April 15th, 2011     |    DESIGN YOUR LIFE

Sorry for the slight delay on this month’s DIY DYL – we have been busy here in the studio keeping up with everything going on. I also have a feeling this weekend is going to be a working one in order for me to get ready for the move and upcoming photo shoot in California next week. And remember the winners of the DESIGN YOUR LOOK challenge will be announced on Monday.

But back to the April DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews. Hop on over to the blogs below to see how Lisa and Jennifer have designed their lives around their intentions.

Lisa’s post is on The Dame.

Jennifer’s follow-up post is on Jennifer, Unwritten.

Want to find out more about the DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE monthly feature? Keep reading.

March 10th, 2011     |    DESIGN YOUR LIFE

Today we have a huge dose of DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE inspiration. Hop on over to the blogs below to see how four awesome MML readers have designed their lives around their intentions. After reading them all, I feel so lucky to be among such incredible women.

Jennifer’s post is on Fort Saint Nowhere.

Raj’s post is on Pink Chai.

Carla’s post is on All of Me… Now.

And Cailen’s post is on Cailen Asher Lifestyle Maven.

Want to find out more about the DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE monthly feature? Keep reading.

Today I have a great DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview to share. Kevin “Mr. Peace” Szawala is a motivational speaker and friend of mine from the University of Michigan. He is also one of the most engaging, positive, and inspirational people I know. I am thrilled to present his intentions for his life and to share his story of leaving his cushy 9 to 5 job for his purpose: Being Who I Want 2 Be.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Kevin “Mr. Peace” Szawala

The greatest human tragedy is to die with the music still left in you.” – Jim Tuman

A college counselor once gave me this example about money.  Countless students walk into his office and tell him they want to make $100,000, a six figure income.  They don’t care how they do it or if they’re going to hate it, they just want him to tell them what it will take to make this amount of money.  The truth is, though (and what he ends up telling them), if you despise what you’re doing, chances are you’ll either end up getting fired (by someone who is passionate about what they do and so outperforms you), end up quitting altogether, or what so many people fall victim to: continue working only for the weekend, miserable day in day out, compromising your entire life for the ‘green stuff’ and ultimately feeling unfulfilled.

I was one of those people working solely for the paycheck and did so for close to five years.  However, I finally came to realize that while yes, we do need money and yes, it is important and what makes the world go round, if it is your only motivation (as it was mine), you will not find happiness. You may find temporary satisfaction and gratification, but that’s all it is: temporary.

Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Rather, ask yourself what makes you come alive.  Because what the world needs are more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Quitting my 9-5, stable, comfortable job with endless perks and benefits is something I will never forget nor regret.  Choosing to leave a guaranteed source of income I had at my previous employer (a global automotive supplier) this past July for another uncertain, risky, go-against-the-grain type path was not only a giant leap of faith, but one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life.  I have always felt that I am someone who has always been extremely driven, just not necessarily in the direction of my calling.

When I finally left Corporate America to fully pursue my passion for motivational speaking and working with the youth, I realized why the decision was such a difficult one and had been burning in me for over a year leading up to the separation: it was because I knew now what my purpose was and could clearly see it.  Up until that point I just was not living it yet 100% of the time, and until I was completely aligned with it, I would not be truly happy or fulfilled.  Now that all of my energies and efforts are going toward things that make me come alive, all the ‘work’ I do really isn’t work, rather, ‘fun’ and something I love to do each and every day.

The time is NOW to step into, to breathe into our greatness and become the blossoming genius inherent in us all!” – Kevin ‘Mr. Peace’ Szawala

I remember being asked this question on countless occasions by friends and family prior to my transition.  My response was, “Because I have everything to gain.”  Then, I was posed with whether the economic scare would encourage me to rethink pursuing some of my goals?  The answer to that one was, “Not at all.”  I willingly detached myself from my position because despite the present and ongoing financial woes, I was (and still am) so centered and grounded in my faith that I just trust the process and know that everything will work out.

