303: 33 Ways to Live Your Fullest Life, as taught by Norma Kamali
Monday March 15, 2021

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“Living your purpose will make it possible to do all the things you need to do to reach the goals you need to reach in order to fulfill your dreams, which are as big as the world and as optimistic as your mind can imagine.” —Norma Kamali, author of I Am Invincible

Change is inevitable, in the world, our bodies and our lives. How we navigate life’s endless changes determines the quality of our lives, especially during our everydays and how we experience each 24-hours, but from the longview of life, it will determine the legacy we create, the connections and relationships we make and build and how or if we contribute positively to a better world tomorrow.

Fashion designer Norma Kamali‘s new book, part memoir, part lifestyle/self-esteem builder I Am Invincible is aptly described by Cynthia Rowley as “personal power with a side of popcorn”.

Upon the book’s arrival, I read it in one day. Highlighting constantly, stopping and rereading, taking closer notes so as not to forget and apply immediately her wisdom to my life, I couldn’t wait to share with podcast listeners and blog readers (where does the ‘side of popcorn come in you may be wondering? she shares a simple, yet delicious recipe for homemade popcorn – I tried it the next day – yep, loved it).

What good fortune we all have to live now with so much to learn, apply, explore and tickle our curiosity, and with such good fortune, we can easily become overwhelmed. However, Kamali reminds and models in her own life of more than 70 years that this good fortune need not betwixt us but rather spark excitement within us to figure out how to make it work for each and every one of us so we can live with purpose.

The book transpired out of a gift she gave to a friend who was celebrating her 50th birthday. She gave as a Moleskine journal filled with 50 Tips on Turning 50! and the reaction led to asking her to make her book available, and now we have quite the book of inspiration and lessons applied and learned.

As someone who chose herself when she founded her own business in her early 20s after ending a marriage and the business she and her then husband began together and continues to hold the reins and someone who found whom she describes as her soulmate at 65, Kamali is a living example of intentionally building one’s self-esteem, recognizing and celebrating your authentic self and living with purpose in your business and personal life.

Her book begins with the driving question: If you can control the quality of your life, why not do it? And while she definitely had me at Why Not . . . ? I couldn’t agree more that indeed we should invest and apply in all the areas we can to elevate the quality of our lives.

Today’s episode/post shares 33 of which there are many more lessons discovered as I read her book. I hope you enjoy.

~be sure to tune in and listen to the audio version of today’s episode for further discussion on each of the points shared below.


1.Be brave

“Be willing to surrend who you are for what you can become. Change is very hard for many people, but change is inevitable in all of our lives. It is oftentimes what propels us forward. If you initiate change, you will have proactive management over it.”

The courage to be brave is not for the faint of heart. The moment of transition lasts more than a moment, and during this time of transition from where you were to where you are going with your choice is full of emotions challenging your decision, then buoying your excitement, then challenging your decision again. The only way to overcome the doubt is to continue to strive forward as such feelings are only the mind’s lizard brain wanting you to continue what it knows not necessarily because it is best for you.

~read this post – How to Be Brave: Follow Your ‘This’ to Live the Life You Have Dreamt About

2. Understand your hormonal levels

“Throughout puberty, pregnancy, post-pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause, women ride a hormonal roller coaster. Diet and exercise are the first lines of defense for balancing hormones.”

On a practical level, since I mentioned emotions in #1, not only do we need to strengthen our emotional intelligence (EQ), but as women, we need to understand the hormonal changes each of us will go through at some time. Kamali recommends speaking to your wellness doctor or an expert in the medical field to best understand how to navigate and understand what your body is moving through.

3. Learn to love yourself first, so you can love others well

“Positive self-esteem based on how we feel about our mind, body and soul is needed for self-love. If we haven’t done work in the self-love area, there is a chance we are not as discriminating as we need to be, especially in relationships.”

Kamali’s own life exemplifies the need to walk away for our own well-being,”Walking away begins with a belief system you have in your head about your own value.” And it is in the self-love, we become clear about how to love others well and know what love actually looks like.

4. Professional teeth cleanings – multiple times a year

Back to the practical. Of course, brushing our teeth daily, multiple times a day is a must along with flossing, etc., but our smiles are powerful. They not only enhance our beauty, they boost our own confidence and endorphin levels when we smile, and a healthy smile can be maintained for an extraordinary long time if only we take preventative measures regularly throughout our entire lives. Two times a year tends to be the recommendation by dentists, but opt for more if you can and let your smile shine.

