Category: DESIGN YOUR LIFE

Hi, everyone, Jen here! Do you have big plans for the weekend? I can’t think of a better to kick it off than with an awesome Design Your Life feature, can you?

Today we have the lovely Rian of Truth and Cake. You are going to love her fresh point of view on life and how she lives it with intention. I definitely learned a lot from what she said and I think you will too. And if you haven’t visited her blog, please do, I think you will fall in love with it!

 

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Let-Your-Guard-Down

 

Sometime around 6th grade, I learned that a stiff upper lip and a flippant attitude were the keys to the cool kid kingdom: wear the right clothes, keep your guard up, act like you have all the answers. As an adult, I’ve spent a lot of time rewiring the part of my brain that gets defensive and know-it-ally. It’s a powerful thing to say, “I don’t have the answer” or “I’m not feeling great,” or “Hey, I really like you.” But, for a lot of us, it no longer comes naturally. What a different world we would live in if we regularly allowed others to see our vulnerabilities. The more I’ve worked at this intention, the more I’ve noticed the way it affects the people around me: letting my guard down gives others the courage to do the same. And that drives me to keep at it, even on the days when my ego’s screaming, “No, no, wear the cool kid jeans!”

 

Dance

 

I took this picture during a trip to Portland last summer–the hotel had turntables in every room and my husband and I took full advantage, jumping on the bed and dancing our hearts out to Prince and The Shins. I majored in theatre in college and play was so encouraged and so integral to what we did that when I finally made it out into the big, wide “real” world, my first thought was, “Why so serious?” For a long time I tried to adapt and cover up that part of myself by acting more “adult” and responsible. But eventually, I realized that I really, really wanted to do the running man. In public. Possibly while lip syncing. So now I do.

 

Leave-Room

 

If you’d asked me at 20 what my life would look like today, there’s no way I would have said: “Oh, I think I’ll meet an awesome South African guy in Rome and we’ll move to Canada and get married and travel the world together.” Definitely didn’t see that one coming! I wouldn’t have the big, sometimes crazy life I have today if I hadn’t left room for unexpected possibilities and said, “Okay, let’s try that.” When life becomes overly packed with expectations and fillers, there isn’t a lot of space to say yes to the unexpected, the new, the glimmer of an idea that may be burning in the back of your mind. I try not to get too fixated on what I think the future is supposed to look like or who I ‘should’ become because I know that the very best parts of my life so far have been totally unscripted.

 

Last-Things-First

 

I do tabatas with my trainer, which are these 20 second bursts of exercise where you push, push, push and then rest for 10 seconds. I used to count my reps so that I could try to beat my score on the final round, until my trainer pointed out that I was totally missing the point of the exercise. The idea, he told me, was to go as hard as you could every single time as if it were your last. This was a huge lightbulb moment for me. I realized I was saving the best for last in many aspects of my life: I always left the best bite of food for the end of the meal, I was saving up all of my really good ideas for a rainy day, I would give things a half-hearted try. Now, instead of storing it up, I try to go all out, as hard as I can the first time. I eat the good stuff before it gets cold and use my ideas before they grow stale. Before, I was living with a scarcity mindset: if I use it all up, maybe there won’t be any more. But I’ve found that the opposite is actually true. Every time I hit ‘publish’ on a blog post or do a killer set of burpees, I take a deep breath and realize: wow, there’s actually more where that came from.

 

This-Is-It

 

The trip to the grocery store, the boring car ride, the fight with my husband, the annoying paperwork: sometimes I feel a strong urge to hit fast-forward on life, to skip past all of the mundane and unpleasant crap and get to the “good” stuff. How often have I heard myself or someone else say, “I just have to get through these last couple days and then it’s the weekend, hurray.” It’s so easy to get trapped in the mindset of wanting to ‘arrive’ at that magical place where all of those juggled balls finally fall perfectly into place. But there are always going to be hiccups and boring tasks and fights. It’s part of the deal. Rushing through it isn’t the answer. So I try my best to show up for all of it, good or bad. Because this moment right here, this is it–messy, beautiful life.

 

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews. And if you would like to be considered for a Design Your Life feature, please email Jen at hello(at)with-intention.com

Happy Friday everyone and thank you for joining me for another Design Your Life feature!

Today we have Chelsea of Chelsea Gwynne. She is a full-time English teacher, part-time blogger and jewelry maker and a beautiful newlywed. She is currently living in Boston with her husband and Shiba-Iny pup (who was featured on my blog here, so cute!). Chelsea shares where she finds daily inspiration and how she tries to live her life with intention. Enjoy!

