Tue, 5 September 2023
Prevention versus correction.
For a few decades now, or perhaps more than a few, stress management has been the term of phrase often used as we find a culture, and more specifically, ourselves nearing or reaching burn-out whether in our jobs or life in general, and while bringing healing and remedy to something in our lives that needs our attention for improvement is certainly valuable and a necessary skill to learn should we find ourselves in this state of fatigue and chronic stress, preventing such a state from ever being reached is a far more beneficial approach, and gives us much more enjoyment and yep, contentment for a far longer time throughout our life journey.
Similarly to stress management is time management, a term of phrase again that is used often but actually brings our attention to the wrong place. Living simply luxuriously is a drilling down and investing in quality over quantity, and this includes how we go about our days. Time management shares directives on how to squeeze more into the day, but energy management teaches us how to thrive throughout our entire day, something the former doesn't prioritize although it does keep it in the equation.
And here's the important detail to keep in mind, energy management is going to be unique to each of us because we are each unique individuals traveling during different periods of our life journey, experiencing different chapters of our life, so to focus on time management is to focus on a logical, concrete approach, but we are not stoic, robotic individuals. We have ups and downs in our moods, our physical abilities, our mental strength for focus, will-power, etc., and that is why shifting to energy management will actually solve the issues that stress management and time management are trying to address, but also ensure you are honored for the individual that you are.
Let's take a look at six habits to consider when managing your energy well through the day in order for you to thrive, enjoying each day even attending to tasks that are have-tos.
Tue, 23 May 2023
358: Anna Murphy Talks About Finding Your Way to the Best You Yet as Each Year Passes in her New Book, Destination Fabulous
The book I wanted and needed to read.
Repeatedly, indirectly and directly women and the entire society at large are told that aging is bad, and it is especially an unwelcoming reality for women, but is this true? Fashion Director for The Times London since 2015 Anna Murphy recently turned 50, and in her new book (being released on May 30th in the states; in the UK it was released in March) Destination Fabulous: Finding your way to the best you yet, disagrees wholeheartedly with this false truth that women have begrudgingly or willingly accepted and explains exactly how each year, each decade can usher in more fulfillment, more life satisfaction and thus more contentment.
She joined me from London last week before heading down to Mexico to take in Dior's Cruise presentation, and we had a lovely conversation about everything from the benefits of doing the hard work of getting to know yourself, how your style can bust clichés, the benefits of being age agnostic, how living our best life does physically affect our skin and visage, as well as the false promises made my anti-aging procedures, plus so much more.
We begin our conversation with why she is the happiest she has ever been, and with that, I will encourage you to tune in to our conversation. I do hope you enjoy.
Links Mentioned in the episode
Follow Anna Murphy's work on the following channels:
~Pick up Destination Fabulous: Finding your way to the best you yet by Anna Murphy (2023)
Anna Murphy's book was the inspiration for a Monday Motivational post shared earlier this month.
~Explore more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.
~Explore more British-inspired episodes here.
~Explore more Signature Style posts here
Explore all Previously posted content from TSLL's 5th Annual British Week
Images courtesy of the author and The Times, London
Tue, 6 September 2022
"The paradox of [contentment] is that it doesn't matter about our situation of life as meditation gives us freedom in the mind, but [when we cultivate contentment] we want to try to create an environment that is good for our body and mind." —Andy Puddicombe, Headspace
Welcome to the premiere of the 9th season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast.
In September 2014, the podcast debuted, and continues to premiere a new season each subsequent September. If you are new listener, be sure to explore all of the past episodes located on the podcast page here on the blog, and if you would like, begin with episode #1 which is the most downloaded episode of the entire show.
I want to take a quick moment to thank the more than 1,050 listeners from around the world who have written a review for or ranked the show on their preferred podcasting platform. I try to share listeners' reviews on episodes of the show as my way of thanking you for taking the time for sharing what you enjoy about the podcast because it genuinely makes a difference, and new and potential listeners read what you share, taking note to find out what this show is all about. And most importantly, I know you have many things that occupy your attention, and ranking and especially reviewing takes time, so thank you very much for giving of your time. (below is a snapshot of the past couple of weeks of the show, and you will see in the upper right-hand corner the total number of reviews and rankings)
The Podcast has moved to Wednesdays!
As you no doubt have noticed, today's podcast episode is appearing on a Wednesday and that is not by accident. Moving forward as I began sharing this past summer, the podcast will share new episodes on the 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month. The reason for moving the show from Monday to Wednesday is to accommodate a work week that honors when I have the most creativity and time to give to writing and producing the show. For the first 6-7 years of the show, I wrote, taped and produced the show over the weekend due to my teaching schedule during the work week; however, now that I am exclusively writing and can design my own schedule, I want to dedicate my Mondays to writing each new episode and Tuesdays to taping and producing so that I can bring a fresh new show to you every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of every month.
With that said, there is still inspiring content to kick off a brand new week on the blog in the form of the weekly Monday Motivational post that will be shared every single week so long as there is a Monday in it (which there always will be!;)). Be sure to check out this week's Monday Motivational post here, Saying No to a Culture of Non-Truths and Finally Finding Inner Calm.
Now to today's episode which concludes with two Petit Plaisirs as we celebrate the commencement of a new season.
"The paradox of [contentment] is that it doesn't matter about our situation of life as meditation gives us freedom in the mind, but [when we cultivate contentment] we want to try to create an environment that is good for our body and mind." —Andy Puddicombe, Headspace
To live a life of contentment is to live a life of inner steadiness, a feeling of being grounded and self-assured (not to be confused with arrogant and all-knowing) no matter what is swirling around you outside of your mind and body. I share on the homepage of the blog and again on the Introductions page of TSLL the definition of True Contentment which is not a term most people are familiar with. Happiness, yes, most people think they know what happiness is, but Contentment, rarely uttered and therefore rarely understood, and therefore, many are less likely to understand the awesome gifts and elevation to the quality of your life it can bring.
I took extra time when we were redesigning the blog last year to be very clear about communicating what Contentment is to new and current readers, explaining how Contentment, while different from happiness, is absolutely related. Take a look below at the distinction.
For today's episode, exploring the paradox of contentment, I am going to zero in on the first bullet of the list above in the green box: when you invest in cultivating contentment within yourself (which is entirely within your control), you can navigate every day well no matter what the external events may be.
But first, let's talk about what a paradox is.
The definition of Paradox:
a seemingly contradictory statement involving two (or more) ideas that initially are perceived not being possible to exist simultaneously, but upon investigation and further examination, state a truth.
The paradox of contentment begins and requires that we begin with becoming a student of mindfulness. Through meditation (of which there are many ways to practice - you don't have to be sitting down, you can practice walking meditations and many other styles, so be sure to find one that suits you), you begin to gain more awareness of your thoughts, and are then, with consistent practice and time (i.e. patience) begin to step away objectively from your thoughts and assess them rationally, noting why they arose, what needs are not being met, etc. because you become a more honest student of yourself.
Fundamentally, living a life of contentment doesn't just happen; it is a choice, and a choice we choose over and over again, but because we are consistent in our choice, we gradually begin to see the benefits of doing so and the choice becomes easier and easier and then becomes a healthy, constructive habit that is foundational to living our lives well. A more peaceful and rested mind; a mind for decision-making that has more clarity; a kinder, less defensive engagement with the world and to ourselves; and many more benefits (explore TSLL's Archives in the category of Contentment to discover them all).
Let's break that down.
Contentment is all about cultivating inner peace and calm regardless of what is going on around and outside of us, of which we have no control. It is when we begin to live a life of contentment that we begin to, as Andy Puddicombe's quote above states, "create an environment that is good for our body and mind." The latter half of this paradox is that our outer world begins to improve, change and reflect the peace and calm we feel inside. Directly, this change in the outer world, is not guaranteed, because we don't have control over anybody else's choices but our own, but how we bring ourselves to the world, how we engage, the decisions we make, what we prioritize, how we think and thus how we communicate, what we say, how we say it, if we even choose to say anything, is the energy that determines what we will experience in ways we cannot predict. And as you will begin to see, that constructive brave and loving energy is given back to you, and you begin to experience the living of your life in a more joyful way.
Gradually, through meditation which strengthens the mind, Puddicombe shares, "you begin to create the conditions both internally and externally, for peace of mind."
One of the most difficult parts of choosing to live with contentment and accepting the above paradox to be true is that we cannot know when or how all of this will occur. As humans, our Lizard Brain wants to know. And if we cannot know for certain, we don't want to dare waste our energy, but here's the irony in the refusal to invest in contentment. By choosing to live a life of contentment, you actually fuel yourself instead of drain yourself. You won't be wasting energy by learning how to cultivate contentment. You will be giving your life a deep breath, an energizing boost that on great days will take you even higher and on difficult days will sustain you and help you to healthily navigate through.
Immediate versus distant results. Or more directly, short versus long term results. Let's take a look at the difference.
First of all, I'll be honest, as humans, and especially in our culture of immediacy and shortened attention-spans, we want results immediately. I do as well. Count me on that list. We want to know if something is going to work before we invest. Of course, it will depend on what you are looking to invest in, but when it comes to your peace of mind which is a core component in your mental health and well-being, relationships and how you engage with the world in your place of work, community and home, it is hard to imagine anything more important to invest wisely in. And most substantive, deep life affecting investments take time to render their benefit. Sometimes the benefits are what never have to experienced because they have been mitigated by making the wise choice, and other times, the benefit of having clarity about what our heart and true self needs takes time because it asks us to be courageous up front, to take a seemingly huge risk up front without any promises, and then stay the course and continue to be a student, continue to apply the skills, continue to practice healthy daily habits, but then all of a sudden, you stop and look around you, and you are expressing gratitude for having cultivated loving relationships, a career that gives you purpose, a life you enjoy living each day and a world that is progressively improving. These awesome things take time, but they also take conscious effort and a brave person to ground themselves first to discover how to live well, and that starts with living a life of contentment.
The paradox of contentment demonstrates that the most difficult part of living a life of contentment is at the beginning when you are just starting to dare to trust that cultivating the necessary skills of self-awareness, mindfulness, etc. Why? Because likely the environment you live and/or work in, the relationship (maybe not all) that you are engaged in, don't nurture the values you are trying to strengthen. However, with consistent, intentional effort, because you are living a life of true contentment, you begin to have the strength and trust in making different decisions that build relationships and an environment that does support how you want to live, and because you are surrounding yourself with such an environment, it becomes easier to live the life you had envisioned when you began the journey.
Below are a few examples of how our outer world begins to change and as a result of living a life of contentment, further nurturing the values of our choice.
As we all step into a new season, and in many ways a new year, as I shared in Monday's Motivational post, while it takes time to see the benefits we consciously wish to welcome into our lives, it seems that far quicker than we might predict, the beauty of our days and life present themselves and we are experiencing them every day, in everyday moments.
Thank you for tuning in to today's episode and the first episode of Season 9 of the podcast. I have two Petit Plaisirs to share with you, and look for a brand new episode (episode #340) on Wednesday September 21st.
Don't forget that the 5th seasons of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show kicks off this coming Saturday, September 10th right here on the blog. Look for a trailer of the new season to be shared later this week on TSLL.
~The Split, BBC series on Sundance
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #339
Sun, 5 June 2022
"Our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default." —William James
To hold our attention on a singular point of focus exhibits a strength of being able to thwart the tugs of distraction. And to be able to thwart distraction takes conscious intention to notice, to choose to hold ourselves in the present and to be an observer.
An observer, contrary to what many may at first liken it to being, is not a wallflower or someone who is shy or passive in how they engage in life. No, an observer demonstrates awareness of the world beyond their inner world, beyond their own thoughts, worries, past experiences and biases. An observer acknowledges that the moment in which they find themselves is far more awesome when we step away from the past and choose not to look past today into the future and instead hold ourselves and our attention in the present without expectation of what we 'must' see or find.
There are many reasons for noticing of any sort - looking for the good, looking for the threat or simply observing - to become a honed, yet unconscious skill in our lives, and I will be addressing by the latter on this list of three can actually bring more awesomeness into your life.
Depending upon our childhood or our relationship with any caretaker during our youth, or in a culture where and if we were perceived as inferior or the minority, if the day's events unfolded based on how we engaged, what we said or didn't say, did or didn't do, we may have become very skilled at noticing others' moods, behaviors and tone of voice. Such 'noticing' was for survival, for a 'better', less contentious environment. However, it wasn't a noticing of what all that surrounded us, but rather a noticing in order to avoid threats, pain or belittling most specifically and solely.
If we were so fortunate to be raised and then as an adult live in an environment where joy was a regular and consistent feeling, good moments and peace-filled and happy feelings, even if different from those around us, were celebrated without judgment, then noticing the good is a muscle we have been toning and maybe didn't realize what a gift we were given.
I recently read The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker, and his introduction shares that the environment in which many of us find ourselves, if we aren't exercising our 'noticing' muscles, can detract our attention and thus prevent us from living well or fulfilled. Walker includes a quote from philosopher Georg Simmel who in 1903 wrote, "The stimulation of modern life . . . wears down the senses, leaving us dull, indifferent, and unable to focus on what really matters." That was in 1903 which while I know many may say, well, it has only gotten worse, I would counter an understandable remark by saying, its a perennial issue, an issue of whether or not to choose to notice the awesomeness, to notice when we need to turn off the noise (if we perceive it to be noise) and live more presently rather than just let what comes and what happens happen.
