The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

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The simple sophisticate is someone who prefers quality over quantity, sensible living over mindless consumption, personal style instead of trendy fashions, has an insatiable curiosity for life’s endless questions and a desire to live a truly fulfilling life rather than being led around by the nose. Inspired by her lifestyle blog The Simply Luxurious Life, Shannon Ables (the original Simple Sophisticate) shares with listeners tips on how to live a refined life on an everyday income. From achieving your goals, preparing a memorable meal, creating a capsule wardrobe, traveling the world (Francophiles tune in as Paris is a favorite destination), and living life to the fullest without breaking the bank, living well is really quite simple.

Shannon Ables

    • Nov 22, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • every other week NEW EPISODES
    • 32m AVG DURATION
    • 339 EPISODES

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    Latest episodes from The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

    317: How to Handle Travel Plans that Go Awry

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 26:04

    The busy holiday travel season is upon us. After two years in which many people have not been able to gather with loved ones, the liklihood that even more people than usual will be hopping on the road, the plane or the train this time of year is to be expected. Even with unforeseen hiccups along the way, arriving at the doorstep of a loved one will often erase any stress caused and make for a story to chuckle about over a glass of mulled cider or while sipping brandy after a long anticipated delicious meal with hearty, heated, yet playful exchange. Having just shared one idea for handling well travel headaches (finding the hilarity in it all and sharing a moment with a loved one to savor), I'd like to share a few more to help assuage the stress and enable you to move past them quickly so you may enjoy your visit, stay, and the experience you have been eager to partake in after having planned, saved and waited. Each of the examples have been experienced first-hand. I feel fortunate to not have experienced others that are far worse, so can only speak to my own travels (thus far and fingers crossed for continued good fortune). With that said, let's take a look! 1.The accommodation's description was less than accurate in a disappointing way Just this past August, a vacation rental on the coast boasted their lovely accommodations (a place we had never stayed before); however, they neglected to share important information that would have steered me away as I was traveling with my two boys (lots of stairs and very little grassy areas for quick potty breaks). However, while only planning to stay one night, I did what I could to make it easier for my pups, and had I planned on staying more than one night, I would have found a different rental or changed my travel plans because enduring accommodations that make everyone uncomfortable is not something to spend money on. Waking early in the morning, be scooted down the coast for a beautiful early morning walk on a new-to-us beach. Had the accommodations been lovely, we may have lingered longer, but I looked for the "lemonade" in the situation and found a lovely outdoor excursion that I had not planned on. As well, I chose not to write a review as I find it unhelpful to leave negative feedback when my expectations may not be someone else's. I have in the past directly emailed the owner of rentals to provide feedback that may benefit future travelers, but preferring to only share positive reviews online while sharing specifics as to why I enjoyed my stay. This approach is a way to extend gratitude and also leaves me with peace of mind. Sometimes we travel with high expectations, and venting in the form of a negative review isn't as therapeutic as we may initially think it will be. The next time the accommodations you have arranged are not what you had hoped, don't be afraid to change your plans. The spontaneity may usher in an unexpected wonderfully memorable moment or experience. 2. You cannot find your vacation rental (or think you cannot) During the summer of 2018, I had finished a week of cooking with Patricia Wells and was now in my rental car (picked up in Avignon) to the Luberon area of Provence - the Golden Triangle as it is often called. Searching for a hamlet off one of the many less traveled roads that wind through vineyards, I had turned around and retraced the notes received from the owners multiple times. Having driven through Gourdes (gorgeous!) which I later learned was too far southwest, and then finally arriving at the home, I scratched my head: A very nondescript property with no similar vignettes as shown in the online posting and nobody to be seen. I had to be at the wrong house. I asked one of the neighbors who was out in their yard if they knew the owner (whose name I had from our correspondence). It turned out they were also a traveler, traveling with their family from Australia enjoying their yearly stay in the region. Unable to determine if indeed I was in the right place, I emailed the owners. It turned out I was at the correct location, and they were on their way to open the doors. Their home was hidden behind large barn doors that upon opening revealed a gorgeous Provence three-story refurbished house (view the tour here). While I waited to hear from them, I stayed put, stepped out of my car and began walking around the hamlet, capturing pictures of sunflowers, and the sublime Provençal blue sky. Turns out I could trust my directions and my sense of direction. Sometimes we become a bit more flustered and doubt our ability to read directions properly when we are in a new place, a new country and communicating with someone new. The best advice I have found is to yes, double-check and triple-check the directions by rereading them slowly. If you have someone else with you, have them read the directions as well. Follow the directions as best as you can and when you arrive, if nobody is about yet to let you in (should that be part of the accommodations), let yourself wander about and get to know the area. Chat with neighbors to ask for help or to ensure you are in the right spot. And absolutely reach out to the owner to alert them to your arrival. A Villa in the Golden Triangle of Provence: Villa Dæsch (tour the entire property here) 3. Lost luggage With more reliable tracking than ever before, most often if our luggage doesn't arrive when we do, it isn't lost. It simply hasn't arrived yet. The bags may have been put on a different plane leaving for the same city that hasn't landed at the airport. However, as your bags are not on the conveyer belt, be sure to check in with the information desk in the luggage area to let them check where your luggage actually is and where and approximately when you can pick it up. Upon arriving in France in 2018, one of my pieces of luggage was not on the same plane as I had been (one was and I saw and collected it per usual). I checked in with the luggage information desk, they scanned the bar code I had received when I checked my luggage, and they were able to tell me at which station to pick it up and when it should be available. They were right and within 30 minutes to an hour, I was reunited with my bag. 4. Miscommunication When traveling to a country where English is not the primary language spoken, making reservations can be difficult if not done online. When I chose a small boutique hotel for my accommodations in Paris a couple of years ago, the manager's English was about as strong as my French, actually his English was far better than my French but not by much. While I did successfully make my accommodations, the taxi pick-up at the airport didn't happen for some reason, and completing payment was delayed for three weeks (I began my trip in Paris at the same location I ended it three weeks later). However, all of this may sound avoidable or absurd to us Americans who expect everything to happen swiftly, but the manager of the hotel particulier was not worried in the least, especially about the latter snafu. "We'll finish payment when you return. Do not worry!" Often we bring our culture conditioning into situations - what causes us stress, our expectations while visiting - when what we need to do is take a breath, knowing we have what we need in order arrive, stay and enjoy, and then let go. Communicate as much as needed to confirm, say what you desire to know repeatedly, but then take a breath and enjoy your stay. What eventually helped me to relax was my knowing the credibility of the accommodation, so after a quick phone call with the manager after my first stay, I chose to relax and yep, indeed all was tended to and paid for when I returned. When we've done the necessary homework ahead of time, often the best thing to do is the reason we take vacations in the first place - relax. Hôtel Particulier Montmartre, take a tour here. 5. You don't get what you don't ask for I have quickly realized, especially in larger cities, if you don't confirm what floor, what type of view, etc. you want, you likely will not get the one you imagined. Case in point, for a one-night stay in London before my flight back home to the states in November 2017, I stayed at the Portobello Boutique Hotel in Notting Hill (see the street on which the hotel is located below in my IG post). A beautiful hotel and wonderfully located, my room was in the basement. The room itself lovely, but as someone who doesn't like basements as a general rule, I was surprised. Well, at least the price was nicer than a room on a higher floor, but still, it is always important to share your preferences. Even if they cannot accommodate them or only a few of them, at least you did your best to tailor your experience. 6. You forget to pack your necessary toiletries Last New Years' the boys and I headed to the coast to ring in the new year. I packed all of my necessities neatly in their containers, totes and bags, and set out for the four hour drive. Upon arrival at my accommodations, I unpacked my entire suitcase and situated everything as to make the home-away-from-home just that, as much of a home as possible. Well, I couldn't find my toiletries bag, and I remember vividly packing it . . . ahhh . . . I packed it, but I then left it on my bedroom chair where was neatly sitting when I arrived back home after our two days and nights away. What to do? Not wanting to incur too much expense but still needing necessary items such as moisturizer for my skin, floss for my teeth and contact solution, I made a quick trip to the local grocery store. I didn't purchase anything terribly expensive, but I did purchase items I would use again should this mistake occur. Those items now are left in my main piece of luggage and NEVER leave it as my toiletries bag that usually prefer to bring requires I add a handful of items I use at home on a daily basis (I do have travel sizes of most items that never leave my luggage, but again, the toiletry bag was removed to stock it and never made it back to the main luggage piece). I will acknowledge with great thanksgiving, if these are the worst of travels gone awry, all is going quite well. The truth is, very often most of our travel plans go very well, even unexpectedly amazing. To remember to celebrate when such is the case is a practice in gratitude and holding ourselves in the present to witness and savor fully. Travel of any kind requires us to be malleable, to stretch, to bend, and not to break and throw in the towel when all does not go precisely as we had hoped. Perhaps yet another lesson presents itself: set aside expectations and instead while plans may be in place, bring your preparation without rigid and narrow expectations of what must happen. Let it all unfold as it will and engage with your whole, true self so that you can drink up the beautiful surprises, connections and memories created along the way. Petit Plaisir —Bingley Brass Candlesticks (with and without handle), Rowen & Wren Through Wednesday November 24th, use promo code GIFTSAPLENTY to save 12% off your order. View all TSLL Petit Plaisirs here.  ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #317 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

    316: How to Cultivate A Life Full of Vitality (and how it contributes to your overall well-being)

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 49:34

      "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." get the most out of each day created by deliberate actions associated with positive health outcomes such as (1) productivity; (2) better coping skills when stress and challenges arise; (3) greater mental health; (4) ability to manage negative emotions 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 -

    315: Being in Love, Being HSP and Being at Peace with Ourselves and the One We Love

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 1, 2021 59:41

      "We fall in love harder and fear it more because we are drawn to the depth and complexity of the emotions we are going to unleash, but we also know that the consequences of such deep love are unforeseeable, a situation we never relish."—Elaine Aron, author of The Highly Sensitive Person in Love: Understanding and Managing Relationships When the World Overwhelms You Being in a loving relationship, of the romantic persuasion, can seem evanescent or near impossible for HSPs (a Highly Sensitive Person). In episode #44 of this podcast (one of the most downloaded episodes of the show), I detail the many gifts of being an HSP (of which I self-identify). Sharing 26 awesome benefits of identifying as HSP after reading Dr. Elaine Aron's first book  The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You ushered in a breath of not only fresh air, but relief as I felt that finally I understood what for my entire life existed, but I could not understand or explain, let alone receive understanding from others who just didn't 'get me'. Enter into the world of trying to be one part of a healthy, loving, respectful, equally fulfilling romantic relationship, and my confusion did not dissipate however because even though I tried my best to communicate what I now better understood about myself, I was missing a better understanding of how to first meet people more likely to mesh well with me. I was looking in the wrong places, misreading the indicators of my own feelings I had relied on my default in my pre-HSP-aware years. Introduced to Elaine Aron's second book The Highly Sensitive Person in Love, I found a valuable resource that translated the once foreign language of my own self and feelings and also gave me tools to successfully and more confidently move forward. In today's episode I am going to share 10 aha moments I found while reading the book, but there are FAR more than 10. Consider this a taste of what you will find in the book which is now a highly annotated book in my library and one I am thankful to be able to return to as my life journey unfolds.   ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #315 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

    314: Dive Deep into Life Instead of Paddling on the Surface

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 38:17

    "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  

    313: The Importance of Finding Meaning in Life: 9 Lessons taught by Viktor E. Frankl

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 58:54

    "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) The Simply Luxurious Life came into fruition in 2009 when I realized the life I enjoy living—a life full of simplicity, yet punctuated with everyday luxuries found even in the most routine of days, was something I wanted to explore more fully due to the immense contentment it brought into my life. In fact, I needed to explore it more intentionally because while many people didn't understand how I could live well and contentedly on the everyday income as a public school teacher (I retired in 2021 after twenty years), I had a curiosity for the world, especially the French culture followed by my appreciation for the British countryside and their gardening wonderland, that wasn't entirely being satiated by working in the classroom. And this is an example of our lives speaking to us.  Thankfully I listened and decided to share my discoveries, passions, and ideas as a way to inspire others so that they too could find their passion as a way to living a life full of true contentment by clearing out the clutter (figurative and literal) and bringing in the luxurious necessities to enliven and inspire each day no matter what their income, age, location or relationships status. —TSLL's About page (Start Here) 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: How to Live a Life with Less Stress and Why It's Vital for Good Health, episode #299 How to Step into Your Fullest True Self —The Way of Integrity, as taught by Martha Beck, episode #307 Petit Plaisirs —Ted Lasso, Apple TV+ (click here to learn more about the recommendation, watch the trailers of both seasons and the original ad which began the idea for the show) —Sautéed Oyster Mushroom Appetizer (view the recipe here) View more Petit Plaisirs here. ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #313 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

    312: The New Hello, my conversation with The Confidence Project founder Tracy Hooper

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2021 55:09

    The workplace has shifted in a short amount of time, largely due to the pandemic, but also prompted by many other social and civil 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 a workspace 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: The fundamental component and importance of strengthening our own confidence (how it benefits us and those we connect with at work and in our personal lives) Tangible tools for effective, confident communication on video calls and in person will be exemplified in our conversation. Shifting from the default of saying "I'm sorry" to saying "Thank You" - why we need to make the shift and how to do it. What is our personal currency and how it makes a tremendous difference in our lives. Much more 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 mean to or not; as well as our body language) and awareness of our surroundings and those we work with ensuring all parties feel comfortable, welcome and heard. ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #312 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

    311: How Accepting Your Mortality Sets You Free to Live More Deeply

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 6, 2021 58:20

      "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. Thank goodness. 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 —

    Season 8 Schedule of the Podcast Announced

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 30, 2021 12:25

    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? The podcast currently has more than 300 episodes in its archives, and this past July, I compiled four different bundles organized around a particular theme. I will be exploring more topics for these bundles to be shared in 2022, but if you haven't already explored the first bundles, have a look by clicking the link to each below: Bundle #1 — How to Begin Cultivating Your Very Own Simply Luxurious Life Bundle #2 — How to Live A French-Inspired Life Bundle #3 — Savoring A Life on Your Own: Single Living IS Simply Luxurious Living Bundle #4 — The Simple Life is a Great Life: Explore How In early 2022, the new blog design for TSLL will include on the Podcast page, each of the bundles as well as all of the podcast episodes, so you will be able to continue explore the topics you love, new episodes as well as favorites you wish to return to and listen to again. Follow this podcast on Instagram at @thesimplesophisticatepodcast Now to the schedule for the new season! Look for episode #311 next Monday September 6th! Remember! Any Monday there is not an episode of the podcast, there is always (today for example) a new Monday Motivational post on the blog to kick off the new week in a good direction. View today's Monday Motivational post - La Rentrée of 2021: A Start to a New You Like Never Before. Explore all of the episodes of the podcast here. ~The Simple Sophisticate, Season 8 Schedule ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify | Amazon Music

    310: Murder in Provence, M.L. Longworth Talks about Her Series Coming to BritBox

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 12, 2021 27:17

    Provencal mystery writer M.L. Longworth joins me on the podcast for this year's French Week to share some exciting news about her series. I invited Mary Lou back to the show (see our previous conversations here - ep. #268 - and here - ep. #203) as I recently learned her novels had been optioned for a television series to air on BritBox. Longworth shares many details about the cast, when it will premiere, which books will be included in season one and much more. Be sure to take the tour of Aix-en-Provence she gave me in this post to enjoy a taste of the world of Antoine Verlaque and Marine Bonnet, and tune in to today's episode as she talks about food, shares a delicious recipe AND shares the synopsis for her upcoming 10th mystery and when to expect it to be released. Links mentioned during our conversation: 1st book in her Provençal series - Death at the Chateau Bremont Most recent book in the series (9th) - The Vanishing Museum on the Rue Mistral My most recent Q & A w/M.L. Longworth: Aix en Provence, Art and a Mystery to Solve: her new mystery, spring in Provence and what she's cooking in her kitchen (May 5, 2021) BritBox Series Murder in Provence Begins Filming ML Longworth on Instagram @mllongworth ML Longworth's website the French play - Cigalon Chez Panisse Desserts cookbook Walnut Oil Find the recipe for the Lentil and Duck Breast Salad below M.L. Longworth's Lentil & Duck Breast Salad As shared during episode #310 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, Provençal mystery writer M.L. Longworth shared a recipe during our conversation that offers a quintessential taste of summer in Provence. 1/2 cup French lentils (cooked) (follow the directions on the package or simply boil in water for about 10-15 minutes, then drain. ) 6 Tbsp walnut oil or vinagriette 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar or red-wine vinegar 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard freshly ground pepper 1-2 cups mache (lamb's tongue lettuce) or watercress (washed and roughly chopped) 1-2 ounces thin slices of cooked duck breast (substitute - prosciutto) Prepare the lentils: add the lentils to water and bring to a boil, simmer for 10-15 minutes until to desired tenderness. Drain out excess water. Prepare the vinegriette: in a small bowl add the vinegar, dijon and then slowly add and whisk in the walnut oil. Finish with freshly ground pepper to taste. If you are unable to find duck and cook yourself (often you can find cooked duck breast in the markets in France), a great substitute is ham or prosciutto - thinly sliced. Divide the vinegriette. Dress the salad with half and then add the lentils to the salad and add gradually the remaining vinegriette to dress the rest of the salad (you may not need to use all of the vinegriette or you may need to make more - just keep the proportions the same). Plate the lentils and lettuce and top with the duck breast. Enjoy with a glass of rosé - bien sûr! ~Sign up for TSLL's Free Weekly Newsletter ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #310 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify EXPLORE MORE POSTS FROM FRENCH WEEK 2021 4th Giveaway: A Set of Prints from Everyday Parisian's Rebecca Plotnick Q & A with Everyday Parisian's Rebecca Plotnick 3rd Giveaway: A Cozy Francophile Gift Package Why Not . . . Add a Traversin (aka Bolster) to Your Bedroom? Let's Travel to Paris! My Conversation with Paris Perfect Vacation Rentals' Founder Madelyn Byrne, episode #309 ~View more TSLL French-Inspired posts in the Archives

    309: Let's Travel to Paris! My Discussion with Paris Perfect Vacation Rentals' Founder Madelyn Byrne

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 9, 2021 41:34

    One day in the not too distant future, the dream will be realized for each one of us who longs to hop on a plane and slip away to Paris. Frequently during my daydreams I envision just this scenario happening, and when I do, I will find peace of mind knowing my accommodations with Paris Perfect await my arrival. On today's episode discover just exactly makes each rental perfect for travelers looking to savor all that Paris has to offer - from the thoughtful attention to every detail down to how many outlets are in each apartment to carefully considered mattresses made in France and sofas made in Italy. Everything from the moment you arrive at the airport to any question you might have while you are in the city of light has been addressed. And who wouldn't want to wake up to a view of the Eiffel Tower? As so many Paris Perfect rentals offer, explore and find the ideal home-away-from-home for your next trip. I am incredibly tickled to welcome to today's episode of the podcast the founder of Paris Perfect and London Perfect Madelyn Byrne (seen right). Her sister, Lisa Byrne is the General Manager of Paris Perfect, London Perfect, Italy Perfect as well as the Founder of Italy Perfect, and kindly arranged for this opportunity. What Madelyn shares will, I have a feeling, entice you to want to purchase that ticket to France sooner rather than later. ❤️

    308: 15 Ideas for Welcoming Provence Style into Your Home & Garden

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 21, 2021 44:59

    Ten years of visiting, followed by three years of construction and refurbishing, and now Shauna Varvel's family Provençal mas situated just outside of Avignon, France, is an exquisite Provençal destination to see both inside and out. Feasting first on the thoughtfully designed and decorated property through Instagram beginning in 2018, I continued to follow her as the property named Le Mas des Poiriers as well as serving as a family home for her and her husband, their adult children and the growing grandchildren, is also now available for rent (although, likely for the most elite due to the price point - which it is worth based on the expansive grounds and thoughtful decor). Featured in Veranda's April 2019 issue, inspiration abounds whether or not we will be able to visit and see with our own eyes, as Varvel's new book Provence Style: Decorating with French Country Flair (published by Vendome, photography Luke White) was just released earlier this month. With today being the first day of summer in the northern hemisphere, I thought what better way to celebrate the ideal season during which to visit Provence than by dedicating this week's podcast episode entirely to welcoming the Provençal decor and garden ideas into our home and lives wherever we may call home. Having had the opportunity to receive and read Shauna's book, if you are looking for visual inspiration as well as a historical exploration of the design styles associated with Provence, Provence Style is a book you will appreciate and find incredibly resourceful. Below I have gathered 15 ideas adding a touch or a wealth of Provençal decor inspiration to our sanctuaries. Let's take a look. 1. Welcome in the natural light in abundance Open the curtains, pull the shades, if you are in the middle of designing a space or choosing a home or apartment to live in, choose one with oodles of windows and preferrably south-facing (northern hemisphere) or north-facing (Southern Hemisphere) along with east, west and north as well of course. Why? Natural light works magic on the beauty of a space and Provence is all about the sun and the mistral-clear blue skies painted and appreciated by artists. In other words, treat your windows with curtains or shutters or shades, but never forget to open them when the sun is out. 2. Add earthenware to your decor and dining experiences "Established in Marseille in the late seventeenth century, the earthenware industry in Provence gave rise to names such as Saint-Jean-du-Désert and Fauchier, known for their exceptional blue and white faience glazes." From large jugs and handmade pieces of pottery to plates for dining or plates for wall décor, earthenware is quintessential Provence. Begin gathering a collection, use the jugs as vases, use for functional purposes in the kitchen at the dining table, find them at flea markets, brocantes, online or a second-hand stores, and when you do, a touch of Provence will be seen and felt. 3. Mind the door and window hardware, custom millwork details and ironwork The details matter in any home, and when it comes to Provençal style, swap out the modern for the traditional. From knobs to closures, staircase handrails, and drawer pulls, seemingly small, yet certainly significant. 4. Provide direct and easy access (inviting and encouraging as well) to outdoor spaces, the garden Provence is about the outdoors, eating seasonally, working with the weather (yes, the mistrals are a real thing and while clearing the sky to keep that pristine blue as well as cooling you down during the summer season, they can be fiercely aggressive in the fall and winter), so provide access to the outdoors with ease. Keep your kitchen garden close to the door closest to the kitchen, create inviting sitting areas outside under the vines and the trees, and perhaps invest in a door or screen door which lets the outdoors in reminding you to step outside and enjoy the warmth. 5. Ah, the traditional hexagonal terracotta flooring tiles "A distinctively Provençal floor material that is characteristic of most houses in south-west France, known as tomettes de Salernes, these quintessentially local tiles have historically been made in the villages of Salernes from the red, iron-filled clay of that area. During the nineteenth century, terracotta tile production was prolific, with tomettes exported throughout Europe and Africa." I remember seeing my first terracotta hexagon floor in the vacation rental I enjoyed staying in while traveling in the Luberon. A two story villa in a little hamlet near Gourdes (tour it here), the hexagon tile covered the bathroom floor and dazzled me primarily because of its history and being in the region of France where such tile was originally made. No matter what the color scheme, this style, this color is a neutral, it is timeless, it is classic Provence. 6. Strike a balance "Carefully judged contrasts between rusticity and gentility, modesty and opulence, the democratic and the aristocratic, are the signature of the contemporary Provençal home." Here is where time and travel and exploration create the expertise of knowing what that balance is. Knowing how to strike the balance of opulence and rustic is not initially simple to do, but with intention and time, you will find it eventually becomes instinctive. Provençal homes no more adhere to entirely one aesthetic - everything 'country chic' than France is a country of singular flavors. No, no, no. While staying in my first vacation rental in Provence in 2018, this four story home in the medieval Ville of Vaison-la-Romaine included centuries-worn stone steps, iron-railings, classic artwork inspired by the time of the Renaissance as well as simple, floral bed linens, linen curtains and a modern bathroom. Mixing and matching - function and beauty, a touch of the present with fond inclusion of the past. 7. Know the objective of furniture selection and placement Varvel writes the guiding principle "is to generate an impression of artlessness, though this requires thoughtful consideration of scale, comfort, design detail and choice of upholstery." Look for vintage furniture, yet reupholster with preferred fabric and restructure the pieces to create the desired comfort. Layers work as well, soft and hard, some, but not too much. Don't clutter, but don't be a minimalist. Creating seating areas to sit, relax and be. Design with the eye of the guests in mind - what will they be drawn to? Let one item sing and the others complement. Include upholstered items in every room, but not every piece need be upholstered. The foundational design elements hold true, but now you let the other items on today's list guide you to what type of items to include. 8. Plaster-finish for the walls Provence is quite hot in the summer, but very much a geography which beckons you to be outside nearly the entire year even though they do have all four seasons. "Plaster-finished walls are a common trait of the mas. When overlaid with lime wash, the lime sinks into the plaster, giving it a luminance and patina distinct from that of a conventionally painted wall." Varvel goes on to share, she chose a custom mix of lime wash and chose a flat finish to match the tone of the limestone floors in order to create a sense of 'unity and openness'. 9. Restrained elegance While yes, a rural locale, Provence has a rich and lengthy history stretching back to the Romans who "conquered the Greek colonists who had introduced grapevines and olives and also built the port of Massilia, later known as Marseille. This city would be instrumental in infusing Provençal living with a sense of opulence." "A culture of contrasts, merging bucolic bliss with bourgeois aspirations; rural tradition with refinement; rustic crafts with luxury." What does restrained elegance look like in a Provençal mas or home? opulent chandeliers over a table covered in a linen tablecloth with fresh flowers from the garden lined up in a row down the middle ornate gold-framed mirrors set in front of a vintage upholstered armchair carefully laid table settings, silverware, multiple glasses and plates with an open window framed with modern fabric for the curtains which stretch to the floor. Bare floors of limestone, covered only occasionally with an antique wool rug 10. Sunflowers Brilliant in late June and through July, the sunflowers as you drive about the countryside in Provence will, if you are like me, successfully tempt you to stop the car and take pictures. Never mind, they are ubiquitous in this region, and likely you will find more around the next bend in the road, but still, their beauty draws a breath of awe each time. Plant them yourself in your own garden. I planted my first sunflowers last year at Le Papillon and found direct sowing worked best. They don't need much water and by August I had giants standing guard around my property. This year, I direct sowed all of my three different pouches of seeds and even have some self-planting sunflowers along my front path to my porch. My neighbors have been planting sunflower seeds since I moved to the neighborhood, and they sow them well before the last frost. Currently, they have an alley of sunflowers about four feet tall and doing fantastically. 11. Copper In last Friday's This & That, I shared a link to this article from Homes & Gardens UK containing 30+ ideas for styling your own French country inspired kitchen. One of the many recommendations I have welcomed into my own home is a rack full of copper pans that are actually used, but also provide a stunning rustic, yet sophisticated focal point in the kitchen. (become a TOP Tier subscriber and tour my kitchen here) The Kitchen Reveal: Before & After and How I Customized My Small Space 12. Baskets From rustic to new, large, medium or small, in all different styles, baskets about the home are a functional touch that also looks wonderful from a decorating perspective. I recently picked up a few baskets for my home during Rabbit Hill's French Lifestyle online pop-up shop, and highly recommend checking out her monthly offerings. As well, market baskets are wonderful treasures as well as highly functional. I have displayed my own in my mudroom, and wrote a post about how to Find Your Perfect Provençal (or simply French) Market Tote The English-Inspired Mudroom: TSLL's Home Tour 13. The love of cloth Specifically Indiennes, originally imported colorful Indian chintzes which had small repeating motifs of flora and fauna. Serving as bed hanging, bed curtains, drapes and bedspreads as well as clothing, Indiennes is especially well associated with Provence. Other cottons depicting scenes from nature as well as stripes and ginghams have come to epitomize the Provençal decor. 14. Gardens full of herbs for cooking, medicinal purposes and exquisite fragrance for the home Beginning with lavender as the most immediate herb that comes to mind when Provence is mentioned, did you know it also while scenting the air repeals flies and mosquitos? Yep! As well as many other herbs, be sure to welcome an abundance of basil as Varvel shares, 'it is also a natural insect repellant and has been an essential in the Provençal kitchen garden for more than a thousand years". Place in the ground or in pots just outside your kitchen for easy access while you are cooking and welcome oodles of fresh flavors to your meals. ~Have you checked out The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show? Seasonal Fare to Elevate the Everyday Meal. The fourth season will debut on Saturday September 11th, and be sure to catch up on the previous three seasons here, YouTube or Apple Podcasts. ~View TSLL's Garden posts here. 15. Create natural shade in the garden and outdoors "The Provençal garden gives shade, with plantings of plane, chestnut, pines, cypress, evergreen oak, drought-resistant blackberry, and fruit trees, especially olive, fig, apricot, peach and plum." Varvel shares the many artists who would work en plein air in Provence and which trees appeared in their paintings along with the sunflowers which captured Van Gogh and Cézanne's admiration. Needless to say, Provençal style cannot be what it is without the outdoors or the honoring of the outdoors with the welcoming in of fresh flowers, floral and fauna prints and the opening of windows to let the fresh air dance about the home. If you have an outdoor living space, no matter how small - balcony, a porch, create a space which beckons you to sit, relax and take many deep breaths of appreciation. In other words, to be present. 10 Life Lessons from Provence: Slow Down and Savor the Everyday More than anything, to echo what Shauna Varvel's shares in her introduction of her book, the lifestyle of Provence rejuvenates, gently, yet assuredly nudges us to slow down and be present and never rushes us to hurry to the next thing. Taking in the sights, taking in the tastes and savoring the seasonal beauty, Provencal living is peaceful living. The markets run year-round, the attire need only be comfortable as you need your skin to breathe and your body to move as you walk about and around the many medieval towns and villages. Life in Provence is living well and savoring the everyday. When we create a home to encourage us to embody these qualities, no matter where we call home, our lives changes for the better. ~Be sure to check out an interview with the author Shauna Varvel by Jamie Beck who lives in Provence. ~Learn more about becoming a TOP Tier Subscriber to enjoy unlimited content ad-free. Petit Plaisir ~The Truffle Hunters Italian (English subtitles) In theaters now Click here to learn more about the film's selection as this week's Petit Plaisir. ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #308 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    307: How to Step into your Fullest True Self — The Way of Integrity, as taught by Martha Beck