I am a firm believer that America remains a beacon of entrepreneurialism.  Regardless of the risks that come along with the entrepreneurship challenge, it’s apparent that many are still seeking a niche to secure their own developing business.  I was one of them.  Now, it is not to say I have not had some economic challenges.  I have.  These dire straits make it a little more difficult as to how to market the impactful message I wish to share to the degree that many potential school or organization speaking bookings do not have as much money to offer speakers, or any outside companies for that matter.

On the other hand, with such a tough economic hold on everyone, basically worldwide, we as a nation, as a planet, need inspiration and hope now more than ever.  An entrepreneur needs to be positive, self-motivated, and driven to succeed despite all circumstances.  I am confident in taking the risk because I look at it more as an ‘opportunity’ and something that has been burning inside of me for years now, and unless I take a chance and go after my dreams 110%, I will not be truly free.

At the end of our lives people will only remember our hearts.” – Jim Tuman

It was not until I became intentional about asking myself who I wanted to be for my community, rather than what I wanted to be, that I knew what it was I wanted to do with my life and where my true passions laid.  Once you can answer the ‘who’, you start looking for career paths that will both foster and nurture who it is you want to be.  Many of the issues I see with at-risk teens are merely the symptoms of bigger problems like a lack of connection among their peers and not having that sense of purpose which gives them identity and self-worth.

Further, when you begin with the end in mind and think about how you want people to remember you by, all of a sudden your actions and decisions become based on who you want to be (which is hopefully a positive person for this world).  For me, I knew speaking was my greatest joy and connecting with others through my heart, humor and musical talents is how I wanted to share my time.  I knew in the core of my being that empowering individuals and helping them step into their full potential was my true calling.

Still, I see many people who think that by going to another personal growth workshop, reading the next self-help book, exercising until they reach the ‘perfect’ body figure, buying another boat, car, a bigger house; that something external is going to bring them permanent, internal happiness and give them some meaning in their life.  They have the mentality that if I can only change the outside factors in my life: my surroundings, my appearance, the things, then I will find my purpose.  That is never the case, however, and never will be.  The transformation must be inner to outer, and not the other way around.  All of us have a purpose and it is just a matter of looking within to find out that true happiness, true peace, and a true purpose comes from knowing that we all have been given unique gifts from our creator.  What is your motivation for wearing a seat belt?  Yes, you don’t want to die, but what makes you not want to die?  There has to be a reason for living.  And the deeper your faith and spiritual connection to what your divine purpose is, the more clear your heart will be led to what you should be doing and why it is you are on this earth.  When you are where you’re supposed to be, you can just feel it with every part, with every fiber, of your being.

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” – Unknown

Whether it is solving global warming, curing a disease, or combating world hunger, the solution to so many of the world’s problems today lies within people being who they want to be.  If we have people truly into what they’re doing filling the various societal roles, then the issues we are faced with everyday would be solved more quickly. If it is only for the money or because someone told you this is what you should be doing, though, these matters would not be addressed with the same level of intensity, attention, purpose or desire, and so would take longer to get resolved.  The bottom line: Passionate people want to keep progressing and succeeding in whichever field they choose.  As long as you love it, the career you do choose will not matter.  What will matter is finding out how that thing that makes you come alive will contribute to making this world a better place through being, once again, who you want to be.  And on top of that, as the title of the New York Times bestseller reads, “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow!”  It’s true.  If you’re that passionate about what you do, you will excel that much more in that field and advance to reach a comfortable lifestyle.

Unfortunately, many people never realize this.  Some individuals do not discover who they really are their entire lives.  Sometimes to find ourselves, though, we must first lose ourselves or make some drastic change in our lives and thinking pattern.  Sometimes we need to challenge the ideas presented to us and really take an extensive look inside ourselves to see if our values and morals are in line with them.  Until you find yourself and are the person you want to be, you cannot fulfill your dreams.  Be fulfilled to fulfill.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

February 10th, 2011     |    DESIGN YOUR LIFE

Today we have some great DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews to share! Click the links below to hop over to MML reader’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews. As a refresher, the DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews share the intentions of the writer and specific, first-person examples of how they have “designed their lives” around those intentions.

