"The simply luxurious life is something that I believe every one of us can attain if indeed we are seeking quality rather than quantity, decadence rather than frivolity, personal style instead of trendy fashions and a truly fulfilling life instead of being lead around by the nose. Thereby creating a life of true contentment."
ife is a constant balance between what we want to do and what we have to do, but I suggest we look at it from a different perspective. Think about it for a moment. While we all need a vacation every once in a while and a weekend at the end of every work week, these moments of "getting away" are all the sweeter because of the productivity we've put forth to earn it during the work week.
Another example - we are able to savor joyous moments all the more because we've experienced moments of hurt and pain. It is the balance of these opposites that makes life truly rich.
Recently I read in an article that during the past decade, prior to the recession, while society seemed to be flourishing with more capital and choices in the economy, the rate of happiness did not increase. Not only does this speak the truth that we've been told repeatedly about material items being incapable of instilling true happiness, but it also demonstrates that in order to experience something more fully, more completely and more appreciatively, we must know, or at least recognize, what it would be like if the opposite were true. Lessons come in funny ways, and I am an avid believer of Oprah's statement that we will be given a lesson again and again (each time a bit harsher) until we truly absorb it.
The lesson that I have learned and share with you, my readers, every day on my blog The Simply Luxurious Life is that we are richer than we really know. We have more wisdom and potential inside of us than we sometimes give ourselves credit for. It is in this realization, that a balance must be maintained between having less (simplicity), but making sure what we have really matters and is savored (luxury).
What I have tried to do for you in this newsletter is lay out a three month plan, broken down into things you should do daily, weekly, monthly and only once. Each month will have a different focus (January - Overall Life Balance, February - Taking Care of You, March - Beautifying the Home), but as you begin something in January, you should continue to make it a habit throughout each of twelve months , thus creating a foundation for a simply luxurious year.
It is my hope that within three months, you will see yourself surrounded in luxuries (not necessarily material items) and continue to cultivate a life that is lived consciously, in balance and with purpose.
If you would like to print it off, I tried to streamline and organize it so that it is easy to follow. I truly can't express enough how I hope you are content in your life and living a life that makes you fill as though you are sharing your talents and gifts with the world because you have them, we all have them, and they are something that only you can offer.
Here's to a most amazing simply luxurious year!
Getting On Track Physically, Financially & Mentally
In order to make this daily task even more enjoyable, go out and purchase a lovely journal -one that speaks to you. Size, shape, color - it is completely up to you. What I have discovered in the process of looking for a simple luxury on a daily basis that brings me heightened happiness without as much money, or any money at all for that matter, is that I am richer and more blessed than I realized or that my culture would have me think. I only ask that you write down one, but if the mood strikes you and many simple luxuries occur throughout the course of your day, write them down. After all, such a thing is a good thing indeed.
In order to function at your highest potential, you must receive a healthy dose of sound sleep each night. Yes, going to bed at nine, even eight, may sound childish, but trust me, when you have to wake up at five or four in the morning to get everything done, you will be very thankful you were disciplined and responsible enough to take care of your health. You will think more clearly, reason more effectively and be slow to anger. Also, your skin will look more radiant, thus helping you to feel even more confident as you set out to tackle your day.
- Get at Least 6-8 Hours of Sleep Each Night
There is both a financial benefit to this idea, as well as a health benefit. It has been said by numerous nutritionists that when you cook at home, you are more likely to eat ingredients you can pronounce, thereby eliminating the intake of processed foods. Consequently, when you know what you're putting into your body, your likely to be more conscientious and make better choices. Financially, if you are cooking for a family, you are trimming your budget, possibly producing leftovers for the following
day and creating an opportunity to spend time with your family.
- Make at Least 2 Home-Cooked Meals
Aerobic exercise consists of anything that increases your heart rate to fat-burning
levels (so check with your doctor to confirm what activities are best for you). I cannot stress enough that you must pick something you enjoy, otherwise, you will not stick to it. My favorite and preferred choice is walking - sometimes on the treadmill when it's cold outside or dark, but more often than not, with my dogs outside. I love this time as it allows a release of stress, worries and many times I find myself coming up with some creative ideas. Since I have switched from running to walking (about 7 years ago), I have lost more weight (because I'm not ravenously hungry all the time), and I have been more consistent with my exercise regimen. (Click here to see the many ways walking can
be easily incorporated into your life.)
