The Simple Sophisticate - Intelligent Living Paired with Signature Style

Shannon Ables

The simple sophisticate is someone who prefers quality over quantity, sensible living over mindless consumption, personal style instead of trendy fashions, has an insatiable curiosity for life’s endless questions and a desire to live a truly fulfilling life rather than being led around by the nose. Inspired by her lifestyle blog The Simply Luxur

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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 Unhealthy normalization of any one behavior reflects a lack of awareness regarding the shift that is happening. Even if the normalization is a positive change, to not be aware speaks to a life lived unconsciously. Living with intention, remaining present and intentionally choosing to cultivate healthy change is how a new worthwhile normal materializes. While unwanted changes infilitrated our daily lives, if we were and are living consciously, we chose to examine why they were unwanted. What was it about being able to go to a crowded theater for a play, a movie, a concert that elevated our spirits and our moods? What was it about travel to foreign lands that ignited our enthusiasm and adrenaline? What was it about casual, unplanned interactions with passersby by on our walks, at the store, that we now long for, and perhaps would have never pinpointed as a vital necessity to our everyday lives? Thoughtful examination of what we miss, why we miss it, and then choosing to broaden our perspective and seek out inspiration to introduce new ideas to welcome such a feeling of boosted spirits and connection and fulfillment and [fill in the blank with what you are missing] is the new task each of us have. The new normal need not be a heavy-heart of constant mourning. Rather, it can instead be a destination to be grateful we had the chance to step toward and now experience. New normals that appeared in decades past: following the 1918-19 Spanish flu and the end of World War I, leisurely, carefree entertainment was a sought out intentinoally, thus welcoming in the cars and radio into everyday life. Following World War II, commercial air travel took off for the masses, and following the accessibility to connect via the internet at the turn of the 21st century, "busy" became the "new normal" of its time. Not all of the three changes will be seen as positive, but it was an event, a significant shift in how our lives could or had to function that brought them to be present. Conscious living will determine if the new normal for each one of us is not only satisfying but something we savor and long to embrace and continue. The intuitive part of me is cautiously optimistic that our ability to observe and appreciate quality rather than quantity may emerge. Our lives, our very lives - the breaths we need to live, were/are at jeopardy with the pandemic - whether we felt the pain and loss that Covid19 can thrust into our lives directly or more indirectly - lives that once thrived and walked about the globe are no longer. Perhaps we begin to realize, acutely come to accept, our mortality, and live accordingly a life of sincere fulfillment and engagement. A thoughtful "yes" will become more exercised rather than a reflexive "yes"; a resolute, yet respectful no will hold no guilt, but instead peace and working smarter will replace working longer hours for the sake of looking "busy". The hope leads us, the repeated intentional action cultivates the new normal we wish to welcome into our lives. In the blink of an eye or gradually over time, our lives can change, and it is being aware that such change is possible that reminds us to participate in the process. The normals of the past and present that we have accepted can be influenced by endless outside sources if we are not careful. Walt Disney himself knew the power of movies, "Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood." Social media in our twenty-first century can have the same "tremendous influence" if we do not thoughtfully navigate through what we read, listen to, etc.. Your new normal may not be exactly like my new normal, or anything at all like my new normal, but if you can introduce even just one desired change that will positively affect the quality of your life, your new normal is better than what you are living currently. Some savored routines will be able to return, and when they do, let's celebrate them. In so doing, we are living presently, we are letting go of the understandable ease that is taking things for granted. Other routines may be changed forever, but that is okay as well. It's time to stretch. It's time to push a bit more out of our comfort zone. Everything does not have to change. In fact, it shouldn't, but upon taking the time to examine what you miss and why, consider new approaches, new activities, new ways of going about your day that you didn't consider as possible before or as in your "wheel-house". The outcome may surprise and delight you. Petit Plaisir ~A Signature Catch-All Dish Bring a small, yet significant touch of comfort to locations in your home where you sit to relax or settle in for the evening. Shop for a unique plate or dish or tray that fits the tabletop, but doesn't take up the entire flat space (leaving room for a lamp or other necessary decor items). Shop second-hand, consignment, antique or even your own cupboards for a unique dish that brings a smile, and can function as you need it to - holding the items you need and reach for regularly, as well as keeping the tabletop organized. An example catch-all plate (salad plate - 8.5" diameter - Gien's Peonies Scalloped Plate) Ideas of items to include: Bedside Table (primary or guest): lip balm linen spray lavender (or favorite scented) hand and/or foot lotion a small bud-vase for a single stem bloom small candle, such as these from Kerzon or these from Maison Balzac water pitcher and glass (see this one from The White Company and these from Maison Balzac - varying colors) match striker Desk reading glasses favorite writing utensil hand lotion - the one I currently use and love lip balm - my favorite any trinket that makes you smile earpods Living Room/Reading Chair bookmarker small notepad book candle with cloche (shop below) match striker bud vase Candle Glass Cloches Crate & Barrel (dome in design) Maison Balzac (square in design) Large glass cloches (varying sizes) Ikea 7" H glass cloche Bell Jar Dome Cloche (multiple sizes) As fall will begin on Tuesday of this week, I wanted to share with you three posts you might enjoy to step well into the new season. 15 Ideas for a Strong Life Approach to the New Fall Season Why Not . . . Prep for a Great Fall? 19 Soon-to-Be Released Books Worth Reading (Fall 2020) ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #288 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Sep 21

25 min

"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

Sep 14

40 min

“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. https://youtu.be/jGFljyfORi8 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

Sep 7

48 min

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 — bombas.com/sophisticate and save 20% off your first order Betterhelp — betterhelp.com/simple to save 10% ~Beginning on October 1st, 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. Take advantage of a limited time savings opportunity through September 25th and learn all about TSLL’s Soft Paywall here. 

Aug 17

10 min

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 Bookshop.org). 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

Aug 10

65 min

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

Jul 20

44 min

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

Jul 13

36 min

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

Jun 22

38 min

"Being in touch with [the essence] of ourselves as we make financial decisions is as good as it gets. Money is a store of life energy, and when we can channel that life energy into an expression of what is most dear to our soul, an exciting alignment takes place between our financial and spiritual lives . . . more than just having enough, our essence is deeply loving, contented, and grateful, not from any effort but as its most natural expression . . . In fact, when we are identified with that part of us that already has enough, that has arrived, that feels efficiency rather than scarcity, impulses of love and generosity arise naturally and without effort." —Brent Kessel, author of It's Not About the Money Money can seem to be the fix for everything or the curse, but it need not be either, and can be in our control, largely when we shift how we approach our view and role of money in our life. Today I would like to share with you key insights I discovered after reading Brent Kessel's book It's Not About the Money in which he dives into the unconscious emotional psychological nature money plays in our lives and how and why we make the decisions we make - for better or worse. 1.Understand how your emotions are related to your relationship with money What is your Core Story when it comes to your relationship with money? When you understand this inner dialogue that is unconsciously being told and accepted, thus guiding your decisions when it comes to what you believe will make you happy, you begin to take control of your relationship with money and improve the quality of your life. Why? Because you are now living consciously, and your decision making improves as it aligns with your true essence as Brent Kessel describes - your true self, what will make you feel truly content, outside of what society has impressed upon you. Below are a couple of the questions to begin asking yourself to get to the truth of what your Core Story actually is: What is your most painful memory related to money? When have you been most positively and negatively moved by money? What were you taught was most important about money? What is your biggest fear about money? While we need to live in the present to live well, understanding the past events of our lives and how they have scripted our thinking about money is vital. The Core Story is accepted Kessel writes because "whatever the content, with the unconscious hope that if we follow it, we'll be protected from feeling difficult or painful emotions." Simply understanding what your Core Story is not going to improve your relationship with money. Rather, it is an ongoing job that begins with awareness, but then is followed up with "skill, intention, and perseverance to lessen the hold of our unconscious condition . . . we must keep working to identify and retain the healthiest parts of our story's message - [for example, the good saving habits, the on-time bill paying, etc.] - while at the same time letting go of the extreme and unhealthy behaviors and attitudes it has engendered in us." 2. Do the necessary work within to achieve the outer results you seek "Though outer wealth rarely leads to inner wealth, inner wealth often does lead to outer wealth." Kessel speaks of the Middle Way being the chosen path to take in order to have a healthy relationship with money and our understanding of wealth. In other words, "true freedom lies neither in self-indulgence nor in austere asceticism". When we choose to do the inner work that is necessary, it requires of each of us to use our mind, and think critically, which means that we must think well and not rely on defaults and habits that are unproductive to our goal of cultivating "healthy wealth". I especially appreciated the author's sharing of his conversation with the Dalai Lama when he [the Dalai Lama] responded to the question about a method for happiness for Americans. "When there's too much stress or too much worry, look inward! Read more. Think. Trying to find the answer from outside yourself is nonsense! Think more." What thinking exactly though, are we talking about? Start with #1, understand your Core Story, deepen your awareness, and begin asking the "why"s - Why do you feel this decision would reduce your stress or increase your happiness? Why do you feel owning [fill in the blank what you are considering purchasing/paying for] will be a smart decision for you life? Why do you feel [insert negative emotion] when certain things in your life are happening? Why do you feel [insert positive emotion] when certain things are happening in your life? And continue asking and exploring - the four "W" questions are part of thinking well - Who, What, When, Where, Why. "When we are caught in extreme thoughts, beliefs, and conditioning, we sow the seeds of financial discontent." 3. Become fluent in the language of the Wanting Mind "The Wanting Mind continually takes us out of the present moment in its attempts to make us happy in some better tomorrow." —Brent Kessel True contentment requires that we remain present in our daily lives. The Wanting Minds requires that we live in the future. A clear conflict. If we are content, we are not wanting, and if we are wanting we cannot be content. True freedom from "want" is knowledge of how it works. Whenever an impulse to buy anything arises, a croissant, a clothing item online, anything large or small, "look sincerely at the root of the behaviors your mind has always told you would make you happy". Social conditioning has been happening our entire lives and will not end, but when we are aware of the attempt to social condition, and become clear about whether it is helpful or hindering, we can respond rather than react to the impulses of wanting when they arrive, thus making the best decision in that moment to cultivate a healthy approach to wealth and our financial situation. 4. Trust your innate financial wisdom: financial planning and great investment advice is not enough "When you are listening to your innate wisdom, you can feel a very deep part of you relax and let go. It will feel pleasing, calming and wholehearted. There will be an absence of pressure." Kessel has readers in his book return to their 4-year-old self, such a young age that we don't have a clue what investing in the stock market is, what a pension is, compound interest, debt, etc. The reason he encourages readers to return to our young self is to try to discover or be reminded of our most true self. What is it that sincerely brings us joy? What delights us? Sparks our curiosity? Prompts us to lose all track of time? Each of us will have our own answers, and even if, like me, you cannot fully remember what you thought at that age, you can remember where you were in your life - where you lived, with whom, etc. - and at least for me, I know how I felt. Whether I was secure or fearful? Was I completely oblivious to the world and didn't have a care in the world or was I full of anxiety? Thankfully, my memories are all positive and I am drawing from this insight to guide my money decisions and investment and savings moving forward more consciously. To address the idea of seeking out a financial advisor. It is absolutely a worthwhile idea to find a financial advisor you trust as they are the experts in the business of the financial business sector. They can be our teacher to better understand how investing works and what our options are, but once you have that information and can ask more questions when they arise, you need to return to your innate voice. What would make you feel truly content? For myself, when I purchased my home, I didn't seek permission from my financial advisor at the time as to whether I should take certain funds and use them for my down payment. I just knew I could and did it. I knew what would bring me contentment. I knew what investments were worth it to me and the life I wanted to live, but I am grateful for her expertise so that I knew the financial rules/laws, etc.. 5. Be still and just be A common piece of advice when it comes to making a purchase that we are not sure about, or that is significant enough that it will change our lives in some way, is to wait or sleep on it for 24-hours. This is good advice, but Kessel suggests doing something additionally and possibly most importantly - examine why you are really wanting to make the purchase. Do you feel it will bring you freedom, more peace, less headaches? What are the overarching beliefs derived from your Core Story and/or societal conditioning that have taught you these beliefs? Do you fully accept them or does something within not feel settled? In other words, again, respond rather than react. Think and be still, rather than blindly doing. Money is a fundamental component of our lives whether we want it to be or not. It moves the world, lack of it can halt the world, but understanding our relationship to it and with it is what will elevate our personal world and thus improve the quality of our lives. Our minds need and can achieve peace of mind when it comes to money. After all, when our minds are relaxed and unstressed, they make better decisions, see things more clearly and think well. It is understanding the psychology and the emotional mentality that money provokes within us that will give us the driver's seat so that we can make the best decisions for the life we want to live. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Women with Money: Using It to Build A Life You Love Why Not . . . Build a Strong Financial Foundation? 7 Tips to Try Now Why Not . . . Be Attractive to Wealth? Money: How to Know If You Have Enough, episode #138 Petit Plaisir: The High Note ~Starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Dakota Johnson ~Stream the film here. ~Listen to the title track of the soundtrack - Love Myself, sung by Tracee Ellis Ross (purchase it here) https://youtu.be/im3lYbG-mSs ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #284 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Jun 15

30 min

"To embrace leisure, we don't have to let go of progress. [Our] constant pushing is now impeding our progress. We work best when we allow for flexibility in our habits . . . [w]e can and must stop treating ourselves like machines that can be driven and pumped and amped and hacked. Instead of limiting and constraining our essential natures, we can celebrate our humanness at work and in idleness. We can better understand our own natures and abilities. We can lean in not to our work but to our inherent gifts." —Celeste Headlee Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing , and Underliving For the past 10 weeks I have had the good fortune to go to work with both of my dogs. Why? Because I have been working from home. I am able to take them for a short walk about the neighborhood before I step into my office and remote classroom, then take a break around 10:30 am as we sit on the garden porch, soaking in some sunshine and thinking about what I might want to enjoy for lunch in a few hours time. Lunch is leisurely because I can cook it, savor it, not be rushed to eat it or interrupted and our afternoon outing after about 70-90 minutes of work after lunch is to the mailbox and about the neighborhood. Returning to the office if need be to tie up loose ends, check my work email one more time (I only check my school email three times a day), when the day concludes, I am not exhausted, but I do feel productive. Admittedly, the scenario I shared above is due to an unwanted global occurrence, and I miss my in-person connections with my students and colleagues, but what I do not miss is the excessive expectation to always be checking my email, regularly being interrupted so that I lose my focus/students' focus and requirement for a long inflexible work day (meaning not healthy breaks, a constant expectation of being "on"), and being rewarded for giving more beyond the work day even if it reduces the quality of my home life and personal relationships. I am not complaining directly about a system that surrounds so many of us, but trying to be honest about the reality of why I was quietly thankful to have the time at home these past 10 weeks to catch my breath. I did my best to examine why, and while the emotional toll for those of us fortunate enough not to have our health and livelihoods taken away was unhealthy and exhausting, overall, I found great refuge and restoration this spring whilst staying at home, finding a schedule that worked for me as I continued to remotely teach and blog and just be home. I also found much more time to read books that have been patiently sitting in my shopping cart, and two books furthered my exploration into how exactly improve the working environment when we begin to step back into the workplace. I have a few ideas. Take a look below. 1.Understand the history of the current work culture "We are investing our time and energy and hard-earned money in things we think will make us more efficient, but those things end up wasting our time, exhausting us, and stressing us out without bringing us closer to or our goals." —Celeste Headlee Journalist and bestselling author Celeste Headlee reminds readers in her recent book Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing , and Underliving (Amazon; Bookshop) that "[o]ur working habits changed dramatically a little more than two centuries ago" (aka as the Industrial Revolution), and not largely for the better. In fact, humans came to be seen as being capable of producing regularly and steadfastly with minimal breaks much like a machine. Humans are not machines. Our ability to be productive and creative and resilient comes from adequate and regular and in equal measure amounts rest to that of the amount of time we work. No wonder we're exhausted. 2. Enable the mind to think well so you can respond compassionately Often we are reacting instead of responding to situations in life that arise unexpectedly or unwantingly. At the time, we are not aware because either we have always behaved in such a way or because we do not know or have not been taught a better way. Dr. Sylvia Boorstein speaks about equanimity, and as it pertains to the mind, equanimity "is the capacity of the mind to hold a clear view of whatever is happening, both externally and internally, as well as the ability of the mind to accommodate passion without losing its balance. It's the mind that sees clearly, that meets experience with cordial intent. Becuase it remains steady, and thus unconfused, it is able to correctly asses the situations it meets." How to become clear thinkers? We acknowledge we do not know everything, and we take a step back and ask helpful questions with a calm tone. We choose to educate ourselves seeking out experts in the field we wish to learn more about - whether in book, audio, video or conversation form. We become comfortable with not having a concrete and absolute response immediately or at all and acknowledging the gray in nearly every situation that presents itself. And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we rest the mind regularly and well. This includes good nights of sleep, regularly a slower pace in our schedules, days and weeks and a cultivation of environments that enable us to lower our stress levels and feel safe. "And because we are humans and have empathy built into our brain structure, when we are touched by what we encounter — and when our minds are balanced — we respond with benevolence." —Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D., author of Happiness is an Inside Job (Amazon; Bookshop) ~Responding vs. Reacting: The Difference, episode #145 3. Let go of the busy mentality When we reduce the constant go-go-go mentality, we give our lives breath, and figuratively speaking, we give our lives oxygen to live better and thus to improve the quality of our lives. Letting go of busy feeds a cycle of life improvement because as you are letting go of busy, you are improving your decision making skills, reducing the unnecessary stress and constantly cultivating the life you want to live rather than creating more problems, more headaches and less time to adequately address and handle them. Interestingly enough, studies have shown that we may actually think we are busier than we actually are, but it is the delusion of busyness that is the cause for our mind to feel harried and thus our decision-making abilities to suffer. For example, if you feel pressed for time, this perception can lead you to making bad choices about how you spend your time. Conversely, if you feel you have time to spare, the study revealed people feel healthier and happier. So much of the quality of our lives rest in our minds. Harness the awesome tool of your mind, and you will improve your approach to living. ~Listen/Read episode/post #115 - The 8 Benefits of Banishing Busy 4. Quality productivity is not a result of excessive time given. "If you silence your phone, close your inbox, and really focus on getting a report done, research shows you'll finish 40 percent faster, have fewer errors, and have plenty of time to take a short walk around the building and let your brain relax." — Celeste Headlee Studies that were done decades ago have proven that more time does not equate to more output and certainly not a quality output. In 1951, researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology discovered that people who put in excessive hours were the least productive of all. The most productive were the workers who worked 2-5 hours a day, so 10-20 hours a week. Recently, in Sweden, a hospital attempted to improve the working conditions for the workers, reducing their hours to six hours a day, and no more than 30 hours a week. The hospital was prepared to hire extra workers to make up for the loss of productivity, but do you know what happened? As reported in The New York Times, "The unit [performed] 20 percent more operations, generating additional business from treatments . . . that would have gone to other hospitals." Quality over quantity and in this case it surpassed even that of the hopeful that it would simply be equitable in output. 5. Allow yourself to focus on a single task entirely and without disruption Simply, turn off the notifications. If you work at a job that expects you to be constantly responding to emails broach the topic of productivity as studies have demonstrated if we cannot give ourselves fully to a task, we cannot do our best work. What this means for me at home is that I have been checking my school emails three times a day during the school day - when the school day begins, at noon and at the end of the day. If this will be a shift for those expecting to hear from you, perhaps send an automated response for the first month or two (or leave it in your footer) when people can expect to hear from you, how frequently you check your email, etc. so that they are not expecting an immediate response and should not worry when they do not receive one. 6. Invest in leisure "Research shows employees who feel more detached from their jobs during their time at home are emotionally healthier and more satisfied with their lives. They're less likely to feel emotionally exhausted, and they report getting better sleep." —Celeste Headlee Leisure time is separate from "free time" or "spare time" as Headlee defines it. Spare time is the time we find in between the work we do for our income. Leisure time is entirely separate from work. As she describes it, leisure time is "unpolluted" by work - no emails, no work calls, nor worrying about how your activity might impact your work life. Speaking for myself, while I and many other educators have been at home these past 10 weeks, it has not been leisure time during the work week. I am still, if I am not teaching online, checking my emails, responding to expectations, grading papers and aware of my actions during the school day, etc. My leisure time begins on the weekend, after the school day has ended each work day and will fully begin when our summer holiday starts later this week. The mind behaves differently when we are on leisure time, and it is imperative that we regularly welcome it into our daily schedule. Each of us will do it differently during the work week and weekend, and perhaps even our holidays, but do make sure you have leisure time in your life to savor and enjoy. It will make a tremendous difference in the quality of your life. 7. Give your mind space to become clear "Just take one breath and another and another, with as much attention in every way as you can. The confusion will sort itself out. Inclined in the right direction, the mind takes care of itself." —Sylvia Boorstein, Ph.D. The untrained mind can be a weapon of destruction to ourselves and others. A trained mind, one that is understood, that is strengthened to think well, critically examine and refrain from rash assumptions due to lack of emotional intelligent understanding is an artist's prized possession. However, it is a choice to become a student of our mind. Boorstein writes, "I do not think the mind needs lots of instruction, but I do think it needs to be encouraged and continually inspired." Feed your mind well. Be conscious of what is presented to it (limit social media, be aware of the news and how much you intake, observe how you feel around certain people, the books you read, the videos, shows and television you watch). Choose to feed it with what you are curious about. Delight in learning something new and do not feel guilty for not knowing what the zeitgeist believes is most popular or most noteworthy of the moment. Give your mind space to have clarity, and when it has clarity regularly, it will be your best friend. ~How to be the Master of Your Mind, episode #20 So how can we institute these needed changes if research has repeatedly demonstrated the need to observe that we are human beings, not machines? We need leaders who are well-educated with the resources that demonstrates convincingly that the quality of work will not diminish and likely will increase when we see our employees as human beings. Yes, it is a culture shift, and it will take time, but it takes courage and strong, patient leadership to clearly communicate the benefit to the worker first, knowing that the company, the department, the school, our futures, will be all the better. And even if you are not in a position of leadership at the moment, communication with your leadership body, build a consensus amongst your co-workers. Schedules and approaches change with data, trusted experts and informing the public as well as those it will directly effect, as well as indirectly. If nothing else, you can start at home and setting boundaries on your work and home life. Cultivate leisure time, practice the strengthening of your mind and begin to see your being settle, relax and enjoy your daily life far more. Petit Plaisir —Sicilian Lemon Biscuit from Shortbread House of Edinburgh ~purchase in the states from Chelsea Market Baskets, NY ~purchase in the UK directly from Shortbread House of Edinburgh Learn more about the history of shortbread below in a short video about the Shortbread House of Edinburgh company. https://youtu.be/ez5mLaHPXpA ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #283 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Jun 8

33 min

Today on the podcast, fellow podcaster Oliver Gee of The Earful Tower joins me to talk about his newly released memoir Paris On Air (shop here on Bookshop.org) as well as living in Paris during France's 59 days of confinement. I had the opportunity to speak with him the day after the lockdown regulations were loosened, and he shared what his and his wife Lina's experience had been and what the first thing they did was on May 11th. The primary focus of our discussion is his new book. Tune in to our conversation to discover the behind-the-scenes of how his acclaimed podcast (recently recommended in The New York Times for the top 13 podcasts to listen to for traveling abroad while staying at home) came about, evolved and, in a short amount of time, became his full-time and one and only job in the City of Light. As well, if you enjoy listening to your books, Oliver explains how his book is a unique Audio Experience that welcomes the people he writes about in his book into the studio to share their voice for their part. Follow Oliver on Instagram (@theearfultower), and visit his blog here (learn more about his virtual book tour as well). ~Order your own copy of Paris On Air here: Amazon, Bookshop.org ~Listen to my first interview with Oliver, episode #222 in August 2018. https://www.instagram.com/p/CATdJ1qJs3U/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link https://www.instagram.com/p/B97P1zypgvv/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link Petit Plaisir: ~Love Life a new series on HBO Max (premiering May 27th), starring Anna Kendrick Learn more about HBO Max here. Listen to Anna Kendrick on NPR Anna Kendrick shares her adherence to a no-nudity clause in her new series Check out the trailer below listen to episode #282 to discover why the series was chosen for today's episode. https://youtu.be/uZp_g271jpo ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #282 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Jun 1

49 min

Today's episode is a favorite from Season 1 of The Simple Sophisticate. Episode #45 was the sixth top episode of the first season and continues to be a favorite with listeners as it shares 10 Ways to Set Up Your Home Like A Luxury Travel Accommodation. In the times we find ourselves, I thought this might be just the episode to return to as we are still spending more time at home that we had anticipated especially as summer nears. Cultivating a sanctuary that beckons us to linger and we long to return to and spend ample time in has much to do with the details. And the details, the luxurious details, need not be all that difficult to acquire and welcome into our home. I do hope you enjoy today's episode, and look for a new episode next Monday and for the month of June. Click here for the detailed Show Notes of the original episode and listen to the audio version above. ~The above image is Chateau de la Barre located in the Loire Valley where I had the opportunity to stay three nights in the summer of 2018. Read this post—A Traveler or Tourist? The Difference —to see many more pictures of the interiors and the grounds, as well, have a look below at more images I shared on Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/p/BlBk-zOBJUY/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link https://www.instagram.com/p/BlCn-09BMQY/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link https://www.instagram.com/p/BlC_2Eqh7HQ/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link https://www.instagram.com/p/BlDQwoPBCCE/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

