Hi guys! First of all, I’m sorry for being tardy for the party with this post today. Did anyone else think today was Tuesday? No? Anyway, I am so very excited to share this weeks DYL interview, for a multitude of reasons. First of all, I knew I’d love Hilary when she sent her first email to me and signed off “With Grace and Gumption, Hilary.” How much more adorable can you get? Hearing about her personal styling business made me all the more certain that she would be a perfect person to share her intentions with Jess Lively readers this week. Hilary’s business, Dean Street Society, began a year ago, when she set the intention to help “real people with real budgets” look and feel like the best version of themselves. I love that her passion doesn’t necessarily lie with fashion or trends (as she put it) but rather with seeing someone glow with confidence for that first date they’ve been dreaming about, or that big job interview they have coming up. I’ll let her take it from here, so read on for more about Hilary’s intentions with her life and business. See you guys next week! –Caitlin

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Hilary of Dean Street Society

My new year’s resolution for 2012 was to “make things happen + love people well”. As a solo-preneur I am, honestly, overwhelmed on a daily basis with how much there is to do for Dean Street Society. Deciding to “make things happen” is about taking action today, right now, in this hour. It’s about taking the first step in a long project, just sending the tough email, not letting myself get immobilized by the overwhelm. I have a vision for my business that is bold + I think the #1 baddie that can get in my way is myself if I lose my big vision + confidence that I can make it happy little by little each day.

There’s a book called “The 5 Love Languages”. I haven’t read it. But the basic premise is there are 5 ways people give + receive love. So often what makes me feel loved, is not what makes you feel loved. NYC is a busy, bustling place filled with people with fast-paced lives. I can’t love everyone + I’ve had to accept that I have far less social play time since I started a business. But I try to focus when I’m with people on asking about them, making eye contact, remembering details, sensing whether or not they want to share a struggle or be distracted with silliness. I’m not perfect at it, but I desire to cherish the people in my life + love them uniquely in the ways that really fill their hearts.

A few summers ago I worked in a tiny no-stop-light town on a lake upstate. At first my best gay friend + I were losing our minds with the long stretches of day with nothing to do. After a few weeks, the rhythm of my soul began to slow, change, embrace. As a girl who often thrives on the adrenaline of NYC, I now also crave quiet, simple, rest like water. There was a season in which I was only a power-walking city girl. And glowed. Now I need both. And carving out that space in my life was a huge motivator in starting my own business.

It’s been fascinating as a stylist to realize how much fear people have. Fear of color, fear of pattern, fear of being seen, noticed, too much, not enough, wrong, uncool, unflattering. It breaks my heart how many people leave the house hoping not to be seen, just blend in. When I wear a saturated peacock blue dress or a fun pair of polka dot pants, people compliment me + they smile. It’s like having fresh flowers in a room. It brings light + joy. It makes the picture prettier for everyone else, while also making you look confident in your own skin, which is always a delight to be around.

In her book “The Fire Starter Sessions” author Danielle LaPorte asks you to distill what it is you want to feel in life. For me these three words sum up everything. I want to be in control of my life, of my days, with the ability to create, help, teach. I want to be around joyful people, doing lovely things. I want to use my talented + gifts to the fullest. When I’m working with a one-on-one client, on set for a photo shoot, filming a style segment on-camera or talking business with a fellow entrepreneur friend over coffee — I feel all three of those things + am affirmed that I’m absolutely doing what I’m meant to do in life.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Hey guys! I’m really excited to introduce Rita to you, today. She’s the blogger behind this adorable blog, TOMORROWtoday, and I absolutely loved the intentions she sent over. I’m particularly honing in on the “be active” intention today, since the slight shift in temperature over in the midwest is already making me feel a little sluggish and sleepy. The best way to combat that is to get up and move! So thanks, Rita. Read on for all of Rita’s intentions.  –Caitlin


I love to read, listen to, watch and talk about basically anything and everything. I love to learn about all sorts of different things because you never know when you will be able to put something to use or find a way to use what you have learned to do something that matters. Even more, I try to surround myself with curious, interesting people who can challenge me and who I will learn from.

