have to go through international airport security unless we have a Global Entry number. While not all countries are a part of the Global Entry program (check here to see which are), there are certain travel frequency requirements to meet in order to obtain this status. The cost is $100 (also must be renewed every five years).
~the red smiley face was the note to the TSA security check that I was TSA Pre-Check, and I moved swiftly through the security line~
3. Reach out to your financial institutions (credit card and checking) to alert them of your travel destinations Once you know which credit or debit cards you will be taking on your travels, call your bank to let them know where you will be traveling abroad and during which dates. Why? If you have a bank that keeps careful track of where you spend your money as to alert you to any fraudulent purchases, they could prevent your card from being used while you are in a destination you normally aren't. Simply let them know, and you will be set.
4. Pack the proper adapters and converters
In my first post regarding international travel, I recommended a brand of adapters that while they worked, I found them to be too flimsy after using them a couple of times and often they didn’t stay in the socket (the post has since been updated). So the hunt began for a new brand which I found and am happy to report is affordable and offers very sturdy adapters. Made by Ceptics and offering adapters for nearly any country you may be traveling to, I paid $7 for three adapters fit for the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Check this post out for converters and for what purpose you will need them (most laptops convert automatically) - scroll down to #4.
5. Purchase necessary sleep aids to alleviate jet lag as much as possible
I have yet to not experience jet lag in some capacity. And even when I am convinced I am not experiencing it at the time, inevitably, upon reflection, I was. However, taking an over-the-counter sleep aid isn't a bad idea to try to sync your body on the plane sooner rather than later. Bring a sleep mask, and perhaps even change into pajamas if your flight is extra long.
6. Educate yourself about the culture
If you've never traveled to your destination, do your homework. Come to understand the customs and expectations, and if the country speaks a different language, learn the basic greetings (hello, thank you - see a more detailed list here - check out #7 on the list).
7. Check the driving license requirements
If you are planning on renting a vehicle, check to see if the country you will be driving in requires an international driving license. Some countries simply need your driver's license from the country you are from, but others are more particular. Rick Steve's writes about driving in Europe here and here is a link to AAA which will issue you an IDP for $20 (good for one year).
8. Purchase transportation passesd in advance
If when you arrive you will be using the local transportation (subway, metro, tube, bus, etc.), consider purchasing in advance (if available), the necessary transportation passes. For example, London makes available in advance of your arrival their Oyster card for visitors, as well as offering discounts on the fare prices. I particularly like knowing my transporation from the airport and for the first day is taken care of as due to the lengthy travel itinerary, I am quite exhausted and merely want to arrive at my accommodations and settle in without more stress of the unknowns.
9. Pack a neat and well-stocked travel tote for toiletries
The 3.3 ounce rule applies to liquids and lotions if you are taking your travel tote in your carry-on, so pack thoughtfully. I just found these TSA approved squeezable liquid containers on Amazon which come with pre-made labels. If you are bringing your travel tote full of toiletries and/or make-up, finding the perfect sized tote is the goal. It has taken me some time to find this item. Having gone through a rolled up cloth and mesh version and a plastic version just to name a few, I finally found a leather travel tote with a couple of different compartments and zipper pouches that fit the exact size I needed. (View my list of items for a travel tote here.) This striped toiletry tote also caught my eye.
10. Invest in sturdy and secure luggage
After going through at least three suitcases in which the handle would either be ripped off, the zipper broken or the collapsible handle becoming extremely loose, I realized I should have taken my own advice and applied it to travel luggage: invest in quality. Rimowa and Tumi are two top well-known and trusted brands making their luggage available in sturdy aluminum. I happend on a great deal last spring and purchased my Tumi at a fraction of the full-price from Neiman Marcus. Save up, and purchase what you can afford and you won't have to waste money on buying multiple pieces that don't do their job.
11. Reserve your taxis before you leave
If you will need a taxi to and from the airport as you leave your home, as well as when you arrive at your destination, make the reservations ahead of time. Peace of mind and not having to pull your luggage through the local transportation is a simple investment if you have more than a carry-on. As well, when you hop (okay, who am I kidding, after a transcontinental flight, it is more like lumbering) off the plane, seeing your name on a piece of paper with your driver waiting to take you to your accommodations with a nice soft bed is a welcome sight.
12. Prep your home
Depending upon the season and weather, tend to details of home care and home-sitting if necessary. As well, alert your mail carrier and newspaper delivery to be held or speak with a trusted neighbor to enjoy the newspaper while you are traveling.
13. Pack your carry-on
Whether you are taking an item of luggage with you as a carry-on or not, you will want to stock your travel tote that will be traveling with you on-board with the necessities. Below is a list of items to consider:
14. Confirm accommodations
Make sure you have the proper addresses, arrival times are clear, and the hotels, vacation rentals, know when you will be arriving if at a unique time.
15. Confirm Online Check-In for Flight 24-hours before departure
Most airlines allow you to check-in online from your phone/computer 24-hours in advance to expedite check-in should you just have a carry-on. Other airlines also allow you to choose your seating for free at this time as well such as British Airways.
16. Download helpful apps
From an app to help you find free wi-fi at many international airports around the world (only $1.99 - WiFox), to transportation apps for your city, as well as Uber and the airlines you will be traveling on so there will be no need for a paper ticket, download the necessary apps before you wake up early and head to the airport.
17. Now take a deep breath
You are able and ready to relax, open your mind to the many experiences that await you and enjoy your trip. If you'd like to see exactly where I am going and what I am enjoying while I’m England, be sure to follow along on Instagram (@thesimplyluxuriouslife) or search #tsllengland on Instagram. ~VIEW SIMILAR TSLL POSTS ON TRAVEL HERE
~Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Deux (what to pack)
~Why Not . . . Travel Internationally? Part Trois (how enjoy your visit to the fullest)
~click here for the recipe
This episode was sponsored by the following:
Mon, 30 October 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #181
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“There is no end of craving. Hence contentment alone is the best way to happiness. Therefore, acquire contentment.” —Swami Sivananda
Recently I overheard someone describe their weekend as boring, using the descriptor in a negative tone (remember this post on my thoughts about being boring?). Being someone who revels in what outsiders consider boring behavior such as reveling in the responsibilities of the tasks I have chosen for my life (doggie mama, tender to my sanctuary, chef of my appetite, etc.), I inquired as to what she did. Without going into specific details, it was a weekend at home without demands on their time, permitting them to mosey about and just have free range to do as they pleased. As many of you may be, I was smiling, as such a weekend sounded glorious. Our everydays, our stay-at-home weekends make up the majority of our lives. The underlying premise of living simply luxuriously is making our everydays extraordinary. Now that doesn't mean, everyday will be a celebration of momentous successes, grand good news or unexpected bonuses, but rather we appreciate the simple moments that we have constructed into our everyday routines. As Sivananada shares above, the cravings will always try to place themselves at the forefront of our minds. We are inundated with marketers, even fellow friends and family, but our culture as well, which ever nudges us to do more, be more, see more, acquire more. So long as we can recognize the bombardment and not fall prey to it, we will open the door to observing how magnificent contentment can be. And the magnificent realization is that contentment can be found in every day we live. Thus happiness (my term of phrase - joy) can be found readily at our fingertips no matter how outstanding, or lack thereof, our lives look to the outside world. Where and how to seek contentment?