May 25

37 min

British country homes evoke an image of comfort, cosyness and warmth. Partly, yes, because such warmth is mandatory living in a rainy environment, but also because they look and feel like such a welcome inside hug which is given immediately when the quintessential details are tended to. Granted the above image is not an actual cottage as it was the set designed for Nancy Meyers' film The Holiday, filmed in part in Surrey. However, I chose the above image because when we design our homes to evoke the English country charm, Meyers achieved so much of it spot-on right. From the tufted ottoman, to the ottoman itself as the coffee table of choice, mixed prints, oodles of books and exposed beams, these details, as you will see in the list below resounding remind onlookers of English country style, and in this case a cottage. In my own home I have been perusing frequently through The English Home magazines I have saved over the years, saving images that speak to me, images that offer a similar size or design of space and offer ideas for how to create an English cottage aesthetic. I have begun to embrace wholeheartedly #1 on today's list in both my mudroom and foyer, and I look forward to welcoming even more wallpaper into my home. Hopefully if you too are wanting to welcome decor touches of the English countryside into you home, today's list will offer plenty of ideas to choose from. ~For each of the images shared below, simply click on the image to tour the entire home from which it was included. 1.Wallpaper William Morris is the founder of the Arts & Crafts decor movement, and with his well-known wallpaper company which began in the 1860s in England, a love for nature as well as symmetry and subtly as well as vibrant natural color are an example of beloved English wallpaper designs. There are many more of course, but wallpaper creates a cosy space, a welcoming, more personalized space. ~Want to wallpaper in your home? Read this post for detailed how-tos to a successful decorating session. ~Tour the entire Oxfordshire Arts & Crafts Townhouse: A Way with Wallpaper here.~ 2. Wood accents As a way to welcome nature into the formal living space, wood furniture, wood legs on upholstered furniture and regal cabinetry and shelves offer the balance of hard and soft surfaces. ~An Englishman's Brooklyn Townhouse, decorated by interior designer Benjamin Vandiver. View the entire home here. ~ 3. A penchant for garden and animal details While English country homes will undoubtedly have a garden outside their doors, bringing an appreciation for nature inside will be more than common as well. Whether seen in the wallpaper with floral or animal prints, vases full of blooms, potted plants inside or a demonstrated affection for dogs in figurines or any other decor detail, the love of the outdoors is certainly a common presence. ~British interior designer Imogen Taylor's Burgundy home to which she retired. Tour the entire home here.~ 4. The classic pudding sofa Soft, plush, deep-seated and begging you to sit and stay a while. While the name may or may not have been coined by British furniture designer Loaf, the concept is iconically British - cosy, cosy, cosy. 5. Pleat, folded, rolled, padded upholstered arms As you can see above, rolled arms on either an upholstered sofa or armchair that have gradual pleats pulled neatly over the rounded design intonate British furniture. Almost as if to signify a warm hug, such furniture provides literal warmth when you snuggle in as many days of the year are damp and cold, stepping inside a home that is cosy is all the more desireable. ~Tour the entire home in Cozying into Country Durham, English Style Abounds!~ 6. Fabric covered lamp shades Again, adding fabric to any space creates warmth, and especially in intimate spaces - bedrooms, reading nooks - the subtle, yet significant detail of fabric shades is an idea worth trying. Prints or solids, especially if the fabric is of high quality, purchasing such fabric is far more affordable for a lampshade than an entire sofa or chair. ~Tour the entire home above in Tightly Tailored and Filled with ANtiques in Hampshire here. 7. Seagrass floors British designer Ben Pentreath swears by seagrass, and if you have the opportunity to tour any of his projects, you will see they look quite nice. Adding a touch of nature, high functionality and wearability, they also, as he states, offer a lovely subtle scent. Layer with a a wool rug and you have created a warm space without excessive expense. ~View the entire home shown above in Signature Statement of Varying Chairs~ 8. Ottomans as coffee tables While there are exceptions, in the country, an ottoman is more often than not likely to be at the center of a living room or sitting room rather than a wooden table. Use as a coffee table and place trays and books, as well as always have an additional extra seat if ever necessary. ~Tour an Oxfordshire Farmhouse Regally Remodeled, with Comfort Made a Priority here.~ 9. Traditional period details While the items may or may not be old, they are a decision to pay homage to a particular period in history. Vintage chandeliers, exposed beams in the ceiling, wainscoting and wood floors are savored. Traditional lamps and the welcome of candles are chosen over canned or recessed lighting. ~View a list of time periods and their designated names. ~tour the entire Cornish Country Getaway with Touches of the Sea here.~ 10. An Aga stove Used as much to heat up the home as to cook, the Aga stove is very much a luxury item now (and yes, it is available in the states), but in nearly every interview in The English Home magazine, when they share spotlight interviews, the one detail each guests shares a English Home mustn' be without is an Aga. Just Aga. :) ~Tour this entire home, titled Let the Lighting Do the Talking here. ~ 11. A mudroom is a must Having grown up with a mudroom as we lived out in the country, the need for such a room is a must. Whether you are gardener, have pups, ride horses or generally find yourself outside often, having a space that is designated to taking off the "gear" and not bringing the dirt into the rest of the home is a typical space found in an English country home. ~Tour TSLL's newly decorated mudroom here. 12. A cabinet or designated shelf for teapots and cups and saucers After reading yesterday's post (18 Ways to Enjoy a Good Cuppa), this decor detail will come as no surprise. ~Tour the entire home in Country Durham here. ~ 13. Color abounds (and it works) It is indeed a skill, but with time and experience and an understanding of hues and the size of patterns, it is a skill each of us can acquire. ~Tour A Cozy, Signature Bloomsbury Flat here~ 14. Mixing small and large prints in the same space The Spruce shares, "Large prints will be paired with smaller prints, such as gingham. Using similar color palettes in the patterns keep this from becoming overwhelming. " ~tour the entire home in A Small Yet Elegant London Flat~ 15. An abundance of reading material Bibliophiles may just have a predilection for English country decor if not solely for their love, display and admiration of books. In so many of the photos of today's post/episode you will see books, and that is not by mistake or exception. ~Tour this entire Bibliophile's Dream House here.~ 16. Built-in bookshelves And since we are talking about books, the English country homes are designed with storing books in mind. Built-ins are part of the decor and not only in the library or living room. Notice in bedrooms and even in kitchens, there are spaces for books. ~tour the entire home here in Finding Balance with Colors & Natural Textures in North Kensington~ 17. Rugs For warmth, to cover old floors or stone floors, layers of rugs on seagrass, rugs are a mainstay and frequently seen in English country homes. ~Tour the entire home in A Welcoming Home in Wiltshire, England~ 18. Climbing roses or vines on the exterior of the home. While this final decor detail is outside of the home, it is still attached to the home, so I thought I would include it. Stepping into an English garden is an entire new post/episode, but yes, a vine of some sort whether it be a rambling rose or wisteria or clematis, is a must for English country homes. ~David Austin's Gertrude Jekyll English Climbing Rose~ Personally, I am smitten and have been smitten for some time with the English country decor approach. Creating a cosy, welcoming home for the inhabitants and any guest who is invited inside rests in paying attention to the details shared above - texture, layers, welcoming in touches of nature, not being afraid to mix up and discover what actually can match and creating spaces for everyday pastimes you love. Enjoy the journey of adding English country touches to your own home wherever around the globe you call home. ~View all of TSLL's British-Inspired Decor posts here. Petit Plaisir: ~The English Game, Netflix https://youtu.be/hBOlhdSYhv8 ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #281 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify 2020 TSLL British Week Posts Welcome to TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week & the First Giveaway! 18 Ways to Enjoy a Good Cuppa

May 18

39 min

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

May 11

37 min

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

Apr 20

28 min

Today's episode is a favorite from the archives to help you jump well into the new spring season. Be sure to check out the original detailed Show Notes here for episode #29 from Season 1 of The Simple Sophisticate. The next episode will be a new episode of the podcast, and it will air on Monday May 18th as we kick off TSLL's 2nd Annual British Week. In the meantime, each Monday in which there is no new episode of the podcast, there will be a new Monday Motivational post. Click here to read today's new Monday Motivational Post - 20 Ideas for Making Working and Staying at Home a Pleasure Check out the schedule for Season 6 below. The date of each new episode and when it will air is circled in red. ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #29 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Apr 6

35 min

"You would think weightlessness is a good thing, but it's not. Because people weren't meant to float. Without gravity, we lose blood volume, bone density, muscle. Without it, we're untethered. So when you feel yourself being pulled toward something, it's not necessarily a bad thing. It may keep you centered. It may keep you safe." —Grey's Anatomy, season 16, episode #17, Shonda Rhimes Thoughts, thoughts, all sorts of thoughts. With an abundance of time on our hands as we stay home, if we have not exercised our brains in this way, it may feel uncomfortable, and in these times we find ourselves collectively, understandably unsettling. The above quote caught my attention this past week as it feels our attentions are being being pulled toward the necessities of life, what we sincerely need to simply live. Don't get me wrong, the past eleven years, economically, have been much needed and appreciated, and while each of our journey's is unique, perhaps we've forgotten what we truly need, what others truly need, to live well. At the moment, we are all being pulled to our homes, to our sanctuaries, to our immediate families with whom we reside with but perhaps never see often because of our busy schedules. Admittedly, some of our loved ones may be far away due to age, relationships, work, etc., but we at least have the phone, video chat and other technological ways of communicating. Becoming grounded in what roots us, is what reminds us of what truly is a priority in our life, helps us to make better decisions to remain true to those values when the choices are vast. And sometimes when the choices are so vast and so ubiquitous for such a long time, we would only be being human to lose sight of our roots. I am not suggesting that we need to have a pandemic to root us, but that is where we find ourselves, so I am determined to see some good in this perilous situation. There will be good that will come out of it when we come out of it on the other side, but as well, there is good we can partake in during this time of staying home. Today, while I had originally planned a different topic for the episode to be shared, I have decided to focus on something that will hopefully be helpful to direct our attention to, to elevate the time we have indoors, wanted or unwanted. The gift and mood lifting power of daily and weekly rituals. Under the umbrella of daily and weekly rituals lies our daily and weekly routines. Consciously creating routines in which we know boost the quality of our lives from our health, to our rest and rejuvenation to our productivity are ways to rest more easily which benefits our mind and well-being and decreases our stress. Each of these efforts strengths our immune system and ultimately strengthens our overall health, both physically and mentally. Today I would like to share with you rituals you can incorporate into your daily and weekly routine even while you stay home. 1.Wake up well Design a morning routine in which regardless of whether you are heading out the door (when our routines get back to normal) or staying home, you want to get out of bed and partake in. In episode #243 I share 12 Ways to Make Your Mornings Magical, Mindful and the Foundation of a Great Day. 2. Create a daily routine you love As I shared with my students what would be expected of them while we stepped into our extended break (Oregon has announced they will be closing all schools through the entire month of March.), one student immediately decided she would find a favorite place she enjoyed being, give herself this window during her day to complete her schoolwork and then be done. I was so tickled to hear such thoughtful and conscientious attention to both her academics, but also her well-being by compartmentalizing and stepping away from work so she could relax and just be. All of us, whether at home, and especially now that we are home, would benefit from creating a schedule in our day for productivity, but also meals, rest and exercise. Knowing we have accomplished something will let us rest more easily and make it easier to sleep at night. As well, we will be giving our bodies and mind a healthy balance to remain strong. 3. An afternoon brain break Whether you enjoy an afternoon tea or an afternoon nap or an afternoon outside exercising, create a ritual that will be something you look forward to as you make your way through your day. If you are like me, and live alone, this may be a good time to call loved ones to check in. If you live with others, it may be a great time to be together if you are busy doing your own thing throughout the day. Either way, make a point of intentionally not doing work, but rather something relaxing and enjoyable. Something that elevates the everyday even more so that each day you look forward to such moments. 4. Welcome the flowers I shared on Instagram yesterday (see below) how one of the items on my grocery list this weekend (I went early and wore gloves as well as washed my hands before and after) was to welcome a few bouquets of flowers into my home. Recent researched has shared that having fresh flowers can "lower blood pressure and heart rate, lower ratings of pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and more positive feelings and higher satisfaction [about one's home]". So while, we need to stay home as much as possible, if possible keeping in my sanitation requirements, welcome some flowers into your home and perhaps bring a bouquet for your neighbor and leave them on their doorstep with a note. You may help their health more than you realize. https://www.instagram.com/p/B9wz7UJHcOY/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 5. What to listen to? What brings you joy. Create a listening ritual that carries you through your day. From the classical music I wake up to on WRTI with host Gregg Whiteside and Breakfast with Bach at 5am to the jazz in the evenings from my Spotify playlist, as well as podcasts about food and France enjoyed while I walk the dogs along the river, around the neighborhood or through the trees, what we turn on melodically has a tremendously powerful effect over our well-being. Choose what you love and let it elevate your days. Music I listen to: WRTI - classical and jazz KUSC - classical TSLL playlists Escape to France . . . Luxurious Classical Music (more than 10 hours of music) Everyday Jazz French Cafe Jazz (no lyrics) Jazzy Dinner playlist (Spotify) Podcasts I have been loving recently: The Land of Desire (French history and culture) MilkStreet Radio Inside Julia's Kitchen The Splendid Table 6. Fitness Habits That Energize The key to sustainable exercise routines is to keep them seemingly small, yet consistent and intentional. As I shared in the first episode of 2020 on the podcast, #272, 8 Ways Tiny Habits Will Welcome the Great Changes You Seek, tiny habits have a powerful way of instituting the change we desire. Why? Because they are more likely to stick, and truly become habituated into our daily routine. From waking up and doing one set of sit-ups (by the end of the week you will have done five sets!), to meditating for one minute each morning, to sipping a glass of water upon waking up in the morning, when you choose thoughtfully the habits you want in your life, reduce them down to seemingly so small, there is no reason not do the task, and before you know it, as you see the positive change, you won't want to reduce your effort and may even want to increase it. So as we find ourselves with more time at home and being unlikely to attend our favorite fitness class or gym, find exercise habits at home that will fulfill the exercise routine you need, but in a way that you enjoy. I am shifting my weekly yoga classes to a YouTube yoga instructor for the time being (but I cannot wait to return to the yoga studio), and my walks will be where I can keep my social distance at a healthy length from others, for their sake as well as mine. 7. Create an evening ritual for winding down before going to bed Something I look forward to every day, weekday or weekend, is my evening routine. After the work on the blog has been completed, after dinner has been made and savored, it is this hour or two before I drift off to sleep that is priceless. My dogs as well have become accustomed to our routine and even though they do not know the time of day we humans live by, they know when bedtime is near. From calming down the house, dishes washed, kitchen cleaned, work put away, to lighting a candle in the living room, turning on a pre-taped show or picking up a book or magazine I want to slip away to for a while, these simple activities tell my mind it is safe to rest, to relax, to be done for the day. All the while sipping some tea and nibbling on a piece of chocolate truffle, the ultimate signal to my body and brain that the day is done. 8. Be Conscientious About Your Daily News Intake Going along with #5, what media we choose to be part of our daily routines has a profound effect on our mental health. I shared and encouraged my students to limit their news intake as it can easily overwhelm us. I did not suggest sticking their head in the sand and ignoring the news, but rather choose one or two times a day in which you check in with a credible news source, and then go about your day. 9. Work space set-up Cultivate a welcoming work space whether it is temporary or where you work on a normal workday. Provide a clean work desk (check out this post - 10 Ways to Make Your Desk Space Efficient and Inspiring), welcome the natural light, reduce unhelpful distractions and decorate or rearrange in such a way to beckon you to work well. 10. Befriend water Choose to bring and drink water with you throughout the day. Staying hydrated has oodles of benefits, but on the immunity side of things, it will help rid your body of toxins. Even if I am enjoying my regular cup of tea in the morning, afternoon or evening, I regularly will have a glass of water as well or have my Hydroflask full of water if I am out walking (it is in my car for when I return). Cultivating this habit will satiate your appetite, refresh your body and elevate many arenas of your life that we take for granted. https://www.instagram.com/p/BzGjIGCABD7/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 11. Turn your ideas into gold Yes, William Shakespeare may have written King Lear during his quarantine tenure in the 16th century, and while we may not produce such masterpieces, we can use this time let our creative ideas run free so that we have time to see what they want to reveal. Keep a notebook or small journal handy and write down what pops into your mind. You may be able to tend to the idea now or it may be an idea you can implement later, but either way, it will be a positive exercise to focus on positive, hopeful, inspired things. Our mind is a muscle, and it finds the tracks we repeat again and again. So practice thinking in such a way that lifts you up, gets you excited and who knows where your creative thoughts will take you. As for me, I am planning TSLL's upcoming British Week (the third full week in May), pulling together April 1st's TSLL's Spring Shopping Guide and whatever else wishes to reveal itself to me. :) Excited to see what I will discover. Have fun! 12. Incorporate regular self-care and model it for others in your life That hot bath you used to take infrequently, but love and look forward to deeply . . . take it regularly, every week, every other day, but make it a ritual you look forward as well as savor when you slip into the hot bubble bath of comfort. Last year, I shared 31 Ways to Practice Self-Care, episode #242, and as I shared in this episode, while the bubble baths and other pleasures are certainly part of this regular self-care routine, self-care needs to go deeper. When self-care goes deeper, it has even more powerful and long-lasting positive effects on our life. Be sure to check out the show notes and/or episode for much more information on this topic. The current situation in which we find ourselves is unprecedented in our times, but it has the potential to reveal a tremendous amount about our strengths, compassion and ability to rise in ways we may not have known we were capable. I am confident that while the unknown has the potential to paralyze, it can also teach us an abundance about ourselves, those around us, the world and then reveal to us what we should truly be focused on for a better world moving forward. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: The Benefit of Daily Rituals Why Not . . . Establish Weekend Rituals? 34 Inspiring Daily Rituals to Ignite Your Creativity, episode #255 Petit Plaisir: ~Begin to cultivate a candle cupboard/closet. I first learned of this idea from Queer Eye's Tan France when during his tour of his home for Architectural Digest he opened up a small closet (I would call it a cupboard) and shared his stocked candles. Now, mind you, my current Candle Cupboard has two candles in it waiting to be enjoyed, but as I come across candles that I love, if they are on sale, I purchase one or two more than I normally would. I don't expect my Candle Cupboard to ever be as full as Tan's, but I love this idea as a Petit Plaisir. My Candle Cupboard is only barely stocked, but I love this idea and will continue to add to it as my budget and sales and treasures are found. Thank you Tan for sharing this wonderful idea! ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #280 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Mar 16

35 min

True contentedness is unremarkable to the outside world, or passerby. Typing away in my cozy chair in the living room in my line of sight Norman eats his breakfast and Oscar acknowledging he will not be able to sneak a bite, takes a long cool drink of water. The croissant for my Sunday morning ritual is proofing in the oven and Sunday Baroque's weekly program fills my home. Even having lost an hour of the day, I have decided to wake up with the sunset and use the dawn-filled hour to work early before we are able to go for our morning stroll in the woods. All is well, and so much surrounds me for which to be grateful. I began the morning reading Maria Shriver's weekly email newsletter, and in particular this morning's letter resonated with me, and most likely would you as well as a reader of TSLL. I've included an excerpt below as she describes a moment in which she felt, albeit unexpectedly, truly and sincerely content. "Over the last few years, I’ve settled into myself. I’ve focused more on my blessings and what I’m doing well rather than my shortcomings and what needs to be adjusted (something I highly recommend). As a result, everything in my mind has calmed down, and therefore my body has calmed down, too.  Today, my life finally feels centered, grounded, and solid. I feel like I’ve found my space and my place. It was one of those profoundly simple, yet headshaking, moments of self-realization that no one ever really talks about. Sure, there are still things in life that give me anxiety (the coronavirus, the election, and Mother Nature as our neighbors in Nashville know all too well). But, through it all, I’ve been able to find my inner fortitude and soothe myself, something I’ve struggled with my entire life. The truth is I never expected that the peace, joy or success that I chased my whole life would come to me when I was sitting alone, drinking coffee on my porch. I thought I was supposed to find that while giving speeches, accepting awards, and galvanizing change. That’s what our culture teaches us. It’s what infused into our beings at a very young age." I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that on this International Women’s Day, I’m a woman on my own path. I’m living my one wild, precious, joyful and meaningful life. In the end, my friends, that’s what galvanizes true change. Watching, witnessing and being in community with people who are following their authentic paths is what changes the world one breath at a time. I thought of that every time I washed my hands this week and it made me smile. So, follow your heart personally, professionally, and politically. Because, when you do, you will discover the feeling I felt the other morning. You will find yourself saying to no one in particular, “Wow, I’m good just the way I am.” —Maria Shriver in her 3/8/2020 letter from the editor of The Sunday Paper newsletter I realize the excerpt above was long, but hopefully, as it did me, it reassured as to what living well truly is. It's simple and intentional. It's internal and individual. It is purpose driven and intangible. It is also experiential and tactile. It requires of us to be present to be engaged with our world acknowledging much needs us to let go, but so too must we stay involved and aware. It is the daily practice of elevating our daily life by how we walk and open our eyes and minds to all that is around us and that is possible. Each year when my birthday rolls around, here on the blog, I share a reflection of some sort of life lessons, aha moments and discoveries about the world found along my journey. To share, as well, admittedly, as a way to preserve my own growth, my hope is to prompt introspection amongst readers as sometimes, maybe even often, we do not realize all ways in which we have grown as it can sometimes be hard to see when we are the ones walking through the world each day. I have yet to share my life lessons for my 41st birthday which fell during the final week of February, so I wanted to take today's episode/post to reflect. 1.Dreams, hopes, wishes can indeed materialize so long as we never let them go, we keep making small, yet steady progress, and keep refusing to not believe it can happen. 2. Clear, respectful, honest communication is to be treasured and a necessary ingredient for healthy relationship of all types. 3. Setting personal boundaries is a reflection of your recognition of your innate self-worth which will cause your self-esteem to grow. 4. Giving yourself closure on the past is healthy and necessary for being able to fully move forward. Your closure need not make sense to anyone else but yourself, but give yourself this gift of freedom. https://www.instagram.com/p/B2aF0dpArA7/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 5. Some friends, family and/or colleagues may not be able to travel with you into your next life chapter as you choose to grow and evolve or your life simply asks of you to travel a different way or in a different way. Letting go need not be dramatic or radical or even known, but rather a natural going about life's path perhaps to meet again at some other time or maybe not. And that is okay and healthy as it shows awareness of the social support that you need to be well. 6. Give yourself permission to be excited about your life journey, your everyday moments and just be giddy. Let your endorphins soar naturally and see your daily life experience improve as well. 7. Say yes to opportunities that cross your path but out of schedule with when you had hoped they might arrive. My trip to Paris and Normandy was not expected nor planned. In fact, I had told myself I would take at least a year off before returning to Paris since my trip in 2018; however, when an invitation arrived to return in 2019, I had to say yes, and all that I learned, experienced, savored and learned some more was more than evidence that I made the right decision. https://www.instagram.com/p/BzbTLLVg2zl/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 8. Less truly can bring more into your life. The unexpected discovery of my now home and sanctuary which is half the size of the home I owned previously is precisely what I instinctively knew I needed to live well. Less to decorate, but what I choose can be investments that will last. Less to clean, so I have more time to explore and create on the weekends, a perfectly medium size yard and petite garden, but exactly what I enjoy to have Mother Nature at my fingertips without a requirement of more time than I can give. https://www.instagram.com/p/B5qY6P5giC9/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 9. Mother Nature, moving my feet in Mother Nature, is my creative muse and her gifts are priceless. While I walk nearly everyday outside on the trails in Bend or near the river that runs through Bend, even walking in San Francisco when I needed to get outside, I did so and saw the famed parrots of the Telescope Hill, and oh what a delight. Inspiration is everywhere when we step out into the fresh air. https://www.instagram.com/p/B5gCmyiAqRb/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 10. My dogs have been for the past 15 years and are my companions in this journey of my life as they let me be "Shannon", provide company as well as freedom, yet keep me grounded as well. Savoring every moment with my two elder gentlemen. https://www.instagram.com/p/B6y1EUage_B/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 11. Cooking, creating in the kitchen, is to play and forever be learning and savoring everyday moments. https://www.instagram.com/p/B2r3OEjApER/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 12. Love really does live on inside you even after someone dearly loved passes away. https://www.instagram.com/p/B4nBcJVgAj_/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 13. Host that dinner party you've been wanting to have. You may just bring beautiful moments and new connections to your guests that they will appreciate more than you will ever know. (read: 10 Ideas Gleaned & Confirmed from my Last Dinner Party, and be sure to check out my first book for details and a menus for hosting a successful gathering.) https://www.instagram.com/p/By08-OWAsos/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 14. Traveling with my mom created memories of getting to know each other as where we are now in our lives and wonderful shared experiences that I will never forget. Check out our trip to San Francisco. We also had the opportunity to go to Oregon's Garden which exceeded my expectations and opened my eyes even further to my mom's love and knowledge of "green-thumb" life. https://www.instagram.com/p/By4ciypgFcu/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link https://www.instagram.com/p/BxVse9XA71H/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 15. Continue to follow your heart, its inklings, its tugs, its curiosities, and you will never be led astray. Even when it doesn't make sense to you, even when you do not have a model to forge the path before you traverse it, your insurance is that it is your heart leading the way. I am reminded of Julia Child's quote which she expressed on the penultimate and onto the final page of her memoir My Life in France. "In Paris in the 1950s, I had the supreme good fortune to study with a remarkably able group of chefs. From them I learned why good French food is an art, and why it makes such sublime eating: nothing is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should. Good results require that one take time and care. If one doesn't use the freshest ingredients or read the whole recipe before starting, and if one rushes through the cooking, the result will be an inferior taste and texture . . . But a careful approach will result in a magnificent burst of flavor, a thoroughly satisfying meal, perhaps even a life-changing experience." —Julia Child While Julia is directly speaking of her experience in the culinary world of Paris, she indirectly and perhaps most significantly speaks to how to live life well. Invest, have patience, do your homework, and trust the co-mingling of those who know more than you about topics which you love as well as your own passions and curiosities. Beautiful art, the art of life, your life, can materialize in its own time and in its own unique way. May this birthday year offer insightful and inspired life lessons that elevate the quality of your everyday life even more and bring you all the more contentment, true contentment that you desire. Petit Plaisir ~Dishing with Julia Child ~A Year in Flowers: Designing Gorgeous Arrangements for Every Season by Erin Benzakein

Mar 9

41 min

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

Mar 2

44 min

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

Feb 17

29 min

Mise en place in translation means is "set in place", often translated to "everything in its place". Perhaps part of the reason cooking and baking can feel rewarding as well as relaxing is that there is a science to, and the unofficial science is something even the most novice cook in the kitchen can quickly learn - mise en place. But what exactly is it and what is the art of a truly effective mise en place? That is what today's post/episode is all about. When I attended both Patricia Wells and Susan Hermann Loomis' cooking classes in France, mise en place was de rigeur. Each day upon arrival into their respective kitchens and to our assigned cooking stations, the food was already either prepared and arranged in the necessary bowls, or at the very least the ingredients were waiting to be prepared along with the necessary bowls. As well, the recipe was clearly typed and propped up and ready to go to ensure ease of preparation. ~fresh ingredients from the market for a Niçoise Salad made in Susan Hermann Loomis' kitchen in Louviers, Normandy~ ~Patricia Wells at her stove in Provence, Vaison-la-Romaine~ ~Patricia Wells' stove in Provence; notice the collection of small dishes on the shelves, along with her cookbooks~ ~Patricia Wells' stove, knives and measuring spoons on the right in multiple quantities; on the lift, cooking tools to be used at the stove~ ~Susan Hermann Loomis in her kitchen in Louviers preparing food for the day of cooking. Notice the recipes situated at each station, along with the necessary ingredients.~ ~Susan Hermann's stovetop~ As you will see in some of the images included in today's post, I was in awe and absolutely inspired by the organization in both kitchens. From Patricia Wells having multiple ceramic canisters complete with a label for multiple spatulas, peelers, and any other tool she would need to have her students use, to Susan Hermann's knives neatly and safely stored in the middle of her wooden kitchen island, every kitchen tool had a home, and all of the items we would need or that were regularly used were easy to find and thoughtfully placed where they would be the most handy to grab while cooking. While mise en place often brings our attention to the recipe or meal we are cooking at the moment and the ingredients that are needed, in a larger context, mise en place is your kitchen, how you arrange it, how you work within it well, and the tools you welcome into your artistic space - your batterie de cuisine. I have found my kitchen, especially my kitchen in my rental in which I lived for four years, to be indeed an artist's sanctuary of sorts because you are creating, you are exploring. Part of why I loved that kitchen so much (the kitchen you see in Seasons 1 & 2 of my cooking show) is due to how I felt completely at ease moving about it in, having enough space for everything I needed and everything being easy to locate and quickly so. I am currently in the process of curating my new kitchen into a similar space so that I feel absolutely comfortable moving from here to there and finding exactly what I need. I look forward to making progress on it this spring if all goes well, and fingers crossed, hopefully have it ready to go for Season 3. But in the meantime, I am keeping in mind how a kitchen must be organized, how it needs to function for the cook that calls it home, that is the foundation of mise en place, and now let's talk about the benefits and how to create your very own successful mise en place each time you step into your own kitchen. Benefits 1.Ensures you are prepared for the recipe you wish to enjoy 2. Saves time 3. Saves the food 4. Deepens enjoyment of the cooking experience ~The creative stand of hooks for mixing paddles, Susan Hermann's kitchen~ How to "Mise en Place" 1.Determine what type of mise en place you need In theory, you will eventually come to a point where you tend to mise en place each time, but each recipe or meal or dish will be approached in its unique way. If it is a dish you enjoy frequently, such as a go-to breakfast, your mise en place will be a default you don't even think about any more. In such a case, my steel oats is in a cannister by the stove with the 1/4 cup measuring spoon that I use inside, the chia seeds are in a cannister that I simply pour out of, also by the stovetop, the salt and butter on the other side of the stove, and voila, aside from the cream, when I include it, it remains in the fridge until it is needed. Mise en place can be as simple as having your go-to items at the ready at all times, but it can also be for the detailed recipe in which case all of the ingredients are pre-measured and placed in their own separate dishes and bowls. 2. Read the entire recipe, twice. Not only do you want to read the ingredients list, but be sure to read the instructions as well, and why I recommend twice is often I will read too quickly the first time and accidentially skip over something. But even if you are a close reader on the first read-through, reading twice confirms the order you will need the ingredients as well as how they should be prepared - sliced, diced, left whole, etc.. Back to the ingredients: do you have what you need? enough of what you need? Double check. If preparing your mise en place ahead of time, either the morning of or the day or two before, begin making a list of what you need to pick up at the market (and how much). ~fresh artichokes from Louviers' market and eggs as well~ 3. Find the necessary dishes, bowls, containers. As you become fluent in your kitchen, knowing which dishes you enjoy preparing and eating and sharing, you will with time begin to have the necessary dishes, bowls and containers you need. Along the way to building your batterie de cuisine (literally: kitchen artillery; otherwise known as kitchenware), use dishes that work well for what you need. They may not all look neat and properly sized, but they will work. ~Susan Hermann's collection of copper pans~ 4. Find the necessary kitchen tools you will need and have them at-the-ready Along with having the ingredients you need, locating and having at-the-ready the necessary tools will speed up the process and increase your enjoyment of the cooking process. Beginning with a sharpened knife, and the proper knife for what you are doing, having each of these tools ready to work for you is an often unstated, but vital part of an effective mise en place. In Patricia Wells' kitchen in Provence, each utensil is given its own cannister and labeled. 5. Prepare the food as needed From peeling, slicing, de-veining and cleaning the seafood or meat, tend to the food, so that as the recipe calls for each ingredient, all you have to do is quickly add it to the pan or bowl or grill or, you get the idea. :) ~mise en place at Patricia Wells' cooking class~ 6. Place the food/ingredients in order of use in the recipe. Depending upon whether you are left or right-handed, place the ingredients on the preferred side and in the order they will be added to the recipe. If items will not be used for some time, you can place them further away so they won't be knocked over or accidentially added, etc. . 7. Have a large bowl for discards and items to be taken to the compost or garbage. Rachael Ray creatively called hers the "thanks for coming" bowl, and having such an item as part of your mise en place is a simple way of keeping your kitchen clean, or at least cleaner, as you make your way through your meal preparation. A large bowl enables there to be more workable space so you can swiftly move from one task to another without having to constantly clean up along the way. 8. Refrain from multi-tasking As tempting as it may be, doing more than the task of cooking while you are preparing a meal increases the chances of overcooking, burning and therefore ruining the ingredients you have thoughtfully welcomed into your kitchen. Speaking from experience, even when I just cook my breakfast in the morning, when I go off to my office while the steel oats are cooking, there have been time when I have become so engrossed in what I was doing for work that I lost track of time. Respect the food, and give it your full attention until the cooking is complete. Ideas to Improve Mise en Place Keep a well-stocked épicerie at all times Listen to episode #109 for a detailed list of the 34 items to have and why, or pick up my 2nd book, and read through Chapter 12. Begin to gradually pick up small bowls and dishes that catch your eye at second-hand shops, yard sales and antique boutiques, even brocantes if you have the opportunity to travel to France. Not only is it fun to treasure hunt, but they will add your signature to your kitchen. Assess what tools you need in your kitchen and invest in quality items. Equally, upon assessment, begin to edit/remove tools you do not need to provide more space for those items you do, making them easier to find. Set up your kitchen so that it works for you I feel fortunate to have had the opportunities I had in attending both of the cooking classes with Patricia Wells and Susan Hermann Loomis over the past two summers in France. I continue to welcome their ideas and incorporate them into my daily cooking practice. The primary purpose for mise en place is to make your time in the kitchen successful. Impressively, the number of dishes and the multi-course meals each class would enjoy every single time we sat down to dine for a couple of hours at first glance would have seen impossible, but when it is broken down into clear steps, ingredients and amounts prepped and ready, it seems all but impossible. Hopefully you too will find even more pleasure when you step into your kitchen. I certainly have an even deeper appreciation as well as fondness for the time I spend cooking and preparing and of course, enjoying the meals that are created. Have a look at videos from both of my cooking class experiences as well as the detailed posts that accompany each one below. Cooking in Provence with Patricia Wells (2018) Attending Susan Hermann Loomis' Cooking Class in Louviers, Normandy ~cups and saucers in Susan Hermann's kitchen found over the years throughout France at Brocantes~ ~ingredients for a fresh strawberry dessert at Susan Hermann's first day of cooking~ 15 Kitchen Tools to Cook Anything Like a Pro 11 Simple Ways to Transform Your Kitchen 9 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen, Improve Your Health & Help Out the Planet Check out The Simply Luxurious Kitchen and see Mise en Place at work in my very own kitchen! Petit Plaisir ~Agatha Raisin, Acorn TV https://youtu.be/tCM4vc3FbV8 ~10 Ways to Enjoy Grocery Shopping ~How to Make the Most of Your Visit to the Farmer's Market No Matter Where You Live ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Feb 10