 

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makequiet

 

There is so much noise around me. I teach high school during the day, and there’s nothing like the din of hundreds of teenagers making their way to third period English class. On my way into work I have talk radio on, or I’m singing at the top of my lungs. On the way home, the noise is honking cars at traffic lights and the rumble of a city at rush hour. I have to force myself to find quiet places. “Make quiet” means you might have to fight to find a truly quiet space. No Pandora playing, not phone text-tapping, no news on, no chit-chatting. Creativity needs some room to breathe, and it needs some quiet stillness to grow. You do, too! Allow yourself even just 25 minutes of true quiet per day (nature sounds are good!) and you’ll notice your inspiration, creativity, and gratitude increase.

 

lookelsewhere

 

If you’re a painter, go to a good restaurant. If you bake cupcakes, go to an antique store. If you’re writing a self-help book, visit a kindergarten class. If you’re a jeweler, visit art museums. My point is that we often look within our own interest areas for further inspiration or invigoration. Look elsewhere. The most inspiration I’ve found for my jewelry comes from old movies, nature walks, and art museums. Looking elsewhere helps me to look with fresh eyes when I’m back in my studio.

 

beundefined

 

I feel like our society pressures us to define ourselves quickly and permanently. “I’m an athlete” or “Total Type A” or “I’m going to be a lawyer” or “I dont understand politics.” We make these seemingly defining statements about ourselves and feel closed in by our choices, cities, jobs, and even loved ones. My advice is to be undefined. Who really cares if you want to be a bakery owner but also love Motorcross? Embrace the fact that you cannot be checked off in certain prescribed boxes. I wear Lilly Pulitzer and Mala beads, I make jewelry and I teach high school, I’m nearly obsessed with what is happening in the Middle East, but I have Buzz Feed: Cute Animals bookmarked. I always feel some pressure to be able to have a thesis statement on who I am and where I’m going. I don’t. I’ve decided I’m undefined.

 

look-to-your-elders

 

My grandmother is so stylish in this picture. She’s resting on this car, presumably somewhat new at the time, and in the back of what looks to be like several multi-family homes. She’s posing, however, like she’s on the beaches of St. Tropez. My grandmother knew style. She was never afraid of color, prints, or huge jewelry. She knew how to pose in a photo, whether it was hopping up on a car or waving to the camera. She lived to be 99 and in the years before she died she loved to check out how I was wearing my hair (she always preferred if I’d “had it in rollers”) or if I would tie the belt of my coat “just so”. Older generations have a longer relationship with their own style, so they might be able to provide some inspiration for yours.

 

biglove

 

I married my next door neighbor last July. If you’d told me when we were kids that I would end up with “mean Mike”, I would’ve thrown my Walkman at you. “No chance,” I thought! But Big Love happens in unexpected places – or perhaps the places right next to you. One day I looked at Michael and I just knew he’d be my husband. But once you know, you have to allow it, be open to it, and foster that love! I wouldn’t be half the person I am without my husband. Creatively speaking, he helps calm my worries about the pieces I make or the pieces I write. He suggests activities to clear my head, or to inspire me. We climb mountains, eat Indian food & generally love life together. Big Love in necessary for big creativity.

 

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews. And if you would like to be considered for a Design Your Life feature, please email Jen at hello(at)with-intention.com

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!

 

Sage-Grayson

 

Choose-Kindness

 

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.

 

Everything-Is-Fixable

 

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.

 

Plan-and-Release

 

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.

 

Love-Your-Mistakes

 

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.

 

Make-It-Sweet

 

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.

Jen here, and I am happy to introduce you to the lovely, Sophie of Just Live Into It.

Sophie was actually our Boston Foodie, where she did an amazing job cooking up a delicious spread for our workshop attendees. She was the first foodie I worked with, and she truly went above and beyond my expectations. Sophie is a hard working, driven individual and I can’t wait for you to read how she lives her life with intention. Enjoy!

 

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go-outside

 

After a long, cold, dark New England winter, spending time outside has never been more important to me. Not getting fresh air and sunshine was starting to have a serious effect on my mood. I was grumpy and tired and didn’t have very much energy. Now that the days are getting lighter and longer, I am trying to spend as much time outdoors as I can. Whether it’s going for a run before work, a walk during lunch, or eating dinner on our porch, spending time outside has made a huge difference. I feel so much better with some fresh air in my system!

 

just-do-it

 

Though hard to admit at times, I can be big on talk but small on actions. I think up big ideas but admittedly fall short when it comes to turning any of those dreams into reality. This stems from many things, but mainly a fear of failure. In reality though, that’s no way to live your life. Without the risk, we would never have any rewards. Working for Jess is the best example of this. When I saw her posting for a Boston Foodie, it immediately perked my interest. I thought, “I could totally do that!” But after 5 minutes of being confident and excited, the self-doubt started creeping in and I made several excuses for why I shouldn’t apply. However, rather than miss out on yet another exciting opportunity, I told myself to “just do it!” Just right the email and hit the send button. It was terrifying. I was waiting on pins and needles to hear back from Jen and Jess. However, this leap of faith turned into one of the best things I’ve done post-college. By taking a risk, I gained a huge sense of accomplishment and pride, met new friends and learned so much about myself.