1.Develop a health routine you enjoy
From the exercise regimen you embark on throughout your week: is it a class with an instructor that soothes your mind or inspires you to sweat more than you could do on your own, a peaceful weekly kayak outing down the nearby river, a meditation routine each morning that sets the tone for the day; to your approach to eating: making grocery shopping an experience to dazzle your tastebuds, explore seasonal produce, try new recipes, cook with excitement and your food and those you share will feel and enjoy it more than you might imagine.
2. Say hello to nature
Feed the birds, stop and gaze about on your walk, stop and sit on a stump while outdoors and just close your eyes to soak up the sun, water an indoor plant, welcome an orchid into your home.
3. Create an end of the day winding down routine
Designing an evening routine is something you will not only look forward to as your day at work or outside of your home begins to unwind, but it will also ensure that something is within your control no matter how harried the day may have been. And if the day was spectacular, your beloved evening routine will be an additional bonus of goodness. Have a look at a glimpse of my evening routine here.
4. Design opportunities for experiences rather than time to buy more things
Whenever a day or even an afternoon presents itself in which a movie will be showing that I am eager to see, I plan the afternoon around that experience. Not only do I go see the movie, but I plan the before and after as a date with myself to just enjoy the outing all the more. Maybe afterwards I will bring a journal and head to a local coffee shop (if I go see a matinee), or enjoy a nice lunch before heading to the theater. Recently, when I was visiting a good friend in Eugene, we went for a short walk when the rain abated and then sat down for tea with her neighbor and just caught up while the rain came down. Afterwards, I took out my book and just relaxed until it was time for the dinner party that had been prearranged. As you can see, create opportunities for experience, time to relax, time to engage and time to simply enjoy and let go of time.
5. Create and design a welcoming space
Upon walking into the door of my home, I am often greeted with fresh flowers, an abundance of light filling the dining room and living room and two bubbly pups excited that we have been reunited again. A dear friend of mine has curated a home in which upon walking into her cottage, one is greeted with a pair of high-backed tufted suede sofas engaged in conversation, a wood burning fireplace and a vast picture window that over looks the neighbhood. I gravitate immediately to that space with her company or on my own to just unwind. Whether you are able to curate your entire home or simply just a room of your own to always be welcoming, taking the effort to do so will offer priceless moments of appreciation in your everydays.
6. Do something to let your mind escape
From an easy reading book, an activity that is a habit which allows your mind to relax or even a nap, better yet, a moment of meditation, care for your mind because it becomes exhausted too.
7. Make progress on a project, no matter how minimal
Whether it is something as grand as completing a significant task to edge you ever closer to your goal, or just adding an idea to your journal to ensure you do not forget the aha moment that presented itself during your day, do something that keeps the flames of your dreams and hopes alive.
8. Express love
In some form or fashion, express love to someone, something, the world in general in a means you are capable and comfortable doing. Part of the reason I know living on my own for so long has been a breath of fresh air is because I do have the opportunity to express love to dogs, to make their lives happier and more enjoyable and see the glee on their faces when we go for a walk. As well, giving to your neighbors, sending an email to someone who danced across your mind and you wanted to say hello. No matter how seemingly small or large, exhale love and you will always be able to feel it around you. At the core of cultivating contentment is you and how you choose to go about your days with the choices you make, the attitude you bring to each moment and the flow your daily life takes no matter what the outside world may expect or desire from you. While we may want happiness, the truth is happiness is something outside of ourselves and it is the contentment that we build in our lives that provokes more and more moments of happiness to be savored. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Episode #93 — 15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment
Savory Roasted Filberts (aka Hazelnuts), the secret recipe
16 oz of shelled filberts 1/2 cup of soy sauce 2 cups of olive oil (enough to make a "soup" of filberts) Let marinate for 3-4 hours (overnight is even better). Preheat oven to 300 (anywhere between 275-325 - depending upon your oven) Remove from the marinade and place in a single layer the nuts on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
This episode is sponsored by:
~Mark your calendars Foodies & Francophiles! World renowned chef and top food blogger and cookbook author David Lebovitz is stopping by The Simple Sophisticate on Monday November 6th (episode #182) to talk about his new book: L’Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making Paris My Home. I am so excited I am pinching myself!!!
Mon, 9 October 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #178
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.” ― Joseph Campbell
Have you ever thought or uttered this statement, "If only there was someone's journey I could follow, model my life after, then I would be more at ease"? At ease with knowing which step to take when, why I was taking it and where it would lead. While a road map of where to go would be handy - a Google Map for Life, so to speak - I have come to realize I am thankful I do not have one. Why? Well, it isn't because I enjoy adrenaline rushes or the unknown necessarily. Rather it is an understanding I have come to realize that Joseph Campbell explains eloquently in the quote above: Each of our journeys is meant to be unique and while it may be oh so tempting to follow in step those who inspire us, to do so would be to eliminate what can only uniquely come forth from each of us. Don't get me wrong, it can be terrifying to understand such a truth, and to be honest, I know some will say "Not for me. I am going to do what I know and what those before me have done", but I also know many of you, like me, are willing to listen to our internal compass and even if we can't make sense of it, find the courage to step out onto our own trail and forge the path even if we're not quite sure where we will end up or when we will end up where we hope it will lead. Today I'd like to share with you six tips for preparing you for a successful journey that will be uniquely yours.
1. Take the time to get to know the navigator . . . that would be you
One of the first three-part series I wrote when the blog began was a list of benefits of getting to know yourself and how to do it. Ultimately, when you become accustomed to your own unique language, what your true temperament is, what makes your energy soar or sag, what tickles your curiosity and what deflates your hopes and ignites your fears as well as what you value versus what is simply nice, but unnecessary to live a most contented and fulfilling life, you become able to make decisions more readily without second-guessing yourself. You begin to recognize and trust your intuition and you begin to advocate for the direction you know you should head with more confidence.