5. Embrace a meditation practice

A meditation practice need not be elaborate. It can be as simple and momentary as intentional time slipping away to the restroom while at work for 5 to 10 minutes to breathe deeply and settle ourselves, but yes (I know I have recommended this practice many times here on the blog), meditation is a worthwhile practice for so many lifelong health benefits – the mind most especially.

6. Be proactive to navigate well through fear/anxiety/worry

When it comes to eliminating or handling well unwanted worry, undesirable situations, Kamali advises developing routines to engage in everyday whenever worry, fear or anxiety arises. For example, she shares how meditation breaks when taken “temper anything stressful that might throw off [her] routine”.

7. Embrace regular, rigorous exercise to improve sleep

“In addition to helping naturally reduce stress and anxiety levels, regular exercise has been shown to boost the amount of time the body spends in deep sleep. This is the most physically rejuvenating phase, important for memory and cognitive function. When energy is restored, cells regenerate, and the immune system is strengthened.”

Upon reflection on any night in which I woke up prematurely and was not woken up, it followed a day I did not exercise. On days I do not exercise due to exhaustion – mental and emotional fatigue, I actually cause more stress because my sleep is not deep and sometimes interrupted of my own accord. All of these ahas I have seen and learned in my own life reiterate the vital importance of making time in my day for an exercise routine.

8. Make your bedroom a sacred space in your sanctuary

Currently, as many readers know, I am nearing the end of a much anticipated bedroom restyling and when it is complete I look forward to sharing with you my decisions for the space and how they help me create a sacred space. Each of us will make unique choices for the decor, the sheets, the ambiance which work best for us, but one thing Kamali reiterates is to leave the bedroom for sleeping, resting and connecting intimately with your partner only. In other words, leave the technology outside of the bedroom.

~10 Décor Tips for Creating a Private Sanctuary for Rest & Repose: TSLL’s Restyling Process (mid-way through) of the Primary Bedroom (for TOP Tier exclusively)

~Why Not . . . Create a Sanctuary for your Senses?

~14 Ways to Create a Happy Home, episode #278


9. Make what you eat a lifestyle choice

“What you eat should be a lifestyle choice, not a fad diet, just like your workouts should be part of your daily routine, and not sporadic.”

TSLL lives by the principle of eating well and with the seasons. The food we eat need not be fancy and it absolutely doesn’t need to lack flavor as it is the flavor which will satiate us, telling our bodies we are full and satisfied. However, learning how to cook and eat this way is a skill we are taught as children or need to teach ourselves as adults. It is well worth it and once we understand the fundamentals, easy than might be expected.

“The simple secret I’ve learned is that if we eat quality food we will feel fulfilled and less controlled by our cravings. The amount of food we need is much less than you might imagine.”

~Enjoy Stepping into Your Kitchen with 6 Simple (and effortless) flavor tips

~explore TSLL’s cooking show – The Simply Luxurious Kitchen – to begin to enjoy stepping into your kitchen

10. No more sugar

“[Sugar] doesn’t do your complexion any favors, either. A doctor once described sugar’s oxidizing effect on cells to me as akin to ‘rust’. The rust starts to decay and age the cell. This accelerated cellular aging also harms the building blocks of collagen and elastin, causing skin to sag prematurely.”

The natural sugars found in fruits and some vegetables – keep on devouring them! However, by becoming aware of how sugar infilrates our diet without either realizing it or recognizing how much we are actually consuming, we do our health and our skin no favors.

11. Add ginger and/or lemon to your hot water to debloat

Water, water, water all the time, water. Adding fresh lemon juice also is a healthy choice, one many of us know about, but did you know about adding ginger? (I have a feeling many of you did and I am late to this health tip :), but I want to share with you all.) Ginger is a carminative along with many other herbs, and carminatives help to soothe the digestive tract and relieve gas, cramps and bloating.

12. Stock your épicerie with foods to care for your inner and outer health.

In episode #109 and in even more detail in chapter 12 of TSLL’s second book Living The Simply Luxurious Life, I share a list of 34 essential items to have in your Épicerie (grocery or pantry).

TSLL’s 2nd Book (learn more here)


“Style survives fashion and personal style is developed with time.”

13. Courageously get to know yourself and your personal style will reveal itself

“The more you know who you are as you move through your life, the more you develop your personal style.”

As I step forward into a new chapter in my own life (more to come on that this summer), I am excited to further fine-tune my personal style. My goal is so that “Every piece of clothing”, when you have cultivated your own personal style, “will have a purpose in your wardrobe.” It’s possible and far easier when we know ourselves and how we enjoy living.

