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pressing the reset button
June 28th, 2013     |    Life


As I’ve mentioned, I am sensing a shift in my career-life in the not-so-distant future.

And while I’ve come to accept and listen to my gut on this, I found myself slipping into familiar, but unhelpful, career habits this week. I got a few great new ideas for ways to expand my services. These ideas would mean a whole new aspect of service that could require a serious time commitment.

But after some careful reflection, I realized that I was unknowingly slipping back into my old habits based on my previous career-paradigm of “Got a new idea? Launch it immediately.” thereby under-cutting my new path.


Launching the new ideas and maintaining my desired priorities were at odds with each other in this season of my career.

So after this battle of conscious effort to go a new direction and my urge to heed to the ingrained immediate idea activation, I realized I have some work to do.

Just because I “know” what I need to do, doesn’t mean my mind and behaviors are automatically aligned. 

Which means I need to take some intentional steps to shift my career paradigm.

Here’s what I’m planning on doing to help press my career mind’s “reset” button to focus my energy, time, and priorities on a new path.


I’m going to set a start date for my new career direction.

The end of this month is a timely one. I’m going to spend some time today reflecting on what I’ve learned from the current season of my career, and think about the adventures to come after July, 1st.

I think the idea of setting a time to the shift is akin to the reflections and changes people make at the end of the fiscal year, January 1st, and at the start of a new school year. Start dates help differentiate priorities and actions that our mind and behaviors understand.


I’m going to write my own success story.

Yep, I’m taking my own advice on this one and spell out how I am going to accomplish this season of my career as if I’ve already done it.

This success story is also going to spell out how I re-aligned my priorities and changed my workflow. Because I know that this may be one of the biggest daily challenges I face.


I’m going to create a vision for this season of my life and career.

My success story above will detail the steps, actions, and habits, I took to get where I wanted to go. But the vision portion of my process will help me to see the larger picture of my career.

One thing I have in mind is a new look for the blog (again). I’m also going to be thinking about how this shift will impact my personal life as well.


I’m going to cultivate new habits.

Once I have my success story and vision outlining the actions I want to take, I will then go about making them a part of my routine.

This will obviously require a good deal of self-control and just-keep-going-ness, but I’m finding that the more I expand my self-control during my morning private victory, the better I’m able to exercise that trait in other areas of my life.


My hope is that by taking these more formal steps to signify the change in my priorities, I’ll have a better time executing from them. Though I thought I’d be a natural at shifting to this new way of being, I have seen that it is going to take conscious effort and follow through to actually make it happen.


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


the growing gallery wall
June 27th, 2013     |    DecorLife



Things have been pretty low-key on the interior design front at home lately. I’m still searching for the perfect solid coral upholstery fabric and the cash to reupholster our living room chair.

But I did get a little project done for the cost of a few frames.

A week ago the guest room gallery wall looked something like this.



photo by

A cute little set of four.

However, I collected a few new pieces to frame. So the wall looks like this in the new expanded state.




I’m really loving the full effect of the added prints.

Though gallery walls can become quite expensive when a lot of art and framing is involved, this one has been pretty inexpensive overall. Each frame is from Michael’s except the gold framed painting (painted by Mr. Lively’s father).

Looking closer, you’ll see that there are some free items like sentimental cards and coasters.




The lowest left print is actually a cute engagement card I received from Claudia of Fig. 2 Design Studio. The Pink Pony item is actually a framed coaster from a trip to Mackinac Island.

The silver one is actually a piece of the marathon blanket I got after finishing the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco with the finishing medal. And last but not least, the coral Just Keep Going print is from the Wish I Knew launch.




Up top, there is a new gold and white wedding print sent as a surprise gift to me by Jackie of Sincerely Jackie. The blue frame has more coasters, this time from some date nights in Austin. And the gold Just Keep Going is a handmade print by Charmaine of Everly Calligraphy for the Austin With Intention workshops.