2. Exercise the mind
The best way to be able to make connections with old and seemingly incompatible concepts is to continue to learn. Read up on history, read a biography, read about the new research findings on neuroscience or the best nutrition. Observe mind-provoking cartoons, challenge yourself with the daily crossword puzzle. Absorb from time to time seemingly unnecessary information because who knows, it may just be the missing piece to solving a problem down the road, or creating a new way of living well for you or those you love or the community at large.
3. Lighten Up
"Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer." —William S. Burroughs
Again and again I am reminded of the above quotes truth when I am trying to locate a solution or think of a particular idea that is escaping me. It is the relaxing of the mind, giving it room to move and be free, which enables it to find what I have been searching for. Even better, when I give my mind a task to work through, sometimes unconsciously, upon getting a good night's sleep, I will wake up in the morning with a fresh mind and often a fresh new idea.
4. Practice gratitude
"Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance." Eckhart Tolle
It initially seems counterintuitive: If you say you are grateful for what you have, why would you the universe interpret that as a person who needs or deserves or should be given more? But the best receiver of any gift is someone who knows how to truly appreciate it, and we demonstrate this truth by how we treat and appreciate the many fortunate opportunities, comforts, necessities, etc. we already have.
5. Focus on welcoming ease
“Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.” ~Deepak Chopra
A calm mind is a sound mind. If how you have been approaching life isn't working, circle back to what it is that is causing you to stumble. Perhaps it is a default response whether your words, your tone, the thoughts you convey and their connotation, or your physical response - your facial expressions, your body language, your actions, or perhaps it is something so simple, yet so powerful such as your jump to negativity and/or worry that hinders the forward positive progress that you seek. Choose to react differently and you will eventually see different results, sometimes immediately.
6. Always be an iota out of your comfort zone
"If we're growing, we're always going to be out of our comfort zone." —John Maxwell
Back in June I shared a post titled 7 More Signs You Are On the Right Track, and two of the signs were feeling challenged and feeling as though you were in limbo land and not sure of which way to go or if anything was going to work out as you had stepped out of what you knew and were attempting to arrive some place else. Brené Brown also points out in her new book that the most difficult part of the journey you need to be on, is the one that is yours and yours alone, is the in-between. The in-between where you've come from and where you're headed. The truth is the change you seek will require some courage, and stepping out of your comfort zone, if even only in slight increments, is the only way to grow to your fullest potential and seek the destination that is solely yours to inhabit. Choose to have the courage to arrive at this uniquely singular destination and enjoy the journey.
“If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be.” ― Joseph Campbell
~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Be the Hero of Your Own Story (episode #176)
~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life (episode #40)
This episode is sponsored by:
Mon, 2 October 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #177
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
“October knew, of course, that the action of turning a page, of ending a chapter or shutting a book, did not end the tale . . . " —Neil Gaiman
The journey of each of our lives meanders and sometimes jet-lines through seasons. As children we are in the spring of our youth, emerging, learning, exploring and stretching our wings to experience all that is unknown. During our summer we invest, we dive deep into life — what we love, whom we love — and beginning the process of reaching a far-off goal that will take time to achieve. The arrival of autumn is that time in which we hope our efforts, our discoveries, our risks, have paid off and what we want to see upon our arrival is a beautiful, bountiful harvest of goodness, of gifts, of joys, and even pleasures. A time to savor is what is desired, a time to take a deep breath and say to ourselves, 'It was worth it. It was all worth the uncertainty, the struggle and the hope without proof during certain moments'. With October's arrival yesterday, I found myself walking along a trail I haven't walked in quite some time. Early in the morning, the sun was only emerging and the aspens along the graveled path were all but brilliant cornflake yellow. They wiggled in the gentle breeze and the glimmers of sun that began to shine through the trees made each leaf glow like gold. The deciduous trees reach their glory in autumn and serve as a vision of what is possible when we choose to be patient, to be thoughtful, to be clear in our focus and present as well to appreciate when the moment comes to stop in awe as I did along my walk and just stand with smile spontaneous, reveling in the beauty. I find it quiet poetic that "deciduous" can be translated to mean "falling off at maturity". In order to ensure our harvest in life is bountiful, below are 10 ways of living during your spring and summer to incorporate into your everyday way of living.
1. Take Action: Daily, Regularly, Steadily
No matter how many exquisite, unique and praise-worthy seeds you hold in your hand, if you do not plant them, they cannot sprout and grow. The seeds are your dreams, planting them is you taking action, learning how to best care for them, and doing so each and every day, season and year. Keep focused on what you want to grow, even if you don't see the small incremental progress because it is underground or happening in such a minuscule manner, trust that so long as you are saving your money, learning your trade or whatever daily tasks must be tended to, every day you are inching ever closer to the bountiful harvest you seek.
The world in which each of us lives is ever-changing, and while it may be tempting to, once you've found a way of navigating life that works well, sit back and just relax, to do so stunts our growth. While our core being will not change, how we live within the world of which we do not have entire control is and forever will be. The best way to navigate it successfully is to be self-aware. In other words, come to learn how you are perceived within the world you reside. How do others respond and react to you? What is the reason for the reaction? Is it good or bad? Is what they perceive accurate? Can you improve, better clarify or improve ways of communication to exist more successfully? (listen to episode #143 in which self-awareness is the topic)
3. Nurture What You Want to Grow
If you want more kindness, be kind to known and unknown individuals. If you want intelligent compassion, continue to learn and along the way be compassionate to those learning as well or encourage them to learn gently. If you want love, give love in ways that are comfortable for you. If you want respect, be thoughtfully respectful and live in such a way that you are proud. We are the farmers who plant the seeds, and so we do have choices everyday that will determine what we will see materialize tomorrow. More division or more understanding? Clear, thoughtful communication or name-calling? We have that choice.
4. Confront the Obstacles
In order to grow, we cannot turn away from what scares us, what hurts us and what is holding us down from striving forward. What are you fearful of? Address it. Perhaps with a trained professional (counselor) so that you have the net of objective support if the fear is too much to initially face alone. Is a loss preventing you from striking out again toward what you so loved having in your life. Confront it, embrace your feelings and do not judge yourself. If you are someone who regularly becomes jealous, dive deep into where the insecurity comes from. Address it, heal it, so you can move forward. Because you can if you confront the obstacles.