 

Unplug

 

As someone who is definitely guilty of having their iPhone glued to their hand, I am desperately trying to break this habit. I once received an important piece of advice: every time you’re with another person and look at your phone, you’re essentially telling that person that they’re not as important as whatever is on your screen. That is not a message I want to send [many] people. But, it’s easy to fall into that habit. My boyfriend and I now have a rule: no phones on date night. Especially now that we live together, it’s very easy to take alone time for granted. Now that we have a dedicated date night for ourselves (without the company of our iPhones), those nights have become really special. We’re able to focus just on each other, our relationship, and whatever delicious food we happen to be eating that night.

 

Cook-good-food-2

 

Food is such a huge part of my life. At times it seems that when I’m not eating a meal, I’m thinking about the next. Spending time in the kitchen is one of my favorite ways to de-stress after a long day. I also love cooking for others. For me, there’s no better place to get together with friends than around a dinner table. However, working a full time job means that eating a real dinner at the end of the day often falls to the wayside. After a long day at work, spending the evening in the kitchen can sometimes feel more daunting than relaxing. However, I’ve found that with a little bit of planning, cooking during the week isn’t that hard at all. A stocked pantry and a rough idea of the week ahead results in great food, which fills me up both mentally and physically.

 

Live-in-the-now

 

As a twenty-something, the future is equally as exciting as it is scary. There are so many “what ifs” that if I think too hard about them all, I just get overwhelmed with worry. I can’t help it! However, I’ve found that all worrying about the future does is get in the way of having fun in the now. At the end of the day, I only get to be young and frivolous once, right? I have the rest of my life to worry about the big stuff. So for now, I’m working on enjoying the moment. While I’m not throwing all caution to the wind, I’m worrying less about what’s going to happen in the next 5 years, and worrying more about how I’m going to make the next 5 days count.

 

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Happy Friday! Jen here, and it’s time to lead you into your weekend with inspiration from today’s design your life feature.

I’m so happy to introduce the very talented Jenna of Jenna Arak. Jenna is an amazing writer and has a knack for telling an engaging story. She is known for being the modern day story teller where she helps people like me and you develop and hone in on the voice of our brand.

Not only does Jenna have her business, but she has a full-time job and is soon to be married this summer, so I couldn’t wait to read how she leads her life with intention. I can tell you this, she didn’t disappoint me one bit!

 

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No, but seriously. Write it down in your planner – “ME TIME”. Because when you commit your time to everybody else and you feel overwhelmed and you just want a minute to do whatever in the world it is you feel like doing (including sleeping; sleeping is great), that’s on you. And it’s on me too, because I make this mistake all the time.

When I find myself frustrated that everybody and everything is demanding so much of my time, I remind myself that I am the arbiter of my own schedule and I can (mostly) decide how I spend my time. So I choose to spend it well. And for me that means, making time for myself. Not thinking it or hoping for it, but writing it down and sticking to it, like I would any other social engagement. Maybe I spend that time reading or writing or working or playing with my puppy or sleeping (probably sleeping), but the point is – it’s entirely up to me. And that leaves me all the more refreshed and prepared to devote the rest of my time to the people and projects that matter most to me.

 

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I have some perfectionist tendencies. And though that sounds like a great quality, it really just means that I struggle with owning up to my mistakes. It’s a miserable feeling when I fail and I’m quick to excuse away my behavior or the consequences of a decision I’ve made.

But I’ve learned (and am still learning) that I benefit so much more – and am able to move on so much more quickly – from simply understanding that I’ve messed up and owning up to the fact that I’ve made a mistake (and that’s okay). I am human and imperfect and sometimes I do or say or think stupid things. Not even sometimes, a lot of the time. But instead of trying to make excuses or sweep things under the rug, I’ve learned that it’s best to own up to my fumbles, learn from them, and move on. On to the next one. As quickly as possible.

 

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Is this an obvious one? You’d think so. But in all aspects of life and career, I watch people (myself included; pretty much always myself) veer from this advice. I make to-do lists every day of my life. I take great pride in them, actually, and in my ability to keep track of and stay on top of every project I take on. But I never cross everything off, unless I first prioritize what is most important. What really needs to get done. It’s not everything on that list; it never is.

And I think a lot of us tend to list EVERYTHING we could possibly do and then do what’s quick and easy first, without expending the necessary energy tackling what’s tough and important. So I call myself out every day – personally and professionally – asking, what three things HAVE.TO.HAPPEN today? Make it clear. Then get it done.

 

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I think there’s a lot of pride behind the idea of “powering through” – and I think it’s valuable, no doubt. But I’ve learned that there’s a lot of value in taking a break too. At my last job, I never took a break. Ever. I powered through the day, through lunch, through my evenings and my weekends. I grew to resent the hell out of that. And I still power through a great deal now too. But I take advantage of a break when I have it – even when I don’t, I can often make time and – shockingly – the world doesn’t fall apart while I rest.