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 7, 2021 61:23

    "Your life will tell you the truth." —Martha Beck, author of The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self Divided. Compartmentalized. Unable to give what is needed, not by choice, but by pure, sincere inability due to time and energy. Signs of living a life off the track of the way of integrity. Martha Beck explains in her new book, The Way of Integrity, the word integrity originates from the Latin integer meaning "in tact" and therefore cementing the definition of integrity as "to be one thing, whole and undivided". When we are not living a life of integrity, we are not being true to ourselves, nor the world. Now you might be thinking about the general and more commonly understood definition of integrity - living by your 'values' or abiding by the morals society applauds, but this is not what Beck writes about in her book. Instead, Beck looks at the true meaning of the word and applies it to each of us individually, daring to step away from any culture's expectations - a life of integrity is one when you have aligned your body, mind, heart and soul - your actions, your mental strength, your true self - you set yourself free. In the introduction she uses a phrase commonly known on this blog/podcast - you achieve a sustainable joie de vivre. "You may not believe that such a fulfilling life is possible. It is," Beck states with calm, assured confidence and goes on throughout the rest of the book, speaking from her own incredibly challenging and terrifying and finally liberating life journey, indeed what she shares is true. "No matter how far you think you've strayed from your true path, the moment you say I'm going to trust myself, I'm going to follow my truth, the healing begins." Beck's book crossed my path just after I had officially and publicly announced a resolve to live my own life of integrity as I had turned in my resignation papers concluding a 20-year career in teaching public education at the secondary level. I arrived at my decision after more than a few years of hemming and hawing about such a choice being necessary for me to live fully in alignment with what I knew to be true in my heart of hearts. And, as I shared in my May episode of the video series A Cuppa Moments (learn more about becoming a TOP Tier subscriber and discover more intimately why I made this decision here), it wasn't about running away; it was about running toward something I loved even more. Another way of looking at the way of integrity is much like putting together a puzzle. It can be especially hard to rationalize why we should leave something when on paper and to onlookers everything hums along beautifully, but if the puzzle doesn't allow your true nature to be nurtured, as Beck describes, when you are "rushing to conform . . . often ignoring or overruling [y]our genuine feelings—even intense one, like longing or anguish—to please your culture . . . you've divided yourself. [You] aren't in integrity (one thing) but in duplicity (two things)." In other words, the puzzle isn't your puzzle to be a part of. Having the courage to step away from something that works, even if we languish while others shine is not living a life of integrity. "When you pursue a career that pulls you away from your true self, your talent and enthusiasm will quit on you like a bored intern." The question we each need to ask ourselves is, “Does the culture nurture your nature?" Pause for a second before answering because I would have answered yes a couple of years ago as the quality of my overall life improved immensely having moved to Bend, Oregon. And what enabled me to move to this dream-of-a-town in my eyes? A teaching job; however, upon reflection, with more truths revealed, and after reading her book, my answer whilst trying to teach and write, is most certainly no. How do you know if you are out of your integrity? 1."Your life goes pear-shaped" Beck reveals how our inability to communicate civilly, snapping at people we love, letting ourselves be distracted regularly by rabbit holes on the internet, and on the health side - your "immune system and muscles becomes weaken . . . emotionally feeling grumpy, sad or numb." Focus and clarity — difficult to maintain, sickness is more frequent and energy is depleted. All of these 'symptons' are red flags your life is out of integrity. Let's end this point on some good news: "Integrity is the cure to unhappiness. Period." 2. Living a life governed by the 'should's and 'supposed to' expectations Living simply luxuriously, at its core is built upon questioning society, putting into practice critical thinking skills and thereby thinking well. When we think well, removing our biases and acknowledging the short-sightedness as well as true motivations of the culture we live in, we can think clearly and free ourselves from the pressures and guilt placed upon us to live a certain way. Even if 'your way' seems simple compared to significant societal differences such as announcing you are an atheist in a family full of devout believers of any one religious institutional faith, acknowledging your truth regarding your gender even if your family or friends cannot understand your truth, or standing up for a political issue which forces your family to confront their own long-held unconscious biases. Your way of integrity needs to be honored to set yourself free. Beck writes in detail about her own breaking free from the 'should's when she speaks about her stepping away from Mormonism (receiving death threats for doing so), sharing with the world and her husband that she is gay, and choosing to keep her child who she knew to have Downs Syndrome (even though at the time, people she respected urged her to not to). In great emotional, yet step-by-step detail, she shares how she made it to the other side and because each decision was her truth, her choice, she set herself free. She stopped living the life she was 'supposed to' and stepped courageously into a life of integrity. 3. Emotional Struggles "Whenever you lose your integrity, you'll feel your own unique brew of bad moods, depending on your personality . . . anxiety and depression [or] . . . free-floating hostility, itching to punch everyone in your office, familiy, zip code [or] . . . full-on panic attacks, especially during special occasions." For me, leaving teaching felt culturally 'wrong'. What I mean by that is, teaching and being a teacher is held in high regard, as, in my bias, yet as much as I can remain objective, it should be. So leaving a profession which society holds in deservedly high esteem felt to already be making the 'wrong' decision. However, as Beck calls them, my 'wild beasts' of bad moods would arise in the weirdest of times. I knew something was not in alignment, but nearly all of my acquaintances, friends and even my mother, were or are teachers. So how do you have a conversation with them about leaving a profession they are already in and most of whom sincerely love and have found their calling? In my case, you keep teaching. 4. Bad habits — can't break them The bad habits could be an onslaught of a variety of behaviors ranging from less harmful to incredibly life destructive, but anything which does not constructively add to your life and the quality of your days is a bad habit. Whether excessive financial expenditures, harmful drinking or eating habits, relationship failure after failure because you refuse to have the ability to either see or change what needs to be addressed, such habits stay with us because "when [you're] feeling fundamentally lost, afflicted by purposelessness, foul moods, and bad jobs, anything that stimulates the brain's pleasure centers can become an addiction." I can thankfully say, I had a positive outlet for my lack of finding complete fulfilling purpose in teaching: blogging, which turned into podcasting, which turned into cooking, which became my pleasure and purpose and I am incredibly grateful I honored my curiosity to explore what this 'blogging thing' was all about way back in 2009. I don't think we all have to have horrible habits so much so it becomes painfully obvious to outsiders we are not on the right life path for true integrity, but what I appreciate about Beck's book is bringing to our attention habits which if we are being honest with ourselves, aren't helpful to living a life we sincerely love living, but we keep engaging in said habit because we need the pleasure; we need something to 'feel' good because so much doesn't, and we don't know or don't have the courage yet to step off the path that isn't ours to walk. How to return or begin to live a life of integrity? 1.Stop lying "Here's the rub: if you stop lying, you'll eventually, inevitably violate the rules of a culture that matters to you." Stop lying when responding casually to the question, "How are you doing?" Be comfortable with expressing your exuberance or exhaustion about the day. The passive or a default way of living is not living, and it's not the way of integrity. How we connect with others, truly connect, is to be honest. I find that our culture is more comfortable with complaining even though America strives to be happy at all times. It is as though we must not be 'too happy' lest someone either question what makes us happy or want our happiness, when the truth is, there is not a limited supply. However, most Americans are too exhausted to figure out their own unique path to happiness. But the supposed secret as Beck reveals is simple: finding and living your integrity will lead you to peace, which will lead to the desired outcome of happiness. Again, this is a push-back on culture, not the people living within the culture. Admittedly, yes, a culture is made up by people, but when we recognize we are complicit in any culture which doesn't wish for its people to find peace and contentment, we must question it. Doing so is an exercise in critical thinking. And how we do that is by finding our own way of integrity and living it. 2. Knuckle down for the first step of changing your life - it will be hard Be prepared, the first step, the first shift you make will be the most difficult and will feel impossible on your way to fully being your true self. But the good news is, it is 'steepest at the start'. And in even better news, because you are stepping into your integrity, let that energy be your fuel. Just as it did for Dante (Beck's entire book parallels the journey of Dante through the levels of Hell in Dante's Inferno, Part I of The Divine Comedy) who because he wanted to be set free "so damn much" used that "intense wanting" to "propel him forward over terrain he doesn't believe he can cover." 3. Acknowledging and walking away from 'bad or disordered' love "'Bad' or 'disordered' love emerges when people are well-meaning but mistaken—for example, when we feel loyal to people and ideas that don't match our inner truth." So many of Beck's anecdotes are specific and clearly teach what she is introducing to readers. On this point she shares, "You might stop laughing at your coworker's crude jokes. You may come out as gay or trans. You may start posting things on social media that shock your loved ones. You may turn into some version of Rosa Parks, refusing to give up her bus seat to a white person." In sharing these examples, she reveals how quickly our lives will change when we step away from 'bad' love. And it happens quickly because while you've known for quite some time your truth, you haven't shared it with those who you've let keep 'loving' you in a way that serves their needs, but neglects yours. 4. Be prepared to contemplate returning to old ways (even if they weren't true to you) Prior to deciding to leave teaching, I chose to regularly see my counselor, and I am grateful I did. On this point, she reminded me, after always checking in with me about how I was feeling about my decision (once I had decided I would write my resignation letter) that there will be mourning for the 'old misery'. In other words, the life you know and are leaving, you will at times - whether in your dreams or in different states where you are emotionally weak or exhausted (these times especially were when my doubts would arise) - seriously doubt the decision you are about to make. What is happening is natural, and it does subside in time as I can share now after having felt those moments of mourning for the known misery early on after having made my decision. "Studies in psychoneuroimmunology show that if we plunge too quickly into any major change, even a good one, our bodies and minds can't absorb the shock. We must give our psycholoigcal and physiological systems time to adjust." How we give ourselves this time is where the phrase "mourning the known misery" comes from. And it is knowing that such a temporary state exists that we are able to better navigate through this time and into a life in which we are fully embracing our true nature. A few words from Beck on this subject, "If you start honoring your true nature and find yourself missing your old culture, don't panic. Be kind to yourself. Allow yourself time and space to grieve. Confide in loved ones. If they don't understand, find a coach or therapist. But don't think that missing your old life means you should go back to it." 5. A life transformed for the better "Whatever you do to heal the world, it will replace [bad health, habits, moods, etc. - what Beck refers to as 'dark wood of error symptoms'] with purpose, happiness, vitality, love, abundance, and fascination that specifically match your true nature." Perhaps this all sounds too good to be true, but simply the fact that you are thinking that is the hope you have unconsciously, that you hope it can be true. That it can be possible. Benefits of finding your way to integrity and living it daily 1. A life full of "meaning, enchantment and fascination" The world needs what you uniquely can give to it. When we each find the courage to honor our nature especially when the culture doesn't nurture it, we step forward toward a life full of meaning, and we as well become uplifted and enthralled with the awesome life we have the good fortune to live. Beck points out that thankfully, 'nature doesn't give up without a fight', so if you are doubting that it is too late, that you've waited too long, no, it's not and no, you haven't. The mere fact that you are still contemplating, wishing, hoping, wondering is nature's strength of hanging on until you finally take action to courageously find your way of integrity. 2. Breath-taking moments are experienced beyond what the culture tells you is possible "Obviously, no one will have taught you how to navigate such wonders. No worries. You'll learn fast. You were born for it." If happiness, and based on having read Beck's book, I think more deeply it fits the definition of contentment, if contentment is something you could buy in the store and be promised a life of awe, wonder, peace, would you buy it? What if I told you it was free? I have a feeling some would question it must be too good to be true, but that is our conditioning when it comes to believing in how possible living well is. We have been conditioned to believe happiness can only be pursued, not attained, AND that only so many people are capable of attaining it so we must hurry up and chase it down, ignoring the present and constantly live in the future. But that is errant thinking. The ability to attain contentment for free is possible because it exists within us each already. Our answer resides in each of us. Our true nature, our true selves, has always been with us. We now just need to let it speak. In other words, let ourselves speak honestly, truthfully, and the world begins to change for the better. Not only for each one of us who courageously takes this step, but for all of us, as we begin to see who each of us actually is, how diverse and awesome we actually are and how to think well without unconscious manipulation. 3. A stronger you both physically and emotionally As you begin to step off the wrong path and onto your way of integrity, there will be push-back, but wonderfully, you will be more capable than you might have ever imagined because, "Even if the people around [you] raise merry hell, [you] find yourself coping—more than that, thriving—more easily than [you'd] imagined." 4. A more peaceful you The truth about feeling drained, emotionally exhausted, is not necessarily the environment's fault, but rather that we shouldn't be in that environment. We are needed some place else. Find that place and find your peace. 5. A life of inner harmony True contentment, as shared on TSLL many times previously, is capable of being experienced even during the most difficult of moments and heartbreaking days and events. Why? When you've found and know what inner harmony is, an alignment of your true self - body, mind, heart and soul - you acknowledge and tend to what you have control over and clearly recognize and let go of what you don't. You are living a life of truth in your actions, words and thoughts, and you are strengthened knowing how to navigate forward well, modeling and, when applicable, and you are capable, nurturing those around you forward as well with kindness and compassion. 6. Find your people who 'get' you "If you don't walk your true path, you don't find your true people." Ah, while I have met so many amazing people during my years as a teacher whether the staff and colleagues I have been incredibly fortunate and privileged to work alongside, the many, many parents who's love and tireless efforts to raise children in a world that is ever-changing, and especially the awesome students who through their natural strengths and honed skills, learning from struggles and finding truths along the way, my connection has been professional as I kept, for the most part, my writing life compartmentalized from my teaching life. Once I finally began talking about what I love about blogging, which was only this spring (except to one, maybe two people over the years), a burden on my shoulders was lifted and I felt free. Some don't understand what I am stepping fully into, and consequently, our relationships, even though respectfully collegial, have lessened, but to others, we've had far more honest conversations than we have ever had. And this is just the beginning of a positive shift. "We simply can't chart a course to happiness by linking up with others who are as lost as we are. The path to true love—true anything—is the way of integrity." In order to fully and deeply connect with others, we must be our true selves - no holding back, no editing, no 'hoping they like us'. When we are our true selves, it doesn't matter if everyone ‘gets' us so long as we let ourselves be set free, and that is what draws others of similar understanding and those who can see our honest and raw expression and who appreciate such strength into our lives. These are the people you want to connect with. These are the people with whom healthy, loving relationships grow. 7. Balance Yes, balance is possible (although our culture would have us believe otherwise, believing the skill to master is not balance but rather being constantly thrown from side to side, stressor to next stressor. Don't buy into this myth!). In The Divine Comedy, Virgil writes something that 'stuns Dante. All these 'sins' are actually based in love. Sloth, greed, gluttony, and lust are simply unbalanced relationships with rest, abundance, nourishment and sex. We can err by either compulsively indulging or rigidly repressing our natural relationship with these things. This lack of balance doesn't come when we allow union with our true nature, but when we split ourselves away from it. It's misguided thinking, not natural behavior, that causes us to stray from our innocence." Our innocence is our true selves. Our true self is found and experienced when we step into the way of integrity. Bravely doing so, courageously striding, becoming ever stronger and exhilarated with each step. 8. Fulfill your long-term heart's desires For this last point in today's post/episode, I'll leave you with Beck's words as she reflects on her own life journey and teaches us one of the grandest benefits of finding your own way of integrity, embracing your true self: "As this internal shift occurred, life seemed to deliver more and more of the things I'd longed for during my life. I began to imagine that the universe works like this: whenever we humans long for something, the Powers That Be immediately send it. But everything we've ordered is always delivered to our real home address: peace. This is why we struggle for things in a state of desperation, they don't come to us—nothing works when it's misaligned. But when we return to a state of peace, the things we've 'ordered' can finally reach us." — Martha Beck, The Way of Integrity: Finding the Path to Your True Self (2021) The way of integrity is a path through and with life that makes you excited simply to envision it for a moment during your day. You may breathe a sigh of relief and a smile may even creep upon your face spontaneously each time you dare to think what you imagine could be your real life. I have been so incredibly excited to share today's episode with you because while my last day of teaching doesn't occur for another two weeks, the announcement has been made, the reality has been put into place, and a peace not-yet-known-until-now is already being felt (yes, moments of mourning the known misery creep up, but they are fewer and fewer, and now I know immediately where they stem from and how to navigate respectfully through these feelings). Living simply luxuriously doesn't just happen, and it indeed takes time. When we learn the skills necessary for living a life of true contentment, we can then begin to build what will be unique to each of us. The foundation of a fulfilling, joy-filled life, is to realign yourself with your true self. To conclude with more sagacity from Martha Beck on making our way to integrity, "Not because this path is virtuous, but because it aligns you with reality, with truth. Your life will work for the same reason a well-built plane will fly. Not a reward for good behavior. Just physics." Logical and simultaneously honoring the full humanity of each and every one of us. SHOP Martha Beck's book The Way of Integrity | Amazon | PETIT PLAISIR ~Lupin, on Netflix ~Learn more about this episode's Petit Plaisir on this specially dedicated post. PART ONE, Trailer (season 1) PART ONE, Trailer (season 1) ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #307 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    306: 25 British Petit Plaisirs (and a new category for all of TSLL's Simple Pleasures)

    Play Episode Listen Later May 17, 2021 36:39

    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.

    305: 36 Bedtime Daily Rituals and Essential Details to Ensure A Restful Slumber

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 19, 2021 40:53

    ”Discover the great ideas that lie inside you by discovering the power of sleep.” – Arianna Huffington, author of The Sleep Revolution Awaking without an alarm clock. Letting the body and mind in tandem wake up after having receiving the necessary amounts of sleep, my goal as I move forward in life is to have more mornings awoken only by the morning murmurs of the fresh air, the birdsong, the quiet of the house as the sun begins to gently start the day. If you have ever experienced jet lag, you know what it feels like, what it sounds like when your body and mind to speak, asking, "Why aren't we sleeping right now?". Whether you are traveling across multiple time zones or not, your body and mind need deep consistent rest, and when we listen to and honor what we hear, we begin to live a life of healthy harmony. We are better able to manage our emotions, stay present, be patient, think clearing and so much more. Sharing the nine benefits of a good night's sleep a couple of years ago, I have no doubt you know the importance and value of a good night's sleep, but knowing and creating a space in our sanctuaries to offer a nightly restful slumber can be two different things. Today, inspired by the completion of my primary bedroom's restyling (stop by next week on the blog for a tour - before and after photos included along with all of the details, links and decisions behind the choices), I wanted to introduce next week's post with a post sharing 36 Bedtime Daily Rituals and Essential Details for a restful slumber. To know what we need is one thing. To know how to cultivate it can be a bit more difficult to ascertain, but what I have learned over the years having never used an alarm clock during my teenage years, the daily necessary ingredient for an everyday of contentment is a good night's sleep. Forward thinking as well as remaining in the present are advisable for living a life of contentment as well; however, reflecting upon times in our life when we felt contentment can be incredibly helpful. And so it was my reflection on my teenage years, reminding me of how I lived which enabled me to live without an alarm clock and still live a full life, rise early enough to begin the day without rush and reduce or eliminate my worries. While taking time, two decades in fact, my bedroom decor as well as my daily rituals surrounding sleep cultivate a necessary portion of daily life I deeply savor, look foward to and find incredibly life lifting when I consciously prioritize my sleep which has been essential to enjoying my days. First the concrete essential details present in the bedroom to assist in cultivating an inviting and restful bedroom: ~Be sure to tune in to the audio version as much more detail is shared on each item in the lists below. Essential Details 1.Easily accessible and easy to utilize dimmable bedside table lamps or wall sconces 2. Tranquil wall covering - paint or wallpaper 3. Small trays on the bedside table(s) 4. A full glass of water and carafe 5. Linen sheets and pillowcases - year round -Santorini Linen sheets (choose linen, not cotton as they have both available in the same name from The White Company), I sleep in these as well as alternate with French vintage linen sheets I found in France. -Parachute also makes high quality linen sheets in many different colors. -Learn more about linen - French Linen: The Fields, The History and Why it is a Truly Luxurious Fabric 6. A top blanket for napping during the day 7. Lavender (or one's favorite scent for calm) hand lotion 8. Lip balm 9. Candles and match striker 10. Writing utensil 11. Journal 12. Books for reading which calm the mind 13. Window treatment enabling you to open your window and provide privacy when needed 14. A bolster (or traversin in French) 15. Natural light 16. A mix of prints and solids, textures and fabrics 17. Include the three pillars of tangible decor details - (1) natural fabrics, (2) metals and (3) natural material (i.e. (1) linen, cotton, wool; (2) brass or silver, etc. - stick to the same hue, finish may vary; (3) wood, bamboo, seagrass, etc. 18. For a calm aesthetic - Select three colors and vary the hues ”Sleep helps you win at life.” – Amy Poehler Limit or remove: access to the internet (phone, tablet, computer) excessive photos and décor (cluttered walls, table tops, shelves, etc.) bright overhead lighting or fluorescent lighting television décor items holding reminders of pain, loss, or hurt dust and dirt and laundry or tossed about clothing (clean the bedroom regularly as a way to be mindful of the importance of the time you spend in the space, of course for basic cleanliness as well) Bedtime Daily Rituals AM 0. Gently turn on bedside light (why dimmable lamps are a necessity) 1.Finish drinking the glass of water by the bed which had been poured prior to going to bed the night before 2.Before rising, thoughtfully contemplate one or two things you are grateful for (journal or write down if you prefer) 3. Read or listen to a page or a chapter of something inspiring (sans internet) such as a book or turn on calm music I prefer classical in the morning, but choose something to lift you well into the day 4. Let the natural daylight in when possible 5. Open the windows (if they aren't already open) to hear the birdsong during the spring 6. Rise and put on your slippers and dressing gown/robe PM 1. Set room/house temperature to desired levels 2. Prepare the pups for bed - final bathroom outing, blanket or dog bed preparation 3. Draw window treatments as preferred and open window (if preferred) 4. Turn on sleep timer for any music or listening element you enjoy before falling asleep 5. Situate the pillows Bolster goes behind the sleeping pillow and large decorative Euros are removed 6. Use hand and foot lotion, lip balm (as desired) 7. Pour a full glass of water and place in the tray bedside 8. Light a candle (if preferred) or spritz the bed linens with a favorite scent 9. Remove slippers and dressing gown/robe, placing nearby for easy access in the morning 10. Journal any thoughts, putting the day to bed 11. Read a book that does not add drama or worry, but rather brings a smile or tickles the mind 12. Lights out (if I cannot sleep, deep breathing practice - 6-count inhale, 6-count exhale - and before I realize it, I have fallen asleep as it stops my mind from thinking and lets it relax) ”Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama While decorating our sleeping space in a way to personalize is incredibly helpful, what I have discovered over the years is I am more often removing items rather than adding them to my bedroom. In so doing, the room's restfulness improves, my sleep deepens and there are fewer items to preoccupy my mind (or trip over). Keeping it simple, keeping it thoughtful with our intentionality and choices, investing in quality, yep, cultivating a simply luxuriously sleep space, is to live well and more specifically sleep well. Because when we sleep well, our waking hours are far more positive and fruitful and simply, incredibly enjoyable. :) An Essential Skill for the Most Peace-filled and Resilient Life ~Learn more about becoming a TOP Tier subscriber to enjoy exclusive content including all TSLL's Home Tours. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY 9 Benefits of a Good Night's Sleep 4 Core Components to Create a Home for a Healthy Well-Being 10 Décor Tips for Create a Private Sanctuary for Rest & Repose - TSLL's Restyling Process of the Primary Bedroom Petit Plaisir ~La Rochere water glass, tumbler or stemmed glass Wayfair (many options, individual glasses available for purchase) ~Long Live the Queen! 23 Rules for Living from Britain's Longest Reigning Monarch by Bryan Kozlowski (copyright Nov. 2020) Find the A Cuppa Ideas notepads here. ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #305 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    304: Artists in Residence writer and illustrator Melissa Wyse and Kate Lewis

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 5, 2021 38:49

    Today on the podcast, the creators of the new book Artists in Residence join me to talk about not only their collaboration, but also how readers can find inspiration to look at their own sanctuaries as a haven, decorating it in such a way as to nurture presence and the unique creativity each inhabitant would like to share with the world. Melissa Wyse is the writer and through her research, so many details largely unknown to the wider public are shared about each of the 17 artists' residences and their life stories. Kate Lewis brings to vivid imagery each of the intimate spaces with her illustrations. yYou will find yourself looking at all of the detail, going back and forth between the written word and the painted peek to gain a sense of how the artist lived. Not only a book to feast upon with the eyes, but inspire you to honor your own gifts, find time to explore and share them and motivate others to do the same just as Kate and Melissa have done. Purchase the book Artists in Residence: Seventeen Artists and Their Living Spaces from Giverny to Casa Azul here, and explore more about each of the women below: Melissa Wyse (writer): website; Instagram Kate Lewis (illustrator): website; Instagram (see below a pic of her new art offerings) ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #304 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify ~Sponsor for today’s episode: Graf Lantz Receive 15% off your first order with promo code SIMPLY through April 30th