5. Strike a Balance and Protect It Fiercely
Quality work begets quality outcomes. Do not be tricked into believing you have to be working 24/7 week after week, month after month. It's not true. Yes, you may want results now, but don't you want quality results that will last? I have a feeling you do, and in that case, always make time, daily or weekly, for you, for play, for relaxation, for exploration, for no work. Protect it fiercely by learning to say no, especially to yourself. By doing so you are investing in the quality product you wish to materialize when the journey comes to an end.
6. Select the Crop's Components Thoughtfully
Do you have weeds in your life? In other words, naysayers, complainers, squashers of thinking beyond the box? Let them go. Weeding in your crop is necessary because if you don't, you choke out or reduce the potential of what you want to grow. You only have so much energy in any given day. If people regularly exhaust you, stress you out to the point where your thoughts are constantly swirling around what they will say or do, stop and reassess why you are allowing them a place in your field of life.
7. Refrain from Multi-Tasking
Multi-tasking, as we've talked about before, promises what it cannot deliver. And upon letting it go you welcome more pleasure, more productivity and less stress. It's a win-win-win!
8. Observe Different Approaches to Living If An Aspect In Your Life Isn't Working
Is there something in your life that just isn't working? For example, have you not figured out how to successfully utilize technology in your life — you need it, but you look at your phone too much. Or maybe you can't figure out how to make time to exercise regularly. Seek out other individuals, other cultures, other anything to see what they do differently in any avenue in which you are finding isn't working in your life. When you travel for example, keep your eyes open as to how others live their everyday lives. There are so many approaches to living well, but the key is to know what you need to enable you to thrive. So long as you keep searching, what will work well for you will be discovered.
9. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude is a simple practice that aids us in recognizing how wealthy we actually are when it comes to living well. Food on the table, a warm house to enjoy the rainstorm that pounds on our windows while we sip a cup of tea, access to information and entertainment, choices beyond choices. If your schedule or daily routine has strayed away from keeping a gratitude journal or simply having time to sit and savor all that is going well in each day, perhaps usher it back into your life and you may just notice an improved quality in your thoughts and actions toward yourself and others as you go about your day.
10. Invest in Well-Being for Your Unique Self
Today's Petit Plaisir is an example of a small investment I made into my own well-being: knowledge about how to thrive as an introvert. For me this was a small, but powerful choice. The key for each of us is to continue to see our growth as a journey and to come to understand what enables us to be our best selves and reach our highest potential. The mission of this blog, TSLL, is to provide the tools that you need, have been searching for, and break them down so that you can apply them to your life as is best for you in your unique journey. Once you know how to nurture yourself well, you can do so for others and then the world at large. Because when we feel loved, when we feel understood and seen, most importantly by ourselves, we find a centering peace of mind that is the springboard to reach our dreams and savor a bountiful harvest. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Today's Sponsor for this week's episode is KIND Bars:
~Visit kindsnacks.com/tss to receive an exclusive free trial of their 10 bar variety pack and snack club (all you pay is shipping).
Mon, 25 September 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #176
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
" . . . bring women to the front of their own stories, and make them the hero of their own stories." —Reese Witherspoon at the 69th Primetime Emmy Awards
~Spoiler Alert: The ending of Hallie Meyers-Shyer's new film Home Again will be shared. The power of a Hollywood script which makes it to the silver screen as well as to the small screen better known as our television sets is unconsciously more powerful than most viewers realize, especially younger viewers unaware of the biases, exigence and purpose of the writers and creators as well as producers. Novels as well must be sold to a publishing house, and if the publishers do not believe they will be able to sell the plot to readers, the manuscript isn't accepted. In other words what determines the plots that will eventually be published, produced and brought to consumers is what will sell. But the obvious flip-side is we need to become savvier consumers of entertainment. The good news is producers will listen to noticeable shifts. For example, in 2016 movie ticket sales indicated that the largest growth in sales was taking place with Latino moviegoers, as a result (or possibly, due to) films began offering more diversity in their casting than in previous years. I share this example because when Reese Witherspoon accepted the Emmy with the ensemble for Big Little Lies last weekend (she starred and was an executive producer of all seven episodes), I had to give her credit. She lives what she desires to be brought to the forefront in Hollywood films and series: women being the heroes in their own stories. For example, she started her own production company Pacific Standard with Australian producer Bruna Papandrea (Wild & Gone Girl), branched out on her own with Hello Sunshine, a digital media company and is bringing to the screen a few titles you might recognize Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Something in the Water. And as I shared in episode #174 of the podcast in my review of Home Again, a film produced by Nancy Meyers and written and directed by her daughter Hallie Meyers-Shyer, it was the ending of the movie which again revealed that Reese is indeed serious about changing the default in Hollywood that is long over-due for a change. Home Again, as she describes it in a recent interview with The New York Times, isn't a romantic comedy, but rather a modern comedy. A comedy in which, in this case, a woman becomes the hero of her own story. She doesn't end up with a man who saves her from a supposed life that is empty without one, rather her character Alice Witherspoon chooses to divorce her husband (not because he cheated and not because he was abusive) because their ways of living life, of making the most of the one journey they have the opportunity to live had strayed into two completely different directions. The love, the fondness was there, but it had changed. Her character sets boundaries, enjoys herself, supports her daughters, chases her dreams and creates a life of everyday moments that she savors on her own terms, not Hollywood's (well, in this case, yes, technically it is Hollywood, but she is now a part of Hollywood and so is Meyers-Shyer and they are changing what the definition of a happy ending). Recently a good friend of mine who is nearing forty (as I am as well) shared that all was well in her life except the missing piece - a man. And having just stepping out of a relationship, that I can honestly say I wasn't looking for but was delighted to have been in, a good life is determined by one and only one person, the person living it. I continue to urge readers and listeners to fall in love with their lives, to cultivate a life you enjoy living regardless of your relationship status because whether you are in a relationship or not, your issues, the hiccups you haven't dealt with will continue to bubble up, the stresses you haven't figured out how to handle, will continue to exacerbate and hinder you ability to savor the everyday goodness and the relationship skills you still need to polish will continue to seek your attention until you heed them whether in a relationship with a lover or a friend. I am not saying being loved and sharing love isn't an extraordinary experience. It absolutely is, but believing that our hero is someone other than ourselves to assuage our conjured up emptiness is a lie that we have accepted (man or woman), and depending up the known or unknown perpetuators of this life story line (Hollywood, novels, parents, church, school, etc.) and need to relinquish. Because I wholeheartedly not only believe, but can say to know as truth, everyday can be truly breath-taking with or without a partner. And the key is to be the hero of your own story.