There is a reason stimulation of constant bombardment of noises - pings, quickly displayed images in movies, programming, advertisements and overlaying of music with films/shows/etc. - occur: to give you no space to think, and instead to tell you how to think. The only way such stimulation can work is if its creator knows where its audience is at the present moment. The advertiser, the media, the speaker has to meet the audience where it is, then they pull the audience (whose attention they now have) where they want them to go (or to think). If where they begin their messaging is too far removed from where we (the audience) are, their message or idea will not land and thus not be effective, so to this point, whether it is 1903 or 2023, the world around us will forever be trying to overstimulate us in order to wear us down to refrain from thinking and nudge us to just go along, letting us believe it was our idea. Our job is to be thinkers, critical thinkers, and choose to strengthen the skill of 'noticing' or as what is often described on TSLL blog, be fully present and thus mindful.
So how exactly do we become better at noticing all that is around us and thus witness, observe and savor the awesomeness in our life and the world? How do we see all that is around us clearly without the veneer of societal biases and norms? I'd like to share with you a list ideas for doing just that - seeing clearly, seeing the awesomeness and thus discovering how quite sweet everyday life is exactly where you live, call home and make your life.
I can already see some readers/listeners' response to this first item on the list. The reasons for their inability to slow down are on the tip of their tongue. 😌 I don't disagree that the life you are currently living will not slow its pace to match yours when you choose to shift to a speed that enables you to notice the world and yourself as you live in it. However, my first question is, Whose needs are not being fulfilled when you slow down? Likely, it is others' needs, not yours because if you are acknowledging you would like to slow down but cannot, you are already expressing a need to take your foot off the pedal.
We cannot change anyone else's behavior but our own if we wish to engage in healthy relationships, so we cannot know why others feel they must go at the pace they travel, but if the pace you are traveling leaves you unable to feel fulfilled, leaves you regularly trying to catch your breath, hitting the snooze button, drinking one more cup of caffeine, etc. then slowing down is the first and best way to be able to notice anything that will be beneficial and incorporate it regularly into your life to see significant change.
When our regular everyday pace slows down, much like a train that has halted at the train station, we can situate ourselves, read the signs clearly, take in the scenery without it whizzing by and really observe the detail in our lives. When we observe, because we have slowed our pace, we are able to take note of what is working, what provides comfort, genuine support, real love, and what does not. Then, with this clear information, we begin to make better decisions. Not being rushed, we choose with confidence what and whom to engage with or to refrain from and know in our minds why we are doing so, and that it is our true self that is making the decision, not an outside influence.
2. Celebrate this truth about being human - "more than any other creature, humans can outmaneuver our own base instincts"
Base instincts in humans deal with surviving. Not thriving, but surviving, so in other words, we are programmed to instinctively look for the threat, not for what will make us smile, not for what will make us feel at ease or happy or loved. Instincts are not intuition, so let's not conflate these too. Instincts are pre-programmed based on experiences we have never had, but as human beings living in a civil, modern world, our instincts are leading us astray and causing us more harm and dulling a life that could be so much more fulfilling and peace-filled. Intuition is honed; it is a skill that takes time to understand because each of our intuitions, while residing within us, is waiting for our true selves to emerge and for us to consciously understand who that is. Once we come to understand our own language, translating what our intuition is telling us becomes second nature.
So back to the outmaneuvering our base instincts as shared by Rob Walker in the above quote.
For survival purposes as a child or as an adult who has to be constantly looking out for threats due to variables beyond their control, noticing takes on a negative, but necessary connotation. Even when the threat is no longer - we have removed ourselves from that environment, that person, etc. - our instinct is to stay vigilant and only keep an eye out for threats. This is where we must outmaneuver what we have done in the past, and instead begin to observe all that surrounds us.
Walker astutely points out that it is no coincidence that a civil and modern society that feels overwhelmed by stimulation is simultaneously seeing a rise in meditation and mindfulness practices, teachings and routines. This is a beautiful and constructive example of 'outmaneuvering'. Humans can bring about that necessary change for a more enriching life when we acknowledge how we are currently living is not fulfilling.
3. Embrace solitude
Discover the gift and nourishment sharing time in your own company can be.
A TSLL reader recently and bravely shared that it wasn't until they felt truly lonely, that they found their true selves. Why? Because by looking the feeling of lonely in the face, they came to understand what made them feel lonely, and as this reader journeyed through the feeling (she didn't avoid it or turn away from it once she met it), she found ways of living her days that included time in her own company partaking fully having intentionally chosen for no one else to be there but herself and finding deep enjoyment. why? Because it wasn't her being alone that made her feel lonely. What she discovered was her true self, and this self-knowledge was aided by letting herself run into feeling that was lonely which then led her to understanding what her true needs were to feel fulfilled and nourished.
Loneliness often is misdefined. Loneliness is not being without other people. Loneliness is not knowing what fulfills you and thus not feeling connected to the world in which you find yourself.
It is when you embrace solitude, a necessity, not a luxury, that you give yourself the ability to be the student of yourself. You are forced to be honest with yourself if you choose to be courageous enough to stand in the space where you are the only human being.
It is my regular moments of solitude where I am refueled, nourished and find clarity. It is in my regular moments of solitude where I reflect on my feelings, events and thus come to fully understand myself so that moving forward I know clearly how to engage well with others, to apply what I now know and connect more sincerely and deeply when I step out of my solitude.
4. Let your curiosity be your guide
Being curious leads you to new discoveries. And each step forward prompted by curiosity strengthens your ability to be vulnerable. Your first steps fueled by curiosity may be small and appear insignificant, but they all add up to you becoming a person who knows how to be present and keep an open mind, open to what will cross your path, and instead of judging it, exploring it.
Whatever it is that stirs your curiosity such discoveries are much like the cookie crumbs leading you to and on a trail of fulfillment. You begin to discover what brings you to life, what enlivens you in a way other activities may not have. And while other activities may prompt curiosity in others, you begin to celebrate the differences and realize that following anyone else's path is not the route to true contentment for you. All of this is to say, each of us finds our way to true contentment on different paths, and this is something to celebrate. Because when we find our path, we're not looking at other people's route, but grateful they have found the grounding peace just as we have.
Concrete Ideas for Noticing
Choosing to be an observer means we are holding ourselves fully in the present moment, and rather than judging what we see, which involves our unconscious biases, we are simply noting. We see it. This is what we see, hear, feel - the senses become our translators.
5. Choose to engage in only one task at a time
By choosing to engage in only one activity, we are not distracted by another tug of the other tasks. Our attention is given wholly, our focus is on one thing, and so we can take it all in and are less likely to rush and thus deepen the quality of our efforts.
6. Reflect regularly - Make a list weekly, yearly, etc. of just what is
To note what has evolved, changed, is no longer, has begun make a list first of what was just last week at this exact time. If you would like to go further, make a list of what what happening in your life one year ago today, perhaps even two years ago or three years ago. When you create such lists, you are not passing judgement, just stating facts - truths of what was happening, was in place, how you felt and why you felt it, etc.. I enjoy this regular practice for weekly reflection and what I have found, especially when I make the yearly and bi-yearly lists is that the headaches and bothers at the time are no longer remembered, and thankfully, often the large headaches have been overcome and that gives me calm and confidence. Moreover, I am reminded that any harried or fretful thinking I had didn't materialize and that savoring all that was going well was the best thing to do so that better engagement occurred (whether I wisely heeded this advice them or not, upon reflection I am encouraged to do so moving forward).
7. Allow silence in conversation to be present
While in a conversation, often when there is a span of silence, one or both people try to fill it. Why not . . . let the space of silence be. In so doing, you let thoughts marinate, you give time for a response rather than a reaction and how you hold yourself in this span of silence has the potential to provide comfort to the other that indeed, such a silence is okay and you are not rushing and you are choosing to be right where you are and with them.
Begin to notice in such moments how you feel. At first you may feel uncomfortable, unsettled as you acknowledge you want to fill the space but is there really anything that needs to be said at that moment if you don't know how to respond to what has just been shared? Give time and see how you feel not rushing to speak.
8. Just listen
My mother does this very well. She will just listen to me. She doesn't insert her opinion, pass judgment or interrupt and thus I meander in my words until sometimes I discover something I had not realized simply by sharing. Of course, just sitting silently all of the time doesn't consist of a conversation, but the practice is to know when to just listen. When you do this you open up space to just notice. You take in not only the words, but their physical movements, facial expression and all that is going on around them. You also again give yourself time to observe and thus when you choose to engage verbally in the conversation, you are responding having given thought to what you will say and how it will be received because you have wholly taken in all that the speaker has presented.
9. Regular digital silence
Walker suggests taking a week of digital silence to not engage or 'connect' on your social platforms, but instead just observe. You can check your email, your social media accounts, but if you are trying to become more aware of the world around you and really see what does surround you, do not comment, like or anything else that is engagement on your part. Instead, just observe and see what you notice. What really does draw your eye, and why? Discover if you really do need to respond and why you previously felt you needed to. Walker goes further to entertain the idea that if we had a limit to how many times we could comment or respond each week, where would we place our energy and focus? Why would we do this?
All of this silence we choose to welcome into our lives as shared by #7, #8, and #9 give you the opportunity to become more aware and thus discover if you are engaging in the world in a way that is in alignment with the life you want to live and how you want to show up in the world.
10. Audit your daily sonic profile
This particular suggestion by Walker caught my attention, especially as someone who lives alone, and for any TSLL readers who tune in to the monthly A Cuppa Moments, Norman's snoring (something I adore) is more pronounced than I realized when it is captured on video. This always makes me smile because when we take note of all of the sounds in our everydays we might discover certain ones provide comfort while others dull our experience and still others numb us to truly feeling what we need to feel.
I have spoken about this before but I have realized that as I have grown, I am more and more comfortable with silence and prefer it as unnecessary sounds if not soothing to my ear (I adore birdsong for example and find it nurtures and encourages my writing, but the sound of a leaf blower drives me up a wall leaving me unable to concentrate). What I have also realized is that part of why I needed some 'noises' in my life - the television on or the radio in the background - was because I was unable to be mindful, unable to master my mind and where it would wander. As well, advertisements are always muted or turned off when they appear during shows I am watching as after having taught rhetoric for many years in school, I am now aware of the subtle influences of skillful advertising companies and don't want to introduce any ideas I don't choose to watch or explore mindfully and entirely into my days when all I want to do is relax with a quality program.
The auditing of your sonic profile also includes the small, everyday sounds such as the dishwasher's humming, the dryer's whirling, ice crackling when you pour the liquid over the top for sipping. Observe the natural sounds that surround you as well - the drizzling of rain, the gentle breeze and dancing of the leaves. When you begin to notice all of the auditory details of your days and how they affect you, you begin to pay more attention to how to build a life, a day, that nourishes you, your mind and your being.
11. Be alone in public
I sincerely enjoy doing this and because of how I live my life, I am alone in public often, and am quite comfortable with it. Being alone in public also makes me more deeply appreciate when I am spending time with others out in public as I engage differently as my attention is primarily on the conversation I am having and what we are doing together rather than the exterior going-ons.
When I am alone in public I notice details far more quickly, easily and deeply. I also notice how others are not noticing all that is going on around them which, as I shared above, is what most of us (including myself) do when we are with someone we want to be with - we give them and our engagement with them our full attention (this is a good thing :)). The balancing of both time in public alone and with others enables us to become more aware of our environment and how the community we live in engages, organizes, what it enjoys, explores, celebrates, etc. I also find myself being open to new and unexpected conversations and opportunities when I am alone in public because you see more, and if you are observing and not judging, you are open to whatever may cross your path. This doesn't mean you have to engage, but you see it and that is what noticing is all about.
12. Journal your days
This one is my practice and suggestion. One that I have found when I don't know what to do with my mind due to feeling restless or confused or at the beginning of shifting my days to a slower pace. When I sit down to journal, I begin to notice what just thinking about what I noticed could not accomplish. Putting on paper how I felt when I woke up and how the morning sun streaming through the reading nook window brought a smile to my face reminds me of the awesomeness that I may have forgotten about by the end of the day. Such seemingly trivial 'noticings' are actually, as Walker states in his introduction, vital. "[Paying attention] connects us with others. It makes you eager to find interest in the everydays to notice what everybody else overlooks—these are vital skills and noble goals." When you begin to really pay attention to the present moment and observe with an open mind, you begin to realize "what matters to you" and you begin to let go of what was told to you that you should care about, what your life should look like and what next steps you should take, because you now know what brings you to life when certain details, events, people, activities, time alone awakens your true self.
Today and moving forward, infuse your everydays with more 'noticing', more observation and by doing so you will strengthen your ability to hold yourself in the present moment which strengthens your ability to be mindful which all contributes to your discovering how awesome your everydays are and the world you choose to live in fully.
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #331
Sun, 3 April 2022
"To attain wealth, the lasting kind, the kind that gives your life meaning, value and sustenance, base your daily existence on the generosity of spirit. Everything else you desire will follow of its own accord." —Deepak Chopra, Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth
To experience great joy in our everydays is to experience bliss.
If ever you find yourself smiling in the middle of your everydays just because, if you are me anyway, you are experiencing a bliss-filled moment.
We may find it surprising or difficult at first to imagine the possibility to experience such a natural state going about a life routine that happens nearly everyday, but that is exactly the point to living consciously. This is exactly why choosing to understand what true contentment is makes all the difference.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #326
Sun, 20 March 2022
Spring kicked off officially yesterday, March 20th in the Northern Hemisphere, and as I worked out in my garden, ever so gently, signs of spring were definitely emerging.