Overall, I’m thinking that this might be the completion of the wall. But like I say to Mr. Lively, you never know…


PS- On the topic of gallery walls, I just worked with a web clinic client who has mastered the art of the gallery wall. So brilliant.


design for the present
June 27th, 2013     |    LifeQuotable


Just one word: Shabam! 


the huffington post
June 26th, 2013     |    Business AdviceLife



Yesterday a crazy thing happened. Specifically, this.

It’s an honor to be featured on The Huffington Post and I am excited to be a part of their conversation about The Third Metric, redefining success.

In other news, today I’m doing an eight-hour web clinic with eight clients. I’ll be consulting one-on-one to help these business owners and bloggers take their sites to the next level.

And perhaps losing my voice along the way. 

Then, later tonight I’ll  be doing even more business-y things at Business in the City. If you are in Chicago, I hope you can make it!


PS – Thank you Stephanie!




When it comes to our major life choices, especially those revolving around our careers, it is important to keep our eye on the wall.

What does that mean?

Whether we know it or not, we are all climbing walls. Corporate walls, creative walls, education walls, you name it.

The amount of thought and intention that goes into our wall choices dictates how closely our lives reflect our visions – or not.

We must ask ourselves, what building am I climbing? Why? Will I like where I would be if I reached the top?

No, we don’t all need to become CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies if that is where we work. But we do need to ask ourselves what the our vision is, and whether the wall we are climbing can lead to the outcome we seek.

For example, when I graduated I knew that if I got a full-time job for a company, my type-A personality would want to climb the ladder in order to please and do a good job. Even though I knew deep in my heart that I was meant to help people design lives with intention – which had nothing to do with a corporate job.

So rather than get on a ladder and climb while doing a side-hustle, I fixed my career ladder to my own company in order to stay autonomous and steer clear of any type-A corporate climbing tendencies (and a cushy paycheck that would be hard to leave). It was easier to get my “paycheck” from my accessory company and shift gears towards my purpose than it would have been working for someone else.

Mind you, having my own business and starting it from scratch with practically nothing was not the easy part. A job would have been easier than that. It was the ladder shifting ease that I sought.

Then, in 2009, I started the blog because I realized that in that first 17 months of business were leading me to the top of a jewelry empire – not a life of helping people. I then began straddling two walls, one was my company and the other was my purpose.

I did this straddling bit for two years until my purpose-led workshops and consulting replaced the income my accessory company provided.

It was not easy to juggle the two at times, but it was indeed much easier to make the shift be cause my “day job” was self-employed.

And to be honest, some people thought I was crazy to leave a successful small business climb to go for my gut-led purpose. Just like when they thought I was crazy when I went straight to my own business right out of school with $700 in my pocket.

But because I began with the end in mind – the vision of helping people live with intention – I was able to make difficult decisions that others scratched their heads at.

I climbed the walls I had available to me that led to the path I wanted. I also hopped from wall to wall in order to land on the one I knew I was meant to climb.

I also know that my story here is unique. Not everyone has a self-employed “day job” to lean on before they pursue their purpose. Some people might also have much more at stake than I did at 22 right out of school with no major expenses besides a few college loans and a studio rent.

But I will say that beginning with the end in mind and reflecting on the purpose of any given career climb is important.

What others may have in common with my story is the necessity to make difficult choices for long-term benefits. Some may need to make shifts that others will scratch their heads at in disbelief.

Yet all of that doesn’t matter, in the end, when the summit is reached.

Once reached – and often during the climb – people (the ones that matter) do begin to see the method to the madness. They see the calculated risks and the faith in the pursuit for the desired reward.

But first, we must select the right wall for this point in our lives. And not be afraid to shift to a new one if the time comes.


WishIKnewUsingSocialMediaTomorrow in the Wish I Knew Wednesday I’ll be sharing a popular topic I consult on with business clients: understanding how to use social media.

Though much has been said on this topic by others and even a little bit myself, I have found a way to break it down into easy to understand parts. “The three C’s” to be exact.

