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Happy Friday, friends! Jen here with another Design Your Life feature.  For me, this week flew by and was crazy-busy. Doesn’t it seem like that always happens after a long, wonderful weekend?

Today I’m happy to introduce the lovely Sage of Sage Grayson Coaching. Are you ready to make a positive change in your life, and actually put yourself first for once? If so, Sage is your gal! She does so much more, but sometimes I think as women, we all go through phases and struggle with this, so figuring out how to take the time for yourself while having a healthy relationship with friends and family is a something we can all benefit from.

I’m sure you will enjoy Sage’s fresh take on how she lives her live with intention. Enjoy!






One of my favorite quotes from the Dalai Lama is, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.” I love it, and I feel that the world would be a happier place if more people let kindness guide their actions.

I have a question that I ask myself periodically to make sure I’m on the right path in my life: “Am I being kind?” This question is so simple, and yet it has such a powerful impact on everything I do.

It applies to countless situations: how I reply to email, how I talk to my husband, the products I buy, the companies and causes I support, and even what I eat (I’m a vegan).

Sometimes when I ask myself if I’m being kind, I have to answer, “No.” This usually happens when I’m stressed out or haven’t eaten in a while. But that’s the beauty of this question! By asking it, I can either reaffirm my choices or make adjustments so I can head in the right direction.




When I say that everything is fixable, I mean that you can recover from anything in your life and be a stronger person. But this doesn’t mean that things will be perfect or go back to how you want them to be. It’s like gluing a broken cup back together; it’s fixed but changed.

I’ve experienced some terrible things in my life including surviving a suicide attempt, escaping an abusive family, and overcoming vicious bullying. I’m still alive today because I believed that I could design a future for myself, a life where the pain wouldn’t control me. Fixing my life was a conscious choice! I’m not unique, and I show my clients that they can fix their lives too.




I have a Type A personality and I’m a Buddhist, which is kind of a wacky combination! My control freak nature wants to make endless to-do lists and schedules, but the little Buddha inside me wants to calm down and let things unfold naturally.

One way I’ve been able to honor these 2 viewpoints is to write in my aspiration journal every morning. An aspiration journal is where you write AS IF the things you want to happen have already occurred. For example, I might write, “I’m so happy and grateful that I recorded a video today and had a breakthrough moment during a client call.”

Setting my intention in an aspiration journal clears my mind so I can go with the flow for the rest of the day. It’s always fun to re-read my old aspiration journals after the things I had been hoping for actually happened.




About a year ago, I closed my first website because I got a lot of feedback that it was too cutesy and silly for a life coaching business. I rebranded myself as a serious coach and made my site more “business-y,” whatever that means.

I regretted my decision almost immediately. Sure, I looked like a professional coach, but I didn’t quite feel like me. I was caught between my serious desire to improve women’s lives and my goofy disposition that needed a creative outlet.

It wasn’t until I attended Jess Lively’s Business With Intention Workshop this year that I realized how much I missed my old sweet self. After a lot of soul searching and clarity work, I split my business into 2 separate businesses. Sage Grayson Coaching (sagegrayson.com) has my kick-ass life coaching services, and the newly (re)launched Sweet and Sage (sweetandsage.com) is an online magazine for women who crave advice that’s both kind and smart.

Mistakes are a part of life! If I hadn’t made the mistake of pretending to be like other coaches, I wouldn’t be as clear about who I am right now. There are many sides of my personality, and don’t have to suppress the real me.




The thing I love most about life coaching is that I get to watch women put themselves first, sometimes after years of neglecting their own needs. We have the power to change our lives, so why not do the things that make you happy?

I have 32 magazine subscriptions (yes, really!) because reading them inspires me and fills me with joy. My husband and I vacation in Walt Disney World every year because we never outgrew our childish wonder.

What are your wildest dreams? What amazing things are calling you? It’s your life…make it sweet!


Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

pet organization
May 30th, 2013     |    DecorExfoliatingLife



As Franklin has accumulated more stuff, I’ve been working on finding ways to store items in a pretty way.

So far, so good. Here are a few little spots around the living room that are pup-friendly.




Right near the front door we have this little hook, found at Zara Home.

This has been his leash, harness, and coat hook. It’s simple, cute, and easy to use each time he needs to go out.




The chest near the front door also has a drawer with his brush and 30′ leash for dog park walks.




On the top of the chest, we have trays and bowls for both Mr. Lively and Franklin.

Franklin’s hammered bowl from Nate Berkus’ Target line houses extra baggies, treats, and clickers.




On the kitchen peninsula, we also have a cookie jar with his medications and other treats. This my favorite way to disguise dog items in a pretty way.




For dog toys, we have a wooden wine crate.

Truth be told, I have the cutest little french woven basket for his toys. But Franklin’s more fond of chewing the basket more than his toys… so I’m crossing my fingers that one day I’ll be able to use the basket instead of the wine crate.

And if you look closely, you’ll notice he’s put some marks on the edge of this bin as well.

Other than these items we have a big brass trunk in the hallway that houses extra food, shampoos, and his puppy coat.

We also have a binder that has all of his medical records which has proven to be really handy.

Hopefully some of these ideas might prove to be useful for others with pet products scattered about the house.


2013 throw out 100 things challenge
May 29th, 2013     |    ExfoliatingLife


In honor of Organization Week, I am following the makeunder process and exfoliating first.*

For this exfoliation, I decided to go big. Throw out 100 things challenge big.

Because let’s be honest: the simplest organization occurs when we have less “stuff” in the first place.

Over the last five years I’ve developed a pretty good rule of thumb for items: I need to need, use, or love them in order to keep them. Anything that doesn’t fit one of these rules is a candidate for exfoliation (which means I toss out, donate, pass on, or recycle the items – depending on their potential).

In addition, I’ve had an intention to have only really nice stuff for the last five years as well. So exfoliating has also allowed me to fulfill this intention little by little,  even when I was tight on cash.

By exfoliating the items that were not-so-nice, I managed to increase the percentage of my stuff that was nice.

So without further ado, let’s get to the items, shall we?













(Confession: totally forgot to add the 99th shirt – Mr. Lively is exfoliating another two that I didn’t include in the photo because I counted wrong. Doh.)

As with past challenges, I did my best to exfoliate things in batches, when possible. So you’ll notice that there are several pairs of earrings bunched together instead of counted separately.

This helps me to really make more substantial progress with clutter and allows me to be a better editor overall.

I gotta be honest, it feels great looking around the apartment now. Less clutter in drawers or in the closet really does feel like I have “more” nice stuff.

I have found that the more difficult things to let go of are often the things that I later appreciate exfoliating the most.

Exfoliating Tip: If anyone has trouble letting go of things, especially clothing, my suggestion is to put the items you are on the fence about in a box for three months. If you haven’t gone back to the box to retrieve any items, donate the box at the end of the three month period.

And of course, if you find yourself similarly inspired to go through your home and do your own challenge, please share your post link back here so we can all check it out!


* Unfamiliar with the makeunder process? You can check out the four steps here.


WishIKnewWorkingFromHomeWithKidsToday’s Wish I Knew Wednesday topic is about how to work from home with your kids in mind.

This is a common issue that I address with many of my clients (in fact, most of my mom clients are expecting their second child while working with me).

And since I can only relate from the “pup mom” perspective, I’m giving the mic today to one of my clients, Martine de Luna, who is a mom that specializes in helping other work-at-home moms in workshops and conferences over at WAHMderful Life (WAHM = Work-At-Home Mom).

And the coolest part? She’s helping people across the globe from the Philippines.

So whether you have kids already and work from home, or like me, you are looking to get insights that might help you with that phase of life sometime in the future, this is a good read.