    303: 33 Ways to Live Your Fullest Life, as taught by Norma Kamali

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 15, 2021 51:30

    "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. Fashion designer Norma Kamali's new book, part memoir, part lifestyle/self-esteem builder I Am Invincible is aptly described by Cynthia Rowley as "personal power with a side of popcorn". 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). What good fortune we all have to live now with so much to learn, apply, explore and tickle our curiosity, and with such good fortune, we can easily become overwhelmed. However, Kamali reminds and models in her own life of more than 70 years that this good fortune need not betwixt us but rather spark excitement within us to figure out how to make it work for each and every one of us so we can live with purpose. The book transpired out of a gift she gave to a friend who was celebrating her 50th birthday. She gave as a Moleskine journal filled with 50 Tips on Turning 50! and the reaction led to asking her to make her book available, and now we have quite the book of inspiration and lessons applied and learned. As someone who chose herself when she founded her own business in her early 20s after ending a marriage and the business she and her then husband began together and continues to hold the reins and someone who found whom she describes as her soulmate at 65, Kamali is a living example of intentionally building one's self-esteem, recognizing and celebrating your authentic self and living with purpose in your business and personal life. 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. ~be sure to tune in and listen to the audio version of today's episode for further discussion on each of the points shared below. LIFE & MIND 1.Be brave "Be willing to surrend who you are for what you can become. Change is very hard for many people, but change is inevitable in all of our lives. It is oftentimes what propels us forward. If you initiate change, you will have proactive management over it." The courage to be brave is not for the faint of heart. The moment of transition lasts more than a moment, and during this time of transition from where you were to where you are going with your choice is full of emotions challenging your decision, then buoying your excitement, then challenging your decision again. The only way to overcome the doubt is to continue to strive forward as such feelings are only the mind's lizard brain wanting you to continue what it knows not necessarily because it is best for you. ~read this post - How to Be Brave: Follow Your 'This' to Live the Life You Have Dreamt About 2. Understand your hormonal levels "Throughout puberty, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause, women ride a hormonal roller coaster. Diet and exercise are the first lines of defense for balancing hormones." On a practical level, since I mentioned emotions in #1, not only do we need to strengthen our emotional intelligence (EQ), but as women, we need to understand the hormonal changes each of us will go through at some time. Kamali recommends speaking to your wellness doctor or an expert in the medical field to best understand how to navigate and understand what your body is moving through. 3. Learn to love yourself first, so you can love others well "Positive self-esteem based on how we feel about our mind, body and soul is needed for self-love. If we haven't done work in the self-love area, there is a chance we are not as discriminating as we need to be, especially in relationships." Kamali's own life exemplifies the need to walk away for our own well-being,"Walking away begins with a belief system you have in your head about your own value." And it is in the self-love, we become clear about how to love others well and know what love actually looks like. 4. Professional teeth cleanings - multiple times a year Back to the practical. Of course, brushing our teeth daily, multiple times a day is a must along with flossing, etc., but our smiles are powerful. They not only enhance our beauty, they boost our own confidence and endorphin levels when we smile, and a healthy smile can be maintained for an extraordinary long time if only we take preventative measures regularly throughout our entire lives. Two times a year tends to be the recommendation by dentists, but opt for more if you can and let your smile shine. 5. Embrace a meditation practice A meditation practice need not be elaborate. It can be as simple and momentary as intentional time slipping away to the restroom while at work for 5 to 10 minutes to breathe deeply and settle ourselves, but yes (I know I have recommended this practice many times here on the blog), meditation is a worthwhile practice for so many lifelong health benefits - the mind most especially. 6. Be proactive to navigate well through fear/anxiety/worry When it comes to eliminating or handling well unwanted worry, undesirable situations, Kamali advises developing routines to engage in everyday whenever worry, fear or anxiety arises. For example, she shares how meditation breaks when taken "temper anything stressful that might throw off [her] routine". 7. Embrace regular, rigorous exercise to improve sleep "In addition to helping naturally reduce stress and anxiety levels, regular exercise has been shown to boost the amount of time the body spends in deep sleep. This is the most physically rejuvenating phase, important for memory and cognitive function. When energy is restored, cells regenerate, and the immune system is strengthened." Upon reflection on any night in which I woke up prematurely and was not woken up, it followed a day I did not exercise. On days I do not exercise due to exhaustion - mental and emotional fatigue, I actually cause more stress because my sleep is not deep and sometimes interrupted of my own accord. All of these ahas I have seen and learned in my own life reiterate the vital importance of making time in my day for an exercise routine. 8. Make your bedroom a sacred space in your sanctuary Currently, as many readers know, I am nearing the end of a much anticipated bedroom restyling and when it is complete I look forward to sharing with you my decisions for the space and how they help me create a sacred space. Each of us will make unique choices for the decor, the sheets, the ambiance which work best for us, but one thing Kamali reiterates is to leave the bedroom for sleeping, resting and connecting intimately with your partner only. In other words, leave the technology outside of the bedroom. ~10 Décor Tips for Creating a Private Sanctuary for Rest & Repose: TSLL's Restyling Process (mid-way through) of the Primary Bedroom (for TOP Tier exclusively) ~Why Not . . . Create a Sanctuary for your Senses? ~14 Ways to Create a Happy Home, episode #278 FOOD 9. Make what you eat a lifestyle choice "What you eat should be a lifestyle choice, not a fad diet, just like your workouts should be part of your daily routine, and not sporadic." TSLL lives by the principle of eating well and with the seasons. The food we eat need not be fancy and it absolutely doesn't need to lack flavor as it is the flavor which will satiate us, telling our bodies we are full and satisfied. However, learning how to cook and eat this way is a skill we are taught as children or need to teach ourselves as adults. It is well worth it and once we understand the fundamentals, easy than might be expected. "The simple secret I've learned is that if we eat quality food we will feel fulfilled and less controlled by our cravings. The amount of food we need is much less than you might imagine." ~Enjoy Stepping into Your Kitchen with 6 Simple (and effortless) flavor tips ~explore TSLL's cooking show - The Simply Luxurious Kitchen - to begin to enjoy stepping into your kitchen 10. No more sugar "[Sugar] doesn't do your complexion any favors, either. A doctor once described sugar's oxidizing effect on cells to me as akin to 'rust'. The rust starts to decay and age the cell. This accelerated cellular aging also harms the building blocks of collagen and elastin, causing skin to sag prematurely." The natural sugars found in fruits and some vegetables - keep on devouring them! However, by becoming aware of how sugar infilrates our diet without either realizing it or recognizing how much we are actually consuming, we do our health and our skin no favors. 11. Add ginger and/or lemon to your hot water to debloat Water, water, water all the time, water. Adding fresh lemon juice also is a healthy choice, one many of us know about, but did you know about adding ginger? (I have a feeling many of you did and I am late to this health tip :), but I want to share with you all.) Ginger is a carminative along with many other herbs, and carminatives help to soothe the digestive tract and relieve gas, cramps and bloating. 12. Stock your épicerie with foods to care for your inner and outer health. In episode #109 and in even more detail in chapter 12 of TSLL's second book Living The Simply Luxurious Life, I share a list of 34 essential items to have in your Épicerie (grocery or pantry). TSLL's 2nd Book (learn more here) STYLE "Style survives fashion and personal style is developed with time." 13. Courageously get to know yourself and your personal style will reveal itself "The more you know who you are as you move through your life, the more you develop your personal style." As I step forward into a new chapter in my own life (more to come on that this summer), I am excited to further fine-tune my personal style. My goal is so that "Every piece of clothing", when you have cultivated your own personal style, "will have a purpose in your wardrobe." It's possible and far easier when we know ourselves and how we enjoy living. 14. Understand the value of timeless style "Women who understand the value of timeless style look amazing all of the time." ~further exploration, listen to/read episode #103: Effortless Style: The Truth (explore further in TSLL's 2nd Book, chapter 11) 15. Don't follow trends Style remains and fashion fades. While we can be inspired or piqued by a new fashion walking down the runway, responding rather than reacting applies just as much to our decisions for our wardrobe as it does to our interactions throughout life with others. Explore this post - Why Not . . . Create Your Own Style Commandments? to strengthen your approach to building your personal style. 16. Sustainable clothing shopping requires wise shopping choices timeless clothes multiple purposes seasonless (when possible) Investing in high quality clothing, paying high price for well-made items made of quality fabric is shopping sustainably. You shop less and you wear the items longer. 17. Your personal brand is introduced through your clothing Branding is communicated by many other factors - our energy, posture, congeniality - but before we even speak, our clothing talks for us. Our sartorial choices are powerful, and as Kamali encourages, "let yours be uniquely you". 18. Organize your closet to excite and focus your attention and save time Kamali suggests organizing your closet to help you edit what you really want to wear and in fact organizes her personal and office closets by color, then by fabric, and then by category: dresses, jumpsuits, tops, jackets, skirts, pants. 19. Purchase multiple items you love and fit well From undergarments to blazers, layering pieces, anything that is timeless, Kamali recommends investing in duplicates. 20. A strong confidence requires less artifice as protection "But with her new book, she hopes to drive home the limits of fashion. 'A dress can only do so much,' she says. 'When you feel good in your body and your mind, you’ll probably spend less on clothes.'" Upon reading the profile of Kamali's book in the WSJ, it was the above quote which resonated with me quite strongly. Yes, we need clothing, I am not one to advocate for sans-clothing living although I know some do and that is perfectly fine for them. Clothing is powerful, but when we rely on our clothing to do the work we need to be doing for ourselves for our mental well-being, we place too much importance on what we are wearing causing unnecessary stress on our mental health and strain on our budget. I wholeheartedly, as readers and listeners know, advocate for investment pieces rather than cheap, clothing (referencing #16), and as we find peace within ourselves, strengthen ourselves with soft skills to improve how we engage with the world, our clothing, while it may introduce us before our words and actions begin, becomes secondary. Meaning, we can wear the same outfit more often without worry, we can stick to our personal uniform with confidence knowing it works with our lifestyle, and we can feel good in the clothing we have chosen further supporting us as we live how we had hoped in our dreams we could one day experience in real life: with great purpose, with deep joy and true contentment. WORK "Be independent; learn how to earn your own way. Then you can choose someone you love versus someone to take care of you." 21. Explore your dreams for your life journey "The wonderful thing about a dream is that it is limitless and it is free, and it can become the path to your purpose." Let persistent curiosity be your guide to where your purpose will be discovered. Kamali writes, "invest in your future now" even if you don't know what it will lead to or the potential it will present down the road. Simply invest because you are genuinely curious and let tomorrow reveal what it will. 22. Empower other women, don't compete "Girls compete, women empower." Citing insecurity and a lack of self-esteem as the cause of fear which then leads to a scarcity mindset prompting competition, when we step forward instead as women with strong self-esteem paired with generosity, there is no need to compete because we are secure in our ability, excited to learn more and willing to help as we can those who look to us with inquiry. 23. Do something that scares you In so doing, you keep your mind sharp. Stretch your mind, learn something new, attempt something you've never thought of yourself doing, yet when presented with the opportunity, your curiosity is piqued. Try it, give it a go and who knows what doors or windows or ahas will open. 24. Respect in your field will take time "Respect is like money, you have to earn it." Your reason for pursuing your chosen career will determine your longevity. If your purpose comes from within, you will have the perseverance to ride the waves of questioning and/or doubt others in the field may have of your ideas. Stay true to your core purpose, be open to learning, flexible with the journey forward and how it unfolds, and in time, and in a moment most unexpected, you will realize you have garnered the respect of the field you so devoted yourself to. 25. Deal with your 'failures' well and your future will be bright "Allow yourself a limited amount of time to recount the events that led to failure and to assess the damage. Take responsibility, look at the options for your next steps, get advice, then get on you feet and know you are not alone in failure." 26. "Do it for joy and you can do it forever" As shared in #24, what motivates you to pursue the career or caling you find yourself and have chosen to remain or step into anew from another career that didn't quite fit will determine your longevity. When I sit down to write, it fuels me. When I am tasked with other jobs I have done for pay, I am drained. Listen to this for your own energy sources to determine whether or not you are pursuing what is best for you. BEAUTY "Authenticity Enhanced is my beauty preference, since being me is definitely easier than trying to look like someone else." Enhance who you are and only use makeup (after caring for your skin well) for definition, "not to hide or disguise or hide the real you". 27. Take care of your skin The French have taught me many lessons, and this is one of them: tend to your skin and your makeup need only be minimal and secondary. I have written quite a bit on this topic, so I will list the post to explore for more detail (and list of recommended skincare brands and products) below: 13 French Beauty Products I Love and Recommend 22 French Beauty Secrets worth the Investment in either time or money, episode #258 15 of My Favorite Skincare Products Let's Talk About Beauty, episode #102 28. Take pride in your individuality "Being the author of your own life is far more interesting than imitating another's life." ~7 Components for Building a Signature Style 29. Exercise for beautiful skin "Sweat for glowing skin and to release toxins." ~Why Not . . . Treat Your Body Like a Temple? 30. Leave the nails unpainted "Natural, unpainted manicures are healthy and maintain a timeless look." I have been leaving my own fingernails unpainted for, well, for all of my adult life and prior to actually as well. However, I just recently began going sans color when I give myself a pedicure. I am loving it. Less to purchase, but it forces me to care well for my overall health and directly, my nails. While I sit down every two weeks for my at-home pedicure and tend to my fingernails every week, my choice surprised me as I wear sandals frequently in the summer, but it simply means, I will know my nails are healthy and that all is well. 31. Drink green tea for your skin An antioxidant for the skin, Kamali shares she drinks one or two cups of green tea every day. With multiple benefits, green tea can calm redness and inflammation and protect the skin from free radical damage, and even the small amount of caffeine in green tea can help reduce puffiness around the eyes. There are so many wonderful green teas. Currently in my tea cupboard are Vert Provence from Mariage Fréres and a variety of green teas from Palais des Thés. Kamali's green tea mask recipe (use in #32 for your at-home facial): (1) place a paper towel on a dinner plate; (2) pour a small amount of freshly brewed cool or room-temperature green tea on the paper towel; (3) drain any excess liquid; (4) lie back with your head on a towel and place the paper towel over your face; (5) relax and breathe in a meditative manner; (6) remove when you are ready and pat dry your face. 32. Give yourself at-home facials in-between your seasonal or bi-monthly facials at the spa Begin with a cleansing your face well (I use Caudalie's makeup removing facial cleanser which is 100% natural and vegan) Use a simple natural scrub using olive oil and sugar or sea salt, provide a steam treatment by sitting near a steamer (if you have one) or draping a towel over your head above a bowl of hot water - keep your face about 6-12 inches above the water). Then apply a facial masque best suited for your skin - I highly recommend any masques (or products) from Eminence Organic Skincare. My facial cleanser MAKE IT HAPPEN 33. Commit "The minute you reflect upon what your purpose is in this lifetime, you can commit to it, and the esaier it will be to maintain focus and stay on course." Committing occurs when we take action beyond ourselves. The conversation steps outside of our minds, we hand in the job application, turn in the resignation letter, purchase the lease, apply for the loan, say yes, say no. Following any one of these decisions, we are in it. Sure we could back out, but we've already made one of the most difficult decisions and aren't you curious to see how it can unfold if only you would put your whole heart into it? I just made a commitment last week which put a long-held dream into motion (I will share more concretely what it is later this summer), and yes, there is fear and trepidiation, but I do my best not to hang out with these emotions for too long because I have much more excitement I now have the opportunity to full embody and explore. Live your life on purpose for a purpose which will make you come to life and you will be, as Norma Kamali states from the beginning, invincible. ~Read Norma Kamali's highly inspiring and motivating book I Am Invincible Petit Plaisir —Italian Furlane Slippers from ~functional luxury footwear ~handmade with velvet and slip-resistant rubber soles just as the gondolieri have worn on their Venetian boats. Sizing up is highly recommended, but I have did purchase my true size for one pair and while snug, it fit well and became even more perfect for my foot with a handful of wearings. I also have one that is one size larger which I wear everyday and love. For more sizes and color optinos (if you cannot find what you want on the home site, shop below) here (Verishop) ~Sponsor for today’s episode: Jenni Kayne Receive 15% off your first order with promo code SIMPLE ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #303 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    302: 21 Lessons Learned in my 42nd Year

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 1, 2021 26:55

    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. 1.Fresh flowers in the home immediately boost the peace and comfort in the daily routine ~12 Simple Ideas for Beautiful Flowers in the Home 2. Beneficial reassurance can only come from within 3. Gardening is a way of life which elevates life Why Not . . . Try Gardening? Part Une - 10 Whole Life Benefits 4. Quality investments made before they are necessary allow for a life of more ease and a stronger foundation when times become rough 5. Reading is one of the best ways to spend time in lockdown: growth never ceases. 6. Quality lamps provide more comfort, better ambiance and a true sense of welcome and warmth. 7. Thinking well is a choice. 8. Thinking well enables you to live well. 9. Quality chocolate and quality butter create a delectable, satiating dessert. 10. Match strikers - style mets function The Decor Detail You Didn't Know You Needed: The Match Striker 11. Mental strength is fundamental for a life of true contentment 10 Ways to Cultivate a Mental Diet that Elevates the Quality of Your Life 12. Shedding the layers of 'should's from the outside world, identifying them and liberating yourself will simplify your life choices and fundamentally change your life journey for the better. Unbecoming Who You Are Not in order to Remember Who You Are 13. Slowing down as a regular way of life is a better way to live Slowing Down to Live Well 14. Creating a cosy home, creating a welcoming home is my driving focus. ~34 Ideas for Adding Cosy to Your Everyday 15. Moments of temporary discomfort along the journey as you intentionally change your life are a sign of your old life wanting to draw you back to what it 'knows'. This is normal, and it will gradually subside. Strive forward toward your new way of life. Life will reward you with deeper contentment. 16. Trust yourself when it comes to your décor. Have patience, seek out expertise and then proceed confidently without seeking approval from the masses. Style over trends. 17. I love crêpes ~Brown-Butter-Lemon-Sugar Crêpe~ ~Buckwheat Crêpes (Galettes) with Prosciutto, Gruyére & Egg~ 18. A good cuppa is an everyday necessity 18 Ways to Enjoy A Good Cuppa 19. Tending to our tasks only and letting go of tending to others is to set yourself free. The Courage to Live Fully & Deeply: 7 Ideas to Put into Practice for a Life of True Contentment 20. Being present, engaging with the world as it presents itself to you creates amazing magic. 21. Trust your intuition and be motivated to follow your hopes, not remain where you are because of fear. ~read How Fear Can Be an Opportunity for Amazing Life Changes Each birthday is the celebration of the year and lessons and gifts from the past, and it is also a gift to have another year commence full of auspicious possibility. Thank you for all of the birthday wishes shared in the comment section on Friday's This & That post. And may your birthday, wherever it falls on the calendar be as bright and as hope-filled as you dare to allow it. :) SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES: 15 Life Lessons Learned during my First Year into my 40s, episode #279 Let the 40s Begin! (and 3 Valuable Life Lessons Realized in my 30s) 15 Lessons I Am Carrying into My 39th Year Petit Plaisir ~The Dig ~read a review by The New York Times ~learn more about the writer of the adapted screenplay of The Dig - Moira Buiffini.

    301: The Courage to Live Fully & Deeply: 7 Ideas to Put into Practice for a Life of True Contentment

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 15, 2021 49:46

    "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. The answers come to those who accept moments of clumsiness, frequent stumbles, nights and days of ambiquity and confusion because embracing anything new, trying anything new which speaks to what we are seeking and trying to understanding will require a beginner's mind. Learning to walk required of each of us even though we don't remember (but I truly think it would help if we could) numerous stumbles, falls forward and backward, sometimes temporarily causing pain to our face, knees and bottoms. But we don't remember this because we needed to learn how to walk to participate fully in the life we had no clue awaited us. Keep such an analogy in mind as you choose to continue to search for your answers. I too have to remind myself of the toddler parallel, and as I grow older and hopefully not only in age, but in wisdom, I become more and more grateful for each challenge. One of the most valuable development skills the book argues a parent can teach their child is how to overcome challenges, and that can only happen by letting them navigate through tasks which appear difficult to them, but easy for us - tying shoes for example. While appearing easy to the adult, the child must start with such challenges in order to be confident enough to navigate through more difficult challenges as their life unfolds. Again another axiom comes to mind, "Life doesn't get easier, we just become better equipped to handle well the challenges when presented." However, the caveat is we must keep stepping through the challenges and not settling and unconsciously ignoring them. Life will always present dilemmas, quandaries and moments of difficulty; it is our choice to try to understand how to navigate through such situations. We are the director of our lives, and it is up to us to direct ourselves to the wisdom necessary, learn said wisdom and apply it. 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. 1.Let go of competing with the world Seeking to be superior in comparison with other people is a denial of our own journey and our true selves. As I will share in #5 below, we each have a unique something to contribute positively to the larger world, but when we consume ourselves with 'proving' ourselves in competition of any sort, we step away from self-growth and discovery of our unique talents and gifts. The only healthy form of competition "comes from one's comparison with one's ideal self". Refrain from 'gaining status or honor', in other words, approval from the outside world. Instead, invest in being yourself. Invest in self-growth and discovery and let go of competition - anything preoccupied with winning and losing as "it will invitably get in the way". 2. The meaning we give the events in our life journey determines its quality "We determine our own lives according to the meaning we give to those past experiences. Your life is not something that someone gives you, but something you choose yourself, and you are the one who decides how you live." The life truth I have seen again and again and more vividly as I grasped its true meaning is if we argue enough for our limitations, we get to keep them and they become our reality. Not because the limitations are truth, but because we made them true by accepting them. 3. Know your tasks and let others tend to theirs Described as Separation of Tasks, knowing what is our individual responsibility and what are the responsibilities of others not only will alleviate and remove much stress and worry, it will also improve our interpersonal relationships. In The Courage to Be Disliked, they use the example of a romantic partnership: "You believe in your partner; that is your task. But how that person acts with regard to your expectations and trust is other people's tasks . . . intervening in other people's tasks and taking on other people's tasks turns one's life into something heavy and full of hardship." In other words, knowing the boundaries of what is your task and what is the task of others will eliminate unnecessary worry and suffering, and it will also make life, as the book describes, far more simple and enjoyable to live. 4. Let go of the outcome The Alderian psychology way is to not cure the symptoms regarding when one exhibits a lack of self-confidence - what happened in the past, not dwelling on what brought you to this point - but rather accept yourself as you are now and find the courage to step forward letting go of the outcome which is what causes the fear. We are fearful because we don't know how it will all work out. 5. Find what you can positively contribute to the greater world and the need to be 'accepted' or 'liked' subsides "If you change your lifestyle—the way of giving meaning to the world and yourself—then both your way of interacting with the world and your behavior will have to change as well. Do not forget this point: One will have to change. You, just as you are, have to choose your lifestyle. It might seem hard, but it is really quite simple." "A way of living in which one is constantly troubled by how one is seen by others is a self-centered lifestyle in which one's sole concern is with the 'I'." The paradoxical truth reveals the freedom we can each attain when we let go of worrying about others liking us and instead focus on how to contribute well to the world. True contentment is found not by applause and approval from the outside world, but when we begin to look within and discover what we can uniquely give to the world which is a positive contribution. A positive contribution can be as simple as being a civil citizen of the world - obliging the city ordinance to shovel your sidewalk when it snows or stopping for pedestrians to cross the road. More grandly, it could be to dedicate your expertise and knowledge to develop a vaccine to curb the rise of a deadly virus. All along the spectrum, each of us hold gifts in which we can contribute positively to the community outside of us which leads us away from being solely concerned with the "I". 6. Reflect on your comments and/or judgments of others to discover your own truth "An adult, who has chosen an unfree way to live [i.e. living for the approval of the outside world], on seeing a young person [or any person for that matter] living freely here and now in this moment, criticizes the young as being hedonistic. Of course, this is a life-lie that comes out so that the adult can accept his own unfree life. An adult who has chosen real freedom himself will not make such comments and will instead cheer on the will to be free." A quick refresher, if we are judging, we are taking on someone else's task, so to begin with, let go of the judging; however, for the sake of this lesson which the book includes to further the need to separate tasks, I find it helpful to remind us when others' words or opinions sting or wound us, what they are sharing has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with their life journey. I recently had a neighbor make a snide and negative comment about my enthusiasm over the growth of my lettuce. Instinctively, it hurt my feelings, but then I realized, their inability to be able to celebrate with someone else in their joy reflected their own pain in their life at the moment in which life wasn't going so well and feels out of their control to solve it. When we tend to our tasks and let go of others, we set ourselves free in more ways than we can initially imagine possible. As we continue to put the practice of separation of tasks into our lives, we eliminate so many instances of pain and hurt we will never have to know, and that is part of living truly free. 7. Don't be afraid of being disliked "I am not telling you to go so far as to live in such a way that you will be disliked, and I am not saying engage in wrongdoing. Please do not misunderstand . . . One just separates tasks. There may be a person who does not think well of you, but that is not your task . . . one moves forward without fearing the possibility of being disliked . . . before being concerned with what others think of me, I want to follow through with my own being. That is to say, I want to live in freedom." While it takes more than a couple of chapters for the separation of tasks to be fully explained in terms the young man understand, ultimately, being able to separate properly leads to the ability to let go of what others think of us, leading us to be free to be our true selves. Again, being free does not mean causing others pain or directly doing something to be disliked - such choices would not be tapping into what you can uniquely give to the world to contribute positively. The hard work, the courageous work, is to fully explore your own inner being, become resistant to those who try to pull you back to following what the masses and crowds are doing and instead continue to unearth the gifts you have always had within you. The world needs you to find those gifts even though you and the world may not know exactly what you will find, but so long as it contributes positively to society, you must keep searching. Some readers may challenge the definition of 'positive' as it is a subjective term, an abstract concept. True, however, I take the perspective that we desire to live in a world that honors humanity, celebrates kindness and wishes to uphold a civil society. When we acknowledge what is possible through understanding of the mind through the social sciences of sociology and psychology as well as neurology, we discover amazing truths about the motivations of human beings. All of this is to say, it takes time and intentional living to learn and apply, explore and observe, and then to be courageous in its application in our individual lives because our only task is to journey within and let others do the same. We must let go of the outside world and take responsibility for what our unique contribution can be in not only our larger life journey but in our everyday lives. Reading and then understanding the contents of The Courage to Be Disliked requires close reading and rereading. Philosophy, literally composed of the words love "phil" and wisdom "soph" means to love wisdom, and a deep understanding of wisdom requires more than concrete surface simplicities. Any philosophical reading requires we go deeper, not only in the reading itself, but into our own mind. Growth is hard and it can be uncomfortable temporarily as we stretch ourselves, but the more we grow, the more we regularly stretch ourselves, our reach, in other words our understanding deepens as well and our ability to apply what we have learned to our lives more likely to stick and change our lives moving forward. ~Learn more about the book which inspired today's episode - The Courage to be Disliked ~Learn more about becoming a TSLL TOP Tier Subscriber for exclusive content and unlimited access. SIMILAR POST/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Your Fear is Speaking How Fear Can Be an Opportunity for Amazing Life Changes ~As shared during today's episode: Petit Plaisir —Miss Scarlett & The Duke PBS Masterpiece (can be streamed through Amazon Prime as well with a subscription to PBS Masterpiece) ~Sponsor for today's episode: Jenni Kayne Receive 15% off your first order with promo code SIMPLE ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #301 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    300: Plat du Jour - French Dinners Made Easy w/Susan Herrmann Loomis

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 1, 2021 36:43

    France, food, seasonally fresh produce. American expat cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis has just released a new cookbook and it is good. Deliciously good. Plat du Jour: French Dinners Made Easy was just released on January 12th, and I excitedly welcomed it into my cookbook library. Today, Susan returned to join me on the podcast to talk about her new cookbook. Sharing the inspiration for the book, the history of the phrase Plat du Jour, recipes to enjoy during the middle of winter, much more along with another Petit Plaisir that will remind us all how powerfully delicious waiting for something delicious can be. Be sure to tune in to the audio version wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts, and below you will find links mentioned during our conversation. A tremendous thank you to Susan for joining me from Paris and whetting our appetites for delicious French food. Learn more about her new cookbook: Plat du Jour: French Dinners Made Easy Check out Susan's new YouTube channel - Dancing Tomatoes here. Check out her new website for Dancing Tomatoes View my previous conversations with Susan: episode #192: Susan Herrmann Loomis Talks France, Food and Julia Child (this is the episode in which she shares her Petit Plaisir - the blue hour) Learn more (and see many pictures) of my two opportunities to join her cooking classes: Cooking with Susan in Portland (2018) Attending Susan's Cooking Class in Louviers (2019) The first recipe tried and enjoyed from Susan's cookbook - Curly Endive Salad with Hot Bacon and Goat Cheese (I substituted escarole for the endive). So good! ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #300 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    299: How to Live a Life with Less Stress & Why It's Vital for Good Health

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 18, 2021 35:24

    "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. Part of struggle in America with eradicating stress is whether the culture will admit it or not, it (and I am choosing a non-human pronoun intentionally as we unhelpfully give the culture control over our lives as though we cannot change it - as though it is concrete) thrives when we are stressed. Economically, when people need something, or feel they need something (remember 'false needs' from episode #298), they feel inadequate or lacking, so they do or buy or change which requires 'something else' which keeps us out of the present moment. Back to the pronoun of it to describe the culture which we think we don't have control over. We do. Morrie Schwartz, the man of insightful wisdom about living and dying well introduced to readers through Mitch Albom's book Tuesdays with Morrie, expressed and beautifully exemplified the need to cultivate your own culture if the one presented by the world does not work for you. "Morrie, true to these words, had developed his own culture—long before he got sick. Discussion groups, walks with friends, dancing to his music in the Harvard Square church. He started a project called Greenhouse, where poor people could receive mental health services. He read books to find new ideas for his classes, visited with his colleagues, kept up with old students, wrote letters to distant friends. he took more time eating and looking at nature and wasted no time in front of TV sitcoms . . . he had created a cocoon of human activities—conversations, interations, affection—and it filled his life like an overflowing soup bowl." —Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie Alleviating our lives of stress will take courage - in grand, but many seemingly small ways, practiced every day until they become a healthy habit of being present. So how can we resolve the stress problem? Dr. Chatterjee has created an acronym L.I.V.E. L —Do Something You Love, find your flow state and engage in it regularly (often) I — Do Something With Intent, be present fully in each day and revel in the pleasures of the little details of life which are everywhere if only we'd look. Being present enables our sight to improve and thus elevate the quality of our everyday experience. (I share an example of one such everyday moment in the conclusion of this post.) V — Develop a Long-Term Vision, Chatterjee sites Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychiatrist whose approach to psychiatry, the world of psychiatry calls the third school following Freud and Adler. Frankl’s theory is that “the primary motivation of an individual is the search for meaning in life and that the primary purpose of psychotherapy should be to help the individual find that meaning.” Frankl, having survived Auschwitz, found the key difference was the ability to focus on what needed to be done to live because he had a sense of purpose, a long-term goal. Chatterjee sums up, "When we know the 'why' of our lives, we automatically reduce our stress load. Research indicates that we're able to endure short-term struggles with much more resilience if they're helping us achieve our long-term goals." E —Do Something That Makes You Engage With Others, the engagement need not be a large social event, in fact, the engagement Dr. Chatterjee references is of giving to others - doing something that is helpful, useful, contributing positively in some way that is meaningful to someone else, someone who may really need what you can give. Of course, there are MANY other choices and habits needed in our daily lives to reduce our stress and Dr. Chatterjee details them all with helpful specifics to incorporate into your routine. Below is a general list: First and most important: Find your purpose and meaning. How? "Find periods of calm space to stop and think and then pursue one or more new activities that you are passionate about . . . People with a strong sense of purpose enjoy significantly better health compared to those who don't including less likelihood of developing heart disease, strokes and depression. Research also shows that they sleep better and live longer . . . and live happier lives." Discover your raison d'être (reason for being). Give yourself the time to come to understand your true purpose, not society's, not your parents', not your spouse's, not your boss's. (explore TSLL's 2nd book to unearth your unique journey and direction) Get enough sleep each night (what is 'enough'? what you need to leave you refreshed and rested when you wake up) Prioritize regular exercise - aerobic, strength and mental (yoga, meditation, etc.) Eat a diverse, rich, whole, unprocessed diet of food - Eat the Alphabet he emphasizes on p. 144 in the book Find time to be intimate with those you love and care about - put down your phone more often and have 3D connections - eyes, touch, voice. Exercise your gratitude muscle every day - journal at the end of every day or anytime for 2-3 minutes, and ponder the 3-Ps - Person, Pleasure and Promise (someone who you are grateful for from your current day; something that brought you pleasure - a cup of tea, a beautiful memory made with someone; think about something that holds promise for a beautiful tomorrow/future) Attentively select the soundtrack of your days - relaxing music, silence, turning down the 'noise' Let yourself feel your feelings - have a good cry if that is what you need and then follow with deep breaths afterwards to move through whatever needs to be released. Find healthy ways to release stress - becoming self-aware and strengthening your emotional intelligence will enable you to notice when you are stressed. Often, it is simply paying attention to how you are breathing. Have ready practices which help you to reduce or release what has built up (such as the item mentioned above - have a good cry). Having a good uncontrollable laugh for example or coming back to your breath and breathing deeply. Create healthy rhythms in your daily life - sleep, eating, exercising, connecting, winding down Limit your time on your smart phone and especially social media sites - Dr. Chatterjee explains how with constant exposure to social media sites, he calls it 'Facebook Brain', our emotional brains become overreactive. "Your brain starts to sense danger even when there's no danger present". But keep in mind, this is not just for FB. Come to understand how social media is designed (building the uncertainty addiction, so we keep 'checking'), and put yourself in the drivers' seat. Turn off notifications, set phone limits, remove your phone entirely from social time with others (out of sight), take notes in an actual small notebook rather than putting it in your phone, try using 'greyscale' on your phone to make it less desirable to view, consume less news - remove those apps, respect others personal boundaries of weekends and work hours and don't fill their inbox or their incoming texts except during hours reasonable for the relationship you have with them, and when it comes to music - buy a record player or CD player to step away from the tech, but still enjoy your time with music. Delay gratification - exercise your self-control muscle - the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex area of the brain. Doing so will reduce impulse decisions when temptations appears. How to strengthen the muscle? Engage in tasks that require effort and practice - learn a new language - French perhaps? :), be inspired by The Queen's Gambit and learn chess, and yes, even play a computer game that requires skill and patience. Welcome more nature into your daily routine - step outside to walk, to gaze at the sky, to feel the sun's warmth on your face and let yourself feel it. My dogs are my constant destressors and their companionship is priceless. Switch off regularly and without apology. "Your world is defined not by the books you've read but by your actions. That simple intervention is your first step. Take it." —Dr. Rangan Chatterjee Sunday morning, five am. The boys ask for their first outdoor exploration while I prepare their breakfast. Tapping and trotting back into the house, they dine. I turn the stove top burner on to full heat to boil water. I select a teapot, the tea and wait while music from a favorite playlist transports my mind to beautiful memories of France. The beloved old copper tea kettle rattles and steam rises from its spout. Pouring the hot water into my teapot, I simply delight in my boys, their presence, their good health at such advanced ages, and I smile. Savoring the everydays, finding peace in knowing the direction I have chosen for my life and being grateful for the opportunity to immerse myself in activities I love has given my life the strength to purge the stress which used to weigh it down. Understanding how stress presents itself and whittles its way into our lives is crucial to being able to free ourselves from its pains. I highly recommend The Stress Solution for clear, easy to understand insight into stress and what our lives truly need to feel good and buoyant and fully human as we live our one and only life. Step one - find your raison d'être and travel forward from there. :) ~explore Dr. Rangan Chatterjee's The Stress Solution: The 4 Steps to a Calmer, Happier, Healthier You Petit Plaisir ~Recipe for Brown Butter Lemon Sugar Crêpes ~explore Martha Homberg's cookbook - Crêpes: 50 Savory and Sweet Recipes ~Watch how to flip a crêpe here in episode #6, season 3 of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #299 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    298: 28 Ways to Simplify Your Entire Life