When presented with the opportunity to, I will stop and breathe, take a walk outside, put in my headphones, read a book – right at my desk. And I never regret it. I always come back to my work invigorated and more empowered to get through the rest of my day. There’s value in the times you rest, as well, and I try to remember that.

 

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I’m a grudge-holder. There, I said it. Always have been, though I hope not to always be. I have a very keen memory, which aids (quite unfortunately) in my ability to remember not only every single time an outside party has wronged me, but also to remember those times I have made mistakes and let myself and those around me down.

I think it’s fine and fair and human to be upset about things – to be hurt by wrongdoing or disappointed in a choice you made. But once you’ve sulked and stewed and hopefully learned from it, LET IT GO. Let it go. Every single time I’ve held on to my negativity, I’ve added negativity. That’s not the way I want to live my life. I sulk, I stew, I learn, I let it go, and I move on. And I’m so much happier for it.

 

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

 

Jen here with another fabulous Design Your Life feature.

I love doing this feature every week because there are so many talented, motivated and creative bloggers and business owners out there, and it’s so refreshing to hear how other people handle the stresses of our online industry. I feel like this feature brings us all closer together—knowing that what we going through, we’re not alone.

And after working with Gloria of Little White Whale for a feature on my blog. I knew she would be someone that would be able to really connect and share some truly positive vibes for how she lives her live with intention. Head on over to Little White Whale if you are looking to laugh, be inspired, want a dose of all things pretty, and if you need a new site design.  Seriously, she’s talented! Now let’s hear it from Gloria.

 

gloria-little-white-whale

 

 

intentions-be-positive
It’s surprisingly easy to take everything in your life for granted day after day, and it’s even easier to obsess over the imperfections and annoyances until they overshadow the good. To help keep a positive outlook, I’ve started jotting down little notes about funny or happy things that happen each day. This simple exercise forces me to stop and reflect on all the amazing things I have in my life, big and small. When I realize how much I truly have to be grateful for, life’s curveballs seem just a bit more conquerable.

 

intentions-speak-up
My dog, Toby, has NO qualms whatsoever about letting you know what exactly he wants. If he’s thirsty, he loudly bangs his water bowl against the floor until you fill it up. If he thinks his walk was too short, he lays down on the floor and refuses to walk up the stairs to our apartment. If he wants to play, he brings you his beloved tennis ball. Speaking up for what you want in life can be tough, especially if you tend to be a bit shy like me, but my past experiences have taught me that being open and direct is the best way to get what you want. Just ask!

 

intentions-live-in-the-moment
You don’t have to Instagram every sandwich you eat. You don’t have to live-tweet throughout your favorite show. You don’t have to check your email while you’re walking down the street. You don’t have to endlessly fiddle with your phone while you’re waiting for your friend to arrive at a bar. You don’t have to watch a beautiful sunset from behind a screen because you need to take photos from every angle. Seriously, you don’t!  I’m definitely guilty of doing all of the above, so making a conscious effort to unplug more has been a move in the right direction. It’s a wonderful feeling to step away from all these distractions and be able to give the world your full attention!

 

intentions-keep-laughing
My friends and family are a goofy bunch, and I’m certainly no exception! I think the key to a happy life definitely involves karaoke, crazy getups, fake mustaches, spontaneous dance parties, and lots of terrible puns. There can often be a lot of pressure in today’s society to look and act cool (even as an adult!) that it’s just refreshing to be able to loosen up and surround myself with people who make me smile. Life’s far too short to take yourself so seriously, so have fun with it!

 

intentions-stop-comparing
Teddy Roosevelt’s quote, “Comparison is the thief of joy”, is one of my favorite life mantras. There will forever be someone out there who is smarter and prettier and [insert enviable trait] than you -  it’s a fact of life! Instead of working myself up into a jealous frenzy over those who are always seemingly one step ahead, I refocus that energy into being the best that I can be. There isn’t an ultimate path to success or happiness, and we all bumble through life with our own personal successes and failures. There are no winners in this game, so live and love your life and stop spending so much time keeping score!

 

Hello everyone! Jen here, and I’m looking forward to sharing another Design Your Life feature.

Today, you get to meet Allison of Halcyon Style. She is a driven and talented blogger with a passion for design and interior styling. And the best part, is she is turning her passion into her day job. Not only does she have a knack for transforming an interior space into something functional and beautiful, but she is extremely nice and an overall very positive and refreshing person.

Allison also lives in the great city of Boston. And we all know about the horrible tragedy that shook the city and our country, and if you’ve ever visited Boston, you know the people and the city are welcoming and charming. You will notice with her intentions there are beautiful photos taken of the city, so you can see just how lovely it is during this time or year.