If you’d like to get the email, simply sign up by clicking on the image below. This email list is also where I announce upcoming workshops and other Business With Intention updates.

If you have signed up for the Wish I Knew Wednesday newsletter, you will automatically get this email.



struggle, worthiness, love, and belonging
May 28th, 2013     |    LifeQuotable


While watching a TED Talk about the Power of Vulnerability by Brené Brown, this quote struck me as incredibly powerful and true.

I am also excited to dig into Ms. Brown’s Daring Greatly, sent to me by my amazing and sweet client, Anna, as well.




Good morning!

Upon returning home from camping this weekend I had the itch to organize. Everything.

So this week I’m going to change up the posting a bit and devote the week to organization.

To kick things off, I’m sharing the most satisfying project that I’ve completed in a looong time.

Quite simply: I have “solved” my bath product travel problems.

Up to this point, I always had a hodge podge of products full-size, travel size, and otherwise to throw in a cute bag and take with me on trips.

But as this weekend’s packing proved: I never really know when I’ve included everything.

For example, I was convinced that I did not pack my toothbrush on the drive to the campgrounds, so we picked one up on the way. But later I found out that I did bring a toothbrush and bought the new one unnecessarily.

And since I have the trip to Austin for the workshops this weekend, and a trip to San Fran coming up in June, I felt the urge to make a bath bag that had everything I’d ever need.

This way I only have to “pack” my glasses and birth control.

First, I assembled the products that I use.




Though it’s kinda crazy, the products above aren’t all that I need, they are simply the larger, bulkier items that are hard to pack.

After a quick trip to Target, I purchased a solution for these big guns.


Bam. These little bottles that came with stick-them-yourself labels are perfection.

I grabbed two of the travel packages and ended up using every single one.

The bonus here is that I have a sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner that I need for my hair treatment, so now I don’t need to pack mini hotel shampoos and conditioners that hurt my hair.

And things like contact solution and Moroccan Oil that before were bulky in my suitcase are now miniaturized.

Plus, the designer in me loves that they are all visually cohesive.




Then, my inner-nerd got even more excited.

I divided the bottles by use: one bag for the shower, one bag for the vanity.




To house the items, I chose this large silver tote from Z Gallerie, which formerly housed Jess LC inventory for several years.

It happened to be the perfect size with two extra pockets for extra necessities.




In the front pocket I have all of the quick essentials like hair ties, bobby pins, Vaseline, aspirin, and face wipes.




Inside the interior pocket I stashed some tampons, extra contacts, and first aid items.




The main compartment houses the two bottle bags, a tooth brush, face lotion, toothpaste, and my glasses. (Note: I still need to add a deodorant to complete the essentials.)




Which happen to fit quite nicely.

I’m not gonna lie. I’ve been zipping and unzipping these compartments to peek inside and enjoy the organization quite a bit.

Makeup and my blow dryer are not included in this kit, of course, but more on that later.

Each trip, I can also remove any items that won’t be necessary. But I love that this kit will now get me through future travels without thinking, “man, I wish I had brought _____ with me.” 


gone campin’
May 24th, 2013     |    Life


What a great week!

Though a lot of new exciting things have been happening around here, like the pre-release of the Wish I Knew ebook and the Joss & Main Curator’s Collection (which is now live!), I had one of the greatest moments yesterday.

Each evening, Mr. Lively and I are in the habit of asking about each other’s day.

And for one of the first times that I can remember, I didn’t spend time reflecting on what had actually happened during the day in order answer.

I simply responded from the positive mood I was in in that moment. It was a “good day” because I was in a good place!

Though that may seem simple for some, it’s kinda a breakthrough for me. I’ve known that is the way to be, but have sometimes struggled to “get there.”

But hey, one day at a time, right?

This Memorial Day weekend we are ducking out of town and going camping in Wisconsin with our buddies.