Kimberly’s post is on Third Floor Design Studio.

And Roxy’s post is on A Spot of Tea.

Want to find out more about the DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE monthly feature? Keep reading.

DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE: january edition
January 13th, 2011     |    DESIGN YOUR LIFE

The DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE edition is here! With lots of traveling over the past several Thursdays, this post is a bit overdue from December.

Hop over to Nicole and Allison’s blogs to see how they “design their lives around their intentions.”

Allison’s post is on Spare Change Living.

And Nicole’s is on Simply Nicole.

Want to find out more about the DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE monthly feature? Keep reading.

DIY DYL – november edition
December 2nd, 2010     |    DESIGN YOUR LIFE

Okay, so it’s technically December now, but let’s pretend that that this went up last week on Thanksgiving as it should have. Here are the first round of DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews shared by MML readers. Hop on over to these lovely DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews below.

Meanwhile, I will be spending the day at Macy’s on State St. for a Jess LC trunk show from 11-4. Come down and say hello if you can!

Lisa of Everyday Elembee.

Lucile of Atomic Girl.

Anne of Anne the Adventurer Part 1 and Part 2.

Interested in doing your own DIY DYL? Here are the deets.

Good morning! Today’s DYL features Taylor of the fashion and lifestyle blog, Sterling Style. I admit that I don’t read that many fashion blogs, but Taylor’s has definitely caught my eye and I’ve loved following along in the past few months. Her California style and interest in fitness and Crossfit add such a unique flavor to her posts that I find really refreshing. If you haven’t seen her site, I’d recommend checking it out. Her blog is well curated and I’m dying over her Creme de la Creme tote she’s now selling on Etsy. As for Taylor’s intentions, I’m pondering how I can implement my own version of her last intention in my life as well.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Taylor of Sterling Style

I have always tried to live each day aware of who I am and how I treat others. Now, that I am in the public eye I feel it is even more important. I want to be a role model for women of all ages. I want them to feel comfortable in their own skin, be kind, and strive for the best. There is so much pressure out there for women to be skinny and look perfect. I want to show others that being confident and not fearing rejection and failure is a beautiful thing.

I believe that taking care of your health should come before everything! If I feel tired, stressed or out of shape my whole life crumbles around me. I make sure to carve out time everyday to focus on me.  Whether it is going for a run, heading to yoga, reading a book, or relaxing in a hot bath, I plan something to calm my mind and make me feel good. This keeps me sharp and ready for any challenge that may come my way.

I love that my blog is an outlet for my creativity. Every day I get to create a new experience for people and hopefully inspire them. I have always enjoyed working creative projects. When I was younger I would sit for hours cutting out images from magazines and making collages or directing and starring in music videos with my girlfriends.  If I don’t challenge myself to try new things I become restless and irritated. Lately, I have been reading a lot of blogs that feature DIY craft projects. It is so fun to come up with a new idea and try to make it work.

I think one thing people are surprised by when they meet me is what a goofball I am. I hate to take myself too seriously. Life is too stressful to spend every day worried and upset. Whenever I have a bad day I force myself to smile and find something to laugh about. They say that the simple act of smiling can actually make you happier. I also like to blast rap music and dance and act a fool with my boyfriend. It cures all my sorrows.

This is something I am trying to enforce, but is so difficult for me.  I want to eat dessert and shop whenever I can! However, I am learning that saving for a special splurge can make it all the more worth it.  I remind myself that if I eat healthy all week and hit my goals I can splurge one night and have a big gooey brownie instead of little pieces of chocolate every night. I also tell myself that if I stop buying so many cheap handbags that one day I may be able to afford my dream bag!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Today I have an exciting new DYL interview to share! I tapped Alaina’s shoulder of Live Creating Yourself to share her life intentions. Though she’s obviously got an incredible talent for graphic design and is even responsible for naming the now popular Rue Magazine (among many other contributions), I asked her to do this DYL for a whole different set of reasons.