Over the years here on the blog and podcast, there have been many posts celebrating the arrival of the spring season, and well, we all could be nourished by some brightness of spring, so I thought I would bring yet another such post/episode your way.
Below are 10 more ideas for reveling in the start of a season that arrives with the buoyant determination to grow, restart and find the awesomeness that surrounds us.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #325
View the Show Notes - https://thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast325
Sun, 6 March 2022
“Since most of us spend our lives doing ordinary tasks, the most important thing is to carry them out extraordinarily well.” —Henry David Thoreau
It's morning, early in our house. Norman has finished his breakfast served in the mudroom which is adjacent to the kitchen, and I begin toasting my steel cut oats. The clanking of pans being chosen for the two egg omelette, the whisk of the eggs in the mixing bowl provide the soundtrack of our mornings, and Norman finds his way onto the rug in front of the stove to enjoy his daily dental chewy. An ordinary moment that happens every single morning and to me it is extraordinary.
"Be extraordinary at the ordinary." —Andy Puddicombe, meditation teacher
One of the common refrains I heard from TSLL readers over the past two years was while disheartened and pained by the reason for the slower pace of life, was that it was in fact a pace they appreciated. No longer did they have to fight back or expend energy to explain why indeed the slower pace suited them and nourished them. Now that lives and schedules and expectations are beginning to pick up steam and the ability to pursue, travel and experience those unique and intriguing occasions we longed for as we were unable to for some time return, the importance of choosing our pace in our everydays and how we hold ourselves in our everydays, having seen the difference in ourselves, a better time could not be had to continue to, or fine-tune so as to improve how we go about living in the ordinary moments.
Often the word ordinary connotes a 'hum-drum' energy, an energy not desired or seen as inferior especially when we think of its relation to the word 'extraordinary'. However, all ordinary means is that it, whatever 'it' is, is commonplace. And for our purposes in today's episode/post, ordinary simply refers to the ability to have a day without strife, to tend to a job or a task to make money so that we can live our lives, to eat our daily meals and move about our home and community engaging with our family and coworkers and neighbors as they too move about a schedule similarly including the same elements.
Why I gravitated to the quote I share above - be extraordinary at the ordinary - is because at its core we are choosing to focus on what is necessary, and so thereby we keep those necessities in our days, eliminate what weighs down or expends energy unnecessarily, and thus, we are choosing to focus on quality over quantity which is a core premise of living simply luxuriously.
An example from Shannon's life of making ordinary extraordinary in our everyday lives
As I type, it is early morning at Le Papillon. Norman is snuggled up next to me, softly snoring, and the house begins to warm up while the classical music plays softly providing a gentle easing into the day. The day, by objective definitions, is ordinary, but in this moment, it feels extraordinary. The companionship and good health of my pup, a home and thus a roof over my head to keep me warm and safe, the means (my computer) to do my work well, and the beauty of art (the music) to lift the day, yet keep it calm.
How exactly do we elevate the ordinary to the status of extraordinary? Start with how you move through your everydays.
While Henry David Thoreau's quote shared above is less known, it partners well with the quote that immediately springs to my mind, and more widely recognized, as is a mantra I display in my office as a way to ground me. I change the pronouns of course and do so as well here.
"I have learned this at least by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of [her] dreams, and endeavors to live the life which [she] has imagined, [she] will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."
The awesomeness of life happens in the everydays, and guess what? The super majority of the days of our lives are everydays. Therefore we have so many opportunities to make them extraordinary.
Let's break it down a bit further. Here is a list of concrete practices to incorporate into how you live in your everydays to welcome the extraordinary to be experienced:
Each of the ideas suggested are merely a sampling of how we can elevate the 'ordinary' everyday to something extraordinary to experience each day. If you have been a long-time reader of the blog or listener of the podcast, you know that nearly all of the content you find shares inspiration, ideas and examples of how to do exactly this - live an extraordinary life in the ordinary moments.
A key component, something we've tangentially talked about in a variety of ways is to understand why we/you place so much value on the extraordinary moments celebrated by outside sources - the awards, the status symbols, the life markers set by society one must achieve. While we are social creatures, and we want to feel included, we want to feel seen, appreciated, applauded and accepted, when we seek out healthy sources of each of the A's as David Richo describes as the 5 Key A's in a healthy adult relationship (ep. #287), we can find them and savor them in our everydays.
So often we seek something that is already within each of us or capable of being nurtured with those in our everyday lives already. When we discover how rich we already are for living an extraordinary life in our everydays, the supposed 'grand' achievements become less tempting to pursue especially if doing so takes us away from what we know is quite special and we are quite fortunate to have - healthy, loving relationships, a career or calling that fulfills us, a home that gives us safety, shelter and security, a community that is at peace, small, yet significant opportunities to learn and grow.
When we choose to embrace the choice of living extraordinarily in our everydays as Thoreau advises, it becomes easier to hold ourselves in the present moment, and because we are doing our best in those moments that each day offers, we go to bed each night more at peace and thus slumber is deeper, more nourishing which makes the new day that we awake to full of all the more potential to be extraordinary all over again. The cycle feeds itself, and we hold the key in how we hold ourselves, what we notice, what we engage in, how we engage, what we let go, etc. . Expend energy on the things that bring value, find strength to let go of unhelpful, unnecessary or detrimental tasks, habits or relationships, and your life will begin to feel quite extraordinary.
Find inspiration for each day of the year, how to live well in your everydays in TSLL's new book - The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment (available now).
—Murder in Provence, BritBox (based on M.L. Longworth's Provençal mystery series)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #324
Sun, 20 February 2022
~Note to readers of TSLL's 3rd book, The Road to Le Papillon. I have updated the Read Further link to bring you to this post for July 2nd's entry in the book. If you would like to reread the original link (it was also shared in April 19th's entry), click here to read Understanding Yourself by Taking Off the Blindfold.
The clock neared midnight, the candles on the table still flickered just at a slightly lower height than when they were lit only six hours ago, the kitchen was full of dishes and the platters of food offered crumbs and hints at the menu that had just recently been shared and enjoyed amongst friends.
The first dinner party at Le Papillon took place over this past weekend, and after being thoughtful about when to invite friends in a large gathering into my home, honoring each's comfort level and ensuring safety and health precautions were clearly communicated so all could relax and enjoy the evening (all friends were boosted, and tests were made available to ease everyone's mind), the date was set, and the menu began being planned as well as how to inaugurate Le Papillon as this would be the first dinner party ever held.
My friends said yes. Each showed up with an enthusiasm and welcoming spirit that warmed my heart and reminded me of so much that I missed during these past two years. As each course was served, each glass poured - sipped and held up to toast, the volume of the playlist was turned up ever so slightly as the ease of stepping back into the conviviality of seeing each other, talking intimately, laughing heartedly and listening closely felt second-nature despite the delay of enjoying such a setting.
As goodbyes were exchanged, fresh-from the oven cookies were given to each guest to enjoy on the car-ride home. I closed the door, turning around to look at my home and the visual reminder of all that just been shared and enjoyed. I sighed deeply and my smile grew widely. Gratitude washed over me, and I knew I wouldn't be going to bed soon. Not because there were dishes to be cleaned, but because I was energized in a way only such occasions can lift my spirits naturally. And so I reminded myself to savor.
In episode #213 in 2018 I detailed in nine steps and ideas how to savor any given moment in which you find yourself wanting to remain in the present moment, taking all that you are experiencing in fully so as to hold it in your memory, but as well, to let it be what it is, not forcing it be what you want it to be. Today I would like to further the conversation on savoring and share with you 6 everyday moments to savor or moments in which we may forget to savor well, giving ourselves permission to take it in, slow down and revel in the awesome gifts received by the moment that we are delighting in.
Studies have taught us that there are three different ways to savor life moments, and when we do consciously welcome the art of savoring into our lives, we improve our well-being. So while it may see indulgent, even selfish and at the very least unnecessary to engage in savoring, the truth is, to know how to savor, and incorporate doing so into our everyday life, is to increase the quality of our life.
As detailed through extensive research by Dr. Jordi Quoidbach of the Barcelona Graduate School of Economics, the three types of savoring depend upon when and what you are savoring as it relates to time:
Much of what will be shared in the list below are moments that we have long anticipated and hoped would go well, and upon such an event going well, we consciously choose to create space for a Peak-Theory moment as a way to fully savor what has just concluded and deepen the much appreciated event even more.
Following my first dinner party held in far too long, offered such such an opportunity to create a Peak-Theory experience.
For me, when any of the moments listed below occurs, I give myself permission to just be still. I edit out most if not all plans or consciously choose to not make any new plans, and give myself an hour, a morning, afternoon, evening or, if I can, a full day, to just let the good memories wash over me one more time. Partly I do this so that I do not forget a moment. I will even sit down and put it all into my journal as I know I will forgot those small details that made the evening/event/experience so special. Usually I am home for this carved out time, so I will make sure I have a fridge with food for a good meal to be enjoyed, I will snuggle up in my cozy pajamas or leisure clothes, make a pot of tea, soak in a hot bath at some point during the day, maybe (most likely) take a nap at some point and if I am not at home, but perhaps traveling, I will let myself just wander about the city, town or countryside I am visiting, give myself permission to then lounge about in the accommodations and drink in the momentary state of appreciation, calm and giddiness I may be feeling.
One of the key components and truths of savoring to remember is that savoring is all the more important because it will never be that all is going perfectly in our lives. We cannot wait to savor siting the need for there not to be any hiccups or stresses occurring - bills still need to be paid, jobs still need to be tended to, the world is still grappling with unrelenting pains. In fact, it is precisely because there will always be some kind of unwanted thing happening in our most intimate lives as well as the grander world that we must incorporate savoring into our lives.
When we teach ourselves that savoring is not indulgent but necessary, when we acknowledge that such awesome moments, as the ones listed below, but there are undoubtedly many more, do not happen every day, we are living in the present, we are living consciously and we are elevating the quality of our lives. We are appreciating being alive, being human and as our stress-levels gradually decrease, we become better able to navigate through unwanted moments and we find a deeper, steady, resting state of contentment. Simply put, savoring life doesn't require perfection, rather the art of living a life you love requires savoring.
Let's take a look at ten moments in life to encourage you to savor by engaging in a Peak-Theory moment in which you linger a little longer after the much loved event/moment/experience in order to hold it in your memory and deepen your appreciation.
1.The moments as well as day after a long anticipated event - dinner party, celebration
As shared above, whether you have just hosted a dinner party that went well, perhaps after a big event that required much coordination - a charity gala, a wedding, an anniversary party, a reunion, a birthday party, etc. - let yourself savor immediately after by doing whatever enables you to just take it all in again, reliving it, thinking about, letting yourself smile and doodle about, doing any task or no task at all that lets it all soak in even more. Take the next day, the next half day, whatever you need to let the awesome memories marinate so they won't soon be forgotten.
2. Upon seeing/reaching/holding in your hands the outcome you have longed worked so hard for
Whether a work-related project or a personal goal being reached, once you have reached your mark - holding the published book in your hands, shaking hands with your new boss on the new job you just landed, finishing the home project you planned and saved for, arriving at the airport for the trip you saved up for - once you've reached where you've worked so hard to arrive, create a moment, hours, whatever time you need to drink in all that you have done to arrive where you long wished to be. Let yourself rewind and play back all that you overcame to be where you are so that you never forget and thus appreciate your arrival all the more.
3. Seasonal weather long missed - the first rain fall in weeks/months, the long anticipated snowfall, the break in the clouds after days of rain, clear skies after smokey, hazy, or foggy oppression
Just yesterday, the snow finally came back to Bend. Even if for a few short hours, we have not seen snowfall in Bend since late December. I reveled in it. I stayed inside, let myself cozy in and just gazed outside and smiled, smiled and smiled a bit more. Mother Nature will bring what she brings, and each of us based our preferences and where we live have weather we most enjoy. When it has not happened in far too long, when it does arrive, let yourself savor.
4. Finishing a book that transported you, moved you, taught you something unexpected, deepened your understanding in a way you had never known before
Upon finishing the book, reading the last word, last page, last chapter. You close it slowly, looking up at nothing in particular, and perhaps you smile as your thoughts seem to have been renewed and enlivened. Sit with this feeling of great expansion, and let yourself savor the gift you just gave yourself. You are changed, you are growing, you are living and that is an exciting place to find yourself and realize about yourself.
5. The first daffodil in the garden to bloom, the first of any perennial, tree blossom, favorite flower to return since the previous year
Whether you sit outside and simply gaze in awe at the beauty that has revealed itself, let yourself delight in the awesomeness of Mother Nature. If the weather is warm, I will sit on my porch or somewhere nearby the bloom(s) and take more than a moment to be in that space with the natural beauty. Sometimes I read a book, sometimes I will sit with a cuppa, and sometimes I will just close my eyes and feel the fresh air kiss my skin. Savor such arrivals because they won't arrive in their first form such as this for another twelve months.
6. Stepping foot on the terra firma of a beloved destination, country, town, or home after a long absence
Perhaps you know you will be traveling soon or have just returned from traveling to a place you have longed to visit or return to after a much delayed absence. If so, think about how you will or can savor how it feels to see this place with your own eyes, feel the air of that place, the energy of that place, so you can hold it with you in your memory when you do have to eventually leave again. Is it visiting a favorite haunt and just sitting, taking all the going-ons around you? Is it taking part in a certain activity that you can only do at this locale? Or maybe it is a favorite food or drink you enjoy. Whatever it may be, let yourself savor the good fortune to have been able to return.