"Once we belong thoroughly to ourselves and believe throughly in ourselves, true belonging is ours." —Brené Brown, from Braving the Wilderness
I want to end with mentioning of Brené Brown's new book because her book is a reminder of what type of courage is needed to be the hero of our own story. Stepping away from the city or place of comfort that is not serving us and toward the wilderness is terrifying initially, but as we step away from seeking the approval of others and head in the direction of the wilderness, the "first step will take your breath away". And as writer, pastor, philanthropist and community leader Jen Hatmaker is quoted saying in the book, the loneliest steps are the in between, but if you "stay the course long enough to actually tunnel into the wilderness . . . you'll be shocked by how many people already live out there —thriving, dancing, creating, celebrating, belonging." Ultimately, if we can all just remember and live each day, who we are and what we can give to the world is our gift. "True belonging doesn't require you to change who you are; it requires you to be who you are."
~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY FROM THE ARCHIVES:
~Why Not . . . Be Brave? (episode #83)
~A Powerful Couple: Boundaries & Vulnerability (episode #126)
~Growth is a Choice: 11 Ways to Grow Up (episode #101)
~French melon, Charentais, with paper-thin slices of prosciutto, sprinkled with a dash of flaky sea salt.
~click here for more pictures and details about the melon and the recipe. ~The sponsor for today's episode was KIND Bars. Visit kindsnacks.com/tss to receive an exclusive free trial of their 10 bar variety pack and snack club (all you pay is shipping).
Image from the 69th annual Primetime Emmy Awards
Mon, 11 September 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #174
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
At the age of eleven, now U.S. Tennis Open Champion Sloane Stephens' mom was told by one of the directors at the tennis academy she was attending "that [she'd] be lucky if [she] was a Division II player and I got a scholarship". She didn't believe them. Her mom didn't believe them and now she is only the third woman (which includes the Williams sisters) to win the US Open in the past 15 years. Attaining quality, achieving quality isn't easy and it isn't given out for free. But when we choose to consciously select quality, the experience, the journey and then the outcomes rise in their awesomeness. I've been thinking a lot about quality over the past few weeks, and after years of curating a life built on a foundation of quality, habituating my routines that bring much joy and fulfillment, it has become easier to discern when non-quality events, people, items, etc. cross my path.
"Associate yourself with people of good quality, for it is better to be alone than in bad company." —Booker T. Washington
The benefits are many when we choose to welcome quality into our lives in all arenas of our life. Such benefits can be as grand as achieving one of the highest pinnacles in the tennis profession as Sloane Stephens or they can be as simple as keeping all of your fingers in tact. Let's take a look at twelve benefits of seeking out and selecting quality in all aspects of our daily life.
1. All fingers remain in tact
As I mentioned above, it only takes the use of an unsharpened or poor quality knife to appreciate a top-knotch slicing and dicing tool. As I shared in this post about the 15 Kitchen Tools to Cook Anything Like a Pro, a sharp, top quality knife is a must. Do not skimp and save on a knife for the sake of having a knife in your kitchen. Your fingers will thank you.
2. Priceless time is saved
Case in point, I give myself my own pedicure every couple of weeks. Using the nail polish remover from a quality brand, the polish is immediately removed. Having, while traveling, used a generic brand, the time it took to remove the polish was absurd. As I flip over the container to see what the main ingredients are, I discover that the ingredient at the top of list was water. Well, no wonder. I just used a product that was doing nearly the job that running my toenails under water would do - nothing. My experience is trivial compared to so many other purchases we make that appear to be saving us money, but in the long run waste our time and effectiveness. In this case, simply paying a few dollars more would have saved me time, wear and tear on my nails and limited my frustration. While not all generic brands are inferior, always check the label to see what the ingredients are to determine if you are indeed buying a similar product.
“There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply. The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey.” ― John Ruskin
3. Unnecessary stress is avoided
When we choose quality products for safety supplies, the vehicles we drive, the homes we live in, the neighborhoods we call home, the flight itineraries we travel, the stress decreases. While it may not entirely go away and while we need to make the best choices for the details of which we have control, we put much in our favor by choosing well and not skimping merely to save a dollar.
4. Deeper, more restful sleep is experienced
When we do what is best, when we refrain from doing what is merely easy, we give ourselves the ability to sleep more deeply. When our minds are not wrestling with unnecessary stress and worry, we sleep more deeply.
5. Experience the vast wonders of the world more deeply
When we seek out experiences of substance, people of substance and tools and knowledge to help us better understand beyond the surface level what is going on in the world, what went on in the world and what could go on in the world, we give ourselves the gift of deeper, more fulfilling experiences, memories and opportunities for self-growth and self-reflection.
6. Reach your full potential
We can settle for what is working okay, what is livable, what is just fine, but if we have a deep passion for something, if we can see something others cannot when it comes to possibilities, a quality of life that is possible requires us to not simply be satisfied with what others say is our limitation. We are actually the only limitation that stands in our way, and often when others tell us to stop, we use it as an excuse. We blame someone else for stopping us from achieving what we once thought we could. No. Remember Sloane Stephens and her mother, and if you believe you can do more, be more, ignore the limitation setters and keep on striving forward in order to see with your own eyes what you truly can become.
7. Deepen your trust in mankind
It has been my experience that when I bring into my life quality individuals, my trust in humanity deepens. I begin to see the amazing people who live and breathe in this world along with me and realize we are all, should we choose to be, full of love, dreams and goodness. It can seem simpler to choose to be cynical, protective and isolated after having experienced negative situations, but not all people wish to hurt. In fact, even those who have hurt are not bad people oftentimes. As Morrie Schwartz reminds, hurt people hurt people. Understanding this truth doesn't mean you should stay or surround yourself with hurt people who hurt you, but hopefully it will give you some understanding that it isn't about you and you need to walk away and surround yourself with one or two or three of the many amazingly loving, kind and trustworthy people who reside in our grand old world, thus improving the quality of your life.
8. The odds lean in your favor
Similarly when you choose to seek out quality and let go of the contrary, windows and then gradually doors begin to open in your favor. What you seek you find, often in ways you never could have planned, but if you believe there is good, if you trust that goodness abounds, you will find it, just as those who believe that people are not good and the world cannot be trusted will find it as well. So long as we have more people seeking the former, the goodness grows. Seek out goodness, be goodness and select a quality way of living modeling for others that such a way of life is indeed possible.
9. Optimal health
From the quality food we select, eating what is in season, reducing or eliminating processed foods, treating our bodies well, we amp up the healthy quotient in our lives and deepened the experiences we can have indoors, outdoors and everywhere in between.