We’ll also be bringing Franklin for the first time. We’re taking bids on whether he’ll return a white or brown pup.

Either way, we think he looks pretty dashing in his camping gear.


Thank you so much for reading and have a great Memorial Day weekend! 


Design with Intention meets Joss & Main
May 23rd, 2013     |    Style



In the design side of my career, I’ve been working on a big business re-branding and design project for a local boutique hotel (more on that when their new site is live!).

With all the commercial brand and space focus recently, I was excited to switch gears a bit and go back to my home design roots, when Joss & Main asked me to curate a collection of decor pieces for their Curator’s Collection.

Since I often get asked about the pieces in my apartments (here and here), I kept the sale focused on the looks that are most requested by readers – and the items I’d like to incorporate into my home in the future.














And then of course, there are items that I’d love to add to my home in the future.



The sale launches tonight at 9pm EST through Monday, the 27th, at 11am.

Not a member of Joss & Main yet? You can use my invite by clicking here.

As I mentioned, the sale goes live tonight at 9p, but you can see the lookbook right now.


In addition to the sale being all about the pretty, I’m also choosing to make it intentional too. I am giving 50% of my proceeds from this sale to Kiva.org.


Thank you so much for your support and be sure to check out the collection!


photos via and via
new Wish I Knew pre-order bonus
May 23rd, 2013     |    Life



I am so, so grateful for the outpouring of support for the new Wish I Knew ebook! Thank you all so much!

If I could, I’d run around and give you all hugs.

However, the bonus limited edition Just Keep Going prints sold out more quickly than I expected (less than six hours).

Because of the quick sellout, I’ve talked with Sarah Tolzmann, the print designer, and we have decided to release the print as a bonus desktop wallpaper for pre-order customers going forward.

This way all pre-order customers get a little piece of the pretty.

And of course, I couldn’t resist offering it in my favorite color combo of all time, white and gold, as well.




So if you pre-ordered, but were not among the first 50 to receive a limited edition print, you will be getting these beauties in your inbox soon.

And of course, if you have yet to pre-order, you are welcome to do so now and grab your own dose of desktop inspiration as well!

Thank you so much, guys, I’m so excited to serve you in this new way!


computer image via
introducing the Wish I Knew ebook!
May 22nd, 2013     |    Business AdviceLife


Good morning!

I have been waiting for this day to come for a looong time!

I’m so excited to announce that my first ebook, Wish I Knew, is launching in just a few short weeks!

To explain it in more detail, I thought I’d do what other authors do: go on The Today Show and have Matt Lauer interview me about the book.

So that’s what I did.

Just kidding.

It turns out that the folks at The Today Show were a bit hard to reach. So I decided to be interviewed by the next best media source.

My husband.

Yep, Mr. Lively is here to interview me about the book. And I have to say, I was quite impressed by his interviewing skills.

Take a look.



This ebook, as the video (edited by Evergreen Lane Productions) shares, is a compilation of the last 50 Wish I Knew Wednesday newsletters. Only they are now edited by a real editor, formatted and designed by a great graphic designer, and sorted by topics so it can be a quick reference guide when needed.

Here’s a line up of the topics we’ll cover,


Chapter One – Setting Up Shop

Chapter Two – Going Full-Time

Chapter Three – Legalities

Chapter Four – Raising the Bar

Chapter Five – Personal Advice for Entrepreneurs

Chapter Six – Money & Sales

Chapter Seven – Project & Time Management

Chapter Eight – Branding

Chapter Nine – Marketing, Social Media, & PR

Chapter 10 – 100 Insights from 10 Creative Entrepreneurs


We also stepped it up a notch in Chapter 10 by including 10 extra interviews with 10 successful women business owners in a variety of creative fields.

In total, this adds an extra 100 insights to the book that have never been seen before.