Knowing how to savor and why it is important to do so not only strengthens our muscle of mindfulness as it involves the awareness of our mind and where we let it travel and where we hold our thoughts, it also shows us how awesome our one and only life is. When we pay attention to how certain moments that make us feel good in a natural way, we are honoring our most true selves. When we honor our true selves the quality of our days improves and thus the quality of our lives.
The powerful truth of savoring is that it reminds us that whether the good moments in our lives are large or small, seemingly significant to the outside world or not seen at all, we become more in tune and aware as to how truly rich our lives are, and what we think we lack is actually far less than previously thought. In fact, we may have all that we need if we would only give ourselves permission to savor more regularly. The exciting truth is, everyday moments abound for us to savor if only we would have the courage to lose our inhibitions and revel in them and then hold them close so that we never forgot how great life truly is.
~Learn more about purchasing/pre-ordering a copy of TSLL's 3rd book - The Road to Le Papillon: Daily Meditations on True Contentment
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY
Happy Yoga: Simple Tools and Practices for Everyday Calm and Strength by Hannah Barrett
Murder In . . . (French mystery series)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #323
Sun, 16 January 2022
December has the ability to take us out of our daily and weekly rhythms. With all of the joviality and celebration, we often excitedly step into the change and welcome the shift of energy and focus.
Similarly, when we have chosen a temporary project to focus our attention, our life routine, where we place our energies, what is prioritized and how we go about our days voluntarily changes. However, what we realize, is the routine preceding December or the commencement of the project, if we intentionally cultivated it, was created for a helpful reason.
As shared in episode #316, our lives need 'white space' as that is where we breathe, think, settle, found the ground and our balance before moving forward well into whatever is in front of us. To look at it another way, why is beautiful music so beautiful? Claude Debussy explains, 'Music is the space between the notes.' When our lives become too full, too jammed with demands, even if they lead us to supposed exciting results, our beings suffer, our peace of mind suffers and we ultimately end up exhausted gasping for space to catch our breath, unable to connect well or fully in a way that would actually foster the life we love living.
Inspired by my own life at the moment, the week ahead is my first week stepping back into the weekly and daily routines I have longed desired to be a part of my everyday life. The contractors are done. I have one job to hold my focus during the workday hours and I have five days in front of me to reset.
Resetting does not necessarily mean returning to what was. After all, the project has concluded bringing a result not previously part of your life, and if you are resetting after the winter holidays, you no doubt experienced either connections, conversations, or moments that deepened, awoken or informed you about something unknown prior to the month of December. You have the opportunity to apply what you are now aware of and enhance your way of dancing with your days and weeks.
How to reset constructively:
1. Let the rest and recovery happen
Your body is likely more tired than you realize as you have been traveling at a different pace and it has been carrying you with adrenaline to push through; however, this is not sustainable for clear thinking or engaging.
Often you know you need to give yourself excessive rest when you fall asleep far earlier than you ever would (7pm on the sofa - zonked out). Your body is trying to speak to you. This is not a bad habit because it is not a habit. It is a need, and when the body is fully rested, you will be able to return to your regular 7-9 hours of sleep, turning in at your usual time and waking up to begin your day well. However, in the meantime, honor what your body is asking for.
2. Reflect on your previous routine pre-project/holidays
What I have done and did do this past weekend was pull out my old journals as I keep a list of my daily schedules as they evolved over time. I read them closely to understand how and why I chose them, and even though you may think you will remember, often, it is the details of the day that make it harmonize with what you need, so read and look closely.
Bring back what you missed, ignore what was a headache, and then read #3 . . .
Now is the time to just put down on paper in a journal or talk with a counselor what you are relieved about, anxious about, hopeful about, excited about, etc..
Often we think by 'thinking about' each of these items in our head, we've helped ourselves out, but actually, they remain jumbled in our mind and we haven't sorted out the 'why' clearly or rationally.
When we see our thoughts on paper, when we hear our words spoken outloud and being received by another person who is objective, we can ascertain where we are being constructive in our thinking and where we are still stuck in the stress or jazzed-up, adrenaline fueled energy (that is unsustainable) caused by the project or holiday season.
Before we make any changes, additions or deletions, we want to make sure our mind is grounded, and our clarity of what we want our daily and weekly routine to foster understood without confusion by the previous temporary shifting of how we were going about our lives.
4. Don't do anything drastic
Often January turns into the month of extreme restriction - dry January or excessive working out. Essentially, reverting to extremes that are never intended to be a regular rhythm keeps us in a state of instability. No wonder we get out of rhythm easily and have difficulty shifting to a helpful pace if we swing from one extreme to the next. When we have a steady, grounding daily and weekly routine, we can savor those extras, those beautiful surprises, those moments that exceed our imaginations whenever they arise whether in January, December or anywhere in between for whatever reason.
5.Strengthen the foundation - food, exercise and mental massage
The tripod of health is something long talked about here on the blog. Make sure your three pillars of good health are tended to and brought back into rhythm in your routines - (1) what you eat, (2) your consistent physical exercise routine (aerobic, strength) and (3) regular strengthening of your mind.
In my case, my weekly grocery shopping became irregular as I usually shop on Mondays after reading through cookbooks and planning the week on Sundays. I look forward to returning to this weekly routine as the markets are quieter, often restocked after the weekend and the week becomes fresh and full of delicious meals waiting to be enjoyed.
My exercise thankfully does not need to be revamped as that was the self-care component that kept me steady throughout the regular changes and arrivals and tasks in the house happening - each week different than the next. The one thing the contractors did know was that Shannon would be out of the house in the morning with Norman taking a walk and would be back to answer questions momentarily.
My meditation and mindfulness practice wasn't perfectly steady, but it was inconsistently steady. So while I need to improve it, it will be easier to reset as I have been returning to it as often as my days allowed and always, without fail, felt steadier after each morning practice.
31 Ways to Practice True Self-Care, episode #242
6. Find space and time for your social connections
Begin to look outside of your work schedule, if the project that was all consuming was work-related, and connect with people and events simply because you enjoy their company and/or the activities you were not able to make time for. While truthfully, we should not extricate time with either as it reveals we have taken them a bit too much for granted, spend time and energy to acknowledge this awareness and step back or toward what you know is vital to your connection for social engagement.
From carving out time for visiting a local bookshop with no intended purchase in mind, meeting a friend for drinks, taking in a local theater production, taking a day-trip with a loved one somewhere that catches the curiosity for you both, make time and share time together.
7. Finding Your Financial Footing
After the holidays, often our budgets take a hit, and after a project we've invested in, the same too may be the case.
It may seem the best idea is to go to extremes, and really ratchet down your spending, but often this is counter-intuitive, similar to drastic dieting.
The best idea is to set a plan for, yes, reduction of spending, but also for paying off what needs your financial attention. Take the long-term, intentional approach, to slow your speed and find a rhythm with money that will last not just through January, but ensure you don't ratchet up the excessive spending or investment again next December or when it comes to projects, keep in perspective your appreciation for what you have put your money into and not rush to the next project just to keep your 'mind' busy.
If you do want to do a hard, but not excessive reset, simply take one full week off in January from spending anything. This will give you time to assess, find your footing and clarify any decisions moving forward.
8. Begin to think less about the future and more about today
Initially this may seem counter-intuitive, but likely as the year began you set either resolutions or revolutions or at least an intention for the year. I have included a post below full of ideas for creating a fresh start.
Once you have approximately 3 (but no more than 5) specific outcomes you wish you attain over the year, clarify the behavior, activities and small steps you need to tend to in your everydays. Then, let go of thinking about the future, and focus on how you move through your days.
If your intention is to learn specific skills on becoming a better master of your mind, or a better communicator or more loving, explore this list of books and instead of seeing them as a huge task to conquer, purchase one book and move through it in your own time, in your own everydays, without evening thinking about what will be next. You know where to look when you are ready to for the next book should you want to read it, but for now, focus on what you are doing now.
In other words, when you were immersed in the project, you were likely thinking about the outcome more than you wanted to, which pulled you away from your everyday focus, savoring the life you have the good fortune to live, investing well in certain relationships because you were all-in on the project. However, that needs to change, and the change needs to bring us back into the present. Trusting we've put into place the small tasks to tend to that will lead us where we desire to arrive, but along the way, keep us open to the beauty of the everyday.
9. Now, let go
When we are so hyper focused on one aspect of life - the holidays or a project we hope will change our lives for the better, we have planned, we have looked ahead, and we then are often so laser focused, but we often forget to just be, to just let go, to fully see what is presented by the people we happen to meet, the events as they happen to occur, the weather that dances around the days we try to structure so rigidly.
Let go, immerse yourself in the life you love living, savoring the simple pleasures along the way, listening well and sharing yourself fully, and see what happens.
January need not be the extreme month of deprivation or punishment it often becomes, but rather a month to reset, to take a deep cleansing breath and settle into a rhythm that elevates our everydays, setting precedent for how we will move through the entire year that awaits our travel forward.
The Extra Item for the Blog Reader (not heard on the episode)
10. Have patience and be gentle with yourself
Often, especially after a jarring life event (if unwanted), all we want is to get back to steady, to get back to calm, and even if we love the outcome of the holidays or the project we have just wrapped up, we want to be able to snap our fingers and be back into our regular rolling through the day, but more time is needed.
It takes time to acclimate to any new or new-as-of-late routine or rhythm, and when we understand this, we can be gentle with ourselves. This is why, bringing back more self-care than you may normally do on a regular basis would be a good idea. Take an extra bath this week, be okay, spend more time meditating than you may normally do on a regular day, take on less work if you can manage that, just so you get your sea-legs back.
The rhythm you are resetting your life to follow will return but instead of demanding it arrive and becoming frustrated when you don't feel settled as quickly as you had hoped, know that its slow arrival will ensure it stays in your days for a good long while.
Now I am off to take a bubble bath and settle into my evening. Bonsoir.
~Explore becoming a TOP Tier Member here.
~Skincare - The Mighty Patch
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #321
Sun, 2 January 2022
“You were brave and it paid off.”
I am starting with where you will be at the end of 2022 because it is absolutely possible.
Yes, it is.
Let me first acknowledge where you might find your mind when you first read the title of today's post/episode followed by the quote. Doubtful, skeptical, it is wishful and empty thinking you present Shannon.
Okay, I hear you, I acknowledge those same feelings arose in my own mind when such a question - What If . . . ? and just that quote regarding being brave first crossed my path. After all, we all have reason to be terrified after the past two years due to everything that has unfolded, what has been revealed, what we have had to do to make it through. We all have beyond justifiable reason to play it safe, to hold on to what is left (or what we think is left), to be scared, to be doubtful, but I am choosing to look at it differently, and this will come as no surprise to readers of the blog and this podcast as the content shared on TSLL especially over the past two years, but over the entire life of the blog (12 years) has defaulted to possibilities becoming reality.
More than any time previously, collectively speaking, the world has witnessed both the privilege and the disparity, the unexpected and never predicted as well as the power of people. We can utilize what we have witnessed and elevate not only the lives of those around us, but our own life or we can ignore it and continue to just get along.
I choose the former and I am confident you will as well.
In the Broadway play If/Then with Idina Menzel cast in the lead role, a play I had the good fortune to watch in 2014 - my first ever to see with my own eyes in NYC - the idea is presented regarding what happens when two different paths are chosen by the same person. How does one's life unfold? Will we end up in the same place years removed or will we give up opportunity? Does fate play a role or not? From romance to career, to friendships, (there is even a song titled, What If? - listen to here or below), both storylines play out before theater-goers' eyes, and what is witnessed is that our choices do matter, our bravery matters; however, in both storylines, we cannot control the other pieces of the story - the other people, the world events, the interactions and storylines of other people and what they are going through in their own lives. But we can dare to love, dare to step forward into the unknown, dare to try, dare to be fully human and be kind and curious because when we choose this approach, we let love into our lives in both hoped for and unexpected ways, we create memories we never want to forget and we build relationships and legacies we are proud to have taken part in with our whole heart.
Below I have gathered up potential hoped for and desired scenarios you may hold in your heart as you stride into 2022 as Norman is striding onto the beach in the picture below. Paired with each I have included what each of us will need to do in our lives to ensure the best possibility for our hope to materialize. In other words, we cannot sit, cross our fingers and be passive. No, we must act, we must take part, we must engage and do so in constructive and secure ways to give the opportunity the best enticement to unfold before our very eyes.
Let's take a look at the list below.
What If . . . your health flourished?
What If . . . you met and built a healthy, loving relationship with someone?
What If . . . the world changed in a way that opened up unexpected possibilities in which your skill-set soars?
What If . . . you found a steady peace of mind in your everydays?
What If . . . you fell in love with the work you do or began doing work you love?
Our lives are unfolding as we read this post. And the gift to each of us is that we are here, alive and capable of being the main character in our story if we choose to engage fully.
By choosing to engage with loving-kindness and integrity in each of our actions, we build a force of energy full of peace of mind as we know while we have been true to ourselves we have also considered those we love and what selflessly is what will honor their journey as well. We don't ignore ourselves, but rather respect ourselves. We are loving in the thoughts we let about in our mind which further strengthens our peace of mind and how we 'see' the world, we are loving in our actions, we are loving with our words. But rest assured, being loving doesn't mean being weak or soft or a push-over, but it does require us to allow others to be who they are even when it doesn't make sense to us, even if it is different than how we would live our lives. Loving asks us to extend appreciation, sincerely and often which means we must look for what is going well all the time which makes it far more difficult to look for what is not going well, thus limiting or eliminating any reason to complain. Loving asks us to be affectionate, to be vulnerable and not withhold giving love to others - a touch of the arm, a hug, a kiss, a kind word.