14. Understand the value of timeless style

“Women who understand the value of timeless style look amazing all of the time.”

~further exploration, listen to/read episode #103: Effortless Style: The Truth (explore further in TSLL’s 2nd Book, chapter 11)

15. Don’t follow trends

Style remains and fashion fades. While we can be inspired or piqued by a new fashion walking down the runway, responding rather than reacting applies just as much to our decisions for our wardrobe as it does to our interactions throughout life with others. Explore this post – Why Not . . . Create Your Own Style Commandments? to strengthen your approach to building your personal style.

16. Sustainable clothing shopping requires wise shopping choices

  • timeless clothes
  • multiple purposes
  • seasonless (when possible)

Investing in high quality clothing, paying high price for well-made items made of quality fabric is shopping sustainably. You shop less and you wear the items longer.

17. Your personal brand is introduced through your clothing

Branding is communicated by many other factors – our energy, posture, congeniality – but before we even speak, our clothing talks for us. Our sartorial choices are powerful, and as Kamali encourages, “let yours be uniquely you”.

18. Organize your closet to excite and focus your attention and save time

Kamali suggests organizing your closet to help you edit what you really want to wear and in fact organizes her personal and office closets by color, then by fabric, and then by category: dresses, jumpsuits, tops, jackets, skirts, pants.

19. Purchase multiple items you love and fit well

From undergarments to blazers, layering pieces, anything that is timeless, Kamali recommends investing in duplicates.

20. A strong confidence requires less artifice as protection

“But with her new book, she hopes to drive home the limits of fashion. ‘A dress can only do so much,’ she says. ‘When you feel good in your body and your mind, you’ll probably spend less on clothes.'”

Upon reading the profile of Kamali’s book in the WSJ, it was the above quote which resonated with me quite strongly. Yes, we need clothing, I am not one to advocate for sans-clothing living although I know some do and that is perfectly fine for them. Clothing is powerful, but when we rely on our clothing to do the work we need to be doing for ourselves for our mental well-being, we place too much importance on what we are wearing causing unnecessary stress on our mental health and strain on our budget.

I wholeheartedly, as readers and listeners know, advocate for investment pieces rather than cheap, clothing (referencing #16), and as we find peace within ourselves, strengthen ourselves with soft skills to improve how we engage with the world, our clothing, while it may introduce us before our words and actions begin, becomes secondary. Meaning, we can wear the same outfit more often without worry, we can stick to our personal uniform with confidence knowing it works with our lifestyle, and we can feel good in the clothing we have chosen further supporting us as we live how we had hoped in our dreams we could one day experience in real life: with great purpose, with deep joy and true contentment.


“Be independent; learn how to earn your own way. Then you can choose someone you love versus someone to take care of you.”

21. Explore your dreams for your life journey

“The wonderful thing about a dream is that it is limitless and it is free, and it can become the path to your purpose.”

Let persistent curiosity be your guide to where your purpose will be discovered. Kamali writes, “invest in your future now” even if you don’t know what it will lead to or the potential it will present down the road. Simply invest because you are genuinely curious and let tomorrow reveal what it will.

22. Empower other women, don’t compete

“Girls compete, women empower.”

Citing insecurity and a lack of self-esteem as the cause of fear which then leads to a scarcity mindset prompting competition, when we step forward instead as women with strong self-esteem paired with generosity, there is no need to compete because we are secure in our ability, excited to learn more and willing to help as we can those who look to us with inquiry.

23. Do something that scares you

In so doing, you keep your mind sharp. Stretch your mind, learn something new, attempt something you’ve never thought of yourself doing, yet when presented with the opportunity, your curiosity is piqued. Try it, give it a go and who knows what doors or windows or ahas will open.

24. Respect in your field will take time

“Respect is like money, you have to earn it.”

Your reason for pursuing your chosen career will determine your longevity. If your purpose comes from within, you will have the perseverance to ride the waves of questioning and/or doubt others in the field may have of your ideas. Stay true to your core purpose, be open to learning, flexible with the journey forward and how it unfolds, and in time, and in a moment most unexpected, you will realize you have garnered the respect of the field you so devoted yourself to.

25. Deal with your ‘failures’ well and your future will be bright

“Allow yourself a limited amount of time to recount the events that led to failure and to assess the damage. Take responsibility, look at the options for your next steps, get advice, then get on you feet and know you are not alone in failure.”

