Developing Taste

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures


The last Solo episode took (another look) at reinvention. This week’s episode extends the conversation to a particular type of reinvention: finding more pleasure in the simple pleasures of life. Lily Rains joins Peter to interview Shannon Ables who helps people live more luxuriously, but not in the kind of way you might assume. Pay particular attention to the risk of pursuing good taste in order to impress other people. Shannon’s advice is clear: do it for yourself. And for solos, that is—fortunately—easy to do.

Listen to Episode #94 here


Developing Taste

Our guest is Shannon Ables. She is the Founder and Editor of the lifestyle blog, The Simply Luxurious Life, established in 2009. It inspired her first book, which I’ve read, Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide that was published in 2014. It also inspired her second book, which I’ve also read, Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self, published in 2018. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a third one coming. She lives in Bend, Oregon since 2015 with her two spaniels, Oscar and Norman. Welcome, Shannon.

Thanks for having me, Peter.

It’s a pleasure to have you here. We are joined by a return guest co-host, Lily Rains. She is a storyteller, arts educator, crafter of needlework, and maker of homemade ice cream. I want to know what flavors. I still don’t know the flavors she specializes in. Though solo, Lily loves to be part of an ensemble with a shared goal, be it on a softball field, an escape room or getting a play, movie or TV show made. You are doing that right now, Lily. You took a little break. Welcome back.

Thanks for having me. I love you.

You’re so sweet. What is your go-to homemade ice cream?

I have Thin Mints chip ice cream. We’re supporting the Girl Scouts with the amount of boxes of Thin Mints I bought. It’s for the greater good. It’s not about me. It’s about the Girl Scouts. We’re just all benefiting.

Shannon, what is your go-to ice cream flavor?

I started enjoying one from a local gelato company here, Bontà. They have Tumalo Lavender Vanilla. They add a hint of lavender vanilla.

That’s the kind of thing a woman who wrote Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life would say.

I’m shopping local too. I’m bringing a brand from Bend to the world. I love them. They’re great.

They’re looking for a sponsor. I know a pod. This is fitting the way we started this because we are here to talk about taste and about developing taste. I want to put an emphasis on this idea of developing taste. Your taste, so to speak, is not fixed. For example, I’m not a big fan of lavender but I might develop a taste for it. I have some ideas about how but Shannon is a real pro.

We’re here because in a previous episode, Solo Thoughts 5, I talked about this model of well-being that I’ve been developing, and it has these two elements to it. It has a foundation. What are the basics of life that you need to get in order to live a remarkable life? Those things are like how do you get your health in order? How do you get your wealth in order? How do you assemble a team? How do you assemble the people around you, both personal and professional, to support you?

The way Scott Barry Kaufman thinks about this idea is he thinks of it as the hull of a boat. You need a sturdy hull to be able to handle the choppy waters of life. Once you got the foundation, the other side is the flourishing side. What is it that sets you alight? What is it that moves you into that world of remarkable? There are a variety of ways that you can do this and there is no set one path for everyone. These are things like engagement, creativity, and then this notion of achievement or meaning. It’s living a life in which you are doing something great or you are doing something great for others.

This last little bit of it, which some people find puzzling, is this notion of the pursuit of positive emotion. Scott would call this the sail that catches wind. We’ve all had that feeling of you’re out on the open water and things are going your way. What I want to talk about a little bit is this idea of positive emotion. How is it that we can create a more positive emotion in our life? One of those ways is through developing our own personal sense of taste, and getting more positive emotion in the way that we interact with the world, see the world, consume and so on. That’s the setup for this. We’re looking at that one element. It’s neither necessary nor sufficient. There are people who live lives that don’t have much positive emotion and yet their sail is still catching the wind.

I like to call that failing up.

There are people who are working so hard to develop a vaccine, win a gold medal or build something great that they don’t have that much positive emotion in their life, but they wouldn’t trade what they’re doing for more positivity.

They’re fulfilling a purpose that’s higher than them.

There’s some amount that you need to have.

You’re not distinguishing Eeyore energy versus you’re doing something that has a lot of stress and a lot of stakes. You might not be a joyful person but you’re in some flow.

You’re living your best life. If Eeyore did something besides complaint, he might be living a remarkable life.

Do you know what the problem is? Eeyore was invented before podcasts were around.

He would have listened to all of our wisdom.

He would have finally felt heard. He’d be on Marc Maron as the sidekick.

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures


Before we get into that, Shannon. I want to know your story. How is it that we’ve come to talk to you about this? What got you going with The Simply Luxurious Life?

The fact that you were talking about purpose and fulfilling life or best life, in all honesty, in 2009, the recession had happened. I was a teacher in high school for twenty years. I retired from teaching in 2021.


Thank you for your service.

You’re in academics too, so you can appreciate this. That was a giving to society. That was something that I felt needed my full attention, but something was missing in 2009. At that point, I was in a small town, but not a super small town. I started to explore. I was like, “I cannot be the only one who has this aficionado for the French lifestyle or for cooking or for all these different things.” In that particular town, I was poo-pooed and seen as an outlier. I was like, “Come on, Shannon.”

You’re not telling us the town because you don’t want to shit on this town.

No, I do love this town. It centered me very well. It’s the small-town mentality. It was this idea of being different and I wasn’t trying to be different. I was just being Shannon. I started following my curiosity and I started blogging for only personal expression. I didn’t connect with a lot of people necessarily out of the gate. That wasn’t the pursuit. It started to snowball as I started to sincerely share my curiosities, passions, oopsies and lessons that I’ve learned.

What might one of those early posts look like?

Honestly, the first post was just about my day and what I loved about the day after the holidays. I was on my own. It was the 26th of December and I went to different shops. I listened to certain music that people probably didn’t like at that particular time in life. I embraced it and shared my everyday experience. I said, “This is it. This is me. I’m not going to apologize. I’m not going to feel bad.” It wasn’t even weird looking back but at the time, it was setting myself free.

In a way, maybe it was because I was a teacher, maybe because I was a woman or whatever it was, people started to resonate with that. It’s been steady and very organic. It’s just me for several years now, doing what I do. The podcast came around organically with the launch of my first book. I was like, “Podcasting, what’s this? Let’s explore it.” I’ve never been afraid to try things. Blogging is an interesting medium in itself. It’s constantly evolving. I got in the second wave. David Lebovitz was the first wave in 1999 with his food blog and I bow down, and 2009 was the second wave. We all sincerely started blogging to connect. It wasn’t a money pursuit.