So won't you too step forward and dare to elevate the potential of what this year can bring into your life and those you love?
Living in the mindset of "What If . . . ?" is not to hold on to hope. In the context of what we are talking about today, it is a taking responsibility of our actions, how we present ourselves - the thoughts that turn into words, the words we use, the tone surrounding those words, the actions we take rather than being passive, what we step toward and engage with and what we let go and let be.
Living in the mindset of 'What If . . .?" removes us from the director's chair and puts us on the stage of life to engage with what is presented by others on the stage with us at any given moment.
Living in the mindset of 'What If . . . ?' requires us to live in awareness and to take action where we acknowledge we need to grow, where we are hindered by our current choices/actions/thoughts the life we desire from materializing. It requires us to handle our egos with command of understanding when it is unhelpful and guiding us down a path that will not be fortuitous, and also knowing when it can help us, but never letting it lead.
Living in the mindset of 'What If . . . ?' reiterates the importance of putting in the time. Time when we are not recognized, not out in front of the crowd, not receiving attention, but instead trusting ourselves to invest with both our time, our money, our focus to create the possibility of a new reality.
May 2022 delight and amaze you, and may you find the courage to be brave. Here we go!
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY
episode #214: Attaining the Change You Seek in the New Year
~Hacks, HBO Max
—SKIMS Cozy Bouclé Robe (bone, and more colors)
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #320
Sun, 14 November 2021
"Vitality involves intersection with and participation in the world around you. It is not predicated on taking a year off to find yourself. It doesn't require making a drastic change. You don't need to lose yourself in self-reflection. You don't need to overhaul your existence, or reinvent your life, or wait until the chaos [subsides]." —Dr. Samantha Boardman, author of Everyday Vitality
What is Vitality?
Vitality elevates the quality of each day, and it is something you cultivate with your actions, engagements and approach to living. "Health of spirit" is an oft definition of vitality, a "sense of feeling psychologically and physically up to the task". Most directly, "Vitality—the positive feeling of aliveness and energy that lies at the core of well-being."
It is important to note what writer and psychologist Andrew Solomon shares. "The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."
Picking up Dr. Samantha Boardman's book Everyday Vitality: Turning Stress into Strength initially gave me pause. First of all, based on previous readings and research and my own experience, we shouldn't be managing stress, we should be assessing and eliminating it at the source when and where possible. So it was her subtitle that almost had me backing away from reading the book. However, as soon as I read the introduction it was clear, much of the stress that is in our lives is self-made and thus can be reduced and/or eliminated. Her book is full of specific approaches, backed by research and multiple studies to demonstrate the significant shift and beneficial shift our lives make when we approach our everydays - how we interact, that indeed we do interact with the outside world and how we hold ourselves as we navigate through our days - thoughtfully and intentionally. In other words, actively engaging rather than passively observing.
Today I have ten approaches, tips and tools for improving the vitality in your everydays. There are far more than ten to be found in her book, so hopefully today's episode will be a nice taste of what you may want to explore more if you pick up her book.
Visit the show notes - https://thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast316
Sun, 17 October 2021
"The missing element of oxygen, when brought home, gives us time in which we can record the tiny, visceral, magnificent details of living. The shower after a sweaty workout, a belly laugh with a friend, the warmth of fine whiskey, rain on the roof, or a tight and lasting hug . . . Busy can make you miss it all. Busy keeps you paddling along the surface of the water instead of diving down to see the parrot fish and the fan coral." —Juliet Funt, author of A Minute to Think: Reclaim creativity, conquer busyness and do your best work
A thinking life is a happy life. But if you don't give yourself regular time to think well, living well is near impossible.
Inspired by my own aha moments most recently as work shifted temporarily to being at home during the pandemic restrictions for in-person work environments, but also throughout my life when I would notice my productivity rise and fall based on the rigidity of my schedule, I witnessed which approach blatantly not only produced the best productivity, but the most joy as well. They were not mutually exclusive.
In fact, each time I have had the opportunity to travel to France, I witness the daily routines of the French, the long lunches, the deliciously untempered dinners that stretch into nearly early morning, and I remind myself to value quality engagement over the quantity of doing more and fitting more into a day's work or even play schedule.
A new book, A Minute to Think provides encouraging evidence predominantly from inside the corporate world of the benefit of shifting away from more and instead investing in less. Today I would like to share with you seven ideas to ponder when it comes to how to live a life, that includes work, but is not driven by work, but rather living a fulfilling life, that brings you deeper contentment, joy and satisfaction.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #314
Sun, 3 October 2021
"Man's search for meaning is the primary motivation in his life and not a 'secondary rationalization' of instinctual drives. This meaning is unique and specific in that it must and can be fulfilled by him alone; only then does it achieve a significance which will satisfy his own will to meaning." —Viktor E. Frankl
First published in Germany in 1946, Viktor Emil Frankl's seminal work Man's Search for Meaning and the desire to write his first book (to be titled The Doctor and the Soul: An Introduction to Logotherapy) that largely gave him the will to live while imprisoned at Auschwitz during WWII. Marrying psychology and philosophy, a primary focus of his work throughout his life, Frankl shares "Certainly, my deep desire to write this manuscript anew helped me to survive the rigors of the camps I was in."
Now with more than 16 million copies sold worldwide, Man's Search for Meaning continues to be a book to read, understand and reread. While not having the opportunity to read it until now, I am grateful that at least I finally did read it, and I would like to share with you today nine lessons learned about the importance of finding meaning in our lives.
Much of the premise of a simply luxurious life is centering our lives, our selves, or perhaps a better word is grounding ourselves in priorities that marry what we can uniquely give, but also what the world desperately needs to progress and cultivate a more civil, loving and peaceful place for not only ourselves, but future generations. At first, such a task given to each of us may sound ginormous and far too weighty a task, but when we drill down, ultimately, love, sincere love, being able to share our true selves and be accepted begins to create a harmony of contentment that cannot help but create a symphonic awareness grounded in a desire to live more peacefully and lovingly with each other. Too far reaching some may contest, but if my own life journey, which indeed is filled with good fortune and privilege beyond my choice or control, demonstrates, when we have not found our meaning, when we are discontent, building healthy relationships is incredibly difficult, and often fraught as while trying to make sense of our lack of purpose, we displace our pain, so I wholeheartedly find worthwhile value in exploring what Viktor Frankl teaches, and hope it will offer tools for you as well to tap into what gives you meaning and share it with not only the world but yourself so that your everydays may be full of contentment. Let's take a look at the nine lessons.
1.Choose to pursue the will to meaning
Frankl defines the will to meaning as "the striving to find a concrete meaning in personal existence". For when we find our individual will to meaning, the healing begins. Existential frustration subsides, neuroses find solutions, anxieties wane and contentment soars.
2. Find your meaning, find your way forward
Frankl shares an anecdote of an American diplomat who came to his (Frankl's) in Vienna discontent with his current career. Following five unfruitful years with his former psychological analyst who claimed the discontent came from the need to reconcile himself with his father as the analyst made a parallel with the father and the U.S. being a superior figure, upon visiting Frankl, and following only a few visits, the patient realized with clarity that his "will to meaning was frustrated by his vocation, and he actually longed to be engaged in some other kind of work. As there was no reason for not giving up his profession and embarking on a different one, he did so, with most gratifying results."
3. Nothing is wrong with you if you feel existential distress; in fact, you are heading in the right direction
Frankl points out, moreso for practicing therapists, to not equate existential distress with mental disease. Asserting, "it is [the task of the therapist], rather, to pilot the patient through [their] existential crises of growth and development."
So often in my own life journey, the distress of frustration by my career, my relationships (or lack thereof), and what I was meant to do with my finite days on earth, felt as though it was a burden, not good fortune. Something was 'wrong' with me for not having figured out my life journey immediately, quickly and feeling at ease. Thankfully, the opposite is true, all was well. I was listening to myself, I was acknowledging something didn't 'fit', what I was giving, what I was spending my time doing either wasn't enough or it wasn't aligned with my talents and what the world potentially needed.
In this post - 9 Ways to Think Like a Monk, as taught by Jay Shetty - Shetty's idea of Dharma is shared.
Passion + Expertise + Usefulness = Dharma
In many ways, finding our Dharma is to find our will to meaning.
4. The unexpected gift of tension
"What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him."
I chose to bold the phrase 'freely chosen' because I find it to be an essential element to finding true contentment. Even if your life is charmed, yet you still feel discontent and frustration, yet society applauds, your family applauds, your friends cheer for what you are doing with your life, most likely, you have unconsciously not chosen for yourself the life you are living, but rather have been steered by approval, expectation and mores to take the steps and make the choices you have without truly acknowledging what you long for. Which leads me to the next item on the list, but first . . .
Welcoming tension in your life must be thoughtfully done. After all, unnecessary stress is harmful to our health. No, what Frankl means by stating tension is healthy has everything to do with pursuing what gives you meaning. If you derive meaning from advocating for a cause, then the path forward will undoubtedly be fraught as you are striving for progress, but you strive forward anyway because it is your will to meaning. If you derive meaning from raising a family, nurturing your children as to give them their own wings with which to fly, the journey together will be a mingle of emotions, but you strive forward because it is your will to meaning. If you derive meaning from contributing through your chosen career path to improve the lives of others, you navigate through the frustrations, setbacks and hurdles because it is your will to meaning and you know why you are pursuing it.
When the path we are on does not fulfill our will to meaning, similar to the anecdote of the American diplomat mentioned above, then the tension becomes unhealthy. Then we must be frank with ourselves and find the courage to change course and bravely do so, not only for our own well being, but for those we love and the world at large. Why? Because the world needs what you uniquely have to give. Figure out what that is and then begin giving what you discover. Your tension will be reduced to a healthy amount and your contentment will soar.
5. Discover what you long for and find your contentment
The term Logotherapy as defined by Viktor E. Frankl derives its meaning from the Greek root Logos which is defined as "meaning". Logotherapy "strives to find a meaning in one's life as the primary motivational force of man". Logotherapy opens itself up while including 'instinctual facts within the individual's unconscious [it] . . . also cares for existential realities, such as the potential meaning of his existence to be fulfilled as well as his will to meaning." In other words, Logotherapy assists the patient to become aware of "what he actually longs for in the depth of his being".
Understanding the language of your true self can sometimes be difficult and take time especially if we have suppressed it for some time; however, we are each capable of learning our language when we choose to be a student of ourselves.
As I share in my About page (I recently updated it to reflect more accurately and specifically what TSLL is all about, but the shared portion below remains the same as it did in 2009), while I valued and gave my all to teaching, in 2009 I finally acknowledged that something wasn't entirely being satiated by solely working in the classroom." (see the excerpt below)
When we find meaning, even if nobody else understands why such a path speaks to us and brings us to life, we have found the motivation of infinite energy, creativity, tenacity and strength.
6. Find your meaning, eradicate boredom
Frankl coins the term 'Sunday neurosis" as "that kind of depression which afflicts people who become aware of the lack of content in their lives when the rush of the busy week is over and the void within themselves becomes manifest." He goes on while speaking about the existential vacuum to share that without the will of meaning, and with the improved automatization of our 21st century, "many will not know what to do with all of their newly acquired free time". Which is to say boredom, anxiety, distress and lack of direction cause more solvable problems that he argues can be largely solved when we find our will to meaning.
This is not to say you have to be busy every moment, pack your schedule with appointments; in fact, I would argue, it is the opposite. Or perhaps, more accurately, it is a knowing what supports and nourishes your will to meaning and thereby finding comfort with your down-time that is a part of your self-care and confidently engaging in your productive time when on task.
7. Your next best step toward meaning is what is best for you
"The meaning of life differs from [person] to [person], from day to day and from hour to hour. What matters, therefore, is not the meaning of life in general but rather the specific meaning of a person's life at a given moment."
I found it helpful to note that Frankl directly advises not to search for an abstract meaning of life, but rather a concrete 'assignment which demands fulfillment'. In other words, don't commodify yourself, but rather what is it you bring that is helpful and that you find fulfillment in giving? "Thus, everyone's task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it."
8. Finding strength during times of suffering
"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
Just as Frankl's own life exemplifies harnessing his will to meaning to survive the unthinkable tragedies and struggles during WWII, he writes, "In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning, such as the meaning of a sacrifice." However, and this is crucially important to absorb, he continues on in the same section of the book to point out "But let me make it perfectly clear that in no way is suffering necessary to find meaning. I only insist that meaning is possible even in spite of suffering—provided, certainly, that the suffering is unavoidable."
9. Hold yourself in the present fully for all the days of your life
Frankl writes that we must refrain from being pessimistic and instead be activistic when it comes to our human existence. That is to say,
"The pessimist resembles a man who observes with fear and sadness that his wall calendar, from which he daily tears a sheet, grows thinner with each passing day. On the other hand, the person who attacks the problems of life actively is like a man who removes each successive leaf from his calendar and files it neatly and carefully away with its predecessors, after first having jotted down a few diary notes on the back. He can reflect with pride and joy on all the richness set down in these notes, on all the life he has already lived to the fullest."
He goes on to suggest there is no need to envy the young because we have lived fully each of our days, holding ourselves in the present, motivated by our will to meaning, and "instead of possibilities . . . have realities [from our past experiences] . . . not only the reality of work done and of love loved, but of sufferings bravely suffered."