40 min

"Emotional freedom is a homecoming to your own heart and fullest power. It salutes authenticity, not conforming to someone else's notion of what to feel or how to be." —Dr. Judith Orloff, author of the New York Times bestseller Emotional Freedom: Liberate yourself from negative emotions and transform your life (2009) The middle of the night, before you can fall asleep or early morning thoughts that swirl and fuel agitation, worry and fear preventing you from falling asleep. The feeling of being lonely and falling prey to the purport by society that the simple solution is to find someone to be romantically involved with. Ratcheted chronic anxiety that cements you from pursuing something new or chasing your dreams or simply enjoying your everyday life. An assumed negative default in perspective when it comes to the world, the future, especially your future and what is actually possible no matter what your age. In sharing each of these scenarios, maybe you most strongly identified with one, or maybe none of them spoke to you, but moments of one or two rear their heads in your life when your energy is depleted or life temporarily becomes exhausting. And hopefully, maybe you recognize your former self in one or more of these and now are able to celebrate having broken free of the counterproductive emotional patterns that were learned and accepted as "how life will be". Wherever you find yourself on the continuum of learning the skills of attaining emotional freedom, after reading/listening to today's post/episode you will have a clear path forward for identifying with the latter description in the previous paragraph. I picked up Dr. Judith Orloff's book because I needed to read it. I knew the skills I needed to improve the quality of my emotional life were lacking, but I did not know what they were or, if I had a sense of them, how to strengthen them. Dr. Judith Orloff defines emotional freedom as increasing your ability to love by cultivating positive emotions and being able to compassionately witness and transform negative ones, whether they're yours or another's. Choosing to become emotionally free is entirely the choice of the individual. Whether healthy emotional patterns were modeled by your parents or not, you can learn them, apply them and shift how you engage with the world, how you experience the world and thus how you move forward and elevate the quality of your life experience. Have a look at the benefits of setting yourself free emotionally: BENEFITS of acquiring the the skill of EMOTIONAL FREEDOM liberation from fear navigate adversity without going on the attack, losing your cool, or being derailed by it choose to respond constructively rather than reliquishing your command of the situation whenever your buttons get pushed communicate more successfully and gain more confidence in yourself and empathy for others no longer feel disconnected or lonely feel more comfortable in your own skin be part of nuturing relationships discover more contentment become more flexible with life own the moment no matter whom or what you are facing "be more fiercely alive" liberation from the compulsive tyranny of negative emotions such as worry and anger so you can choose more joy Now to do the homework, the steady and consistent exercises to welcoming the emotional freedom you seek into your everyday life. Today I would like to share with you 34 tips, practices, ideas and insights that spoke to me and what I thought would speak to TSLL readers/podcast listeners. However, there is far more detail in Dr. Orloff's book, Emotional Freedom, which I highly recommend reading and keeping as a resource to return to as you incorporate and habituate the new practices that can improve the quality of your everyday life and cultivate more joy. 1.Discover your emotional patterns: Know thyself What emotional type do you most define yourself as? The Intellectual, the Empath, the Rock, the Gusher (chapter 4 details each of these emotional patterns, shares the tendencies, strengths, drawbacks AND most importantly, how to strike a balance to welcome the good and let go of the unhelpful emotional patterns) 2. Take charge of who you want to be Begin by understanding how you were nurtured as a child and as you grew into an adult and even into your adult years regarding how you were raised by your parents and continue to interact with them. There were most likely strengths and weaknesses. Dr. Orloff suggests observing each with an objective perspective for the purpose of gaining self-knowledge of what have become positive and as well as unproductive ways of emotionally engaging with the world. Once you have done this (this is for you and has no need to be shared with your parents), move forward consciously. "Consciousness [is] the path to freedom". Acquiring self-knowledge will lift the fog as she describes it and show you the way to clear blue skies of clearly, concretely knowing what you want to change and why. 3. Seek calm and eliminate stress One enhances your overall health, (yes, your physical health too) and the other depletes and destructs it. No doubt you know immediately which does what. Here are a few simple ways to welcome more calm practices into your everyday routine: experience and partake in laughter, exercise, meditate (breathing is powerful), "anything that makes you feel loved". 4. Resist negativity and turn toward and amplify the positive Becoming emotional free is a choice made by each of us, so it requires that we act and thereby think differently. Actions include what and how we speak. The words we utter and the tone in which we utter those words matter immensely and absolutely. We have control over these two qualities of speech. Orloff explains how words contain energy, and we are transferring that energy when we speak, and how when we say something sincerely positive or kind, the good energy given is accepted and received with love or, if spoken without sincerity, disbelieved and hurt is felt. Again, the reception is determined by the tone in which the words are delivered. "Words impart energy that can be enlivening or malignant. This is true whether you direct words to yourself or others." 5. Pay attention to your physical reaction around others. To determine if the people you either choose to be around or have to be around, or are newly introduced to will bring positive energy into your life, observe your physical response to them. Having to do with how someone speaks to you, when they do, observe, Dr. Orloff's suggests, your physical reaction with your body instead of how your brain processes the actual words. Let your physical responses guide you to help you determine who to continue to spend time around and who to walk away from. E.g. The charmer who says the sweetest compliments with a smile but causes your body to physically cringe, yep, that may be a sign that negative energy is coming your way. Walking away may just be the best idea. 6. Use breathing practices to calm/quiet a hyperactive mind. If you discover you identify your emotional pattern to be the Intellect, your mind is busy. It is busy planning, learning, inquiring, planning some more and trying to figure out how to get it all done. However, when this happens before we can figure out how to fall asleep or need to fall back asleep, it is defined as a hyperactive mind and it is not emotionally helpful. Simply breathe. Get out of your head. 7. Exercise Regularly, aerobically, but also with strengthening and flexibility activities. Exercising requires you to be present; it helps you get out of your head and focus on what you are doing. 8. Engage with others first with empathy and secondly with your head. 9. How to handle an unwanted situation: Think first. Think all of the details through first, once, and well. In so doing, you are making sure you do not react which would be your emotions taking over and potentially throwing you into a "fizzy" state. How do you think first? use positive self-talk and logic to become grounded take deep breaths. Do not take on the emotions of others. "You can still be loving and now feel the emotions they are emoting." 10. Allow regular quiet time for emotional decompression (for the Empaths especially) throughout the day. 11. Honor your empathetic needs. Reminder: "No" is enough. Learn what your max socializing time is, and honor it without apology. I love this one: if you need to take a separate car so you can return when you are emotionally ready to leave, take your own car. Do not feel guilty for needing this. Similarly, if you need your own space when visiting family on the holidays or when traveling, honor you need by reserving a nearby Airbnb or reserving your own room. 12. Engage with life If you have been hurt or if you see yourself as the Rock on the emotional type list, engaging with life will intially be uncomfortable or foreign. However, keep in mind what Brené Brown teaches, vulnerability is needed in order to sincerely connect, but as shared in episode #126, do not forget to partner it with setting healthy boundaries (which plays into #11 - honoring your needs). 13. Simple daily task: express one feeling a day in your journal Why? To acknowledge honestly how you are feeling and when you are ready, to examine the why. Triggers or prompts. When we partake in this daily practice, we become more knowledgeable of ourselves, but also improve how to better communicate how we feel and why. Even better, we begin to see that emotions are temporary, and that is helpful to keep in mind as well. 14. Are you a gusher? Before seeking advice or support, follow these steps to gain more emotional freedom. center your feelings by defining the upset - what prompted you to feel as you do. answer the question: How does this make me feel? work with your feelings: clear the emotion, exhale the negativity, use positive self talk, tune into your intuition to find the solution Read this post on Intuition: When to Trust It & When to Ignore It 15. Extricate emotional vampires from your life Sharing a list of the different types of emotional vampires, it was helpful to see their characteristics, and I will admit, I saw my older self in some of the descriptors. Just as important as it is to sweep out the emotional vampires from our lives, we also do not want to be one to others. Evaluating each of the lists is a good practice. Back to the extrication of E.V.s. It entails clear and calm communication as well as setting boundaries. Once you recognize how they make you physically feel (returning to #5), find your voice, set your boundaries and walk away to seek other nurturing individuals to spend time with. 16. Set limits. It is important to repeat what has already been mentioned twice thus far - set boundaries. Episode #126 shares in detail how to do this and why it is imperative to your emotional well-being. 17. Be solution-oriented. Previously here on TSLL and on the podcast it has been shared that complaining about something you dislike or someone you dislike is only a positive contribution to our lives and the lives of others if we are also accompanying the 'complaint' with a sincere solution. Otherwise, let it go and move forward. 18. Understand that fear is a form of stress, and then move beyond your fears Dr. Orloff explains in biological detail the body's physical response to fear, and it is not good for our health (page 149-152). If you are someone who catastrophizing the future, expects the worst in situations, has fearful thoughts that keep you up at night, are afraid to speak up or go for what you want, then you are letting fear play a significant and consequently harmful role in your overall life. In other words, you are welcoming more stress into your life that need not be present. Move beyond your fears not by avoiding them but rather by "facing them in a proactive way". "Courage requires the presence of adversity. In fact, no fear, no courage. WIthout something to overcome, there's no biological push to be brave or conquer negativity, true evolutionary milestones." avoid people who reinforce your fear avoid violent media - news, arguments or other scenarios that cause you stress immersing yourself in hot water (a bath) will help relax muscular tension quickly practice your breathing. 19. Seek out and remain close to "emotional nurturers" 20. Identify the fears you'd like to be free from and identify their triggers. To return to #1, self-knowledge is the fundamental component. We gain clarity when we investigate ourselves and our reasons for feeling the emotions that arise, seemingly out of our control. When we can identify the trigger, we can then successfully change it or eliminate it altogether. 21. "We attract what we are" "A basic law of emotional energy is that we attract who we are. Fear attracts fear. Courage attracts courage. If you want positivity coming at you, you've got to generate it . . . This influences which people and events keep appearing in your life." 22. Stay optimistic despite fear Regardless of what goes on in your life, wanted or unwanted, be mindful of your response. In other words, do not react. Take a breathe or take a beat before speaking or taking action. When a fear arises that you won't be able to accomplish what you have set before you to achieve, focus on even the smallest victories - you are still trying, you still care. When you make a habit of positive mindful response, eventually it becomes a track in the mind and when it becomes a track, it then has become your default to not be thwarted by fear but to courageously face fear in a proactive way. 23. Continue to grow into self-awareness Each of us is continuing to change, as we are dynamic creatures whether we want to be or not. In actuality, it is a good characteristic to be dynamic because it means you have an opportunity to grow. As we are continually growing, should we choose to, that means we have to continue to be aware of ourselves - our needs, emotional responses, etc. and not become complacent. In other words, as the book shares, our life truly is our career. It takes effort, but such effort pays many positive dividends. 24. Overcome frustration with patience One of the biggest roadblocks to emotional freedom is frustration. ~Discover the benefits of patience. "Making a more deliberate choice to delay instant gratification and cultivate patience will help you achieve emotional freedom, have faith in yourself and your destiny." 25. Let friendships and romances develop slowly Why? In order to cultivate trust or determine if someone is trustworthy. 26. Find and welcome nurturing sources into your daily life Nurturing sources need not only be people. Nurturing sources exist within and outside of ourselves. Anything that provides a sense of home is a nurturing source. 27. Foster positive human contact or community When you engage with others whether at work, your personal life, in your neighborhood, online, choose to make it a positive exchange. 28. Learn the power and skill of meditating. ~I break it all down for you here in a 2014 post Why Not . . . Meditate? 29. Practice gratitude Something that I have enjoyed sharing each month is my "What Made Me Smile" post, and I look forward to adding to this list as the month unfolds, then sharing a handful here on TSLL. However you practice gratitude, maybe in a daily journal, through prayer, by sending thank you notes, any action that asks of you to reflect and see all that is going well, make this a regular practice, and it will begin to shift your focus (remember #21). We attract what we are, and if we are grateful, we will begin to see even more for which to be grateful. 30. Listen to your intuition. But first understand what intuition is and what it is not (read this post). Once you can accurately define what your intuition is, then you have a powerful skill in your arsenal to enable you to elevate your everyday life due to the choices you will make. 31. Redefine the traditional paradigm for coupling. Communicate what energetic preferences and boundaries you need in a relationship so that you are not emotionally engulfed. From how you live together, to how much time you spend together, to sleeping arrangements, if you are an Empath as described in the Emotional Types list, you may deeply want a relationship but fear, based on past experience, that you will not be safe due to all of the energy and emotion of others you absorb. Due to this you have either acquiesced and let yourself become engulfed or spoken up ineffectively (or with a partner that was not right for you) and been berated for being difficult or cold. Neither are true, and effectively communicating and more importantly being with a person who is open to understanding you, is the key to being part of a healthy, nurturing relationship. 32. Take time for solitude regularly "Solving lonliness involves connecting to yourself as well as others. That's why it's vital to find your own right rhythm of worldly involvement and solitude." 33. Acknolwedge and celebrate current healthy connections As mentioned in #26, not all healthy connections will involve other humans. From Mother Nature - hiking, gardening, simply being outside; to spending time with animals; to luxuriating in your thoughtfully curated home, these and many more are healthy connections. Invest in them, savor them and do not let others dismiss the value they hold in your life to feel connected and whole. 34. Strengthen the relationship you have with yourself - it's the most important one you will ever have In other words, invest in understanding how to welcome emotional freedom into your life. It will take time, it will make you uncomfortable for a short duration, but that is the way with change, it is uncomfortable because it is stretching us. In our personal life toolbox, as shared in detail in Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making your everydays extraordinary and becoming your best self, it is filled with both strengths and skills. Strengths are innate and when we choose to strengthen these talents, we share with the world a unique gift only we can offer. Skills are tools any one of us can learn and apply to our lives to elevate the overall quality. Emotional Intelligence is discussed in detail in my book, which is why today I wanted to talk even more in-depth about why Emotional Freedom is a skill of great benefit. Personally, upon reading Dr. Judith Orloff's book I had many aha moments, validation moments and clarity-of-how-to-proceed moments, and as it happens on many occasions here on the blog and the podcast, I wanted to share what I learned in hopes that you too will find great value for this skill in your life as you continue to grow and create an everyday that truly delights you. Petit Plaisir ~Monty Don's American Gardens, BBC2 Three 60 minute episodes View all three episodes for a short time on BBC2 View Episodes #1 & #3 on YouTube, Episode #2 on DailyMotion.com

Feb 3

49 min

"By comparison with relationships forged in blood and love, science has historically given friendship short shrift . . . biologists ignored friendships because unlike romantic or mating relationships they were thought not to affect reproductive success . . . most of us are as guilty as scientists of failing to take friendship as seriously as it deserves. We pay lip service to it but prioritize family and romance, ditching our friends when we fall in love, or letting time with them be the first thing to go when we get busy . . . eacg of us is contrainted by time. But we may want to rethink how we apportion the time we have . . . It turns out that friendship does have survival value in the most literal sense—more socially integrated people live longer than those who are less well connected." —Lydia Denworth, author of Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond Perhaps due to the media I consumed in the 80s and 90s, there was an unconscious understanding that romantic relationships were paramount to platonic. Don't misunderstand me, friendships were clearly portrayed in sitcoms such as FRIENDS, Blossom, Seinfeld, The Golden Girls, Will & Grace, Felicity, The Wonder Years just to name a few, but it was clear that the writers were directed to have their leads be in constant pursuit of the desired romantic relationship predominantly and perhaps more importantly. Subsequently, not aware of the subtle influence of media, in my youth, I made the assumption that friendship was nice, but romance was best. It does appear today, and admittedly maybe due more to my own awareness, that such media portrayals are shifting and broadening to bring to the screen and the pages as well as other media mediums an array of life paths and journeys to find contentment and social connectedness. The value of quality friendships is arguably one of the most important social components of our lives. For each of us, our quilt of friendships will be unique and include amongst it our acquaintances and community (work and personal) connections as well. It seems to me good, healthy relationships of all types - romantic or platonic - benefit when we have a healthy social well-being which fundamentally rests on our social connections. Of course, a social well-being requires first and continually that we include ourselves as part of the social circle; in other words, we need to honor and respect our true selves and not try to cultivate relationships that are contrary to our true temperament, but rather complement and strengthen. When we remember to default to regularly checking in with ourselves, we will know when it it best to repair and invest in certain relationships and when it is best to move on. We will respect ourselves enough to know what boundaries to put in place and how to place them. The great loves of our lives, even the moderately good and life-changing-for-a-period-before-we-both-must-go-our-separate-ways relationships that will hold a special place in our life's journey don't cross our paths frequently. We are fortunate to experience these relationships when we have the courage to step forward and say yes without knowing what the future will hold, but throughout the duration of our lives, it is the friendships, even with those we may fall in love with along the way as we come to know each other intimately, yet honestly, that offer so much more than "filler". They offer love, support, encouragement to step into our best selves and step away from limiting habits. They offer kindness and the reminder when we may doubt it that we are lovely and loved. Author, Brooklyn-based science journalist and a writer who has contributed to Atlantic and the New York Times, Lydia Denworth has just released a book on Friendship that I was eager to receive as I find it helpful to explore the context of the research we have accepted as absolute truth and that which has thus gone on to influence how we choose to live and construct our lives. Denworth dives deep into the historical and established science and then examines what has been misunderstood or dismissed or ignored. Moving forward she explores the brain and how it learns to be social and then the majority of the book explores how friendship, the desire for it, our ability to connect or not connect plays a role in the quality of our lives and ultimately, how to live a healthy social life full of sound friendships. Today I would like to share a taste of what I learned as I read Lydia Denworth's new book Friendship: The Evolution, Biology and Extraordinary Power of Life's Fundamental Bond ~Listening Note: Each of the items shared below are discussed in more detail in the audio version of the episode. ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify 1. Our overall health reveals the quality of relationships we have in our lives "As we age, the effects of the life we have lived—including our relationships—inevitably show up in the body. Some are cumulative, some are short term." "The strength of your friendships at 50 predicts your health at 80." 2. More education and income leads to having more friends "Education, physical health, years living in the same place, and the number of daily contacts with friends all predicted friendship style. More education, for example, often leads to better social skills, and higher education makes it easier to socialize more widely (at restaurants and concerts, say)." 3. Friendships help buffer life stress "After puberty, parents no longer buffer stress for children; friends can take their place." 4. A good friendship can be a template for all other relationships "At its simplest, as in animals, friendship is positive, long-lasting, and reciprocal. Bonds with these traits have the strongest effect on our health and longevity." 5. Welcome a diversity of types of friendships "There are three main styles of friendship: discerning, independent, and acquisitive." 6. Friendship circles will evolve, grow, change — and that's okay. 7. Social media isn't as bad for relationships as people believe; in fact it's a net positive 8. Ambivalent relationships ("frenemies") are bad for our health 9. It takes about 50 hours of togetherness to make a friend, 200 to make a best friend. 10. Retirement is something to be savored when we invest in friendships In a study shared in Robert Waldinger's TEDx Talk about friendship and good relationship that has since garned nearly 30 million views he shared "the people who were happiest in retirement had worked at it. They valued and tended to their relationships. They activiely worked to replace coworkers with new playmates. They put in the time." Similar to so much of our lives that enrich the quality, it is the conscious choices we make that make a difference in our overall contentment and joy as we go about our everyday lives. Friendship is an undercurrent that when tended to can elevate and bring tranquility or cause unsteadiness and make for a rough journey when neglected or ill-tended. Knowing more, understanding how, is one of the first components to a strong cultivation of what we wish to grow. Certainly, it is not the only step or the final step, but it is important, and then we must be patient with ourselves and those we are building relationships with. In time, good things and a good life will grow. "Social bonds have the power to shape the trajectories of our lives. And that means friendship is not a choice or a luxury; it's a necessity that is critical to our ability to succeed and thrive. It can even be a model against which other relationships should be measured." SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: The Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being, episode #92 Grown-ups vs. Adults: The Difference 15 Ways to be a Friend Worth Having Petit Plaisir: ~Lentil and Kielbasa Salad, adapted from Barefoot Contessa's recipe ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Jan 20