You weren’t a content creator back then.

I wasn’t even an influencer back then. I came from a place of sincerity and I hold on to that, and then I just let it be what it’s going to be. I celebrate and I’m grateful for it.

That’s exciting. Solo’s been growing organically. I didn’t know it’s going to take twelve years so I should readjust my expectation.

The speed is picking up. It’s a lot quicker now.

You’re also talking about the wave of the internet becoming such a part of our lives. In ’99, we didn’t have pocket computers the way that we do now. In 2009, it wasn’t to the degree.

Instagram was 2011 but I got on it in 2012 after it began. Twitter was 2010.

You said French lifestyle and this is something you write about in your book. I’m sure you talk about it and write about it elsewhere. What do you mean by the French lifestyle for the person who’s never been to France and who’s never spent an afternoon in Paris?

I started with that notion. I’ve been to France 5 or 6 times. I studied abroad there. What I instantly knew or noticed that made me uncomfortable when I was twenty was the slower pace of life. That was in 2000. It was that odd. We slow down and eat three-hour meals. What’s that? We turn everything off. It made me uncomfortable when I was twenty, but then as I started to grow and explore that culture more, I started to realize, “They have something going on here. Let’s keep exploring this.”

That’s where the quality over quantity resonated with me. That is the concept of my blog. It’s a focus on quality over quantity in every single arena. It’s not about more. It’s about better, depth, sincere curiosity and not doing it because you should or to be contrary. You’re diving deep and you’re investing. For me, that’s what the French reveal, especially in their food.

I love getting in my kitchen. That’s therapy for me. I’m not an artist in any other concept of writing or culinary art. I get in the kitchen and have some fun. That’s opened up a lot of doors for me too. There are a lot of different French ways of life. For me, it’s the quality over quantity, and appreciation for everyday moments. I don’t like to compare, but there’s this perspective that Americans miss. We have so much to take for granted here. Sometimes we skip ahead to the pursuing and not the present.

Lily, have you been to France?

I have. That’s the only other language other than Latin, but no one speaks Latin. It’s the only class I ever cheated on in 7th, 8th, 9th, and 10th grade. It is what it is.

You did four years.

I satisfied my language credit and then I took French. As a child, I grew up traveling quite a bit in Europe so I picked up the language, and then I did study abroad in a dance program in France. We’re in Paris and the Montpellier.

It’s hard to talk about taste without talking about money. I love the saying, “It’s not about more, it’s about better.” This connects even the title of your blog and your book, Simply Luxurious Life. I want to ask you about the use of the word luxurious.

It’s funny that you asked that. I posted something about that, only because different people ask who don’t know the concept of the blog so I like to return to it from time to time. By definition, Luxury is something that brings you ease and comfort. It’s also something that you’re not expected to experience every day all the time. It’s unique or elevated that way. Thus, it’s not a necessity, it’s a luxury.

With that said, I’ve taken this idea of true luxury to mean something that brings you comfort and that requires you to know yourself well. That is not something you come out of the womb knowing. That is not something you know when you graduate high school necessarily. Maybe some more than others. Everyone’s going to find that understanding of who they are. That is constantly changing, but at least they’ll understand fundamentally who they are at different times and it will take time.

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures
Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self

You take that knowledge of who you are, “What brings me comfort? What brings me ease?” You’re at level 1 for organizing. Someone else may absolutely need to be level 2 or level 3 to be comfortable or at ease, but you know that about yourself. You take that knowledge and create conceptually a life that brings you ease and comfort throughout your days.

Bringing back to the sanctuary, I can’t travel during the pandemic so I threw my focus and attention to my house. I have been trying to use the years when I was renting and the previous years when I had owned another home to see what worked, what didn’t, what I love. I brought my travels into it. What vacation rentals? What were the things that made me feel comfortable 1,000 miles away from home?

I tried to mind all that and that might seem, “This chair, I know it’s not beautiful. I’m getting it reupholstered but let me talk you through this chair.” I know I need a comfortable chair to sit at my desk a lot because I’m working in my office. I love this wallpaper. It’s going to match in its own unique way. I promise it will. It brings me peace when I walk into this room. Someone else is going to say, “That is weird and odd,” and walk away, but I know that about myself.

Luxury is something that brings you comfort when you see it or experience it or feel it. It calms you down and makes you feel at peace. I like to say it’s not something you regularly experience but yet, when you reach that level where you figured it out, you can experience it every day. It’s just that you haven’t for a long time. A lot of people don’t take the time to figure out what that is for them, thus it is rare and luxurious to an outsider watching your life.

My accessibility entry point into this kind of conversation is like I have a lot of friends of varying ages. When I speak with my younger friends and they don’t care about coffee, for instance, they’re like, “Whatever. I just drink the coffee at work,” and you’re like, “Dear God.” At some point, you level up and expand your palate. There are certain things that are awful. Cough medicine tasted awful when I was younger. Now that I enjoy bourbon, I’m like, “Cough syrup. Whatever.” That’s the most accessible entry point into where you’re at. All of a sudden, you’re like, “I will make a ceremony where I’m pouring hot water over my delicious beans that I had shipped right within 24 hours when they were roasted.” It’s different.

There’s so much to this. I want to step back and unpack what Shannon said and then I want to jump into the coffee. Lily hit on something that Shannon writes a lot about, which is about establishing rituals and foods. I want to get into what you were saying, Shannon. This is something that you can develop. You’re not born with good taste, which I agree with, trust me. I like the fact that it takes time. There’s some investment and some experience that goes into it.

I like the fact that it may start out as infrequent, special, rare, but you can then turn it into something that is experienced more commonly. I do like coffee as a case study. There is a class of experiences that are foreign and maybe even aversive at the beginning with repeated exposure, and then oftentimes, some education and some feedback that you can develop. I’ve had the same thing with espresso drinks and ritualizing that. I’ve been puzzling over this. I’m going to put it to both of you to help me solve this problem.

Anybody who follows this show regularly knows how I like to start my day, in a cafe with a cappuccino doing creative work. My three Cs as I call it. However, I’ve had a point of tension because I am starting to do a bit more fasting. The problem is a cappuccino has some milk in it and it could technically break the fast in a way that Americano isn’t. For folks, this is about developing taste.