I am obsessed with travel. I grew up traveling to see family all over the US and the world and I believe that my experiences taught me to be grateful, humble and respectful of differences. Whether it be short weekend getaways or longer adventures, I learn something about myself and about my relationships on each and every trip I take. I honestly think the world would be a better place if we all had the opportunity to see the world and gain perspective a few weeks of each year.

I’m realizing more and more that I am at my best when I am regularly physically active and challenging myself beyond my expectations. Aside from the obvious (being healthier and sleeping better), I’m also more creative. When I think back on the last few months, the majority of my more inspired, fleshed out ideas (throwing a last minute fundraiser, well received blog posts, great presents for friends) have come to me while I was working out. And I never feel more inspired or motivated than when I finish something that sort of made me want to pee my pants at the beginning (i.e., waterfall rapeling in Costa Rica!) Clearly, something about tuning out my brain turns it on in a different way, and this is something I want to take advantage of going forward.

Spend time with people you love and that love you back. Surround yourself with things that you love and that inspire you (sometimes, that means shoes!). Find a job or a mission that you love so much that you don’t mind the mundane aspects that inevitably come with it. I believe that if you focus on creating a life filled with love, everything else will fall into place.

I try to be a good friend and family member. I love to send cards, give presents, call and email often and do what I can to show the people I love that I love them. As fulfilling and wonderful as my relationships are, I still felt like something was missing. I recently started volunteering my time for a cause I believe in and it felt like I found the missing link. I think that by doing good for people in a way which you don’t stand to benefit, you grow and learn more than you could ever imagine.

LOVE photo by Max Wanger. Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Happy Wednesday, guys! Caitlin here, with an awesome Design Your Life Interview today. Carrie is the blogger behind Dream Green DIY, and as a lover of both decorating, diy projects, and budget-friendly resources, I’ve always loved seeing what new ideas she’s serving up on her blog. Read on and get inspired by Carrie’s intentions. I know I was!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: carrie of dream green diy

I am such a believer in the power of the mind. If I convince myself that I won’t get the job, that my friends are moving beyond me in life, that I’m really not good at what I do, then those things will start to become real. But if I consciously make the decision to believe in myself and the decisions that I’m making, then there’s really no room to think otherwise. Having a good attitude, whether natural or gently forced when needed, has helped me to become my biggest advocate.

There’s something about growing up in a sweet southern town that has taught me that little things can mean so much. My memories consist of movies at the dollar theater, parking our cars high up on a hill at dusk to watch the street lights flick on one-by-one, sitting around a campfire beside the lake, driving with the windows down just to listen to my favorite songs, reading with my back against a brick wall in a quiet cul-de-sac…These are the ordinary but extraordinary things that have made me the reflective and simple girl that I will always be, no matter how old I get or where I go in life.

My husband would call this enabling, but I’m just gonna say it – Sometimes a girl just has to treat herself! I’ll never forget my parents telling me as often as they could that they were proud of me. Now out on my own, I’ve come to find value in self-pride and treating myself when I think I’ve done okay. A new pair of shoes here, a thrifted set of dishes there – Whenever I hit a milestone or defeat a challenge, I make sure to celebrate in style with a little retail therapy. Whatever puts an extra spring in your step, may that be a bowl of ice cream or a Swedish massage, I believe a little indulgence is important in celebrating life’s little (or big!) triumphs.

Fire up the iPod and sing out loud in the kitchen when I’m home alone. Try on my prom dresses, high heels, heck, even my wedding dress, just to feel fancy on a Friday night in. Watch chick flicks back-to-back. Go dancing. I think it’s enormously important to just be silly and do things you don’t normally do – or shouldn’t very often do, like chowing down on chocolate cupcakes. Life is too short not to have a little giddy, geeky fun every now and then.

