The simple sophisticate is someone who prefers quality over quantity, sensible living over mindless consumption, personal style instead of trendy fashions, has an insatiable curiosity for life’s endless questions and a desire to live a truly fulfilling life rather than being led around by the nose. Inspired by her lifestyle blog The Simply Luxurious Life, Shannon Ables (the original Simple Sophisticate) shares with listeners tips on how to live a refined life on an everyday income. From achieving your goals, preparing a memorable meal, creating a capsule wardrobe, traveling the world (Francophiles and Anglophiles tune in as Paris as well as the English countryside are favorite destinations), and living life to the fullest without breaking the bank, living well is really quite simple.
*illustration by artist Sarah Löcker exclusively commissioned for the show
321: 9 Tips for Resetting into a Life Rhythm to Harmonize with Your Life's Desired Composition
December has the ability to take us out of our daily and weekly rhythms. With all of the joviality and celebration, we often excitedly step into the change and welcome the shift of energy and focus.
Similarly, when we have chosen a temporary project to focus our attention, our life routine, where we place our energies, what is prioritized and how we go about our days voluntarily changes. However, what we realize, is the routine preceding December or the commencement of the project, if we intentionally cultivated it, was created for a helpful reason.
As shared in episode #316, our lives need 'white space' as that is where we breathe, think, settle, found the ground and our balance before moving forward well into whatever is in front of us. To look at it another way, why is beautiful music so beautiful? Claude Debussy explains, 'Music is the space between the notes.' When our lives become too full, too jammed with demands, even if they lead us to supposed exciting results, our beings suffer, our peace of mind suffers and we ultimately end up exhausted gasping for space to catch our breath, unable to connect well or fully in a way that would actually foster the life we love living.
Inspired by my own life at the moment, the week ahead is my first week stepping back into the weekly and daily routines I have longed desired to be a part of my everyday life. The contractors are done. I have one job to hold my focus during the workday hours and I have five days in front of me to reset.
Resetting does not necessarily mean returning to what was. After all, the project has concluded bringing a result not previously part of your life, and if you are resetting after the winter holidays, you no doubt experienced either connections, conversations, or moments that deepened, awoken or informed you about something unknown prior to the month of December. You have the opportunity to apply what you are now aware of and enhance your way of dancing with your days and weeks.
How to reset constructively:
1. Let the rest and recovery happen
Your body is likely more tired than you realize as you have been traveling at a different pace and it has been carrying you with adrenaline to push through; however, this is not sustainable for clear thinking or engaging.
Often you know you need to give yourself excessive rest when you fall asleep far earlier than you ever would (7pm on the sofa - zonked out). Your body is trying to speak to you. This is not a bad habit because it is not a habit. It is a need, and when the body is fully rested, you will be able to return to your regular 7-9 hours of sleep, turning in at your usual time and waking up to begin your day well. However, in the meantime, honor what your body is asking for.
2. Reflect on your previous routine pre-project/holidays
What I have done and did do this past weekend was pull out my old journals as I keep a list of my daily schedules as they evolved over time. I read them closely to understand how and why I chose them, and even though you may think you will remember, often, it is the details of the day that make it harmonize with what you need, so read and look closely.
Bring back what you missed, ignore what was a headache, and then read #3 . . .
Now is the time to just put down on paper in a journal or talk with a counselor what you are relieved about, anxious about, hopeful about, excited about, etc..
Often we think by 'thinking about' each of these items in our head, we've helped ourselves out, but actually, they remain jumbled in our mind and we haven't sorted out the 'why' clearly or rationally.
When we see our thoughts on paper, when we hear our words spoken outloud and being received by another person who is objective, we can ascertain where we are being constructive in our thinking and where we are still stuck in the stress or jazzed-up, adrenaline fueled energy (that i
320: What If . . . This Was the Year It All Came Together? Are You Ready?
“You were brave and it paid off.”
I am starting with where you will be at the end of 2022 because it is absolutely possible.
Yes, it is.
Let me first acknowledge where you might find your mind when you first read the title of today's post/episode followed by the quote. Doubtful, skeptical, it is wishful and empty thinking you present Shannon.
Okay, I hear you, I acknowledge those same feelings arose in my own mind when such a question - What If . . . ? and just that quote regarding being brave first crossed my path. After all, we all have reason to be terrified after the past two years due to everything that has unfolded, what has been revealed, what we have had to do to make it through. We all have beyond justifiable reason to play it safe, to hold on to what is left (or what we think is left), to be scared, to be doubtful, but I am choosing to look at it differently, and this will come as no surprise to readers of the blog and this podcast as the content shared on TSLL especially over the past two years, but over the entire life of the blog (12 years) has defaulted to possibilities becoming reality.