    Play Episode Listen Later Jan 4, 2021 48:32

    "The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." —Hans Hofmann Simplifying. 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. Take for example sight. Eyesight that is. As someone who wears contacts in order to see clearly objects in far distances, when I put on a dirty lens or my lens happens to have an eyelash or spot of makeup on it, not only does it hurt, but frustratingly my eyesight is impaired. My #1 priority is to clean the lens properly in order to see. Why? Understandably, so that I can clearly, safely, peacefully, go about my day without having to actually think about the gift that is 20/20 eyesight. Such a truth comes into play with our everyday routines, homes, and overall lifestyles. If we don't clear the clutter - literal and figurative - the quality of our lives decreases. What we love, what we value cannot grow, shine, fully blossom. Whatever the analogy is, the full growth, the full maturation, can't possibly be experienced. Multitasking our lives not only when it comes to the tasks we do each day, has become an approach to living in the 21st century (and was as well in the late 20th century) which was applauded. In many ways 2020 has forced us to recognize how much we missed in doing so - we missed our relationships, we missed simple pleasures, we missed the gift of appreciating well-made, seasonal food, we missed the gift of truly connecting. Now that so much of what we thought we valued but did not prioritized has been forcibly taken out of our lives, are we questioning whether we lived in accordance to what we swore was true to living well. Let's talk about clutter. What is defined as clutter for you may be different from what someone else may define or label as clutter. My kitchen for example has many tools handy, surrounding my stovetop - canisters, pots hanging, salt and spices within arms-length. For someone else, such a sight may be exhausting to the eye and look terribly cluttered when viewing my kitchen. Organizing my kitchen in such a way makes my cooking fluid, more enjoyable and simple, but that may not be the case for someone else. More figuratively speaking, how much time with our own and only company we need will depend upon not only our temperaments but as well where we are along our life's journey. There are times in my life where I have needed far more time alone than others, and I am thankful I finally was able to find it as I needed to figure certain things out, things that I didn't even know I needed to sort through. However, once we learn the direction we want to travel, the skills we want to improve or learn, we may reduce the time alone, but I would argue, as you will see in the list today, we will always need regular alone time or as it is often described - solitude. Since the inception of TSLL blog, simplicity has been a fundamental component of living simply luxuriously. In order to choose well, in order to invest wisely, we first need to know what is of value to each of us, and the only way to do that is to simplify our lives. (View a list of posts focused on simplifying here and here and be sure to check out TSLL's 1st and 2nd book which have specific sections focused on simplifying in a variety of areas of your life.) 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. ~Tune in to the audio version for more conversation about each of the following points shared below. 1.Leave space in your day Less work time, yet more efficient and productive work time leads to more fulfillment in your lifetime. 2. Absorb the truth that less is often more 3. Limit the time you spend in or with your inbox write rules streamline folders make the view format easy to navigate make it easy to see how many emails you have to motivate you to keep your inbox tidy 4. Have a courageous conversation about the truth behind the statement "I don't have time." (aka "I'm too busy.") Instead of leading others to believe you want to say 'yes' when it is clear another priority supersedes the opportunity presented, let them get to know you and if you don't like this prioritizing of your life, have an honest conversation with yourself and make the necessary changes. 5. Understand what 'self-full' is and refrain from seeing honoring your journey as 'selfish' because it is not. 6. Stop trying to keep up with life and start living your one and only life 7. Be honest about what you allow into your life as a distraction from living fully (which includes being vulnerable, be truly loving toward yourself and others, being truly content in your everydays, feeling an undercurrent of calm in your life which keeps you grounded and at peace with life's unknowns which reduces the worry) 8. Live a life that doesn't exhaust you, rather a life that energizes you 9. Give permission to yourself for your hobbies and passions to be priorities It is within your hobbies and passions that we are honoring our gifts and fueling our spirit so that we might share our unique gifts with the world - either directly as we emanate joy affecting those we love or the larger world. 10. Keep good health of body and mind 11. Stop the hurry If you find yourself hurrying, access and edit. Carl Phillips suggests asking yourself these two questions: (1) Is what I am 'hurrying about for' important to me (or the approval of someone/something else)? (2) Is the hurrying getting me closer to my goals? 12. Check your email less frequently, but more regularly Set boundaries on your attention and time. You will reduce worry, you will communicate clearly and set expectations which do not overwhelm your life and increase your stress. In many ways you will reduce not only the stress in your life, but the stress of those trying to communicate with you as there will be clear expectations of when they will hear from you. 13. Book-end your days with walks Long or short, go outside, take in the fresh air as it will clear your mind, help in ways you may not expect, even if you think it cannot as it brings you to the present. One foot in front of the other, just walk. Walk to work it out and calm your mind. 14. Find time to meditate daily Sometimes meditation and praying are mentioned as alternatives to each other; however, I would argue they do separate things as they are two separate actions. Meditation is an observance of our thoughts, a stepping away from our thoughts (not stopping thinking) and letting them be without our engagement with them. Meditation is not a conversation, but an observation. A practice of exercising the mind so that we are the master of it, not the other way around. A way to calm down, a way to let go, a way to find peace and get out of our own way. 15. Play regularly For me, gardening has become my favorite act of play during nine months of the year (and in the winter months when I am sowing seeds in my potting area indoors). Diving into a creative project or playing with my dogs - fetch or chase or anything that brings a bounce to their steps. 16. Rest and be still Active rest or deliberate rest as shared in detail in episode #139 is similar to #15 - playing, thus letting the mind go and not constricting or limiting where it want to go. Literal rest - a nap, not having plans and just being, taking a getaway where you aren't a tourist, but rather a traveler or lounger is a must. 17. Teach others how to treat you by modeling When you respect your time by protecting your time without apology regarding when you are available and don't bend like Gumby to work with their schedule, you are modeling. It is when you do say yes that those who observe your practice will understand you value them, and they are more likely to respect showing up as planned. 18. Understand what tension is and when it is helpful and when it is hurtful Good tension: when you are growing, learning something new, stretching yourself by making change or changing because you need to change to meet your goals Bad tension: when you won't allow yourself to be who you are and instead are trying to fit into someone else's or society's box of what they want you to be 19. Turn away from the outside regularly to gain grounding 20. Savor regular small pleasures, aka Petit Plaisirs Explore a four-part series full of more than 100 Petit Plaisir - begin with part one here. 21. Donate all the extra and unnecessary tools - exercise, cooking, technology If you know the true mechanisms of good cooking, effective and life-long lasting fitness and how a tech device works best, fewer, not more, tools and devices are necessary. Learn and eliminate. 22. Reduce your overhead What does it cost to run your life? Whether in business or in your personal life, what is needed for a life of contentment? Most likely, to return us to #1, less is needed for a more fulfilling life. The few things you need simply need to be quality - both in make and design as well as thoughtful selection to fit well with what you know about yourself. Go through your bills, subscriptions, regular payments. Exam how you actually use (or if you use) what you pay for. When you reduce the overhead, you clear space which gives you more choice and therefore more freedom and peace. You don't have to make more, you need to live below your means. We know this truth unconsciously, but we also need to live it. 23. Keep what works well and eliminate the mediocre When it comes to skincare, clothing, tools and other items, be honest, invest in the best you can afford and let go of the rest. Quality over quantity - put it into daily practice. 24. Regular solitude Listen to episode #91 - The Power of Solitude 25. Streamline incoming information sources Edit the podcasts you have subscribed to so you can find the ones you want to listen to each time a new one is published, be honest about the news that is informative and helpful and inspiring, similarly the blogs and online sources if you have signed up for their newsletters, do you read it when it arrives or does it immediately get deleted or passed over?. What television programs and streaming services do you actually watch? 26. Identify false needs The Simplicable blog aptly defines a false need as "a theory that societies create to keep a population in a state of toil, distraction and complacency. [False needs] are typically abstractions that are built on top of real human needs and sold with media and groupthink." Examples of false needs - attaining a certain social status, acquiring certain material items - as small as a certain pair of glasses, to something as large as a house; competition and the need to 'beat' someone in order to feel what you have gained is of value; recognition and rewards. Understanding to the core what false needs are is not easy, and requires each of us to be excruciatingly honest about what we actually need. I have been thinking about this idea quite a bit lately, and come to discovering some liberating ahas. I have a feeling you will as well. 27. Celebrate rather than compete with others regarding life's journey A secure individual — secure in their life journey, comfortable with the uncertainties of life, confident they will be able to handle what comes their way as they trust themselves — instinctively celebrates rather than competes. Sometimes they may even be inspired by those they meet, but never jealous. 28. Figure out what causes you stress, thereby grabs your focus, time and energy Be honest and then get serious about making permanent changes. As the new year rolls around, sometimes money and weight can creep to the top of resolution lists we wish to change or improve. However, looking more closely, what are we doing in our lives that cause these two areas to be filled with stress? Sometimes it is what we are not doing - we're not removing self-deflating influences, we are not diving into what brings us joy and buoys our love of life, we are buying our way to a happy life when the contentment we seek is within. So much can be avoided by going deeper, being honest with ourselves and making simple, small changes - additions or subtractions - to eliminate such stresses on either these two areas or others that may be causing you pain. Simplifying, as shown in today's list, is not as simple as rearranging our furniture, or editing our closets. If we choose to truly simplify, we need to be fully present and absolutely honest with ourselves and how and why we live as we do. Sometimes we may want to seek out the guidance of a counselor to help us answer truthfully these questions for ourselves, but largely we can do the work ourselves. We just need to remember to do the work because it does pay off wonderful dividends that will remain in our lives for our lifetime. Clearing the clutter, brightening our view, freshening the air to welcome the beauty that our lives have the potential to reveal to us. Yep, simplifying our lives is most definitely worth it. :) Similar posts/episodes from the Archives you might enjoy: 10 Life Choices to Simplify & Welcome a Calm & Contented Everyday Life, episode #290 Why Not . . . Simplify? 4 Reasons It's Not As Easy As It Sounds, But Absolutely Worth It Why Not . . . Simplify Your Choices? episode #62 How to Welcome Simplicity into your Life: Live Differently for One Month, episode #224 Petit Plaisir —Blood Of The Vine, French mystery series on MHz (I misspoke on the audio version regarding the series’ name - “of” rather than “on” is the correct preposition) 5 seasons inspired by a crime collection by Fayard travel throughout wine country in France for a cozy mystery series and practice your French as well (English subtitles) ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #298 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    297: 10 Ideas for Making the Most of "Between the Years"

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 21, 2020 38:34

    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.

    296: The Necessity of Personal Privacy: A Delicate & Important Dance

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 14, 2020 35:26

    “Privacy - like eating and breathing - is one of life's basic requirements.” ― Katherine Neville, author 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. 1.Do the homework for the course on You In many ways our entire life is the Course on Ourselves 101 (if we choose to enroll and pay attention), but as I shared in 2011 and further in my first book, sharing more than what is consciously or unconsciously comfortable is often a reflection of our own insecurity and our need to be approved externally regarding how we are living our lives. By exploring our true needs, being honest with ourselves about the skills we need to learn and/or improve, we grow as a human being who can be clear-eyed about the true level of privacy versus openness which harmonizes best with the life we want to live. ~In my second book, two chapters are entirely dedicated building our Toolbox to live well. One chapter explores the helpful skills we can all cultivate in our own lives and the second chapter explores how to unearth and strengthen our unique skills which are innate to us if only we knew how to find them. ~Read the three-part series, Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself? 2. The importance of solitude “Solitude sometimes is best society.”  ― John Milton As shared in episode #90 focusing on the Power of Solitude, it is when we gift ourselves with solitude - time alone in our own company - we are as Frédéric Lenoir (author of Happiness: A Philosopher’s Guide) then able to to make sense of our “deeper nature” - a vital component to discovering true happiness or as I describe it - true contentment. Essentially, in order to do the homework suggested in #1, we must find time for regular alone time. Each of us will need our custom amount, but even extroverts, like introverts, need regular solitude. 3. The dangerous cement wall of self-protection A healthy personal privacy approach evolves as we grow and become better students of ourselves and aware of our strengths and the truths of the world. When we have been hurt after having bravely chosen to be vulnerable, the natural human response is to pull back, self-protect and heal. And heal we must. Sometimes healing comes in the form of simply finding your true foundation of self - time with yourself without the poking of the world. In time, we feel rested and resolved that we can move forward healthily without projecting our pain or assumptions onto others who were not part of our past, but sometimes, we are unaware that we have created a permanent cement wall which disconnects us unhealthily from the world and making healthy connections. In the latter example, reaching out for an expert's help - a counselor perhaps - is a healthy investment in understanding the delicate dance of finding the best personal privacy approach. From my own experience, I too have walled myself off at times after a relationship comes to a painful, albeit necessary end. And in the short-term, it was a healthy choice, but the pain, the hurt can radiate out into other aspects of our lives blocking us off from moving forward and establishing new, better connections with others. 4. Know when it is okay to open up more with others Described in Psychology Today as "bids of trust", when we gradually explore whether to welcome someone further into our private life, take it slow, be present and engage gradually. As shared in episode #140 when talking about Emotional Intelligence, this action is known as bidding, and a reciprocal bidding engagement is one of the keys to healthy, intimate relationships. In other words, don't keep opening up if the person you are trying to engage with doesn't respond to your bids. 5. Healthy maintainence of privacy requires we be present in our lives each day, each interaction When it comes to any means by which you are sharing your life with the public - a conversation with a neighbor, a posting on social media, the clothes you are wearing, what you share at work with staff, clients or students, first, be sure you are responding rather than reacting to the situation (or a situation), and fully explore why you feel you need to share with the particular person information you are sharing? Have you dealt with your feelings around the event or situation or is this your way of working through it? If the latter is the case, check why you are sharing your emotional journey with a complete stranger or acquaintance. What are you seeking to gain? Knowledge of our intentions when we share will help us better understand if we should share. Meaning, will we in hindsight wish we had not revealed so much. Let me take an example from my high school students: if you are choosing to wear a particular top or dress or outfit because it epitomizes you - wear it with absolute aplomb, but, if after being honest with yourself, you are wearing it to see who will react, who will applaud, who will be interested in you "now", then you may be wearing it due to your own insecurities and lack of self-acceptance. The same example is true for social media - why are you posting what you are posting - (1) to communicate a true personal value OR to follow? (2) to contribute a positive solution to a problem OR to vent?; (3) to confirm what you know to be true about yourself and your life OR to not be left behind or left out? "Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others." — Brené Brown When it comes to the healthy alternative if you find yourself in the latter examples shared above, let's take a look at all three: (1) Rather than acting or posting in order to follow the crowd, why not first (reverting back to #1) take the time to get to know yourself and in so doing, you will be strengthening your inner-self which is where the only source of reassurance resides (listen to episode #273). (2) Instead of venting, journal it out, engage in physical exercise, give yourself 24-hours, talk to one person who you have an intimate relationship but frame the conversation so that it is constructive, not reactionary. (3) Lastly, if you are posting or sharing in order to not be left out, first seek self-approval and then explore the need you are seeking from others - love? reduction of stress? connection? community? The best way to cultivate the latter starts with patience, self-awareness, generosity and lack of expectation. Admittedly, when we are in the throws of insecurity, we may not be able to consciously identify our actions as coming from a place of insecurity rather than truth. Sometimes the most powerful teacher is reflection. However, if we are reflecting, we can learn and apply that knowledge forward. We are each fallible human beings, and we will make mistakes. The good news about making mistakes is that we are choosing to grow, learn and follow our curiosity. Culture is powerful, but as we become self-aware, we have the opportunity to recognize ahead of time what is trying to speak for us and when we are speaking or acting for ourselves (hint: the goal is the latter :)). ~Listen/Read Episode #145: Responding vs. Reacting - The Difference ~Read Self-Acceptance: A Powerful Tool ~Listen/Read Episode #143: Examining the Benefits of Self-Awareness ~Listen/Read Episode #273: 12 Key Factors to Life-Long Physical and Mental Good Health 6. Free yourself to be your true self in public The beautiful paradox of establishing healthy personal privacy is that you can be more fully yourself in public. Share what you want to share, how you want to share it because you have a stable and secure center which can only be found within. When you know you are not making decisions, sharing or reacting to gain something you don't feel you can give yourself, you are revealing inner clarity and strength. You are not sharing anything you have not already dealt with or worked through, and by sharing it you may be either directly or indirectly trying to help others. The best key to knowing when your personal privacy practice is out of sync with your true self is when you feel at the very least discontent and at the worst, deep pain and heartache. Explore the items listed above, have an honest conversation with yourself. Be patient with yourself as you come to understand more fully your actions. Personally, my own journey of maintaining my own personal privacy is one of mistakes, corrections, tough decisions which have lead to far easier decisions (although, to the outside world they may appear difficult) and an exercise in the growth mindset. When we acknowledge mistakes and refrain from "oversharing", we are empowered not only to live a more fulfilling life for ourselves but to be better able to engage with others, understand others and cultivate healthy relationships with others. Interestingly enough, another privacy paradox which is helpful to understand along our journey toward fulfillment: Putting up a boundary can be just as necessary as taking down the boundary. Knowing which should happen comes with self-knowledge and security with oneself. Each are skills, and we all can learn and strengthen them in our own lives at any time. "I don't know why people are so keen to put the details of their private life in public; they forget that invisibility is a superpower." —Banksy Whether in our professional lives or our personal lives, keeping something for ourselves reminds us how priceless the relationship with ourselves is. Invest in yourself, take the time to get to know yourself, and in so doing, finding the healthy personal privacy appraoch tailored to you and where you find yourself in your life today will be all the more easier to establish. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: 11 Things You Have Control Over Right Now A Little Privacy Please: 4 Ideas for Maintaining Yours The Power of Solitude Petit Plaisir —Gardeners' World Magazine Yep, it ships the print copy each month to you, here in the states (if you are located in the states as I am :)). ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #296 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    295: The Gift of Discontentment (yep, that's no typo)

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 7, 2020 45:26

    “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. Undoubtedly, you will travel with people at times, meet people and moments along the way who will point you in the right direction, but your journey is your own and you are your best company should you choose to understand and get to know who you fully are. In the striding forward, discontentment is often the North Star if you will. How so? What we don't know is what we need to explore, to understand about ourselves, the world, the moment, and the knowledge we acquire will open the doors our life wants us to travel through to discover a life of true contentment. "My flaws are my doorway to self-understanding and my way of understanding the flaws and fears of others." —David Whyte As I was listening to a recent audio episode by Marie Forleo, she shared Edison's quote at the top of today's post/episode, and such a simple statement clarified immediately a truth in my own life journey - so much of where and how I find myself in my life today is largely if not soley due to my discontent followed by my exploration to better understand, to improve, to change, or to make sense of something which presented itself as an obstacle to self-growth, inner peace and ultimately true contentment. It is easier to see in hindsight what was happening for example when I started blogging in 2009 with no idea what blogging really was - I was searching because the current path (teaching alone) brought discontent. When I chose not to pursue a college athletic scholarship and instead move away from organized sports - I was searching because the current way of traveling (known largely, if not only as being an athlete) brought discontent. The list goes on. However, the key to acquiring the gift of true contentment is a choice you make. A choice to be courageous. "What is the courageous conversation I am not having? Out of the conversation will come as much action as I want, but the action will be simpler, clearer, more central to what I want than a stressed reaction that exhausts me for the real encounters I desire." —David Whyte Such a choice to be courageous means stepping outside of your comfort zone. Stepping away from the mind-numbing busy mentality that blinded you and exhausted you from having the ability to truly understand or see what is missing, what you are longing for. Clarity can only be fully acquired when we calm our mind, calm our days, calm our lives. The progression as Andy Puddicombe shares begins with Calm ----(moving next to . . . ) Clarity ----(moving next to . . . ) Contentment ----- which then enables us to be readily Compassionate to both ourselves as well as others and the entire world as we move through and with it and them each day. But it is in this order we must travel. We cannot wish to be content if we do not fully know the life that is ours to live. A life that is waiting for us to be courageous enough to step forward with Commitment as Marie Forleo teaches. Commitment reveals itself through the consistent actions we take, not the thoughts we have or the promises we make. But let's get back to courage for a moment. Consider this quote from David Whyte from his book The Three Marriages: Reimagining Work, Self and Relationship (2009) . . . "Everything in the world is constantly coming to our door with clues as to how we belong. We only have to follow those clues and we will find our way home . . . in our search for the self, life will provide all the opportunity in good time to temper and make wise our original fire." —David Whyte In other words, wherever you find yourself, whether it is a wanted or unwanted situation, whether it makes sense immediately or takes time to explore to understand the deeper meaning, our lives are leading us and welcoming us, asking us to pay attention. One more quote from David Whyte . . . The key to our true contentment, our calling, our purpose, whatever you want to call it "is always right under our noses. It is so much under our noses, in fact, that in the end we are always told we are the key, we each of us, as a foundational dynamic of life, have to find all the ways to fit in the lock. We are the ones who turn in the door and open it. We have to look for the key by looking at the way we are made to open the great conversations of life. What am I naturally drawn to? How am I made for the world? What is my essential nature?" Now you might be saying - I cannot see it. I cannot see what is supposedly right under my nose. I have so much discontent in my life that it aches and feels immobilizing. First, take a deep breath. *deeeeeeeeep breath* Congratulate yourself for your awareness. Your journey toward reaching true contentment has already begun. You have already put one foot in front of the other. Celebrate this commencement of curiosity because that it was it is. Your curiosity becomes your guide. Essentially, you are your own guide which means you will never be abandoned. You will always have yourself, and yourself wants to explore further the life it has the opportunity to live and the gifts it uniquely has to offer the world. ~Explore more about the benefits of self-awareness here in episode #143. Let's take a look at more wisdom from David Whyte. This time about not knowing . . . "Not knowing what to do, we start to pay real attention. Just as people lost in the wilderness, on a cliff face or in a blizzard pay attention with a kind of acuity that they would not have if they thought they knew where they were. Why? Because for those who are really lost, their life depends on paying real attention. If you think you know where you are, you stop looking." I think it is important to differentiate between searching & learning and constant self-improvement. We provide no more peace to ourselves if we are constantly living in the future, imagining ourselves as better and never appreciating where we are. The hamster wheel of self-improvement ironically takes us away from ourselves by taking us nowhere because it doesn't require that we find peace within. I am guilty of stepping on this wheel as well, so I speak from my own experience of constantly not allowing myself to find peace in who I am today, savoring the moment and enjoying my everydays. I am grateful that I am no longer on that hamster wheel, and TSLL blog over the past ten years since its inception holds at its core the truth that it is our everydays, when viewing and observing and savoring the goodness and beauty that is all around us, we elevate our days and thereby deepen our contentment. The deepening occurs because we are present. If you are a long-time reader/listener of the blog/podcast, you know being present, elevating our everydays does not mean we can't grow. In fact, it is because we are more present in our daily lives that we know growth is possible. Both ideas can share the same space but it must be intentional and consciously done. The fault of the hamster wheel approach, of endlessly pulling off the shelves the next self-improvement book is that we are unconsciously not acknowledging the good that already exists. When we actively and regularly in our everyday lives live in acknowledgement that goodness already exists within us and the world, that is when calm can find us. This takes us back to the progression shared earlier. We must first find calm before we can gain clarity, and it is with these two arrivals that contentment, true contentment, can be experienced. However if you are still not convinced in this paradox that discontent is the path to true contentment, consider this simple, yet true axiom, “If you fight for your limitations you get to keep them …”. Yes, from a movie (The Internship), and from the character played by Vince Vaughn, but think about it for a moment: What we focus on receives our energy. If we focus all of our determined thought (which is energy, which is finite), we narrow our focus to proving ourselves right, unconsciously or consciously. We cannot expend energy we do not have, so why not focus on the life you want, rather than the life you feel stuck in? The truth is, you're not stuck. I don't want to ignore that the world is full of strife, loss, pain, injustice, inequality, because we know that it is, but a wound, a pain, discontent reveals itself seeking to be healed, not ignored. Not accepted as how it has to be. The journey to and experiencing fully each day true contentment asks each of us to be open-minded, fully present and willing to trust our curiosity. One more time to David Whyte . . . "Being smitten by a path, a direction, an intuited possibility, no matter the territory it crosses, we can feel in youth at any threshold, as if life has found us at last. Beginning a courtship with a work, like beginning a courtship with a love, demands a fierce attention to understand what it is we belong to in the world. But to start the difficult path to what we want, we also have to be serious about what we want." Pursuing our curiosity is a practice is faith. Not necessarily faith in the religious sense (although whether you believe in a particular religion, the universe, or whatever you might call the higher, wiser power in your life, each can certainly play a helpful role), but an understanding that tomorrow is unknown, and the outcome of your pursuit toward true contentment is not something you can predict, and especially not in detail. However, it is the trusting in your curiosity that will bring you the peace you seek, the calm you need to acquire the clarity and lead you to true contentment. Because rather than needing a certain outcome to find true contentment, what we each need is fulfillment, a feeling of contributing positively to the larger world in a way only we can, and when we find this truth, our everydays are flooded in the best sense with true contentment. Let me leave you with this final thought . . . Petit Plaisir —The Queen's Gambit, Netflix (limited series, 7 episodes) ~based on the novel published in 1983 by Walter Tevis, The Queen's Gambit Starring Anya Taylor-Joy ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #295 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify ~Note: Some links shared today are affiliates in which upon purchase TSLL receives a small commission. Everything shared on TSLL blog is shared because I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    294: How to be the Director of Your Life: 6 Key Components