Knowing her personally, I’ve always been struck by her ability to fearlessly state her opinion without second guessing herself. Not that I’m much of a slouch myself, but I really, deeply admire her ability to say what she thinks from an honest, open part of her that doesn’t worry about “what others might think.” While she asserts her thoughts on everything from spirituality to the latest Kelly Wearstler project, she does so without being overbearing or judgmental. And for this reason, I think I personally have a lot to learn from Alaina. I know that many of us, including myself, can learn to share our opinions more fearlessly. As you’ll read, it’s pretty clear how she’s able to create such a mix of strength and gentleness that is 100% her own.


Be Kind

Not a ground-breaking concept, I know, but being kind to others is the most important value in my life. Sadly, it seems that many people in today’s society are completely self-absorbed, worrying only about themselves and stepping on others just to get ahead. I don’t know where this self-entitlement and “I’m better than you” concept came from, but I am very aware that I am no better than the next person. So, I try my best to be considerate of those around me. I thank the busboy who pours my water. I stand up and offer my seat to the older woman or man who gets on the bus. I write back to the new blogger who emails me for advice. These simple acts of respecting and appreciating other people are so often forgotten; but I think it’s really important to remember that a simple “How are you today?” can go a long way.

Looking for beautiful things around me is a reflex. I have a tendency to find beauty and inspiration in things most people would never notice. For example, I recently liked the way a restaurant wrote their menu in chalk so I took a photo of it. And I remember on a day trip to Annapolis, I noticed an old red roof on a house that was far from beautiful – but the way it contrasted with the bright blue sky behind it caught my eye, so again, I snapped a photo to remember it. This habit probably stems from being a graphic designer and my constant need to be inspired, but this tendency to focus on the good instead of the bad definitely helps my emotional well-being, as well. Win, win!

Whether my credit card likes it or not, I travel as often as my vacation days allow. Traveling is the best kind of education; it allows me to learn about different cultures and people, and, more importantly, it helps me grow as a person. I am the first to admit that up until college, I was a rather close-minded – and dare I say, a judgmental – person. Now I feel like anything goes! And the world is all the better for it. Having been exposed to so many different lifestyles and cultures, I’m now very open to trying new things, listening to what others have to say, and accepting people’s opinions and beliefs, regardless of how different they are from mine.

This is less a goal I’ve made for myself and more so something I was born doing. My parents would joke the only babysitter they needed for me was a box of crayons because I could entertain myself for hours drawing pictures, writing stories, and even creating my own board games (true story – it was Life Jr. and you ended up choosing a high school instead of a retirement home at the end of the game). Today, I still find myself restless when I don’t have a to-do list taking up two pages in my notebook. Instead of flipping through the channels, I tend to work on a new house project or start redesigning my blog for the 100th time this year. I can’t not create. It keeps the creative juices flowing.

I am of the “you only live once” school of thought. If I’m at an Italian restaurant, heck, I’m ordering a big plate of pesto linguini! If it’s a Tuesday and I have nothing to do, I will always consider buying a great bottle of wine, calling up my best friends, and spending the evening laughing and reminiscing with them. I recommend this advice to all of you out there: stop counting calories, stop worrying about what others think of you, and enjoy this life. You only live once!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.


Hi everyone! After our announcement of the 100 Kisses Giveaway winner earlier today, I’m back to share a DYL shared by Bryn of Bryn Alexandra if you’ve been following Bryn’s journey into interior design over the past year you’ve seen her grow her business by leaps and bounds. And I’m thrilled to re-share her intentions that have helped her develop such a strong company and huge blog following.

As for the new DIY-DYL (do-it yourself DESIGN YOUR LIFE) there are no submissions for October, so our next date will be November 25th. So if you’d like to share your intentions, please send me your link by November 22nd and I’ll link to your DIY-DYL on Thanksgiving Day.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: bryn of bryn alexandra

This Design Your Life series couldn’t have come at a better time. My husband jokes that I’m having a “quarter life crisis” and truthfully, I am. But I think it’s just a part of life – I’m discovering who I am and what I want to do with my life. Which is why I was so happy when Jessica asked me to do this. So here they are, my life intentions!