"We eat every day, and if we do it in a way that doesn't recognize value, it's contributing to the destruction of our culture and of agriculture. But if it's done with a focus and care, it can be a wonderful thing. It changes the quality of your life." —Alice Waters
10. Elevate others around you
Related to #8, when we model living a life of quality, letting go of the negativity, hurtful ideologies, the isolationist mentality and nay-sayers, we reveal to those around us that choosing such a way of life, a life of optimism, hope, love and strength is indeed the means to living a most contented life. Sight is stronger than words, modeling is stronger than telling and when we have the courage to say no to what no longer feeds us, loves us, nurtures us, and step down a new path that we may not know how to travel well but that feels more accepting, more loving and more authentic and human, we will begin to see ourselves rise, our moods improve, our health improve, and thus the quality of our lives improve. That is inspiring to anyone paying attention, and that is what it takes to elevate those around you.
11. A mind available to be creative, loving and problem solving.
When we no longer are consumed with unnecessary worry if what we've paid for or invested in works or if the people we've chosen to welcome into our lives are trustworthy, we have a mind that is free to explore exciting new avenues. From being creative, to problem solving what may have seemed impossible to coming up with fun ways to spend time with your loved ones, our minds are in need of constant fuel to be energized, why drain it with what it doesn't need to process?
“The quality of your life is a function of the quality of the thinking you have done.” ― Pearl Zhu
12. Elevate the world you live in
Taking in the above 11 benefits, as our lives rise because our everydays become healthy, inspiring, and pointed in a direction that enables us to reach our full potential, those around us rise as well and ultimately, it can be a domino effect. None of us will probably ever know all of the people we can influence with our actions. Why not make the influence a positive one? One of selecting quality thoughts, behaviors, and people. Because when we reward what we desire and long for, we will begin to see more of it. However, if we spend more time dwelling on what we do not want, we actually give it more bandwidth that it deserves.
"Eventually everything connects - people, ideas, objects. The quality of the connections is the key to quality per se." —Charles Eames
Instead of dreading how long your life will be, why no focus on making sure that everyday day is one full of quality. For it is "the quality of life [that] is more important than life itself". Alexis Carrel certainly has a point. If we are living but not well, just enduring, protecting and hoping we don't get hurt, worrying about what might happen and not being present, appreciating all that is well, such a life is not much fun to live. And the catch really is, if someone has only know the latter life, they may have a hard time trusting the former is a possibility. But it is. It most absolutely is. And when they see someone model that fact, that is when they may just begin to make the positive changes of living a life of quality. Why not be the model they've been looking for? The model the world has been looking for? The model you need in your life today and as you move forward each and every day? ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~My review of The Intern (written & directed by Nancy Meyers), episode #63 https://youtu.be/y-oFOgFB2uM
Mon, 4 September 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #173
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
“To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be.” —Oprah Winfrey's mission statement
The first time I sat down to write my personal mission statement after reading Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it took some time. I was in my early twenties, and while I had what I thought was a very clear vision, when I had to put it on paper, concretely define my values, I realized this wasn't something I had done. Loosely I knew what I valued, but I had never examined why; however, upon tasking myself with the goal of completing a mission statement, I reread and reread what I wrote observing a succinct, pointed direction I was to travel. After about 10 years, I began to tweak and fine-tune even further what my personal mission statement, and when TSLL blog began in 2009, it wasn't long before I had a mission statement for it as well (see it below or here)
The Simply Luxurious Life is something I believe every one of us can attain if indeed we are seeking quality rather than quantity, sensibility rather than frivolity, personal style instead of trendy fashion and a truly fulfilling life instead of being led around by the nose, thereby creating a life of true contentment."
The benefit of having a personal as well as professional mission statement is a means to clarify your purpose for walking the path, traveling the journey, you are on. In last week's episode, in point #5, I shared a list of questions as a way to help ensure we know why we are doing what we are doing. When it comes to a mission statement, we are required to become aware of what we value and what we do not. Franklin-Covey has an online tool to help you clearly and quite specifically narrow down what you do and do not value. I encourage you to check it out as it will help you create a mission statement to guide you through your days, focus on what truly drives you through life and help you relinquish what is no longer serving you and ultimately society's way of leading you around by the nose. Another source of inspiration is Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project. Described as a Happiness Manifesto, the concept is similar, yet slightly different with regards to a personal mission statement. However the goal is to lead you to your true contentment which is exactly what creating your mission statement will do. How? By keeping you on the right track, assisting in making decisions by eliminating options that do not align with what you value, creating a vision and providing an anchor when change around you inevitably happens. Crafting my own personal mission statement is something I have just recently redone as a new stage feels like it is beginning. As I reflect on where I want to go, knowing how I arrived at where I am is helpful as well. So where do we begin? Begin simply. 1. Clarity about what you welcome into your life: What do you value? What do you not value? 2. Self-knowledge: When do you feel at your best? your worst? What are your strengths? What causes you pain? 3. Work: What aspects/tasks/responsibilities do you love? dislike? 4. Behavior: What behavior are you drawn to and most admire and appreciate in others? What behavior are you most proud of in yourself? 5. Dreams for the future: What do you hope your legacy will be? What is the biggest, most frequent dream you have about your life that refuses to leave your mind? 6. Well-Being: What physical, mental, social and spiritual activities renew, refresh and return you to your best? Key components:
One of the most significant take-aways for me when I began with the structure provided by Franklin-Covey, but then tweaked it after reading Gretchen Rubin's design was to be okay with not achieving everything. Why? What I realized was that much of what I wanted to achieve was because I thought I had to. In other words, there were some goals I was focused on that I wasn't passionate about but perhaps would be applauded by the outside world. One suggestion Rubin makes is to focus on what you do well and strengthen your talents rather than dilute the finite energy you have as you spread yourself thin to learn every skill you have the opportunity to acquire. One of the directives in my mission statement is included in Rubin's statement as well and states, "Do more of what I can do uniquely and less of what others can do." Ultimately, that is the power of a mission statement: It focuses your attention on what you can do well and enables you to reach your fullest potential and experience true contentment as you realize what you are capable of achieving. Find an afternoon at some point this week or weekend and partake in the process of creating your own mission statement. Initially it may be a struggle, but eventually, the clarity will arrive and you will be quickly writing down what you know to be true for you and you uniquely. Then write it out neatly after a few edits or days of contemplation and perhaps, if you're like me, laminate it and post it somewhere to be viewed regularly (mine is in my office pinned to my wall calendar). What you will have crafted is in written form your purpose. Should you forget, should life begin to whisk by too quickly, find a moment to catch your breath, read your mission statement and be reminded of what truly matters to you. In many ways our mission statement gives us permission to let go or to step in a direction that may not make sense to others at the time. But so long as you know why you are doing what you are doing, do what you need to do. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~Why Not . . . Discover Your Purpose? (3 part series)