If you don’t know what a cappuccino is, it is 2 ounces of espresso, 2 ounces of steamed milk, and 2 ounces of foam in its most pure sense. It can be done well or it can be done poorly. Americano is two ounces of espresso with hot water added to it. It feels a little bit more like a traditional cup of coffee. There are no calories or anything there. I have this tension in my life where I enjoy my delicious cappuccino. It’s a part of a ritual in which I start my day. Now I’ve been foregoing it in exchange for an Americano because I don’t want to break the fast. I find myself in this tug of war between my old ritual and habits and deliciousness, and this new one, which is to be embracing a little bit of a healthier lifestyle.

Have you tried tea? I have to ask as a tea person. Non-American tea necessarily. I’m sure there are some great American teas, but the British and the French know how to make great teas.

Mariage Frères.

I had their bourbons.

The vanilla bourbon is heavenly and the candle, Peter. They boil water to the correct temperature.

I think he wants his caffeine from coffee beans.

I like how you have the wrong dilemma. I’ll tell you my answer to this and I’ll get your reaction to it. What I have decided to do and it’s in this way. It’s making the cappuccino rare and special again. I’m leaning into the Americano unless I’m happening to start my day when the fast is already over, and then I get to have the cappuccino. Now it becomes a treat rather than this thing that I have to do because it’s part of my three Cs. This is not the biggest puzzle I’m trying to solve right now but aesthetics matter.

In preparation for this, I was reflecting back on different posts. I’ve written about Twyla Tharp. I picked up her book, The Creative Habit. She loves rituals and she thinks they are a vital part of creative individuals. It frees your brain and it opens it up. She speaks to both the cappuccino and Americano. You’re not thinking about it. You do it instinctively. When you’re engrossed in it, your brain starts to open up. The ideas flood in not necessarily what you expect or what you’re looking for. She calls it rituals, not habits. She coined the term rituals that you love to do, enjoy or find pleasure in. This is a daily ritual.

Lily, what’s your reaction to this dilemma?

Make C stand for coffee. “Get over it, Peter.” Similar to Shannon’s croissant on Sundays, when you’re talking about fasting, especially intermittent fasting, you’re not technically supposed to do it every single day. I’d be curious if you vary what the ritual was so that it was Wednesdays. You create this special.

That’s fine. I know I’m overthinking this.

I love that about you though, Peter because what you end up doing is creating something special out of what would just start your day.

I am shot out of a cannon in the morning. It’s the best part of the day. I do my best work. My energy level is the best. We should be happy about the start of the day.

There’s nothing that’s interfering with your ideas and thoughts yet and you have more control. I love that about my mornings too. They’re priceless.

What would you add, Shannon, to this idea of to develop taste, it’s this repeated experience? The first time you taste coffee or whiskey or cough syrup, it’s gross. The thousandth time, you can recognize the nuance. That same cup of coffee that you had the first time might be bad the thousandth time for a different reason because it’s no longer good enough. This repeated experience plus knowledge, is there something missing?

Seek out people who know more than you about it. That’s key. I love the history of words. I was looking up the history of taste. The old French is to try and to touch. It’s just a taste. It’s a small little nibble or moment. Think about anything that you all have spoken about already, but I think about taste in decor or taste in clothing. For me, I used to go with neutrals all the time in my home. I was going to play it safe. I was going to make sure I could sell this house. This was years ago. Now I’m falling in love with the British cottage arts and crafts because my house is a craftsman. I got to be true to that. I’m like, “How do I put two different patterns together? How does that work?”

Mixing plaids. What?

You go to the people who know more than you. I took an online course from Rita Konig, but then I also have a friend here who’s from Belgium and she knows European decor. She’s the one guiding me through things. I showed her the wallpaper and I said, “I have two chairs that need to be reupholstered. You have fun. Bring me a bunch of fabrics and I want to see what you would do because I don’t have a clue.” I start to see a little bit every single time she does something like that of how it works. I’m not going to become an expert like she is but the more I do it, I hone that expertise, so try and try again.

What you are referring to as pattern clashing, which is dope and I love doing it with my own wardrobe as well as my house deliberately. Your chair and wallpaper look awesome together.

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures


This will be recovered, I promise. It was the style of the chair.

I want to get back to this idea of your home and this move, Shannon. You moved from a town that didn’t lend itself as much to your French lifestyle. You’re now in Bend, Oregon.

Which is still not real French. I’m the only Francophile here.

There’s a little bit more culturally and a little more access. If you want to cook, you can get fresh fruits. There are farmer’s markets, restaurants and so on.

A lot more culturally diverse for Oregon, so it still is limited.

I love this idea of making a home for you and not for the person who may someday buy your home. I’ve only bought one home in my life and I’ve renovated it. Anybody who’s ever renovated knows both the pain and the joy happening a year after the renovation has ended. This was an ongoing conversation with my design-build guys. I had a wonderful guy. His name’s Ken Storm. If any of you ever want a house built or renovated in the Boulder, Colorado area. Ken and I talked deeply about this issue. One of the things was I leaned into making a house that was going to be right for me.

You customized it.

Ken has better taste than me. If we left it up to my own preferences, the house would have been a little too boring because I would have played it a little safe. Any decision that was made, I asked him to give me only three options and to tell me the one he thinks I should do.

Before or after you made your decision? Did you have him give you his preference before you narrowed it down to 1 of the 3?

I wanted to know what he preferred before because he’s a professional.

I didn’t know if you wanted him to influence your opinion.

I did. I wanted him to do it. The first thing we decided was I’m going to make the house for me. The second one, I was going to limit my options and I was going to lean on his expertise, and then the third one was I limited what he could give me. I was doing this renovation in 2009. I said, “Don’t give me any options that if someone saw it, they would say, ‘You renovated in 2009.’” I didn’t want to do what everyone else happened to be doing at that time. That allowed me to create a space that was one of a kind and reflected my taste, plus some expertise.

That’s a good idea. I like narrowing down to limiting the choices because that can be overwhelming.

In line with that, I come from a line of interior designers, my mother, grandmother and great grandfather. As my adulting has continued, I inherited different pieces of furniture. It was an interesting jumping-off point in the same way that if you grow up in a household with doctors or teachers, you’re a part of the conversation. That’s a language that has been a part of your auditory growth. I was able to use that as a launching off point, and then plug in a couple of things and get rid of things that turn out were not in alignment with me. Yes, I will buy an IKEA piece of furniture because I can easily spray paint that brass and now it fits into what I have. Someone came into my house and was like, “Shit. You are not from Minnesota.” I was like, “That’s right but how do you know that?” He goes, “Because I have no idea where you got any of your stuff.”