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photo by Sophie Smith

Rather than use the typical correlating image for each of my intentions, I’ve chosen instead to use images taken this Monday in the Boston Public Garden, not far from the bombing sites, after the moment of silence held in honor and memory of last week’s Marathon Bombings. It was a glorious afternoon and I couldn’t  help but capture the coming of spring through my camera lens. After a week of nothing but horrific and grim news media coming from my city I felt it important to provide some images of Boston’s beauty. As winter turns to spring, my fellow Bostonians begin to heal and move forward in the wake of tragedy.

LiveInTheNow

In light of the recent horrific events in my city, this intention seems more important than ever. I cannot tell you how many times a day I’ve previously walked by the bombing sites in the five years I’ve lived here. This just shows how you never know what will happen as you go about your day. Therefore, live your life to the fullest. Try not to look too much at your past. Forget those lingering, nagging regrets. Curb the anxious worry about your future. Don’t take a moment for granted. Live your best life in the present and the rest will come in time. With this in mind I need to be better about making plans with family and socializing with friends both near and far.

_BeBrave

One of my resolutions this year was to take more risks professionally, to take charge of building my brand and business. I finally signed up for Blogshop and not only learned how to use Photoshop to my blogging advantage, but also made helpful connections in the Boston blogging community. I also assisted Jess with her With Intention workshops earlier this year, leaving with more connections and friends as well as a sense that yes, I am on the right career path. Recently I also landed an internship with one of Boston’s favorite bloggers and interior designer. Leaving your comfort zone is hard but it can lead to great things!

WorkSmarter

This is a topic that’s been circling around the web for the past several months and I’ve taken it to heart. One of my daily struggles between my business, my Blog and other responsibilities is finding the time to do it all without working late into the night and neglecting my friends and family in the process. I’ve been trying out several methods to help work more efficiently such as setting time limits, batching tasks, and working on my most important or time sensitive projects earlier in the day rather than waiting until the late, lazy afternoon. Slowly, but surely I’m discovering what methods work best for me.

RandomActsOfKindness

The other day my rambunctious three-year-old niece stopped what she was doing, leaned in close to my ear and whispered, “I love you, Auntie,” my heart melted. I know she loves me, she knows I love her but it took on a whole new meaning when she told me completely at random and unprovoked. Think of what a smile and courteous dialogue could mean to a harried salesperson or your local barista. Or what relief you can bring by assisting an elderly neighbor burdened by grocery bags up the stairs or down the hall. I am reminded of the saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” These little random acts of kindness often have the biggest emotional impact both for you and for those you’ve helped.

Breathe

I’ll be perfectly candid, I’ve struggled with varying degrees of anxiety my entire life. I’ve had to learn, the hard way, to listen to my mind and take a little personal time everyday, to find a bit of inner peace after a crazy day. To breathe in the positive and breath out the negative. I find my daily yoga practices and monthly facials work best at slowing down my racing thoughts. It may seem like an extravagance to spend time or money on such activities but instead think of it as investing in yourself and your wellbeing. Without this you can’t be at your best professionally and personally.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Jen here, and it’s Friday! How was your week? Any big plans for the weekend?

Today, I have a guest that I’m truly looking forward to introducing you to. Her name is Liz and she is the blogger behind Grey and Scout. I found her blog, loved it, clicked on her twitter, and we eventually started chatting and have since become twitter-friends (lucky me).

Liz has a witty sense of humor that will make you laugh, she is open and honest about good and bad days (that we all have) and her blog is full of beautiful images that are drool-worthy. Liz is a blogger with impeccable taste and  is amazingly talented at home styling. When you visit her blog, you will fall in love with her house tour, and you will want all her favorite interior pieces. It is hard not to be inspired by all the things that Liz provides, so needles to say, I’ve been excited to see how she designs her life with intention.

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unplug

I went through a period of time when I just could not fall asleep. And if I did manage to drift off for a few minutes, some electronic device was near to remind me of all things I had on my to do list (and my to do list is ironically what was keeping me awake in the first place!) I’d had it. If it’s capable of making a noise, it’s gotta go! No more electronics on my nightstand. I replaced my iPad, laptop, cell phone and a billion chargers with soothing scented candles, fresh flowers, and good reads. I suffered from withdraw symptoms of sorts for a few nights, but very quickly discovered that all of the work, emails, instagram photos and new pins would be there the next day. I’m two months into my over-wired rehab and have been sleepin’ like a little baby!

openabook

During office days, I read blogs, websites and emails all day. I proofread, write and re-write. I sit down at my desk at 8am, and for some unknown reason it is shocking when I look up and it’s 6 o’clock! While emails and blogging are a part of my job, and I love composing posts, there are days I feel like the content I read online is singular. I found myself craving more. I started a small ‘movement’ to combine my days with all the online goodies and some good ol’ fashioned, tangible page turnin’. First on the list, finally finishing Diane Keaton’s book ‘Then Again’ and Mindy Kaling’s ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me.’ You know, because everyone who’s trying to find time to read should start with two books.