29 min

"Vitality means moving through life with energy and vigor, making deliberate choices and putting to good use the time and energy that we have been granted." —Twyla Tharp, author of Keep Moving: Lessons for the Rest of Your Life Knowing how to care for our body which we must not forget includes the mind is a lifelong course of learning. Beginning with the basics of how food is fuel and energy expends said fuel to understanding which fuel is best and how our body repairs itself and ultimately what the body and mind truly are capable of regardless of our age, understanding and then apply this knowledge will have a powerfully positive effect on the overall longevity as well as quality of our life. Highly decorated and revered American dance choreographer, Twyla Tharp released a new book this past fall, and as I appreciated her insights in her previously published book The Creative Habit, I was especially curious to read her new book Keep Moving as she herself is in her mid-seventies and more fit than most adults in their prime. However, what I quickly discovered is that Keep Moving is not only about the physical movement we must continue throughout the duration of our lives, but the continual movement of our thoughts, ideas and way of living and thinking about the world that is as well ever-changing and evolving. Below are 12 key factors for living and enjoying a physical and mental well-being for the entire length of your life. 1.Practice Growth "Age is not the enemy. Stagnation is the enemy." Both physically and mentally, choose to perpetually be a dynamic individual. Instead of becoming complacent or resigned that certain capabilities are no longer possible once we hit a certain age, vow to always keep your body moving, as well, and perhaps most importantly, your mind. Rather than reminiscing about the past, make sure it is celebrated and/or learned from and then put your focus on moving forward well, learning something new in your next venture into something that provokes your curiosity. Let go of past hurts and anger that may be lingering to liberate yourself to create a better present and then a greater future will unfold. Assess your daily routines: Are they working for you? If not, whip them into shape (listen to episode #272 for help on how to accomplish this change). "Attempting to maintain the status quo, smoothing our skin, and keeping our tummies trim become distractions that obscure a larger truth. Attempting to freeze your life in time at any point is totally destructive to the prospect of a life lived well and fully. All animate creatures are destroyed when frozen . . . This is not a worthy goal." 2. Choose and then Cultivate the Life You Want to Live "I chose my life, it did not choose me." Inevitably, life will throw onto your journey's path trauma, loss and pain, but how you choose to work with these life events will determine the overall quality of your life. You can choose to wallow and seek out sympathizers that allow you to remain in your pain or frustration or anger, or you can acknowledge the pain, let yourself work through it in a healthy manner and continue to strive forward. "The life we choose pays dividends. The life that we let choose us will bankrupt us." Contrarily, you will need to find the courage within yourself to choose to step away from the group when it feels limiting or confining or not aligned with the life you wish to live or dare to create. Nothing need happen that is negative, just a instinctive feeling that something does not work for you. Heed your instincts, explore them gradually, and when you have some footing (it need not be a perfect stance), step away from the group. I am confident you will be grateful you did, more and more so with each passing day. You may be wondering, how does #2 correlate with our physical health? Any time we choose a life that we want to live, we energize ourselves; oppositionally, when we follow, when we go along to appease or to not create conflict, our energy lessens, so much so that we find it hard to motivate ourselves to care for our overall health. It may not occur, and most likely will not occur initially as we follow, but with time, our excitement about living life is dulled, and when we no longer see the joy in living life (because we haven't chosen this life, it has chosen us and we feel 'stuck' within it) we do not, consciously or unconsciously, invest in it. And tending to our health is a fundamental investment. 3. See Your Body's Good Health as a Full-Time Job for a Lifetime Much of society may appear to be modeling that as we age, we become less physical, but the reality and what needs to be realized, Tharp argues, is that "the older we get, the more we should commit to physical activity". Ironically, we could have moved less in our youth as our body was helping us out far more naturally than it is able to do on its own as we age. But the benefit of being an active child and young adult is that we can take these good habits and let them be the foundation of our physical activity throughout our lifetime. The benefits of physical activity have been researched and proven time and time again, from sharpening our mind to "expanding our social, emotional and intellectual well-being". A shift in how we view physical activity can help tremendously to finding infinite wells of motivation to move our bodies on a regular basis. First, make it enjoyable. Find something you love doing. I used to be one of those gym rats who would visit my neighborhood gym (at this point in my life I was in NW Portland) nearly every day, hop on the treadmill and walk or run for 20-30 minutes. Granted, any physical activity is absolutely applaudable, but I will admit, I felt as though I was in a cage. My lifestyle has certainly changed over the past 14 years as my physical exercise is outdoors nearly every time, and the only indoor physical practice I do, and thoroughly enjoy, is the weekly yoga class I attend. Most importantly, I have found a way of staying physical that I enjoy. Find what works for you and how you can incorporate your physical and natural environment into your playground. And then just do that, play! Tharp reminds readers of the importance of why we choose to exercise, "Let's not burn calories. Let's use our calories . . . You're burning calories to acquire skills". When we make this shift of why we are exercising, the motivation is more likely to remain and become habituated. "Here's what I know: a life that gives the body its due is a happy life." 4. Pull up the Anchor of the Past and Sail "Unless we embrace the condition of change, the past will act as an anchor, preventing growth. I've always been an advocate of habit—but with time, unchecked or unnoticed habits will hold you back." Life has many chapters, and not one will be exactly like another. Living consciously gives us the daily practice of assessing what is working and what is not. As Tharp suggest above, habits are helpful . . . when they are helpful to living the life we wish to live. However, habits that go unassessed are the anchors we need to pull up so that we can sail toward and eventually fulfill our true potential. There are many examples in our lives in which a habit worked exceptionally well for a period, but too continue would harm our progress and need to grow. If you are a parent whose children have left the nest, there will be new habits to add and other established habits that will need to be "pulled up". If you are an individual who needed to work with great dedication to complete a degree or complete a project or establish themselves in their career requiring long hours as there were deadlines to meet, etc., the habits that enabled you to be focused and strong in dedication will need to be relaxed so that you can find the balance to enjoy the life you have worked hard to secure. 5. Choose Optimism Tharp acknowledges that "aging can promote a condition identified by psychologists at the University of Pennsylvania as learned helplesslness . . . believing we cannot change our outcome leads to lethargy. Negativity and stagnation go hand in hand". The remedy is actually quite simple, but it does require us to become clear about the life we wish to live, to do the homework of living, living well and being conscious of our instrinstic motivators as well as the external motivators and determining which truly align with our most sincere self. Tharp suggests, and I concur, what we need to do is align our actions with our values. Often we say we wish to live one way, but our actions speak differently. Sometimes it will take grand courage as we will have to speak up to those in our lives who will be affected if we change our routine, our way of engaging, etc., but often it is how we speak to ourselves, how we allocate our time and where we spend our money. When you begin to see how to better align your actions with your values, it becomes easier to be optimistic because you are now fully supporting the life you wish to live and not unconsciously fighting against it. Momentum happens more freely without resistance. The primary point is we have more control over the quality of our lives. We are not helpless. And we need not accept that things cannot be different. They can be, and will be when you choose to shift how you live your daily life. A simple way to begin being more optimistic is to see the simple beauty and awesomeness in the everyday. When you focus on the good, on the positive, on the beauty, you begin to see more of it, inspire those around you to see more of it and ultimately begin to create more of what you wish to see than what you do not. Check out my IG account and the hashtag #tsllelevatetheeveryday for simple visual reminders of everyday beauty. https://www.instagram.com/p/B1olOMGg3m5/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 6. Plan - Put Your Hopes into Action Currently, I find myself moving into the planning part of customizing my home, but admittedly, it is easier to dream and hope that it will all come together. But hoping and dreaming won't bring it to fruition. While certainly, the first part of the journey may be a hope or a dream, it cannot be where we remain. Referring back to the premise of Tharp's book and #1 on this list, growth needs to be perpetually occurring in our lives, and so, we must step forward and put our hopes into action. How? By planning, and tending to each step listed in the plan. Sometimes it is hard to actually make the step toward our desired goal, but the momentum provided with each step, makes the next step easier. Seeing your money being spent on whatever detail, item or necessary piece of the journey needs to be spent can be initially hard to do, but if your plan is clear and your goal is in alignment with your values, you will reflect upon the money spent as an investment and be thankful for your courage to step forward and put your hopes into action. 7. Strengthen and Maintain Your Stamina "While many of our physical tools diminish noticeable as we age—speed, flexibility, and power—we don't have to lose stamina." Moving your body, keeping your muscles strong, on a regular basis will fundamentally keep your stamina strong. And what helps build and strengthen and maintain your muscles? Repetitions done regularly. It may not be fun initially, but in reference to #3, find an approach that engages you, and cultivate it into a habit that is part of your daily/weekly routine. Tharp has a handful of suggestions on pages 96-7. Eventually, the stamina turns into endurance which is "a combination of willpower, focus, intention and grit—essentially a matter of character and mental toughness". "The wonderful thing about stamina: it doesn't deplete through a long period of grinding work; with sustained commitment, it builds and builds, up to the moment when you need it most". 8. Small changes can make a big difference "When I can't build a cathedral, I build a bridge to get there." Whether you are trying to welcome new habits into your life as the new year begins, trying to build a dream that will take time to materialize, the small steps, the small actions and small everyday dedicated efforts will eventually lead to the grand change and actualization you seek. 9. Build a foundation for your future Compound interest plays a role in our physical and future physical lives as well as in our financial lives. When we "work hard now to reap greater rewards in the future instead of finding [ourselves] in a panic at your dwindling account", we are building a future of a wealthy good healthy life well into our later years. The working hard is doing what you can now as early as you can in your life physically to maintain the three pillars of a healthy body: strength, flexibility, aerobic (view more Health & Fitness posts in TSLL's Archives). Start where you are, but push through the necessary discomfort, aka as challenging pain (but be aware of the difference between that and warning or chronic pain). Each time I have taken a week off from yoga or the first time I hop on my skis in the new winter season, 48 hours later my muscles are talking to me. It is not a bad pain, in fact, I applaud myself for pushing myself further, but I also am reminded to get back on the regular schedule so that I do not have to feel it everytime for the same reasons. 10. Dekludge Tharp introduced the term 'kludge' to me in Keep Moving which is any short-term inelegant solution. In other words, it is using a convenient 'fix' for a hiccup or problem, but not the best fix. To dekludge is to check our ego at the door, and this is not easy for most of us, and especially hard for some of us. As the pages of our book are turned and new chapters arise, "you have to be willing to find other ways of being in the world beyond those that have served you well throughout your life". In other words, we have to self-assess (which is a good skill to hone no matter where we are in life's journey and to practice it regularly). We have to become aware and then challenge unproductive behaviors in order to live our most fulfilling and best life. Tharp suggests our kludges are "all trade-offs and allowances [we] make to deal with deflating circumstances—by ignorning, tolerating, or avoiding the situation. Sometimes we're aware that we're settling for less than optimal. Sometimes we believe we don't have any other choice. We treat them as systematic, the way things are. These kludges shackle and slow us down." Any time you adhere to "the way you've always done it" as your sole reason for doing something, most likely, you've found a kludge that needs to be let go. The good news is that with maturity, dekludging has the ability to be far easier. "[With maturity], we've learned that no one else is responsible for our success or survival. It's up to us to erect a stable scaffolding that's not stressed by temporary fixes and what is left can be pretty amazing." 11. Adjust to Improve Your Life "All master adjusters learn to push their strengths and drop everything else—resentment, insecurity, doubt, physical handicaps." With life, we have the opportunity to gain experience, and with that experience we can handle new life experiences far better than without the earned experience. And perhaps life's difficulties never become easier, only different, but because we have the past experiences, we are able to better and more easily navigate through them without working ourselves up into a frenzy or racheting up our stress-levels unnecessarily. In other words, we become better able to soar through life and not be knocked down by the gulls and gusts that will inevitably happen because we know how to foresee their coming further from a distance and either avoid them altogether or when caught by surprise, dance with them rather than fight them so as to preserve our energy to better enjoy the many good moments that await on the other side of the storm. 12. Become Keepers of the Quotidian "Finding absolute beauty in the humble, the everyday, the living, the growing, the becoming is a skill that can be practiced with more than just the eye." Using all of our senses as we go about our day is a skill to master for living well. Sometimes being so acutely aware can be heartbreaking which means we need to live consciously and choose how we engage with the world and who we engage with. However, once we are aware of the power of engaging all of our senses, our everyday (quotidian) lives magically appear to be in brilliant Monet-esque color. From the scent of the rain that falls on the dry ground, to the feel of the fresh, seasonal produce picked up at the market to the sound of chirping birds enjoying their morning meal in your yard's bird feeder, when we pay attention to these details with our whole being, our appreciation and love of life rises. Good health asks of us to invest each day, but the investments need not be expensive or back-breakingly painful. How wonderful to understand that simply by instituting enjoying daily habits we can improve our overall well-being to further ease our mind that not only is our present more enjoyable to experience but so too will be our future. I highly recommend Twyla Tharp's new book, Keep Moving. I whizzed through it during my two week holiday this past month as she offers her own experience as a renowned dancer and choreographer who is now in her 70s as evidence of what indeed does work, as well as introduces readers to many others who have inspired her journey of good health and wellness of mind and body. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Why Not . . . Treat Your Body Like a Temple? Why Not . . . Get and Stay in Shape? 4 Healthy Habits for Continual Self-Growth, episode #17 Petit Plaisir: —Simple Bouquets combining two different textured, but similar hued floral varietals - one more formal, one more whimsical. Not only will this save money, but it will add a depth of intrigue and beauty beyond a single varietal bouquet. ~See a couple of examples below from my own home. https://www.instagram.com/p/B5xdmv8gpnL/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link https://www.instagram.com/p/B4-g-QNgWia/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link https://www.instagram.com/p/B5QiT9vAtoS/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Jan 13

39 min

The new year rolls around and there is much talk about resolutions and cultivation of a life we wish to live. It is old news to share that many resolutions are unfulfilled; however, BJ Fogg argues that perhaps we have had a faulty instruction manual to be successful in our pursue of lasting change. Released just this past Tuesday, December 31st, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything asserts in fact that it is the small, seemingly easy changes of habit we make in our lives that will lead to grand transformation of ourselves and therefore our overall lives, even our relationships and especially our health and overall contentment. After devouring the book in two days during my getaway to the coast, I wanted to share with you eight takeaways that will introduce you to this shift in approach. I have already begun to implement two new tiny habits into my daily routine and look to add a third when my teaching schedule resumes this week. The good news, if you have already written your 2020 resolutions, is that upon reading the book, you will be able to look at them more closely and construct and approach them in such a way, according to Tiny Habits to ensure their success. And if you have not created resolutions, maybe you have decided due to previous frustration that doing so is just a waste of time, taking a look at the list of takeaways below may shed some light on why past years were less fruitful than you would like and even encourage you to try again and see better results. 1.All behaviors happen due to the occurrence of a prompt "The Fogg Maxim #1: Help yourself do what you already want to do by designing a good prompt" Fogg shares many different examples of how prompts permeate all areas of our lives. The example that resonated with me was his example regarding taking a shower, "After a shower, I always dry off. After I dry off, I always walk into the bedroom", etc. etc. etc. There are three different types of prompts that we can choose from and that we are guided by in our behaviorial routines: person, action and context prompts. Action prompts, such as the one shared above are the most useful because they serve as an anchor. Attach the behavior you want to happen to a behavior/action that is already happening and will happen habitually. One I have incorporated over the years and have continued to do without fail (which surprised me at first how quickly it took hold) whether I am in my house or traveling is upon going to bed (which will happen every evening), I take a glass full of water with me and place it by my bed. Upon waking in the morning, the only way it is returned to the kitchen is if it is empty. A hydration habit that encourages me to drink more water. Fogg also discusses what he titles "Pearl Habits" which are habits that are prompted by an irritant outside of our control. As I shared in the first post of the year, we can only create the change we seek when it involves ourselves and internal responses or behaviors; in other words, to set a goal that involves the behavior of someone else is a futile goal as we have no control over the other person without manipulation. When it comes to Pearl Habits, use the irritant as a prompt to do something that is positive or helpful for your everyday life. The example shared in the book is an ex-wife who coparents with a husband who is quite negative and her response each time his unwanted behavior or comments arise is a prompt to her to practice a mini moment of self-care in her daily routine. Each of our irritants and habits will be unique to our situations and lives, but even the unwanted events beyond our control can be helpful in pursuit of the change we seek in the new year. 2. Remove unwanted prompts "You can disrupt a behavior you don't want by removing the prompt." From removing unhealthy food and drink from your cupboards or refrigerator to moving the television into another room to inspire more conversation and gathering in the main living area, removing the prompt that tempts us to return to behaviors and habits that are not helpful is one of the simplest solutions to instituting the permanent change we seek. 3. Understand this truth: You change best by feeling good — not by feeling bad "What happens in your brain when you experience positive reinforcement isn't magic —it's neuro-chemical." Fogg refers to Instagram in his example of how positive emotions help to quickly create a habit. We snap a photo, we easily filter the image, we share. The feeling of sharing a "unique artistic creation" bolsters your sense of capability and thus inspires you to continue to use the app. Not only was the Ability part taken care of as it was very simple to do, it was also positively rewarding - the must-have ingredient of emotion. "Emotions create habits. Not repetition. Not frequency. Not fairy dust. Emotions." 4. Celebrate to permanently integrate the habits you want into your life "Celebration is the best way to create a positive feeling that wires in your new habits . . . in addition, celebration teaches us how to be nice to ourselves — a skill that pays out the biggest dividends of all." In episode #163, the show shared how improving happiness in your life is a rewiring of the brain, a creating of new neurological tracks. We truly can change how we see the world and go about our days and thus experience more happiness and contentment if we consciously choose to do so. This is where celebrating comes in, and I LOVE this component. :) Quickly, celebrating is not equivalent to rewards (Fogg explains this in detail), but after reading his explanation: celebration need not be a giving of something to yourself (that is a reward), but celebration must come immediately after you have completed the new behavior you wish to become a habit - that is when the rewiring in your brain begins to take place. It is possible for a reward to simultaneously be a celebration, but not easy to do as it must come immediately afterward. The good news about this distinction is that it will cost you nothing. Celebration is just as it sounds - a burst of exultation, a happy dance, a humming of a happy tune that just makes you happy each time you sing it, a jump into the air with a grand grin on your face. It may sound silly at first, but think about instances with young children who are learning any skill, even when I think about my pups and training them, when we give immediate praise to those who are under our care, we demonstrate what is wanted and thus makes them feel good due to the praise. This is nurture at its most basic, and we've been nurtured by others our entire lives whether we knew it or not - applauded for certain choices and behaviors, etc. Once we realize we can do this for ourselves to incorporate positive habits into our daily lives, we can be the cheerleader for ourselves, and we need to be. The simple act of celebration begins to gradually and then significantly rewire our brains to seek out the space for the behavior to happen as it actually will prompt the release of dopamine, the feel good hormone. 5. Improve relationships by understanding Fogg's Behavior Model What is Fogg's Behavior Model (the book provides many helpful visuals), simply it follows this equation: Behavior = Motivation & Ability & Prompt. When these three components converge at the same time, the habit takes root, and Fogg disputes the claims that have been made endlessly, (even here on TSLL, so I am correcting myself now) that there need to be a particular amount of repetitions of a new habit for it to become habituated. Not so, he states because if it feels good to engage in the new behavior (#3), the habit will form very quickly (he brings the readers attention to a teenager receiving a new smart phone and their habit of checking it incessantly if given the freedom to do so without practice). When we understand the model, and how it works in our lives, we can better observe and therefore, understand the behavior in others. We may not be able to change the behavior as other people need to make their own choices, but if we are providing the prompt, or if we are making the ability easier or if we are providing the motivation, that is what is in our control, and we can change each of these if we do not like the behavior that is the result. Similarly, as a parent or a partner or a loved one, we can have conversations that are based on logic and reasoning allowing the emotion that may have caused electricity in prior conversations (and not the good kind of electricity) for potentially a more productive dialogue. 6. Cultivate an environment that prompts the change you seek "The skill of redesigning your environment makes your habits easier to do." Earlier I shared how removing the negative prompts is helpful, but so to is cultivating an environment that encourages the change you seek. If you are working on improving your eating habits, create as Fogg and his partner have done - a SuperFridge - glass containers filled with food ready to eat - food that is healthy, delicious and beckons them to enjoy it. Not only is the food supportive of the healthy habits they seek, but it is also aesthetically pleasing to look at, inviting to the eye. The Motivation component of Fogg's Behavior Model is tended to which then adds to the Ability component and the Prompt is as simple as being hungry and opening the door of the fridge. Boom! A new positive behavior begins. 7. Master your mind, and step into the identity you wish to embody "When you can let go of old identities and embrace new ones, you will soar in your ability to go from tiny to transformative." Fogg explains how psychologically "all humans have a strongly rooted drive to act in a way that is consistent with their identity . . . there is a good evolutionary reason for this —when food, shelter, and other resources depend on group unity and collaboration, it is critical to reliably predict what a person is going to do." Simply by understanding why our current identity is something that may be hard to step away from, but also knowing that when we "successfully embrace an identity shift in one area [we] often prompt change in other areas", we increase the skill of mastering our mind. Fogg suggests going to events or learning the language or spending time or reading books by experts in what you are trying to learn, understand or improve. Simply by shifting your environment, you begin to shift your identity. For example, if you are want to improve your skills in a particular sport or physical activity, attend events or read books or attend lectures by experts in the field. If you wish to improve your ability to cook with ease in the kitchen without recipes, seek out those chefs or cookbooks or even watch Chopped which shares people doing exactly what you hope to do so that you can with ease step into your kitchen each day and cook a delicious, yet far-less-time-consuming meal. 8. Tiny successes, when cultivated consistently, will lead to transformative change "Start where you want to on your path to change. Allow yourself to feel successful. Then trust the process." Chapter 6 focuses on the transformative change that can take place when you grow your habits through the Tiny Habits process (a confluence of Motivation+Ability+Prompt). But more importantly, we must begin with a clear idea of the change we wish to make. Fogg uses the analogy of designing a garden we wish to grow into a beautiful and abundant space of Mother Earth in our own backyard. Once we know what want to grow, we can then begin cultivating the behaviors that will enable what we plant to successfully reach their fullest potential. Where to begin? Start small (refer back to the quote above). Start so small, it is almost too easy to think, you are creating new habits. Fogg began his flossing habit, but simply flossing one tooth at a time. Yep, one tooth. This allowed him to feel successful from the first attempt. And as he reminds, "Success leads to success". The reason for the first attempt to be successful is that you want to create momentum, so remove the "demotivators. This allows the natural motivator (often it's hope) to blossom, which in turn can sustain the new behavior over time". Once your motivation begins to rise, you begin to see your confidence in your own ability to make the necessary change rise, and you begin to understand you can do harder behaviors as well. The more I read Fogg's book and came to better understand his Behavior Model, the more I realized what he claimed to be true in the introduction: Many of us have had the wrong instruction manual all along, and while some of us may have been successful in spite of the misdirection, none of us should blame ourselves for not being successful in our pursuit to welcome positive change into our lives. I am of the understanding that as Marie Forleo shared and titled her new book Everything is Figureoutable, and as Tiny Habits reveals, we just need to understand more fully how the mind works when it comes to habit creation. Thankfully, it truly can be more simple than we may have thought. We can feel good throughout the process of improving our health, relationships, daily routines, etc. We do not have to punish ourselves and we do not have to have an expensive reward to motivate us to try to do something that seems difficult. We need only to increase the motivation, remove the unhelpful prompts, chose an easier task so we believe we can do it from the beginning and then celebrate immediately when we complete the new behavior each time. I am confident we can each apply this method. I shared at the top of the post that I have already begun to implement two new tiny habits into my daily routine after reading the book, so I wanted to share: Removing all tech from my bedroom (I had removed my phone a handful of years ago, but my iPad snuck into my sleeping space as it provides an alarm and my music in the morning, and then, you guessed it, scrolling in the morning as well). How? I am removing the prompt - the iPad will be placed outside of my bedroom, but still be able to be heard and then be placed on a sleep timer at night (I enjoy listening to music to fall asleep). Incorporating more ab strength exercises into my routine. My busy schedule has found me being inconsistent in my strength routine, so I am scaling back, but doing only one rep each work day morning upon getting out of bed. The motivation is that it seems easy and insignificant (but it's not!) and the prompt will be stepping out of bed each morning to let the boys outside (while they are outside, I will quickly tend to one rep of strength). And then the celebrating takes place immediately after each successful behavior. :) If you are determined, as I am to institute changes into your life that will fundamentally support the quality life you wish to live, I highly recommend BJ Fogg's new book Tiny Habits. Hopefully today's episode gave you insight into what the book entails. I appreciated his detailed explanations and visuals, and his ability to share a multitude of examples helped tremendously. ~Learn more about the book: —BJ Fogg, PhD., author of Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything (Dec. 31, 2019) ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~Learn How to Truly Savor Everyday Moments & Watch It Elevate Your Life, episode #163 ~The Road to Success is Paved with Happiness, episode #194 ~Attaining the Change You Seek in the New Year, episode #241 ~15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93 ~3 Crucial Components to Acquiring New Habits Petit Plaisir: ~Little Women, the film, Greta Gerwig's adaptation 95% - Rotten Tomatoes; Roger & Ebert 4/4 stars ~Listen to Audible's new version of Little Women, read by Lauren Dern (I highly recommend after listening during a 7 hour car ride over the holidays - multiple character voices and sound effects). Remember to go to audible.com/simplesophisticate to earn a 30-free trial AND one free audio book. Opening weekend and Christmas Day release earnings: $16.5-million weekend and a five-day total of $29 million since its Christmas opening, a major performance for a smaller-audience film with a budget dwarfed by the top two films. —U.S. News, source One Way Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women' Film is Radical, The Atlantic This Is 'Little Women' for a New Era, The New York Times The Compromises of Greta Gerwig's 'Little Women', The New Yorker Why 'Little Women' is a Triumph, BBC Why Little Women is for Everyone, GQ PBS Newshour, a discussion with Greta Gerwig (listen to the conversation below) https://youtu.be/9kQuf-dRBGw https://youtu.be/AST2-4db4ic

Jan 6

40 min

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” —J.K. Rowling in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #263 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify Style and comfort. Knowing how to achieve this combination while we travel enables each of us to relax and fully enjoy our excursions wherever our wanderlust might take us. As would not surprise TSLL readers, many of you, including myself, love to journey to Europe, in particular France and Britain, and while I have primarily traveled to France in the summer, and London during the summer months as well, it was during the fall of 2017 that I had the good fortune to travel back to Britain. Expectedly, the suitcase's contents were far different than for the warmest months of the year. So when a TSLL reader recently reached out and asked for style ideas for her upcoming trip to London this October, I came up with the idea to share a seasonal style episode/post for Anglophiles. In the coming months and seasons look for the remaining three seasons for both Anglophiles and Francophiles as having a resource to help simplify the packing process so that we travelers can focus on creating an itinerary that surpasses our dreams. Admittedly, and unsurprisingly, I enjoy selecting the perfect outfit for whatever the occasion might be, but equally as desiresome is to not have to worry about my clothes while I am traveling. Just trusting that what I have packed is exactly what I need frees my mind to absorb the many new sightss, sounds, tastes and interactions which enrich the trip all the more. So with that introduction, I'd like to share with you Style Essentials for Traveling to Britain in Autumn, the city and the country. City GOAL: Layers of style that provide warmth when necessary from the rain and chill, but walkability as you make your way about the city on foot, the tube, bus or taxi. 1.Ankle boots (flat or with a slight heel) to wear with jeans or pants (my Eileen Fisher suede pair seen on the chevron floors of Burberry - here is a similar pair) 2. A short trench, works well with jeans (more casual outfits) and over midi dresses if the quality is top-notch (use promo code RLFAMILY to save 30% site-wide through October 15, 2019). For a full trench, or how to find the perfect trench for you, read my post after visiting the Burberry flagship store in London - The Perfect Trench is Personal. 3. Light-weight high-quality sweater (for layering) 4. Button-up collar shirt 5. Scarves - light-weight, yet autumnal hues (these scarves offer many color options and are well-priced) 6. Pants or dark denim jeans 7. Midi dress, wear with #8 ~The Royal Albert Hall~ 8. Knee-high boots with a slight heel (pack your toiletries and beauty styling utensils inside your boots to save space in your suitcase) 9. A sturdy pocket umbrella (James Smith & Sons are one of the longest running British umbrella businesses and used by the Royal household). You can order online (5-6 color options), or visit their shop in London for even more colors and patterns. 10. Short or long sleeve blouses (silk or light-weight material for layering) 11. Worn in, yet stylish walking shoes for those days when you will be visiting many places and be on your feet most of the day. ~the Dale Chihuly scultipure see in the entrance in the Victoria and Albert Museum~ Country GOAL: Layers for warmth when the rain fall in misty waves never-ending and days and evening strolling about the many towns and shops you come across as well as hikes about the hills and along the coastline. ~the rolling hills in Northern Devon~ 1.Wellies, choose a size and shaft height you feel most comfortable wearing 2. A light-to-medium weight coat that is rain-resistant. I brought my Patagonia coat, and it was perfect. 3. A stocking cap. Primarily it misted often, but when it rained heavily, I stayed inside. If you will be outside when it rains heavily, bring a raincoat with a hood, such as these from Columbia available in many different colors and figure flattering. ~a quiet country road in northern Devon~ 4. Jeans, comfortable for walking, but also capable of transitioning for a nice, casual outing. These J Brand jeans are a classic style - straight-leg - in a timeless color (darker blue is available). 5. Button-up collar shirts, I gravitate toward Shirtini's for their variety and classic cuts and colors 6. Gloves, water repellant, yet warm also 7. Flat or low-heel ankle boots 8. Light-weight sweater or long-sleeve tee The lists shared above were based on my own travel experiences in the city and the countryside during my trip in November 2017. If you will be traveling in early autumn, bring a few lighter and shorter layers (sleeves, even shorts perhaps), but no matter when you travel during this season, if you pack items that layer well, you should be prepared for any occasion. Of course, your go-to handbag for day and one for evening is a good idea to pack as well, and I have even purchased a blow-dryer, rather than worry about adapters as blow-dryers often have more wattage than my adapter can handle. This was a choice I made, and it just made it simpler as the blow-dryer was not all that expensive and I just stow it away in my closet for my next trip to Britain. May you have the opportunity to visit Britain soon, and when you do, feel free to stop back by and share what worked for you! ~Click here for the SHOPTAGR App and to be entered automatically for a giveaway to win $250. SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~10 News Items & Inspirational Ideas for Anglophiles (September 2019) ~episode #185, Give Yourself Permission to be Awkward ~TSLL's Latest British Week Round-Up of Posts (May 2019) ~You Might Be An Anglophile If . . . (30 signs) ~My Devon Vacation Cottage ~London Perfect: A Traveler's Sanctuary ~My Discoveries in the Devon Countryside Petit Plaisir: ~Floret's Flowers, purchasing bulbs in the fall for spring! ~Starting today (and they go fast, so shop soon), Floret's Flowers is selling their bulbs (daffodils, tulips, ranunculus and more) until they are sold out. Last year I purchased two packages of daffodils (40 total) that I fell in love with this past spring and have since brought with me to my new home. I am looking to pick up some tulips this time, and cannot recommend the quality of her bulbs more highly. Unfortunately, she does not ship internationally, but wherever you purchase bulbs, the fall season is the time to plant them so that in the spring you will be greeted from the long winter with their beautiful fresh colors.

Jan 2

34 min

Season 6 of The Simple Sophisticate is well underway as 2019 wraps up and we head into 2020. As I reflect back to September 2014 when the show premiered, I could not have fathomed the engagement it would inspire, the topics and books we would cover and explore nor the people who would wish to be on the show. This year, Apple changed its categories for podcasts, and in so doing prompted me to reconsider how to label the show for new and potential listeners, which turned out to be a boon for the show and new listeners discovering it. With the help of you, the listeners the podcast and readers of TSLL, the selections that were decided upon (#1— Education: Self-Improvement; #2 — Society & Culture; #3 — Leisure: Home & Garden) in no small part contributed to the podcast reaching #33 in the United States' ALL-Time Self-Improvement podcasts. And, as the podcast has a strong Francophile following, when episode #269 - 32 Ways to Be Parisian Chic went live earlier this month, the podcast soared to #5 for the daily Self-Improvement podcasts. As listeners share how and when they listen to the show — while running the NYC marathon, while spring cleaning, while starting the day in Australia, while commuting via car or train or subway, while walking/running with their pups, while strolling along a river in the European countryside, while strolling through a park throughout the vast United States, while winding down at the end of the day in a cozy abode in Canada, and in so many countries around the globe as listeners go about their lives (the show ranked #16 in South Africa, #12 in Hong Kong, #23 in Romania, #6 in Oman, and #2 in Spain!) — I am humbled as well as tickled to realize how TSLL community stretches far and wide, but more so how similiar we are no matter where we call home regarding our interests to live a life of contentment, a life of deep joy and understanding of the world around us as we strive to contribute positively to its future as we savor the everyday moments. How to rankings work? The combination of number of downloads and positive reviews and rankings drive up a show on the charts, and for both of these contributions by listeners, I want to say thank you. So many of you have left positive reviews and high rankings, and as I try to share all of the reviews, sprinkling a few in each podcast episode, thank you for your time to share specifically what draws you to the show. (you can leave a review here on Apple iTunes) Now to the top 10 episodes of 2019 based on the number of downloads. 10. 34 Inspiring Daily Rituals to Ignite Your Creativity, episode #255 9. Celebrating the JOMO and Enjoying Your Unique Chosen Life Journey, episode #251 8. How to Create a Beckoning Sanctuary That Reflects Your Life Journey, episode #250 7. A Lesson, for Women Especially, to Learn Sooner, episode #249 6. 22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment in either time or money, episode #258 5. Why Not . . . Tailor Your Life to Fit You? , episode #246 A well-designed life is a life that makes sense . . . a marvelous portfolio of experiences, of adventures, of failures that taught you important lessons, of hardships that made you stronger and helped you know yourself better, and of achievements and satisfactions." —Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans 4. 31 Ways to Practice True Self-Care and Exponentially Improve the Quality of Your Life, episode #242 Mary Beth Janssen describes in her 2017 The Book of Self-Care, "No amount of massages, hot baths, aromatherapy, healthy food or exercise will sustain us over the span of our lives if not experienced from the layer of our being that is pure consciousness." In other words, there is deeper work that needs to be done, but we can still incorporate these surface, pleasure-finding practices into our self-care regimen. 3. 36 Ways to Welcome Joie de Vivre into Your Everyday Life, episode #253 "I firmly believe that it's the little things we do that eventually add up to a happy life. I am not asking you to change everything about the way you live, but perhaps to reconsider a few details of your daily routine. Remember that joie de vivre is not revolutionary —but it is evolutionary." —Robert Arbor, author of Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living 2. 12 Ways to Make Your Mornings Magical, episode #243 "When you take control of your mornings, you take control of your days. You get to engage with the world under your terms. You can act, instead of react." —Hal Elrod, Miracle Morning Millionaires 1. Attaining the Change You Seek in the New Year, episode #241 “In bringing about genuine inner transformation and change, the Dalai Lama emphasizes the importance of making a sustained effort. It is a gradual process.” —The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D. The next new episode will go live wherever you listen to podcasts on Monday January 6, 2020. I'll "see" you in the new year! ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify TOP PODCAST EPISODES FROM PREVIOUS YEARS: Top 10 Episodes of 2015 & Fall/Winter 2014 (the show's premiere!)