Versus everybody gets their stuff a Crate & Barrel and Pier 1. Maybe they get crazy and go big and go to West Elm. Do you have a design within reach in Minneapolis? I’m sure you do.

I haven’t looked.

I call it design out of reach for the average person.

I have a practical question. As a grown-up who appreciates quality over quantity, I do also have things. Some people might call it stuff. I moved 2,000 miles and I got rid of a lot of the things that were stuff and now I’m moving again. There is not enough time in between those big moves. However, I still have things and I’m in that space now where I’m like, “What is it that I want to take with me into this next chapter?” I love this idea of essentialism. What are the things that cultivate a feeling of quality good yumminess in your own environment? Also, where the fuck do we put the paper clips?

Shannon, I’m going to give you the choice. Do you want to answer this question now or do you think it’s something that we should return to?

We can attempt that. I moved into my house a couple of years ago too. I thought I decluttered similar to you, Lily, and then I moved to this house and my parents said, “We thought you were living a simple life.” I’m like, “Be quiet.” There’s this decision you make where you say, “Am I going to use this now?” If you don’t know, put it in a box and reassess it later. Sometimes things hold memories that we’re not ready to let go of. I have a bed that I got rid of out of my primary bedroom. I still keep my garage but I need to get rid of it. Emotionally, I’m not ready yet. Emotionally, you have to be ready for certain things. Little things like paper clips, stick them in that utility drawer by the door.

I’m fascinated with this topic. It’s interesting because as part of this model, I talk about reinventing yourself. The overall narrative is as a solo, once you start to realize that you have options and a lot more freedom, your lives aren’t necessarily being edited by someone else. You get to create not only your lifestyle but also the space that you’re in. This is something that, Shannon, you’re focused on is creating what you call sanctuary. This question is related to the sanctuary question.

One of the best ways to begin a reinvention process is to “tidy up.” How do you tidy up your space, your head, and even your wardrobe? Those are easy fixes. A lot of the other stuff is hard but those are easy relative. There are two ways to your question, Lily, that I think about this. There’s this space that you see and interact with all the time. The degree to which people live a tidy or messy life depends completely on their comfort and their style. I tend to say go tidier than not in part because it also creates a more welcoming space for others, but that’s just a personal bias. What do you do when you’re tidying up that space with all that stuff?

Shannon, I know that feeling of putting something in purgatory. The idea is you might need to have some time away from it to sever that emotional connection. If it’s been in that space for long enough and you’re like, “I haven’t thought about or needed this thing in a year,” it is time to go. This is that next level of tidiness and I’m not there yet. If you look in all of my drawers, boxes and stuff, not everything is perfectly laid out.

Do you put your socks together like the KonMari Method or do you just wrap them into each other? Do you roll them up?

I wrap them into each other and they’re thrown in a drawer. There’s a big pile of socks in the drawer. I’m the first level tidy. The second level, not so much. It’s outstanding because this resonates. I’m going to ask some hard-hitting questions. Before we get to that, this idea of knowledge and experience, let’s give people some more examples of that in order to set them sailing if they want to try to lean into this. I’ll start with mine to give you time to think. When I was a post-doc, I knew that I was going to be going on the job market. What you do as an academic on the job market is you visit campus for the day and you have a series of meetings and you give a talk.

Some subset of the faculty takes you out to dinner and that dinner is twofold. The dinner is a way to show off the town, “Look how great it is here,” kind of thing. The next thing is there’s further sussing you out to figure out, “Are you a decent human being?” One of the things that I find with these business school types is they get fancy about their wines. They care a lot about their wines. I was 33 or 34. I had little experience with that kind of stuff. It was beyond me. I wasn’t a big drinker. My mom’s wine intake was just to cope with being a single mom. It wasn’t for the enjoyment of wine.

I took an involved wine tasting course. It was a five-week course kind of thing, five nights or whatever. It was a lesson and then tasting. You never do the tasting before the lesson because then everybody’s falling asleep. They started you out with sweet white wines and by the end, you’re doing Cabernet Sauvignon, very old red and so on. It was a crash course in that. At the end of that, I had enough knowledge to not seem like a fool and enough of an appreciation that I wasn’t going to order a Riesling with dinner because it was the only one I could stand drinking in that sense. That’s my crash course in developing taste. I’m wondering if either of you has another one. It could be food or it could be in some other domain.

I used to live close to Walla Walla. Napa Valley is close by too, but it’s more expensive to go just taste. We would go a couple of times a year but every time I would go to Walla Walla because it was 45 minutes away from where I lived, before I would buy my wine, you could taste the wines in these wine rooms and you wouldn’t have to pay anything. I would get into that habit for nine years. Whenever I would go get wine, I’d have whoever was working there walk me through what I was tasting. I also kept in my brain, “If you don’t like it, don’t buy it, but at least understand what’s there and what you’re tasting.” It takes time.

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures
Choosing the Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide

A crash course would have been intriguing and a lot of fun. I started to appreciate these little nuances. I started to see that sometimes price makes a difference but it doesn’t always make the difference. The other thing too is strengthening my confidence to say, “I need to go out and buy that $75 bottle of wine for this fancy dinner because I know this bottle of wine from this small vendor who’s just getting started is going to knock their socks off, and it’s only $20.” You start to trust your palate. That’s also what you gain when you keep trying things. Yes, the expert might know something but you also have to honor what you are drawn to.

I was partnered with someone for ten years who fancied himself with quite elevated taste, and that was a fun ride to be on. In that regard, I ate and drank well. I love it. I value food, wine, flavor and all that. It’s the same thing with our house, but he was controlling about the aesthetic. I never got to be my own self and experiment and figure out. “That’s too much,” or “Not enough.” Since being solo, it’s been nice to pull back on some of the nuances.

At one point, I could identify all the shades of grey between white and black in the spectrum but the reality is, I only need a couple of them. It’s like, “It’s too much.” It’s decision fatigue. I love the taste of quality champagne but I can totally be a beer girl. It’s that interesting nuance between what are the things that are fun to make it special? What are the day-to-day rituals to make this enticing? Also recognize, “Where’s your floor?” It’s like that floor that you’re not willing to go under anymore.

That’s fabulous. You’re foreshadowing my burrito story, Lily.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that.