26. “Do it for joy and you can do it forever”

As shared in #24, what motivates you to pursue the career or caling you find yourself and have chosen to remain or step into anew from another career that didn’t quite fit will determine your longevity.

When I sit down to write, it fuels me. When I am tasked with other jobs I have done for pay, I am drained. Listen to this for your own energy sources to determine whether or not you are pursuing what is best for you.


Authenticity Enhanced is my beauty preference, since being me is definitely easier than trying to look like someone else.”

Enhance who you are and only use makeup (after caring for your skin well) for definition, “not to hide or disguise or hide the real you”.

27. Take care of your skin

The French have taught me many lessons, and this is one of them: tend to your skin and your makeup need only be minimal and secondary. I have written quite a bit on this topic, so I will list the post to explore for more detail (and list of recommended skincare brands and products) below:

28. Take pride in your individuality

“Being the author of your own life is far more interesting than imitating another’s life.”

~7 Components for Building a Signature Style

29. Exercise for beautiful skin

“Sweat for glowing skin and to release toxins.”

~Why Not . . . Treat Your Body Like a Temple?

30. Leave the nails unpainted

“Natural, unpainted manicures are healthy and maintain a timeless look.”

I have been leaving my own fingernails unpainted for, well, for all of my adult life and prior to actually as well. However, I just recently began going sans color when I give myself a pedicure. I am loving it. Less to purchase, but it forces me to care well for my overall health and directly, my nails.

While I sit down every two weeks for my at-home pedicure and tend to my fingernails every week, my choice surprised me as I wear sandals frequently in the summer, but it simply means, I will know my nails are healthy and that all is well.

31. Drink green tea for your skin

An antioxidant for the skin, Kamali shares she drinks one or two cups of green tea every day. With multiple benefits, green tea can calm redness and inflammation and protect the skin from free radical damage, and even the small amount of caffeine in green tea can help reduce puffiness around the eyes.

There are so many wonderful green teas. Currently in my tea cupboard are Vert Provence from Mariage Fréres and a variety of green teas from Palais des Thés.

Kamali’s green tea mask recipe (use in #32 for your at-home facial): (1) place a paper towel on a dinner plate; (2) pour a small amount of freshly brewed cool or room-temperature green tea on the paper towel; (3) drain any excess liquid; (4) lie back with your head on a towel and place the paper towel over your face; (5) relax and breathe in a meditative manner; (6) remove when you are ready and pat dry your face.

32. Give yourself at-home facials in-between your seasonal or bi-monthly facials at the spa

Begin with a cleansing your face well (I use Caudalie’s makeup removing facial cleanser which is 100% natural and vegan) Use a simple natural scrub using olive oil and sugar or sea salt, provide a steam treatment by sitting near a steamer (if you have one) or draping a towel over your head above a bowl of hot water – keep your face about 6-12 inches above the water). Then apply a facial masque best suited for your skin – I highly recommend any masques (or products) from Eminence Organic Skincare.


33. Commit

“The minute you reflect upon what your purpose is in this lifetime, you can commit to it, and the esaier it will be to maintain focus and stay on course.”

Committing occurs when we take action beyond ourselves. The conversation steps outside of our minds, we hand in the job application, turn in the resignation letter, purchase the lease, apply for the loan, say yes, say no. Following any one of these decisions, we are in it. Sure we could back out, but we’ve already made one of the most difficult decisions and aren’t you curious to see how it can unfold if only you would put your whole heart into it?

I just made a commitment last week which put a long-held dream into motion (I will share more concretely what it is later this summer), and yes, there is fear and trepidiation, but I do my best not to hang out with these emotions for too long because I have much more excitement I now have the opportunity to full embody and explore.

Live your life on purpose for a purpose which will make you come to life and you will be, as Norma Kamali states from the beginning, invincible.

~Read Norma Kamali’s highly inspiring and motivating book I Am Invincible

Petit Plaisir

Italian Furlane Slippers from SantM.co

~functional luxury footwear

~handmade with velvet and slip-resistant rubber soles just as the gondolieri have worn on their Venetian boats. Sizing up is highly recommended, but I have did purchase my true size for one pair and while snug, it fit well and became even more perfect for my foot with a handful of wearings. I also have one that is one size larger which I wear everyday and love.