More than any time previously, collectively speaking, the world has witnessed both the privilege and the disparity, the unexpected and never predicted as well as the power of people. We can utilize what we have witnessed and elevate not only the lives of those around us, but our own life or we can ignore it and continue to just get along.
I choose the former and I am confident you will as well.
In the Broadway play If/Then with Idina Menzel cast in the lead role, a play I had the good fortune to watch in 2014 - my first ever to see with my own eyes in NYC - the idea is presented regarding what happens when two different paths are chosen by the same person. How does one's life unfold? Will we end up in the same place years removed or will we give up opportunity? Does fate play a role or not? From romance to career, to friendships, (there is even a song titled, What If? - listen to here or below), both storylines play out before theater-goers' eyes, and what is witnessed is that our choices do matter, our bravery matters; however, in both storylines, we cannot control the other pieces of the story - the other people, the world events, the interactions and storylines of other people and what they are going through in their own lives. But we can dare to love, dare to step forward into the unknown, dare to try, dare to be fully human and be kind and curious because when we choose this approach, we let love into our lives in both hoped for and unexpected ways, we create memories we never want to forget and we build relationships and legacies we are proud to have taken part in with our whole heart.
Below I have gathered up potential hoped for and desired scenarios you may hold in your heart as you stride into 2022 as Norman is striding onto the beach in the picture below. Paired with each I have included what each of us will need to do in our lives to ensure the best possibility for our hope to materialize. In other words, we cannot sit, cross our fingers and be passive. No, we must act, we must take part, we must engage and do so in constructive and secure ways to give the opportunity the best enticement to unfold before our very eyes.
Let's take a look at the list below.
What If . . . your health flourished?
Learn to understand why you eat the food you do - emotional triggers, perceived voids, needing to know how to cook well and with what: 9 Ways to Organize Your Kitchen, Improve Your Health & Help Out the Planet; 15 Kitchen Tools to Cook Anything Like a Pro; check out The Simply Luxurious Kitchen cooking show for seasonal fare to elevate the everyday meal.
Explore preventative mental health practices: Quality Thoughts = Quality Life; Taming the Overthinking Mind
Become curious about gardening
319: How to Trust, How to Be Trustworthy and How Understanding Both Will Transform Your Entire Life
"As we practice unconditional trustworthiness, we notice a healing result: we are no longer devastated when others fail us. Our focus has shifted from ourselves as victims of others' betrayals of fidelity to our own commitment to trustworthiness. We still see that some people are not trustworthy, and we feel sad and injured. But as long as we do not follow suit, we are not so hurt as we once were—and we like ourselves more. This does not mean that we have become naive or gullible. It actually shows that we trust ourselves more. Then we become more discriminating in recognizing trustworthiness in others." —David Richo, author of Daring to Trust: Opening Ourselves to Real Love & Intimacy
Often the word trust is expressed as a fundamental desire to find in other people, but what often is forgotten is how we play a role in both being fully trustworthy, but also trusting ourselves. Having self-trust, David Richo shares in his book Daring to Trust is one of the four types of trust we must possess in order to live a deeply enriching and fulfilling life.
What are the other three types of trust you may be wondering? We will talk about those in today's post/episode.
Over the course of this podcast, I have shared many discoveries from a vast range of books on how to improve the skills that will improve the quality of our lives (see the list of the most recent, the past two years, below). I found it especially poignant and timely that I read Daring to Trust as the year 2021 wound down.
#318: How to Become a Secure Adult in Relationships, inspired by the book Attached #287: 5 Things to Do to Build Healthy Relationships and 4 Things Let Go (inspired by David Richo's first book - How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The 5 Keys to Mindful Loving) #307: How to Step into your Fullest True Self, inspired by Martha Beck's book The Way of Integrity #301: The Courage to Live Fully & Deeply, inspired by the book The Courage to Be Disliked #275: 34 Ways to Attain Emotional Freedom and Cultivate More Joy of Living, inspired by Judith Orloff's book Emotional Freedom #293: Choose a Life You Love Living Each Day (yes, it is possible), inspired by the book Nonviolent Communication: The Language of Life blog post: 9 Ways to Think Like a Monk, as taught by Jay Shetty
Often we aren't certain or cannot pinpoint what exactly is preventing us from living a life of true contentment. Perhaps we have come quite close, have felt it from time to time, but not consistently. There are moments of deep fulfillment and peace, but it eludes us at other times, and we wonder what we have done wrong. For me, after reading the following books listed above (link to the episode each book inspired), I felt confident I had the ingredients to live a life of everyday contentment, and largely I did, but the said contentment would flit away when certain moments would present themselves, and so I kept searching. I told myself, there must be a missing ingredient I have overlooked. I must have missed a crucial skill for holding myself steadily in contentment each day.
Turns out it was understanding what true trust is and how to be fully trustworthy all the while acknowledging that we (and others) are human. Both of these concepts are what will be discussed in today's episode/post.