I’ll give another quick one because my mind’s racing listening to the two of you talk about this. I have no training in film. I’ve watched thousands of films in my life and as a result of that experience, I’ve developed a more discerning taste about what makes a movie good or not good. What took me to the next level was DVDs and how they used to add a director’s commentary. You could rewatch the movie with the director’s commentary. I don’t know why Netflix doesn’t do it. It’s a missed opportunity. Tweet at Netflix and tell them to do this.

It’s because they’re in the consumption and consumer end. They’re not actually into the craft.

I would watch these movies which I liked and then I came to love the movie because I started to understand the complexity, the nuance, why decisions were made and how it was done. I was being taught by the master that was there. Of course, that ended up having this simultaneous thing where something that was complex and difficult became easier to understand and more enjoyable. I then started to realize how a bunch of other movies were trash.

I love that you brought in film. I taught rhetoric for eleven years. You bring in strong writing and then you show the kids all the tools of rhetoric. Why is it moving? Why is it engaging? What’s persuasive about it? At the end of the year, those students walk out and go, “The guts, what’s behind the scenes.” It appears simple on the screen or the page or whatever piece of art, but there are many nuances that go in behind to make it work the way it is. The director walked me through it. I’m walking them through those rhetorical tools like Aristotle’s triangle.

It seems complex because it is but once you understand it and you listen to it, it’s simple. You take it in, it moves you, and it gets you to consider things that you wouldn’t have considered because of everything that was put in. It’s all the little ingredients. Someone who wouldn’t know how to write rhetoric or organize it would forget the salt. If we’re talking about a recipe comparison, they forget the spices and the simple flavorings that elevate that dish. It takes someone who knows that to walk you through so your taste can be refined.

There’s a lot of research on aesthetics but the best research finds that there is something about the human perception that cuts across culture and class. That is that fluency and the ease of processing tend to make something more enjoyable, more pleasant, more beautiful and so on. There are ways that you can create fluency. One way is in the image, the words, the sentence and the visual itself. Great artists are able to do this.

The other way is to make something more fluent by increasing the understanding of it. What ends up happening is you can take a very complex thing that’s disfluent, and you can make it fluent by understanding the complexities. Shannon, that’s what you’re describing here. In your case with the spices, you could take something that is too simple. You can make it more complex and thus make it more enjoyable because it hits that sweet spot where you are.

It’s like adding a touch of lavender to vanilla.

What a wonderful callback.

My mint chip ice cream, all of my friends love it. It’s made with real and organic mint. The delicious organic milk is full fat. You only need a little scoop because that’s all you need.

That sounds good.

It’s not about more. It’s about better, right, Shannon?

There you go.

Let’s ask the hard questions here though.

What pants are you wearing and prove it? Stand up right now.

Who says I’m wearing pants? I want to point out a potential downside to what you’re describing, Shannon which is this sounds expensive, “Yes, Pete I understand there is some genetic, biological, psychological thing that discerns things that are good from less good, things that are of good taste from bad taste,” but this is just a status game we’re all playing. It’s our way to show, “I’m better than you. I’m better than my past self, that poor boy who grew up in South Jersey. Look how far I’ve come. Look how much better I am than the other men on the dating apps because I’ve got all this great taste. Look how much better I am than the other business school professors at the dinner table because I know about these wines. Why am I wrong to say that this is a status game?”

It’s because that’s not true luxury. It’s about them, not you. I’m glad you brought this up and I love that Lily said that she doesn’t need a lot of chocolate ice cream. That’s the whole thing with quality. You don’t need more, you need better because it lasts longer. I like to look at it this way. It’s an investment that pays you back in the long run. As you said, you customize your home in 2009 so that it would look 2009. That way you won’t have to renovate it in 2019 and 2029. Think of the money you saved two different times of having to renovate. I don’t want to say save money, but you’re not spending money on something that you think you’re going to have to keep up.

I use it with clothing, cost per wear. This pair of jeans could be $200. If you wear those pants twenty times, do the math. It’s $10 but you get the point. You’re not going back to the shop every couple of months because the pants wear out or because you don’t look good so you don’t wear them anyway so it just sits in your closet. The idea with whether it’s decor or investing, and I also know that you can’t spend $200 for a pair of jeans out of the gate if you have a job that’s just getting you by.

Sometimes you have to do to get to where you want to go. I look at that with my teaching and my blogging. Teaching was my career. I loved it and I invested in it. I did my 110% best every single day but I also knew it wasn’t my calling. After a while, I started to consciously realize it wasn’t my calling. My calling is trying to teach people about what true contentment is and what simply luxurious living is. It’s about cultivating contentment, which is something within you not without outside of you.

With that said, I couldn’t leave teaching because my blogging wasn’t making enough money. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love teaching. At the same time, I needed to be honest with myself. You can do things. You work your tail off to get to where you need to go so you can have that ability to invest, whether it’s monetarily or with your time or your attention.

There are some things that you may not want to be doing. If you know that you shouldn’t be doing it for the rest of your life because that will affect your well-being if you did, then you’re more consciously aware of your journey. I meandered into a lot of different directions there but the idea is yes, on the surface, it looks expensive at the moment to the outsider.

Before I get Lily’s reaction, you’re saying though, what constitutes good taste is not in the eye of others it’s in your own eyes.

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures


It has to be otherwise it’s not genuine or sincere. This is not necessarily going to bring you comfort or ease because you’re waiting for the approval and the applause of others. That’s not guaranteed and that’s not a way to live for contentment. It might be for happiness because eventually, you get that plus because hap means luck and that’s outside of yourself. I love breaking down words.

The Latin girl here appreciates that.

I was going to say we had so many Latin and I love it.

Finally, this thing is paying off.

The cherry on the top is people saying, “Good for you. Awesome,” but you have to say, “Good for you. Awesome.” You have to feel at peace with yourself and that’s the well-being component. That’s what takes work.

There are two things I want to speak to, which is, first, it’s the focusing on the ocean of where you want to be versus the waves that are the current obstacle/possible excuse. An example would be anybody who’s ever leveled up in anything in their lives, where you have to buckle down, “I’m going to work on being fit and it’s uncomfortable right now but I’m going to commit to this.” In six weeks, you’re like, “That was a little bit easier than it was six weeks ago.” “I’m going to get a different car.” “I’m going to be more frugal with my budget,” or whatever it might be. It might be uncomfortable for that initial adjustment period but in the long run, is it paying off for the quality of life that you want?