Dec 2019

14 min

When it comes to the winter holiday season, cozying in asks of us to be inside our homes far more than we would be during the warmer months which is why our homes need to become a sanctuary inside which we love spending time. Over the years my approach to how I decorate for Christmas, the New Year and the wintery weather has evolved, and this year I am excited to share with you 12 ways I have simplify, and at the same time curated decor that surrounds me and those who spend time in my home with warmth, comfort and an abundance of joy. 1.Save money and help the forest and go hunting for your holiday tree in the National or State Forest lands (check your permit for rules regarding where and what type of tree you can cut down). Here in the Pacific Northwest, keeping the forest healthy can be a community effort, and cutting your tree during the holiday season (for only $5/permit) is a simple way to do so. Learn more here. ~Check out my trip to the woods near Mt. Bachelor to find my holiday tree this year. ~Norman exploring in the woods after fresh snow had fallen while I hunt for a tree.~ 2. Elevate the tree As someone who loves a tree all alight to illuminate the home during the short days of December, I also realize how many decorations are needed to decorate a large tree. And admittedly, getting down on my hands and knees to water the tree has never been easy as you try not disturb the decorations or pour water on the tree skirt. Having the opportunity with my house having vaulted ceilings, I opted for a 5 1/2 foot tree and placed it on my pub table. All of my reasons listed above were resolved and I still had a tree that was quite grand as well as far easier to cut and bring back to the car. ~On top of my pub table, while not straight yet, I am loving how much easier it is to decorate and water.~ You may remember I have explored with a variety of sizes for trees over the years (2018, 2016 (a very short and small tree), 2015, 2014, 2013, ), but this height seems to just be perfect - for the amount of ornaments and lights I have as well as my 3. Make natural ornaments Simple is best when it looks as though it belongs, naturally so, when it comes to tree decorating. Adding hand-crafted decor items such as a string of popcorn, dried oranges or pinecones topped with a simple ribbon and jute string, the pinecones picked up on your own property (such as the case for me with a sole tree in my yard), or during a walk out in the woods, adds depth and dimensions without excess. Last weekend, inspired by the many different ideas my mother as donned on her own tree, I gathered up a basket of pinecones, set them by the fire for a morning to dry and then using a hot glue gun, attached jute string to the top of the cone, let it dry and then made a bow out of ribbon and hot glued the bow to the top of the pinecone. In fewer than 30 minutes I had a new set of decorations. 4. Hang decorations which hold memories of love, celebration and your journey As you may have noticed from my previous trees over the years, I primarily hung glittery ribbon and shiny stars and delicate balls; however, each year I had personalized ornaments from my childhood and handmade ornaments from my maternal grandmother. Sometimes it takes us time to understand or know how to decorate in such a way that truly fits with who we are. I don't begrudge how I decorate during those year. I had fun exploring and trying new ideas that caught my eye, and perhaps in the future my preferences will change again. However, this year and for the foreseeable future, I want my tree to feel good (priority #1) and then look good (priority #2). So this year I have hung the handmade pinecone ornaments that symbolize the home I have the opportunity to call my own, ornaments that were handmade by my grandmother, ornaments from my childhood given to me each year by my parents and given to me by my grandparents, as well as now one new ornament from the life journey given to myself each year. This year, it is the copper teapot (brought to my attention by TSLL reader Molly, thank you so very much!). A tree that is certainly signature and makes me smile each time I see it throughout the day. ~One of the handmade pinecones alongside one of my first ornaments given to be by my grandmother.~ ~2019's new addition! The Copper Teapot!~ 5. Selectively or elect to not have a tree topper Similar to my journey in decorating shared above, often my tree topper would be a generic star that I picked up at the local craft store to match the other generic details that adorned the tree. However, after much thought, this year I elected to not have a tree topper, donate my old ones and instead, on the highest branch place a papillon ornament which speaks to the name I have given my home symbolizing something meaningful to me and the journey I am on. Again, your choice to top or not top, and if so, with what, will be unique to you, so that each time you look up, you too smile and are either inspired, comforted about the life you have lived, have the opportunity to live and hope to live moving forward. ~Yep, here is the tree (more pics will be shared on Wednesday), perfectly imperfect and if you look closely at the top, you will see the butterfly (papillon)~ 6. Utilize small copper or metal baking dishes as candle holders. I recently was inspired by a fellow recipient of Sharon Santoni's My Stylish French Box when I saw she used her canelé molds (received in the first Dans Ma Cuisine themed box - the next one will be her next box! Reserve yours now before they sell out - if it is anything like the previous one, you will not be disappointed). As I do not make canelés very often (okay, I have yet to make them for myself - but it's on my list to try!), I wanted to use the molds somehow as they are simply beautiful. ~the cookies were the forefront of this picture as I was taking pics for the recipe, but you can see the canelé molds in the background.~ However, admittedly, copper canelé molds are not cheap, so another alternative is to use brioche molds. Often silver in color, they are unique in their tulip edge design and provide lovely light reflection. Then simply stock up on tea lights (purchase 50 for $7), buying in bulk and purchasing candles in tin rounds so the wax doesn't melt into the molds. Copper Canelé molds Brioche molds (four different sizes) 7. Use the trimmed boughs from the tree as decor placed about the home 8. Choose green, your preferred shade of green, as your accent color instead of red. Granted, each of us will have a preferred color we want to adorn our homes with to signify and celebrate the winter holiday season, and the choice of green, a soft sage green is mine. However, it did not used to be, which demonstrates that our tastes certainly do change. Part of the reason I prefer, and have unconsciously preferred sage or the under-side-of-an-olive-leaf green (as Patricia Wells described) is because it spans beyond Christmas and into the new year, and as I grow older I especially enjoy the final two weeks of the year and the first week of the new year, and I want my home decor to look fresh rather than bright. Now if red had been my year-round decor color, perhaps it would be too much for my aesthetic taste, but I typically use muted neutral hues, so the red is a bit intense for me, and so the green was chosen for my ornaments' ribbon and other ribbons used with decor about the home. Choosing green or one primarily color does not mean we cannot welcome others into our plan, but it certainly helps with coordinating and unifying the decor ideas (as well as shopping each year should we wish to add or replace anything). 9. Make your own unique garland Mix faux and fresh, twist multiple garlands into one large garland, add small white garland lights and replace the fresh boughs when they have dried with new ones. As well, add dried herbs you have kept from your garden to add delicious scent and John's Wort or Eucalyptus to add a unique and different texture. 10. Hygge it up Candles, candles and more candles. A home illuminated with candles, and not because of a power outage, is a beautiful, welcoming and calming place to be. Don't be afraid to keep one or two electric table lamps on as well if all candles may be too overwhelming, but having enjoyed an evening over the weekend in which the afternoon began to drift into evening and daylight disappeared, the tea candles were lit as well as the tree, and the house just felt as though it was one big hug (oh, and Charlie Brown's Christmas soundtrack was also playing, which made it all the more lovely :)). ~An Episode to Listen To: Hygge Phenomenon and Living Simply Luxuriously, episode #148 11. Save money and use the same white outdoor bulb lights used during the summer season while dining al fresco in the late evenings. 12. Reduce, reorganize and donate holiday decor for simpler decorating next year I shared in the most recent TSLL Weekly Newsletter, letter from the editor, that last weekend I took the time to go through all of my winter holiday decor. The result was one fewer boxes of stuff, donating perfectly fine decor that I no longer used or wanted to the local donation center and freeing up storage space, as well as clearly labeling what I have so I know where to find it next year. What a liberating feeling, especially since I became more clear about how I wanted to decorate my home and what no longer was part of my decor aesthetic. Decorating simply will differ depending upon how you have decorated in previous years and what brings you comfort, as well as joy. As we become ever more thoughtful about how and why we decorate the way we do, the winter holiday season will become infused even more deeply with appreciation and deep, true contentment as we celebrate and gather with those we love. Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah and best wishes for the upcoming new year tout le monde. SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: 16 Ways to Simplify & Make the Holiday Season Pleasurable, episode #184 An English Christmas Drawing Room Why Not . . . Prepare for a Festive (and Simply Luxurious) Winter Holiday Season? 12 Simply Luxurious Holiday Films to Enjoy Each Year Petit Plaisir ~Quadruple Chocolate Cookies with All the Chips

Dec 2019

33 min

"We have the choice to change our life, to be courageous and to live true to our heart, one that will see us die and live without regret." —Bronnie Ware, author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying Dying, death and loss has unwantingly been on my mind this past fall. Rest assured, today's episode will uplift, inspire and remind, but the reason I share what has been occupying my mind these past few months is because I likely would not have picked up Bronnie Ware's new book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. But I am very grateful that I did. Ware's entire book shares her experience working in the palliative care system in New South Wales, Australia, which sprung up from what was originally a blog post. Subsequently, after more than three million people viewed the post, it was thankfully turned into a book which shares detailed five lessons and those special individuals she had the opportunity to spend time with in their final days. Along the way, Ware shares her own journey of self-growth and discovery and how she has applied the lessons she has learned. It is not lost on me that often the books we need find us, and after the loss of a special woman in my life who was very much akin to a grandmother, who having lived a wonderful life of nearly 95 years reminded me with each visit and time spent together the power of a happy heart, and after a cancer scare with one of my parents (they are in full recovery now), along with my beloved boys (my dogs) each in their double digit years, it quickly becomes apparent that life is short, precious and up to each of us to make it something we are proud to have lived, shared and experienced. While we will all make mistakes in our lives, that is the gift of being a human :), we do not have to suffer needlessly if we are willing to open our minds to the stories and life experiernces of others. In the past ten years I have come to enjoy reading biographies and autobiographies to soak up as many life lessons as I can that I would have otherwise not known about (Julia Child is one of my favorite teachers, but so are many others). Today what I would like to share with you are nine Life Lessons that caught my attention as I was reading Bronnie Ware's book. While her book focuses on five overarching regrets, interwoven amongst each are smaller, no less important lessons, to understand and apply to our lives moving forward. As I was reading, I began to celebrate as I discovered that much of what is shared aligns with living a simply luxurious life, and especially if you've read TSLL's 2nd book, you will know that nearly all of these topics are explored in depth. I cannot fully understand the emotional strength Bronnie exercised in each of her experiences, as well, and more importantly, the individuals who shared their stories in their final days, but I am determined to make sure their lessons are learned and applied forward as we go about our daily lives. Let's take a look at the list. ~Reader/Listener Note: Each point shared below is discussed in more detail in the audio version. 1.Extend Kindness and Forgiveness to Yourself as well as Others "The bravery needed to change your life is easier to find when you are kind to yourself. Good things take time, so patience is also required." 2. Appreciate the Daily Journey - Find Joy in the Everyday "Things fall into place when happiness is already found." 3. Let Go of the Need for Validation and Share Yourself with the World "Taking risks requires courage, but we cannot control everything . . . learning and daring to think without limitations, and not trying to control how things will flow to us." The most common regret: "wishing they had been true to themselves". ~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself? (3 part series) ~Explore TSLL's 1st book in which a detailed conversation is shared about how to tap into your true self. 4. Simplify to "Untrap" Yourself "The things we often think we need are sometimes the things that keep us trapped in an unfulfilled life. Simplicity is the key to changing this. Letting go of the need for validation through ownership or the expectations of others also brings freedom." 5. Make the Scary Changes "Just as [trappings] were created over time . . . they can be undone over time. It is a delicate process of determination, bravery and, at times, letting go. It is having the courage to stop unhealthy relationships in their tracks and say 'Enough'. It is treating yourself with respect and kindness, both of which we deserve." ~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Your Fear is Speaking 6. Overcome and Become the Master of Your Mind "It is the heart that guides us to joy, not the mind. Overcoming the mind and letting go of others' opinions allows us to hear our own heart. Having the courage to then follow it is where true happiness lies. In the meantime, keep cultivating the heart while mastering the mind. As the heart grows, life brings more joy and peace. A happy life want us , as much as we want it." ~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: How to be the Master of Your Mind, episode #20 7. Be honest with yourself, and get out of your own way "My lessons had been in how to allow [fulfillment and pleasure], which was through faith and self-love. I just had to get out of my own way first. That was where the real work lay — learning to own my own thoughts, by clearing away the debris that stopped me [from] letting it all flow." 8. Smile at your humanness, let go of perfectionism "If occasional blockages now surface, I am patient and loving with myself while working through them. Self-discovery is more joyful. I can smile at my humanness." ~YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Why Not . . . Stop Getting in Your Own Way? 9. Understand Being Yourself Will Require Great Courage "It takes enormous courage sometimes. But being who we are, whoever that is, sometimes cannot even be articulated at first even to ourself. All we know is there is a yearning within that is not being fulfilled by the life we are currently living." ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: 7 Life Lessons from the Tao of Pooh, episode #237 15 Everyday Habits to Live a Life of Contentment, episode #93 How to Welcome the Magic Into Your Life Petit Plaisir ~Maison Balzac mini candles ~Personalized/Customized Holiday Cards from Papier https://www.instagram.com/p/B5yb5OUAmEI/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

Dec 2019

36 min

"Everyone knows you don't have to be born in Paris to dress like a Parisian." —Ines de la Fressange, author of Parisian Chic, Encore!: A Style Guide (2019) with Sophie Gachet, co-author Listen to Episode #269 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify In 2011, Karl Lagerfeld's muse and the first model to sign an exclusive modeling contract with the haute couture fashion house, in this case Chanel, Ines de la Fressange published her first Style Guide. Becoming quickly a New York Times Book Review bestseller, eight years later, she has updated her much applauded Parisian Style Guide. Parisian Chic, Encore!: A Style Guide was recently released this past November. Having written a detailed a review when her original book was first published (have a look), the updated version contains 50% new content, 300 full-color illustrations/photographs, and is completely refreshed. Now admittedly, much of the original holds true and is still a valuable resource, but if you too have the original copy, you know that the latter half of the book is a resource of addresses of boutiques, restaurants and many other Parisian locales recommended by de la Fressange. As one might imagine, these had to be updated. Today, what I'd like to share with you are 32 Ways to Exhibit Parisian Chic style whether in your wardrobe, home or lifestyle because whether we live in Paris, wish to visit Paris or not, incorporate one or many of her style tips will help us to cultivate our own unique signature style. Let's get started. ~Be sure to tune in to the audio version as much more detail is shared on each of the items shared below. Sartorial Style 1.Muster up courage and ignore the trends (p.13) 2. Create a vintage collection of your own (p.14) 3. Remember to let your style evolve (p.30) 4. Practice discretion when it comes to labels and accessories (p.12) 5. Take on the role of 'buyer' for your own wardrobe (p.15) 6. Hone the skill of 'mixing things up' (p.16, 26, 28, 29) Wear a high end designer pant with a simple white shirt 7. Mix patterns and soften with white (p.21) 8. Know the universal rule of proportions when it comes to good style balancing loose with close-fitting (p.26) 9. Simple is good "Not everything you buy has to be interesting. A nice scoop neck sweater is a must. You can wear it with jeans and a long necklace —it will look elegant without being boring." (p.32) 10. Welcome men's accessories into your wardrobe - especially belts Worn and too long for a traditional outfit, belts with such descriptors are perfect for cinching everything that needs a waist. (p. 27) 11. Avoid fashion faux pas (p. 34-37) Such as T-shirts with supposedly funny sayings and leggings (unless you are headed to yoga class or a your daily workout is calling). 12. Style idea for a date - cropped black trousers, a man's white button-up shirt and low heeled or flat shoes, but don't forget nice lingerie (p.41) 13. Don't be afraid of sneakers (stylish and thoughtful, bien sûr) (p. 45) Setting: a respite in the park for a snack or to simply catch your breath Dress Code: Jeans, a sweater or sweatshirt with a dash or deluge of color and sneakers 14. When packing for a getaway, bring denim (p.48) . . . . . . also a loose shirt, white jeans, two long-sleeved shirts, a white cotton dress (and to view the entire list visit page 48-49). 15. Buy the right leather jacket . . . . . . which is "as close fitting as possible with high armholes and patch pockets". (p. 54) 16. Never follow diets. Rather follow Ines' golden rule: "Pay attention when you are eating and stop when you are no longer hungry." (p. 171) Interior Style 17. Remember the truth about dinner parties - they are coming to see you, not for a gourmet meal (p. 170) 18. Dinner party - a simple, yet delicious dinner, followed by an amusing dessert (regarding the presentation). (p. 170) 19. Stick to a central theme in your home decor View/Listen to episode #228 - 21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's New Decor Book 20. Make decor statements with a single piece of furniture - a chair, a settee. Thoughtfully chosen items can stand-out against a neutral palette 21. Welcome the scented candles . . . to every room 7 French Candles I Love (2019) 22.Harmonize containers in the kitchen (p. 152) 23. Use vases to store kitchen utensils (p. 152) 24. Display a painting on an easel instead of the wall (p.156) 25. Collect and display a variety of ceramic items on a table - trés Parisienne (swap regularly) (p. 156) 26. Choose an inviting sofa (large, comfortable, plush is that is your liking) (p. 156) 27. Keep your eye out for a vintage stepladder to place next to a bookshelf (p. 156) 28. Unification in the closet - hangers of the same color 29. Give everything in your closet a front-row seat So you can see what you have and wear it! (p. 162) Final Thoughts 30. Don't worry about buying last season's trends 31. Walk or bike as much as you can instead of hopping into a car (location dependent) 32. Know what true effortless style is . . . "self-confidence and a smile" (p.26) SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: How to Cultivate Your True Style All Year Long, episode #149 Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange, TSLL's review (2011) 21 Parisian Decor Ideas from Ines de la Fressange's New Book, episode #228 10 Style Tips to Embrace the French Woman's Approach to Effortless Chic, episode #151 Ines de la Fressange's New Style Guide: Men's Style Petit Plaisir —L'Art du Crime Subscribe on MHz Choice Subscribe via Amazon Prime https://youtu.be/rBKm49kvh_E https://youtu.be/m-tAd33hocM

Dec 2019

45 min

Listen to Episode #268 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify Today's episode is my recent conversation with returning guest M.L. Longworth. Her latest mystery in her Provençal mystery series became available to readers last Tuesday, and it is the eighth in the Bonnet and Verlaque series: A Noël Killing. Having had the opportunity to read and having thoroughly enjoy the book earlier this fall, I invited her on the show again to talk about the book and so much more. After all, France, and specially Provence, is a place TSLL readers are quite fond of along with myself, and why not learn more about this special place on the map from someone who has called it home for more than 22 years! For the first time, the plot is set during the winter holidays in Aix-en-Provence, which prompted me to ask a handful of questions about Provence during this festive time of year. Of course, food was the topic of a more than a few questions, and Mary Lou generously shares her go-to Provençal cookbooks as well as recipes she enjoys making for her family and friends and items she looks forward to purchasing from the artisanal shops during the winter season. A Noël Killing is a true delight of a Provençal mystery that is cozy in all the right ways, and keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering who will turn out to be the culprit behind the unexpected murder. Be sure to tune into our conversation, and do not forget to discover her Petit Plaisir which is shared at the end of the episode: It is simple and lovely, as well as an inexpensive daily routine that will take the definition of simple luxury to the next level during this special time of year, put perhaps year-round too. Links mentioned during the show: Visit M.L. Longworth's blog Follow on Instagram (@mllongworth) Shop the entire Provençal mystery series, start with the first mystery - Death at the Chateau Bremont Cookbooks recommended by Mary Lou: A Provençal Table: The Exuberant Food and Wine from the Domaine Tempier Vineyard by Richard Olney Patricia Wells: At Home in Provence The Silver Palate Cookbook by Julee Russo and Sheila Lukins French Provincial Cooking by Elizabeth David Listen to our first conversation with M.L. Longworth, episode #203 where she talks about her daily life in Provence as well as about the seventh book in her Provençal mystery series. Enjoy my walking tour with M.L. Longworth during my visit in July 2018 to Aix-en-Provence https://www.instagram.com/p/B3uPlLyA2OG/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link ~Listen to more French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.

Nov 2019

47 min

Here in the states, we may officially wait for the holiday energy to be set free, but by the time November arrives, it can easily begin to feel as though the holidays have begun. Whether that is due in part to marketers and shops shifting from Halloween on October 31st to red and green everything on November 1st, or an earnest desire for the holidays to begin by the public, I cannot quite be sure, but what I do know is that I love the three weeks leading up to Thanksgiving of which I am calling the "pre-holiday" season. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the holiday time between Thanksgiving and New Year's, but during the first third of November (Thanksgiving falls on the fourth Thursday in November which this year is quite late in the month), I just linger with absolute contentment. Today I would like to share with you 10 activities or ideas for savoring the pre-season period as the year that is begins to wind down to celebration and festive gathering. 1.Set the mood in your home without pulling out the decorations From placing simmering spices on the stovetop to fill the house with luscious, warm and citrus as well as spice-filled flavors (check out my simple recipe here) or simply switching the wreath on the front door to an autumn theme (if you have not done so already), protect, yet acknowledge this time of year that is truly meant to be savored after a summer and early fall of harvest as we gear up for the bustle of the holiday season. 2. Put the yard and exterior of the home to bed for the winter Depending upon where you live and when the temperatures begin to drop, take this time to be outside and winterize the home, tend to the plants that need to be mulched and trim the perennials, as well as plant the new bulbs that will emerge in the spring. Tending to the exterior of your home will enable you to sleep soundly at night during the snowstorms and frigid temperatures knowing all is taken care of so that you can simply enjoy the winter wonderland that appears out the front door. ~Trusted British gardener Monty Don shares a worth-keeping monthly list of what to tend to in the garden during the month of November. 3. Assess your fitness routine and improve now to feel your best during the holidays When we are conscious of the benefit of a good and regular fitness routine as well as a well-balanced eating regimen, we are more likely to do well during the holidays. Establish or cement what is working well and plan now to figure out how you will maintain your ability to stay active and eat well even if you are traveling or removed from your regular environment. 4. Make a favorite fall dessert or main dish for you and the household just because it's fall. From Apple Tart Tatin (check out my recipe and video tutorial below) to butternut squash and apples roasted to perfection for a lovely side dish with pork chops. (The image at the top of the post is a favorite fall dessert inspired by Julia Child - look for my adaptation to be shared in season 3 of the cooking show!) ~Quick recipe for roasted butternut squash and apples: Combine cubes of butternut squash and apples on a parchment lined sheet pan, preheat the oven to 400 degrees, toss the squash and apples with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, roast for 25 minutes, remove from the oven and enjoy! 5. Make sure you have something to look forward to just after the holidays wrap up - something simple, low-key and maybe just for yourself. 6. Have fun with fall foliage - arrangements, playing in the leaves, taking photos of unique compositions that catch your eye https://www.instagram.com/p/B4qMNBZgx64/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 7. Take advantage of weekend sales as businesses clear out inventory for the holiday season. Currently many business are having sales during our long weekend here in the states, but that is just a start to what is to come. Whether you are beginning to shop for gifts for the holidays or have a list of items you love but are waiting for a sale, be sure to take advantage if the price is right and the item is exactly what you want. As I shared yesterday, I am looking for a fresh holiday wreath for my front door, and was pleased with Williams-Sonoma' 20% off sale. As well, examine your fall, winter and holiday wardrobe: Do you have what you need? Are there any gaps? The fall collections are about to go on drastic reduction and scooping up your preferred and needed items at great prices will make you and your budget quite happy, not to mention ensure you look your best and feel comfortable going about your day. 8. Forage for the arts and literature and culture you love On Wednesday of this week I will share a list of books, podcasts, television shows and art exhibits to enjoy during the winter season, but what I love most about these three weeks leading up to the holidays is that I cozy inside my house far more than I would during warmer weather and pull out a book (or two, or three) and let the time pass by. The same happens when I discover a great show or when I toodling about the house or walking the boys while listening to a podcast in which I learn something but lifts my spirits or ensures my day will be better after listening to it by either teaching me something or deepending my understanding on something that matters. Perhaps why I enjoyed my visit to Portland last weekend so much and stopping (and lingering) at Powell's Independent Book Store was because books and late fall and winter, along with the shorter days means more time to get lost in a book. Of course reading is savoring year-round, but there is all the more reason to further our knowledge and let ideas percolate giving them time to germinate so that they can bloom fully when spring arrives and summer follows. https://www.instagram.com/p/B4ZHszngxkf/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link 9. Get cosy often and lose track of time At the foundation of these three weeks is time without apology for self-care. Self-care needs to happen year-round and on a regular basis most certainly, but since we know what awaits in the near future, no matter how much we greatly look forward to it, we can enjoy it all the more with a fully rested self. As 2019 began, the first Petit Plaisir of the year was the book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort by Laura Weir. Released in early November 2018, her timing was not on accident. The cosy/cozy season truly feels as though it begins with November's arrival. "Cosiness, for me, is radio 4, slow-cooking, everyday Sunday supplement, long breakfasts, long movies, long phone calls, big jumpers, tangled limbs in a bed or sofa. I enjoy those things even more now that I know indulging them doesn't mean I'm missing out on the big party of life happening somewhere outside and that life can be just as wild and precious in the quiet as it is in the noise." —Laura Weir from her book Cosy: The British Art of Comfort 10. Find time to be with yourself, not just introverts researchs finds ~image via The New York Times~ In a recent New York Times article, research was shared that "valuing solitude doesn’t really hurt your social life, in fact, it might add to it". Why? With the new and different, wanted and unwanted people you will see and spend time with during the holiday season, there will undoubtedly be swells of emotion, good and perhaps not so good. Knowing how to regulate our emotions will help us navigate what has the potential to be a truly joyous time of year well and most beneficially not only for our own mental health but those around us. And it is with giving ourselves time to be alone that we learn to regulate our emotions. Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is something we have talked about often here on the blog, podcast and in TSLL's 2nd book, and continued research finds that mastering this skill has life enhancing qualities. By giving ourselves time to learn how to monitor our emotions which when we are alone with ourselves and our thoughts expectedly will provide plenty of practice until we learn how to calm the tide and just be present, we give ourselves an awesome gift. Perhaps the best give to give during the holiday season, non? ;) So cosy up in your favorite spot, turn on a lovely playlist that will wash over you and just do something that you love. At this very moment I am snuggled up with Oscar by my side in my oversized, very well-used chaise armchair, the jazz fills the house and I am watching the many birds dance around the birdfeeder determining who will have the opportunity to snack for a moment. The emotions are certainly swimming about, especially after the week my family has had with the loss of someone truly special to all of us, but because of much practice spending time with myself, I savor such moments and am thankful to have them. May these three weeks, this "pre-holiday" season prior to the holiday festivities be joy-filled and provide many moments of contentment. SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~Sights & Scents of the Start to the Holiday Season (and a sale not to miss!) 16 Ways to Simplify & Make the Holiday Season Pleasurable, episode #184 34 Simply Luxurious Things I Love About the Holidays Petit Plaisir ~The Morning Show ~based on Brian Stelter's 2013 book Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV ~Habitually Chic's post: Outfits Inspired by Jennifer Aniston's Wardrobe on The Morning Show https://youtu.be/eA7D4_qU9jo ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #266 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify ~Listen and download the episode here. ~For TSLL reader information:  Some of the links shared on the blog are affiliate links, earning TSLL a small commission at no cost to you. Please know, I recommend only products I genuinely like. Thank you so much.