This will be a great overview for those who might be confused on the topic, but it will also be a great method to communicate what social media is about – for anyone who is constantly asked to share social media advice as well.


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.



becoming more balanced
June 24th, 2013     |    Business AdviceLife



Truth be told, the Seven Habits book club I did recently took several weeks longer to complete than I originally planned.


Because I ended up having way more on my plate than I imagined and it took me longer to personally read through the book in order to continue the prompts and discussion.

However, once I finally got to Habit 7, Sharpening the Saw, I finally realized why I hadn’t had time before, and how I could have changed things to make the time I needed.

I’ll let Mr. Covey explain,


“(Sharpening the saw) is preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you. It’s renewing the four dimensions of your nature – physical, spiritual, mental, and social/emotional. It means exercising all four dimensions of your nature regularly and consistently in wise and balanced ways.

To do this, we must be proactive. Taking time to sharpen the saw is a definite Quadrant II activity (important, not urgent), and Quadrant II must be acted on. Quadrant I (important and urgent), because of its urgency, acts on us; it presses upon us constantly.

Personal Production Capacity must be pressed upon until it becomes second nature, until it becomes a healthy addiction. Because it’s at the center of our Circle of Influence, no one can do it for us. We must do it ourselves.

This is the single most powerful investment we can ever make in life – investment in ourselves, in the only instrument we have which to deal with life and to contribute.

We are the instruments of our own performance, and to be effective, we need to recognize the importance of taking time regularly to sharpen the saw in all four ways.”


This, habit, the one I hadn’t re-read in several years, held the key to what I needed in order to, ironically, finish the book club on time.

You see, Mr. Covey goes on to emphasize the that all four areas: physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional need to be exercised on a daily basis in order to grow and prosper as effective people.

Looking at my own life, I was doing rather well in the physical area, I am active, work out a handful of times a week, and eat naturally. I did well in my spiritual life, that’s a huge focus for me. And on the social/emotional level I felt pretty comfortable, too. But my mental leg was weak.

I gave so much time and attention into helping my clients and sharing here on the blog, that I had not been investing in renewing my mental abilities outside my field and daily activities.

Quite simply, I didn’t make much time for reading outside of spiritual teachings and my mental strengths were not exercised in an optimal way.

To renew these four areas of our life, Mr. Covey shares,


“Sharpening the saw in the first three dimensions – the physical, the spiritual, and the mental – is a practice I call the “Daily Private Victory.” And I commend you to the simple practice of spending one hour a day every day doing it – one hour a day for the rest of your life.

There’s no other way you could spend an hour that would begin to compare to the Daily Private Victory in terms of value and results. It will affect every decision, every relationship.

It will greatly improve the quality, the effectiveness, of every other hour of the day, including the depth and restfulness of your sleep. It will build the long-term physical  spiritual, and mental strength to enable you to handle the difficult challenges in life.”


After discussing this chapter with Mr. Lively, we decided to try this private victory in our own lives for one week.

I chose to do my Private Victory in the form of reading for 15 minutes from a book on emotional wellbeing (currently reading Daring Greatly) and 15 minutes from a non-fiction book that would enhance my mental wellbeing (just [finally] finished The 4-Hour Workweek). I also had the intention to reflect on my spirituality through A Course in Miracles or meditation/prayer for 15 minutes as well.

In total, this goal was 45 minutes of reflection and reading in the morning in addition to any running, yoga, or lifting that I did that week.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lively chose to emphasize the physical dimension in his Private Victory and worked out for 30 minutes each day as well as meditated for 20-30 minutes.

Our first Private Victory week happened to fall over the Austin workshop weekend, so we learned quickly how we could incorporate it into travel and over the weekend – two things we would have otherwise found very difficult.

Since starting, we have maintained the Daily Private Victory practices for about four weeks now.