I remember having this conversation with a friend of mine who was struggling with his weight consistently and it was years long. He was a large man and he would come in with his AMPM hotdogs. I was like, “I’m going to reflect back on the behavior I’ve been seeing.” There’s no judgment but it’s interesting to me that on the one hand, you’re talking about this issue, and on the other hand, you have an AMPM hotdog. He said, “They’re only $1.99 for 2.” I said, “How much money are you spending a week at AMPM?” I broke it down and was like, “Do you know that you could make a grass-fed beef Bolognese that would last you the entire week for the exact same amount of money? You would have so much nourishment. You would be full and your bones would be getting everything they need.” He was like, “That sounds like too much effort.”

Shannon and I are making faces.

What’s your buy-in? What’s the excuse that that’s your growth edge? The other thing I want to talk about is there’s a money component. It’s a practical thing and you’re the boss of what those decisions are and you know what your full scope is, but sometimes people forget to put all of the ingredients on the counter of what you’re dealing with. In the back of the cabinet, there’s a cream of mushroom that you could use.

When you say status, I go to trendy. Status is keeping up with the trends and buying fast fashion that is ruining our environment. It’s buying the big box store furniture option because the leaning shelf is the new hit but it’s not real wood and it has toxic paint on it and you’re going to leave it on the side of the road when you move into your next apartment. How are you paying for this and how are you affecting everyone else?

Wouldn’t you rather have a nice t-shirt that doesn’t bleach improperly or fades or whatever, as opposed to the three graphic tees that you got from Target that are going to end up in a landfill somewhere? That is where I go, “Status is keeping up with trends as opposed to making genuine choices that are connected to your personal experience that are authentic to you so that we get to see who you are as the embodiment in your fabric choice in that chair you’re going to have.” I’m yes and-ing you, Shannon.

I love it. Status is outside of ourselves. Back to burritos.

I don’t like status games as you might imagine. I think that they don’t serve the individual because what they end up doing is they take you away from whatever your authentic joy might be or your best life, your remarkable life in that sense. Moreover, status games are often expensive. They might be time-consuming and to be honest, they can be quite unpleasant at times, but especially expensive. A status game is a $75 wine when a $20 wine is more than plenty in that sense.

I have friends who like their fancy meals and I like a good meal, but I’ve always been a food-is-fuel person rather than a food-is-pleasure person. It allows me to remain more easily fit than the average food-is-pleasure person. Sometimes what ends up happening is I have a meal and it was enjoyable, but it’s quite expensive. I would have enjoyed a burrito just as much and it would have cost me $9.

There is that sense of knowing myself enough where the poor Peter still sometimes goes, “That wasn’t worth the price tag.” It can be painful to keep up at times. Good taste in a status way I believe is about having some things and not having others. It’s this idea that if I want to look like I have good taste, I need to have the right jazz CDs, but I also have to get rid of my Britney CDs, but I don’t want to get rid of the Britney CDs. I don’t want to give up pop music and the ‘80s music. I don’t want to give up my guilty pleasures. Even though I might still be able to lean into something that’s more complex and difficult to consume because I can now appreciate the goodness of this artistry that’s there. Shannon, you’re giving a powerful message when you say you’re doing it for yourself.

It has to be. In that example you shared, it sounds to me that taste was something that society approves of. I think back to the idea of status, it encompasses so much of your mental space and therefore if you’re so concerned about keeping up with people and doing what they say is the right thing to do or what is in trend now, then you’re wasting time pursuing what is unique within you that the world needs for you to get out and share.

To bring it back to being solo, in my twenties I was consumed too much with trying to do what I was supposed to do. I was trying to be in a relationship that never worked because when you try something that isn’t supposed to be your journey, you keep hitting the brick wall. You’re like, “I keep consuming so much mental energy doing that.” I wasn’t figuring out what I would eventually be doing in my 30s which was the blog, traveling, and things about understanding who I was.

When you’re worried about status and you worry about what other people think is in good taste, you’re not honing what makes sense for you, and figuring out those little unique combinations that eventually turned into something pretty beautiful, but it might not start out that great. Hang on to the Britney. That’s okay but maybe there’s something within that song or her way of singing that’s going to spark to explore what it is that draws you to that music. There’s something there. You honor it. That’s the key thing. You may not understand it right away but honor it.

I’ll clarify. I’m not that big of a Britney fan but I like my Taylor Swift and Rihanna. I like pop music in part because it’s so fluent. It’s meant to bring joy.

I credit Britney for the abs that I discovered because of working out to some of her music. That’s my connection to that beautiful woman.

Shannon, this idea of pursuing a relationship for status purposes is a huge idea that I’ve been writing about. The worst reason to enter into a relationship is so people think more positively about you. It’s a terrible reason to enter into a relationship. People do that a lot in the same way that they pursue luxurious things and they play these status games, which often are expensive. They may be financially expensive and in the case of relationships, they may be emotionally expensive, for example. That’s there. Let’s talk about being solo for a few minutes and then we’re going to end on some of your pillars of a simply luxurious life. How does being single relate to all of the things that we’ve been talking about? Is there something special for our readers to take away versus this show could have been on any platform and not just SOLO?

I want to use this phrase that I came across. Laura Dern said it when she was in her 50s and she called being single being in the choosing seats. I love that phrase. When we’re single, and you spoke about this in your past episode, we give ourselves so many options to be free. If we embrace them and explore our curiosity, we learn so much about ourselves. That can then be translated into our different careers. Also, our calling is discovered, better or different relationships and connections, not just romantic but different types of connections can be made.

There’s a piece that you find that you then carry with you moving forward to everything you put your fingers in or have experience with. The world needs more of that. It’s this freedom to be curious. Embrace it, step forward with some courage and vulnerability, let go of all these dictates or what the society says you’re supposed to do at this certain time or whatever. I like your term prescriptive. This prescriptive way of living is not setting anyone free and thus not making us truly at peace. It’s causing a lot of pain. A powerful part of being solo is you get to choose so many different ways of living.

The thing about this model that I talked about at the outset is if you imagine it as Scott does as a boat, it’s not a train where everybody’s headed in the same direction. When you’re on a boat, you can sail in whatever direction you want to sail in. That’s connected to what you’re saying here, which is there’s no direction that you need to be sailing. You get to choose. It may be easier or harder, depending on which way the wind is blowing but nonetheless, you still get to choose.