First, let's find common ground on what trust is. David Richo defines it simply as reliance on reliability. He underscores, "[Trust] is not dependency but rather an inner assurance, a confidence that gives us a sense of security."
1. Strengthen your trust IQ: Know when to walk away
"We trust others when we feel safe and secure in their presence. Our insistence that we will spend time only with those with whom we feel safe increases our trust IQ. Over time, we become more adept at telling the difference between a con artist and a straight-up guy. When we feel unsafe with someone and still stay with them, we damage our ability to discern trustworthines
318: How to Become A Secure Adult in Relationships
"If we feel secure, the world is at our feet. We can take risks, be creative, and pursue our dreams." —Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F. Heller, M.A., authors of Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love
Until we know the priceless gift of peace security in relationships of any type bring into our everydays, it can seem unfathomable to trust such peace is possible.
On the flip-side, if all that we have ever known due to the good fortunate of our upbringing with secure, loving parents and community is a life and way of being that enables us to try, explore, and soar, then it isn't until we meet someone or try to engage with someone who is insecure that we realize the awesomeness of being secure in a relationship.
During the height of the pandemic lockdowns, a book that was published in 2010 hit record sales as those in relationships sought advice on how to strengthen their relationships, those desiring a relationship inquired how to be and find and build a secure relationship and wherever else readers may have fallen on the continuum of wondering about relationships picked up the book Attached.: The new sequence of adult attachment and how it can help you find—and keep—love by Dr. Amir Levin and Rachel S.F. Heller.
Without the tools or knowledge to understand what feeling and behaving in a secure way might be, we do our best to navigate the emotions that naturally arise when we take the risk of meeting someone knew and intertwining two different people's lives into one, yet hoping to ensure contentment for both. However, if we don't know ourselves well, don't know how to communicate clearly, yet kindly and without harm, and our partner doesn't either know themselves well or doesn't communicate effectively, how are we know what works for the two individuals involved?
The good news for all of us is that having a Secure attachment style can be learned. We are not born with or without it. We are taught or modeled different attachment styles during childhood and then through adulthood; the key is to be aware and knowledgeable of each, and to acquire and practice the skills of being Secure. And as for seeking out a partner, become a secure adult enables to understand what is shown from those we consider entering into a relationship with so that we choose wisely and engage in a healthy manner to put the odds in our favor of finding and keeping a healthy, loving relationship.
"Time and again, research shows that the best predictor of happiness in a relationship is a secure attachment style."
Benefits of being a secure individual in life and in relationships:
high levels of relationship satisfaction high levels of commitment in relationships high levels of trust in relationships
What are the characteristics of a secure individual?
First, it is important to note that you cannot determine simply by looking at someone that they are secure. Simply because someone is friendly, likable and sociable does not mean they are secure. The author adamantly refutes the belief that a secure individual can be determined by their "charm, composure and/or self-confidence. As with other attachment styles, personality or physical traits won't give secures away. Secure people fit almost every description across the personality spectrum."
But back to the question: what are the characteristics of a secure individual?
"(1) They are programmed to expect their partners to be loving and responsive and (2) don't worry much about losing their partner's love. (3) They feel extremely comfortable with intimacy and closeness and (4) have an uncanny ability to communicate their needs and (5) respond to their partners' needs."
I picked up the book early this fall after reading an article in The New York Times by Foster Kamer. While I had heard of the three, technically four different types of attachment styles, I had never deeply ex
317: How to Handle Travel Plans that Go Awry
The busy holiday travel season is upon us. After two years in which many people have not been able to gather with loved ones, the liklihood that even more people than usual will be hopping on the road, the plane or the train this time of year is to be expected. Even with unforeseen hiccups along the way, arriving at the doorstep of a loved one will often erase any stress caused and make for a story to chuckle about over a glass of mulled wine or while sipping brandy after a long anticipated delicious meal with hearty, heated, yet playful exchange.
Having just shared one idea for handling well travel headaches (finding the hilarity in it all and sharing a moment with a loved one to savor), I'd like to share a few more to help assuage the stress and enable you to move past them quickly so you may enjoy your visit, stay, and the experience you have been eager to partake in after having planned, saved and waited. Each of the examples have been experienced first-hand. I feel fortunate to not have experienced others that are far worse, so can only speak to my own travels (thus far and fingers crossed for continued good fortune). With that said, let's take a look!
1.The accommodation's description was less than accurate in a disappointing way
Just this past August, a vacation rental on the coast boasted their lovely accommodations (a place we had never stayed before); however, they neglected to share important information that would have steered me away as I was traveling with my two boys (lots of stairs and very little grassy areas for quick potty breaks). However, while only planning to stay one night, I did what I could to make it easier for my pups, and had I planned on staying more than one night, I would have found a different rental or changed my travel plans because enduring accommodations that make everyone uncomfortable is not something to spend money on.