To keep this routine, we have each shifted things a bit in our Daily Victories. I have been great about my 30 minutes of mental and emotional reading, but haven’t been as great at sticking to the meditation time afterwards. I now also join Mr. Lively on most of his workouts since I find it easier to piggy back off of his workouts than make time in the evenings on my own.

Mr. Lively has been diligent about his 30 minutes of exercise daily, but has shortened his meditations and allowed them to flex with different activities, like walking the dog this morning, for example.

How do we suddenly “have the time?”

Honestly, it has required us to get up earlier. 6am to be exact. Which feels like a pretty big shift from our 7am routine we had months earlier.

Because we have been getting up earlier, we’ve naturally been wanting to go to bed earlier as well.

11-11:30pm used to be a regular bedtime, after a few episodes of The West Wing or Arrested Development. Now, we watch one episode on some nights, but it’s one episode – not two (or three). And by 10-10:30pm you can find me with my sleeping mask on while Mr. Lively reads silently beside me.

So for us to maintain the Private Victory we unconsciously cut out excess TV.

I’ll be honest, there are days where we aren’t super psyched to jump into the Private Victory, but overall, we have gotten used to the routine and have seen a calmer shift in our temperaments, a patience in our reactions, and a greater feeling of self-control.

I feel a greater sense of peace going into the mornings now that we aren’t rushed. Plus, working out in the morning leaves more time in the evenings for fun stuff like eating out, hanging out with friends, or reading books together.

All in all, I highly recommend considering a Private Victory routine. If you are thinking about adding the practice to your own life, here are a few suggestions:


Customize your Private Victory and let it flow.

As you can see from our story, each of us interpreted the chapter in different ways based on what we were each interested in developing.

You also don’t need to make any activity crazy long. Just 15 minutes of reading in two different books is a 100% improvement over zero time reading in two different books.

And lastly, your routine can change. Simply make the time commitment and adjust the activities according to what brings you the most peace in that season.


Focus on what you want to add, and let something else fall away naturally.

Like I shared, we simply focused on what we wanted to include in our lives, and the excess TV fell away naturally. Had we told ourselves we needed to “stop watching TV so much,” we would have felt like there was more of a sacrifice.

By focusing on the morning habit we wanted, the extra TV gradually didn’t feel so appealing.

On the other hand, if you try to maintain everything and add this extra time, your sleep will likely take the blow. Which is no bueno.

So be sure that you don’t feel sleep deprived in order to maintain your PV, otherwise you might resent the new habit quickly.


Consider finding a Private Victory Partner.

I know this is counter to the idea of a “private” victory, but I honestly believe that it has been easier to keep this morning routine going because Mr. Lively and I are both committed to the habit.

Though we don’t spend our time together beyond the workouts, just knowing that the other person is sticking to the habit has made it easier to do when our own self-control is a bit weaker (or we feel more tired after a late night).

If you don’t have a partner on board with the practice, I’d suggest finding a friend who might be interested in doing it as well. You could become accountability partners and check in with them from time to time about how you are doing.


Jen here, and I am excited to share our very first Design Your Business feature!

This feature will follow roughly the same format, but for all you soloprenuers and small business owners out there, hopefully this will help to cultivate inspiration for you to lead your business with intention and purpose on a daily basis.

Today I am thrilled to introduce you to Kendra of Piece of Cake // Peace of Mind. You will notice Kendra provides an endless amount of inspiration and creatively on her blog and is truly a perfect example for how we can all take our business to the next level. Her success is driven by her enthusiasm for design, style and DIY.

Here’s how Kendra designs her small business with intention!




Hello all! My name is Kendra and I am so thrilled to be here today. I write a blog called Piece of Cake / Peace of Mind as well as run the Kendra Sally Creative Studios where I offer graphic design services to bloggers and small business owners. I am also working on getting into the styling/art direction world at the moment!

Today I wanted to explain the concrete ways that I work to operate all aspects of my business with purpose and intention. There are 5 that I try to focus on everyday.