~The French Chef in America: Julia Child's Second Act by Alex Prud'homme
~Image shared originally on TSLL's Instagram~
Mon, 28 August 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #172
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"For me, style is zee whole package: how you dress, talk, move and behave. It all goes together into that first-impression equation. It shouldn't be confused with chic; an extremely chic or well-dressed woman may have zero sense of style. Style is definitely more about who the person is inside. Confidence and individuality are two strong assets for developing your personal style. Can it be taught? To a certain extent, yes, but at the end of the day it has to do a lot with being bien dans sa peau, knowing thyself and having balance in one's life." —Mireille Guiliano, Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire
With a new season of clothing and a new season at work as we all return from rest and relaxation, some of us from travels, some of us simply from a lighter schedule or at least different one as we work with everyone else's change of schedules during the summer months. As is the case, the shift provides an opportunity to reassess, restructure, edit and start fresh or press restart. Mireille Guiliano is often a woman I look to for inspiration when it comes to living well and finding success in a career in equal proportion. In her book Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire, she speaks to the goal of attaining one's unique style and therefore presence as we go about our work days, meeting potential clients, customers or fellow colleagues. Inspired by the quote above, I created my own list of prepping for September as I too will be heading back into my teaching schedule and always am I re-examining how to refine my way of living to elevate the quality as summer ends and fall begins. So often summer provides an opportune time to reflect, recharge, reassess what is and isn't working and come to the end of August with ideas. Let's take a look at six ways to refine your Style:
1. Select and keep quality
As was discussed last Thursday with Helen Raptis on AM Northwest regarding curating a Capsule Wardrobe, when we welcome quality we save ourselves time and money in the long run as well as elevate our confidence as we have selected items that work best with our bodies and lifestyle. As well, selecting quality comes into play when we select our words, select the food we enjoy, select the people we welcome into our inner circle, select how we spend our free time. I will admit I need my television show GGTD on Bravo from time to time to unwind and just tune out, but I also have a news magazine to read, PBS saved as one of my favorite channels and a book offering knowledge I hadn't yet absorbed. Today, examine your life. Where is the quality and what is standing in its way? What feeds you in a way that lifts you up, reinvigorates you and cultivates enthusiasm to live and live well? Sometimes things, people, ways of thinking enter our mind over a period of time, months, etc. that as we contemplate them, do not serve us well. It's hard to notice at first because it's gradual, but over time, we can compare the before and after and recognize a decline in the quality of our energy, excitement, hope, health or anything that we wish to strengthen. Look where you feel depleted and ask why. Often the answer is to eliminate something that is no longer acting in a way that is elevating the quality of your life and unfortunately minimizing it.
2. Be honest about your body
As Mireille reminds in her book, nobody's body is perfect. Nobody's. But often we berate ourselves for not being what we hope we might look like. Find what you love about your physique. If you notice something you can improve that would enhance your health, create a plan and approach to make the changes you seek; otherwise and/or in the meantime, adorn your body so that you love what you wear and therefore you radiate a self-confidence that is inviting and engaging. Tweaking your capsule wardrobe closet will take time, but add one quality blouse that works with at least two other items you already have will give you two more outfits that make you look and feel your best. ~On Friday September 1st, TSLL Fall 2017 Shopping Guide will go live here on the blog.
3. Own your style and celebrate the uniqueness of others
As I shared in this post a few months ago, our signature style will continue to evolve. However, upon knowing and feeling confident in the style you have chosen for your body, lifestyle and personality, you can step into each morning with confidence and celebrate, rather than mimic or feel envious of others'. I admire Meghan Markle's style on USA's Suits. Her slim frame, just-below-the-knee pencil skirts and neatly tucked cashmere sweaters. And while I draw inspiration for ideas on what to pair with my signature style, I celebrate her physique and recognize I have a more muscular frame. The beauty of loving your own style is that you are more open and celebratory of others not only in what they wear, but what they do. We liberate ourselves from unnecessary loss of energy when we do not dwell on what we aren't but rather embrace what we are and what we know we can be as we look for inspiration.
4. Find time to be well
Your life requires healthy fuel in order for you to reach your optimal potential. Such healthy fuel comes in the form of a restful, deep night's sleep in a bed that beckons, cuddles and restores you; a mind that is given the tools to understand how to let go of what is not helpful; a day, each day, that is given time to breathe, moments to step away from expectations and catch your breathe, gather the proper perspective and return anew; exercise that excites, reduces stress and strengthens and cares for your body; ideas, art, information that broadens your mind and deepens your understanding of your role in it; and moments to engage with others in a way that is healthy, loving, playful and kind. As well, knowing what activities you can engage in that will reduce your stress when you find yourself overwhelmed is a tool to learn as there will be days when the unexpected happens.
5. Clarify your journey
Why are you doing what you are doing? Why are you living the way you are living? What do you hope to cultivate in your everydays and in your future by going about your precious 24 hours the way you do? Are you spending your money in a way that supports your goals? Are you spending time working on projects that are meaningful to you and align with the person you know you are? Even if you already have your goals set, take a moment and check in. Sometimes simply by seeing how we are progressing, we can be jumpstarted as we see how close we are to our goals.
6. Believe in a better tomorrow, savor today
No matter how wonderful or perhaps frustrating life may be right now, tomorrow has the potential to be beautifully bright. The key is how we approach our everydays. Have we cleared out the clutter and the weight that is holding us down, draining our energy and preventing us from being energized? If so, toss it and welcome the quality. What is our attitude? Do we need a mindset reboot? If so, seek out experts and books to help give you tools to reframe how you gaze at life.