Nov 2019

37 min

A stroll through the Jardin du Luxembourg or one of the many other jardins located about Paris as the many carefully groomed leafy trees turn orange, red and brilliant gold is a memory to savor for travelers who come from far and wide to visit the City of Light during the autumn season. Granted, most travelers wish to visit for many other reasons as well, but being dressed well for the season ensures the visit will be comfortable and help one to fit in well so as to best experience the city as it goes about its everyday business and routines. Last month I shared Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain — with the promise to share each season a capsule wardrobe to pack for both Britain and France. Today, specifically Paris is our focus. To visit during autumn is for a select lucky few, and while I have only traveled abroad during this time of year once due to work restraints, I look forward in the future to more visits during this somewhat "off season". After all, from rain, to chilly temperatures, to stunning fall days complete with cobbled streets sprinkled with leaves, autumn in Paris encourages all the more slipping into cafes, museums, bistros and just soaking up Paris and Parisian life. Let's take a look at what to pack for a comfortable visit for day and evening in Paris. 1.Sweaters Paris can be quite cold when the right combination of dropping temperatures and whistling wind sweeps through, so having warmth, yet stylish warmth is a good idea. Depending upon how long you are visiting, pack one or two sweaters, at least one being oversized for wearing over slim jeans or trousers. Eric Bompard cashmere sweaters are a classic brand offering a wide option of colors and styles. 2. Scarves Just about every person you will see in Paris, men and women will be donning a scarf that is functional and subtly (or sometimes not so subtle) chic and perfectly paired with their outfit. Pack a wool or cashmere scarf for layering with your coat as well as silk large square scarves for wearing with your outfit after the coat has been removed. A great destination to find designer scarves at great discounts is The Outnet. 3. Opaque tights Whether you prefer classic opaque black tights or what the French call collants fantaisie hosierie, tights with details in them, having a pair to keep your legs warm when you still want to wear a skirt or dress is a simple, yet necessary detail to have packed in your suitcase. 4. Ankle boots Worn with pants, jeans or skirts and dresses, ankle boots are a go-to must-have for the fall season. Spanx tights - a variety of options 5. A Leather or Faux Leather jacket Layering is the approach to ensure you have what you need to stay warm, but also look pulled together. A leather jacket is a versatile item pairing well for casual occasions as well as evening outings. Choose a color that works well with your wardrobe and skin tone, and don't feel you have purchase a black jacket. Shades of brown or grey are a wonderful neutral choice depending upon what you will be pairing with it. 6. Knee-high or Over-the-Knee boots Depending upon your style, choose a boot shaft that is tall, but slender. Over-the-knee boots are quite en vogue at the moment and actually have been worn by style icons for years, those that had the aplomb to wear them. And wear them well they most certainly did. With more and more price points available, if you have a nice slim skinny jean or a skirt that is knee or just above the knee length, consider having some fun with this style. However, knee-high boots will always be in style and work well with all ages and wardrobes. If you are comfortable with a little bit of a heel, knowing you will be walking about in them a bit more than usual, go for a heel, but if not, keep them low or flat. Stuart Weitzman boots (knee, over-the-knee and ankle) are classic and available in a wide array of colors and textures. 7. Skirts — day skirts that can transition Knee length or just below the knee skirts are frequently seen on the streets of Paris. Depending upon your body's shape, choose a cut that flatters your figure, but is also versatile to pair with a sweater, your leather jacket as well as a nice blouse. 8. Jeans and/or pants Whatever you feel most comfortable in and can dress up or down easily, pack two or three - jeans, pants or a mixture. Dark denim if you choose jeans and a color of pant that can be worn with at least two different tops you have brought with you. For denim, I highly recommend Madewell. 9. A Trench coat and/or a Wool coat Depending upon what time of the fall season you will be visiting, one or both of these coats is a good idea. Wool coats will be ubiquitous in the winter season, but there will still be warm and temperate days in early fall in which a trench would be perfect. 10. Loafers or sneakers Sneakers are not a no-no anymore so long as they are not trainers. With a vast array of wardrobe sneakers to choose from at varying price points, find a color (white is popular, but it need not be the only neutral choice) that works best with the other items you have brought with you. Loafers on the other hand can be quite comfortable as well and are perfect on those mild fall days in which letting your ankles meet the fresh air won't chill you at all. ~While your sneakers do not have to be as fancy as the Saint Laurent pair at the top of the post, having a pair that is narrow and simple will make walking comfortable and make sure you don't feel out of style. 11. A crossbody bag As you will be walking quite a bit, even if it is simply to hop on the metro or hail a cab, having a handbag that is secure, yet a decent size without being overwhelming is a good idea. While pickpocketers are certainly something to be aware of, and a crossbody bag will help you keep your purse secure, choosing a bag that is just large enough for what you need is perfect for walking about as well as traveling to and from Paris. And since you are in France, why not choose a Polène Numero Un or Numero Un mini? TSLL's 1st book dedicates an entire chapter to international travel, and specifically traveling to and about Paris. Here is an excerpt from the book on How to Master the Metro 12. A long-sleeve blouse Choosing a blouse in a print (is always a simple way to make a statement with the other neutral items in your wardrobe) or a solid that pairs with at least two bottoms in your suitcase is a way to offer versatility for both day and evening. 13. One or two dresses While your wardrobe will be dependent upon your itinerary and what you will be visiting and how you best prefer to enjoy the city, pack one or two dresses. Midi-length is quite popular right now and flattering to many different figures and ages. Depending upon how you most feel comfortable dressing up, make sure you have at least one nice evening outfit. If that is a dress, pack the dress that raises your confidence meter at least two notches. For day, choose a dress that allows you to move, sit, stand and still look wonderful. Wearing what makes you feel your best, so much so that you can forget about your clothes and just enjoy being in Paris is possible when the wardrobe is thoughtfully compiled. These items should keep you warm, but also trés effortlessly chic. Finish with a scarf, and a curious heart and mind, and you will look absolutely stunning. ~View the remaining three seasons of timeless style for traveling to France below. ~Click here for the SHOPTAGR App and to be entered automatically for a giveaway to win $500. TSLL's 2nd Book is now available in Audio Format! (Audible, Amazon and iBooks) SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~Timeless Seasonal Style — Autumn in Britain, episode #263 ~22 French Beauty Secrets Worth the Investment, episode #258 ~Top 10 Style & Beauty Lessons Learned from the French, episode #196 ~View all TSLL's Archived French-Inspired posts and podcast episodes Petit Plaisir: ~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow ~The Story of French by Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow

Nov 2019

28 min

"A true love story isn't a fairy tale. It takes vulnerability and effort." Contentment versus misery. Peace versus malcontentment. Joy versus heartache. What separates a life of the former from the life of the latter in each of these side-by-sides is knowing when to leave life up to chance and when to choose to invest purposely, intentionally and regularly. To successfully reach the result we desire, as with any process, there is a particular order in which certain ingredients must be welcomed into the recipe. Just as with making an awakening cup of espresso, not only do the beans need to be of high quality, but the proper tools must be at-hand and the knowledge of how to use them properly understood. Equally important, the water used that filters through the ground beans must be of high quality, and then, after the necessary process has been tended to, then, the results we wished to see and experience with our own eyes and tastebuds will materialize and savored. Understanding relationships, from the one we will have our entire lives - the one with ourselves, to the relationships we have with others, either platonic or romantic, and how healthy relationships work, and what they require of each of us is life-changing knowledge to possess. The "Before" "There are no directions. There are no checklists. There’s no “to do” when it comes to love, there’s only “to feel” and feeling cannot be predetermined, it cannot be forced. It arises when we move from our heads into our hearts, stay present, and let go; when we drop our typical millennial, achievement-driven style and instead, remember, the only thing truly in our control is our ability to surrender." —Dr. Jordana Jacobs, in a recent article for We Are Doré I recently received a question from a TSLL reader in her mid-to-late twenties, and I appreciated her candid and sincere question about relationships in which she inquired about how to not be envious of those already in relationships when she is not in one and would like to be. The question inquired about my approach most specifically as she had previously shared she appreciated the celebration and contentment I express of being single (for readers who may not know, I am 40) and enjoying my life. I have shared my response below. "Great question. I honestly, after thoughtful observation of what I needed in my own life to flourish, have not been envious [of close friends who "get into" wonderful relationships]. But I do think my temperament is suited to my lifestyle. I think, especially if you wish to be in a relationship, that if you remain open, but do not focus on finding one, it will happen when you are living a life you love no matter what that involves. The universe can surprise you in the most amazing ways." I want to thank the TSLL reader who reached out with her question (I will keep her name private as this was a DM conversation) because I know she is not alone in her quandary. As good timing would have it, after reading this article regarding how currently the culture is approaching dating incorrectly, I found myself nodding in agreement profusely. What I have realized upon reflection as to part of the reason my twenties were unnecessarily exhausting was the energy expended on doing what I thought I "had to do". In this case, the idea that I was supposed to be dating or seeing or getting close to finding my life partner. My experience was less about being inspired by other couples and more a response of not wanting to feel like an outsider. However, it was in my thirties that I finally, as I shared in my books, fully invested my time (outside of my daily teaching job) into getting to know myself and invest in opportunities that my curiosities led me toward. More contentment had and has never been before experienced, and in my case, it all happened without a partner and solely due to my investment in the relationshp I have with myself. Our life's journey, as much as we would like them to be made clear, especially regarding our relationships with others, but vitally as important as the relationship we have with ourselves and where this knowledge will lead, cannot be made known before the opportunities cross our path. When said opportunities cross our path, whether they hint where our passion could lead us or a person who we could not have described until we met them and spent time with them, if we are in tune with themselves, so thereby grounded, but also open to the unknown, that is when our lives begin to blossom. ~Related Posts/Episodes You Might Enjoy: Why Not . . . Get to Know Yourself? 3-part series episode #179, Choosing a Partner — Part Deux: The Importance of Knowing Yourself & The Crucial Must-Have A Wise Investment: Understanding Yourself by Taking Off the Blindfold The "During" "Successful long-term relationships are created through small words, small gestures, and small acts. A lifetime of love is created every single day you are together." —Dr. John Gottman and Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman, co-authors of Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love As much as our lives depends upon chance when it comes to relationships (with ourselves or with others), once chance has introduced us to the career that speaks our language in a way to offer the vehicle to express our talents and passions with the world or to the person who we mesh with more than we ever thought would be humanly possible, this is where chance steps aside (after all, it has put forth an immense amount of effort) and choice steps forward. Even though the adage "If you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life" has been stated as fact quite frequently, the fact of the matter is, the idea of "work" must be put into context. If "work" is seen as a having a negative connotation, then perhaps the quote is true as you are doing something you love doing, but if we look at "work" through its benign, literal definition, it involves effort, dedication, diligence and regular maintenance to ensure the career we so love having the opportunity to be a part of our lives keeps humming forward successfully. When it comes to the latter interpretation of work, the same must be said, according to the co-authors, husband and wife, Dr. John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman, of the new book Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love , for loving, healthy romantic relationships as well. Too often, when a couple or a desired career path fails beyond the initial success or wedding day, it is because the choice and chance were flipped. In other words, the idea that technology and endless "dating" as a "to do" item in our planners would suggest we cannot leave our love lives to chance. But as scary as it might sound, if we wish to find a partner that sees us for who we are, respects us for what we do and desires to get to know us because of this truth, we must strengthen our relationshp with ourselves first and thus fall in love with our lives with or without a partner. In doing so, we are leaving our "finding" of a partner largely up to chance. It doesn't mean we don't put ourselves out there, but it does mean putting our phones and all of the seemingly amazingly helpful apps down. Further, once chance has led us, no matter how long it has taken, to what we patiently hoped we would one day discover, we must then regularly make the choice to continue to invest. Both with our emotional vulnerability and our time. If we want our relationship to grow, deepen, strengthen and endure whether it be our relationship with ourselves or with another, we must choose to put the energy forward of our time, our priority and our courage of belief in what seemingly magically introduced itself into our lives and we bravely recognized it to be something that aligned with ourselves. ~Related Posts/Episodes You Might Enjoy: 16 Tools to Ensure You Are Ready for Real Love episode #11, 7 Components to Healthy, Strong Relationships episode #252, The Characteristis of Being a Late Bloomer and How Embracing This Gift Could Change the World for Everyone At this moment, each of us are at a different point along our journeys whether in our career, or I would argue calling or the pursuit of our calling as well along the journey regarding relationships. Once we recognize where we are, we can discover the clarity of understanding how to proceed. With the right balance of being open to chance and embracing the responsiblity of choosing to invest, the discovery of unexpectedly awesome abundance and contentment will dance into and throughout our everyday lives. Petit Plaisir: ~Trader Joe's Sea Salt & Turbinado Sugar and Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds ~A big thank you to TSLL reader Sarah for finding a recipe to make your own: click here. https://www.instagram.com/p/B30O3MhABGA/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link ~Sponsor of Today's Episode: Click here for the SHOPTAGR App and to be entered automatically for a giveaway to win $250 $500. The winner will be announced Friday November 22nd. ~via affiliate links, some commissions are earned by TSLL. View Full Disclosures at the bottom of this page.

Oct 2019

29 min

"Elegance is not something that adds stress or difficulty to our lives — quite the contrary. True elegance . . . means confidence in who you are and what you love, grace in how you handle yourself, and openness to the best in others." —interior designer Timothy Corrigan in his new book The New Elegance: Stylish, Comfortable Rooms for Today In many ways, Timothy Corrigan's defition of elegance is a cousin to simply luxurious living. An understanding of what speaks to you, what you need to live your best life and how to dance with the world in which you are a citizen, partner, friend and community member, is a skill and a gift that we can all welcome into our lives. And when it comes to our decor, Corrigan describes in his new book succinctly and vividly how to welcome your own unique elegance into your sanctuary. Today I would like to share with you Corrigan's insights into cultivating an elegant home accompanied by a handful of decor images found in his new book. Having had the opportunity to peruse and read his new book which along with home tours also includes his expertise delineated clearly and specifically for Scale & Proportion, Symmetry, Architectural Details, Impactful Surfaces, The Layered Look, Art & Mirrors, The Power of Color, Mixing Elements and more tips and ideas for becoming your own interior designer, I hope you find a guiding compass of confidence to step into your own home and make the changes or updates that would align with your unique exemplification of elegance. ~Note: Upon reading Corrigan's latest decor book, it was brought to my attention that his previous book was An Invitation to Chateau du Grand-Lucé: Decorating a Great French Country House (2013), and I must say, as a Francophile who loves French country homes, I quickly put it on my wish list. That one looks to be a lovely read full of inspirational decor ideas as well. Why Add Elegance to Your Home? "Elegance adds immense pleasure to life. To seek elegance — in your behavior, in what you wear and surround yourself with —is a treat you give to yourself and, almost inadvertently, share with those around you." Depending upon how you most enjoy spending time in your home, you will invest in different ways. If you are someone who enjoys cooking and sharing your meals with others as a way to bring them together, then investing in a kitchen that is best suited to how you cook enabling you to do so effectively will not only bring pleasure to your life, but provide the opportunity to share with those you invite into your home. In this way, elegance is a reflection of your true self to the world that you invite to cross the threshold of your home. It is not about one-upping or showing off, but rather cultivating a space that dances with you and the life you love living, a home that supports you through your journey and also enables you to soar. In other words, you are not burdened by your home when you choose to cultivate elegance, but rather nurtured. Can Comfort and Elegance Exist Together? "Comfort is not antithetical to elegance, but rather its support and backbone. No one can feel truly elegant (at least not for long) if he or she doesn't feel at ease." When we talk about comfort, there is an underlying presence of security, thus enabling the inhabitants to fully relax and breathe deeply in their own space. Corrigan speaks to this need for security being at the underlying roots of all of his designs, "The notion of feeling cocooned, protected and pampered . . . is the one effect I consistently try to accomplish . . . an innate feeling of safety." Each one of us will define a sense of security slightly or significantly different depending upon how we most enjoy living our lives, but either way, knowing what that definition is for ourselves is a crucial key to decorating a home that is our place of refuge. If books nurture you, then make sure you welcome them into your home in a way that pays them reverence. In other words, let them be seen, let them be scattered if that works best for you so that you have a book wherever you may sit down to relax, let them be orderly if simply seeing them brings you a deep sigh of relief, but either way, welcome books into your home. The same can be said for any pasttime, lifeline or hobby that brings you joy and comfort - musical instruments, photos from your travels, flowers from the garden, I think you get the idea. Go forth and bring your world into your home, and then the elegance begins to flourish. How to Live with Beautiful Items in an Elegant Home "The secret to avoiding polishing silver is not to put it away, but to use it everyday — then you won't have to polish it . . . " [in other words] "use what you have. Use it all. Use it now. Few things are sadder than piles of exquisite porcelain and china hidden away in a cupboard, or a large house in which many of the rooms go unused." From the porcelain teacups picked up along our travels to the china set handed down from your parents from your grandparents, use these beautiful, story-telling items regularly and often. I will ease your mind right now and say, yes, you will break one at some time and be heartbroken, but it was being used and loved and appreciated and that how memories remain with us - the repetition of their story dancing about in our minds. And each time we use the item, the memory becomes more vivid and less likely to be forgotten if we wish it to be remembered. We cannot strengthen such a memory if we do not use the items. Case in point, I purchased a teacup and saucer on my trip to Devon two years ago. I only have one, and if I break it, well, it's gone. There is nothing that will replace it, but because I have used it so much (see it here), not only do I have pictures of it in use, but I have used it so frequently, I can describe in detail that mug and all of those wonderful memories come rushing back. How to Use Each Room in an Elegant Home "Each room has a specific purpose, guaranteeing it will be used. And if something you own doesn't work for you, give it away. If a room doesn't function for the way you live, change it to make it work for you." Similar to letting go of limiting beliefs and ways of life, so too can assuming a room must be the room the architect or previous owners planned it be and used it for. Case in point, when I when through my-now-home the first time with my real estate agent, he noted that the small room close the rear entrance would make a great office, as it was wired to be so (internet cables, etc.). Immediately, in my mind, I said, nope. This will be a mudroom. Well, and here again, I would make it a mudroom that would serve my lifestyle and be in many ways, a rear foyer to the home as I will enter it each and everyday from the garage. "Too often, we succumb to visions of how we want to live —in a sleek, white space, a country cottage, or a grand manse — then we feel bad when we can't live to those fantasies . . . Never buy into a trend." As we go through our lives and if we are paying attention to when we are soaring and what helps it to feel this way, we come to realize what we need in our life's routine to feel not only grounded and secure, but comforted and strengthened. Such knowledge guides us through the decorating and appointing of each room's purpose as well. Budget and Elegance "Great design is not about the size of your space or the budget you spend. It is a reflection of knowing who you are and what makes you comfortable, and living confidently and happily with the objects you choose to assemble." My apologies for using my own journey for my examples, but quickly, many readers may remember that my previously own home was 2600 sq feet. Since then I moved into a rental four years ago that was under 1500 sq feet, and it was through living in nearly half of the space that I realized what fit me and my life the best. Now, I will also share that during my first year of teaching, I rented a cottage that was 500 sq feet in Minden, Nevada. That, while thoughtfully designed to make for a cozy and safe home, was too small for my life. But again, we learn as we go. My new home is just under 1600 square feet, perfectly tailored to my life and the life my boys need with a small, but not large yard. There will be times in our lives when we have a choice and other times when we do not, just as we may be making less money than we would like to live the life that would be more comfortable. However, along the way, we can live with elegance. I have found that my time living in rentals — NW Portland, Nevada, NW Bend and even in college — has given me time to experiment, but also explore new ideas (remember that red wall I talked about in my first book? yep, that was a rental, and while I loved it for one year, one year was long enough). Each time, wherever I call home, I have been determined and in a variety of expected and many unexpected ways successful in creating a sanctuary that let me relax and unwind no matter no how much or how little money I earned each month. ~POST TO READ: 7 Simple Ways to Create a Sanctuary Invest in Quality for a Home of Elegance, But Mix and Match Price Points as Well "You should always buy the best-quality items you can afford, but not everything in a room needs to be expensive. A mix of items of different prices, different eras, and differing qualities is far more appealing." From mixing antiques with yard sale finds, custom furniture with shabby chic family hand-me-downs that you will never want to let go, knowing how to marry these two ideas is a skill that becomes easier with time. Much like wearing a quality pair of shoes with a simple pair of jeans and a tee, finished with a tailored blazer, the balance needs to be struck to work well and exude the elegance you seek. Not everything needs to be new or antique, but it needs to speak to the function you require in your life as well as be perceived by you, the inhabitant of the home, as beautiful. Maybe it tells a story that you never want to forget - a framed photo for example or playbill from a play you saw with your grandmother when you were young - or maybe it was an item you saved up for over months, even years, and serves as a reminder of your journey. Whatever you choose to welcome into your space, never forget that quality will last and memories can provide a comfort of confidence when you look about your home. The Gift of Cultivating a Home of True Elegance "I can assure you that spending each day in beautiful rooms, rooms full of personal items and objects you love, will bring meaning and solace to your life, satisfaction, and even joy." Wanting to spend time in your home is the goal. Weekends need not be for escape from our home and everyday life when we create a space that we love spending time in whether we are with others or alone. The decoration of our homes will take time, but with a map of what to look for, a reason for why you want to bring items into your sanctuary and what you want (and need) your sanctuary to do each time you return home, will make the puzzle you are working on bringing together much easier to complete. ~Learn more about Timothy Corrigan's book The New Elegance: Stylish, Comfortable Rooms for Today ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~22 Tips for Creating a Grown-Ups Living Space ~Why Not . . . Shop Consignment Decor? ~episode #260, 10 Simple, Significant Decor Ideas to Add Luxurious Touches to the Home, Part Une Petit Plaisir ~Derry Girls, Season 1 & Season 2, on Netflix https://youtu.be/UFmFuXH0IRY

Oct 2019

32 min

"When we learn how to spot the narratives that get in the way of our happiness, we improve our chances of taking control of the stories that have for so long controlled us." —Paul Dolan, author of Happy Ever After: Escaping the Myth of the Perfect Life "There are countless stories about how we ought to live our lives . . . as such, many of these stories end up creating a kind of social dissonance whereby, perversely, they cause more harm than good. They become . . . narrative traps, which together form the myth of the perfect life." NOTE: Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as a detailed introduction and other conversation is shared. 1. Understand the difference between having wealth and being rich. Wealth is defined as accumulated assets in the form of savings, investment and property and is more difficult to measure. Rich is often understood to be a numerical amount of cash earned in income. Looking at one's wealth is a better reflection of a person's purchasing power. In other words, simply because someone "looks rich", does not mean they are rich. "Getting richer does not necessarily bring more happiness, partly becasue we upwardly adjust the people we compare ourselves to." 2. A happy life doesn't require you to have children "Happy and fulfilled lives are often supported by, but certainly do not require children. There are good reasons not to have children, both at the micro and macro level. It is not helpful, therefore, to push the 'have your own kids' narrative on everyone. Finding a way to celebrate rather than undermine people's decisions to remain childfree by loosening our hold on the social narrative can have a positive societal impact." 3. Stop comparing yourself to others and putting yourself in a position to be tempted to compare. Dolan suggests, if you are going to make comparisons, to make a comparison to any one of the other 7 billion people on our planet. Most likely you are doing very well financially. Not only will this provide perspective but also humility. 4. Let go of the pursuit for more money Once you have a enough money to live a life in which you are not struggling for the basic necessities, Dolan suggests taking the path to "just enough". Why? When we become aware of what we truly need, we are demonstrating we are cognizant of the social comparisons and status markers that may have pushed us to pursue more in the past. Understanding why we are pursuing what we are pursuing, to truly get to the core of the urge, is to make sure we are indeed thinking for ourselevs and not being unconsciously led around by the nose due to the narrative traps we are unaware surround us constantly. Once you stop pursuing more money, "you can stop constantly worrying". And what a gift to give yourself as your everydays will elevate immediately. 5. Reexamine what your success looks like, and let go of the pursuit for status Conscious living is at the heart of what we're talking about today, and becoming clear about what we are pursuiting and what is pushing us to achieve it is crucial to live a more contented life. If at the core of why you are pursuing a particular career is because of the status it will bring, applause you imagine will happen, then you are being led around by a narrative trap; however, if you are instead pursuing a field of study that ignites you, allows you to come to life and aligns with talents that naturally are easy to share, then you are on the right path for the success that will be unique to you. 6. Pursue a career in which many skills are utilized and your contributions are valued Dolan found that those individuals who work on a job that uses a variety of skills are happier. As well, if your work is valued, that too cultivates a work environment of enjoyment. Not only is a job that asks our minds and sometimes bodies to work different skill sets and tasks healthy regular exercise for our brains and beings, but it leads to a feeling of productivity at the end of the day which is very satisfying. Add the knowledge that what we are doing is contributing something of value that we are proud of that the pair is the perfect natural medicine for a sound and peaceful night of rest. 7. Women and girls and education Dolan found that receiving a basic education for girls had a significant effect on the overall happiness of their lives. In other words, making sure all people, but especially girls enables them to have agency over their own lives. Largely because the world is dominated by patriarchies, educating women to understand the world they live in and how to advocate for their own rights as well as navigate in the world that may not, depending upon where they live, want them to think for themselves, is crucial for the individual's happiness. 8. Understand the difference between passionate and companionate love "Given the way that love is portrayed in literature, film and the media, the prevailing narrative clearly places a high premium on its passionate aspect, most often in manipulatively uplifing ways." As shared previously on TSLL, being married is not the causation of happiness, but rather, if the happiness lasts beyond the short-term (as it does bring a feeling of euphoria to have met society's standard or expectation), it is due to two happy people finding each other. In other words, they knew how to be happy on their own and the happiness together, being happy in their choice to come together, likely increased their feelings of contentment. Dolan points these findings out as well. When it comes to falling for the trap of passionate love and trying to mold it into happily ever after, I have fallen into that narrative trap as well. The narrative of intense chemistry swirls around us constantly in the media, and it is up to us to be aware of what it is and what would be best for a long-lasting, healthy, loving relationship. 9. Be married, be single, it does not matter when it comes to happiness More and more studies are revealing that those who are married and happy are no more happy than any other group - single, widowed, divorced. The social narrative of promoting marriage as the goal is prevalent in our society and has been for decades in our modern lives (in previous centuries, due to lack of equality laws, it was often a necessity). When we can recognize the narrative trap, and be clear about what is speaking to us for how we wish to live our lives, we set ourselves free to live our best lives - whether that is with or without someone. Dolan books continues on to explore many other topics such as health, volition, monogamy and altruism. I encourage you to read it as it provides an exercise for the brain regarding the narrative traps we may have stepped into and did not realize it. To make a blanket statement and say that all social narratives are bad is not wise, but all should be explored, and likely, at least for me, you may find that most should be challenged. That is the difficult part as you are going against the grain of what society expects. Dolan reminds that any narrative that is predominant "always serves the interests of those in power, the groups they serve best will depend on the context". What he is suggesting we keep in mind whenever we talk about or consider and examine any narrative is to closely look at the narrative to understand all of the nuances and not make sweeping assumptions or statements. Fundamentally, when we let go of what no longer serves us, we set ourselves free, and much like fall and the as the quote below reminds, it is a lovely revealing of what we have the opportunity to experience as we go about living a life that will bring us far more contentment than we ever thought possible. "Trees are about ready to show us how lovely it is to let things go." —Emily Ley, A Simplified Life SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: 5 Things to Stop Romanticizing Being Single is Luxurious Living, episode #170 7 Components of Healthy, Strong Relationships, episode #11 Why Not . . . Live Consciously? Petit Plaisir: ~Play with the pumpkins ~Downton Abbey, the film https://youtu.be/tu3mP0c51hE ~Sponsors of today’s episode: Candid Co – candidco.com/simple Save $75 off your order with the following promo code – SIMPLE