bepresent

Clearly, I’ve got a theme goin’ on…less virtual, more real. It has taken me a long time to embrace the quiet moments in my life. To be still and really take in my surroundings. Not just hear, but really listen to someone without constantly checking my phone for new emails. To pour a glass of wine, sit down with my husband and have a conversation without the TV as background noise. My goal is to truly see, feel, and live every moment, good or bad.

celebratethegoodtimes

Big or small, celebrate the moments that make you smile. For me it’s completing a styling project, partaking in an especially rewarding day volunteering, not forgetting to fill the coffee maker with water, waking up on the right side of the bed (seriously, it’s the small things)…celebrate all the moments that make you feel good. No more saving the bubbly for “something big.” Big is now, and now is what’s most important. Now is today and today is worth celebrating!

keepitreal

Keeping true to me, my beliefs, my thoughts, my style as a blogger and writer is easier said than done sometimes. I see or read something and it can sometimes be difficult to stay the course and remain true to my vision. I’m the first to admit that when I see someone else’s amazing blog or hear that someone came up with a crazy awesome idea, I sometimes feel like I need to rethink everything. But becoming more confidant in my vision, embracing my triumphs and my mistakes, not comparing others’ successes to my work, and staying committed to my path, I can be truly happy for myself and for others.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Jen here, and I would love to introduce you to Natalie of Natalie Dressed for this week’s Design Your Life feature.

Natalie is a very talented blogger that I’ve recently had the pleasure to get to know. Her blog is easy to get invested in with posts like her Style Diary, Life posts and her beautiful wedding. The best part is the tone of her blog, it’s honest and uplifting, like a friend you can relate to. I’ve been looking forward to seeing how she currently lives her life with intention, so let’s take a peak.

natalie-profile

Natalie.-Intention-1

This is a fairly new intention as I’ve recently become more aware of the fact that I’m living certain parts of my life in fear. The books, articles, and blog posts I’ve been reading lately have helped me realize this. I say it’s a “fairly” new intention because when I was younger and found myself in a situation that was out of my comfort zone, I knew I had to embrace it. I was super shy as a kid and as I got older I took jobs that made me doubt I could do them – the ones that forced me to constantly interact with people. And guess what, I’m not shy anymore. I need to get back to realizing that when something scares me, it’s probably a sign that I need to do it.

Natalie.-Intention-2

Weirdness and all. Nowadays, we always know what’s going on in other peoples’ lives thanks to social media and it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap, especially in the blogging world. Anytime I feel myself heading to that place, I remind myself that I just need to do me. If I’m not going to be me, then who is? Someone else’s life might be awesome but so is mine. It’s the quirks and not-so-perfect that make us who we are and make us interesting. Sometimes it’s helpful to just shut it all out, not open Instagram, and instead focus on what makes me happy, what I enjoy, and the people I love. Fully embracing who I am and where I’m at always seem to combat feelings of doubt, jealousy, or inadequacy.

Natalie.-Intention-3

This year, I have made my health more of a serious priority. I bought myself a monthly yoga membership and have been doing my best to eat healthy, whole, nutritious foods. I certainly haven’t been perfect, but by focusing on my health and thinking about how my decisions will affect my body (and my mind) have made me more successful than in the past. Also, for the first time, I’m focusing on how I feel rather than just how I look. This time it’s about the inside too. This shift in focus has really kept me motivated. The moments when my physical strength surprises me, when I feel refreshed and clear minded, when I suddenly find myself balancing in a yoga pose I have never done before, those moments are stronger motivation than anything else.

Natalie.-Intention-4

This is kind of a 2-in-1. There is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t think about what I’m grateful for. The saying that being grateful makes what we have enough is so true. I most often find myself reflecting on what I’m thankful for at the end of my yoga practice or on my commute home – the quiet moments that I have to myself. Initially the title of this intention only included “be grateful,” but once I started to write, I realized that the quiet moments I have to myself every day have become very important to me and are often what ignite my gratitude. Quietness fosters gratitude for what we have and what we are. I think these two intentions are more important today than ever. We’re constantly taking in information, especially online, and we are constantly being marketed to. Being quiet and being grateful, I think, are essential to bringing balance to our lives.

Natalie.-Intention-5

As much as I believe in hard work, I think it’s pointless if you aren’t going to enjoy life. Sometimes you just have to let everything go and have fun. Be weird, sing loud, dance like you mean it, tell stupid jokes, take trips. My husband and I usually take several trips throughout the year – usually (hopefully) one big trip and then a few weekend road trips. Whether it’s our annual trip to Stagecoach Country Music Festival, a weekend in Tahoe with our friends, or even our typical BBQ birthday parties at my parents’ house, these are the times we remember the most. Having fun has its own way of nourishing your soul and refreshing your spirit. It’s what makes all our hard work worth it.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

 

We made it guys, another Friday has finally arrived! 

Jen here, with another Design Your Life feature. Today, I’m excited to introduce you to a new friend of mine, Lisa, blogger behind Elembee. Not only does Lisa have a great and very addicting blog with awesome content, but she is the talent behind my blog design.

