The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

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~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #148 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die; and then dies having never really lived." —Dalai Lama Most Sunday mornings at around nine or 10 o'clock you will find me in my living room having just returned from walking my boys, Norman and Oscar, settling in with a pot of black tea, a warm croissant from a local bakery and the Sunday newspapers. Such simple pleasures bring me a priceless amount of happiness, and I look forward to this weekly ritual as I tuck into bed each Saturday night. The recent trending term hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) in the lifestyle publishing industry springs from the happiest country in the world as found by extensive research compiled by the United Nations World Happiness Report. Simply defined, incorporating hygge into your way of living is a choice to encourage the enjoyment of life's simple pleasures. There are a multitude of books focused exactly on how to welcome a hygge lifestyle into your life out on the market at the moment (and these are just a sampling released in the past 12 months). Just take a look below: ~The Little Book of Hygge ~The Cozy Life ~The Year of Living Danishly ~How to Hygge ~Hygge: The Danish Art of Living Well ~The Nordic Theory of Everything ~Hygge: 25 Secrets from the Danish Art of Happiness, Getting Cozy and Living Well Needless to say, the attention to a way of life that welcomes in the simplicity and everyday savoring of pleasures and reminds of the gifts a welcoming sanctuary can bring into our everyday lives is something that tickles me immensely. Many TSLL readers have pointed out the similarities between hygge and living simply luxuriously, and after reading two books on the subject, I certainly have to agree. So how exactly do they overlap? How are they similar? Let's take a look: 1. Savoring quality in each arena of life: food (a decadent hot chocolate with homemade whipped cream) relationships, the people you spend time with everyday experiences a small but welcoming home 2. Cultivating a sanctuary to relax, unwind and rejuvenate 3. Light a candle or two or three 4. Cultivating trust in those you love, in the communities you live and work in 5. Building a life that enables you to feel free, thus realizing you have more control over your level of happiness than you may have once assumed. In other words, you truly can become the CEO of your own life while building and being a partner in your community, home and work place. 6. A strong, respectful support system "meaningful, positive social relationships" 7. Practice gratitude, let go of want 8. Build and cultivate strong, healthy, loving relationships The quality of one's happiness increases with improved relationships, not surprisingly when we make more money. "America has gotten richer, a lot richer, over the past fifty years, but we've not gotten happier." —Jeffrey Saks author of the United Nations World Happiness Report 9. Become a lover of books  Discover the pleasure reading can bring when a wide open afternoon, evening or 30 minutes anywhere in your day arises. Pick up a book, snuggle up and dive in to discover something new. Keep the television off, put your cell phone away and get lost, letting go of time. 10. Become a regular visitor of nature "Whether you are sitting by a river in Sweden or in a vineyard in France, or just in your garden or nearby park, being surrounded by nature enables you to bring your guard down and adds a certain simplicity." Meik Wiking 11. Choose to be fully present Put away the technology, allow your mind to be in the here and now and look around you. Savor the sun, savor the company, savor the flavor of the food. Savor the amazing life you have the fortune to be living. 12. Cultivate calm  13. Savor simple rituals 14. Let go of competiveness The mindset of a market economy versus a social-democratic economy is at once significant and worth contemplating. Often, based on where we live and the culture we are raised in when we see our success based on how others fare as well: in a market economy, it is more likely to be an independent mindset, and in a social-democratic economy, it is more of a collective success one seeks. Ultimately, we only have control over ourselves, but to ignore how our behavior and decisions effect others is to ignore the power of emotional intelligence in our lives. When we consider others in our decision making, it is a means of paying it forward, of cultivating more wellness, kindness and positive behavior that builds each other up rather than tears one another down. 15. Seek internal approval rather than external Refrain from needing to wear labels or purchase more or larger homes, cars, shoes, clothing, etc. A mindset set on fine-tuning one's outer appearance is a person who has not found peace within. When you do have peace within, the external becomes far less important and the once temporary highs are substituted with permanent peace. The primary, underlying similarity that is at the core of living well, living simply luxuriously and thereby incorporating a hygge approach to life is to truly appreciate and savor the life we've each been given now. To drink the marrow from life so to speak every single day. It need not be excessive, expensive or grand. The true pleasures are actually quite simple. It is the moments of sitting next to those you love, letting go of time and letting go of worry knowing you are living well, you're living wisely and you haven't been pulled off track by the marketing masses that merely want your money when superficially they promise you more happiness. They are wrong, you are right when you choose to live in such a way that focuses on your well-being. And well-being cannot be purchased, it must be consciously cultivated, tended to and patiently fine-tuned. ~What Does a Simply Luxurious Life Look & Feel Like? Petit Plaisir: ~My Master Recipes; 165 Recipes to Inspire Confidence int eh Kitchen by Patricia Wells Download the Episode
”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 (tour the full bedroom customizataion here - Parisian Elegance marries English Country Comfort Aesthetics in TSLL's Primary Bedroom Reveal - view 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. ~Tour TSLL's Primary Bedroom Parisian Elegance marries English Country Comfort Aesthetic in TSLL's Primary Bedroom Reveal 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
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
"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
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.
"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
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
"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
"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
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.
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.
“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
“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.
"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
"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.
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
“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.
"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
"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.  
  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  
"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
“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
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.
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
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
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Podcast Details

Created by
Shannon Ables
Podcast Status
Aug 18th, 2014
Latest Episode
Apr 19th, 2021
Release Period
Avg. Episode Length
32 minutes

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