Waking early in the morning, be scooted down the coast for a beautiful early morning walk on a new-to-us beach. Had the accommodations been lovely, we may have lingered longer, but I looked for the "lemonade" in the situation and found a lovely outdoor excursion that I had not planned on.
As well, I chose not to write a review as I find it unhelpful to leave negative feedback when my expectations may not be someone else's. I have in the past directly emailed the owner of rentals to provide feedback that may benefit future travelers, but preferring to only share positive reviews online while sharing specifics as to why I enjoyed my stay. This approach is a way to extend gratitude and also leaves me with peace of mind. Sometimes we travel with high expectations, and venting in the form of a negative review isn't as therapeutic as we may initially think it will be.
The next time the accommodations you have arranged are not what you had hoped, don't be afraid to change your plans. The spontaneity may usher in an unexpected wonderfully memorable moment or experience.
2. You cannot find your vacation rental (or think you cannot)
During the summer of 2018, I had finished a week of cooking with Patricia Wells and was now in my rental car (picked up in Avignon) to the Luberon area of Provence - the Golden Triangle as it is often called. Searching for a hamlet off one of the many less traveled roads that wind through vineyards, I had turned around and retraced the notes received from the owners multiple times. Having driven through Gourdes (gorgeous!) which I later learned was too far southwest, and then finally arriving at the home, I scratched my head: A very nondescript property with no similar vignettes as shown in the online posting and nobody to be seen. I had to be at the wrong house.
I asked one of the neighbors who was out in their yard if they knew the owner (whose name I had from our correspondence). It turned out they were also a traveler, traveling with their family from Australia enjoying their yearly stay
316: How to Cultivate A Life Full of Vitality (and how it contributes to your overall well-being)
"Vitality involves intersection with and participation in the world around you. It is not predicated on taking a year off to find yourself. It doesn't require making a drastic change. You don't need to lose yourself in self-reflection. You don't need to overhaul your existence, or reinvent your life, or wait until the chaos [subsides]." —Dr. Samantha Boardman, author of Everyday Vitality
What is Vitality?
Vitality elevates the quality of each day, and it is something you cultivate with your actions, engagements and approach to living. "Health of spirit" is an oft definition of vitality, a "sense of feeling psychologically and physically up to the task". Most directly, "Vitality—the positive feeling of aliveness and energy that lies at the core of well-being."
get the most out of each day created by deliberate actions associated with positive health outcomes such as (1) productivity; (2) better coping skills when stress and challenges arise; (3) greater mental health; (4) ability to manage negative emotions
It is important to note what writer and psychologist Andrew Solomon shares. "The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality."
Picking up Dr. Samantha Boardman's book Everyday Vitality: Turning Stress into Strength initially gave me pause. First of all, based on previous readings and research and my own experience, we shouldn't be managing stress, we should be assessing and eliminating it at the source when and where possible. So it was her subtitle that almost had me backing away from reading the book. However, as soon as I read the introduction it was clear, much of the stress that is in our lives is self-made and thus can be reduced and/or eliminated. Her book is full of specific approaches, backed by research and multiple studies to demonstrate the significant shift and beneficial shift our lives make when we approach our everydays - how we interact, that indeed we do interact with the outside world and how we hold ourselves as we navigate through our days - thoughtfully and intentionally. In other words, actively engaging rather than passively observing.
Today I have ten approaches, tips and tools for improving the vitality in your everydays. There are far more than ten to be found in her book, so hopefully today's episode will be a nice taste of what you may want to explore more if you pick up her book.
Visit the show notes - https://thesimplyluxuriouslife.com/podcast316
Favourite podcast - like sitting with a friend and talking about the pleasures of life
I have been listening to this podcast for years - it’s been a regular and welcome place to spend time. Shannon has created something very special through what is obviously a labour of love and many of the things I enjoy, from books to movies to recipes have been discovered through her blog and podcast. Her thoughtful insights and recommendations are never delivered as ‘must do’s’ but rather she invites the listener to enjoy the small and large pleasures of life with her as she explores all things French, British and so much more. I can’t recommend this enough to anyone wanting to escape the mundane, routines of life and think about the simple things that can make our days more enjoyable.
A simple luxury!
This is a daily treat and escape for me. Starting or finishing the day with a nice walk and some styling or lifestyle tips is almost therapeutic. It makes me want to go back to France but at least I can relive the memories whilst listening to the French episodes. Thankyou so much Shannon for giving us this gift.
Good podcast, but the ad time is overwhelming
I very much enjoy Shannon, her advice and approach to living. However, her newer episodes have 7 minutes+ of ad time (up to 25% of podcast duration), which does sour my enjoyment of the content.