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 16, 2020 31:58

    "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 is happens to be a hard habit to break. What if we are defaulting in the same way in our everyday life and, even more largely, in our vision of how our journey will unfold? A new-to-me podcast, Solo: The Single Person's Guide to a Remarkable Life, shared an insightful approach to living life which caught my attention immediately. What if we, instead of being the hero of our own lives, choose to be the director? Think about it for a moment. When we look at a film from the point-of-view from the real world, the hero in the film/movie/novel/play merely follows the directions of the person behind the camera - the Greta Gerwigs (Oscar nominated director for Little Women), the Kathryn Bigelow (Oscar winning director for The Hurt Locker), the Steven Spielbergs (Oscar winning director for Lincoln), the Amma Asantes (Mrs. America), the Jennifer Getzingers (Orange is the New Black and Mad Men), the Julie Delpys (2 Days in Paris), and the Patty Jenkins (Wonder Woman). “Humble perseverance and the ability to observe and grow, in pursuit of making what you love and believe in. Really. THAT is the secret”. —Patty Jenkins, director of Wonder Woman To be the director of our lives assumes the responsibility of having a larger vision for the purpose of each scene, each chapter; however, within each moment, each interaction and revelation, the director knows fully how to craft a scene so as to bring forth a dedication to being present, fully engaged and intentionally clear and knowing about living fully. Being a hero, in theory, is not a bad directive, but it neglects the reality of being a hero - whether saving themselves or another or an entire vast swath of others - the climatic drama of adversity is assumed. And then there is the tragic hero. No thank you. This is not to say that we can direct ourselves to avoid all conflict and adversity. No. From such unwanted and unplanned pains, we grow, we learn, and we gain wisdom, clarity, and strength; however, if we only relegate ourselves to being the hero, we follow a script written by another and directed by someone else as well. While there have been directors who directed themselves, there is a reason why only one has done so and been able to capture an Oscar for both roles - Roberto Benigini in Life is Beautiful (1999), which also one for best Foreign Film as well. It's hard to see yourself clearly - your actions, facial expressions, energy on screen with another, etc.. But wait, if you direct your life, aren't you also the hero? Valid point, and an important one to make. Yes. You are in all actuality both the director and the hero, but again, the director decides who leaves a scene when, how the interactions with others will play out, which details must be included in a shot to further understanding for the audience, what remains out of the shot, the colors of the attire, where the scene is set, the background, the music, all of the details as well as the over-arching storyline (and while often the director is also the playwright or at the very least has some say in how the screenplay is depicted and can mold and tweak it to what would be best for the film, the director has the full reins of the production). What I am saying is we must not forget our primary job - to be the director of our one and only life. Let's take a look at everyday and large over-arching choices and actions imperative for directing our lives well. 1.Who are you? Taking the time to know yourself, unearth your talents, becoming honest about your weaknesses but refusing to let them halt the direction you wish to travel sits at the foundation of a well-lived life. ~Read this three-part series on How to Get To Know Yourself ~Read/Listen to this post/episode to discover how knowing ourselves is the most important ingredient for a healthy relationship with another (episode #179) 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. ~In episode #287, discover 5 Things to Do to Build a Healthy Relationship (inspired by the book - How to Be An Adult in a Relationship) ~Listen to episode #166 to discover how to be One Half of a Healthy Relationship ~One of my favorite books on love and being loving in a relationship inspired episode #128 - The Quest for a Soulmate: The Myth Hindering an Amazing Love Life 3. Understand the value of boundaries and understand they will evolve Boundaries define us, as Henry Cloud reminds. Literally, the lines we put in our lives define what we will step forward and try and what we will not. Boundaries can limit us. Boundaries can protect us. Boundaries paradoxically can set us free. Knowing how to set boundaries after we have discovered what our boundaries need to be for the chapter in our life we find ourselves gifts us with a powerful foundation. Without boundaries, the wind can take us where it will because we don't know what where we want to go and we certainly don't know how to head in the right direction. On the flipside, rigidity when it comes to boundaries can be harmful if it prevents us from exploring what we are capable of sharing with the world. Ah, a tenuous dance which requires of each of us to do our own homework, not follow, because it is our heart, our life that will be set free when we find the sweet spot between the right boundaries and vulnerability. (Listen to episode #126 to discover the Powerful Couple that is Boundaries & Vulnerability.) 4. Learn the skill of effective nonviolent communication For every director who wins praise from their cast and crew, there is a director who bullies, rants and whines. Effective communication, nonviolent communication, is a skill we must choose to learn if we want to have a fulfilling life and strong and healthy relationships with others. To model said communication, observe someone who understands the components of nonviolent communication certainly helps us to acquire the skill, but we must take it one step further to understand why they are communicating as they are. We must again be the student for our lives to reach their fullest potential. As I shared in episode #293, I highly recommend reading Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life. I have read and will reread this book for understanding how to understand anger, understanding the four basic steps of clear, effective, empathetic communication, and how to honor my own journey, letting go of guilt, shame, anything the outside world wishes me to feel in order to stop me from traveling a path that brings joy. Effective communication with ourselves and others is the way toward directing an award-winning life to continue with the analogy. To clearly convey and know what you wish to materialize, you need to be able to work with others being empathetic and aware along the way, not only of those who will walk with you or cross your path, but with yourself. 5. Understand and practice the fundamental physical components of you To delve a bit deeper into the physical aspect of #1, knowing how your body, your mind, your temperament function and how they can function well will give you a roadmap of how to design the set of your life. It will also help you clearly understand what your boundaries need to be. 6. Be Brave Living an active life, being the director of your own life demands of you to take action. You cannot wait to see what someone else thinks, whether someone else approves, whether the prices will be this or that or another, at some point, you simply need to act. Wait a second, you may be saying, didn't I say each of us is the director not the actor? Okay, perhaps a poor choice of words, but not really. Remember, you are the director of those actions. You decide when to take the first steps, when to set out and try something for the first time, when to let go, when to say yes, when to determine a certain chapter of your life has now concluded and you will be stepping into the next. Being brave. A choice made by the director, and it is no act. Being brave takes raw courage after months, perhaps years of deliberating about when or if you should indeed do just that - be brave. Let me reassure you, being brave will set you free. In the meantime, you will quake, but you will not crumble if what you seek aligns with what you know to be true about yourself (remember #1). “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.” —Helen Keller The analogy of the director does not perfectly align with living our one and only life. After all, we are talking about a fictitious story capable of being enjoyed for generations. Our lives are anything but fictitious. No, we know our lives are all too real, but do we? I ask this question because what if poet David Whyte correctly nailed it when he wrote "What if the world is holding its breath - waiting for you to take the place only you can fill?" Why aren't we filling it? Perhaps because we have chosen to follow someone else's script, and not direct our own. Perhaps because we have forgotten to write our own script and direct it as well. We can have chapters in our own lives, the one prior being necessary for the next, not less relevant or bad, simply vital to live the journey we are on, trusting the steps we need to take in a new direction. Today, tap yourself, hire yourself, assign yourself purposely and intentionally as the director of your life, and I am confident, you will begin to see the positive and desired change which may have only been a dream previously. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~8 Ways to Become the CEO of Your Own Life, episode #40 Petit Plaisir —Un Soir à L'Opera candles ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #294 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    293: Choose a Life You Love Living Each Day (yes, it is possible)

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2020 24:44

    "When we speak a language that denies us choice, we forget the life in ourselves for a robotlike mentality that disconnects us from our own core." —Marshall Rosenberg, Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life Two lives may look like one another, but one may indeed be fulfilling, while the other a life of disdain and pain. Choosing to live as we do versus living a life out of an expectation, obligation, avoidance of guilt, approval, to avoid shame, or to gain money is to choose a life of integrity according to Marshall Rosenberg. When we choose a life of integrity, we discover the ability to tap into our essential and most sincere self, and enable ourselves to share with the world the gift and talent only we can give. While sharing a list of actions to refrain from taking as to avoid the latter of the two options mentioned above would certainly simplify how to choose to live, there is no such universal list. Rather, the list of what we choose to do versus what we do out of a feeling of "have-to" will be unique to each of us. How can we discern the difference? Rosenberg's determinating factor is if the sole motivating force for our actions comes from a place to "simply make life wonderful for others and ourselves" then we are choosing the life we are living. And the latter - making life wonderful for ourselves - is perhaps the most important. We must pay attention to our needs. Rosenberg writes "we cultivate self-compassion by consciously choosing in daily life to act only in service to our own needs and values rather than out of duty, for extrinsic rewards or to avoid guilt, shame and punishment". Understanding fully and completely what our needs are is the homework we each must tend to in order to live a life everyday that we enjoy living. I highly recommend reading Rosenberg's book as he delineates clearly and in great detail the common societal pushback to his assertion about choosing how you live versus adhering to a life out of anything but choosing it. The result of any action made void of choice is a deprivation of joy at the very least and resentment, detestation, misery, anger, and a loss of self and a denial to the world of the uniquenesss only we can share at the very worst. We have been taught falsely and ironically selfishly by outside institutions of many sorts to believe choosing and valuing our needs is hedonistic, wrong and, self-absorbed. Primarily we have accepted such a purported claim because their "marketing department" is skilled in the ways of psychology as they tap into our perceived need to be accepted - approved. However, the needs Rosenberg writes about are fundamental to valuing ourselves, and thus living a life of integrity. "In fact, when we do things solely in the spirit of enhancing life [for others AND ourselves], we will find others appreciating us. Their appreciation, however, is only a feedback mechanism confirming that our efforts had the intended effect. The recognition that we have chosen to use our power to serve life and have done so successfully brings us the genuine joy of celebrating ourselves in a way that approval from others can never offer." When we seek to live a life of choice, we contribute positively to the world, and that means contributing positively to others' lives, and the cycle continues forward as others choose to tap into their unique gifts and talents that contribute positively without expectations, simply out of joy of living the life we have the opportunity to live each day. At the core, we are seeking joy, thus contentment, and both can only be found within. To live a life out of obligation, guilt, to avoid pain, to avoid shame, may be seen as a survival mechanism, but don't we want to thrive? When we permit ourselves the freedom to fully seek joy in living - to fulfill our unique needs, it becomes far easier to stop the judgment, comparison, blame, criticism, insults, put-down, and labels. Why? Because we recognize each of these negative and unhelpful behaviors are reactions to living a life void of choice. When we take responsibility for our lives, we take on a weighty task of exploration of our feelings and needs. For so long and in so many cultures, current and past, American and endless others, feelings have been equated to weakness. But human beings have feelings and when we acknowledge them in ourselves, it is far easier to observe them and communicate healthily and helpfully with others to deepen understanding and to discover empathy. Rosenberg shares it is empathy that is often the missing ingredient in frayed relationships - not only an empathy to acknowledge fully and entirely what others are feeling, but to refrain from being empathetic to ourselves. What do we each need? Why do we feel pained after a conversation with a loved one we are "supposed" to have a relationship with? Why do we feel hurt and disconnected when we go about tasks we thought we chose of our own free-will? Everyone around us applauded when we made said decision, but why doesn't it feel right within ourselves? Each of these and many more feelings are what each of us needs to explore to determine how to live a life we love living. Choice is at the heart of living with true contentment, not obligation, not duty, not to avoid guilt, not to avoid punishment. Choose you and let others choose for themselves as well. The journey forward of both individuals will be unknown, but when lived by choosing the path will be fulfilling and full of respect and true love for ourselves and for those we have set free to be who they truly have always been. ~Read Marshall Rosenberg's book Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life Petit Plaisir: —New episode of The Hookup Plan (Plan Coeur), Season 2 - The Lockdown Plan, episode #7 ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #293 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify ~Note: Some links shared today are affiliates in which upon purchase TSLL receives a small commission. Everything shared on TSLL blog is shared because I recommend it wholeheartedly.

    292: 7 Truths About Experiencing Happiness

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2020 33:48

    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 below. 1.Discover a tune that is melodic for you If you enjoy living your life, your everyday life, happiness is the result. Continually, here on TSLL, I have shared that contentment is the feeling we can have at all times. Happiness cannot be infinite 24-hours a day. Happiness is an outcome. Contentment is a state or way of traveling. I had it entirely wrong when I was younger, doodling “Be Happy” on my high school peechee folder while daydreaming in class. You cannot be happy constantly, but you can be content along the way to happy. 2. Spend time doing tasks that enable you to lose track of time Getting lost in a project, exploring a new [enter a place/area of curiosity], resting your mind and being in a healthy way, these will divert your attention naturally away from checking the clock. And when you are thinking about what’s next, you are present. And when you are engaged fully in the present moment, you have more chances of being happy. 3. Sharing time with loved ones to simply be in each others’ company. Giving your life space to be together, even if in silence, can be incredibly peaceful, supportive and loving. A contentment shared is happiness reached. 4. Not having existential worries because consciously you know your health, finances and basic needs are tended to Through the choices we make, we can build the sound and stable foundation that will enable us to feel content in our everydays. Everyone will make choices which align uniquely with their journey which is why outsiders may define the choices we make to usher in more happiness for ourselves as sacrifices. However, a choice is not a sacrifice if it brings you closer and eventually to a way of living that brings you peace and contentment. It is when we achieve contentment that more happy moments can be experienced and savored. 5. Refraining from thinking at any time “when I achieve [enter goal]” or when [enter aupposed life milestone], then I can be happy. Focusing only on the outcome and forgetting about how we travel to arrive at the destination is a recipe for unhappiness. However, if the travel does not involve contentment, the outcome you seek is not as likely. Why? It is when you enjoy the journey, when you can be yourself along the way, that the outcome is relinquished, thereby not putting so much pressure on the outcome to hold all the goodness. It is when we expect or assume that we step out of being present along the way, hurting ourselves and others along the way, and thus tainting the outcome so it can never be a source of real happiness if ever it is reached. 6. Find peace in how you travel through life How you speak and think of yourself, how you engage with others - communication with words, body language, etc. - contentment is felt in our mode of travel, and no matter life’s circumstances, it can be constant. Sleeping well and deep and long is a mode of travel as it allows you to wake up with a clear mind, acting from a place of calm, clarity and full awareness. Taking breaks when our mind needs it, ending the ‘work’ part of our day when we can no longer be productive, eating well and slowing down to savor it, slowing down and refraining from default patterns of speech, being fully aware and listening, then thinking well about what we have heard before responding - each of these ideas and practices of day-to-day living are modes/ways of traveling that cultivate contentment as we move through our days. ~Book to explore: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life by Marshall Rosenberg 7. Letting go of others’ maps for our lives Certainly a courageous decision. A decision which is exceedingly difficult during the first and second chapter of our journey, but with time and support, the journey becomes easier and far more rewarding than any other direction would or could have offered. All of this is to say that the key to happiness is to discover and cultivate contentment in our everydays so that the happiness deepens and more frequently can be fully observed, savored and appreciated. ~Please do tune to the audio version as each point above is discussed in much more depth. Check out TSLL's first two books which discover the idea of cultivating a life of contentment that is uniquely your own. ~Book #1 (2014): Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide ~Book #2 (2018): Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everyday Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self Petit Plaisir ~Sunset in the Blue by Melody Gardot (October 2020) Visit Melody Gardot's website Learn more about the worldwide collaboration for the song "From Paris with Love" Sponsors for Today's Episode: use promo code Sophisticate ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #292 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    291: 6 Ways To Dance with Life (and Have An Amazing Experience)

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2020 35:22

    “Your inner purpose is to awaken.” —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth To observe the seamless fluidity of a dancing pair with years of professional dancing experience float across the floor no matter what type of dance is asked of them is to observe a deep awareness and skill of their craft. Foxtrot. No problem. Viennese Waltz. Got it. Tango. Oh my, yes. Swing. Yep! In 2017, in episode #143, the skill of self-awareness was explored in-depth here on the podcast/blog. For a quick refresher, to be self-aware is to be able to observe ourselves, accept and recognize what we discover and be honest about how we feel, why we act certain ways in particular situations, and the change that we may need to take. It is being able to pay attention and be honest about our strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions.  When we are fully self-aware, we gain the instructions of how to live well even though we do not know what the next minute will reveal, the next week, month, year, and so on, will reveal. When we become self-aware, we are awake and capable of noticing when we need to grow and in what way will help us navigate through whatever life may present. I chose today's topic because no matter where you find yourself in the mix of stress, loss, pain, and confusion regarding our current situation, many readers have shared with me they are presented with new situations of questions, confusion, doubt, [fill-in-the-blank of an unwanted and somewhat or significantly new emotion] from time to time in a manner that perhaps was not present pre-pandemic. "Life will give you whatever experience is most helpful for the evolution of your consciousness. How do you know this is the experience you need? Because this is the experience you are having at the moment." —Eckhart Tolle, from A New Earth Borrowing Tolle's advice from the quote above, seize these unanticipated and initially unwanted moments and feelings and let them be your guide to deeper self-awareness and an improved everyday life. Assuage any grief, quandary, angst, by reassuring yourself that you have been presented with this moment for a reason. Don't toss it. Don't avoid it. Explore it. Today I would like to look at six unwanted examples that may be happening in your life and how to step forward and do the latter to each in order to improve the quality of your life moving forward and through our current situation 1.You wake up in the middle of the night, your mind reeling, doubt swirling, fear temporarily winning Course of action: As a matter of fact, take a pre-action prior to going to bed or whenever you feel most confident - write yourself a note and remind yourself of the truth of how capable you are, words of truth and strength. Place this note by your bed. Okay, back to the moment you wake up. Take a drink of water, hydrate and wake your mind up so that it is in your control and not the other way around. Read your pre-written note. Read it again. Journal if you need to - what is causing you worry, what are you fearful about. Don't necessarily answer anything. Save the answering and analyzing for a time during the day when you are fully awake so that you can be a good judge of whether or not what you wrote is valid as well as to accurately determine if what you are worried about is within your control. Hint, if it is not, let it go. Turn the lights off, count your breath in a steady beat - in and out. Let yourself fall back to sleep. Whatever you do, do not pick up your technology. 2. You are exhausted from work stress and trying to balance all that you think you have to do Martyrs die. On the other hand, workers with awareness of the larger picture of why they work, live well. While putting and acknowledging work as important, the latter do not make work the top priority. I have worked with both types of people in the handful of school districts I have worked in over my 19 years. Martyrs tend to be different people in the classroom than they are away from their students or staff (if they are administrators). People who live to live well are the same in the moment of teaching as they are in their everyday life. People who live well are more content, more enjoyable to be around and know how to put work in its place and do so with clarity and a love for not only their own life but for the people who look up to them - in this case their students. Course of action: Be honest with yourself. What are you aching for? Nobody needs to know your honest answer but you, but be honest with yourself. Do you crave at the most fundamental, sleep? Do you crave a social life? Do you crave to be more comfortable in your body but do not have the time to exercise consistently nor prepare and enjoy healthy, satiating meals? Write it down. This is when your life begins to change for the better. Whether when given the opportunity or simply taking it, try out living the life you want to live - the schedule you'd like to have - even if temporarily. Stick to it long enough to experience potential benefits - one month, a quarter, etc.. Don't ask for approval from anyone else as to whether what you crave is valid. Honor your own feelings, and give the new temporary schedule a try. You will come back with some answers, maybe not all of the answers, but enough, if you are being honest with yourself, to know whether what you thought what you needed was actually indeed what was lacking. Upon choosing to make permanent changes to your schedule, if the changes involve others or require others to be involved, communicate clearly and refrain from complaining. While it is okay to vent to a friend or your partner or your journal, doing so is a means to release stress, iradicating faulty thinking if it exists due to past grievances being triggered and to ensure you move forward with a rational mind. Sometimes what we are venting about has more to do with built up stress from a variety of sectors in our lives and not just the one thing we are "cursing" at the moment. Let me end by saying, be honest with yourself. If you are overwhelmed and exhausted, how could you have prevented the situation if at all possible? Could you have raised your voice when decisions were being made? Could you have made the smarter decision, not the easier decision? Be honest and improvement can be made. 3. Tension in relationships - personal or professional Course of action: Answer this question for yourself (not for the people in the relationship that is in a state of tension) - what behaviors and feelings are unwanted or undesired, but seem to be a default or at the very least, unhelpful? Use your answers as a guide to what skills you need to explore and better understand. Seek out an expert (i.g. a counselor) or a book from a respected source on the subject. 4. Financial Stress not related to job loss Course of action: Turn off the advertisements, stop or significantly reduce your scrolling on social media and start living in the present with the world, the real-world, not the virtual world, that surrounds you. If the influences for buying more, or "keeping up" are not coming unconsciously from media (and I know, you might be saying - if they are unconscious, how will you know where they are coming from? But take this moment to take a closer examination of what you feel you 'need' and where that idea is being presented or shown), look to your social circle - chosen or not - and start to tailor who you spend time with and if you can't eradicate entirely unhelpful influences, reduce or limit your time with them. 5. State of the world Course of action: Choose to educate yourself on topics that are grabbing your attention. Choose to look to experts, credible in the field you are exploring, that you may not have looked to before to deepen your clarity on an issue before you jump to conclusion. However, do not overwhelm your mind. Seek out bits of information and then go about your life, adjusting your choices, actions in which you do have control that will make a difference, no matter how seemingly small. The words you choose, letting go of assumptions and fixations, keeping an open-mind and refraining from group-think, but rather practicing critical thinking regularly so that eventually it becomes your default. 6. A feeling of agitation or lack of purpose Course of action: find something, no matter how seemingly small which allows you to see an immediate finished, improved, completed outcome. The act of productivity need not be anything to do with your job or career, but simply needs to be something in which you can see a "finished" outcome. For me, my garden has provided many moments of productivity - weeding, pruning, dead-heading - as soon as I tend to it, I see results. Ahhhh. It sounds silly but as Sue Stuart-Smith shares in The Well-Gardened Mind, "Two essential sources of grounding and balance . . . proximity to nature and fulfilling work" (the author is referring to the lack of nourishment to the psyche prompted by the industrialization in the 19th and early 20th century). Each one of these life moments of challenge offers an opportunity to course correct, to grow, to evolve as Eckhart Tolle expresses in his quote above. It has been my experience that if I choose to not acknowledge that something within me needs to change - to communicate better, to ground myself in self-confidence, to be brave, the same stress, the same worry, the same event perhaps in a different form, keeps rearing its head. The pandemic is presenting each one of us with unique opportunities to evolve forward and live a better life. Choose to find the growth opportunity that exists inside of you, and your life will change for the better. ~Learn more about becoming a TOP Tier Subscriber to access exclusive content (Saturday Ponderings, Shannon's Home & Garden Tours, Giveaways, #Top100 posts, What Made Me Smile This Month, So Far . . . ) and unlimited access. ~Receive TSLL's FREE Monthly Newsletter ~Never miss a post - signup for a Daily Delivery directly sent to your inbox each time a new post goes live on the blog. Petit Plaisir —Borgen, on Netflix Tune into the audio version of today's episode to find out more about this Danish Government television drama series, what Borgen means in English and why I am thoroughly enjoying it and highly recommend it.

    290: 10 Life Choices to Simplify & Welcome a Calm & Contented Everyday Life

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 12, 2020 26:41

    "Creating an environment in which you can have a greater sense of clarity and calm . . . The result is a mind that feels much calmer and clear." —Andy Puddicomb Having an abundance of choices is a valuable asset and an extraordinary opportunity. However, unconsciously, when we don't filter our seemingly unlimited choices, we welcome more unnecessary stress into our daily lives. As someone who wholeheartedly embraces and celebrates choice, understanding the right balance of how much choice is helpful until it tips over into distraction, confusion and paralyzation, upon obtaining, significantly increases the level of contentment in everyday life. Andy Puddicomb's seemingly simple advice is too often overlooked or forgotten, however is insightful and sage advice if we are seeking tranquility in our everydays. The clarity we may need to welcome into our lives could be ushered in seemingly anywhere and everywhere. The variable is each of us. Where do we need calm in our lives? Where are we feeling harried, run-down and over-extended? Often we don't realize it is the over-abundance of options that is standing in the way of a sea of calm that carries us more gently and enjoyably through our days. It has been argued that a large portion of our life experience is determined by a few key decisions. Coined the 80/20 rule, or more officially, the Pareto Principle named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto in 1906 to describe the wealth inequality at the time, the concept has expanded to apply to a variety of aspects of life beyond business. And while, the formula isn't exact, it is a concept worth pondering. When we think about our choices as investments in our lives, what choices will reap the most benefit, the best and longest lasting outcomes? Whether regarding our health or contentment or financial stability, quality choices, purchases and pursuits are wise investments which eliminate excessive, repetitive and time-consuming choices that may fill up our days and minds unnecessarily. Today, discover 10 areas of life to consider paring down your choices and thereby, scaling up the overall quality of your everyday life and peace of mind. 10. Wardrobe color palette On the surface, the choices of what clothes we wear may seem frivolous and inconsequential; however, while our clothing can be unnecessarily attended to and take too much of our time and worry, tending to it just enough so as to lift our spirits and engage in a social world which involves visual communication is to be aware of how to use the tools made available to live well. From knowing what complements your skin tone, your lifestyle, your silhouette, when you know this information, your decisions become more simplified, but more importantly, more helpful and easier to make. ~Explore this topic further by reading Why Not . . . Build a Capsule Wardrobe on a Budget? 9. Outside information From what the information is about, to where or from whom the information arrives, be consciously selective and deliberate. I know very clearly which news sources I trust, even if they offer up headlines that challenge my way of thinking, I will still take time to read their articles or listen to their news reports. Not all of the time, but regularly. As well, I practice critically thinking (a soft skill) even with headlines I agree with and writers I trust. No only does this ensure I don't slide into unconscious bias, but it also ensures I am not accepting blindly news that could effect my life or decisions that without more time, more answers, more research, should not be jumped upon as fully formed enough to act upon. 8. The food purchased for your home cupboards and refrigerator Give yourself better options to choose from when you walk through the door upon arriving home from work or travel or life famished, and you will help your body, your mind and end your day well, and extend the good health you wish to maintain. ~Explore this topic further by reading Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well? 7. The focus of your business or work - content/skills/outcomes Each of our careers will present different options that we will need to tailor based on the purpose of the job, but let me share with you some examples. Education for example, especially this year, but leading up to this unique year of teaching as well, I have been examining closely what the most necessary skills are for my students when it comes to clearly communicating. Recently, I have had to eliminate teaching daily current events, but I continue to teach the skill of critical thinking as well as offer a library of credible news resources so when my students choose to seek out news, they can navigate through each headline effectively. Another example began this summer here on TSLL. Paring down my regular posting schedule, by focusing on 3-4 posts a week rather than 5-6, my goal was provide myself with more time to write detailed, specific posts designed for the regular and returning Simply Luxurious Life reader rather than the sensational post that procures more clicks from outside random passersby. Again, by reducing the breadth, we deepen the depth and thereby the quality of our lives, and in this case our professional lives. And when we make this shift, we increase the liklihood of improved satisfaction both of ourselves and from those we work with and for. ~Explore this topic further by reading Two Secrets of Living a Life of Quality 6. Where you spend your money From the simple everyday decisions of whether or not to go out for lunch or make your lunch to what your rent/mortgage payment will be in relationship to your monthly income, you are revealing what is of value in your life. When you prioritize, the line-items that appear closer to the bottom are easier to say "no" to. For example, the paycheck arrives at the first of the month, the first bill that is paid - what is it? For me, it's my mortgage. Period. No question. Arguably, that is likely the first for most of us, so start from there, what is the order of priority, and be clear about why you have placed each expenditure where you have. Doing so will help wh new items or purchases of interest introduce themselves. ~Explore this topic further by reading TSLL's many posts on money - choose one that speaks to what you'd like to strengthen in your financial life here in TSLL's Archived Money posts. 5. What risks you take Notice I didn't write - whether or not to take risks. A life lived to our fullest potential, a life of true contentment, will involve risks. Some might say simply living is taking a risk as each next moment is unknown, but we certainly know there is a "safe" way to live for each of us in any given situation, and a "full" way to live for each of us. Marie Forleo suggests examining your choices that may seem risky by asking the question - Will this expand my life or contract it? More specifically, she advises, if it makes you physically in the moment you are simply thinking about taking this risk feel heavy and filled with dread vs. lighter, brighter, perhaps even literally move your body forward and sit more upright, then this is a response to take note of. Keep in mind, that often, our initial response to a risk is trepidatious often because we deeply hope it will work out, but worry it will not. ~Explore this topic further by reading TSLL's 2nd book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Becoming Your Best Self 4. The soft skills you wish to improve Well honed soft skills are the foundation of a healthy, fulfilling, tranquil social life both with others and ourselves. The key word is "skills", as I shared in my second book in Chapters 8 & 9, the primary difference between skills and strengths is the former we learn, the latter we are gifted with at birth. Each of us will have grown up with and been surrounded by others with certain skills which we learn seemingly unconsciously, and it may seem as those these skills are innate, and for those skills we don't possess well, we may think we cannot welcome them into our lives, but the good news is, we can. As well, we can strengthen the beneficial soft skills that we have been fortunate to have been around, observe and imitate which will lead to more conscious living and intentional modeling for those around us. Soft skills include effective communication, listening, critical thinking, body language, mental agility and attitude, how we work with others - any skill that involves emotional intelligence and intuitiveness. ~Explore this topic further by reading Emotional Intelligence: A Crucial Tool for Enhanced Quality of Life and Work, episode #140 and 34 Ways to Attain Emotional Freedom and Cultivate More Joy of Living, episode #275 3. How you spend your free time Similar to #5, we need to have regular unstructured time in our days. To not allow our days oxygen to breathe, move, adjust and rest, is part of the reason the stress is surmounting and may feel unsurmountable. Whether you spend your time immersed in your favorite hobbies and pastimes, or choosing to not look at the clock and let your days, thoughts and emotions lead you through this regular "unstructured" time, be sure to choose to do so with delight and enthusiasm. My free time has been to regularly tinker in my garden, read a book, cook in the kitchen, write or yep, nap. Of course, these pastimes and interests may change as our lives and the world change, but either way, keep the window open and soak up the awesome fresh air that it offers every day. ~Explore this topic further by reading/listening to An Everyday Necessity: Deliberate Rest, episode # 139 2. The companions you spend your time with - humans and pets While this area of choice could be divided up in many ways from our romantic life to our friends to our work contacts, the key is awareness and clarity of what elevates and what depletes us and how we play a role in encouraging behaviors that are either helpful or detrimental. [I speak more about our furry companions on the audio portion.] ~Explore this topic further by reading Why Not . . . Create a Healthy Social Circle? and also explore many different topics on relationships in TSLL's Archives on this topic based on your interest. ~Explore this topic further by listening/ reading The Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being, episode #92 1. What living well looks like to you Perhaps this last item for today's list is too vague, but at the core of the previous nine items, having clarity about yourself, having clarity about the need to let go of perfection, having clarity about society's influence on your life, having clarity about society, the culture, the past, the present, and so much more is incredibly helpful to being more gentle with yourself and with others. Choose self-kindness. Choose less judgment towards yourself and toward others. When you make these choices, you will feel lighter, you will eliminate more stress than perhaps you need you were carrying unintentionally. Let go of expectations and learn to dance with life and its rhythm, understanding that when you begin to dance - to really share your true self with the world - you contribute to the symphony which wants you to join. And while you will not know what each line of music will be as the song is not given to us before hand to practice, we can come to the music and become part of the music, thus living fully, living well and enjoy the journey. ~Explore this topic further in TSLL's Archived Lifestyle posts (there are 21 pages, of posts, so find a topic that speaks to what you are curious about). Petit Plaisir —Walker Shortbread Cookies Visit directly Walker Shortbread Cookies ~Note that Amazon links and some other shopping links are affiliate, which means I may get a small fee if you buy. However, I only recommend books and items I myself use, recommend or am curious about. ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #290 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    289: Anne Willan Talks About Women in the Kitchen

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2020 43:27

    "The thread of all good cooking: the right ingredients, fresh and the way they should be - not fancy or expensive." —Anne Willan, author of Women in the Kitchen and founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris One of the world's preeminent authors on French cooking, a James Beard Award-winning author and the founder of La Varenne Cooking School in Paris, Anne Willan joins me on the podcast today to talk about her new book Women in the Kitchen: Twelve Essential cookbook Writers Who Defined the Way We Eat, from 1661 to Today. In today's episode we will talk about seven of the women featured in the book, as well as talk about Anne's time managing and founding La Varenne and much more.  