Sep 2019

33 min

"A home should reveal the personalities of its inhabitants. At its best it should be a portrait of who you are . . . Look at your house as an artist would and have fun creating vignettes as a painter would a still life." —Kristin Perers, author of A Home for All Seasons Fall will arrive next week on the 23rd and spring for the southern hemispheren on the same date. The changing of the seasons, as I recently shared in an interview on the Synced Life podcast, is a consistent and dependable way to be present in our everyday lives. By choosing to be present during each season we are acknowledging that its presence in our lives is evanescent, fleeting and in three months' time will transition into something different. Waiting nine more months is necessary to experience the gifts of each season. Simply knowing the reality, we have all the more motivation to revel in the gifts of each season. Last month TSLL reader Tracy emailed me and introduced me to Kristin Perers' book, A Home for All Seasons which was released quite a few years ago. But as one might imagine, since we have the same seasons each year, it is a classic of a book to refer to every three months - if nothing else, to serve a reminder for ample inspiration. Perers suggests that when we decorate with the seasons, revolving with them, we make our home feel much more alive and dynamic, but at the same time, reflective of the home's inhabitants. And in so doing, we improve the quality of our days as our moods due to our emotions are elevated with each day we spend in our sanctuary. Below are a handful of ways to decorate and adorn seasonally as inspired by Perers' book. 1.Let the seasonal blooms make their statement Whether you pick up your blooms at the farmers' market or from your yard and garden, appreciating the daffodils in early spring, the peonies in late spring, mums in fall and dahlias in late summer, remind us to savor until the blooms are no more. 2. Textiles - slipcovers, curtains, table linens, bed linens, pillows Depending upon what you have in your home that is upholstered, if you have slipcovers, changing the type of fabric if not the color as well is a way to eagerly begin a new season as well as care properly for the linens you have. 3. Determine the focal points of each community room (living room, dining, kitchen, etc.), and change or decorate it differently for the seasons. For example, if your fireplace is the focal point, adorn the mantle with seasonal details. If your dining table is the focal point, either with table linens or blooms, choose what you place on top of it to align with the seasons. 4. Create space to contemplate the beauty of nature I love this suggestion that Perers makes, and while she suggestions physically bringing things in from outside and placing them about the home to prompt us to ponder nature's beauty, I think as well it would be delightful to create somewhere in the home where you can look outside and be cognizant of what season it is. For example, my parents have a sun room in their country home, and with each season my mom will rearrange the furniture: spring - space is made for young seedlings in preparation for planting in the coming months; in summer, ample seating is the preference as it serves as a wonderful place to soak up the sun when stepping outside due to work projects inside is not possible; autumn and the arrangements and bouquets change; and in the winter, the holiday tree is adorned for the festive, wintery season. All the while, we can see outside to observe and celebrate the beauty of the outdoors. 5. Give the bedroom special attention While making sure to attend to all four of the previous items above for our bedrooms — different blankets, duvet covers and pillow covers for the bed; seasonal blooms for the side table, etc. — always keep in mind the power of a space we inhabit, especially in such an intimate fashion as our bedrooms. Here are a few ways to welcome the changing of the seasons in our most intimate room of our sanctuary: Different candle scents for each season Intentional framed photos or artwork to inspire your most current dream. Linen curtains in the summer, and while selecting the same hue, choose a heavier fabric for late fall and winter to add warmth. Different robes and sleepwear for each season. ~Discover and learn more about Kristin Perers' book A Home for All Seasons SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES from the Archives You Might Enjoy: ~Why Not . . . Prep for a Great Fall? ~10 Ways to Welcome Spring: An Opportunity to Start Fresh ~Why Not . . . Savor the Reason for the Seasons? Petit Plaisir: ~Papier hardback customized notebooks (UK site; French site; Australian site; German site) ~TSLL post: Why Not . . . Make Lists? 20 Lists to Keep in Your Everyday Life? ~Check out the second season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen, the cooking show! ~ ~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #261 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

Sep 2019

27 min

Over the next couple of months I look forward to sharing many different decor ideas. I have titled today's episode/post as part une because there will be more to come. I am not sure how many at this point, but with many wonderful decor books being released this fall, I am enjoying perusing through them all, and want to share what I have discovered. The first book that inspired today's episode is Cathy Kincaid's The Well Adorned Home. There may be a second post/episode inspired by her book as she shares an abundance of inspiration, but these are the first ten takeaways that captured my attention. Advice from Cathy Kincaid: "Everyone wants to have nice things, but houses are meant to be lived in and I'm insistent they feel cozy and appropriate for clients and their lifestyle." Buy the best you can afford - furniture, design elements or accessories - not for investment or resale projections, but rather for quality and timelessness. Lighting sets the tone and determines if there will be a cultivated inviting ambiance - mirrors and chandliers are included in lighting as they cast their own light in their unique way. Edit, edit, edit "Take time, relax and enjoy the work" Create some tension with color and discover how to match colors imperfectly, creating some tension. Let's take a look at 10 decor ideas discovered in Cathy Kincaid's new book. I have included a handful of images from the pages, and I have a feeling there will be another episode including even more of her expertise. Be sure to tune into the podcast episode for more conversation on each of the following ten ideas for simple, yet significant decor ideas to add luxurious touches to the home. 1.Add classic moldings to the room to raise the ceiling (so to speak) and incorporate a regal touch 2.Expand a small space by using one pattern throughout "Most people think that pattern will overwhelm a room. That can happen if a pattern is used piecemeal, but the opposite is true when there's continuity." — Cathy Kincaid 3. The Power of pairs Especially in small spaces, to avoid the cluttered look that can happen with too much eclectic charm, include pairs of chairs, nightstands, etc. 4. Balance pattern and solids If the walls have a statement patterned wallpaper, choose solid upholstered furniture and visa versa. 5. Choose comfortable dining room chairs (i.e. upholstered ;)) to encourage your dinner party guests to linger. 6. Select bespoke lampshades to add a signature touch. 7. Include a luggage rack in your guest room Often our guests room is smaller than other rooms, or the closet is already being utilized. Adding a standing, foldable luggage rack conveys a warm welcome in a functional way. 8. Include some open shelves in the kitchen to provide ease of access for frequently used dishes, oils and spices. 9. Convert a beloved table into a kitchen island or work space by adding either a cutting board top or marble top to the surface. 10. Layer rugs on top of one another to make the room feel larger Place a neutral rug on the bottom, which will be the largest, and then a print or pattern that is smaller on top. As I go about examining and considering how to add my own signature to my new home, as well as follow Cathy Kincaid's advice to make sure it creates a cozy home that fits with my lifestyle, I look forward to sharing what I discover. Look for part deux to be shared in the coming weeks as I have many books I am going through at the moment. ~SIMILAR POSTS FROM THE ARCHIVES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: 8 Unique Small Décor Ideas that Make a SIgnature Difference in Your Sanctuary Why Not . . . Add A Touch of France to Your Decor? Why Not . . . Design a Cozy French Living Room? Petit Plaisir: ~The Great British Baking Show, Season 10 (Netflix!) https://youtu.be/E3nYjJ_aa2o

Sep 2019

32 min

In today's premiere of Season 6 of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, personal stylist Tiffani from Shop NYC joins me to talk about the fall season fashions worth investing in, her work with clients, bridal trends, her new and updated Shop NYC digital guide and three books she highly recommends reading. Links to designers, brands and books discussed during the episode: Khaite — Fall 2019 collection Gabriella Hearst — Fall 2019 collection The RealReal — online designer clothing at consignment prices Books Tiffani recommends: City of Girls: A Novel by Elizabeth Gilbert Atomic Habits by James Clear Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport https://www.instagram.com/p/BwbuNBCn1Gs/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link Learn more about Tiffani and her stylist and concierge services as well as purchase her SHOP NYC guide 2019/2020 on her website: shopnycinfo.co  Social media: Instagram - @shopnycinfo Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/shopnycinfo/ ~SHOP TSLL's Fall 2019 Shopping Guide (released yesterday!)

Sep 2019

33 min

Season 5 of the podcast has wrapped up, and I cannot quite believe The Simple Sophisticate has been producing episodes for five years (debuting in September 2014). But it indeed has, and I am very grateful for listeners and their continued interest, positive reviews and sharing what you love with friends and family. Today, the full schedule of Season 6 is available (see above). As you can see, it is very similar to Season five's schedule with at least three new episodes for every month through March. While there may be a few more new episodes shared than scheduled, what you see above are the dates on which new episodes are guaranteed to be shared. If you are new to the podcast, let me explain why I am taking the weeks off in the particular months you see above: April was taken off entirely last year, and it worked out very well for my teaching schedule. As an AP teacher, this is the month we call crunch time as the exam is just a few weeks away. In May, there is only one new episode, but it will be during the second annual British Week which is held during the third full week of May. July was also taken off this fifth season to make time for the production and taping of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen vodcast. Thank you for all listeners for being understanding of this needed month off from the podcast as it was put to good use. I cannot wait for Season 2 to premiere on Saturday September 7th. With that said, next year, I will be including this time to focus on the cooking show again. August: The only new episode in August will be shared during the annual French Week, but as I hope was listeners experience this year, I promise I will make it a knock out episode. :) Looking forward to the Season 6 kicking off with a new episode on Monday September 2nd! Thank you for tuning in and have a wonderful week. ~View all episodes of The Simple Sophisticate here.

Aug 2019

7 min

"Parisian women . . . want above all to become the best possible version of themselves, outside and in, at any age." —Anne Berest, Audry Diwan, Caroline de Maigret and Sophie Mas, How to be Parisian Wherever You Are Each time I have finished reading a beauty book that offers advice I welcome into my regular routine, I think there will be no need to read another book. But the truth is, as we know, as we grow older, so too does are skin; consequently, our need to understand how to best take care of the skin at the age we are become necessary. Since the publication of Ageless Beauty: The French Way by Clémence von Mueffling, TSLL readers continued to recommend it, and it wasn't until this summer that I purchased it and read it in one afternoon and evening. I highly recommend it if you are looking for specific beauty product recommendations for your skin at every stage of aging - jeunesse (20-35) to maturité (55-older). Sharing not only specific beauty routine ideas but also offering detailed explanations so that readers can understand why they are doing what they are doing to justify the investment, the book will be a resource I return to in the future as well when I begin to step from plénitude, as she describes 35-55. But beauty when it comes to products for skincare and makeup are not all that is covered. She writes about food, exercise and carriage, as well as hair and perfume. Today, what I'd like to share with you are 22 beauty secrets that caught my attention and that I either have found to be high advantageous or are new ideas I am now incorporating into my routine. Let's get started. ~Be sure to tune into the audio version of this episode as much more detail is shared than what is shared below. 1.Regularly and properly hydrate your skin A skin's quality determines the aesthetic beauty of one's exterior appearance. "Well-hydrated skin that is dewy and glowing optimally reflects light in a flattering way that makes it look almost like silk." 2. Attention to one's skin must be a regular routine to see the difference you are seeking "One of the most important components of any French woman's beauty routine is just that — it's routine." —Clémence von Mueffling 3. Attend to proper posture 4. Adopt a cleansing routine that properly cleans and cares for your skin Mueffling advocates for washing your face twice (the first time to rid your face of impurities, pollution and makeup - preferrably with a creamy product; the second, to clean the topmost layer which "optimizes the skin's natural protection and regeneration which primarily takes place while you're sleeping"). And while I have only been washing my face once each time I wash my face - in the morning and evening, I have now begun to wash my face twice in the evening as she has suggested. However, as she reminds, the goal is not squeaky, clean skin as that would be counter to what the desired goal is. Rather, it is about cleansing and caring for our skin so that the serums, oils and moisturizes we then apply will be able to properly penetrate enabling the investment we have made in these products to work as they are intended. Depending upon your skin type, she delineates the different types of cleansers to consider in chapter 2: milk cleanser, foaming cleanser, cleansing gel, cleansing oil, micellar water and toner. ~NOTE 8/16/2019: In the audio version, I incorrectly pronounced "micellar". The "c" should be pronounced softly, like an "s" in "cell", not a hard c as in "crunch". Thank you for the gentle constructive feedback from listeners. ~read about micellar water and why I added this beauty essential to my cleansing routine a couple of years ago and continue to love it. 5. Apply a toner after cleansing with a cotton ball. What is the purpose of a toner? As she shares, toners have received a bad rap for being "unnecessarily or overly harsh". Case in point, for the past 10 years, I haven't used one, but did during my 20s. She explains that toners when made properly as the more modern, natural toners are that are available, "use plant essences to deliver targeted ingredients deep into the skin". The reason for using a toner after cleansing and before you apply your serums and moisturizers is to make sure that what follows will be absorbed effectively. ~I recently began using Clarins Camomile toner per her recommendation and find it be soothing, as well as affordable. 6. Make sure your skin is pat dry after cleansing and toning and before applying any serums or moisturizers 7. Start early and be consistent "French women know that the earlier you start a comprehensive skincare regimen, the more youthful your skin will remain." 8. Find a quality hydrating moisturizer as it is essential to your skincare routine I finally found a moisturizer that works well, especially in the arid climate that I live in - La Mer. However, she recommends many moisturizers at varying price points, some below and some above what La Mer is priced. 9. Apply any oils or serums on BEFORE applying your moisturizers I have read conflicting commentary on which should come first, but I am trusting Clémence on this one. Whether you apply a serum or an oil after your toner, apply it after your toner and before your moisturizers (face and eyes). Why? For the same reason the toner and the second cleansing is used to ensure that the moisturizers can properly penetrate and do their intended job. 10. Consider welcoming a humidifier into your home Living in an arid climate, for some reason it took me four years to follow this sage recommendation. However, if you live in a tropical or humid climate, there is no need as the moisture that the humidifier provides is already done naturally in the environment in which you live. Why a humidifier? Remember, the goal is to regularly and adequately hydrate your skin, and especially during your sleep, by keeping your skin hydrated you enable the products to not have to be asked to do more than they are capable of, but your body retains more moisture offering that healthy glow you are looking for. ~1st recommendation (what I use in my home) Honeywell Germ-Free Humidifier ~2nd recommendation Pure Enrichment Mistair humidifier 11. Apply a spritz of thermal spring water After finishing your evening beauty cleansing and moisturizing routine, spritz a bit of thermal spring water on your face. As well, after cleansing in the morning, apply for a a bit more hydrating and extra dewy glow. Blot off gently after letting it sit on your skin for about one minute. ~I am not using after her recommendation Avène's Thermal Spring Water, and based on the size of the bottle, I will have it for some time. 12. Find and use a hydrating and healing lip balm It has taken me a long time to find a lip balm that does just these two things, and it was found after reading this book. Bioderma's lip balm stick will cost you $4.90 at the most and is soothing and exactly what I was looking for. Apply throughout the day and especially just before going to bed. 13. High SPFs are a good idea, let me explain AND consider reducing your time in the sun even when you are wearing sunscreen Perhaps you have heard it as well when you share with others that you are wearing SPF 50 or higher, "beyond [insert number], the SPF doesn't matter". First all, that is incorrect, and second of all, it's absolutely incorrect! Okay, now that I've gotten that off my chest. Mueffling explains that SPF is a measure of a sunscreen's ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin and can be used to approximately how many minutes you can remain in the sun without burning. So yes, wearing SPF 60 as I do, especially on your face, it will save you money and time. But let's back-up what is the difference between UVA (which sunscreens do not protect against) and UVB (which sunscreens do protect against). Understanding the difference has motivated me to stay out of the sun as much as possible during the highest and most direct sun exposure times of the day. UVA (the long waves responsible for aging) are the most harmful because they can cause "the most injury to our cells' they are able to reach inside cells and damage the genetic code, impacting the cells' ability to produce good-quality collagen, hyaluronic acid, and the other proteins needed for proper functioning". UVB rays (the short waves responsible for burning, redness, pigmentation and the superficial damage that occurs immediately after sun exposure) can be protected against with sunscreen (when applied regularly). So, consider limiting your sun exposure and consider increasing the SPF. 14. Help your skin out while you are traveling, especially on the plane, and refrain from drinking alcohol while in flight 15. Avoid spritzing your face while traveling (plane) as it actually will dry your skin out even more 16. Moisturize your hands regularly Hand creams to try: Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream (recommended by Heidi Wynne) L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream 17. Add a facial massage to your weekly beauty routine Something that you can do at home, she provides three basic techniques for massaging your face with a moisturizer you already use. As our facial muscles need to not be contracted all of the time, so when we give them a massage we are asking them to relax. A facial massage will help your facial muscles retain elasticity and remain firm. 18. Visit a facialist regularly Depending upon your age, von Mueffling recommends jeunesse receive a professional facial every season (every three months), plénitude every two months and maturité every month. By visiting a reputable esthetician you can keep your skin in its best shape, combat problems that may arise quickly and accurately without doing more damage and improve the quality of your everyday skincare routine. 19. Eat skin-friendly foods Sharing a long list of best foods to eat, at the core of such a food regimen is eating food that is sufficient in healthy fats, low in caffeine and very spicy foods, regularly include citrus and offering diversity and brilliant colors. ~Why Not . . . Feed Your Body Well? 20. Your Décolleté Needs Extra Care and Attention From cleansing to moisturizing, remember to not only tend to your face and neck but the area between and just above your breasts. 21. Exercise Regularly and Well ~Why Not . . . Get and Stay in Shape? 22. Prioritize Quality Sleep ~Why Not . . . Get A Good Night's Sleep? ~Ageless Beauty the French Way: Secrets from three generations of French beauty editors by Clémence von Mueffling ~SIMILAR POSTS YOU MIGHT ENJOY: Why Not . . . Create a Beauty Capsule Shopping Routine? The Beauty & Make-up Products I Love and Use Daily 8 of My Favorite Beauty Products Why Not . . . Look and Feel Radiant? 8 Ways to Create Glowing Skin, episode #13 Petit Plaisir: ~Le Mystère Henri Pick (2019) https://youtu.be/kbyBzbTYw5s TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . . SUNDAY August 11th Welcome to TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week! 7 French Candles I Love & A Giveaway! – giveaway Visiting Musée d’Orsay and Impressionist Berthe Morisot’s Exhibit MONDAY August 12th NEW podcast episode – #257: An American Being Everyday French – My Interview with author & writer John von Sothen The World, Large & Small, Illustrated for Your Home, Kitchen and Life: A Modvin Paris Illustrated Giveaway – giveaway 5 New-in-2019 French Lifestyle Books I Have Enjoyed TUESDAY August 13th Q & A with Heidi Wynne on Scarves, Effortless Style and Classic Films 11 Helpful Tips for Visiting and Shopping at Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen in Paris A Simple Everyday Luxury: A Gien Mug, giveaway, — giveaway WEDNESDAY August 14th Attending Susan Hermann Loomis’ Cooking Class in Louviers, Normandy 9 Places in Paris I Recommend for Dining, Sleeping, Exploring and Finding the Perfect Croissant

Aug 2019

49 min

If you take an American man and place him in Paris, asking him to fit in, it will take a good sense of humor and a sincere love of France, but this man will be calling Paris his home, his sincere home, in due time. Such a man, or should we say, monsieur, is author and writer John von Sothen. I had the opportunity to meet up with John in the arrondisement he has called home for nearly 20 years - the 10th - and join him for what I like to describe as a "walk and talk". For more than two hours (which felt like minutes as I had the good fortune of being on a one-on-one guided tour of a city I too love, but have so much to learn), he showed me his everyday life from the fish monger where he picks up his poisson, the boulangerie where he walks down to pick up his faily's baquette (or two) in the morning and the restaurant where the neighborhood parents meet up after dropping their children off at school in the morning. His new book, released this past May - Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French - shares the reality of being an expat from America living in Paris all the while being newly married, newly a parent and new to everyday living in France. Needless to say, with a dose of humor, an insatiable curiosity and deep affection for France, and being raised to "contribute" as his mother would also encourage him to do at dinner parties his parents would host in Georgetown in his youth, he has found France to be his home in more ways than he ever intended, but sincerely appreciates. In today's episode, I have divided it into three parts (all included in this one episode). As our conversation begins, we are seated outdoors on a terrasse in the 18th arrondisements bordering the 10th. I hope that you will appreciate the real-time acoustics of the city of Paris' background music as you will hear it all - French conversation, the traffic, and a city that is alive. With my trusty, but small hand-held recorded we chatted about everything, much of what I learned by reading his book and much more. There are a few instances in which the wind is heard, and while I have edited out most parts of our conversation in which the wind was present and obstructive, the instances in which I have not is intentional as what we are talking about is worth hearing, and I did not have the heart to cut it out. Thank you for your patience in these rare moments because the rest is a dance of insights about Parisian and French living from the inside that we don't often learn or hear about. From talking about the famed French vacances that foreign onlookers love to dream about, what being an aristocrat really means in France (psst - his wife is an aristocrat and from an aristocratic family, so he has the inside scoop), the truth about raising children in the city of Paris, how his mother influenced his love and interest in France, why he was raised unintentionally to be someone who could step into a new culture and not be intimidated, what escaping to the country in France is like for someone who loves the city life, the film Amelie, American politics as perceived by the Parisians, and his now quickly-becoming-famous rescue pup made it into a French film. ~John von Sothen's family dog Bogart at home when I met in him July in Paris (left); the French film Yves in which Bogart stars. The film premiered on July 26th of this year.~ Now, a quick note about that last point. Of course, I was drawn to our entire conversation and intrigued about the realities, but when we started talking about his family's dog Bogart, I couldn't help but be intrigued. And perhaps John noticed this because he gave me the opportunity to meet his dog, and so, below I captured a picture of him after I had the chance to say hello. He is the sweetest pup, truly a kind soul and no wonder he is a star on screen because he is a star period. (view the trailer for the film - Yves - here - Bogart appears in the first seen sleeping on the sofa) I do hope you enjoy our conversation. John von Sothen's book is available now, and you can find him writing for Esquire, French Vanity Fair, GQ, and AirMail, as well as other French and American publications (and even sometimes on French television as his book describes in hilarious detail). ~Learn more about John von Sothen and read more of his writing at johnvonsothen.com ~Purchase a copy of Monsieur Mediocre: One American Learns the High Art of Being Everyday French (May 2019) https://www.instagram.com/p/BybapiHAsit/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link ~John entertained graciously my attempts at a photo together, but I wanted to included especially the photo on the lower right as in the background is a piece of art created by his mother of which wsa talked about at the beginning of today's episode.~ ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify ~Find more episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast. ~Find all of the French-Inspired episodes of The Simple Sophisticate podcast here. https://www.instagram.com/p/B1EFxuqg-Zt/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week posts thus far . . . SUNDAY August 11th Welcome to TSLL’s 4th Annual French Week! 7 French Candles I Love & A Giveaway! – giveaway Visiting Musée d'Orsay and Impressionist Berthe Morisot's Exhibit ~Sponsors of today's episode: Candid Co - candidco.com/simple Save $75 off your order with the following promo code - SIMPLE

Aug 2019

90 min

Cultivating our signature style takes time because it involves understanding ourselves and bringing our truest selves forth. In other words, our signature style is more than what we see on the surface. When we discover what our signature style is, it will become a classic for us uniquely because it is a timeless revelation that will not subside with time. It may ebb and flow to adjust with the offerings of sartorial collections of the zeitgeist, but at the core, who you are, remains the same. What you value - characteristics of importance - i.e. integrity and warmth; what brings forth your most beautiful and best self - a particular silhouette and a particular fit so you feel most comfortable as well as stunning; each of these and more are small, but significant parts of your classic, and thus signature style. In today's episode of the podcast, a readers' favorite from last season, discover 18 ways to define your very own classic style. With each point, there will be great discussion and examples, so be sure to tune in to the audio version. ~View the show notes for episode #159 here ~Images 2 & 3 - previous posts shared on IG of Shannon's style over the years

Aug 2019

40 min

While it may appear that everyone outside of ourselves is living lives full of amazing, surreal moments from distant lands or dining out at amazing restaurants, even wearing the perfect item of clothing or experiencing bucket list events with every scroll on our social media apps, the reality is that we too are living an amazing life each and everyday even if it doesn't make our social media page to share with the world. Whether looking about as we take our morning walk with our pups as I did yesterday morning (shared in the image above), waking up in a home that provides the feeling of safety and warmth, conversing with loved ones as we share how our days have unfolded or any number of seemingly quotidian details, all of them are something to celebrate and savor. In today's episode of the podcast, one of the top five episodes of season two in early 2016, you will hear shared and discussed 15 ways to elevate the everyday. In spring 2016 I had been living in Bend for about nine months, and I hadn't left the area since arriving in July 2015. The everyday of my life in Bend to me was electric. I can vividly remember pinching myself nearly every week at the reality I had the opportunity to experience, and while in between now and then, I finally did venture outside of Deschutes County to see my family, travel abroad as well as experience a few moments of frustration, I do my best on a regular basis to remember how fortunate I am, and get excited about the everyday things that make life truly extraordinary. Speaking of those hot air balloons, today's Monday's Motivational post was inspired by them. Have a look at the post here - A Life Lesson from a Hot Air Balloon. I hope you enjoy this episode, and thank you for stopping by. ~View the full show notes of the original episode and post here         Images: captured by TSLL in Bend, Oregon, and shared on IG. If you look closely between the cattails you can see two hot air balloons.

Jul 2019

47 min

I find that the summer months are a wonderful time for assessment and reassessing what works well in my daily routines and why. Similar to the French's La Rentrée which occurs in September after residents have returned from their holidays and school and life and everyday routines return to their regular pace, so too do many of us find ourselves determined to make everything we do run a bit more smoothly. So I will admit, I wasn't surprised when this episode, which was shared in the first season of The Simple Sophisticate podcast, was a listeners' favorite. With some aspects of our daily routines, there are supplies we need to always have on hand to make our everydays run seamlessly, and that is primarily what a Modern Woman's Lifestyle Grocery List is all about. And if you're like me, I take a look at this list every year and update it for my life as it may have changed or improved and different details of each or some of the items may need to be updated, substituted or replaced. I do hope you enjoy and thank you for stopping by and tuning in. ~View the original show notes for episode #28 here.  

Jul 2019

48 min

Summer season offers a wonderful opportunity reboot our eating habits, remind us of the ease and deliciousness when we eat in season and highlight how eating can be pleasure-filled minus the any guilt. In today's episode of the podcast, this archived episode was in the top five episodes of the first season. Originally airing in the fall of 2014, I hope you enjoy discover the 10 Simple Ways to enjoy food and enjoy the body that takes you through each and every day. Visit the detailed, original show notes of episode #8   ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~10 Ways to Enjoy Grocery Shopping  ~A Capsule Menu: What It Is and How to Create Your Own ~How to Create an All-Around Healthy Life, episode #208 ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify   ~Images via TSLL's Instagram from a recent trip to Bend's Farmer's Market - image 1 and image 3

Jul 2019

41 min

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook - try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun." - from Julia Child's memoir My Life in France During the month of July, The Simple Sophisticate podcast will be airing top episodes from the archives. Why, you might be wondering, as this is the first summer I've taken July off? Don't worry, I am hard at work in the kitchen, exploring new ideas for recipes and producing the second season of The Simply Luxurious Kitchen. Premiering on Saturday September 7th, be sure to tune in the cooking show when it returns this fall. In the meantime, today's listeners' favorite episode from the archives shared six life lessons from Julia Child. The original episode aired in 2017, and as I have just returned from France, I thought paying homage yet again to the woman who continues to inspire me and so many listeners and readers would be a good idea. To view the original and updated Show Notes for the episode, click here. Thank you for tuning in, and be sure to stop by the blog each Monday when there is not a new episode of the podcast as there will always be a new Monday Motivational post to kick off the work week. ~MORE Julia Child Posts/Episodes YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~Lunch with Julia Child at La Couronne ~Decor Inspiration: Julia Child's Provençal Home ~Celebrating Julia Child on Her Birthday: And the Many Books New & Loved ~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate: iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify ~TSLL's image captured during time spent in Rouen, France, at La Couronne, the restaurant that she credits for beginning her love for French food. View the entire post on my experience here.  