- Aerobic Exercise at Least 3 Times
Strength training can easily be done at your home with a yoga mat, hand weights and, well, that's it! If you're not sure what exercises to include in your strength training routine, schedule a one time appointment with a personal trainer you respect and feel comfortable with, however, someone who will challenge you so that you can meet your goals. During this one time session, state exactly what you'd like to achieve and that you will need to be able to do all of the exercises at home. Scheduling such an appointment was the best investment I made in my exercise regimen, as it has been a breath of fresh air to my budget and a calming peace of mind because I no longer have a gym membership, but I am confident that what I'm doing at home is effective.
- Strength Training at Least Once
Stretching can be done in a myriad of ways. If you are someone who enjoys yoga or pilates, the stretching and strength training components are combined, saving you time in your already busy schedule. Stretching can also be something you do prior and following your cardio workouts, but it really is something to include in your exercise regimen. My yoga instructor likes to start her day with sun salutations which is gentle way to ease your body, thus your mind, into the day ahead.
Once A Month
The only way to truly live a luxurious life is to know where your money is going.(Click here for tools on how to get started with a budget that suits your life.) Once you know how much money you have after all necessary bills are paid, you can prioritize the rest. After all, as you will notice by listing a simple luxury every day, money isn't always necessary to be happy.
Living a simply luxurious life relies a great deal in having peace of mind that you are secure. And being secure financially is a major chunk of the "security" pie, but it doesn't happen unless you choose to create it. Starting yesterday, or at the earliest when you began earning your first paycheck as an adult, you should be contributing to a retirement fund (of which there are many), as well as a high yield savings account (to be used in emergencies). David Bach shares his free resources on the variety of options you can invest in (simply click here) as it will differ for each person.
Initially this may seem like a difficult task, but when Oprah and Suze Orman suggested this for their debt diet, I couldn't help but ponder if this should be something for everyone to do. Think about what it requires for a moment: planning ahead, being aware of your priorities, creativity and discipline. We are all capable of each of these things, some with more work than others, but we are all indeed capable. So pull out your grocery list and plan a week ahead for meals one week, stay home on that one weekend and play board games or read, and slow down. You might be surprised at how it not only helps out your wallet, but instills an opportunity for lovely moments to transpire.
- Contribute To Your Future
Once A Year
Recently, I read Martha Beck's article in O Magazine's January 2011 issue which addresses setting goals for creating a better life, and I immediately tore it out to save in my files. What she suggests is to choose three adjectives (no more, no less) describing what you want to feel that you aren't already feeling in your life as it is right now. So often we list our goals as things (nouns), but true contentment is a feeling, so therefore, instead of listing, "I will earn a promotion", list I will feel "secure, confident and successful" . The reality is we are often surprised by what it really takes to make us feel the way we want to feel, and by changing our goal to a different target, are inner feeling of success will be that much greater. Here are a few posts that may help get you started:
Taking Care of Yourself
Whether you find it in the newspaper, a magazine, a blog or in a book you are reading, make a choice to seek out positive reading material that promotes a more positive life.
- Read Something Engaging/Uplifting/Inspiring
While the news can sometimes be overwhelming, we must also include positive images and ideas, because we truly do internalize everything more than we realize.
Something so simple that can make our lives so much more enjoyable, pleasurable and
- Speak With Honesty & Integrity
simpler is to follow the Golden Rule. By saying what we truly mean in a tactful and respectful manner and not engaging mindless and often times, hurtful gossip, we void our lives of negative energy and gain respect from those around us, which is something that cannot be purchased. By engaging in this daily practice, you will be able to go to bed at night with a clear conscience, and if you have children, rest assured you are setting a good example.
Whether you are going on a date with your significant other or a friend or making a date with yourself to enjoy a relaxing night in after a harried week, make sure that you carve out this time. Not only will it be something to look forward to, but we all need time to just be ourselves, let our hair down and know we aren't being judged.
A simple way to feel as though you are being pampered is to purchase a bouquet of flowers each week. Not only will this brighten your home, but it will help to lift your spirits each time you come home. A little something that has great positive benefits.
Taking time to just be alone is crucial for peace of mind. Personally, I require much more time than just an hour a week, but depending on your comfort level and time available, at least carve out one hour. Even if you have to go to the coffee shop to be by yourself, do it. This time alone allows your mind to breathe, and I am always amazed how floods of ideas become available when I slow down enough to let them wash over my mind. The more you practice this, the more you will be comfortable with it, and in listening to your true voice, you will make better decisions that will help you create a life you are ecstatic to enjoy each day.