After completing my one-on-one business workshop with Jess last year, I was ready to start the rebranding process, and Jess recommended Lisa with flying colors. Lisa, has been able to take her blog and turn it into a successful, full time business–so I thought she would be perfect for this series. Let’s take a peak at how she has designed her life with intention.

Lisa-2

just-start

Jess always says, “Start where you are, and just keep going.” This was a huge kick in the butt for me when I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life, but had no idea where I actually did want to be. So I stopped worrying about what I didn’t know, started doing what I could, and eventually figured things out along the way. Lately, I’ve been taking that advice to a more basic level and applying it to everyday tasks, thanks to something Kathleen Shannon wrote — when you want to do something, just take the first, most basic step and start. I don’t stare at my to-do list anymore — I pick a task, and open a blank document immediately. That simple act is enough to get the momentum going to work through the rest of my list.

learn-from-everything

As I mentioned, I used to be so worried about what I didn’t know that I wouldn’t try new things. It wasn’t until I started approaching everything as something I could learn from, even if it didn’t go well, that I got over my fear and just did things anyway. And that has been a huge factor in growing my business — by jumping into projects, I was able to quickly figure out what I enjoyed, what I didn’t, and how I could do things better next time. When you approach everything as an opportunity to learn, there are no mistakes, because you always get something out of the experience, even if it’s just knowing that you’ll never do it again. And knowing something from experience is a lot more powerful than knowing from what someone else has told you, because you know exactly why something does or doesn’t work for you.

one-thing-at-a-time

Once I pick a task on my to-do list, I focus on just that. I may have 15 other things to do that day, but they are not going to get done if I spend 10 minutes worrying about how I’m going to get it all done rather than just picking something and doing it. If I’m stuck on something, I put it aside, find something else to do, and come back to it later. I try (not always successfully) to do this in my personal life as well — if it’s time to relax, I try to put all thoughts of what I need to get done aside so I can appreciate the present moment. No matter what I’m doing, I just can’t do it well and fully enjoy it if my mind is in a million other places.

celebrate

This is a new one for me — I can be so hard on myself. I just completed my first year of running my business full-time, and a reader asked what I was doing to celebrate. I’m embarrassed to say that it never occurred to me to plan something! I was so focused on my to-do list that I actually almost forgot the anniversary. It made me realize that I need to stop, enjoy, and celebrate the things I do, no matter how small, before a year flies by and I don’t remember how I spent it or got to where I am. To truly appreciate where you are now, you need to stop and remember where you were along the way, and celebrate how far you have come.

make-one-change
A couple of years ago, I changed my eating and exercise habits to be more healthy. I slowly undid all of those habits in the past year, and I’ve been struggling with the fact that I haven’t been able to just turn them back on again at once. Then I remembered, I didn’t establish those habits all at once to begin with — I made one small change at a time. When one change became habit, I found something else to change. So lately I’ve been focusing on eating one healthy meal a day instead, which is becoming habit, and making it that much easier to make healthy choices at other times as well. And I think this works for anything you want to change or accomplish — it goes back to taking the first step, and doing one thing at a time. Find one thing you can do now, and when that becomes easy, find something else you can do next. Big things don’t happen overnight.
 

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Happy Friday, everyone! Jen here, and I started to work with Jess a few months ago. She recently asked me if I would be interested in bringing back the Design Your Life series, I agreed, and I was so excited to get started.

Today we are going to be hearing from my first feature, Lori, blogger behind A Positive Curl. I stumbled across her blog a few weeks ago and every time I visit, she’s posting about how we can all celebrate our lives to the fullest. Her posts are honest, inviting and totally relatable. I knew she would be the perfect person to kick this series off again, and I was so glad when she agreed to participate, I know you will be too.

 


Lori a positive curl 1

 

Walk-with-Confidence

I don’t always wake up feeling great about myself.  I have bad hair days, bad skin days, bad everything days, but I have learned that I cannot rely on those external things to feel good about myself because they can change on a day-to-day basis.  What I can rely on, though, is knowing who I am.  I am strong.  I am beautiful.  I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  That knowledge gives me the courage to start my day in peace and walk through the ups and downs of life with confidence.

Greet-Others-with-a-Smile

When my husband comes home from a long day at work, I stop what I’m doing and greet him at the door with a big hug and a huge smile.  My smile conveys to him that I am happy and excited to see him, and I know that he appreciates this greatly.  As important as it is to me to greet my loved ones with a smile, it’s important that I greet others with a smile as well.  With people that I see at work, church or even at the grocery store, I do my best to greet them with a warm and genuine smile.  A smile is a simple but powerful gesture.  You never know what someone else may be going through, and your smile may be the very thing that brightens and uplifts their day.