Just as happiness cannot be experienced in every moment, suffering cannot be wholly avoided when we find our will to meaning and let it guide us forward. However, by holding ourselves in the present moment, while we cannot avoid experiencing the loss of loved ones, we can love fully, so that when we reflect, we are filled with joy and reminded of the riches of our lives, riches we, by bravely living well, engaging with our humanity, courageously stepping into what we discover is our will of meaning, helped to bring forth into our lives.
Upon learning about Viktor E. Frankl's approach to therapy and perspective on the meaning of humans, I found an alignment that has unconsciously spoke to me to honor for decades. Although never making sense, and not having the opportunity, nor pursuing more intentionally philosophy courses in college, the ideas danced about in my mind, and while I, at the time, wanted them to leave me alone because they were so perplexing, they thankfully waited for me to make sense of them, to trust them.
The world swirling around us via media, messaging, our community can be deafening and hold us off course if we let it. But when we understand that the feeling of frustration is actually a sign that we are hearing our inner voice, we can find peace. Because in that moment of aha, we can take a breath, and continue to pursue the questions that keep bouncing around in our mind, because, if my own journey is any indication it is a path that will lead you to everyday contentment.
I do hope you enjoy this week's episode of the podcast. Thank you for stopping by and tuning in.
Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl
SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
View more Petit Plaisirs here.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #313
Sun, 19 September 2021
The workplace has shifted in a short amount of time, largely due to the pandemic, but also prompted by many other social and environmental awakenings. Communication, civil communication, remains at the epicenter of a civil society; however, currently, a significant learning curve has taken place, and we need to keep up in order to strengthen connections, build trust and foster workspaces of inclusion.
My guest on today's podcast, Tracy Hooper, the founder of The Confidence Project, released a new book The New Hello: What to Say, What to Do, in the New World of Work this past year to share with us all the how and the why to practicing and learning the skills of clear communication paired with acute awareness of others to create a workplace of mutual, positive benefit and exchange.
Having known Ms. Hooper for ten years (she was a guest on the show during its first season), we had a wonderful video chat for today's episode (audio only). Listeners will learn specific examples of skills to utilize not only in their work life, but their personal life as well to strengthen relationships and honor our own boundaries and voice.
Items of Discussion in today's episode:
I highly recommend The New Hello for not only our current times, but all times, as Tracy shares years of research and experience with a vast variety of workers and individuals, teaching the importance of self-awareness (how we speak - the words we use and what is conveyed, whether we intentional or by default; as well as our body language) and awareness of our surroundings and those we work with ensuring all parties feel comfortable, welcome and heard.
Links to explore:
Confidence: How to Gain It & Why It's Invaluable, episode #5
Learn more about The New Hello (available in paperback and audio)
~I greatly appreciate what Tracy shares in this IG video (below) about standards and respecting the ones we have for ourselves whether in business or in our personal lives
As well, Tracy shares this episode's Petit Plaisir, a priceless example, something each of us can incorporate into our daily lives, to deepen our contentment, calm our minds and settle our being. Shared below, Tracy's zinnias surround her outdoor space at home to sit, relax and slow down during the summer months.
View more Petit Plaisirs here.
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #312
Sun, 5 September 2021
"The world is already broken. And what's true of the state of civilization is equally true of your life: it was always already the case that you would never experience a life of perfect accomplishment or security. And your four thousand weeks have always been running out. It's a revelation, though: when you begin to internalize all this even just a bit, the result is not despair, but an energizing surge of motivation . . . You realize that you never really needed the feeling of complete security you'd previously felt so desperate to attain. This is liberation." —Oliver Burkeman, author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time management for mortals
Admittedly, the length of a human life is short when we take the long view of civilization, so it is understandable for us to make the most of our time. However, in so doing, we often go about 'making the most of it' in unhelpful, counter-intuitive ways.
Oliver Burkeman wrote a long-running and award-winning weekly column for The Guardian up until last year. He is also the author of The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking, and so after reading his final column for The Guardian, and the synopsis for his first book, I had an idea of his frank, yet considered and sincere approach to what he shares with his readers. Four Thousand Weeks is not your typical time management book.
It is a book to open our eyes to the reality of our mortality, no matter how much we may profess we accept that we will die, we demonstrate through our actions, how we live, we may not have fully absorb this life truth. But don't worry, Burkeman shares in his introduction, his objective is to write a book that helps each of us "redress the balance [of our finite time on this planet and engage productively with fellow citizens, current events and the fate of the environment]—to see if we can't discover, or recover, some ways of thinking about time that do justice to our real situation: to the outrageous brevity and shimmering possibilities of our four thousand weeks."
I have pulled ten tips he shares about how to live more deeply, and thus more contentedly in our everydays and thus our entire life; however, there is much more in the book and I highly recommend reading it in its entirety. Let's take a look at the list.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast311
Sun, 29 August 2021
In just one week's time, a new season, Season 8, of The Simple Sophisticate podcast will begin. Already, my bookstand is full of titles that have piqued my interest to compile into podcast episodes to inspire, inform and motivate you to cultivate your own unique simply luxurious life.
Below is a visual of the entire season running from September of this year through August of 2022. You may also download a pdf of the schedule here.
With more than 20 episodes, sharing two new episodes every month on the first and third Monday of each month (even April and May which were previously removed from the schedule in previous seasons due to my teaching schedule), the only month off will be July which gives me time to produce my cooking show's latest season which debuts each September. In November, you'll notice, there are three new episodes as many listeners are traveling during this time of year, and I thought what better time to provide more listening material?
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcastseason8schedule
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music
Sun, 16 May 2021
The French define le Petit Plaisir as a simple indulgence that brings great pleasure and enjoyment. In English, the translation is easy to note - small pleasures, yet significant in their ability to elevate the everyday.
This week on the blog is TSLL's 3rd Annual British Week, and while yes, the term Petit Plaisirs is notably French, my affinity for the British culture is grounded in so many of the Brits' daily rituals, appreciation for nature which surrounds each waking day, and the dogged determination to keep calm and carry on coined and released to the public in 1939 in an effort to steel the nerves and assuage the fears of the impeding war.
As I sat down this past Saturday, savoring a weekend to spent entirely at home, I took a moment and glanced about. So much of how I structure my own everydays welcomes British influences. Most seemingly simple, but others which have come about intentionally, with patience and clear-eyed understanding of the comfort they would bring into my life and sanctuary.
Today I would like to share with you 25 British-inspired Petit Plaisirs, and please do share in the comments, rituals or routines you welcome into your own life which are inspired by your Anglophile predilections.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast306
Sun, 14 March 2021
"Living your purpose will make it possible to do all the things you need to do to reach the goals you need to reach in order to fulfill your dreams, which are as big as the world and as optimistic as your mind can imagine." —Norma Kamali, author of I Am Invincible
Change is inevitable, in the world, our bodies and our lives. How we navigate life's endless changes determines the quality of our lives, especially during our everydays and how we experience each 24-hours, but from the longview of life, it will determine the legacy we create, the connections and relationships we make and build and how or if we contribute positively to a better world tomorrow.
Upon the book's arrival, I read it in one day. Highlighting constantly, stopping and rereading, taking closer notes so as not to forget and apply immediately her wisdom to my life, I couldn't wait to share with podcast listeners and blog readers (where does the 'side of popcorn come in you may be wondering? she shares a simple, yet delicious recipe for homemade popcorn - I tried it the next day - yep, loved it).
Her book begins with the driving question: If you can control the quality of your life, why not do it? And while she definitely had me at Why Not . . . ? I couldn't agree more that indeed we should invest and apply in all the areas we can to elevate the quality of our lives.
Today's episode/post shares 33 of which there are many more lessons discovered as I read her book. I hope you enjoy.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast303
Sun, 28 February 2021
Over the weekend I quietly celebrated my 42nd birthday. It was lovely. It was full of much contemplation. It included delicious food and wine and the last day of the year brought the sunshine which found me out in my garden preparing for spring.
Over the past 12 months all of our lives experienced unexpected moments, ahas, wonderings, fears, break-throughs and endless other unplanned daily routine shifts and lifestyle adjustments.
Perhaps some of the lessons I share today won't come as a surprise to you if you follow TSLL blog and podcast and for every lesson I share, if there is a post or episode which explores the idea further, I will be sure to link it for further reader. All in all, much has been learned, much unexpected, and much I am incredibly thankful presented itself and equally am I thankful I chose to try to understand why it said hello in my life.
Sun, 14 February 2021
301: The Courage to Live Fully & Deeply: 7 Ideas to Put into Practice for a Life of True Contentment
"People can change and be happy from this moment onward . . . the problem is not one of ability, but of courage." —from the book The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
"As long as one keeps searching, the answers come." American folk singer Joan Baez certainly narrows down succinctly and accurately the practice of finding our way; however, along the way toward the revelation of the answers, we must be courageous enough to feel uncomfortable for portions of the journey as well as capable of homing in on the gems of wisdom and letting go of needing to be agile when trying something new in our lives.
Today, I am excited to share with you a handful of insights the book The Courage to Be Disliked taught me (there are soooooo many more - I highly recommend reading the book). On the surface, each is easy to comprehend, but the first time we put the practice into use, it may be difficult. With time and consistent effort however, the practice will become habituated and before we realize it, our lives, our everyday lives and the longview of our lives, will change for the better. Let's take a look at the list.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast301
Sun, 17 January 2021
"The lack of meaning in our lives stresses us out, but too much stress makes it harder to find meaning." —Dr. Rangan Chatterjee, author of The Stress Solution
Yesterday, for the entire day, aside from letting my pups outside from time to time and feeding them, I wallpapered. I turned on old British cosy mysteries (Poirot with David Suchet), and went to town (hopefully) transforming my primary bedroom from a gray space to a French/English Countryside cottage space.
After such focused projects, I sleep deeply. Stress? Nonexistent.
Dr. Rangan Chatterjee explains in The Stress Solution how when you've found something you love "time, and even you sense of self, will seem to vanish when you're busy with it." Yep, this is the 'flow state' we've heard so much about. Your emotional brain finds it difficult to grab your attention as your rational brain is being fully encouraged to grow he further teaches. All of this is to say, any negative thoughts, cannot grab hold because you are intently engrossed in something your full attention needs to be engaged with.
Dr. Chatterjee shares more specifically as psycholoist Mihaly Csikszemtimihalyi (who coined the phrase - flow state) found, flow is only fully reached when we are challenged. Which makes it all the more important to find something to give your attention to regularly you not only love doing but also steadily gives you the opportunity to grow.
All of this is to say, we can alleviate and solve the problem of unnecessary stress in our lives. And when we do so, not only will our overall health improve - in the short and long term, but we will deepen the daily contentment we experience and improve our everyday lives.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast299
Sun, 3 January 2021
"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." —Hans Hofmann
Far different from minimizing, simplifying requires that we consciously explore what is of value in our lives and then thoughtfully edit in order for what we deem most important to shine as fully as possible.
Upon recently rereading Carl Phillips' book 22 Ways to Simpler Living and a couple of other books which help me to assess how simplified I have kept my life or where I need to check-in and adjust or make improvements, I was inspired to make a list to serve as a refresher. I have a feeling each reader/listener stopping by today's post has simplified their lives in some way at some point if not multiple times throughout their lives, so today's post is a check-in so to speak. An opportunity to ensure we are each truly living a simple life for ourselves so we can then live truly simply luxuriously and find true contentment in our everydays. Let's take a look at the list.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast298
Mon, 21 December 2020
In the spirit of nurturing ourselves, healing ourselves and opening a door to a better year in 2021, today's episode/post is shared with the intention of providing inspiration for you to do just that as you tailor the final week of the year - the Between the Years as my readers taught me last year (read this post from last year which was inspired by this aha of the term) - to nurture you, heal you, open your eyes to a better, more deeply contented 2021.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast297
Sun, 13 December 2020
“Privacy - like eating and breathing - is one of life's basic requirements.”
The sanctuaries we call home, no matter how large or small, provide the comfort and necessary gift of privacy. We hold the key to whom will enter, who lives, who dines, who sleeps, within the four walls we pay each month a large portion of our hard earned money.
Similar to our sanctuaries, we are given choices in our lives, many which take time to materialize, but with clear-eyed effort, the beauty, the serenity, can be achieved. Much like the cleanliness and tidiness of a home, we provide self-care, tend to our physical and mental well-being so we can think clearly, decide well and experience true contentment each day. The ideas, the people, the conversations, the energy we open our doors to in our physical house affect the quality of our home-life. And the good news is, we hold the key to the door.
Immediately, when I think of a home and privacy, the voice of Diane Lane's character Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun dances through my mind, "What are four walls, anyway? They are what they contain. The house protects the dreamer." And we all need to dream, to give ourselves time and the space to explore our wildest hopes and desires, to become fully acquainted with what sparks joy in our own hearts and minds void of society's influence.
A crucial component to living a life of sincerity, to tapping into and discovering our unique potential which the world wants us to share is having the privacy to do so, to finding a steady contentment in each of our days no matter what is swirling around us. So much of our lives is out of our control, but there is much that can be within our control when we become aware of these aspects of our lives (explore these posts and episodes on this exact topic of control).