Entering adulthood (with a couple of broken hearts along the way) has taught me that the only person who will ever truly understand me is me. My husband and my family are invaluable treasures and are right there behind me every single day, but sometimes it’s important to step away from the opinions, the advice, even the encouragement to listen to my own heart. I’ve learned to trust in myself in a way that I never did in high school or college. Sometimes its simply taking the night to read a book on the back deck, or hiding away in my studio to write or draw, but that me time is my way of hitting the “refresh” button, taking a much-needed deep breath and listening to my own mental voice tell me that “it’s going to be okay.”

first photo by Mallory Benedict. Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Hey guys! Caitlin here, and happy to be introducing Anne of Anne the Adventurer as our Design Your Life Interviewee this week. Anne is an inspiring writer with an obvious zest and love for life. I have loved getting to know her through her blog and see how she relishes life’s adventures, no matter how big or small. I’ll let her tell you the rest.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: anne of anne the adventurer

Vulnerability is one of the most difficult gifts we can give ourselves. In this day and age, it is easy to get swept up in our fast-paced, ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ culture. The truth is, acting like the marlboro man or the lone ranger, someone who achieves success on their own and despite the odds, isn’t the reality. I have had more success when I am surrounded by a supportive community than when I am on my own. When I have taken risks and shared my emotional self with others, I’ve formed deeper relationships and have found a strong sense of validation for who I am. Sometimes, it doesn’t always go as I’ve planned or would have hoped, but to be vulnerable poses a greater return in the quality of my relationships than hiding in the corner (and pretending my problems don’t exist) does.

Let’s do some myth busting! I can sometimes become overwhelmed by my fears or concerns about my life. Here are some examples of fears: “I don’t want to go to a party because someone from work who said something nasty to me might be there”; “I am afraid to fly because that plane landed in the Hudson River”; “I don’t like to put up style posts on my blog because people might think that I am not enough of a model-type to pull it off.” These are all real fears of mine (see, vulnerability!), and the quality of my life is greatly decreased because of the power they have over me. By doing a bit of myth busting, I can work to overcome them. Busting myths requires taking risks and challenging those fears head on, and then creating a track record of my positive qualities or outcomes. For instance, if I focus on the fact that my rude coworker’s treatment of me is more a reflection of who they are rather than me, I can bust the myth that I am not worthy of friendships, and go and enjoy that party! I’ll add the success of the party and having fun with people to my track record. Then, when I have some doubt or fears, I can look to my past successes and say, “If I was fine before, I will be fine again.”

A large part of being vulnerable and busting myths is being willing to love yourself, and to practice self-love daily. I am definitely my worst critic, but have found that self-love has helped turn this bad habit around. I’ve started writing down some of my strongest negative thoughts on one side of a note card, and then writing a piece of positive self-talk that combats it on the other side. I have these all over my house, wherever I will see them most, as a reminder to myself that I am of value. One card I have taped to my computer to remind me that I am a writer of value says, “I am a talented writer who can affect positive change through authenticity and sharing my honest stories and opinions.” Seeing this card everyday keeps me motivated to continue to do what I do everyday. It really does make me feel loved.


Mindfulness is very tricky, considering I am a go, go, go type of person. Always on the run, I rarely stop to think and reflect about what I am doing. However, not being aware of my actions or intentions can often cause me to go off track or slip into a bad habit of negative self talk or letting fear run my life. Being mindful and taking time out of my day to sit, reflect, and meditate on my intentions and actions has helped me to live a more focused life. Mindfulness can also be called prayer and/or meditation. When I am practicing being mindful, I usually stop and close my eyes for a few minutes and focus on my breath. Then, I journal about my emotions and thoughts during the day so that I am in better touch with myself and my purpose in life. I can’t even being to explain to you how much of a difference this has made for me, especially in my work! I am happier, more fulfilled, and more productive because of it.

As you can see, all of these intentions are intertwined. Every one requires the other, but taking risks is one of the glues. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to bust myths or be vulnerable. When fear or doubt has controlled my life, taking risks often gets put on the back burner. When I am in a place of self-doubt and negative self-talk, I fall into my tried and true coping skills, the ones that make me feel the most in control. But usually, these coping mechanisms leave out mindfulness, self-love, and vulnerability, and I am often more closed off and afraid than when I started. Taking risks and challenging myself is the way out. I may be afraid of flying, but I am not going to let that stop me from traveling to Italy, a dream I’ve held since I was a little girl. So, I’ll take a risk and get on that plane (not without a little myth busting, self love, mindfulness and vulnerability, of course!). Taking risks helps to open up our souls to more possibilities, and grows our sense of self. We come to know ourselves better, and in the end, can love ourselves better.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