For more sizes and color optinos (if you cannot find what you want on the home site, shop below)

~Sponsor for today’s episode:

  • Jenni Kayne
    • Receive 15% off your first order with promo code SIMPLE

~The Simple Sophisticate, episode #303
~Subscribe to The Simple Sophisticate:  iTunes | Stitcher | iHeartRadio | YouTube | Spotify

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11 thoughts on “303: 33 Ways to Live Your Fullest Life, as taught by Norma Kamali

  1. This is absolutely one of my favorite podcasts, not just because it’s a wonderful insight into Kamali’s book, but because of the links!! When tied to a current post/podcast, I not only get to revisit some jewels of the past, but, more importantly, one can see the timelessness of the information from the past podcasts.
    Also, just a note , when looking at personal style–I have found it helpful to consider one’s clothed silhouette. Balance of proportion, flow of fabric(drape), intent and purpose of clothing–start with the outline, then work into the details of color, texture, practicality etc.
    And now of course, I am ordering Kamali’s book. No really. Right now.?
    Thanks Shannon

    1. Rona, I think you will greatly enjoy it. Thank you for sharing what you have about the silhouette of our body – so much truth. Thank you for tuning in and stopping by to view this week’s podcast. I deeply enjoyed Norma Kamali’s book and could have sat and listed even more lessons, but 33 seemed about right. 🙂
      I do hope you enjoy the book. Her love of life is infectious in the very best of ways. xoxo

  2. Dear Shannon, yesterday morning I saw that you had a new podcast uploaded. I couldn’t wait to put on my walking shoes and head outside after a whole day at my desk. We have gone back to working from home and I was craving having an hour to myself outdoors, exercising while indulging in one of your podcasts. I was not disappointed! I thoroughly enjoyed the entire podcast, the details, the quotes, the links to other podcasts, and even the little petit plaisir (adorable!). I’ve put Kamali’s book into my shopping cart!
    Your podcasts have been accompanying me on my walks for more than a year now (some days they are THE reason why I go for walk!). They have made a difference in the way I experience my daily routines, my work, and also my relationships. Keep up the great work! thank you for sharing so much about yourself. I am an educator too and love to hear the little snippets about how you juggle your two working-roles. looking forward to more 🙂
    p.s. Can I make a suggestion, please? We have been buying more online this past year and while I have had to do this out of necessity, I keep reminiscing all the errors I did with buying too much, wrong fit, wrong materials, etc. I no longer feel comfortable and confident buying online. Could you perhaps give us a few tips about this? How do we source long-lasting items, which fit well and truly match our needs and lifestyle?

  3. I really enjoyed this episode, Shannon! I devoured this book in a few days as well. Such an icon to take advice from. And I don’t know how I have managed to live without those slippers all my life. Have to try!

    1. Thank you for tuning in! Yes, a wonderful book. When wisdom is offered from such personal experience, it certainly is worth considering. 🙂 I think you will love the slippers. Wearing them now. 🙂

  4. I just finished I Am Invincible today and I loved it – really feeling a paradigm shift within. There is something uniquely resonant about advice from someone who has been there already. I also just finished a sweet potato pudding after her recipe – delicious!

    1. Meg,
      Thank you for sharing and so happy to hear! 🙂 What you have shared is so true – she offers her wealth of insight and I am incredibly grateful. So happy to hear the sweet potato pudding satiated! And thank you for the reminder to give it a try. 🙂

  5. I spent my lunch break catching up on some of the recent posts I have missed and while I haven’t listened to the pod cast….yet, I was absolutely captivated by this post. I made notes, I wrote the quotes on my calendar to be able to re-read them often. As I have mentioned before I am a late bloomer of sorts. I will be 44 years young this birthday and I just recently switched careers which required me to go back to school. I took a very big leap of Faith asking God to guide me in this new journey. It has been the best decision for me. So many of the points you posted about really struck me, as I am only now discovering my true self and what truly brings me happiness, being content, and luxury. While I know I shared much in this post, what I really want to show is my sincere gratitude Shannon for writing such aw-inspiring pieces, making me desire to learn and discover so many beautiful things about myself and life. I feel like a student every time I read your posts or refer back to your book.

    1. Jennifer, Thank you very much for tuning in and sharing all that you have. The exploration of the self while initially intimidating is a goldmine of discovery that will, if we are brave, deepen the quality of our lives.

  6. Hi Shannon, About a year ago I listened to an interview of Ms. Kamali and thought her words would really resonate with you.
    Well, I’m finally getting around to telling you about it, sigh.
    It’s on the Unstyled podcast, the December 4, 2016 episode. Enjoy and thank you for sharing her book!

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