It can be so easy to compare your work and accomplishments to other women in the industry, especially since everyone is doing such amazing things! On more than one occasion I have found myself looking down on my own work because it is not at the place of someone else. This is not only a very ego-driven thought, but it also hinders your ability to create! I try my best to focus on what I can contribute to this awesome community, and also on meeting other bloggers and small business owners so that we can all feel connected in our work.




When it comes to my business—and life in general—I want to continue to learn long after that diploma is in my hands. There are so many amazing online classes, blogs, conferences and books on business and creative work that there’s no reason not to partake in one! I attended Alt Summit in January and I learned so much, and met lots of awesome women—including Jess! Online classes offered on sites such as Nicole’s Classes can be a great way to brush up on old skills, or learn new ones. I have always done my design work in Photoshop, but decided recently that I would love to begin creating patterns and illustrations, so I saved up a bit of money and am currently in the Nicole’s Classes Illustrator 101 course. When you spend your days working on creative projects and business endeavors, it can be refreshing and invigorating to learn something new that can benefit your work!




It can be a challenge to plan your time when you work for yourself. Whether you are at a full-time job during the day and midnight hustling at night, or are in the self-employment world full-time, setting priorities and organizing your days is crucial. To-do lists can grow exponentially as the week progresses, so I have found that knowing what absolutely needs to get done that day, and focusing on that first, is super helpful. This way, when the end of the day rolls around, you will be able to turn off your computer with a sense of satisfaction and know that you can spend time with your loved ones without worrying about vital tasks not being completed.




One of my favorite pastimes is dreaming up new plans for my work and new projects that I want to take on. This is a good thing in that it keeps things fresh and I’m not afraid to follow these passions, but it also means that I can end up with a pretty full plate. It’s hard to let things go that are no longer feeding you, and I end up feeling pretty guilty about it, but Jess’ post on pruning really put things in perspective for me. It’s important to keep the evolution of your work progressing, and feeling guilty about the changes that occur is counterproductive and really just that little ego crying out due to pride. I have been working to prune my own business and keep things streamlined so that my time and energy can be spent on the work that most fills me up, and therefore the work that I can be of the most help to others with.




At the end of each day, if I can say that my intentions and principles guided my business choices, then that means “success” for me. If I didn’t do so well at this, then there’s always tomorrow and improving a little each day will guide you closer and closer to your ultimate goals.


If you would like to be considered for a Design Your Business feature, please email Jen at hello(at)with-intention.com

two strategies for managing stress
June 20th, 2013     |    Life

TwoStrategiesForManagingStressAnnnd I’m back!

I had such a great trip in California bouncing between wine country and San Francisco with Mr. Lively (and his family for part of the trip).

We drank wine, explored Napa in a rental Mini Cooper, celebrated with Crystal at her stunning wedding, and drank some more wine.

Sadly, we did not get to Alcatraz since it was booked (I had no idea it is so popular now!). But the strolls we took through Chinatown and the marina district were fun.

Now that I’m back, it’s time to share my recent Everygirl column about two strategies for managing stress. As you may know from reading the blog, I quite often find myself with more on my plate than I can handle and stress ensues.

In the piece, I share two methods that have helped me put things back into perspective when I get that creeping sense of overwhelm.


stand up and be counted
June 19th, 2013     |    QuotableThink About It



Ponder this: Is there a way that you can stand up and be counted, according to your own intentions, even if it means going against the norm?


setting intentions
June 18th, 2013     |    Life



Once upon a time there was a little site called “Spring” with monthly video discussions among four lovely creative ladies. Think The View mixed with helpful and inspiring content in blogland.

I just so happened to be one of these ladies. And this summer, two of the lovely Spring women, Jessica and Michelle, have launched their own book, The Declaration of You!

I’m beyond excited for them and cannot be happier to be a part of their Declaration of You Blog Lovin’ Tour today.

Plus, this leg of their “tour” is all about intention, so it’s right up my alley!


When it comes to designing my life with intention, I often get a lot of questions about how I actually go about setting my own personal intentions for my life during the Life with Intention workshops.