"Maintaining some degree of control over interactions with other people is crucial to our psychological well-being." —Dr. Frank T. McAndrew
The key to a home of tranquility and the key to a tranquil life is to establish a personal privacy approach determining who and what can have access to various aspects of your life. Professor of Psychology Dr. Frank T. McAndrew explains how we have four types of privacy in our lives - solitude, intimacy, anonymity, and reserve. Understanding what each type of privacy is as well as how much we need of each (and we do need some level of each in our lives - although, the amount will differ from person to person) helps us to better understand how to find deeper contentment in our everyday lives.
Today we'll explore how to find the balance of healthy personal privacy which can elevate the quality of our lives. Recently, as many TSLL readers and podcast listeners know, I reformed my own privacy boundaries here on the blog this past October and while there were some who pushed back as I was changing what they had become accustomed, the personal peace I gave myself has been priceless.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast296
Sun, 6 December 2020
“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” - Thomas Edison
True contentment runs like a river feeding our everyday lives with constant inner peace.
Whether the weather for the day is a turbulent snow storm or a sunny Blue Bird day as we call them in Bend, the river of True Contentment continues to run so long as we feed it with conscious awareness and staying fully present much like a healthy snowpack which keeps the river flowing throughout the entire year.
To reach the river of True Contentment we have to create the map for ourselves, not find the map which already exists because it doesn't. It doesn't exist in a bookstore, a welcome vestibule at the beginning of your journey, no. And it is even more interesting to note, the map to true contentment is not an entire life-long journey. Rather, it is a map which materializes as we each navigate forward, choosing to learn and hone skills along the way, asking the scary questions our lives present and trust ourselves walk forward alone.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast295
Sun, 15 November 2020
"You shouldn't dream your film, you should make it!" —Steven Spielberg
To live actively requires we take action.
Seems simple enough, but if teaching my students as well as myself to refrain from using passive verbs versus active verbs in writing indicates anything, defaulting to the passive
What if we are defaulting in the same way in our everyday life and, even more largely, in our vision of how our journey will unfold?
A new-to-me podcast, Solo: The Single Person's Guide to a Remarkable Life, shared an insightful approach to living life which caught my attention immediately. What if we, instead of being the hero of our own lives, choose to be the director?
Think about it for a moment. When we look at a film from the point-of-view from the real world, the hero in the film/movie/novel/play merely follows the directions of the person behind the camera - the Greta Gerwigs (Oscar nominated director for Little Women), the Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar winning director for The Hurt Locker), the Steven Spielbergs (Oscar winning director for Lincoln), the Amma Asantes (Mrs. America), the Jennifer Getzingers (Orange is the New Black and Mad Men), the Julie Delpys (2 Days in Paris), and the Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman).
“Humble perseverance and the ability to observe and grow, in pursuit of making what you love and believe in. Really. THAT is the secret”. —Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman
To be the director of our lives assumes the responsibility of having a larger vision for the purpose of each scene, each chapter; however, within each moment, each interaction and revelation, the director knows fully how to craft a scene so as to bring forth a dedication to being present, fully engaged and intentionally clear and knowing about living fully.
Being a hero, in theory, is not a bad directive, but it neglects the reality of being a hero - whether saving themselves or another or an entire vast swath of others - the climatic drama of adversity is assumed. And then there is the tragic hero. No thank you.
This is not to say that we can direct ourselves to avoid all conflict and adversity. No. From such unwanted and unplanned pains, we grow, we learn, and we gain wisdom, clarity, and strength; however, if we only relegate ourselves to being the hero, we follow a script written by another and directed by someone else as well. While there have been directors who directed themselves, there is a reason why only one has done so and been able to capture an Oscar for both roles - Roberto Benigini in Life is Beautiful (1999), winning 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 toward 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 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
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #294
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
Sun, 8 November 2020
"When we speak a language that denies us choice, we forget the life in ourselves for a robotlike mentality that disconnects us from our own core." —Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life
Two lives may look like one another, but one may indeed be fulfilling, while the other a life of disdain and pain.
Choosing to live as we do versus living a life out of an expectation, obligation, avoidance of guilt, approval, to avoid shame, or to gain money is to choose a life of integrity according to Marshall Rosenberg. When we choose a life of integrity, we discover the ability to tap into our essential and most sincere self, and enable ourselves to share with the world the gift and talent only we can give.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast293
Sun, 1 November 2020
Books about happiness ubiquitously fill the publishing world, but the fundamentals of happiness quite simply are just that, simple. We become overwhelmed, and then it becomes easier to fixate, and often superficially so, which expends our finite energy rather than focusing our attention on the core fundamentals and choices of what happiness requires to be deeply and sincerely felt.
When the directions are wrong you will never see materialize what you desire.
Stop the pursuit. This is something I’ve discussed on the blog before, but I think it is worth exploring again. This time, I am going to explore more concretely the fundamental components of experiences real happiness, and much more of it in our everydays. Let's get to the seven truths in today's episode.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast292
Sun, 18 October 2020
“Your inner purpose is to awaken.” —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth
To observe the seamless fluidity of a dancing pair with years of professional dancing experience float across the floor no matter what type of dance is asked of them is to observe a deep awareness and skill of their craft. Foxtrot. No problem. Viennese Waltz. Got it. Tango. Oh my, yes. Swing. Yep!
In 2017, in episode #143, the skill of self-awareness was explored in-depth here on the podcast/blog. For a quick refresher, to be self-aware is to be able to observe ourselves, accept and recognize what we discover and be honest about how we feel, why we act certain ways in particular situations, and the change that we may need to take. It is being able to pay attention and be honest about our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions.
When we are fully self-aware, we gain the instructions of how to live well even though we do not know what the next minute will reveal, the next week, month, year, and so on, will reveal.
When we become self-aware, we are awake and capable of noticing when we need to grow and in what way will help us navigate through whatever life may present.
I chose today's topic because no matter where you find yourself in the mix of stress, loss, pain, and confusion regarding our current situation, many readers have shared with me they are presented with new situations of questions, confusion, doubt, [fill-in-the-blank of an unwanted and somewhat or significantly new emotion] from time to time in a manner that perhaps was not present pre-pandemic.
"Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment." —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth
Borrowing Tolle's advice from the quote above, seize these unanticipated and initially unwanted moments and feelings and let them be your guide to deeper self-awareness and an improved everyday life. Assuage any grief, quandary, angst, by reassuring yourself that you have been presented with this moment for a reason. Don't toss it. Don't avoid it. Explore it.
Today I would like to look at six unwanted examples that may be happening in your life and how to step forward and do the latter to each in order to improve the quality of your life moving forward and through our current situation.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast291
Sun, 11 October 2020
"Creating an environment in which you can have a greater sense of clarity and calm . . . The result is a mind that feels much calmer and clear." —Andy Puddicomb
Having an abundance of choices is a valuable asset and an extraordinary opportunity. However, unconsciously, when we don't filter our seemingly unlimited choices, we welcome more unnecessary stress into our daily lives.
As someone who wholeheartedly embraces and celebrates choice, understanding the right balance of how much choice is helpful until it tips over into distraction, confusion and paralyzation, upon obtaining, significantly increases the level of contentment in everyday life.
Andy Puddicomb's seemingly simple advice is too often overlooked or forgotten, however is insightful and sage advice if we are seeking tranquility in our everydays.
The clarity we may need to welcome into our lives could be ushered in seemingly anywhere and everywhere. The variable is each of us. Where do we need calm in our lives? Where are we feeling harried, run-down and over-extended? Often we don't realize it is the over-abundance of options that is standing in the way of a sea of calm that carries us more gently and enjoyably through our days.
It has been argued that a large portion of our life experience is determined by a few key decisions. Coined the 80/20 rule, or more officially, the Pareto Principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906 to describe the wealth inequality at the time, the concept has expanded to apply to a variety of aspects of life beyond business.
And while, the formula isn't exact, it is a concept worth pondering. When we think about our choices as investments in our lives, what choices will reap the most benefit, the best and longest lasting outcomes? Whether regarding our health or contentment or financial stability, quality choices, purchases and pursuits are wise investments which eliminate excessive, repetitive and time-consuming choices that may fill up our days and minds unnecessarily.
Today, discover 10 areas of life to consider paring down your choices and thereby, scaling up the overall quality of your everyday life and peace of mind.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast290
Sun, 20 September 2020
The Atlantic recently posted an article asserting there won't be a clear end to the pandemic. Rather, the end for each of us will be as unique and differentiated as each one of us and occur on a different timeline.
Frequently, the yearning for "returning to normal" may be voiced by those around us, strangers or intimate relations, or we may be simply thinking such thoughts, constantly, as we grieve the parts of our lives we enjoyed that are no longer readily available or available at all.
However, even before the pandemic introduced itself and in what seemed for many to change our lives much like a light-switch, the psychological experts have been talking about this word that seems to roll off our tongues more often than ever before in recent times - normal. Writing in 2009 on Pyschology Today, "The fate of normality is very much in the balance," wrote Peter Kramer.
While speaking about individuals as to their neurosis or so-called normal behaviors and the perameters of what constitutes "normal", he shared a final thought which may help reframe how we strive forward in our current times as we are more broadly looking at an entire world, culture, etc. and what "normal", the new normal, may be:
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast288
Sun, 6 September 2020
“Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain
The thief of joy, if Mark Twain is right, is of our own making.
The good news in this revelation reveals each of us can take back our joy.
Comparing ourselves to others occurs consciously and unconsciously. Consciously, we may be acutely aware that we follow certain people on social media to see how we are doing in relation; unconsciously, when we choose not to speak up to set a boundary, when we set a checklist for our life delineating what should happen by what age.
Each of these three are examples of many more of unhelpful comparison, and while comparison is a primal instinct for survival, the good news evolution and civil society have provided the opportunity and arguably the necessity for each of us of to offer the world our unique talents rather than limiting ourselves to remain part of the herd or tribe.
The habit of comparison is a learned skill, and therefore, it can be unlearned; however, it must be a conscious choice to do so. Fundamentally, when we compare ourselves with others, some part of us believes we are not enough or needs to be reassured that we are enough just as we are.
Today, I will be examining five areas of our lives in which comparison can creep in and become destructive to contentment and living a fulfilling life, and then share how to let go of such comparing with the outside world.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast286
Sun, 16 August 2020
In three weeks the seventh season of The Simple Sophisticate will begin. With 285 episodes already shared, I am excited to explore new books, welcome guests that speak to what living simply luxuriously is all about and sharing motivating and inspiring ways to continue to live a life of quality over quantity.
I have shared the full calendar for Season 7 which spans the next 12 months. You will notice that 2021 has a handful fewer episodes than last season. The reason for this is to give me time to hopefully bring a second season of the cooking show during the spring season.
Keep in mind that every Monday that a new episode does not go live, a brand new Motivational Monday post will be available to read here on the blog, just as there is today.
I want to thank listeners again for sharing the show with their friends and family either by word-of-mouth or on their social media feeds, and for leaving positive reviews that share specifically what they enjoy about the show so that new potential listeners know exactly what they will discover when they tune in.
This September look for topics on building healthy relationships, listen to my conversation with a guest from the cooking world who has worked with the most well-known people in the industry, tips on how to make the most of this incredibly challenging time, and many more topics that are relevant and relatable as well as offering concrete ideas to apply to your own life journey.
Join me on Monday September 7th for a brand new episode wherever you listen to podcasts. Subscribe below in order to always have the latest episode ready to download and enjoy.
Sun, 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.
Each year when my birthday rolls around, here on the blog, I share a reflection of some sort of life lessons, aha moments and discoveries about the world found along my journey. To share, as well, admittedly, as a way to preserve my own growth, my hope is to prompt introspection amongst readers as sometimes, maybe even often, we do not realize all ways in which we have grown as it can sometimes be hard to see when we are the ones walking through the world each day.
I have yet to share my life lessons for my 41st birthday which fell during the final week of February, so I wanted to take today's episode/post to reflect.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast279
Sun, 2 February 2020
"Emotional freedom is a homecoming to your own heart and fullest power. It salutes authenticity, not conforming to someone else's notion of what to feel or how to be." —Dr. Judith Orloff, author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate yourself from negative emotions and transform your life (2009)
The middle of the night, before you can fall asleep or early morning thoughts that swirl and fuel agitation, worry and fear preventing you from falling asleep.
The feeling of being lonely and falling prey to the purport by society that the simple solution is to find someone to be romantically involved with.
Ratcheted chronic anxiety that cements you from pursuing something new or chasing your dreams or simply enjoying your everyday life.
An assumed negative default in perspective when it comes to the world, the future, especially your future and what is actually possible no matter what your age.
In sharing each of these scenarios, maybe you most strongly identified with one, or maybe none of them spoke to you, but moments of one or two rear their heads in your life when your energy is depleted or life temporarily becomes exhausting. And hopefully, maybe you recognize your former self in one or more of these and now are able to celebrate having broken free of the counterproductive emotional patterns that were learned and accepted as "how life will be".
Wherever you find yourself on the continuum of learning the skills of attaining emotional freedom, after reading/listening to today's post/episode you will have a clear path forward for identifying with the latter description in the previous paragraph.
I picked up Dr. Judith Orloff's book because I needed to read it. I knew the skills I needed to improve the quality of my emotional life were lacking, but I did not know what they were or, if I had a sense of them, how to strengthen them.
Dr. Judith Orloff defines emotional freedom as increasing your ability to love by cultivating positive emotions and being able to compassionately witness and transform negative ones, whether they're yours or another's.