Jul 2019

33 min

"San Francisco is one of the great cultural plateaus of the world — one of the really urbane communities in the United States — one of the truly cosmopolitan places and for many, many years, it always has had a warm welcome for human beings from all over the world."—Duke Ellington In 2002 I began my career in teaching - my first job was teaching 9th grade English in a small town at the bottom of South Lake Tahoe in northern Nevada. And on occasion, maybe two or three, I believe it was two, times I made the four hour drive to San Francisco for long weekends. I found a small boutique hotel near Union Square, walked and drove the hills (becoming more proficient with a clutch than ever before) giving my calves an exquisite workout, enjoyed a delicious brunch at the Empress Hotel with my mentor who showed a bit more of the city to me on a long holiday weekend, as well as drinks at the Top of the Mark, but each of my visits was well before Google Maps and the entire tech sector engulfed Silicon Valley and the city by the Bay, so I wasn't sure really where to go and just visited as far as my feet and my comfort would take me. Fast forward sixteen years, and I finally had the opportunity to return to San Francisco. Since before moving to Bend, it has been on my list of places to visit. After all, it is in many ways the West Coast's New York City. Understandably, each city is uniquely its own, but having visited Los Angeles, Seattle and many times Portland, Oregon, San Francisco isn't quite like any other west coast urban destination. In fact, I have to agree with Cecil Beaton,"San Francisco is perhaps the most European of all American cities". Now, New Orleans certainly is a destination unique infused with French and Spanish cuisine and history, but San Francisco involves more ease and community than any other major urban city I have visited, sports the most delectable food options, offers transportation that is varied and easier than any other American city I have traveled, as well as a temperate climate that is never too extreme in any season. Again this is my opinion, but perhaps Twiggy is right, "I’m just mad for San Francisco. It is like London and Paris stacked on top of each other". But I am getting ahead of myself gushing about San Francisco. I'd like to share with you all that we experienced in a mere 72 hours this past week, offer up some recommendations, and perhaps encourage you to either visit or return to the Paris of the West (an old term used primarily in the late nineteenth early 20th century largely because of the three waves of French immigrants arriving in San Francisco beginning in 1849 with the Gold Rush, in 1852-53 when Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte III offering a national lottery of trips to California to rid the country of his intellectual opponents, and a third wave of many women and children as in San Francisco's early days, the city was comprised of 90% men. In short order, in 1852, six thousand of the city's 36,000 residents were French).  No wonder I love this city so much. :) I've organized today's episode/post into the three fundamental parts for any trip to any country/city to be most successful. Thinking of it as the tripod foundation of traveling with ease: knowing how to get around to wherever you want to go (transportation), knowing you have a comfortable and safe place to sleep at night, and knowing you will be fed to satisfy your appetite. Where to eat, sleep and get about. Once these three decisions are made, reserved and settled, I am able to loosen up on the itinerary and also relax and look forward to my trip. Let's begin the 72-hour visit to San Francisco. The good news is you don't have to make your plans too far in advance to still have a wonderful experience. Case in point, for our trip last week, the trip was decided upon in April. Plane tickets and hotel arrangements were made, and then one month prior to the trip, dinner reservations were made as well. The only piece of the three part puzzle was to tend to the on-the-ground transportation, which I had researched, and will talk about more below. ~Fisherman's Wharf - classic fishermen’s boats docked in the bay.~ When to visit: "The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco." —Mark Twain Depending upon the weather you hope to experience, as one of our Uber drivers who has lived in the city for decades shared with us, don't come in June, July and August and expect traditional summer temperatures. Nope. While there is the rare extremely warm day as there was a couple of weeks ago, the average high in the summer is low 70s - expect the fog to roll in and out throughout the day and if you're by the bay, the wind will rip through in the afternoon. If you are looking for the idyllic weather, our driver, after sharing Twain's quote above, suggested coming in September and October. I quickly took note. The rain will abate in April and not truly return until November. Again, taking the advice of the driver, so readers who live in the Bay Area or who have lived in the area, please do confirm or correct. Also, we traveled during the work week. The opportunity to arrive on a Tuesday and return on a Thursday was perfect for the pace of everyday life. Nothing was too extremely tourist-laden (there was still an abundance), the evenings were very quiet on the street as we had a street-side window, and traffic at the airport and getting about was as would be expected in any work day scenario - rush-hour, etc. Whenever you visit, bring layers. One day we both were kissed by the sunshine more than we expected, but in the evening we needed a jacket. My mother packed her light-weight cashmere scarf, which was perfect. I saw many people with scarves. What did I forget, of all things? A scarf. I won't forget again. It is a city in which to wear a scarf. How to Get Around Once You Arrive BART - from the SFO airport, the Bay Area Rapid Transit is a very affordable and dependable way to reach the city. We took BART into the city with our luggage with great ease. It was helpful that the line basically begins at the airport, so you have a pick of where to sit and can get situated with your luggage before you get into the heart of the city at which time the train became very full (morning rush hour). The cost was $2.50/person versus a $45+ cab or Uber fare. ~waiting for the airport shuttle to take us to the BART airport stop~ Trolley/Cable Car - $2.75/adult; $1.35/senior - There are only three lines that the Trolley/Cable Cars travel, but they are easy to find on a transportation map. We relied primarily on the trolley throughout our trip. You pay in cash or can purchase a pass online. The fare is good for two hours if you buy a single pass. Each of the many cars we rode on were exceptionally clean, and the drivers very helpful. Bus — We happened to ride a bus one evening as it was serving the same line as the trolley car we had arrived on. The transportation map makes it easy to see where to get on and where they stop, and the pass you use for the trolley/cable cars works the same way. Uber/Lyft versus Taxis - We chose to use Ubers the entire time we were in the city when a trolley wouldn't get us where we needed to go and it was too far to walk, but we also wanted to make to our destination quickly (across the Bay Bridge, to the Golden Gate Bridge and to the Richmond neighborhood). I prefer to take Uber/Lyft because I know what my fare will be upfront. Taking six Uber rides during our trip, we were in a car in fewer than 10 minutes, the cars were clean, the drivers friendly if we chose to talk with them, and we arrived swiftly at our destination). Where to Stay While my list won't be long in this section, what I can share with you is where we did stay during our trip and why I highly recommend it. I know it will not fit everyone's budget nor be what everyone would prefer, but if you are looking for the following, you will be very happy with The Argonaut Hotel on Fisherman's Wharf: Located in North Beach along the Fisherman's Wharf - ideally located for easy access to common sites: Fisherman's Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, a primary Trolley Line that will take you throughout the city, Ferry Building (via Trolley ride), Lombard street, and Little Italy. Comfort - the beds are plush, the rooms are large, and you can reserve a room that will look out onto Fisherman's Wharf Located in a historic building The only hotel on Fisherman's Wharf Quiet - granted, we stayed during a weeknight, but I could not tell we were staying in a city. No tall buildings surrounded us, we woke up to seagulls and even seals saying hello along the bay, and the street doesn't have many cars use it as it isn't a through street to anything of importance to locals or even tourists as the parking lots are set off the shore. Impeccable service - we arrived early - 8:30 am, and while we didn't expect our room to be ready, they found one that was, even gave us a free upgrade and situated us before we went out exploring. If the room hadn't been ready, they would have stored our luggage. ~Fisherman's Wharf seen directly out our hotel room window.~ ~wallpaper in the bathroom~   Where to Eat As one Uber driver who has lived in the city for 22 years told us, San Francisco has always had a strong food culture. Boasting 5000 restaurants, whatever type of cuisine you prefer, you will be able to find it. While he couldn't guarantee it would be delicious fare at every destination, he did note that you can find many wonderful places throughout the city and Bay Area. So let me share with you four places I HIGHLY recommend. Tartine - If you are looking for French bakery buttery goodness, visit Tartine Bakery (the original bakery that opened about 15 years ago) and/or Tartine Manufactory (sit down for breakfast and lunch). The two locations are about 10 short blocks away from each other.           Pearl 6101 Restaurant - Having been opened for about a year, this Richmond neighborhood located restaurant opens at 8 am for breakfast and lunch (closing 1t 2pm), and opens for dinner at 5pm, running until 10 pm. They have brunch on Sundays. ~the scrambled egg plate and avocado toast~ Boulettes Larder + Bouli Bar - Located in the Ferry Building on the far right corner next to Sur la Table, this two-part restaurant offers scrumptious seasonal and locally sourced meals. Boulettes Larder is the light and bright restaurant space that is open for lunch and breakfast (dinners are only reserved for special group occasions, as I learned later).  BouliBar (where we dined) is where they serve lunch and dinner, and the pizza as well as other items on the menu will please your palette immensely. My slow baked King Salmon set atop a bed of millet and vegetables dressed in sparkling vinaigrette was mouth-watering delicious. Paired with a glass of rosé - yum. ~the dining room for Boullettes Larder (open to the public for breakfast and lunch; private group dinners in the evening)~ ~Bouli Bar (open for lunch and dinners for the public)~ ~Pistachio Cake with strawberry ice cream~ Chez Panisse - Yep, Alice Waters' famed restaurant in Berkley. A dream of a experience, of which I will share in detail on Wednesday of this week, so do stop by. Reservations are taken only one month in advance on the day you wish you dine, but one month prior. Call on that day, when hours of operation begin. Every night a different menu. Every menu is seasonal and sourced locally. You can keep your menu. I had mine signed by the waiter. That is how awesome and, perhaps in admiration I am, of this restaurant. It exceeded my expectations. Stop by Wednesday to find out exactly why. ~the entrance to Chez Panisse in Berkeley~ ~the menus - guests can keep them~ ~dessert: Savarin cake with fresh summer berries and candied pistachios~ Now it's time to tailor it what you love Each one of us who visits San Francisco will come to the city for different and special reason. As I shared in last Friday's weekly newsletter with subscribers, my visit was all about the food in preparation for The Simply Luxurious Kitchen's upcoming second season. And the city did not disappoint. However, there were a few other places we took the time to see and experience, and I'd like to share them below in case you too might be curious to check them out. Beautiful views of The Golden Gate Bridge - visit Baker's Beach Consignment Clothing, designer options galore at reasonable prices - Goodbyes (two shops) on Sacramento. To see an infinite amount of flowers - The San Francisco Flower Market Luxuriate in the splendid scent of sourdough bread - Boudin at the Wharf (Fisherman's Wharf) The Ferry Building - farmers market Tuesday and Thursday beginning at 10 am (small); Saturday at 10 am (large) All of the shops inside the building are opened each day (this is also where Bouletttes Larder + BouliBar is located Frog's Hollow Bakery is scrumptious as well and located next to Boulettes Larder So many delicious food-inspired businesses inside. Ghirardelli's Square — Of course, you will find the Ghirardelli's Chocolate shops inside this square, but there are also many other shops, boutiques and restaurants. The view of the bay is lovely, and the park in front, as it is situated next to The Argonaut, was some place I enjoyed just sitting and relaxing after a long day of exploring. ~Ghirardelli's Square in the background, park in the foreground~ With the 72 hour trip nearing an end, we decided to hop in an Uber to take us to the airport as we didn't want to lug our luggage onto BART amongst the crowds, although, it wouldn't have been impossible to do, we were just tired. In a swift 30 minute time period, leaving from our hotel, we were at the airport ready to return to Bend. While I knew we had soaked up every minute of our trip seeing and exploring and eating, we also were able to take a nap each day which for me was absolutely necessary. But even with the naps, I slept deeply and quite more at length this past weekend than I have in awhile. What a pleasure this trip was, and I am thankful it is only a 90 minute flight away. Needless to say, with even more recommendations from readers, and places I look forward to visiting again, I look forward to returning. "Leaving San Francisco is like saying goodbye to an old sweetheart.  You want to linger as long as possible." —Walter Kronkite Be sure to stop by the blog later in the week for a detailed post on Chez Panisse.   ~None of this trip was sponsored and all was entirely planned according to my own curiosities and predilections. However, there are some affiliate links.  ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~Traveling Alone Well, episode #220 ~A Traveler or a Tourist? The Difference ~French Trip Travel Musings (Why Not . . . Make the Effort?), Part Une, episode #215 ~French Trip Travel Musings, Part Deux, episode #216 ~Where to Stay in France While Traveling: A Variety of Luxurious Options Petit Plaisir: ~Late Night ~Written and Co-Produced by Mindy Kaling, starring Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling, John Lithgow, Reid Scott (VEEP) ~Support women in Hollywood to promote multi-dimensional, diversity in age, ethnicity, life-experience and the varied representation of women that inspires women and young girls to be the hero of their own lives and others, not the playmate in someone else's story. Learn more about the statistics of women in Hollywood. While the numbers are gradually improving, they is progress to be made, and when we go see films that support what we truly applaud and wish to see more of, producers and film executives follow where the money is.   https://youtu.be/XE7OVnets4g   ~All images via TSLL, any image with Shannon in them were taken by my mother (thank you Mom!)

Jun 2019

54 min

We talk quite often about the importance of routine, and how by having a routine, we actually set ourselves free, especially our minds. And it is in that vein that Mason Curry shares his two books Daily Rituals. His second is focused entirely on Women at Work, sharing the routines and preferences of creative women who lived and created over the past four centuries. I thoroughly enjoyed his second book, even more than the first which I also found great inspiration. It was refreshing to see so many women living their lives in a variety of different ways, but all in which they discovered worked well for them and the craft they most loved. Not all of the ideas resonated with me, but it was wonderful to get into the minds for a moment of these women and how they approached their days. I highlighted vigorously from beginning to end, and would like to share 34 daily routines to consider to enable your creative ideas to flow freely and without withdrawal. Some will speak to you, some will not, but each one is inspired by a woman's routine which is shared in the book: Daily Rituals: Woman at Work - 143 artists on how they paint, write, perform, direct, choreograph, design, sclpt, compose, dance, etc. ~Be sure to tune into the audio version of the podcast where much more discussion takes place on each point.  1.Begin with a hot glass of lemon water Designer Elsa Schiaparelli woke up at 8 am, sipped lemon-juice-and-water and a cup of tea for breakfast as she read the papers, handled private correspondence, made telephone calls and gave the menus of the day to the cook. 2. Wake up early if that is when your creativity is most fruitful —Lillian Hellman would wake up at 6am. —Marie Bashkirtseff would wake up at 6am —Maggie Hambling wakes up at 5am each morning "I get up between three or four o'clock in the morning, because that's my best writing time." —Octavia Butler 3. If spending less time with people fuels your creativity, embrace it fully "I enjoy people best if I can be alone much of the time. I used to worry about it because my family worried about it. And I finally realized: This is the way I am. That's that." —Octavia Butler in 1998 4. If traditional "holidays" don't work for you, create your own, or dive into what you love. Coco Chanel worked six days a week, and dreaded Sundays and holidays. As she told one confidant, "That word, 'vacation,' makes me sweat." 5. Greet the day in a habitual way that sets the tone for a great day 6. Live your ideas, don't talk about them "People would sit around and talk about things constantly. I never really went in for that. If you talk something out, you will never do it. You can spend every evening talking with your friends and colleagues about your dreams, but they will remain just that —dreams." —choreographer Martha Graham 7. Keep a small journal next to your bed to capture ideas "I always have notebook and pencil on the table at my bedside. I may wake up in the middle of the night with something I want to put down." —American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay 8. If you work at home, carve out a part of the day to get out of the house and just absorb inspiration or let go of the day completely  "In the nocturnal evening, I get the hell out to some movie or damn play and I come back and sleep like a rock." —Frida Kahlo 9. Figure out the ingredients that are needed to let the ideas find you To develop a new work of choreography, Agnes de Mille needed 'a pot of tea, walking space, privacy and an idea'. 10. Don't feel obligated to keep the same schedule when you are in the middle of creating your art or craft Margaret Bourke-White required long periods of solitude to write, with as few interruptions as possible." In an interview with a Life photographer Nina Leen, Leen remembers after asking her if she would have lunch with her, "She told me she was writing a book and there was no hope of a lunch for several years. 11. Don't feel bad for loving your work and working on what you love beyond the traditional work hours. "Everything seems petty and uninteresting, everything except my work . . . ". Russian-born painter and sculptor Marie Bashkirtseff 12. Do something during the day that is relaxing and keeps you present 'I relax before lunch by arranging flowers . . . When these are all beautifully arranged in bowls and vases, it's usually lunch time." —English actress Gertrude Lawrence 13. Have a studio or space of your own to create "The most important thing is to have a studio and establish and preserve its atmosphere." —Agnes Martin 14. If you love solitude, embrace it  "But it is, as Yeats said, a 'solitary sedentary trade.' And I did a lot of gardening and cooked my own food, and listened to music, and of course I would read. I was really very happy. I can live a solitary life for month at a time, and it does me good." —poet Katherine Anne Porter 15. Trust your intuition as to what works best for you "It's not right if it doesn't feel right." —English painter Bridget Riley 16. Find regular time to just read what you love Rachel Whiteread [English sculptor] would "at some point stop for lunch, and she'd often spend an hour of the day reading sitting in a comfortable chair away from her desk. 17. Establish a flexible routine to work with what you need Morning routine: "Zittel feeds her chickens, waters plants, and performs other outdoor chores before meditating, taking a shower, making breakfast and getting dressed. In the winter, Zittel's morning schedule reverses: She meditates, showers and eats breakfast first; then, once the sun has raised the outdoor temperature, she heads out on her hike and does chores. 'It's really all about establishing a flexible routine."Andrea Zittel, an American artist, in 2017 18. Don't quit trying to live the life you wish to live "It never occurred to me that I couldn't live the life I wanted to lead. It never occurred to me that I could be stopped . . . I had this very simple view: that the reason people who start out with ideals or aspirations don't do what they dream of doing when they're young is because they quit. I thought, well, I won't quit." —Susan Sontag 19. Try a crossword puzzle like Joan Mitchell 20. Determine what view in your studio/sanctuary/work space is most productive for inspiration "Where do I write? In a Morris chair beside the window, where I can see a few trees and a patch of sky, more or less blue." —Kate Chopin, American writer 21. End the day with a signal to your mind to relax "During the performance I drink water with breadcrumbs, which is most refeshing. After the ballet I have a bath as soon as possible. Then I go out to dinner, as by that time I have an unmerciful hunger. When I get home I drink tea." —Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova 22. Let baths be your creative muse "Baths also played a part in her creative process - a post-breakfast bath enjoyed regularly by Virginia Woolf. 23. Let lunch be a true mid-day break At 1:00 p.m., Hambling has lunch, takes her Tibetan terrier, Lux, for a walk, and switches on the television to satisfy her tennis addiction. 24. Write when inspiration hits - even if it is in bed in the morning so as not lose the ideas.  25. Go outside and breathe in the fresh air "Fresh air and cold water are my stimulants." —Harriet Martineau - the first female sociologist 26. Enjoy someone's company for tea, lunch or a walk regularly  Emily Post would regularly welcome a guest or two for tea in the afternoon. 27. It's okay for your personal time to be less than what others feel is acceptable  "It seems to me you have to have your personal life organized so that it takes as little of your time as possible. Otherwise you can't make your art." –Eleanor Antin 28. Don't expect the routine to come naturally, create one and stick with it as it enables you to flourish 29. Cook and walk "The only other essential component of her day is a twice-daily walk with her dog, during which she avoids thinking about her writing project. In the evening, she makes herself a simple dinner and goes to bed at 10:00 or 11:00 p.m.." —Isabel Allende 30. Create space for your ideas to be seen  "Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient." — Hilary Mantel "I think the way to become inspired is to empty your mind and let things come into your mind."  —Joan Jonas 31. Do you and don't apologize "I live here as in Paris. I rise every day at 5 o'clock; I drink my two large glasses of hot water; I take my coffee; I write when I am alone, which is rare; I do my hair in company; I dine every day with the king, chez lui, or with him and les seigneurs. I make calls after dinner; I go to the theater; I return to my place at ten o'clock; I drink my hot water , and I go to bed." —Marie-Thérèse Rodet Geoffrin, a major salonniéres of the French Englightenment 32. Turn on music paired with your favorite drink to start the day "I wake about nine, turn on the symphony and have juice, fruit and a pot of black coffee . . . " —Grace Hartigan, American painter 33. Leave evenings open for your social engagements "In the evening, she would see a friend for dinner or attend another social engagement. But the real key to this perfect writing day, she said, was to know that the following day would be exactly the same." —Eudora Welty 34. Be patient until you find what works, then cherish it "Trial and error, and then when you've found your needs, what feeds you, what is your instinctive rhythm and routine, then cherish it." —novelist Doris Lessing ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~Why Not . . . Be Creative? ~The Benefit of Daily Rituals ~The Importance of a Daily Routine & How to Create One You Love, episode #164 Petit Plaisir: ~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, a Patricia Wells recipe, click here for the recipe ~Why Not . . . Grow a(n) Herb Garden? ~Check out TSLL's IG account, see the Highlights and Part 3 of my FR Trip '18 - mid-roll to see the presentation of the dish in Provence. ~Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup with Dill and Fresh Mint, enjoyed in Provence with Patricia Wells and the other cooking class students during the summer of 2018~ ~the same dish served this past weekend as the second course during a dinner party at my home. Cool and crisp cucumber and yogurt soup.~

Jun 2019

45 min

"Across the world, despite all prejudices and beliefs against it, singlehood is the growing trend." —Elyakim Kislev , author of Happy Singlehood: The Rising Acceptance and Celebration of Solo Living It is highly beneficial to understand the construction of our beliefs regarding singledom, so that after discarding the myths and acknowledging the realities, we can "freely choose whatever lifestyle fits [us] best". With the life expectancy in most developed countries rising to just under 80 years, it is a statistical probability that all of us will be living single or solo at some point in our lives whether by choice or circumstances, and consequently, knowing how to enjoy being single is a skill that would be most beneficial to acquire. Depending upon our innate temperaments, which is different than our personalities, each of us is more predisposed to be comfortable or prefer more or less social engagement. And depending upon what we most enjoy doing in our careers and in our free time, we will be more or less inclined to seek out companionship for long or short durations. Elyakim Kislev's new book, which was released in February, includes extensive research and an abundance of studies that demonstrate the reality of our modern world that no matter what you prefer, will enable each of us to live more consciously and thus more fully, as well as support others in our lives who choose to live in a manner we may not prefer or choose. The first powerful finding that spoke to me was the acknowledgement of an unspoken truth regarding marriage (these studies involves a large majority of the industrialized world, not just the United States) - why do people step more easily into marriage even with modernizations of the world we live in today. Studies have actually proven that the 51% of individuals entering into marriage acknowledge that it is "a fear of aging alone or dying without anyone at our bedside that drives us into marriage". "Marriage may not be such a good way to escape loneliness in old age. Not only do married people feel lonely in surprisingly high numbers, but also long-term singles are often better equipped to deal with loneliness later in life". Yes, that does then mean 49% of people did not report this as a reason, but that alone should give us pause, especially when we know that the divorce rate is nearly as proportionate and the percentage of a second divorce is higher still. While each couple's situation is uniquely alone, to not address this fear is to place an undeserved burden on individual we are marrying. In fact, studies have proven, when we do address this fear, as those who have never married do, earlier in our lives, the individual is more likely to make the best decision for themselves and thus improve their overall happiness no matter what the decision may be. Many TSLL readers/listeners know I am single and have been for the majority of my life. Don't worry, this is not a post/episode advocating for being single if you are either already in a happy marriage, happy relationship or wish to be coupled. Rather today's posting will hopefully broaden our understanding of the realities of societal norms, motivations, pressures, expectations, unconscious biases and realities so that whatever your life's journey is and will be, it is one made with a clear mind that has discarded the myths and is then able to make the best decisions for you and the life you wish to lead. True contentment, in other words, is the goal of today's posting. 26 Ways to Ensure Happy Singledom ~Each of these points are discussed in detail in the audio version of this podcast episode. I encourage you to tune in for further clarification of each point or pick up the book Happy Singlehood from which each of these points were inspired. 1.Assess honestly your self-perception of how you define loneliness and where that definition was constucted. 2. Build and continually nurture a strong social well-being Having a strong social well-being helps eradicate or reduce social loneliness and emotional loneliness as you will have people in your life in which you feel close to and may turn to (emotional), as well as have both intimate and peripheral acquaintances that give you a sense of belonging (social). ~Listen to Episode #92 - Elements of a Strong Social Well-Being - for further discussion on the construction. 3. Conduct a life review: Self-reflect and find peace with your journey thus far "Happy older singles [have] the ability to look back and gain control over the circumstances that led to being single". 4. Celebrate and exercise the ability to make your own decisions 5. Revel in your solitude - produce your own "show" so to speak 6. Take responsibility for your own contentment ~View a long list of archived posts and episodes on cultivating true contentment or pick up my 2nd book - Living The Simply Luxurious Life 7. Distinguish between the myths regarding marriage and singlehood and reality Myth versus reality: "Young people fear being physically vulnerable in old age more than elders [actually] do". "Fifty-seven percent of the eighteen-to-sixty-four-year old population anticipate memory loss in old age, while only 25 percent of those aged sixty-five and above actually experience it. Furthermore, while 42 percent expect serious illness in old age, only 21 percent of those aged sixty-five and above experience the same." "While an expectation of loneliness arises among 29 percent of young people, only 17 percent experience loneliness in old age." 8. Foresee and prepare for potential emergencies In other words, financial planning - engage with it early, often and regularly, craft a living will, construct your own "family" - . 9. Engage with your community for resources, connection and engagement 10. Learn how to socially engage as a singleton in a manner that makes you feel safe and fulfilled 11. Refrain from seeing marriage as a form of "self-validation". In other words, seek validation from within, as society's values are limiting, dynamic and generalized. ~A post you might enjoy on this topic: First, Seek Self-Approval 12. Use your time being single as a time for self-growth and development - find the road to your truest self ~A post you might enjoy on this topic: Why Not . . . Live Alone for a While? 13. Maintain and strengthen your overall health - physical and mental ~An episode you might enjoy on this topic: The Six Pillars of Good Health, episode #212 14. If you are a pet person, welcome a pet into your life. 15. Confront the fears that are causing you to assume marriage is the answer to assuage them before you get married for the wrong reasons. 16. Simply be aware of the social stigmas, discrimination and pressures placed on singles. Doing so will enable you to confront and effectively deal with situations when they arise in a productive way to potentially bring more awareness to the realities and discrimination that exists. 17. Have a positive self-image and self-perception of your life as someone who is single Present yourself to the world, whether at work or in your personal life as the confident and happy person that you are - some who happens to be single - knowing that is not all that defines you. Gradually, images change when we put a face to the reality. 18. Build your self-confidence Find work and hobbies in which you feel valued and accomplished - this could be in your career, in your hobbies or in your social network. Be willing to try new things, and as you see that you can learn, change, improve and grow, you begin to realize you hold more power to cultivate the life you love than you may have realized - thus your confidence grows. ~An episode you might enjoy on the topic: Confidence: How to Gain It & Why It's Invaluable, episode #5 19. Consciously avoid the social pressure and discrimination In other words, your attention gives validation. And if you choose not speak up, what is said or done is deemed as acceptable. Whether it is the conversations you listen to or engage in, the people you spend time with, the films you pay to see, the music you listen to, etc., your time, money and attention are powerful - give it consciously. 20. Speak up and confront discrimination when it occurs Often people aren't even aware of their bias regarding marriage being the "best" option. Construct a parallel question to those who ask "Why are you still single?" or "I'm still keeping an eye out for you." There are some great ones in the book. Make sure to keep the comment or question equal to what was received so that the speaker can see the error of their words and assumptions. 21. Seek a career or a calling that gives you purpose, in which you feel you are contributing something of value to the world. 22. Find a balance with work and leisure 23. Let your curiosities guide you to seek out educational opportunities for growth 24. Strengthen your three pillars of good health - physical, mental and financial 25. Acknowledge and cultivate manageable household responsibilites 26. Recognize that choosing and embracing being single is not out of weakness or selfishness, but of strength and awareness to connect often more consciously. "As singles, we know more than anybody else that true independence is actually interdependence." We liberate ourselves when we recognize there are many different ways to live well in our modern world. And even for those who do not fully or will never accept that there is more than one traditional way to live contentedly and contribute to society positively, as well as giving ourselves the opportunity to be self-actualized, when we model the reality rather than the myth, we encourage others to explore and reach their full potential as well. A more content world is a peaceful world. If anyone is so fortunate to find a partner to enjoy life with should they wish to and be able to reach their fullest potential without feeling they are limited, confined or lonely in something they "should" be doing, what a magnificent awesome union. Losing such a person, no matter what our age would be heartbreaking, but we can only control and strengthen ourselves, and when we strengthen the muscle of self-reflection, acknowlegement of fears rather than a suppression, we set ourselves free to live well throughout the entirity of our life's journey. The responsibility each of us has is to not place upon someone else's shoulders that which we are capable of doing ourselves. When we take on this responsibility of cultivating our own happiness and contentment, we will see more clearly what path we truly wish to travel, we will strengthen all of our relationships as we recognize we are interconnected in large and small ways, and we will give ourselves a deep breath of relief and excitement for the next step in our journey forward. ~SIMILAR POSTS/EPISODES YOU MIGHT ENJOY: ~Why Not . . . Be A Confident Single Woman? ~Single or Married: 20 Things To Do ~The Truths & Myths of the Independent, Single Woman, episode #94 Petit Plaisir: ~Daily Rituals: Women at Work by Mason Curry

Jun 2019

44 min

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