    288: Cultivating a New Normal

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 21, 2020 24:18

      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: Normality may be a myth we have allowed ourselves to enjoy for decades, sacrificed now to the increasing recognition of differences. The awareness that we all bear flaws is humbling. But it could lead us to a new sense of inclusiveness and tolerance, recognition that imperfection is the condition of every life. —Peter Kramer, psychatrist at Brown Medical School  

    287: 5 Things to Do to Build Healthy Relationships and 4 Things to Let Go

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 14, 2020 39:43

    "We are born with a capacity to dance together but not with the necessary training." —David Richo As soon as I read the first line in chapter one shown above, the analogy made crystal clear sense of my ignorance about relationships and how to navigate past it: I needed to learn HOW to love, not just want to love and want to be loved. Love, as the oft mentioned quote reminds is a verb, but even if we accept this truth, we have to learn how to exercise this action, and we have to be willing to let go of so much incorrect and unhelpful advice in order to find the peace and contentment we seek. Today's episode can help in all relationships you are engaged in. Fundamentally, the book was written in 2002 for readers trying to improve their romantic relationships, but indirectly, the skills and concepts shared will foster healthy relationships platonically from close friends and family members to acquaintances, neighbors and strangers we bump into along our travels and life journey. Recommended by my counselor, my copy of David Richo's book is annotated in detail, and I have referred back and reread different sections since my first reading. I have chosen to work with a counselor since nearly four years ago, but it did take time to find the right one. Meeting regularly, primarily for preventative and skill strengthening purposes in areas I wish to improve, the opportunity to meet with a professional, trained in the area of expertise we do not have is helpful to make sense of what we learn not only about ourselves but how our minds and emotions work. With all of that said, as soon as I read the book, lightbulbs went off repeatedly in my mind. Ahas occurred frequently and I found an ease I had never felt before regarding my approach to interacting with others in a variety of different relationship scenarios. While I highly recommend you pick up your own copy and read it closely, I wanted to share with you the primary component that underlies everything about being an adult in life and love. The world we live in would rather have us feel insecure and lacking, even though it blatantly argues the contrary (when you purchase their product, create [enter lifestyle and accoutrements] for all to see and witness, or behave in a certain way), so it is no wonder we are confused about what we should or shouldn't be doing when it comes to relationships. And even if we eventually do figure it out, trying to understand what it is that worked if we don't know ourselves leaves us struggling to explain to others why it works if they inquire, don't understand or have not been introduced to the fundamentals shared below. The good news is, this intangible unknown need not be unknown any more. Knowledge is key, and this practice is essential to cultivate habits that will heal you and then strengthen your ability to connect as an adult with adults to build a life of social harmony and contentment. First, we need to let go of some unhelpful and often destructive habits. Let Go of F.A.C.E. The ego when neither understood and left to its own devices will become inflated and hinder any chance for a healthy relationship of two adults. Let's take a look at the acronym Richo came up with that clearly delineates what we need to step away from if we wish to become an adult in relationships. "F"ear Fear will always be present in our lives. It is the awareness of fear and what fear provokes us to do that must occur so that as Richo says, "it never has to lead me". So while fear may be a natural emotion, it is our job to understand what the fear signifies within us so that we can then understand ourselves better and move forward in a healthy manner, not a fear-led manner. Richo speaks about learning from our fears, "fear usually rears its ugly head exactly when we are ripe for a change". As well, when we feel we do not have the power to direct our lives, fear enters and we make decisions, if we let fear direct, from a place of avoiding losing any power we thought we had. Jealously is a result of fear as well. If we allow jealousy to grab hold, we are not abiding by the ability to let go of the actions of another, and instead becoming engulfed by others, rather than being present and open. What is our life trying to tell us? What strengths, what decision-making skills are we lacking? Jealousy arises when we are not secure with our ability to trust that we can be content and full all on our own, and so we cling, we grasp. Richo shares, "Jealousy is a combination of three feelings: hurt, anger and fear." And any or all of these three feelings may not be directly related to your partner at the moment, but inspired by past pain. Knowing where and why your fear arises is the map that will set you free should you follow it. "A"ttachment When we attach ourselves to a particular outcome, behavior, etc., we are clinging out of fear. Attachment in the mind, as Richo explains is a belief in polarities - a belief that there are only two outcomes - "I have to be in charge, or everything will fall apart". Such thinking is faulty, and when we recognize that the polarities are unhelpful in cultivating a strong relationship not only with others but with ourselves, we come to realize what we have control over only ourselves - how we communicate, how we prepare, how we engage, how we take care of ourselves in order to do our best, so that we can be at peace with the outcome knowing we did our best. So instead, the healthy ego shifts the above belief to "I let the chips fall where they may", knowing we will tend to our responsibilities and do what we can in that moment to the best of our ability - truly and fully. The peace that comes when we practice letting go of attachment is uncomfortable initially, but freeing continually, thereby allowing us to expend our energy on better pursuits and passions. "C"ontrol Similar to attachment, yet unique on its own, letting go of control is to take responsibility of ourselves. How do we take responsibility in order to let go of control? Set and maintain personal boundaries, build a strong foundation of self-respect (which will lead us into letting go of entitlement), come to understand that growth comes from struggle and yes, pain. This is a natural cycle, so when something unwanted occurs, the adult who has let go of control will be able to find the opportunity to grow and apply it forward for a more content and fulfilling life. "E"ntitlement Entitlement rears its head when we have expectations of how we should be treated, what we should feel, what should happen when, etc., etc., etc.. I know I am guilty of feeling entitled when it comes to relationships, and if you have ever caught yourself in your head or outloud saying, "[they] should have . . . [insert behavior]," you too have unconsciously felt entitled. Based on how (through modeling by our parents or elders or media) and what we were taught about the trajectory of relationships, we establish a map of behavior and events that should happen, and thus the entitlement gene is given to us and we accept it. But we do not have to keep it any longer. When we feel entitled, Richo states, we are kept from giving anyone our attention and appreciation - two skills we must engage in if we want a healthy, loving adult relationship. Also, we cannot give someone our acceptance and allowing to be themselves because we are too attached to our own version of how everything should be. Again, two more skills that must be practiced in order to be part of a healthy adult relationship. Entitlement does not allow us to connect fully and completely with another person, and from the start, we are hindered in our ability to discover a loving relationship. Now that we have let go four unhelpful habits, we now have room and energy to practice the five habits that will strengthen our relationships in all areas of our lives, especially our romantic relationships. Let's take a look at what the Five A's are, as delineated and discussed in How to be An Adult in Relationships. Practice and Strengthen regularly Each of the five A's are feelings and actions to both give and receive in order to be in a healthy relationship. Each definition is shared directly from the aforementioned book by David Richo Attention —Attention from others leads to self-respect. Acceptance —Acceptance engenders a sense of being inherently a good person. Appreciation —Appreciation generates a sense of self-worth. Affection —Affection makes us feel lovable. Allowing —Allowing gives us the freedom to pursue our own deepest needs, values and wishes. Richo explains that when any one of the five A's are not forthcoming from others, specifically others we seek it directly from, we may feel we are to blame, and while we need to find others who mirror back to us these five A's, if we are to build and maintain healthy adult relationships, we also need to find them within ourselves. However, while we need to find strength and awareness and understand we have self-worth, we also need to not expect to be fulfilled in each of these areas from one person. Beginning with our parents and then to any one adult we may in a relationship with, Richo asserts, they cannot be everything and fulfilling in all ways. Thus, "it is necessary and healthy to receive need fulfillment from other sources all through life . . . an adult sensibility releases us from expecting any person to fulfill [us] totally." There is freedom in knowing the truths of healthy bonding and contented living, and to better understand what each of the five A's is and looks like in practice both for ourselves and from others, I encourage you to pick up the book as his examples are specific and anecdotal which provide clarity and a deeper understanding. We all have the capacity to love and love well, we simply need to be willing to be a student, do the homework regularly and have the courage to change and be open as we go along our journey. —How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving by David Richo Petit Plaisir: ~One Hundred Stars, UK Gowns For shipping outside of the UK, shop the following online retailers: .87 Old School Beauly (from whom I purchased my gown) Sue Parkinson ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #287 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    286: How to Let Go of Comparison? Heal Thyself

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 7, 2020 47:40

    “Comparison is the death of joy.” ― Mark Twain The thief of joy, if Mark Twain is right, is of our own making. The good news in this revelation reveals each of us can take back our joy. Comparing ourselves to others occurs consciously and unconsciously. Consciously, we may be acutely aware that we follow certain people on social media to see how we are doing in relation; unconsciously, when we choose not to speak up to set a boundary, when we set a checklist for our life delineating what should happen by what age. Each of these three are examples of many more of unhelpful comparison, and while comparison is a primal instinct for survival, the good news evolution and civil society have provided the opportunity and arguably the necessity for each of us of to offer the world our unique talents rather than limiting ourselves to remain part of the herd or tribe. The habit of comparison is a learned skill, and therefore, it can be unlearned; however, it must be a conscious choice to do so. Fundamentally, when we compare ourselves with others, some part of us believes we are not enough or needs to be reassured that we are enough just as we are. Today, I will be examining five areas of our lives in which comparison can creep in and become destructive to contentment and living a fulfilling life, and then share how to let go of such comparing with the outside world. Life Goals, Your Journey “Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.” —Brené Brown Brené Brown's quote above speaks beautifully to the need for us to let go of the timeline checklist we may have put in place for our lives. This is not to persuade you to let go of setting goals, but rather to examine who such goals are actually for. Who benefits? If the outcome enables you to be accepted by a particular group in your personal life or society, then this item is a checklist item that is being attended to out of comparison; however, if the outcome fulfills something within you that enables you to exercise your talents more fully and share them with the world, then such a checklist item is a keeper. Social Environment — Who Surrounds You? "Nobody at your table should inherit a seat, be there by accident or simply have a place because of the time you have known each other or because they are popular with others." —Lucy Sheridan, The Comparison Cure A significant reason it can be extremely difficult to be ourselves with and around others has to do with who the "others" are. From my own experience, one reason I thoroughly enjoy living on my own and my own company has to do with only needing permission from myself to be and do what comes naturally or piques my curioisity without worrying what others think. However, that "worry" sprung out of life experience when I was myself around others. As young children, we did not know that doing something that was naturally part of who we were or innately drew our interest that prompted dismissal, scorn or laughing to tease and suppress was a reflection of an unhealthy relationship, not a reflection of doing something "wrong". And so we shifted. We edited. We adapted. Now we are adults. Now we know more and we can return to embracing who we are and have always been, even though we may have kept it under wraps or hidden away for fear of laughter, teasing or dismissal (again, all conditioned fears based on our past experience). Where do we begin? Setting boundaries. In episode #126, boundaries are discussed in detail. The reason to establish your personal boundaries is because when we don't, "we give away our time, effort, the potential for fun and creativity" as Lucy Sheridan reminds in her book The Comparison Cure. When thought about through that lens, motivation to set boundaries becomes easier. If you too are someone who finds comfort in your own company, however, wants to welcome people into your life yet fears being unable to be yourself if you do so, be patient with yourself, build the skill of setting boundaries, and when you do, you will begin to meet and then know with confidence who you can welcome into your life so that you can continue to be fully yourself. Setting boundaries will reveal underlying truths of all of your relationships - who respects and understands, who pushes back, why they were friends or built a relationship with you in the first place. In other words, your social community may shift, but it will shift for the better, opening up room for the right people to enter. Intimate Relationships “If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?” – Ru Paul On the other side of comparing yourself with others is accepting and appreciating where you are in the present moment as well as appreciating and accepting where others are in the same present moment. When we look outside of ourselves for validation - how should I be dressing (trends, etc.), what should my home look like?, when should I be getting married?, what day of the week is it okay to go to bed early?(this one may sound silly, but when we apologize to others or tease ourselves for habits we love - i.e. going to bed early - we are invalidating our choices) - we have not found contentment with ourselves from within ourselves. We are instead asking the outside world to tell us we are "okay". Such seeking is not loving and is not an acceptance of ourselves. This habit of seeking outside validation makes it extremely difficult to accept others as they are if they don't "fit in" to our expectations of what they "should be" and "should do", which makes it difficult to build loving, respectful and secure relationships. I cannot recommend more highly this book for improving our ability to be more loving to ourselves and thereby be able to be a healthy partner in a relationship - How to Be An Adult in Relationships. I will be exploring more of the topics shared in this book in upcoming episodes. Everyday Life - Contentment “Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent.” – Betty Jamie Chung In 2012 I shared this post about competing with others which reiterates the quote above. Comparison with others is a form of competition with others, and it drains, it exhausts, it depletes, it is never a positive effect on our lives. Even in sports, you can only do your best, even though technically you are on the field/court/stage "competing" with others. However, it doesn't matter what they do. It is your engagement to present your full capabilities that will determine the outcome. Be motivated to improve upon yourself, but do not denigrate yourself for areas you wish to strengthen. The component that must be present in order to compare only with ourselves and not the outside world is a strong self-confidence. In episode #5 of the podcast, confidence and the strength it brings into our lives is explored. Just as comparison is a learned skill, acquiring and attaining self-confidence is a skill as well - a skill worth acquiring for a contented life. However, once we have acquired self-confidence, we must not stop exercising it as it will atrophy. Our lives change, new experiences arise and therefore, we are challenged to navigate well through each of the events and engagements with others. Our self-confidence will be challenged and questioned within our own minds, thus why we must exercise it as though it were a muscle, because in many ways it is. First of all, as Lucy Sheridan points out, "self-confidence is a key step in ridding your life of comparison as it gives you agency over your actions and ownership of your thoughts and behavior". What happens when we don't have self-confidence? Words go unsaid - speaking up for ourselves, sharing ideas, setting boundaries Ideas go undeveloped and brought to fruition The finite time we have is spent on the wrong priorities, with the wrong people How to exercise self-confidence, as shared in The Comparison Cure: Speak your truth - in person. (emails can only go so far, texting can only go so far) Keep more of your secrets - we often share more because we are seeking outside approval for our decisions, our lifestyle, etc. - more "likes" does not equate to more self-confidence. rather it is often a reflection of needing to strengthen one's self-confidence. Plan ahead - do the necessary work ahead of time to perform well, to acquire the desired outcome, etc. Be present in the moment you find yourself - by doing so, you reduce or eliminate worry about the future. Giving your best now, in this moment, will enable the next moment - tomorrow, the future - to have the best chance of revealing what you wish to see. Check-in with yourself regularly - Sheridan shares a helpful exercise for examining tasks you keep putting off. Journaling her answers to the following questions: Is this still important to me? Why? What, if any, are the benefits of continuing with this task/goal? What's my next right step? Choose hope, let go of expectation - in other words, practice non-attachment to the outcome. Communicate powerfully and effectively - Sheridan coins the phrase 'calm power'. Delivery is equally as influencial as the content of what you are sharing. Know your audience (it's not about you, but about who you are trying to communicate with - what will motivate them to engage as you desire?), maintain your credibility (apologize when warranted), and eliminate the "fluff, huff, puff and fuss" that is unhelpful and dissuades from the desired outcome. Strengthening Your Self-Worth “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton Each of us is born with self-worth and possesses it our entire lives; however, we often lose track of this truth along our life journey at some point. Let this be your reminder, you innately possess self-worth. Nobody can take that away from you. Simply put, "Having self-worth is knowing who you are and being okay with it. It's the result of deep inner work, increased self-care, self-love and self-acceptance." Lucy Sheridan goes on to say, "Note that possessing self-worth does not necessarily mean having to reach and retain a constant sense of joyful ecstasy, but it is at least a gentle, palpable appreciation." As I describe it, knowing you have self-worth, consciously knowing this truth, is to bring the ability to be content in your everyday life. It is a grounding, and it enables your self-confidence to come forth in all that you do and in each interaction that you have in a calmly powerful way. For a detailed post on how to strengthen your self-worth, read this post which shares 10 ways to do just that. Living a life free of comparison with the outside world becomes a habit after a conscious decision to make it so. A few simple ways to consciously start letting go of comparison in your personal and work life: Become selective about who you follow on social media - follow for inspiration, information, heart-warming, positively challenge you, healthy entertainment and pique curiosity to boost quality of life Don't feel compelled or required to follow your friends or family online - you can be a good friend and family member off-line. Let them have their space to be them which may help you reduce the urge to compare. Let go of perfection Put an out of office message on at all times - tailor to your profession, but this immediately establishes boundaries of your work time and manages expectations in our culture of immediacy. Check emails two times a day for an allotted amount of time and abide by it - the inbox will never be zero. Create a labeling/flagging system for yourself that alerts you to emails you need to address, set up a "folder system" that provides a space to put emails you do not want to erase. Your "out of office message" will provide the space and time to respond properly and effectively on your schedule. Surround yourself with people and situations that curate an environment that enables you to thrive, grow, be challenged as a way of growing, and give back. Become comfortable with saying No. Time is finite, so become clear about what you can do, need to do and want to make time so that you can do. The work of letting go of comparison is a practice in making space for a life of deep contentment and fulfillment. It is a life that will resonate most strongly with you and may not make sense to others, but those who love you, with whom you have communicated powerfully, yet respectfully with along the way, will be there to share it with you and their lives with you. Free of comparison and full of celebration and appreciation. Petit Plaisir ~The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (book #1, 2017) ~The Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (book #2, 2020) ~Seven Kinds of People You Find in a Book Store by Shaun Bythell (November 10, 2020) ~Check out Shaun Bythell's YouTube channel (I've included one video below) ~Follow Shaun on Instagram after reading the books to continue enjoying the daily pondering from a Bookseller. Download and Listen to the full episode here or listen on the following podcast platforms: ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #286 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    Season 7 Schedule Announced!

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 17, 2020 9:59

    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. ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify Catch up on all of episodes here, and below I have gathered up episodes from the previous six Septembers to help you kick-off the next season for however your life schedule will be changing as well as possible. 10 Simple, Significant Decor Ideas to Add Luxurious Touches to the Home, Part Une, episode #260 (season 6) Trust the Transition: How to Step Through and Embrace the Change You Seek, episode #225 (season 5) The Benefits of Having a Mission Statement & How to Create Your Own, episode #173 (season 4) 14 Ways to Get Back to Calm, episode #121 (season 3) 25 Must-Haves for the Efficient Office Desk, episode #60 (Season 2) 8 Pillars of Building a Simply Luxurious Life, episode #1 ~Sponsors of this episode include: The Inner Monkey Podcast Bombas — and save 20% off your first order Betterhelp — to save 10% ~Beginning on October 1, 2020, a significant change and much anticipated improvements in engagement will be coming to TSLL blog. Only subscribers will be able to view more than five posts a month along with other exclusive content (Shannon's Home & Garden Tours, Giveaways, Saturday Ponderings, etc.). Learn all about TSLL’s Soft Paywall here.

    285: The New Parisienne author Lindsey Tramuta

    Play Episode Listen Later Aug 10, 2020 64:11

    Author and blogger and American living in Paris Lindsey Tramuta joins me on podcast today to talk about her new book The New Parisienne: The Women & Ideas Shaping Paris (purchase on Having called Paris home for nearly 15 years, Tramuta explores the true Parisienne woman, looking past the myth and confining superficial stereotype that has been perpetuated for centuries through introducing readers to 40 Parisiennes in all of their diverse life journeys and talents and passions. Joining me from Paris, our conversation covers where the myth of the Parisienne woman began, who benefitted from it and how we can shift the narrative to reflect the truth. We also talk about her happy place in Paris, the difference between universal feminism vs. intersectional feminism and with diverse individual profiled, what they all have in common. I do hope you will tune in and have a listen. Lindsey's first book The New Paris (2017) is another wonderful Francophile resource to keep on hand as an introduction to new people, places and ideas in the City of Light. Download and Listen to the full episode here or listen on the following podcast platforms: ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #285 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify ~The TEDTalk mentioned during our conversation, The Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Lindsey's Petit Plaisir links: Order Lindsey Tramuta's books: The New Parisienne (2020) The New Paris (2017) French and Belgium chocolates Plaq La Maison du Chocolat  purchase on Amazon Pierre Marcolini  Michel Cluizel (not mentioned on the show, but also recommended by Lindsey) Read Lindsey's post detailing all of her favorite Macarons et Chocolates in Paris Find Lindsey Tramuta's online: her blog - Lost in Cheeseland her podcast: The New Paris Instagram - @lostNcheeseland Facebook - @lostincheeseland Lindsey's Happy Place is mine as well, and maybe yours too: Palais-Royal Images: (1) author pic courtesy of author, taken by Joann Pai PREVIOUS POSTS from TSLL’s 5th Annual French Week TSLL's Boutique Sale! In Celebration of French Week Let's Talk About Wine & 8 Books About Wine Worth Exploring Welcome to TSLL's 5th Annual French Week & The First Giveaway

    224: How to Welcome Simplicity Into Your Life: Live Differently for One Month (top episode from season 5)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 20, 2020 43:26

    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. ~Read today's new Monday Motivational post - Unbecoming Who You Are Not in order to Remember Who You Are

    142: 9 Reasons Owning Your Style Will Change Your Life

    Play Episode Listen Later Jul 13, 2020 36:00

    Today's episode is a top episode from Season 3 discussing how understanding what our signature style is and then owning it with confidence permeates all arenas of our lives. Ultimately, what we wear matters. Without saying a word we communicate our values, our confidence, our expertise, where we've been, where we are and where we want to go (or stay). I do hope you enjoy this full episode, and if you are looking for a new book to whisk you away to France, be sure to stay tuned until the end of the episode when the Petit Plaisir is shared. View the full original Show Notes here. View more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast. ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #142 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    15: 7 Components to Building Your Signature Style (a top episode from Season 1)

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 22, 2020 37:09

    Building our signature style takes time. As well, it evolves. While some components - the best color tone for our skin, hair and eye color - may remain the same, the fit, the lengths, the necklines, as well as styles we discover and wish to welcome into our wardrobe will change. Over the years, as you can see above, my dress length has gone from just above the knee to midi length being now my favorite go-to. While I do love wearing dresses, you are just as likely to see me in denim jeans and a button-up shirt, or a camisole and blazer with either heels or flats. Having options is wonderful, and cultivating our closets to offer these options takes time. Thankfully, as we learn more about ourselves, the lifestyle we enjoy living (something that changes as well as the chapters of our lives continue to unfold) the decision-making becomes easier. All of this is to say, that while we may be shopping less often as what we have in our wardrobe is made well and lasts for many years, we also know when we come across something that will fit perfectly for our way of living and can snatch it up (if it is in our budget at the moment) without giving it much thought. The clarity of time and knowledge about ourselves is exceptionally helpful which is one component that will be discussed in today's episode. Today's podcast episode is a top episode from Season One of The Simple Sophisticate which shares in detail the seven components to building your own signature style. My first book dives into this far more and my second book focuses with great detail on cultivating effortless style, so be sure to check those out if this topic piques your interest. View the original Show Notes for episode 2015 here. As promised, below are the linen dresses Ralph Lauren currently has available. SHOP THE ITEMS HERE: Images: (1) Danielle Fichera resort collection 2019; (2) & (3) DVF.