I can’t think of a better time to bring out a new design your life interview than today! After Jess’ big announcement yesterday, I think we’re probably all feeling inspired to focus our attention and energy on our true purpose and passions. Today, Joelle from Something Charming is going to be sharing her intentions with us. As a wedding planner and blogger, I knew Joelle would be able to shed some insight on her intentions for her creative passions and business. I definitely resonated with all of them as I was reading this morning. Thanks so much for sharing, Joelle! Enjoy, everyone! –Caitlin

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: joelle of something charming

This. I have a problem with this sometimes. You see, I like to over think things, and plan out what I need to do. Sometimes it gets to the point though where I don’t get things done because I’m too busy planning out what I need to get done. Or I’m too busy worrying about all that I need to do to actually get things done. I’ve realized recently that I need to stop. I just need to stop worrying and thinking and just get it done. Because I’ll feel a lot better once I do.

This has to be one of the most powerful things I’ve realized in my life. I have a lot of experience with unhappiness, and even depression. And while I don’t believe that changing your mindset is going to change everything, knowing that you have the power to control your circumstances and outlook is a powerful thought. I make a very intentional decision every day to choose happiness and joy rather than anger or sadness or anxiety. I try to remember what is important in life, and that I’m seriously blessed to have all that I do.

I would not be able to get through the day if I didn’t prioritize. When you’re busy and have a thousand commitments, you just have to. And you have to be okay with the idea that you won’t get your entire to do list done in one day. That’s the beauty of prioritizing. I definitely prioritize things intentionally, making honest decisions as to what I value most and what work is the most important at the time. It really does help!

I am not an overly religious or spiritual person. I was raised in a church, but I currently consider myself religiously indifferent, though not necessarily agnostic, since I do have a set of beliefs that I subscribe to. That being said, I’ve recently {very recently} realized the power of having faith. Faith in anything, really. Yes, I pray to God, but I also have faith in myself and my family and my circumstances. I have to, or else I’d be too worried to get anything done. I have to believe that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and that I can do it.

Over the summer, I got rid of 90% of my closet. Most of it was hand me downs leftover from my high school days {seriously embarrassing, at 25 years old}, and a lot of it was stuff that I bought spontaneously just because it was on sale. I’ve built my wardrobe back up over the summer using some of the lessons I’ve learned right here from Jess. If I’ve been intentional about anything in my life, it’s to only buy things that I absolutely love. It’s resulted in a closet that I am proud of, which hasn’t before happened in my life. I now only wear things that are my style, and it’s been fun to discover what my style is!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

I met Mary over the summer when we were both doing some work for The Everygirl, and she was one of those people I instantly felt like I had known my whole life. She’s witty, generous, and absolutely hilarious. Mary recently made the leap of faith to stay in Chicago following her internship with The Everygirl (she’s originally from Florida). I knew she would have some inspiring intentions to share, and she did not disappoint. What I love most is how specific she was about her intentions. Instead of just  intending to “have fun” she intends to “karaoke.” Awesome, right? Read on for more, and I’ll see you guys next week. -Caitlin

Rain is one of my favorite sights and sounds. There is something so beautiful and cozy about a good storm, and I hope to never loose that appreciation for it. I intend to enjoy a thunderstorm curled up with a good book and hot tea for the rest of my life. I hope to never get too annoyed when rain changes my plans or makes my hair look like a wet dog, instead I hope to dance and play and kiss in the rain. Even on my wedding day.

I need to really work on letting things go. Negative people, not getting the job, past relationships to name a few. I have a tendency to hold onto and dwell on things that I have no control over. When giving advice I always say “ya gotta let it go”, but I can’t even take my own advice! That is one thing easier said than done. In the coming weeks and months I am going to make a concerted effort to let go of things in my past. Even if I have to write it all down and then rip it up and throw it away, I will do my best to move on and let go.