Speaking to that wind reveals what you truly want. Do you want what you say you want? You’re going to push through that wind. You’re going to figure out a way around it or through it, or to wait until the winds die down and you’re going to hang in there. If that wind throws you off course, it wasn’t your journey to take. It wasn’t what you wanted. Maybe it was what you thought you wanted but someone else had influenced you that you weren’t aware of. That wind reveals truths if it throws you off course.

Who hasn’t been in a relationship when you have a vision of your future self that you are leaning towards but know that the person you’re with doesn’t fit and they don’t want that? I want the pattern clashing of those things and that gives them agita. You’re like, “That’s amazing.” They’re like, “I can’t live in a house like that.” “I can’t live in a house with you.”

“We’re not having Rosa pillows on my bed. It’s not going to happen.”

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures
The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life (Learn In and Use It for Life)

Unless you can justify why Peter needs that many pillows, that doesn’t make sense.

I’m open to education but right now, yes. I want to repeat this back. You said being single is being in a choosing seat. Is that how you said it? That’s an interesting term.

Not that you can’t choose in your relationship. We need to be careful there because you absolutely can if you’re in a healthy relationship and should be able to, but people need to embrace that opportunity.

One of the sad things about solos is that too many of them are trying to live the prescribed life and the world is built for families. Monday through Friday, the 9:00 to 5:00, the house with the white picket fence, a lot of these things, a lot of the default choices that people make with regard to their careers, their consumption, their lifestyle, and so on is more in line with the family orientation. There’s nothing wrong with it. I’m not anti-family but you have optionality.

Shannon, when she said the last episode, it was the episode with Tim Kreider, who essentially gave up power in search of freedom. What ends up happening is a lot of people accumulate power, in part because they feel special. It’s a status game. Also, power and money often go together but the one thing that Tim makes a persuasive argument is the more power that you have, the actual less freedom that you often have. The more obligations you have, the more you have to behave a certain way and so on. I like this idea of you get to decide. You get to customize your life and develop your taste. You can do so because you’re in the choosing seat.

The last thing you talk about are these pillars of building a simply luxurious life and I like the word building. It suggests that it’s an ongoing process in the same way we talked about building a house or building a lifestyle there. We don’t have time for all of them. I’d like to highlight a few and get your feedback on them. Number one, I assume this is not arbitrary, “Have healthy self-respect and self-worth.”

That takes some people a lifetime.

Some people may never get past number one. Let’s be honest.

Talk about the waves to get into this ocean.

It was intentional. Looking back on it, the sanctuary component enables us and the social well-being too and all that helps us get to having self-worth or recognizing that we all have it. We just have to recognize we have self-worth and self-respect. I’m exploring a book right now called Self-Compassion. There’s been a bunch of research on self-compassion about how instead of focusing on self-esteem, we need to focus on self-compassion because, in that practice, it brings about self-esteem.

If we focus on self-esteem, it’s not wasted energy but it’s backward. Self-compassion feeds into self-respect. Honor where you are now. Honor the fact that you do have worth, every single person does, and that you deserve to be in the choosing seat to back to that term. You deserve to figure out what speaks to you. The other thing that is important is to stop comparing yourself to everybody and anything except for maybe who you were yesterday, but even then, sometimes we can be a little too critical of ourselves.

You’re also echoing what Twyla Tharp and other creatives have talked about, which is you will never be where you want to be unless you start with where you are. You’re constantly comparing yourself to the idea of yourself as opposed to embracing where you are.

You’re never going to finish. You’re never going to be like, “I’m done.”

Shannon is inside her coffin going, “I wouldn’t have chosen this then but it does go with the dress.”

Growth is life. Curiosity is the medicine that keeps someone young but also keeps you growing and learning and enjoying life.

Let’s do another one. This one I like because this is related to the foundation idea, this idea of a team. You say healthy relationships.

Social well-being. I like this term. I was talking about different cultures and what opened my mind up to different types of relationships in my travels. It’s like you can connect with people of the opposite sex, and they won’t think that you’re hitting on them or flirting with them. It’s an amazing concept that America wants to drill out of our heads, not everywhere, but in many ways. It’s understanding what it means to be the other half of any relationship. What do you have to bring to it?

Kind, honest, respect and many other components. Those things are the things you control and those are the skills you can learn if you don’t feel confident in them. That’s where either being honest with yourself. Maybe going to a counselor to help you build those skills is wise because we can’t control them. That’s the other thing, wanting to let go of. It’s bringing yourself and letting them be who they are. This book I read is called The Courage to be Disliked.

I know this one.

I love this book.

Is it the Japanese author?

Yes, and I would butcher the name if I said, so I don’t want to do that. It’s the idea of tasks. Focus on your tasks, let other people worry and deal with their tasks. Often, we conflate. We would focus on other people’s tasks and we control or we don’t let go. We are not even worrying about what we should be doing. There are many components to being in healthy relationships but I love that simplifying. Focus on your tasks, which are honing your skills to be a better human being, let go and let other people worry about their tasks. That could be work-related, family, romantic or so many things.

Lily, when you hear this idea of healthy relationships, what’s coming to mind for you?

If you could get paid to have relationships of any kind, I would professionally be that person because in the same way like if my house is a mess, it’s usually because it’s representing what I’m feeling inside. I’m not organizing my thoughts. I’m not organizing my priorities. The health of my relationships is a reflection of where I’m at personally. I find myself in a relationship constantly where I’m reflecting beautiful things in the people that I surround myself with, and yet not necessarily hearing myself say the same things to myself.

It’s finding the interchange between generating my own self-love while also balancing the fact that love is an action. It is like a didgeridoo and the love that you put out the what is what you sometimes received. To give without expectation of receiving it. I’m going to circle back because we haven’t talked about it, but I foster dogs the way that normal people date. To me, it’s a way to give and not expect anything in return and also be able to love something for who it is and what it is and not need to be a part of the rest of its life.

That’s fitting. First of all, I’m working on a forthcoming episode on singles and pet ownership. You two have something in common, which is your love of dogs. As I mentioned in Shannon’s bio she has two dogs. Before we get to the last of the pillars that I want to talk about, when you talk about healthy relationships, Shannon, I’m guessing that it’s not just human relationships.

I wrote in my first book about how my dogs were my muse in many ways.

You open your book, and you say several times, “But this is not a book about dogs.”

You read the book, didn’t you? I don’t mention them again after the intro.

The intro is about your dogs and you keep going, “I’ll get to other things. About these dogs.”