So today, I’d like to talk a little bit about how I go about setting a intentions for myself. 

(I will also say that this is simply what has worked for me after seven years of trial and error. I encourage you to being your own journey and find what is best for you and your life.)

The first thing I always do is start with a vision. You could obviously use a vision board for this, but my personal method is to write myself a future letter and explain in detail the life I’d like to cultivate in the next year as well as what I’ve accomplished in the future (shared in past tense, as if it has already happened).

Once I have a vision of what my optimal, but not “perfect” life, I then go about uncovering the intentions that would help me to achieve the lifestyle I desire.

Mind you, I try to stay away from “goals” (my perfectionist streak takes those things waaaay too seriously for my own good), shiny pennies, or metrics.

True intentions, to me, are enduring and flexible with changes in my life and feel doable immediately, in every moment.

As you might guess, I do my best to come from my gut with my intentions, not my ego.

This means if I’m thinking about my health, my ego might want to create some perfectionistic version of what I should eat, weigh, and do. Intentions from an egoic place in my life included “losing x pounds,” “running a marathon (to lose weight),” “eating six servings of fruits and veggies a day,” etc.

Though there is nothing truly wrong with having goals like those, they are not really intentions that I now strive for.

For 10 years, my ego tried to control my actions and outcomes with these kinds of tactics and I never had much success keeping them up. What if I became pregnant and could weigh “x pounds” anymore? What if I got injured and couldn’t run a marathon? What if I was travelling and didn’t have access to six servings of veggies?

In each of these cases my egoic intentions failed me. They were not principled enough to last me through setbacks, exceptions, and left me with a thinly veiled list of rules to live by. 

Now, with my gut in charge, my intentions are much softer, gentler, and powerful.

My intention for my health? To listen to my gut and eat what it desires until I am satisfied. To move my body for my mental and physical wellbeing.

Sure, I can choose to run a marathon one year if I feel like it. But the marathon is not the intention, it’s an action I’m taking because it supports the intention to move my body for physical wellbeing and to enhance my mental determination.

If I get injured? No big deal. I didn’t fail – I still pushed myself mentally and physically and did what I was capable of given the circumstances.

I could also work to include more fruits and veggies if my gut was telling me that I would feel better doing so. In fact, my gut did tell me that not too long ago, and I started to eat raspberry and kale smoothies regularly.

All in all, I’ve been simply amazed at the difference in my life when I shifted to intentions based on my peaceful gut’s nudging.

I never would have believed it, but many ego intentions I used to have – which went unmet for so many years – have now actually happened in my life as a natural outcome from following my gut’s gentle intentions. It turns out I never had to force rules (ego intentions) on myself to reach the outcomes I sought.

So though I might be a more extreme case than some in this whole perfectionist/ego thing, I do believe that there is so much wisdom to be gained from within ourselves that we often never seek. But when asked, our guts can lead us to the life we truly want.

Actions must be taken but they need to come from a place of peace in order to be effective.

For me, gut intentions really do make all the difference.


(PS – Since I am on vacation there will be no Wish I Knew Wednesday tomorrow. A new WIK season will begin next week!)


camp wandawega
June 17th, 2013     |    Life



A few weeks ago I had one of my most amazing and surreal blogging experiences to date.

Blogger and friend, Nicole, of Making it Lovely  invited with Kim and Heidi  and I to Camp Wandawega for an overnight stay. It was an insane offer which we all  said YES!!!! to immediately.

Because it was so freaking cute, I really wanted to share some peeks from the camp.

It’s located in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and yes, the do allow people to rent the whole camp for weddings (how insane would that be?!).

The place is impeccable. From what we could tell, we are pretty sure the whole camp is outfitted with vintage and re-used finds.

As an avid flea market shopper, I was more inspired than ever to include more vintage pieces into my home and design projects.




Want to see more of Wandawega? You can also see more photos and details about the trip over on Nicole, Kim, and Heidi’s blogs as well.













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