Yes, you read that right! Karaoke. It really is a favorite past-time of mine and I’ll tell you why. I have always dreamt (just like every other girl in the world) of being on stage in front of thousands of fans, belting my heart out. So, a tiny stage and fifty cheering, drunk people satisfies this dream. All eyes on me for three minutes, beer in hand, lyrics on the screen…is there anything better?! Oh yeah, making friends with the DJ so you get called up ten times per night 😉

There are so many excuses I have been given or have given myself as to why a relationship won’t work. Many times, instead of just trying it out, going on a date, or simply talking with someone who I wouldn’t deem my “type” I have written people off who could have potentially become, at the very least, a friend. Intentionally or not, I have had my heart closed to so many people and things. When it comes to boys and relationships, my head has always ruled over my heart, and honestly, I am ready for that to change. It is time I listened to that blood-pumping organ, I have a feeling it will lead me to something amazing or even lead me back to a person, place, or thing that I may have overlooked.

This one is really easy for me. Is that cheating? I have never ever had trouble with laughing. I laugh (OK maybe it’s more of a cackle) at basically anything: when someone trips, awkward silences, “that’s what she said” jokes, when I’m really excited, at myself trying to be sexy. It’s something I love about myself and hope I never loose. When I’m 50 years old and laying in bed with my husband, I hope I still get into fits of uncontrollable laughter for no reason at all. They say laughing is the best medicine and I think whoever “they” is, is right.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Shelbie and I met during our freshman year of college in the Development office at the design school of University of Cincinnati. We were starting our first day of work in the Development Office, and became fast friends. Shelbie is one of the hardest working people I know. She’s graduating from college early (debt free) and recently made the brave decision not to follow her predicted path of going off to grad school to become a counselor. Instead, she is taking time to discover her true purpose. When I spoke with her about this last week, I was taken back to where I was just about this time last year, when I had high hopes but little direction with where I wanted to go with my life. After our conversation, I knew she would be a perfect candidate for a design your life interview. Thanks for sharing Shelbie! –Caitlin

This is my number one intention. I feel like there are so many pressures placed on an individual these days that it’s nearly impossible not to start picking yourself apart. It’s so easy to fall into all of the things you’re “not” instead of celebrating the things that you “are”.  So I think that learning to love yourself is the most important thing you can do. It is definitely an ongoing process (and not always an easy one) but in my opinion, worth it. Who else knows just how wonderful you truly are besides you? Be your own number one fan! It’s so important to love who you are inside and out because everyone is special, beautiful, and important.

This is probably my second most driving intention. I’m the kind of person who puts 110% into just about anything (sans cleaning my apartment). If I’m not invested in something, I feel like I don’t have a purpose. When I am truly invested in something, I can really accomplish incredible things. That’s the only explanation I have for holding 2 – 3 jobs, a full course load, and graduating early and debt free from college. If I didn’t bust my booty every day, I’d never know the value in my accomplishments. Hard work builds character, the key is to not over extend or commit oneself!


I absolutely have to have a balance between work and pleasure. I can really get caught up in the jumble of 12 hour work/class days but you’ve got to have a release. Having fun and enjoying the life you’re living is important too. That’s why I started my blog. There is more to life than work and school, and those little things that make life so enjoyable are the things you’ll remember when you’re older. So I love to explore, try new things, and live every minute of my good life!  My number one way to unwind and let loose: football and basketball games – the atmosphere is electric. Go Bearcats!

This is an unspoken and innate intention of mine. I am always (whether I realize it or not) helping or trying to help other people. I love to help my friends with little conflicts in their lives. I love to help people find their purpose. I love to help teach kids to tie their shoes. I love to help my co-workers finish a project.  I will help anyone who asks, and even those who don’t. I get a lot of fulfillment knowing I’ve made a difference or brightened a day by lightening someone’s load.

This is something that I have learned over my college experience. I tend to hold onto everything. Old fights mean things people have done, and especially mistakes I’ve made. If I’d let them, my mistakes would haunt my every waking moment (even if all I did was forget to call my Mom). I’ve learned that for my own sanity I have to consciously make myself let go of the past and things I can’t control. Life is so much more enjoyable when you aren’t holding yourself back or beating yourself up. Once my friends and I wrote on lanterns and let them fly away. Talk about freeing.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.