Be-Love

One of my newest life intentions, and something that I try to practice every moment of every day, is to be love to the people around me.  When I first thought about it, it seemed a little overwhelming.  How could I possibly be love to everyone around me?  But 1 Corinthians 13 shows me simple ways that I can be love to others.  I can be love by being patient and kind.  I can be love by not envying someone else or being jealous of what someone else may have.  I can be love by not getting easily upset and not keeping a record of any wrongs done to me.  I can be love by looking for the best in others, being filled with hope and persevering through every circumstance.

Ask-for-Help

I have an “I-can-do-it-all-by-myself” type of personality.  I very rarely ask for help because I never want to appear as if I don’t have all the answers.  But the truth is that I don’t have all the answers.  I never have and I never will.  I am learning that there are people in my life who have already been down the road that I would like to travel on, and it would be silly of me to not ask for their help.  Last summer, I had an idea for a blog but no idea where to begin.  At the time, I had been following Jess Lively’s blog for a few months, and I really admired her work as a successful blogger and business woman.  When I discovered that she offered one-on-one consulting, I knew that I needed to ask for her help, and I’m so thankful that I did.  Jess was beyond amazing in helping to bring clarity to my jumbled thoughts and helping me find purpose in my blog, which is something that I would have never been able to do all on my own.

Celebrate-the-Kinks-in-Life

I have lots of “kinks” in my life – things about myself that I don’t like or wish I could change.  For years, I hated my naturally curly hair.  I did everything I could to hide my curls, until one day I decided that it was time to stop fighting them and begin to embrace them.  I now wear my hair very big and very curly, and I love it!  Learning to celebrate my hair has opened my eyes to other areas of my life that are in need of a little celebrating.  I may not have beautifully toned arms like First Lady Michelle Obama, but I’m still going to rock my sleeveless shirts in the summer time.  My voice may not sound like the amazingly talented Mariah Carey, but I’m still going to sing my heart out every chance I get.  My height and size may not be that of a gorgeous supermodel, but I am still going to stand tall and walk with confidence, knowing that I am perfect just the way that I am.  Whatever the kinks in my life may be, I’m done fighting them.  It’s time to celebrate them.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

I’ve so enjoyed seeing all of these amazing ladies share their intentions week after week, but this week I thought I’d mix it up and introduce a little testosterone to the mix. My boyfriend, Trevor, who is also a talented designer, (one of his designs recently made it on Apartment Therapy) agreed to write and share his intentions with you guys! I had so much fun reading them, and I think you will too. It by was nice to get a man’s perspective, but also to realize that maybe men aren’t from Mars. After all, most of his intentions are ones I know many of us can relate to, or have even made for ourselves. Check out his pinterest  and tumblr  for more visual inspiration, and read on!  -Caitlin

 

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: trevor of pink sky at night

Families, significant others, friends, and pets. The interactions we have when someone is counting on us make us so much more of a selfless person on a daily basis, and I think it is so important to never be the only one you’re supporting. Some of my most giving friends are this way because they had a new sibling introduced to the household while they where already teenagers, and just beginning to learn about responsibilities and priorities. Since we can’t all spontaneously introduce a new child to the world, adopting a new pet can be a great way to get a crash course in responsibility and giving. This is my cat Smudge and I even have a betta fish on my desk at work to remind me during the day that I’m not the only one counting on me.

I’m not particularly materialistic, but I’d be a fool not to walk down the street and think people aren’t making snap judgments about me, as I know for a fact I am constantly making visual assessments of those around me. Investing in oneself doesn’t mean spending frivolous amounts of money on excessive things. To me, it means having the essentials to be properly prepared for any and all situations. I recently spent more on a coat than I would normally allow myself, but I can justify it as an investment because it filled a gap in my current possessions, as I didn’t have an overcoat that I could wear in professional settings.

Life can be crazy, and everybody needs some time to themselves, but we don’t always have a space. If you don’t have one, make one. I live in a big Victorian mansion with ten other guys, and it became essential early on for me to carve out my own space where I can zone out and work on things that interest me. I also find that creating a serene space you can come back to over and over again to work, can make you much more calm during those deadline crunch periods that everybody in every profession seems to have.

K.I.S.S. or keep it simple stupid. A mantra I always keep in mind, not only in my design career but also in everyday life. As humans we lean to the extravagant, and sometimes we need to step back and decide if we’re really taking the most direct route to our end goals. Occam’s Razor. Is the Blood Orange Caramel Apple Martini Margarita really a better idea than the classic gin and tonic? Take a step back. Reassess.

Work hard. Play harder. I take myself pretty seriously at all times. When I’m working I like to give it my all and not walk away until it’s the best it can be. I think the same thing can be said of my weekend life.  I leave my work at work and my drinks at the bar. You have to let off steam to maintain an energetic work ethic day in and day out. It’s important  to be able to walk away from certain elements in your life so that you can come back to them completely calm and refreshed. If I can’t get away enough, I slip in one and then I slip in the other, and I feel my best when I excel in both.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.


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