Once A Month
Knowing you have something planned in advance that you can't wait to enjoy is part of the excitement of the event itself. So at the beginning of each month, make sure you have something that is pleasurable, fun and allows you to let go of your daily routine, if only for 30 minutes or an hour. Examples: a facial, a spa pedicure, your routine cut & color, a massage. But the key is - to plan it ahead of time, so you have time to look forward to it! Here are a few ideas from Why Not . . . Pamper Yourself?
Sounds easier sometimes than it actually is, but by choosing consciously to read a book approximately every month, you are keeping your mind active, finding time to get away from everything else for a moment and hopefully creating a ritual that you look forward to. Whether it be a cookbook you have been hankering to peruse through, a summer beach read, a biography or a piece of literature, you will always be able to take away something that you weren't aware of prior to reading it.
Keeping in the back of your mind that you are willing to try something new (at least once a month) is courageous. Now it can be something as simple as trying a new tea or learning a new dance step, but whatever it is, be open to expanding your repertoire because you never know when a chance attempt could wind up being something you can't imagine living without.
At least once a year, some suggest seasonally, make an appointment to visit your local
department store's make-up counter and receive a make-over. It takes maybe thirty minutes, and in the process you learn of new colors that work well with your skin tone and flatter your already stunning facial features. An immediate pay-off is that you are looking fabulous without having to lift a finger. So be sure to plan a fun lunch or dinner after your appointment.
Beautify & Simplify Your Sanctuary
The simple act of making my bed each morning immediately makes me feel as though I've accomplished something around the house. Not only is coming home to a bedroom that is put together calming, but pulling the covers back to a neatly made bed it a great beginning to a good night's sleep.
The easiest way to keep your home looking tidy throughout your busy week is to pick up immediately after yourself upon leaving any room in the house. Whether it is taking your dishes and putting them in the dishwasher, rearranging the pillows and throw after relaxing on the sofa or tucking in your chair at the dinner table, these simple acts eliminate a lot of work when the chore of cleaning the house is upon us.
This particular task is something that only needs to be done each week of one month during the year. I like tackling it during March because it is after I have been in the house for the long months of winter, accumulated things from the holidays and am itching to clear out my closet so that I can begin to shop for the style of spring. By only cleaning one room each week during the month of March (I mean serious cleaning, throwing out/donating anything you don't use or need anymore, moving furniture, cleaning carpets), you don't face the daunting task of tackling the entire home in one weekend. Break it up and then celebrate when the month is complete by relaxing in a simplified and clean home.
- Organize & Declutter One Room
I am pretty religious about this task, as I find by cleaning my house once a week, I reduce the amount of work I have to do if I put it off for weeks at a time. Plus, I can truly relax in my home when I know it is tidied up. Choose a day of the week that works best with your schedule and place it as an appointment in your planner.
As stated in the month of January's daily "to-dos", a good night's sleep plays a tremendous role in the next day's performance, so why not make sure your bedroom is a luxurious sanctuary? Less is more when it comes to your sleeping space. Get rid of anything that doesn't serve a function. Here are some items that while luxurious, most definitely serve a purpose in the bedroom:
- Create A Luxurious Sleeping Space
And The Grand Reward for successfully & diligently completing the foundation for what is sure to be A Simply Luxurious Year:
- high thread count Egyptian cotton sheets
- quality pillows
- a mattress to your comfort level (love my feather top!)
- piles of reading material because you never know what you'll be in the mood to read on any given night (organized neatly)
- a journal
- a plush duvet/coverlet
- a soft (perhaps silk) blanket for napping and summer nights
- a full-length mirror
- good lighting
- a sitting chair or bench
- fresh flowers
- dark chocolate in the nightstand drawer
Whether you choose to actually get out of town for a night or simply hire a babysitter and stay in a four or five star hotel in your beloved city, book the room in January and plan to stay some time during April when you've successfully completed the list. Two of my favorite hotels to stay in are The Heathman on Broadway in Portland and The Marcus Whitman
in Walla Walla - the rooms are exquisitely luxurious, maid service turns down your bed, the service is impeccable and the restaurants on location are amazing. Plus, they are located in a prime location in each of their corresponding cities.
Whatever it is you choose to do to reward yourself for completing this task, make sure it is something that brings tranquility, makes you feel special and leaves you absolutely guilt-free.
Congratulations! You are well on your way to living a life that is rid of the unnecessary and full of endless moments to enjoy on a daily basis, giving you the peace of mind that not only can you enjoy your present, but your future is in good hands as well.