Choosing to become emotionally free is entirely the choice of the individual. Whether healthy emotional patterns were modeled by your parents or not, you can learn them, apply them and shift how you engage with the world, how you experience the world and thus how you move forward and elevate the quality of your life experience.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast275
Sun, 19 January 2020
"By comparison with relationships forged in blood and love, science has historically given friendship short shrift . . . biologists ignored friendships because unlike romantic or mating relationships they were thought not to affect reproductive success . . . most of us are as guilty as scientists of failing to take friendship as seriously as it deserves. We pay lip service to it but prioritize family and romance, ditching our friends when we fall in love, or letting time with them be the first thing to go when we get busy . . . eacg of us is contrainted by time. But we may want to rethink how we apportion the time we have . . . It turns out that friendship does have survival value in the most literal sense—more socially integrated people live longer than those who are less well connected." —Lydia Denworth, author of Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond
Perhaps due to the media I consumed in the 80s and 90s, there was an unconscious understanding that romantic relationships were paramount to platonic. Don't misunderstand me, friendships were clearly portrayed in sitcoms such as FRIENDS, Blossom, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, Will & Grace, Felicity, The Wonder Years just to name a few, but it was clear that the writers were directed to have their leads be in constant pursuit of the desired romantic relationship predominantly and perhaps more importantly.
Subsequently, not aware of the subtle influence of media, in my youth, I made the assumption that friendship was nice, but romance was best. It does appear today, and admittedly maybe due more to my own awareness, that such media portrayals are shifting and broadening to bring to the screen and the pages as well as other media mediums an array of life paths and journeys to find contentment and social connectedness.
The value of quality friendships is arguably one of the most important social components of our lives. For each of us, our quilt of friendships will be unique and include amongst it our acquaintances and community (work and personal) connections as well. It seems to me good, healthy relationships of all types - romantic or platonic - benefit when we have a healthy social well-being which fundamentally rests on our social connections. Of course, a social well-being requires first and continually that we include ourselves as part of the social circle; in other words, we need to honor and respect our true selves and not try to cultivate relationships that are contrary to our true temperament, but rather complement and strengthen.
When we remember to default to regularly checking in with ourselves, we will know when it it best to repair and invest in certain relationships and when it is best to move on. We will respect ourselves enough to know what boundaries to put in place and how to place them.
The great loves of our lives, even the moderately good and life-changing-for-a-period-before-we-both-must-go-our-separate-ways relationships that will hold a special place in our life's journey don't cross our paths frequently. We are fortunate to experience these relationships when we have the courage to step forward and say yes without knowing what the future will hold, but throughout the duration of our lives, it is the friendships, even with those we may fall in love with along the way as we come to know each other intimately, yet honestly, that offer so much more than "filler". They offer love, support, encouragement to step into our best selves and step away from limiting habits. They offer kindness and the reminder when we may doubt it that we are lovely and loved.
Author, Brooklyn-based science journalist and a writer who has contributed to Atlantic and the New York Times, Lydia Denworth has just released a book on Friendship that I was eager to receive as I find it helpful to explore the context of the research we have accepted as absolute truth and that which has thus gone on to influence how we choose to live and construct our lives. Denworth dives deep into the historical and established science and then examines what has been misunderstood or dismissed or ignored. Moving forward she explores the brain and how it learns to be social and then the majority of the book explores how friendship, the desire for it, our ability to connect or not connect plays a role in the quality of our lives and ultimately, how to live a healthy social life full of sound friendships.
Today I would like to share a taste of what I learned as I read Lydia Denworth's new book Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast274
Sun, 5 January 2020
The new year rolls around and there is much talk about resolutions and cultivation of a life we wish to live. It is old news to share that many resolutions are unfulfilled; however, BJ Fogg argues that perhaps we have had a faulty instruction manual to be successful in our pursue of lasting change.
Released just this past Tuesday, December 31st, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything asserts in fact that it is the small, seemingly easy changes of habit we make in our lives that will lead to grand transformation of ourselves and therefore our overall lives, even our relationships and especially our health and overall contentment.
After devouring the book in two days during my getaway to the coast, I wanted to share with you eight takeaways that will introduce you to this shift in approach. I have already begun to implement two new tiny habits into my daily routine and look to add a third when my teaching schedule resumes this week.
The good news, if you have already written your 2020 resolutions, is that upon reading the book, you will be able to look at them more closely and construct and approach them in such a way, according to Tiny Habits to ensure their success. And if you have not created resolutions, maybe you have decided due to previous frustration that doing so is just a waste of time, taking a look at the list of takeaways below may shed some light on why past years were less fruitful than you would like and even encourage you to try again and see better results.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast272
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)
Sun, 8 December 2019
"We have the choice to change our life, to be courageous and to live true to our heart, one that will see us die and live without regret." —Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying
Dying, death and loss has unwantingly been on my mind this past fall. Rest assured, today's episode will uplift, inspire and remind, but the reason I share what has been occupying my mind these past few months is because I likely would not have picked up Bronnie Ware's new book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. But I am very grateful that I did.
Ware's entire book shares her experience working in the palliative care system in New South Wales, Australia, which sprung up from what was originally a blog post. Subsequently, after more than three million people viewed the post, it was thankfully turned into a book which shares detailed five lessons and those special individuals she had the opportunity to spend time with in their final days. Along the way, Ware shares her own journey of self-growth and discovery and how she has applied the lessons she has learned.
It is not lost on me that often the books we need find us, and after the loss of a special woman in my life who was very much akin to a grandmother, who having lived a wonderful life of nearly 95 years reminded me with each visit and time spent together the power of a happy heart, and after a cancer scare with one of my parents (they are in full recovery now), along with my beloved boys (my dogs) each in their double digit years, it quickly becomes apparent that life is short, precious and up to each of us to make it something we are proud to have lived, shared and experienced.
While we will all make mistakes in our lives, that is the gift of being a human :), we do not have to suffer needlessly if we are willing to open our minds to the stories and life experiernces of others. In the past ten years I have come to enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies to soak up as many life lessons as I can that I would have otherwise not known about (Julia Child is one of my favorite teachers, but so are many others). Today what I would like to share with you are nine Life Lessons that caught my attention as I was reading Bronnie Ware's book. While her book focuses on five overarching regrets, interwoven amongst each are smaller, no less important lessons, to understand and apply to our lives moving forward.
As I was reading, I began to celebrate as I discovered that much of what is shared aligns with living a simply luxurious life, and especially if you've read TSLL's 2nd book, you will know that nearly all of these topics are explored in depth. I cannot fully understand the emotional strength Bronnie exercised in each of her experiences, as well, and more importantly, the individuals who shared their stories in their final days, but I am determined to make sure their lessons are learned and applied forward as we go about our daily lives. Let's take a look at the list.
Visit the full Show Notes on The Simply Luxurious Life — thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast270
Sun, 10 November 2019
Here in the states, we may officially wait for the holiday energy to be set free, but by the time November arrives, it can easily begin to feel as though the holidays have begun. Whether that is due in part to marketers and shops shifting from Halloween on October 31st to red and green everything on November 1st, or an earnest desire for the holidays to begin by the public, I cannot quite be sure, but what I do know is that I love the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving of which I am calling the "pre-holiday" season.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the holiday time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but during the first third of November (Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November which this year is quite late in the month), I just linger with absolute contentment.
Today I would like to share with you 10 activities or ideas for savoring the pre-season period as the year that is begins to wind down to celebration and festive gathering.
1.Set the mood in your home without pulling out the decorations
From placing simmering spices on the stovetop to fill the house with luscious, warm and citrus as well as spice-filled flavors (check out my simple recipe here) or simply switching the wreath on the front door to an autumn theme (if you have not done so already), protect, yet acknowledge this time of year that is truly meant to be savored after a summer and early fall of harvest as we gear up for the bustle of the holiday season.
2. Put the yard and exterior of the home to bed for the winter
Depending upon where you live and when the temperatures begin to drop, take this time to be outside and winterize the home, tend to the plants that need to be mulched and trim the perennials, as well as plant the new bulbs that will emerge in the spring. Tending to the exterior of your home will enable you to sleep soundly at night during the snowstorms and frigid temperatures knowing all is taken care of so that you can simply enjoy the winter wonderland that appears out the front door.
~Trusted British gardener Monty Don shares a worth-keeping monthly list of what to tend to in the garden during the month of November.
3. Assess your fitness routine and improve now to feel your best during the holidays
When we are conscious of the benefit of a good and regular fitness routine as well as a well-balanced eating regimen, we are more likely to do well during the holidays. Establish or cement what is working well and plan now to figure out how you will maintain your ability to stay active and eat well even if you are traveling or removed from your regular environment.
4. Make a favorite fall dessert or main dish for you and the household just because it's fall.
From Apple Tart Tatin (check out my recipe and video tutorial below) to butternut squash and apples roasted to perfection for a lovely side dish with pork chops. (The image at the top of the post is a favorite fall dessert inspired by Julia Child - look for my adaptation to be shared in season 3 of the cooking show!)
~Quick recipe for roasted butternut squash and apples: Combine cubes of butternut squash and apples on a parchment lined sheet pan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, toss the squash and apples with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and enjoy!
5. Make sure you have something to look forward to just after the holidays wrap up - something simple, low-key and maybe just for yourself.
6. Have fun with fall foliage - arrangements, playing in the leaves, taking photos of unique compositions that catch your eye
7. Take advantage of weekend sales as businesses clear out inventory for the holiday season.
Currently many business are having sales during our long weekend here in the states, but that is just a start to what is to come. Whether you are beginning to shop for gifts for the holidays or have a list of items you love but are waiting for a sale, be sure to take advantage if the price is right and the item is exactly what you want. As I shared yesterday, I am looking for a fresh holiday wreath for my front door, and was pleased with Williams-Sonoma' 20% off sale.
As well, examine your fall, winter and holiday wardrobe: Do you have what you need? Are there any gaps? The fall collections are about to go on drastic reduction and scooping up your preferred and needed items at great prices will make you and your budget quite happy, not to mention ensure you look your best and feel comfortable going about your day.
8. Forage for the arts and literature and culture you love
On Wednesday of this week I shared a list of books, podcasts, and television shows to enjoy during the winter season, but what I love most about these three weeks leading up to the holidays is that I cozy inside my house far more than I would during warmer weather and pull out a book (or two, or three) and let the time pass by. The same happens when I discover a great show or when I toodling about the house or walking the boys while listening to a podcast in which I learn something but lifts my spirits or ensures my day will be better after listening to it by either teaching me something or deepending my understanding on something that matters.
Perhaps why I enjoyed my visit to Portland last weekend so much and stopping (and lingering) at Powell's Independent Book Store was because books and late fall and winter, along with the shorter days means more time to get lost in a book. Of course reading is savoring year-round, but there is all the more reason to further our knowledge and let ideas percolate giving them time to germinate so that they can bloom fully when spring arrives and summer follows.
9. Get cosy often and lose track of time
At the foundation of these three weeks is time without apology for self-care. Self-care needs to happen year-round and on a regular basis most certainly, but since we know what awaits in the near future, no matter how much we greatly look forward to it, we can enjoy it all the more with a fully rested self.
As 2019 began, the first Petit Plaisir of the year was the book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir. Released in early November 2018, her timing was not on accident. The cosy/cozy season truly feels as though it begins with November's arrival.
10. Find time to be with yourself, not just introverts researchs finds
In a recent New York Times article, research was shared that "valuing solitude doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it". Why?
With the new and different, wanted and unwanted people you will see and spend time with during the holiday season, there will undoubtedly be swells of emotion, good and perhaps not so good. Knowing how to regulate our emotions will help us navigate what has the potential to be a truly joyous time of year well and most beneficially not only for our own mental health but those around us. And it is with giving ourselves time to be alone that we learn to regulate our emotions.
Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is something we have talked about often here on the blog, podcast and in TSLL's 2nd book, and continued research finds that mastering this skill has life enhancing qualities. By giving ourselves time to learn how to monitor our emotions which when we are alone with ourselves and our thoughts expectedly will provide plenty of practice until we learn how to calm the tide and just be present, we give ourselves an awesome gift. Perhaps the best give to give during the holiday season, non? ;)
So cosy up in your favorite spot, turn on a lovely playlist that will wash over you and just do something that you love. At this very moment I am snuggled up with Oscar by my side in my oversized, very well-used chaise armchair, the jazz fills the house and I am watching the many birds dance around the birdfeeder determining who will have the opportunity to snack for a moment. The emotions are certainly swimming about, especially after the week my family has had with the loss of someone truly special to all of us, but because of much practice spending time with myself, I savor such moments and am thankful to have them.
May these three weeks, this "pre-holiday" season prior to the holiday festivities be joy-filled and provide many moments of contentment.
SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY:
~based on Brian Stelter's 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV
~Habitually Chic's post: Outfits Inspired by Jennifer Aniston's Wardrobe on The Morning Show
~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #266
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify
~Listen and download the episode here.
~For TSLL reader information: Some of the links shared on the blog are affiliate links, earning TSLL a small commission at no cost to you. Please know, I recommend only products I genuinely like. Thank you so much.
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.
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
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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
~The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212
~Design an At-Home Strength Training Program That Works, episode #201
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.
~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.
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
"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:
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:
~SPONSORS of Today’s Episode:
Images: TSLL's InstagramDownload the Episode
Mon, 7 May 2018
"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.
~This is one of my "sun" pots full of Creeping Jenny in the forefront, the spiller~
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
~Look for her be a guest on this podcast, Monday March 5th, episode #198
~Read many of Jenna Birch's articles and columns here
~Check out Jenna's website
Jenna Birch author pic via JennaBirch.com
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
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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