Hey guys! It’s Caitlin from Reverie to Reality, and while I normally bring you guys a Design Your Life interview on Wednesdays, we’re changing things up a little this week.

A few days ago I was reflecting on the summer with Jess, and how much has happened since June. A few examples? She and Scott eloped to Paris (!!), and I decided to move to Chicago and started offering interior decorating services. I know. Things have been busy around here.  Jess asked if I would consider sharing my story with you guys about how this new development in my life came about, and I (obviously) agreed without hesitation.

Offering interior decorating services was something I had thought about for a long time, but always had an excuse for why it wouldn’t work. Either I didn’t have the time, the resources, the expertise…you name it. When money stresses would get to me because my part-time job in Cincinnati wasn’t enough to live off of after I paid my bills, my friends and family constantly suggested that I put my passion and talents to good use and start offering decorating services. I would immediately brush off the idea, for fear that I would look silly and fail.

Months later, I received my AT&T bill in the mail and realized that I couldn’t afford to pay it. A couple of hours later, I wrote a post on my blog announcing that I was now offering design services. Just like that. It was an impulsive decision, yet one that I had been wrestling with and contemplating for months. The doubts and concerns I had were all still very present, but the reality of my financial situation took charge and allowed me to stop dwelling on them. That was almost three months ago now, and I haven’t looked back.

I used to think that if you wanted to make a change or take a leap of faith in your life, that you needed to have all the details squared away. What I’ve realized is that the point of taking a leap of faith is that you aren’t sure how it’s going to work, but you move forward anyway. Suddenly, I’m living out a dream that I’ve had for years, and all it took to get there was a blog post and a phone bill.


Reaching out to Carly of A Simple Affair for a Design Your Life Interview this week was a no-brainer. Aside from being one of the sweetest people I’ve ever “met”, she’s also so accomplished and inspiring, yet completely relatable at the same time. She recently got back from touring Japan for 3 weeks with Trinity Irish Dance (I know), manages her amazing lifestyle blog, and looks incredible while doing all of it. Seriously. I’m waiting for her to move to Chicago so she can style me and revamp my closet. I loved reading her intentions this week, and I know you’re going to feel the same. Thanks for sharing Carly! See you all again next week. –Caitlin

I am a worrier. No ifs, ands, or buts about it, and honestly, worrying can get really exhausting.  I want to strive to live more in the present and focus on what is right in front of me.  I need to be the best me and not worry about what I cannot control in the upcoming weeks and months.  I need to actively engage in conversations instead of multitasking 24/7. While at times I pride myself on these multitasking abilities, it’s not fair to my boyfriend, friends and family {note to self: ignore phone past a certain time at night and figure out this time ASAP and act upon it}. 

I am currently in the middle of some major life exploring. Daunting, scary, exciting…just a few adjectives to describe the process.  While I just graduated with one major, I want to pursue a different industry before I never do and wonder, ‘What if?’  Not only do I want to explore a new career, but I am also exploring new cities.  I have always lived in Wisconsin and been extremely close with my family but I am realizing that now is the time to explore something new and make it my own city. Ah!

There a lot of aspects of my life right now that need to be reorganized {and decluttered…that’s a whole different area though but most certainly needs to happen}. I also think I need to sit down and make a list of everything I have going on in my life and figure out what the most important pieces are to my puzzle and what pieces make me the happiest so I can create more of a balance between work and play. If I am having a stressful day, I can come back to this list to refocus and think big picture.

Both mentally and physically. I often think of this one in just the physical sense of eating right and working out.  Both are things I want to get back into a routine with, but I also need to make more ‘me’ time and reflect, whether it be about the day in general or a specific phone call. My days get so busy that I often forget to have a moment with myself, and it is most certainly nothing that gets put on my lengthy to do lists, but maybe it should be? That would take some time to get used to.