    284: 5 Steps for Finding Financial Peace of Mind

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 15, 2020 29:10

    "Being in touch with [the essence] of ourselves as we make financial decisions is as good as it gets. Money is a store of life energy, and when we can channel that life energy into an expression of what is most dear to our soul, an exciting alignment takes place between our financial and spiritual lives . . . more than just having enough, our essence is deeply loving, contented, and grateful, not from any effort but as its most natural expression . . . In fact, when we are identified with that part of us that already has enough, that has arrived, that feels efficiency rather than scarcity, impulses of love and generosity arise naturally and without effort." —Brent Kessel, author of It's Not About the Money Money can seem to be the fix for everything or the curse, but it need not be either, and can be in our control, largely when we shift how we approach our view and role of money in our life. Today I would like to share with you key insights I discovered after reading Brent Kessel's book It's Not About the Money in which he dives into the unconscious emotional psychological nature money plays in our lives and how and why we make the decisions we make - for better or worse. 1.Understand how your emotions are related to your relationship with money What is your Core Story when it comes to your relationship with money? When you understand this inner dialogue that is unconsciously being told and accepted, thus guiding your decisions when it comes to what you believe will make you happy, you begin to take control of your relationship with money and improve the quality of your life. Why? Because you are now living consciously, and your decision making improves as it aligns with your true essence as Brent Kessel describes - your true self, what will make you feel truly content, outside of what society has impressed upon you. Below are a couple of the questions to begin asking yourself to get to the truth of what your Core Story actually is: What is your most painful memory related to money? When have you been most positively and negatively moved by money? What were you taught was most important about money? What is your biggest fear about money? While we need to live in the present to live well, understanding the past events of our lives and how they have scripted our thinking about money is vital. The Core Story is accepted Kessel writes because "whatever the content, with the unconscious hope that if we follow it, we'll be protected from feeling difficult or painful emotions." Simply understanding what your Core Story is not going to improve your relationship with money. Rather, it is an ongoing job that begins with awareness, but then is followed up with "skill, intention, and perseverance to lessen the hold of our unconscious condition . . . we must keep working to identify and retain the healthiest parts of our story's message - [for example, the good saving habits, the on-time bill paying, etc.] - while at the same time letting go of the extreme and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes it has engendered in us." 2. Do the necessary work within to achieve the outer results you seek "Though outer wealth rarely leads to inner wealth, inner wealth often does lead to outer wealth." Kessel speaks of the Middle Way being the chosen path to take in order to have a healthy relationship with money and our understanding of wealth. In other words, "true freedom lies neither in self-indulgence nor in austere asceticism". When we choose to do the inner work that is necessary, it requires of each of us to use our mind, and think critically, which means that we must think well and not rely on defaults and habits that are unproductive to our goal of cultivating "healthy wealth". I especially appreciated the author's sharing of his conversation with the Dalai Lama when he [the Dalai Lama] responded to the question about a method for happiness for Americans. "When there's too much stress or too much worry, look inward! Read more. Think. Trying to find the answer from outside yourself is nonsense! Think more." What thinking exactly though, are we talking about? Start with #1, understand your Core Story, deepen your awareness, and begin asking the "why"s - Why do you feel this decision would reduce your stress or increase your happiness? Why do you feel owning [fill in the blank what you are considering purchasing/paying for] will be a smart decision for you life? Why do you feel [insert negative emotion] when certain things in your life are happening? Why do you feel [insert positive emotion] when certain things are happening in your life? And continue asking and exploring - the four "W" questions are part of thinking well - Who, What, When, Where, Why. "When we are caught in extreme thoughts, beliefs, and conditioning, we sow the seeds of financial discontent." 3. Become fluent in the language of the Wanting Mind "The Wanting Mind continually takes us out of the present moment in its attempts to make us happy in some better tomorrow." —Brent Kessel True contentment requires that we remain present in our daily lives. The Wanting Minds requires that we live in the future. A clear conflict. If we are content, we are not wanting, and if we are wanting we cannot be content. True freedom from "want" is knowledge of how it works. Whenever an impulse to buy anything arises, a croissant, a clothing item online, anything large or small, "look sincerely at the root of the behaviors your mind has always told you would make you happy". Social conditioning has been happening our entire lives and will not end, but when we are aware of the attempt to social condition, and become clear about whether it is helpful or hindering, we can respond rather than react to the impulses of wanting when they arrive, thus making the best decision in that moment to cultivate a healthy approach to wealth and our financial situation. 4. Trust your innate financial wisdom: financial planning and great investment advice is not enough "When you are listening to your innate wisdom, you can feel a very deep part of you relax and let go. It will feel pleasing, calming and wholehearted. There will be an absence of pressure." Kessel has readers in his book return to their 4-year-old self, such a young age that we don't have a clue what investing in the stock market is, what a pension is, compound interest, debt, etc. The reason he encourages readers to return to our young self is to try to discover or be reminded of our most true self. What is it that sincerely brings us joy? What delights us? Sparks our curiosity? Prompts us to lose all track of time? Each of us will have our own answers, and even if, like me, you cannot fully remember what you thought at that age, you can remember where you were in your life - where you lived, with whom, etc. - and at least for me, I know how I felt. Whether I was secure or fearful? Was I completely oblivious to the world and didn't have a care in the world or was I full of anxiety? Thankfully, my memories are all positive and I am drawing from this insight to guide my money decisions and investment and savings moving forward more consciously. To address the idea of seeking out a financial advisor. It is absolutely a worthwhile idea to find a financial advisor you trust as they are the experts in the business of the financial business sector. They can be our teacher to better understand how investing works and what our options are, but once you have that information and can ask more questions when they arise, you need to return to your innate voice. What would make you feel truly content? For myself, when I purchased my home, I didn't seek permission from my financial advisor at the time as to whether I should take certain funds and use them for my down payment. I just knew I could and did it. I knew what would bring me contentment. I knew what investments were worth it to me and the life I wanted to live, but I am grateful for her expertise so that I knew the financial rules/laws, etc.. 5. Be still and just be A common piece of advice when it comes to making a purchase that we are not sure about, or that is significant enough that it will change our lives in some way, is to wait or sleep on it for 24-hours. This is good advice, but Kessel suggests doing something additionally and possibly most importantly - examine why you are really wanting to make the purchase. Do you feel it will bring you freedom, more peace, less headaches? What are the overarching beliefs derived from your Core Story and/or societal conditioning that have taught you these beliefs? Do you fully accept them or does something within not feel settled? In other words, again, respond rather than react. Think and be still, rather than blindly doing. Money is a fundamental component of our lives whether we want it to be or not. It moves the world, lack of it can halt the world, but understanding our relationship to it and with it is what will elevate our personal world and thus improve the quality of our lives. Our minds need and can achieve peace of mind when it comes to money. After all, when our minds are relaxed and unstressed, they make better decisions, see things more clearly and think well. It is understanding the psychology and the emotional mentality that money provokes within us that will give us the driver's seat so that we can make the best decisions for the life we want to live. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Women with Money: Using It to Build A Life You Love Why Not . . . Build a Strong Financial Foundation? 7 Tips to Try Now Why Not . . . Be Attractive to Wealth? Money: How to Know If You Have Enough, episode #138 Petit Plaisir: The High Note ~Starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson ~Stream the film here. ~Listen to the title track of the soundtrack - Love Myself, sung by Tracee Ellis Ross (purchase it here) ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #284 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    7 Ideas for Improving Your Approach to Working and thus Your Experience and the Outcome

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 8, 2020 32:47

    "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. Petit Plaisir —Sicilian Lemon Biscuit from Shortbread House of Edinburgh ~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

    282: Author of Paris On Air and Podcaster, Oliver Gee

    Play Episode Listen Later Jun 1, 2020 48:17

    Today on the podcast, fellow podcaster Oliver Gee of The Earful Tower joins me to talk about his newly released memoir Paris On Air (shop here on as well as living in Paris during France's 59 days of confinement. I had the opportunity to speak with him the day after the lockdown regulations were loosened, and he shared what his and his wife Lina's experience had been and what the first thing they did was on May 11th. The primary focus of our discussion is his new book. Tune in to our conversation to discover the behind-the-scenes of how his acclaimed podcast (recently recommended in The New York Times for the top 13 podcasts to listen to for traveling abroad while staying at home) came about, evolved and, in a short amount of time, became his full-time and one and only job in the City of Light. As well, if you enjoy listening to your books, Oliver explains how his book is a unique Audio Experience that welcomes the people he writes about in his book into the studio to share their voice for their part. Follow Oliver on Instagram (@theearfultower), and visit his blog here (learn more about his virtual book tour as well). ~Order your own copy of Paris On Air here: Amazon, ~Listen to my first interview with Oliver, episode #222 in August 2018. Petit Plaisir: ~Love Life a new series on HBO Max (premiering May 27th), starring Anna Kendrick Learn more about HBO Max here. Listen to Anna Kendrick on NPR Anna Kendrick shares her adherence to a no-nudity clause in her new series Check out the trailer below listen to episode #282 to discover why the series was chosen for today's episode. ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #282 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    10 Ways to Set Your Home Like a Luxury Travel Accommodation

    Play Episode Listen Later May 25, 2020 36:12

    Today's episode is a favorite from Season 1 of The Simple Sophisticate. Episode #45 was the sixth top episode of the first season and continues to be a favorite with listeners as it shares 10 Ways to Set Up Your Home Like A Luxury Travel Accommodation. In the times we find ourselves, I thought this might be just the episode to return to as we are still spending more time at home that we had anticipated especially as summer nears. Cultivating a sanctuary that beckons us to linger and we long to return to and spend ample time in has much to do with the details. And the details, the luxurious details, need not be all that difficult to acquire and welcome into our home. I do hope you enjoy today's episode, and look for a new episode next Monday and for the month of June. Click here for the detailed Show Notes of the original episode and listen to the audio version above. ~The above image is Chateau de la Barre located in the Loire Valley where I had the opportunity to stay three nights in the summer of 2018. Read this post—A Traveler or Tourist? The Difference —to see many more pictures of the interiors and the grounds, as well, have a look below at more images I shared on Instagram.

    281: 18 Ways to Welcome English Country Decor Ideas into Your Home

    Play Episode Listen Later May 18, 2020 38:07

    British country homes evoke an image of comfort, cosyness and warmth. Partly, yes, because such warmth is mandatory living in a rainy environment, but also because they look and feel like such a welcome inside hug which is given immediately when the quintessential details are tended to. Granted the above image is not an actual cottage as it was the set designed for Nancy Meyers' film The Holiday, filmed in part in Surrey. However, I chose the above image because when we design our homes to evoke the English country charm, Meyers achieved so much of it spot-on right. From the tufted ottoman, to the ottoman itself as the coffee table of choice, mixed prints, oodles of books and exposed beams, these details, as you will see in the list below resounding remind onlookers of English country style, and in this case a cottage. In my own home I have been perusing frequently through The English Home magazines I have saved over the years, saving images that speak to me, images that offer a similar size or design of space and offer ideas for how to create an English cottage aesthetic. I have begun to embrace wholeheartedly #1 on today's list in both my mudroom and foyer, and I look forward to welcoming even more wallpaper into my home. Hopefully if you too are wanting to welcome decor touches of the English countryside into you home, today's list will offer plenty of ideas to choose from. ~For each of the images shared below, simply click on the image to tour the entire home from which it was included. 1.Wallpaper William Morris is the founder of the Arts & Crafts decor movement, and with his well-known wallpaper company which began in the 1860s in England, a love for nature as well as symmetry and subtly as well as vibrant natural color are an example of beloved English wallpaper designs. There are many more of course, but wallpaper creates a cosy space, a welcoming, more personalized space. ~Want to wallpaper in your home? Read this post for detailed how-tos to a successful decorating session. ~Tour the entire Oxfordshire Arts & Crafts Townhouse: A Way with Wallpaper here.~ 2. Wood accents As a way to welcome nature into the formal living space, wood furniture, wood legs on upholstered furniture and regal cabinetry and shelves offer the balance of hard and soft surfaces. ~An Englishman's Brooklyn Townhouse, decorated by interior designer Benjamin Vandiver. View the entire home here. ~ 3. A penchant for garden and animal details While English country homes will undoubtedly have a garden outside their doors, bringing an appreciation for nature inside will be more than common as well. Whether seen in the wallpaper with floral or animal prints, vases full of blooms, potted plants inside or a demonstrated affection for dogs in figurines or any other decor detail, the love of the outdoors is certainly a common presence. ~British interior designer Imogen Taylor's Burgundy home to which she retired. Tour the entire home here.~ 4. The classic pudding sofa Soft, plush, deep-seated and begging you to sit and stay a while. While the name may or may not have been coined by British furniture designer Loaf, the concept is iconically British - cosy, cosy, cosy. 5. Pleat, folded, rolled, padded upholstered arms As you can see above, rolled arms on either an upholstered sofa or armchair that have gradual pleats pulled neatly over the rounded design intonate British furniture. Almost as if to signify a warm hug, such furniture provides literal warmth when you snuggle in as many days of the year are damp and cold, stepping inside a home that is cosy is all the more desireable. ~Tour the entire home in Cozying into Country Durham, English Style Abounds!~ 6. Fabric covered lamp shades Again, adding fabric to any space creates warmth, and especially in intimate spaces - bedrooms, reading nooks - the subtle, yet significant detail of fabric shades is an idea worth trying. Prints or solids, especially if the fabric is of high quality, purchasing such fabric is far more affordable for a lampshade than an entire sofa or chair. ~Tour the entire home above in Tightly Tailored and Filled with ANtiques in Hampshire here. 7. Seagrass floors British designer Ben Pentreath swears by seagrass, and if you have the opportunity to tour any of his projects, you will see they look quite nice. Adding a touch of nature, high functionality and wearability, they also, as he states, offer a lovely subtle scent. Layer with a a wool rug and you have created a warm space without excessive expense. ~View the entire home shown above in Signature Statement of Varying Chairs~ 8. Ottomans as coffee tables While there are exceptions, in the country, an ottoman is more often than not likely to be at the center of a living room or sitting room rather than a wooden table. Use as a coffee table and place trays and books, as well as always have an additional extra seat if ever necessary. ~Tour an Oxfordshire Farmhouse Regally Remodeled, with Comfort Made a Priority here.~ 9. Traditional period details While the items may or may not be old, they are a decision to pay homage to a particular period in history. Vintage chandeliers, exposed beams in the ceiling, wainscoting and wood floors are savored. Traditional lamps and the welcome of candles are chosen over canned or recessed lighting. ~View a list of time periods and their designated names. ~tour the entire Cornish Country Getaway with Touches of the Sea here.~ 10. An Aga stove Used as much to heat up the home as to cook, the Aga stove is very much a luxury item now (and yes, it is available in the states), but in nearly every interview in The English Home magazine, when they share spotlight interviews, the one detail each guests shares a English Home mustn' be without is an Aga. Just Aga. :) ~Tour this entire home, titled Let the Lighting Do the Talking here. ~ 11. A mudroom is a must Having grown up with a mudroom as we lived out in the country, the need for such a room is a must. Whether you are gardener, have pups, ride horses or generally find yourself outside often, having a space that is designated to taking off the "gear" and not bringing the dirt into the rest of the home is a typical space found in an English country home. ~Tour TSLL's newly decorated mudroom here. 12. A cabinet or designated shelf for teapots and cups and saucers After reading yesterday's post (18 Ways to Enjoy a Good Cuppa), this decor detail will come as no surprise. ~Tour the entire home in Country Durham here. ~ 13. Color abounds (and it works) It is indeed a skill, but with time and experience and an understanding of hues and the size of patterns, it is a skill each of us can acquire. ~Tour A Cozy, Signature Bloomsbury Flat here~ 14. Mixing small and large prints in the same space The Spruce shares, "Large prints will be paired with smaller prints, such as gingham. Using similar color palettes in the patterns keep this from becoming overwhelming. " ~tour the entire home in A Small Yet Elegant London Flat~ 15. An abundance of reading material Bibliophiles may just have a predilection for English country decor if not solely for their love, display and admiration of books. In so many of the photos of today's post/episode you will see books, and that is not by mistake or exception. ~Tour this entire Bibliophile's Dream House here.~ 16. Built-in bookshelves And since we are talking about books, the English country homes are designed with storing books in mind. Built-ins are part of the decor and not only in the library or living room. Notice in bedrooms and even in kitchens, there are spaces for books. ~tour the entire home here in Finding Balance with Colors & Natural Textures in North Kensington~ 17. Rugs For warmth, to cover old floors or stone floors, layers of rugs on seagrass, rugs are a mainstay and frequently seen in English country homes. ~Tour the entire home in A Welcoming Home in Wiltshire, England~ 18. Climbing roses or vines on the exterior of the home. While this final decor detail is outside of the home, it is still attached to the home, so I thought I would include it. Stepping into an English garden is an entire new post/episode, but yes, a vine of some sort whether it be a rambling rose or wisteria or clematis, is a must for English country homes. ~David Austin's Gertrude Jekyll English Climbing Rose~ Personally, I am smitten and have been smitten for some time with the English country decor approach. Creating a cosy, welcoming home for the inhabitants and any guest who is invited inside rests in paying attention to the details shared above - texture, layers, welcoming in touches of nature, not being afraid to mix up and discover what actually can match and creating spaces for everyday pastimes you love. Enjoy the journey of adding English country touches to your own home wherever around the globe you call home. ~View all of TSLL's British-Inspired Decor posts here. Petit Plaisir: ~The English Game, Netflix ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #281 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify 2020 TSLL British Week Posts Welcome to TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week & the First Giveaway! 18 Ways to Enjoy a Good Cuppa

    232: 28 Life & Style Tips from a Parisian Woman (top episode of Season 5)

    Play Episode Listen Later May 11, 2020 36:08

    Today's episode of the podcast is the top downloaded and viewed episode from Season 5 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, and it's one I think you will enjoy whether you are hearing/reading it for the first time or the second or third time. Full of oodles of life and style tips from Parisian women inspired by a book read in 2018, it also melds my experiences and observances from my travels and conversations and engagements with women in France. Have a look at the detailed Show Notes from the original airing of the episode in November 2018. EPISODE #232 Show Notes As shared in today's episode, TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week will begin in six short days - Sunday May 17th. I cannot wait to share with you what I have come up with for the postings (two each day) and the giveaways (four in total). During the intro of today's episode of the podcast, I shared how the giveaways will work. Two giveaways will be open to EVERYBODY and Two giveaways will be exclusive: One to Ad-Free Subscribers and One to TSLL's Weekly Newsletter Subscribers (those who have subscribed prior to British Week commencing this year). If you are wondering what TSLL's Annual British Week is all about, I encourage you to check out last year's inaugural event. (click on the image below, or just click here.) ~TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week: MAY 17 - 24, 2020~ SUBSCRIBE to The Simple Sophisticate podcast: ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #232 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    148: The Hygge Phenomenon & Living Simply Luxuriously (the 5th most-downloaded episode of all-time)

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 20, 2020 27:29

    Today's episode is a favorite of listeners from the third season of the show. As we all spending more time inside, I thought listeners may enjoy some inspiration for making their time in our slower schedule more enjoyable and comforting. Click here for the full transcript and detailed show notes. SUBSCRIBE to the Podcast on your favorite podcast listening platform: ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify Look for a new episode of The Simple Sophisticate to return on Monday May 18th. View the full Season 6 Schedule below.

    4 Simple Ways to Spring Forward

    Play Episode Listen Later Apr 6, 2020 34:38

    Today's episode is a favorite from the archives to help you jump well into the new spring season. Be sure to check out the original detailed Show Notes here for episode #29 from Season 1 of The Simple Sophisticate. 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

    280: The Importance of Daily and Weekly Rituals & Routines You Love (12 Ideas to Incorporate Now)

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 16, 2020 34:50

    "You would think weightlessness is a good thing, but it's not. Because people weren't meant to float. Without gravity, we lose blood volume, bone density, muscle. Without it, we're untethered. So when you feel yourself being pulled toward something, it's not necessarily a bad thing. It may keep you centered. It may keep you safe." —Grey's Anatomy, season 16, episode #17, Shonda Rhimes Thoughts, thoughts, all sorts of thoughts. With an abundance of time on our hands as we stay home, if we have not exercised our brains in this way, it may feel uncomfortable, and in these times we find ourselves collectively, understandably unsettling. The above quote caught my attention this past week as it feels our attentions are being being pulled toward the necessities of life, what we sincerely need to simply live. Don't get me wrong, the past eleven years, economically, have been much needed and appreciated, and while each of our journey's is unique, perhaps we've forgotten what we truly need, what others truly need, to live well. At the moment, we are all being pulled to our homes, to our sanctuaries, to our immediate families with whom we reside with but perhaps never see often because of our busy schedules. Admittedly, some of our loved ones may be far away due to age, relationships, work, etc., but we at least have the phone, video chat and other technological ways of communicating. Becoming grounded in what roots us, is what reminds us of what truly is a priority in our life, helps us to make better decisions to remain true to those values when the choices are vast. And sometimes when the choices are so vast and so ubiquitous for such a long time, we would only be being human to lose sight of our roots. I am not suggesting that we need to have a pandemic to root us, but that is where we find ourselves, so I am determined to see some good in this perilous situation. There will be good that will come out of it when we come out of it on the other side, but as well, there is good we can partake in during this time of staying home. Today, while I had originally planned a different topic for the episode to be shared, I have decided to focus on something that will hopefully be helpful to direct our attention to, to elevate the time we have indoors, wanted or unwanted. The gift and mood lifting power of daily and weekly rituals. Under the umbrella of daily and weekly rituals lies our daily and weekly routines. Consciously creating routines in which we know boost the quality of our lives from our health, to our rest and rejuvenation to our productivity are ways to rest more easily which benefits our mind and well-being and decreases our stress. Each of these efforts strengths our immune system and ultimately strengthens our overall health, both physically and mentally. Today I would like to share with you rituals you can incorporate into your daily and weekly routine even while you stay home. 1.Wake up well Design a morning routine in which regardless of whether you are heading out the door (when our routines get back to normal) or staying home, you want to get out of bed and partake in. In episode #243 I share 12 Ways to Make Your Mornings Magical, Mindful and the Foundation of a Great Day. 2. Create a daily routine you love As I shared with my students what would be expected of them while we stepped into our extended break (Oregon has announced they will be closing all schools through the entire month of March.), one student immediately decided she would find a favorite place she enjoyed being, give herself this window during her day to complete her schoolwork and then be done. I was so tickled to hear such thoughtful and conscientious attention to both her academics, but also her well-being by compartmentalizing and stepping away from work so she could relax and just be. All of us, whether at home, and especially now that we are home, would benefit from creating a schedule in our day for productivity, but also meals, rest and exercise. Knowing we have accomplished something will let us rest more easily and make it easier to sleep at night. As well, we will be giving our bodies and mind a healthy balance to remain strong. 3. An afternoon brain break Whether you enjoy an afternoon tea or an afternoon nap or an afternoon outside exercising, create a ritual that will be something you look forward to as you make your way through your day. If you are like me, and live alone, this may be a good time to call loved ones to check in. If you live with others, it may be a great time to be together if you are busy doing your own thing throughout the day. Either way, make a point of intentionally not doing work, but rather something relaxing and enjoyable. Something that elevates the everyday even more so that each day you look forward to such moments. 4. Welcome the flowers I shared on Instagram yesterday (see below) how one of the items on my grocery list this weekend (I went early and wore gloves as well as washed my hands before and after) was to welcome a few bouquets of flowers into my home. Recent researched has shared that having fresh flowers can "lower blood pressure and heart rate, lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and more positive feelings and higher satisfaction [about one's home]". So while, we need to stay home as much as possible, if possible keeping in my sanitation requirements, welcome some flowers into your home and perhaps bring a bouquet for your neighbor and leave them on their doorstep with a note. You may help their health more than you realize. 5. What to listen to? What brings you joy. Create a listening ritual that carries you through your day. From the classical music I wake up to on WRTI with host Gregg Whiteside and Breakfast with Bach at 5am to the jazz in the evenings from my Spotify playlist, as well as podcasts about food and France enjoyed while I walk the dogs along the river, around the neighborhood or through the trees, what we turn on melodically has a tremendously powerful effect over our well-being. Choose what you love and let it elevate your days. Music I listen to: WRTI - classical and jazz KUSC - classical TSLL playlists Escape to France . . . Luxurious Classical Music (more than 10 hours of music) Everyday Jazz French Cafe Jazz (no lyrics) Jazzy Dinner playlist (Spotify) Podcasts I have been loving recently: The Land of Desire (French history and culture) MilkStreet Radio Inside Julia's Kitchen The Splendid Table 6. Fitness Habits That Energize The key to sustainable exercise routines is to keep them seemingly small, yet consistent and intentional. As I shared in the first episode of 2020 on the podcast, #272, 8 Ways Tiny Habits Will Welcome the Great Changes You Seek, tiny habits have a powerful way of instituting the change we desire. Why? Because they are more likely to stick, and truly become habituated into our daily routine. From waking up and doing one set of sit-ups (by the end of the week you will have done five sets!), to meditating for one minute each morning, to sipping a glass of water upon waking up in the morning, when you choose thoughtfully the habits you want in your life, reduce them down to seemingly so small, there is no reason not do the task, and before you know it, as you see the positive change, you won't want to reduce your effort and may even want to increase it. So as we find ourselves with more time at home and being unlikely to attend our favorite fitness class or gym, find exercise habits at home that will fulfill the exercise routine you need, but in a way that you enjoy. I am shifting my weekly yoga classes to a YouTube yoga instructor for the time being (but I cannot wait to return to the yoga studio), and my walks will be where I can keep my social distance at a healthy length from others, for their sake as well as mine. 7. Create an evening ritual for winding down before going to bed Something I look forward to every day, weekday or weekend, is my evening routine. After the work on the blog has been completed, after dinner has been made and savored, it is this hour or two before I drift off to sleep that is priceless. My dogs as well have become accustomed to our routine and even though they do not know the time of day we humans live by, they know when bedtime is near. From calming down the house, dishes washed, kitchen cleaned, work put away, to lighting a candle in the living room, turning on a pre-taped show or picking up a book or magazine I want to slip away to for a while, these simple activities tell my mind it is safe to rest, to relax, to be done for the day. All the while sipping some tea and nibbling on a piece of chocolate truffle, the ultimate signal to my body and brain that the day is done. 8. Be Conscientious About Your Daily News Intake Going along with #5, what media we choose to be part of our daily routines has a profound effect on our mental health. I shared and encouraged my students to limit their news intake as it can easily overwhelm us. I did not suggest sticking their head in the sand and ignoring the news, but rather choose one or two times a day in which you check in with a credible news source, and then go about your day. 9. Work space set-up Cultivate a welcoming work space whether it is temporary or where you work on a normal workday. Provide a clean work desk (check out this post - 10 Ways to Make Your Desk Space Efficient and Inspiring), welcome the natural light, reduce unhelpful distractions and decorate or rearrange in such a way to beckon you to work well. 10. Befriend water Choose to bring and drink water with you throughout the day. Staying hydrated has oodles of benefits, but on the immunity side of things, it will help rid your body of toxins. Even if I am enjoying my regular cup of tea in the morning, afternoon or evening, I regularly will have a glass of water as well or have my Hydroflask full of water if I am out walking (it is in my car for when I return). Cultivating this habit will satiate your appetite, refresh your body and elevate many arenas of your life that we take for granted. 11. Turn your ideas into gold Yes, William Shakespeare may have written King Lear during his quarantine tenure in the 16th century, and while we may not produce such masterpieces, we can use this time let our creative ideas run free so that we have time to see what they want to reveal. Keep a notebook or small journal handy and write down what pops into your mind. You may be able to tend to the idea now or it may be an idea you can implement later, but either way, it will be a positive exercise to focus on positive, hopeful, inspired things. Our mind is a muscle, and it finds the tracks we repeat again and again. So practice thinking in such a way that lifts you up, gets you excited and who knows where your creative thoughts will take you. As for me, I am planning TSLL's upcoming British Week (the third full week in May), pulling together April 1st's TSLL's Spring Shopping Guide and whatever else wishes to reveal itself to me. :) Excited to see what I will discover. Have fun! 12. Incorporate regular self-care and model it for others in your life That hot bath you used to take infrequently, but love and look forward to deeply . . . take it regularly, every week, every other day, but make it a ritual you look forward as well as savor when you slip into the hot bubble bath of comfort. Last year, I shared 31 Ways to Practice Self-Care, episode #242, and as I shared in this episode, while the bubble baths and other pleasures are certainly part of this regular self-care routine, self-care needs to go deeper. When self-care goes deeper, it has even more powerful and long-lasting positive effects on our life. Be sure to check out the show notes and/or episode for much more information on this topic. The current situation in which we find ourselves is unprecedented in our times, but it has the potential to reveal a tremendous amount about our strengths, compassion and ability to rise in ways we may not have known we were capable. I am confident that while the unknown has the potential to paralyze, it can also teach us an abundance about ourselves, those around us, the world and then reveal to us what we should truly be focused on for a better world moving forward. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: The Benefit of Daily Rituals Why Not . . . Establish Weekend Rituals? 34 Inspiring Daily Rituals to Ignite Your Creativity, episode #255 Petit Plaisir: ~Begin to cultivate a candle cupboard/closet. I first learned of this idea from Queer Eye's Tan France when during his tour of his home for Architectural Digest he opened up a small closet (I would call it a cupboard) and shared his stocked candles. Now, mind you, my current Candle Cupboard has two candles in it waiting to be enjoyed, but as I come across candles that I love, if they are on sale, I purchase one or two more than I normally would. I don't expect my Candle Cupboard to ever be as full as Tan's, but I love this idea as a Petit Plaisir. My Candle Cupboard is only barely stocked, but I love this idea and will continue to add to it as my budget and sales and treasures are found. Thank you Tan for sharing this wonderful idea! ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #280 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