Claudia Smith, Fig. 2 Design Studio, stationery designer

Kathryn Jackson, Protect Your Pumps, product inventor and online shop owner

Michelle Ward, When I Grow Up, life coach

Serena Faber Nelson, Pretty Fluffy, pet lifestyle blogger

Clara Artschwager, Clara Persis and Channeling Contessa, event strategist and food blogger

Kim Vargo, Yellow Brick Home, artist and online shop owner

Amanda Genther, AmandaGenther.com, business consultant

Kendi Skeen, Bloom and Kendi Everyday, boutique owner and fashion blogger

Jeanine Hays, Aphro Chic, lifestyle product designer and online shop owner

Bryn Alexandra Dunn, Bryn Alexandra Interiors, interior designer


The official launch to be the week of June 10th. But you can pre-order the book starting today.

And for the first 50 people that do pre-order we have a little something extra…

[Update: as of 4:51p cst the free prints are all sold out.]




This free 5″x7″ coral print (unframed) is designed by one of my favorite graphic designers, Sarah Tolzmann of Note to Self.

I hope that this little extra gift can live on 50 gallery walls and inspiration boards across the world – inspiring entrepreneurs to just keep going, even when things aren’t easy.

If you pre-order and are among the first fifty to order you will receive an email within 1-3 business days letting you know that the print is on its way via USPS First Class. (So at checkout, please be sure that your address is correct.)

[Update: as of 4:51p cst the free prints are all sold out.]


If you’d like to see more info about the Wish I Knew ebook, please hop over here.

And of course, you can pre-order below as well!


Add to Cart



Thank you so much for your support – I’m so excited to serve you in this new way!




Tomorrow on Wish I Knew Wednesday I have a big announcement! A project that has been in the works for the past few months is going to be revealed (hint: there is a sneak peek on the With Intention Facebook page).

In addition to the news, I’ll be sharing my thoughts on how to form an effective business partnership. It’s something that comes up a lot in Business in the City, and I’m excited to finally tackle the topic in WIKW.


If you’d like to get the email, simply sign up by clicking on the image below. This email list is also where I announce upcoming workshops and other Business With Intention updates.

If you have signed up for the Wish I Knew Wednesday newsletter, you will automatically get this email.



love languages
May 21st, 2013     |    Life

LoveLanguagesOver the past few weeks Mr. Lively and I have been reading The 5 Love Languages aloud together and it has been pretty enlightening.

Though I reminded Mr. Lively on several occasions before we started reading, that I am fluent in all 5 love languages and therefore require every love language in very high and equal levels… this has proven to be false.

Even once I acquiesced that I might not be every language, my ego secretly hoped that my language would be gifts.

Because who wouldn’t want to read a book that tells your husband to give you more gifts?!

However, I have now come to recognize my true love language is quality time.

Which totally makes sense.

I am pretty adamant that we spend a lot (read: insane amounts) of time together.

On the other hand, Mr. Lively’s love language is words of affirmation.

Which was surprisingly not my own language. As long as I hear “I love you” at least seven times a day, I’m set. But Mr. Lively likes to hear more than just sweet nothings. He likes to be given more varied positive feedback on a consistent basis.

And when it comes to Franklin, we are quite honestly torn.

I am pretty sure his dialect is gifts treats.

You should see this dog when he has a frozen peanut butter Kong. 

Whereas Mr. Lively thinks that his pup language is words of affirmation, like himself.

For reference, this was mentioned in a conversation about Franklin’s weight and whether he had one too many of the aforementioned frozen peanut butter Kongs.

Mr. Lively insisted that I was hurting the pup’s feelings by being so critical and insensitive. He surmised that because I was ignoring Franklin’s pup language, Franklin preferred him more than me.

But in all seriousness, I think the book can be really enlightening not just to learn about your partner, but also to understand what you really want most out of a relationship.

For me, it’s not about getting little surprises, like I expected. It is about spending a Sunday afternoon walking around Evanston with my hubba and my puppa.














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