You can only be ‘good’ for so long whether it be with eating well or a spending freeze {or so many other things but these are areas I have worked on}. Sometimes you just earn a bowl and/or pint of ice cream or those shoes you’ve been dreaming about that will make you feel extra confident the next time you march around in them.  Or after a long week, all you can think about is a mani/pedi with your mom or best friend.  I think we absolutely deserve little rewards for achieving a personal goal.  We all may have our different ways of indulging, but I firmly believe you should indulge every once in awhile and embrace life’s victories. Well, that’s what I intend to do.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

When scouting for a DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviewee this week, I turned to my fellow Jess LC intern, Kiley. Kiley is one of those girls who has everything going for her: looks, smarts, talent, drive, and did I mention the girl can dress? You can see for yourself on her style blog, Off Randolph. At the same time, she’s one of the nicest and most down to earth girls you’ll meet. She’s jetting off to Italy soon for a semester abroad, so I couldn’t think of a more perfect time to ask her to share her intentions with us. Thanks for sharing, Kiley! Enjoy!  -Caitlin

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Kiley of Off Randolph

To me, this comes above all. I often find myself saying “I’m too busy” to keep in touch with certain people, only to realize that instead of pressing snooze five times that morning I could have called my cousin who lives in a different state or an old friend. My latest goal has been to make time for those people in my life that I love, but don’t talk to nearly enough, because ultimately those relationships are the most precious things in our short life.

This Fall, instead of heading back down to Nashville, where I’m a student at Vanderbilt, I leave for Italy to study abroad for the semester. This summer has been spent preparing, getting excited, attempting to fit everything I want to pack in one checked bag (whoever made that rule was surely a man), but mostly hearing tips from everyone about how to best take advantage of my time in Europe. The thing that I hear most is “depth over breadth”; instead of racing through every European city I’m dying to see (that would be all of them), I hope to really experience a smaller number of cities, make lasting relationships with people I would not have met otherwise, and go off the beaten path in each place I have the opportunity to spend time.

I may be alone on this one, but I probably spend over an hour every day dreaming—in class, on the bus, while I walk, everywhere. And while I have no idea what my future job will be or what my future home will look like, I think there is a certain importance in dreaming because without the dreams to start out with, there is no hope of them becoming a reality.

The idea of giving back is huge to me—HUGE. Growing up, I was never a sports person or a theater person or an artsy person. I was, however, a huge fan of school and wanted to take classes all year round (weird kid, I know). One summer I took a class called Youth and Society, which exposed me to a different non-profit organization in Chicago each day. Volunteering almost every day that summer was the most satisfying thing I could have done with my time; making others happy is definitely one of the keys to being happy yourself.

In a perfect world, we’d all immediately succeed in whatever we set out to do, but that doesn’t sound like a very interesting world to me. Planning on making mistakes helps me deal with them when they happen and more importantly, learn from them quickly. Knowing that I’ll make more mistakes than I’d probably like to makes it easier to aim higher since I’ve accepted mistakes as something good in life.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.


Happy Wednesday, guys! Caitlin here, back with yet another Design Your Life interview. Today we’re going to be hearing from one of my newest blog friends, Jen, blogger behind Lemon Drop Love. Jen reached out to me a while back for design help with her living room, and soon after I knew we would be fast friends. I mean, when I realized that her blog tagline is “when life gives you lemons, make a lemon drop” it’s kind of hard to think otherwise. Lucky for me, she was delighted at the prospect of sharing her intentions on MML.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: jen of lemon drop love

I have a strong desire to do what I love and what I’m passionate about. However, the pressures of everyday life can often suck the energy right out me. After a long day at work, it is easy for me to put on my comfy clothes and curl up on the couch. But checking out day after day just doesn’t cut it; all it does is hold me back.  In order to stay focused I have to prioritize daily. I carry a notepad where I jot down blog ideas and random thoughts throughout the day. I also recently hung an inspiration board over my desk (I plan to fill it up) to remind me every day that it’s not a dream if you make it happen.

I admit it; I’m my own worst critic. Unfortunately for me, I’m also not perfect. One thing in life I really struggle with is self-guilt.  I feel guilty when I go for seconds, when I skip a workout, or sometimes even when I indulge and buy a new outfit. I’ve recently come to realize that feeling guilty is a choice and I’m focused on staying kind to myself and everyone I care about the most.  Like my Grandmother always says, be the person you want to meet and lead by example.