    279: 15 Life Lessons Learned during my First Year into my 40s

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 9, 2020 40:10

    True contentedness is unremarkable to the outside world, or passerby. Typing away in my cozy chair in the living room in my line of sight Norman eats his breakfast and Oscar acknowledging he will not be able to sneak a bite, takes a long cool drink of water. The croissant for my Sunday morning ritual is proofing in the oven and Sunday Baroque's weekly program fills my home. Even having lost an hour of the day, I have decided to wake up with the sunset and use the dawn-filled hour to work early before we are able to go for our morning stroll in the woods. All is well, and so much surrounds me for which to be grateful. I began the morning reading Maria Shriver's weekly email newsletter, and in particular this morning's letter resonated with me, and most likely would you as well as a reader of TSLL. I've included an excerpt below as she describes a moment in which she felt, albeit unexpectedly, truly and sincerely content. "Over the last few years, I’ve settled into myself. I’ve focused more on my blessings and what I’m doing well rather than my shortcomings and what needs to be adjusted (something I highly recommend). As a result, everything in my mind has calmed down, and therefore my body has calmed down, too.  Today, my life finally feels centered, grounded, and solid. I feel like I’ve found my space and my place. It was one of those profoundly simple, yet headshaking, moments of self-realization that no one ever really talks about. Sure, there are still things in life that give me anxiety (the coronavirus, the election, and Mother Nature as our neighbors in Nashville know all too well). But, through it all, I’ve been able to find my inner fortitude and soothe myself, something I’ve struggled with my entire life. The truth is I never expected that the peace, joy or success that I chased my whole life would come to me when I was sitting alone, drinking coffee on my porch. I thought I was supposed to find that while giving speeches, accepting awards, and galvanizing change. That’s what our culture teaches us. It’s what infused into our beings at a very young age." I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that on this International Women’s Day, I’m a woman on my own path. I’m living my one wild, precious, joyful and meaningful life. In the end, my friends, that’s what galvanizes true change. Watching, witnessing and being in community with people who are following their authentic paths is what changes the world one breath at a time. I thought of that every time I washed my hands this week and it made me smile. So, follow your heart personally, professionally, and politically. Because, when you do, you will discover the feeling I felt the other morning. You will find yourself saying to no one in particular, “Wow, I’m good just the way I am.” —Maria Shriver in her 3/8/2020 letter from the editor of The Sunday Paper newsletter I realize the excerpt above was long, but hopefully, as it did me, it reassured as to what living well truly is. It's simple and intentional. It's internal and individual. It is purpose driven and intangible. It is also experiential and tactile. It requires of us to be present to be engaged with our world acknowledging much needs us to let go, but so too must we stay involved and aware. It is the daily practice of elevating our daily life by how we walk and open our eyes and minds to all that is around us and that is possible. Each year when my birthday rolls around, here on the blog, I share a reflection of some sort of life lessons, aha moments and discoveries about the world found along my journey. To share, as well, admittedly, as a way to preserve my own growth, my hope is to prompt introspection amongst readers as sometimes, maybe even often, we do not realize all ways in which we have grown as it can sometimes be hard to see when we are the ones walking through the world each day. I have yet to share my life lessons for my 41st birthday which fell during the final week of February, so I wanted to take today's episode/post to reflect. 1.Dreams, hopes, wishes can indeed materialize so long as we never let them go, we keep making small, yet steady progress, and keep refusing to not believe it can happen. 2. Clear, respectful, honest communication is to be treasured and a necessary ingredient for healthy relationship of all types. 3. Setting personal boundaries is a reflection of your recognition of your innate self-worth which will cause your self-esteem to grow. 4. Giving yourself closure on the past is healthy and necessary for being able to fully move forward. Your closure need not make sense to anyone else but yourself, but give yourself this gift of freedom. 5. Some friends, family and/or colleagues may not be able to travel with you into your next life chapter as you choose to grow and evolve or your life simply asks of you to travel a different way or in a different way. Letting go need not be dramatic or radical or even known, but rather a natural going about life's path perhaps to meet again at some other time or maybe not. And that is okay and healthy as it shows awareness of the social support that you need to be well. 6. Give yourself permission to be excited about your life journey, your everyday moments and just be giddy. Let your endorphins soar naturally and see your daily life experience improve as well. 7. Say yes to opportunities that cross your path but out of schedule with when you had hoped they might arrive. My trip to Paris and Normandy was not expected nor planned. In fact, I had told myself I would take at least a year off before returning to Paris since my trip in 2018; however, when an invitation arrived to return in 2019, I had to say yes, and all that I learned, experienced, savored and learned some more was more than evidence that I made the right decision. 8. Less truly can bring more into your life. The unexpected discovery of my now home and sanctuary which is half the size of the home I owned previously is precisely what I instinctively knew I needed to live well. Less to decorate, but what I choose can be investments that will last. Less to clean, so I have more time to explore and create on the weekends, a perfectly medium size yard and petite garden, but exactly what I enjoy to have Mother Nature at my fingertips without a requirement of more time than I can give. 9. Mother Nature, moving my feet in Mother Nature, is my creative muse and her gifts are priceless. While I walk nearly everyday outside on the trails in Bend or near the river that runs through Bend, even walking in San Francisco when I needed to get outside, I did so and saw the famed parrots of the Telescope Hill, and oh what a delight. Inspiration is everywhere when we step out into the fresh air. 10. My dogs have been for the past 15 years and are my companions in this journey of my life as they let me be "Shannon", provide company as well as freedom, yet keep me grounded as well. Savoring every moment with my two elder gentlemen. 11. Cooking, creating in the kitchen, is to play and forever be learning and savoring everyday moments. 12. Love really does live on inside you even after someone dearly loved passes away. 13. Host that dinner party you've been wanting to have. You may just bring beautiful moments and new connections to your guests that they will appreciate more than you will ever know. (read: 10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from my Last Dinner Party, and be sure to check out my first book for details and a menus for hosting a successful gathering.) 14. Traveling with my mom created memories of getting to know each other as where we are now in our lives and wonderful shared experiences that I will never forget. Check out our trip to San Francisco. We also had the opportunity to go to Oregon's Garden which exceeded my expectations and opened my eyes even further to my mom's love and knowledge of "green-thumb" life. 15. Continue to follow your heart, its inklings, its tugs, its curiosities, and you will never be led astray. Even when it doesn't make sense to you, even when you do not have a model to forge the path before you traverse it, your insurance is that it is your heart leading the way. I am reminded of Julia Child's quote which she expressed on the penultimate and onto the final page of her memoir My Life in France. "In Paris in the 1950s, I had the supreme good fortune to study with a remarkably able group of chefs. From them I learned why good French food is an art, and why it makes such sublime eating: nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. Good results require that one take time and care. If one doesn't use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting, and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture . . . But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal, perhaps even a life-changing experience." —Julia Child While Julia is directly speaking of her experience in the culinary world of Paris, she indirectly and perhaps most significantly speaks to how to live life well. Invest, have patience, do your homework, and trust the co-mingling of those who know more than you about topics which you love as well as your own passions and curiosities. Beautiful art, the art of life, your life, can materialize in its own time and in its own unique way. May this birthday year offer insightful and inspired life lessons that elevate the quality of your everyday life even more and bring you all the more contentment, true contentment that you desire. Petit Plaisir ~Dishing with Julia Child ~A Year in Flowers: Designing Gorgeous Arrangements for Every Season by Erin Benzakein

    278: 14 Ways to Create a Happy Home

    Play Episode Listen Later Mar 2, 2020 43:20

    At the core of a happy home is a home that works for those individuals the four walls surround and keep sheltered and safe. Once the essentials are in place - a roof over our heads, walls to keep us warm/cool, then it is the inhabitants' responsibility to cultivate a sanctuary in which each person feels they belong and loved for being their true selves or having the space to understand who they are as they grow and evolve. Whether you share your home or not, both require clarity and willingness to be honest about the needs to live your best life and if you live with others to enable them to do the same without short-changing yourself or compromising too much. If these steps sound familiar, you are right. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs builds on top of each of the necessities shared above. First we must have our phyiological needs met, then a feeling of safety before we can find belonging and feel and recognize love. Following the third step, once we have a home to feel free to just be, our stress levels drop, our health improves and strengthens and we find we think more clearly and thus make better decisions which leads to the opportunity to strive and try new things giving a boost to our confidence along our journey which builds the fourth tier - our self-esteem opening the pathway for us to have the choice to become self-actualized, the fifth and final tier. Interior designer and author Rebecca West's new book Happy Starts at Home, which was just released in the states last month, takes the approach to decor that it is far more than the aesthetics, but rather thoughtful decor decisions that marry function with and supporting each person reach their goals which includes feeling welcomed and at peace in the present. "The truth is your home can directly improve your well-being and contentment. It can help decreease your stress level and increase your happiness." —Rebecca West What I was drawn to with West's book is her underlying definition of happiness is contentment which is something we talk about often here on TSLL. Contentment is something that has the capability of being steady day-in and day-out regardless of the events of our days - good, bad or just blah. In fact, when you are content, you rarely have blah days at all and when you do have bad days, you can confidently move through them and the good days are elevated even higher. How awesome is that! While we must build contentment within ourselves, our homes play a critical part in supporting this contented state of going about our lives. And in even better news, our home decor need not break our budget. Just as it takes time to get to know ourselves, depending upon where we are in our life journey when we begin to cultivate our sanctuary, it will take time to understand how we live well, and what is needed to enable our best life to be enjoyed everyday. Today I'd like to share with you the takeaways from Rebecca West's book that caught my attention as I am in the middle of customizing my home and making sure it works for me. 1.Understand "who" your home is and who it can be for you As I mentioned in this post (#3), I have named my home, and I highly recommend you do as well. I think of how Paul and Julia Child named their home in Provence Le Pitchoune (translated The Little One), aka La Peetch. Naming our homes gives them a character, reminds of what our home means to us and signifies our appreciation and perhaps our vow to care for it as we are aware of how it cares for us. If your home is not reflecting its full potential, not living up to its name so-to-speak, then let such a realization be motivation to give the home the care it needs to be the "who" you know it can be and need it to be as well. 2. Be clear about how your home needs to support your lifestyle Begin with the more abstract concept such as supportive, strengthening, joyful and then examine how your home can enable you to feel these feelings. If your home is not supporting those feelings, examine closely why it isn't and go about creating the change you need. 3. Understand the priorities of your home In other words, what lifestyle do you not only sincerely have to live, but also want to live? How can your home facilitate your needs and support you on your journey toward your goals? Do you need your own office space and right now only write on the kitchen table? Do you need more light, less light, lighter fabrics in hue and/or weight? Do you need furniture that is comfortable that asks you to relax and unwind? Is your kitchen organized and functional so you can easily step into it and make what you need easily? Let's back step just a bit first because our answers to the above questions come after we know who we are and where we want to go and what are priorities are. Once we know the answers to these essential questions, the questions regarding our home, are far easier. 4. Make a habit of editing what comes into your home As I have shared in previous posts, having a mood board is helpful to clarify and direct your purchases and decor aesthetic decisions. A mood board will also help when it comes to know what you need and what would work best in your home and being able to say no to otherwise beautiful items that would have found their way into your home, but they just are not needed or fit well. Once you have decorated your home to support your contented life, become ardent about your shopping excursions, gifts that are received and get into a regular habit of letting go, consigning, selling for resale at used books/furniture shops what no longer serves you. You "have a say in what surrounds you", and when you feel as though you are the director of your home and decor, you can feel more confident in your life decisions as well because your home doesn't become overwhelmed and remains true to its purpose. 5. Examine the fear you have when it comes to letting stuff go West examines the emotional attachment we have with material items well, as it often is a fear that we will not be able to fill the hole it may feel it is leaving. However, she argues that in fact, it is opening up space for something more in alignment with who we are and are becoming. "When you take a leap and start letting things go from your home, you'll open the door to trust and opportunity." 6. Keep what brings you joy However, make sure you are not keeping what brings you joy in a box tucked away in the garage. In other words, if you are not honoring it, if you are not letting it bring you joy in your daily life, does it really bring you joy, or are you just afraid to let it go? A self-examination, an honest self-examination, will help you answer this question. 7. Extend gratitude to your home Whether you rent or own, your house is your dream house or not, extend gratitude to it for the good that it provides - at the very least, shelter and safety. One of the joys and things I am extremely grateful for in my home is that my key turns in the front door without snagging. As well, with an attached garage, my dogs are safer as we can move from the car to the house without having to worry about them seeing something to chase or say hello to. These simple changes are things I am grateful for each day I turn the lock in my door and cross the threshold. It may sound silly to say thank you to our homes, but the expression of gratitude is a destressor and a good habit of looking for all that is going well in our lives no matter what the day might have brought us. 8. Understand that a well-decorated home that works for you will help you change your life West cautions that if you have the determination to change your life, but you are not changing your home to support you, that may be an obstacle you are ignoring and should address. Why? From the simple reorganization and editing of your kitchen and pantry to support your new eating habit, your home can sabotage or support the new habits you are trying to welcome into your daily routine. More generally speaking if you get rid of the reminders of the bad habits you do not want, your home will most certainly better support you as it is with you each day. 9. Address the simple daily stressors From a handle that is loose to a dishwasher that does not run properly or is not large enough for your needs, from small to large, tend to them immediately or as swiftly as your budget allows as you will be amazed how your stress levels will drop when you are not tripping over these items you know you need to tend to but continue to put off again and again. An example from my own life, the dishwasher that came with my house had two racks and was too small for all of the cooking I do. Often I would have to run it twice to wash all of my dishes (yes, I know I could have hand-washed them, and sometimes I did, which is my point also - I wanted to save time!). So when my dishwasher unexpected broke down on my late last year, I took advantage of the first of the year sales in January to purchase a dishwasher that had the racks I needed and boy, what a significiant difference to my time allotted for washing dishes and daily stress. 10. Edit your bedroom to included nothing that isn't related to sleep or intimacy Keep only reading materials that help you relax and fall asleep (no work items). Add elements such as softer lighting, candles, and a vase for your weekly flowers. Focus on what calms you down and eliminate anything that rachets you up. 11. Create a home you are proud to call your home When you wake up in the morning, you should feel a sense of calm as you are expected to be nobody but exactly who you are. When you leave your home, it should give you a confident boost to enjoy the day to the best of the events' abilities. Upon feeling such ease in your home, you will become more confident to invite people over and build the social life you would like to have. 12. Be thoughtful with lighting Consider where you need lighting and where you want people to relax and feel their best. In other words, nobody wants an overhead light shining down on them in the living room as they conversation casually. Nobody looks great under these lights and it is just too shocking. Keep the kitchen well lit, but use table and floor lamps instead in more relaxed settings. Welcoming in as much natural light as possible as this too will elevate your mood. 13. Find ease with your relationship status, whatever it is A home that reflects where you are in your life right now is a home that allows you to feel settled and thus more calm. "Once your home reflects you, you'll start to feel a lot more settled about being on your own." I share the quote above because I think sometimes we decorate for the life we want, not for the life we have. When we choose to honor where we are, we are being present and enjoying all that life is giving us even if we cannot see all of the awesomeness. As someone who has lived alone most of my life, when I first began doing so, it took time to become comfortable with my own company; however, now, you could not convince me to live any other way. When we embrace we learn what we truly need to live well outside of another person or society's expectations. When we let others who we are living with express what they need and we then express what we need, we get to know each other better on a far more intimate level. But the key is to set aside expectations of something either beyond our control or that we think should be happening next. 14. Let your home customization be the medicine to finding your ease of living If you have ever felt your life is not where you want it - your job, your relationships, the country, etc., start at home and change what you can to make yourself happier. Take the weekend and paint that room you've been meaning to paint. Vow that you will wallpaper the office so that your work space reflects who you are and you enjoy stepping across that threshold each day even if you do have a home office and do not have to travel that far. West suggests if you are having trouble changing your thoughts and perhaps feel overwhelmed and not settled with life, start at home and change something aesthetically that makes your home work better for you. There are times when my mind races and sometimes not in the direction I want it to and one thing I had not been doing four years ago was tending to my decorating as it was a rental. However, after living in my rental for two years, I realized, why aren't you doing something? So I did. I updated the blinds in the office and kitchen, two places I found myself frequently and wanted a beautiful frame to look out and see Mother Nature, I purchased a secondhand pedestal dining table, one I had been putting off until I bought my next house, and I framed photographs I had taken on my travels to France and England and enlarged them to be the artwork in the living room. Once I began making my home reflect who I was, the quality gradually lifted as well and I reveled in being at my home even more. In two short years of doing this, I did eventually find the home I wanted to buy, but even though the blinds cannot come with me, I felt as though I gave that rental some love, and don't regret it for a moment. I could go on and one about the takeaways in Happy Starts at Home. It is a decor resource but also so much more as readers will come to understand the psychological power of our homes when we recognize it for what it can do to improve the quality of our life. Currently as I type, it has begun to snow in droves after just an hour ago being a bright sunshine of a day. And I am smiling and saying thank you because I have a home that enables me to see outside far more easily and savor the changing of the weather while relaxing in my armchair while Norman snores away on the ottoman. These are the moments that I wanted to cultivate more of, and you can too. Whatever it is that makes your life sing, examine how you can bring it into your home so that it is part of your everyday. Your contentment will rise as a result. The changes can be grand, but they need not be, they just need to be intentional and in alignment with what you need to work best for you and the life you want to live. Enjoy examining your life and how your home is supporting the life you want to live. If it isn't exactly where you'd like it to be, enjoy the journey of figuring out what you need. Because although it will take time, when the right items cross your path or the right ideas cross your path or you all of a sudden discover what would work the best, you will be all the more grateful they made it into your life. Petit Plaisir: Le Blanc Linen Wash ~If you live in Bend, Studio Vero sells this line of detergent and the laundry sachets as well. Ginger and Almond Bars (gluten-free) ~click here for the recipe ~as first enjoyed in Provence at Patricia Wells' cooking school~

    277: Winter in Paris — The 15 Essentials for Timeless Seasonal Style

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 17, 2020 28:05

    Last fall two episodes were shared delineating ideas for a timeless capsule wardrobe for traveling about in Paris as well as in London and the English countryside. As promised, the series continues into winter, and while we are nearing the end of winter, with the Paris fall/winter collections about ready to take the runway sharing their 2020 trends and inspirations, I thought this would be the perfect time to share how Parisians dress in the chillest months of the year. Of course the uber style stars who will share their street style at the end of February as they make their way to and from the shows, and while I highly recommend taking a look at what they are wearing as even though they may be out of reach budget-wise and offer strong signature style that is hard or less likely to be imulated and simply admired, the color combinations, layers, and fabric choices are worth noting most certainly. Today, let's return to Paris and take a look at the necessities for a timeless winter wardrobe whether you are making a trip for business or pleasure. First of all, what is the weather likely to be during winter in Paris? Paris Perfect explains that the average temperature during the months of December, January and February is 42 degrees Fahrenheit, so about 6 degrees Celsius. With a 50% chance of cloudy and/or rainy weather on any given day, be prepared for moisture, and likely not snow (although on occasion snow does fall, but it doesn't last for more than a day or two - typically). Depending upon where you call home when you aren't visiting Paris, 42 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter may feel chilly, not-so-bad or perhaps even warm for winter months. Whilst keeping all of that in mind, let's take a look at the list of essentials for your capsule wardrobe. 1.Classic, well-constructed cashmere or wool sweaters Since you are in Paris, you will likely be inside most of the time, but walking from place to place. Keeping this in mind, fine cashmere sweaters would be the best as you can layer them for more warmth, but also not become over-heated while inside at your desired destination. Eric Bompard (the classic French sweater company full of beautiful hues and different thicknesses) Ralph Lauren Equipment Vince sweaters are a classic, yet touch of modern choice. A modern French take on sweaters - check out Acne 2. Dark denim Dark colors in general will never be a bad idea in Paris during the winter. From dark denim jeans to dark pants, dark shoes and dark outerwear, the benefit of knowing this and having such items on hand is that you can easily mix and match and then add the pop of color as you feel necessary. 3. Black jeans 4. Waterproof leather booties (ankle boot) Aquatalia Ulyssa Water-Resistant Bootie 5. Leather sneakers Ecco soft 7 sneaker, leather (many colors) 6. A Warm Winter Coat - Puff, Pea Coat or something similar - long preferred The air is damp, so when the wind blows or the temperatures drop, it feels colder than it may actually be. A long coat will keep your entire body warm while you wait in line to go to a museum or venture outside to stroll from one destination to another. ~Be sure to check out Mango for beautiful coats at great price points. Mango's wide lapel wool-blend coat (more colors), on sale 7. A Wool Blazer For days in which it is not as chilly, but still the air has a nip, wear an oversized wool blazer with a scarf. Theory is a brand I highly recommend and enjoy wearing myself ~photo credit: Style du Monde 8. Lovely warm, scarves From classic oblong scarves to large stoles which can be used as a blanket on the plane while traveling, pack one or two favorite scarves that will work with what you have and provide the warmth you seek. Eric Bompard (shop these boutiquest while you are in Paris!) make lovely cashmere scarves. In fact, I picked up my first one in 2013 and have been wearing it ever since each winter. 9. A Warm Wool Hat Leave the beret at home and pack a warm wool or cashmere hat that covers your head and ears. Black, navy, ivory or anything neutral so you can wear it with anything you have packed. Madeline Thompson cashmere navy beanie (black also avilable) 10. Leather, yet cashmere lined, gloves Nordstrom's cashmere lined leather gloves (black also available) 11. Turtleneck Yes, an additional sweater, but turtlenecks are lovely in their retro chic silhouettes. Whether fitted or oversized, choose a luxurious fabric that feels good on your skin, a high neck that hugs your chin and a color that works well with your wardrobe, all while perhaps adding a touch of pop or a subtle unique shade of something fabulous. 12. Cardigan Granted a cardigan is a sweater as shared in #1 being a must-have while traveling around Paris, but a cardigan is a casual choice to have for the flight, for snuggling in either in the morning or evening upon returning from being out and about, and well, just a lovely winter staple to have on hand (and a necessary one in Paris during the winter). 13. A travel umbrella Likely, your accommodations will have an umbrella for you to use, but having a packable umbrella with you wherever in the world you might travel is never a bad idea. As shared at the top of the post/episode, the liklihood that it will rain in Paris is 50/50, so it's best to be prepared as you won't want to wear a coat with a hood unless you want to stick out as a tourist, unless the coat looks something like this. 14. Shop for what you need while in Paris - pourquoi pas?! In January, the semi-annual French Les Soldes takes place in which every shop will be having sales on everything, not just the items they cannot sell. Take advantage of this opportunity and shop for what you need while you are there, but also what will live and be loved for many years to come wherever you call home. 15. Totes and handbags This recommendation will be the same as it was for Autumn - a crossbody bag for going about the city and a tote for travel days. Poléne's full and mini crossbody bags are ones I recently learned about and now have and absolutely would recommend. Whether your favorite time to visit Paris is the spring, summer or fall or winter, whenever the opportunity arises to escape to the City of Light, it will be hard to say no. Knowing you will be well-packed will ensure you feel confident and comfortable as you walk and explore and savor along with the Parisians themselves with no one being the wiser that you are a tourist unless you let it be known. Most certainly, your sartorial choices will not give you away. Stay tuned as I will continue this series for the spring and summer months as the year unfolds and Anglophiles, rest assured, a winter shopping list will be shared soon. View All Other Seasons & Their Timeless Wardrobe Essentials for Visiting France SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy: 28 Life & Style Tips from a Parisian Woman, episode #232 Traveling Alone Well, episode #220 Top 10 Style & Beauty Lessons Learned from the French, episode #196 Petit Plaisir ~My French Country Home magazine ~created and edited by Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home blog and travels Subscribe now to receive the annual subscription (print or digital). The March/April issue seen below will be available for single purchase order at the end of this month. Images: Click through on each image to be taken to the direct source

    276: The Art of Mise en Place

    Play Episode Listen Later Feb 10, 2020 39:56

    Mise en place in translation means is "set in place", often translated to "everything in its place". Perhaps part of the reason cooking and baking can feel rewarding as well as relaxing is that there is a science to, and the unofficial science is something even the most novice cook in the kitchen can quickly learn - mise en place. But what exactly is it and what is the art of a truly effective mise en place? That is what today's post/episode is all about. When I attended both Patricia Wells and Susan Hermann Loomis' cooking classes in France, mise en place was de rigeur. Each day upon arrival into their respective kitchens and to our assigned cooking stations, the food was already either prepared and arranged in the necessary bowls, or at the very least the ingredients were waiting to be prepared along with the necessary bowls. As well, the recipe was clearly typed and propped up and ready to go to ensure ease of preparation. ~fresh ingredients from the market for a Niçoise Salad made in Susan Hermann Loomis' kitchen in Louviers, Normandy~ ~Patricia Wells at her stove in Provence, Vaison-la-Romaine~ ~Patricia Wells' stove in Provence; notice the collection of small dishes on the shelves, along with her cookbooks~ ~Patricia Wells' stove, knives and measuring spoons on the right in multiple quantities; on the lift, cooking tools to be used at the stove~ ~Susan Hermann Loomis in her kitchen in Louviers preparing food for the day of cooking. Notice the recipes situated at each station, along with the necessary ingredients.~ ~Susan Hermann's stovetop~ As you will see in some of the images included in today's post, I was in awe and absolutely inspired by the organization in both kitchens. From Patricia Wells having multiple ceramic canisters complete with a label for multiple spatulas, peelers, and any other tool she would need to have her students use, to Susan Hermann's knives neatly and safely stored in the middle of her wooden kitchen island, every kitchen tool had a home, and all of the items we would need or that were regularly used were easy to find and thoughtfully placed where they would be the most handy to grab while cooking. While mise en place often brings our attention to the recipe or meal we are cooking at the moment and the ingredients that are needed, in a larger context, mise en place is your kitchen, how you arrange it, how you work within it well, and the tools you welcome into your artistic space - your batterie de cuisine. I have found my kitchen, especially my kitchen in my rental in which I lived for four years, to be indeed an artist's sanctuary of sorts because you are creating, you are exploring. Part of why I loved that kitchen so much (the kitchen you see in Seasons 1 & 2 of my cooking show) is due to how I felt completely at ease moving about it in, having enough space for everything I needed and everything being easy to locate and quickly so. I am currently in the process of curating my new kitchen into a similar space so that I feel absolutely comfortable moving from here to there and finding exactly what I need. I look forward to making progress on it this spring if all goes well, and fingers crossed, hopefully have it ready to go for Season 3. But in the meantime, I am keeping in mind how a kitchen must be organized, how it needs to function for the cook that calls it home, that is the foundation of mise en place, and now let's talk about the benefits and how to create your very own successful mise en place each time you step into your own kitchen. Benefits 1.Ensures you are prepared for the recipe you wish to enjoy 2. Saves time 3. Saves the food 4. Deepens enjoyment of the cooking experience ~The creative stand of hooks for mixing paddles, Susan Hermann's kitchen~ How to "Mise en Place" 1.Determine what type of mise en place you need In theory, you will eventually come to a point where you tend to mise en place each time, but each recipe or meal or dish will be approached in its unique way. If it is a dish you enjoy frequently, such as a go-to breakfast, your mise en place will be a default you don't even think about any more. In such a case, my steel oats is in a cannister by the stove with the 1/4 cup measuring spoon that I use inside, the chia seeds are in a cannister that I simply pour out of, also by the stovetop, the salt and butter on the other side of the stove, and voila, aside from the cream, when I include it, it remains in the fridge until it is needed. Mise en place can be as simple as having your go-to items at the ready at all times, but it can also be for the detailed recipe in which case all of the ingredients are pre-measured and placed in their own separate dishes and bowls. 2. Read the entire recipe, twice. Not only do you want to read the ingredients list, but be sure to read the instructions as well, and why I recommend twice is often I will read too quickly the first time and accidentially skip over something. But even if you are a close reader on the first read-through, reading twice confirms the order you will need the ingredients as well as how they should be prepared - sliced, diced, left whole, etc.. Back to the ingredients: do you have what you need? enough of what you need? Double check. If preparing your mise en place ahead of time, either the morning of or the day or two before, begin making a list of what you need to pick up at the market (and how much). ~fresh artichokes from Louviers' market and eggs as well~ 3. Find the necessary dishes, bowls, containers. As you become fluent in your kitchen, knowing which dishes you enjoy preparing and eating and sharing, you will with time begin to have the necessary dishes, bowls and containers you need. Along the way to building your batterie de cuisine (literally: kitchen artillery; otherwise known as kitchenware), use dishes that work well for what you need. They may not all look neat and properly sized, but they will work. ~Susan Hermann's collection of copper pans~ 4. Find the necessary kitchen tools you will need and have them at-the-ready Along with having the ingredients you need, locating and having at-the-ready the necessary tools will speed up the process and increase your enjoyment of the cooking process. Beginning with a sharpened knife, and the proper knife for what you are doing, having each of these tools ready to work for you is an often unstated, but vital part of an effective mise en place. In Patricia Wells' kitchen in Provence, each utensil is given its own cannister and labeled. 5. Prepare the food as needed From peeling, slicing, de-veining and cleaning the seafood or meat, tend to the food, so that as the recipe calls for each ingredient, all you have to do is quickly add it to the pan or bowl or grill or, you get the idea. :) ~mise en place at Patricia Wells' cooking class~ 6. Place the food/ingredients in order of use in the recipe. Depending upon whether you are left or right-handed, place the ingredients on the preferred side and in the order they will be added to the recipe. If items will not be used for some time, you can place them further away so they won't be knocked over or accidentially added, etc. . 7. Have a large bowl for discards and items to be taken to the compost or garbage. Rachael Ray creatively called hers the "thanks for coming" bowl, and having such an item as part of your mise en place is a simple way of keeping your kitchen clean, or at least cleaner, as you make your way through your meal preparation. A large bowl enables there to be more workable space so you can swiftly move from one task to another without having to constantly clean up along the way. 8. Refrain from multi-tasking As tempting as it may be, doing more than the task of cooking while you are preparing a meal increases the chances of overcooking, burning and therefore ruining the ingredients you have thoughtfully welcomed into your kitchen. Speaking from experience, even when I just cook my breakfast in the morning, when I go off to my office while the steel oats are cooking, there have been time when I have become so engrossed in what I was doing for work that I lost track of time. Respect the food, and give it your full attention until the cooking is complete. Ideas to Improve Mise en Place Keep a well-stocked épicerie at all times Listen to episode #109 for a detailed list of the 34 items to have and why, or pick up my 2nd book, and read through Chapter 12. Begin to gradually pick up small bowls and dishes that catch your eye at second-hand shops, yard sales and antique boutiques, even brocantes if you have the opportunity to travel to France. Not only is it fun to treasure hunt, but they will add your signature to your kitchen. Assess what tools you need in your kitchen and invest in quality items. Equally, upon assessment, begin to edit/remove tools you do not need to provide more space for those items you do, making them easier to find. Set up your kitchen so that it works for you I feel fortunate to have had the opportunities I had in attending both of the cooking classes with Patricia Wells and Susan Hermann Loomis over the past two summers in France. I continue to welcome their ideas and incorporate them into my daily cooking practice. The primary purpose for mise en place is to make your time in the kitchen successful. Impressively, the number of dishes and the multi-course meals each class would enjoy every single time we sat down to dine for a couple of hours at first glance would have seen impossible, but when it is broken down into clear steps, ingredients and amounts prepped and ready, it seems all but impossible. Hopefully you too will find even more pleasure when you step into your kitchen. I certainly have an even deeper appreciation as well as fondness for the time I spend cooking and preparing and of course, enjoying the meals that are created. Have a look at videos from both of my cooking class experiences as well as the detailed posts that accompany each one below. Cooking in Provence with Patricia Wells (2018) Attending Susan Hermann Loomis' Cooking Class in Louviers, Normandy ~cups and saucers in Susan Hermann's kitchen found over the years throughout France at Brocantes~ ~ingredients for a fresh strawberry dessert at Susan Hermann's first day of cooking~ 15 Kitchen Tools to Cook Anything Like a Pro 11 Simple Ways to Transform Your Kitchen 9 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen, Improve Your Health & Help Out the Planet Check out The Simply Luxurious Kitchen and see Mise en Place at work in my very own kitchen! Petit Plaisir ~Agatha Raisin, Acorn TV ~10 Ways to Enjoy Grocery Shopping ~How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Farmer's Market No Matter Where You Live ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

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