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts we make the world.” —Dhammapada, by Thomas Byrom
Most importantly, is to recognize the beauty in the day you have right now. What is going well? Are you healthy? Are your loved ones healthy? As I type, Norman snores rhythmically and Oscar is snuggle by my side, the beautiful sky is calm with a hint of a breeze and there is food in the refrigerator. Maybe my heart is broken and maybe yours is too at this very moment, but there is so much to find goodness within if only we take time to look. Tomorrow will be better, but today can be quite sweet if we shift our perspective. How we approach our days is the determining factor in the quality of our everydays. I consider those who have figured out how go about their days in such a way, style masters. It doesn't mean life won't throw them a curveball, it doesn't mean their clothing choices won't change as they move through the decades, but it does mean they adapt, stay centered, remain positive and resilient understanding the tools that are needed to be honed and strengthened always at the ready to be used to enhance the quality of their lives. My wish for you is that September begins on a most solid and sound footing. A beginning that offers hope, excitement and a beautiful fresh breath of goodness to savor and multiple as you appreciate what you have and radiate that goodness to those around you. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
Recently while stopping into my local Trader Joe's, I picked up a bundle of Chamomile flowers (see below - bottom left of the image). I was delighted as I hadn't seen such a flower in the store before and found the subtle scent ideal for the summer home decor. For fewer than five dollars, I picked it up and have been enjoying the bouquet in my house for over 10 days now. And the goodness of the Chamomile just gets better. As many of you know, I enjoy a cup of black tea at the end of the day, and if I haven't enjoyed dessert, a dark chocolate truffle. However, I know that not everyone can tolerate caffeinated tea before bed, so I wanted to suggest Chamomile tea and the recipe to make your own at home. With either dried (2 tablespoons) or fresh (4 tablespoons), make tea as you normally would. As you will read in the article linked below for the recipe, while not all health benefits have been scientifically proven or confirmed in recent decades, these health benefits include aid in reducing an upset stomach, anxiety, and even a way of promoting sleep. ~recipe for Chamomile Tea (fresh or dried flowers) ~TSLL Audio Book is Now Available ~View and Listen to more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here.
Mon, 17 July 2017
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #164
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio
"With a healthy lifestyle, it's not at all unreasonable to expect ninety or one hundred exceptionally healthy years of life, years in which we will be of sound body, mind and spirit." —Dr. John D. Day, author of The Longevity Plan: 7 Life-Transforming Lessons from Ancient China
In Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, a man who lived from 1706-1790, in Part Two along with his well-known 13 virtues for a good life, he explains his approach to bringing order to his life (the 3rd virtue - "let all things have their place; let each part of your business have its time") with his daily routine written out by the hour. At the young age of twenty, Franklin was clear about a schedule that would enable him to eventually do all that we know he was able to achieve and accomplish, which was quite impressive. Benjamin Franklin's daily schedule:
Why exactly is a daily regular routine significant when it comes to the overall well-being of our lives? If anyone has observed the stability routines provide for children, students, pets and colleagues, one will acknowledge, so long as the routines are healthy, restorative, invigorating and based on sound reasons to benefit the individuals to reach their best potential, that routines are a simple solution to much of what we wish our lives to become: fulfilling, enjoyable, tranquil, and a foundation for moments of spontaneity from which we can springboard from occasionally, all the while knowing we can and will eventually come back to the routine that enabled us to be someone who can think outside the box, who can and feels comfortable taking a risk. From the routine I keep with my blog writing, to the routine I adhere to in my classroom, as well as with my dogs when I at home, the purpose is to gain more energy, to not deplete it in myself and in others unnecessarily, to cultivate an environment in which the unexpected wonderful ideas, experiences and conversations can blossom. Because when we need not worry about our fundamental survival needs, food, shelter, social connectedness, etc., we can then make our why to self-actualization (which I talk in great depth about in episode #25). While some dislike the idea of sticking to a routine, I will admit freely, there have been routines I loathed, either they didn't work with an approach to good health for my body and mind or I was being expected to do tasks, etc., that I didn't find meaning or purpose in. We will all have times in our lives, especially when we are younger or the newbie on the job in which the routine we are given is not the routine we want. The task we are given, or that we must give to ourselves is to ask the question and do the homework, what will work best for me to reach my full potential? Areas of your life to consider aligning into a daily routine: 1. Eating schedule Dr. John D. Day's new book The Longevity Plan describes in detail a diet (not a temporary, but long-term, forever approach to eating well) that will enable you to thrive into your 70s, 80s, 90s and beyond and obliterate the Western assumption that old age is a deterioration. Especially what we eat, but as well when we eat has a powerful effect on our overall health. In fact, he shares, "Erratic eating schedules have been shown to result in decreased metabolism, which can lead to long-term weight gain." 2. Sleep time
"Nobody in Bapan had an alarm clock. When we're hitting at least seven hours of sleep on a regular basis, and a regular schedule, something quite amazing happens: We get the exact amount of sleep our bodies need without having to be jarred awake by a buzzer before we're really ready." —Dr. John D. Day, The Longevity Plan
3. Create a life of motion Instead of punishing your body with the workout you think is intense enough you only need to do 3-4 times a week, Dr. Day recommends, based on observing the centenarians in The Longevity Village in Bapan, China, simply live a life of movement. Granted, many of our lives don't easily support this. If we work at a desk or behind the wheel, but even by adding a standing desk to your office or a walking treadmill, the job you have to do doesn't have to keep you sedentary. Again he reminds, our bodies were meant to move, not stay in one place five days a week. Consistency is key and doing what you love is the best way to make it a habit. So if you dread the spin class or the run you are determined to take each morning before work, don't do it. Do something you love, raise your heartbeat enough, but then keep your body in motion throughout the day: park further from the front door, take a stroll after dinner (something those in Bapan do nearly daily), or get outside for lunch. Create a routine of movement that keeps your body awake and entices you to stay active. 4. Productivity As witnessed in Franklin's schedule, having a clear objective is imperative to reaching the desired goal. After all, if we don't know what we want to achieve, how can we ever feel productive at the end of the day? I have found one of the few must-have ingredients in a day that I would need to experience in order to call it a good day would be a sense of achievement, progress, accomplishment or productivity. By no means do any one of these things need to be grand or even known or understood by outsiders, but if I put the task of write the introduction to chapter four as my objective, it not only gives me something to focus on, but when I do complete the task, I feel as though progress has been made. An essential component to being productive is to know what enables each of us to be our most productive selves, and create a routine that fosters productivity rather than making it difficult to find our rhythm. 5. Social lives Social lives are less likely to fall into a daily routine only because you are engaging with others who must adhere to a schedule that works best for them and there will be times, sometimes many, when it will shift. However, the key is to focus on your engagement, how you stay in touch, how much you stay in touch, how you keep your boundaries so you can continue to be productive and how you can support those you love to accommodate their needs (and they hopefully are doing the same for your needs) without sacrificing a quality way of living. 6. Our mind-set
"The way in which we choose to perceive and deal with stress is, after all, a tremendous market of biologic age. Studies show that those who embrace stress actually live 17 percent longer. In contrast, as measure