Life is full of surprises and opportunities and it is better to have tried something rather than regret you never gave it a shot. Sometimes it works out for the better and other times you realize it just isn’t your bag. I try to live my life with no regrets and I plan to continue down this path. Yes, I have made plenty of mistakes, more than I can count on all my fingers and toes, but I have learned from each one. Living a life without regret is about embracing yourself and who you are, but also ceasing the moments you are given and staying true to yourself.

I believe your healthy habits evolve based on where you are currently in life. Being able to listen to your body and give it what it needs is half the battle. Up until about five years ago I had the metabolism of a cheetah and I was very active and athletic; I didn’t have to worry much about what I ate. Today, my metabolism has drastically slowed and I don’t have the time to be as active; so I watch what I eat and make exercising a priority. Don’t get me wrong, I still love my cocktails and comfort foods; I just focus on moderation and balance.  I am sure these habits will change as I go into different chapters of my life, but in order to stay happy and proud in my own skin, I will always try and embrace healthy habits.

I love the process of taking an idea and making it something everyone can see, feel or taste. I get a feeling of overwhelming accomplishment and joy. The best is when I think to myself, “wow, that really worked and it turned out better than I thought it would.” Being creative doesn’t have to be complicated; a lot of it is about finding the joy in the little things around you. I like to fill my creative time with painting/drawing, cooking/mixing drinks, entertaining or redesigning my apartment. This is why I love my blog so much, it pushes me to do all the things I love and the best part is I get to share my experiences with other people.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Hey guys! It’s Caitlin, and as usual I’m back with another amazing design your life interview. I’m sure many of you are familiar with Jacquelyn’s blog Lark&Linen already, but if you’re not, I would highly recommend you go take a gander at it after you read this interview. Her beautiful photos never fail to put a smile on my face and get me feeling inspired. Naturally, I was thrilled when Jacquelyn agreed to share her intentions with MML readers today. I have no doubt that you’ll enjoy them just as much as I did. Happy Wednesday!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: jacquelyn of lark&linen

This probably qualifies as my mantra as I full subscribe to the notion that happiness is a choice. Naturally, everyone is going to have bad days, and sometimes you just need to throw in the towel and start fresh the next. But I really do believe that choosing to find that silver lining in an otherwise crappy situation vastly improves your every day life. While I have been known to get irritable when I’m stuck in traffic, or have to cancel plans due to a looming deadline at work, it makes a world of difference when I force myself to change my frame of mind. Blast the music, grab a bite to eat and make the very best of the cards you’re dealt.  In those moments I remind myself that every second that passes is one less in which I’ll have to be happy. Life’s too short to stew!

Much like my decision to choose happiness on the daily, appreciating the little things is equally as important. If you can find joy in a quiet morning and a big cup of tea, or grocery shopping on a Sunday afternoon, your chances of living a fulfilled life improve greatly.


I once read a quote that stated: “The world is a book and those who don’t travel read only one page”. In my opinion, seeing the world is one of the best gifts you could ever give yourself. Of course, not everyone can afford to travel regularly, but I do believe that if it’s an option, it should fall under the “non-negotiable” category. For me it’s one of those life experiences that I just cannot get from anything else. It feeds the mind, the body and the soul in the most satisfying way.

I am a self-proclaimed people pleaser. I am still not terribly good at saying no to others in any given situation but I really am trying. I’m learning rather quickly that balance is incredibly important, and if I’m not able to say no when necessary, I end up burnt out and of no use to anybody. That balance is a tricky thing! I’ll let you know when I’ve figured out the secret 😉

I was raised in a household in which dishonesty was absolutely unacceptable. My mother refused to lie to anyone on my behalf, often telling my school that I simply needed a mental health day in lieu of pretending I was sick. She was always met with a joyful “great, have a wonderful day!” People appreciate honesty and, unfortunately, finding that quality within people these days can sometimes prove to be difficult. It’s incredibly refreshing to connect with real, genuine, honest folk.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.














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