I love all my dogs and I start with the dogs from being a young girl, and how they always provided comfort for me and allowed me to be myself. As I became an adult, I finally welcomed these two. I call them my gentlemen, Oscar and Norman. They are older. They are my companions and they were wonderful during the pandemic. I loved my time during the pandemic because of them primarily, but also because I am someone who enjoys my own company.

They allowed me to see that it was okay to enjoy my own company. This was during that time in my twenties when I was like, “What am I supposed to do, world?” I was listening to the world tell me instead of me understanding myself. They came into my life in my late twenties. One was when I was 26 and one when I was 30. They let me be me and I know that sounds like another dog.

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures
The Courage to Be Disliked: The Japanese Phenomenon That Shows You How to Change Your Life and Achieve Real Happiness


They needed me, number one, and at the same time, they let me be free. I could still go and travel. I would find a good safe friend to have them take care of them. They didn’t encumber me but at the same time, I was able to be my total goofy self in my house with them. I could go on and on about them. They don’t judge and you also have to learn their language too so you do have to work with another heartbeat in the house. For me, my dogs have allowed me to find the strength to be who I have always been.

They force you to adapt because you cannot control them. You can train and there’s absolute respect, dynamics, and expectations between the two of you, but the reality is that being a solo sets you up to also be in complete control of your environment if you so choose. That’s isolating and that keeps you from having a relationship with anything. If you can surround yourself with a heartbeat of some kind, it’s immediately putting you in a position of having to listen to something other than yourself.

Which is healthy and necessary. That’s a good point.

Thank you for sharing that. Ironically, the thing that brought me into your space, Shannon, was an idea that I read in one of your blogs, and that was about creating a signature style. I like the idea of creating a signature style. It’s something that I’ve worked on and developing an appreciation for another thing that is aesthetically pleasing and that is fashion. As I like to say, “Fashion is art for your body.” Can you close out talking a little bit about this idea? You’ve alluded to some of it before in terms of quality over quantity and to Lily’s point, avoiding fast fashion and so on. What does that mean to create a signature style and how might people start to think about that?

It’s something that takes time and it’s not something that is going to be dictated by trends. It’s also about accepting your body and accepting what are your assets and honoring those and celebrating those. That’s deeper than just skin. That’s where the self being content and at peace with yourself is important. When you find your signature style, “I need this to function in this particular profession, but I also feel most comfortable in this, but this is what makes me feel most confident.” Figure out what those components are. Effortless style is something that event initially takes a lot of time, a lot of focus, and a lot of exploration.

A lot of tailoring at times.

There’s the deal. If you’re tall, you need all sorts of things but it’s figuring out yourself. It’s easy. You can spot it. Even if there’s a trend on the runway that you love. You can say, “No, that’s for someone else.” If you love stripes, I’m addicted to stripes, I will find a stripe and figure out a way to welcome them into my closet.

Vertical or horizontal?

I do vertical. That elongates the body. The key is, it becomes simpler and you also are able to appreciate other people’s different styles because you feel content, at peace and confident in your own. Initially, it might appear to be expensive. Just a simple example, I had my eye on this particular dress a couple of months ago, but I wasn’t going to pay that price. It comes on sale on the 4th of July. I wasn’t even shopping for it but I love it. It was 40% off and I already knew I would have paid full price if I had the extra money, but now I knew for sure I could afford it and I did like it wasn’t because it was on sale.

More than anything, a signature style is having the confidence to reveal exactly who you are and not let the clothes speak for you. They can be art. I love sartorial communication. That is a craft and a skill and it’s a fantastic way to speak, but you then need to be the vocal point. It introduces you but you need to give the speech. The person needs to give this or whatever it is you’re presenting.

I was at a party in LA and it was one of these daytime parties, pool party-esque kind of thing, but not the pretentious ones that you imagine. There were some people there and I was talking to a friend and we were pointing out some of the outfits that people had chosen. How great they were for those people. How I would or she would have had a hard time pulling that look off. It wasn’t because we didn’t have the right body or anything like that. At least, in my case, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable in those clothes. Because I wouldn’t have felt comfortable in those clothes, it wouldn’t have looked the same. It wouldn’t have looked in that way.

You carry yourself differently when you feel good in your clothes.

This is a big call back to a previous episode called Clothing The Solo, where I talk to a friend who helped me make some decisions. I tell a story about this blue suit that I wear a gray belt, gray shoes, and gray socks with it. It was something I would never think to do, but she gently shoved me into that world. At first, I was uncomfortable with it but then I started to notice that that was the suit. That was the look that I got the most compliments on. Once those compliments started coming, now I was communicating sartorially. I then got more compliments because now I’m not just wearing it, I’m wearing it. I’m standing up a little taller. I feel a little better. That started to become more of a signature.

Way to be open and vulnerable, hear the suggestion and receive it. That’s a relationship.

She’s an expert and I’m not.

You sought out expertise.

She called it fashion-forward. Lily, how would you describe your signature style?

It’s been somewhere between granny chic and I don’t know. I’m an athlete. I had a couple of clients that in their own words would say, “Do you know the inside of a jewelry box with the little ballerina? That’s what it feels like in your house.” Peter, you saw my house back in LA. My uncle comes over and goes, “This is Lily.”

That’s great. Granny Chic meets Sporty Spice.

Sardonic spice. That’s what it is. It’s Sporty Sardonic Spice.

Shannon, thank you for your time and for doing this. I appreciate it. Lily as always, you’re a delight to have on here.

I love you.

Thanks for having me.

One of the big takeaways is I love this idea of as a solo, you get to make these decisions, often less encumbered and to think about how you might embrace more positivity in your life in a daily way, in a way that is simple and is authentic. You’re not playing a status game. The nice thing is you can develop these things with a thoughtful approach to it. There’s no one way to do it. You get to choose your tact. With that, I’ll say thank you. Cheers.


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About Shannon Ables

SOLO 94 | Simple PleasuresShannon Ables is the founder and editor of the lifestyle blog The Simply Luxurious Life (est. 2009) which inspired her first book Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman’s Guide (2014), and her second Living The Simply Luxurious Life: Making Your Everydays Extraordinary and Discovering Your Best Self (2018). She lives in Bend, Oregon, since 2015 with her two spaniels, Oscar and Norman.



About Lily Rains

SOLO 94 | Simple Pleasures

Lily Rains is a storyteller, arts educator, crafter of needlework, and maker of homemade ice cream. Though solo, Lily loves to be part of an ensemble with a shared goal: be it on a softball field, in an escape room, or getting a play, movie, or tv show made.


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