Do What You Love.


This is the most important intention in my life. I’ve always loved interior design, ever since I was a child. But in college, I decided it’d be best for me to pick a career path that would most likely get me a job post graduation. What 20 year old is that sensible? Fast forward and I found myself at 25 hating my career  and miserable. I decided on my 25th birthday to just put myself out there for interior design. So I did. I put myself out there on my blog, on Craigslist, and surprisingly I nabbed a few brave souls who have trusted me to work my magic on their homes. And to my surprise, they like what I can do! I won’t lie, it’s a struggle everyday juggling two jobs, and with each glimpse I get into the life of an interior designer the more I realize my day job isn’t for me. But that just pushes me harder to work at what I do love.

Build Relationships.

Confession time – I’m a major introvert. I’m one of those people who gets uncomfortable in social situations. My entire life I’ve only ever needed/had one best friend. Today, my husband is my best friend. He’s my support, the person I laugh with, the person I complain to, and that’s all I need. But as I get older I realize that relationships are an important part of life, no matter how big or small. So that’s my second intention – I want to build relationships and work at them. It’s harder for an introvert, but it’s no excuse to miss out on those specials bonds.

Live Simply.

Okay, another confession – I used to be so obsessed with material things! Ugh, embarrassing. Woman love their designer handbags, sunglasses, etc where I come from (Dallas). I got caught up in it and in college I worked an almost full time job to pay for nice things. I even got into some debt. I’m not proud of it. But then I grew out of it. I learned the value of money, and what’s important in life. I’m glad I went through that stage because I learned my lesson and I’ll never do it again. I learned a $800 purse is no better than a $50 purse. Now I live simply. I purge things when I don’t need them. I rarely shop and if I do it’s at thrift stores. I now value the simple things like a good cup of chai latte or a great home cooked meal in with the husband.

Be Myself & Be Confident.


I do often fall victim to jealousy, and I hate it! Jealousy is such a terrible, pointless emotion. Even though I find myself jealous of someone else’s possessions, or hair or whatever it is, I always try to counter those feelings with appreciation of myself. As I’ve grown older I’ve learned more to love who I am. So what if my curly hair always looks a bit crazy? Can you imagine how boring life would be if everyone was the same? I always have to tell myself – be yourself. Live creatively. Love yourself. Embrace the differences that are you! If you are happy and confident with yourself, jealousy suddenly doesn’t become an issue.

Try New Things.


I’ll end my intentions with the least serious one of the group – it’s always great to try new things! I love trying new foods, new hobbies, new experiences. I used to hate mushrooms but now I love them! Sometimes my husband and I will put on movies in different languages just to check out something new. We moved across country from Oklahoma to Los Angeles, CA. That was an experience! Spice up your life once and a while with new and different things, even if it’s something as little as choosing a different dish at your favorite restaurant.

Another big thank you to Jessica!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

I’m so pumped about today’s announcement! After the infamous DYL‘s return from a long summer vacation, it is back and more popular than ever. I get more emails about this series that almost everything else. Something new has started to spark as well in the recent months: there are more readers writing in wanting to share their own personal DYL intentions than ever. Since this is a Thursday series, I’ve only got room for four interviews a month, and at the rate MML readers raising their hands, we’d never get to everyone doing this one at a time.

I mentioned this phenomenon to a lovely friend of mine last week and she had a fantastic idea.

I’m now opening up the DESIGN YOUR LIFE series to all bloggers in a new monthly post called “DIY DYL” (short for “Do It Yourself DESIGN YOUR LIFE”). One Thursday a month (for October it is going to be next Thursday, October, 21st) I will link everyone’s DIY DYL posts here on MML (okay, now I’m using more acronyms than might be wise, but stick with me). This way we can all have a little blog block party hopping to and from everyone’s DIY DYL interviews commenting, linking, and so on.

And in case that’s not enough, Melissa, one of my awesome assistants, has made a spiffy badge (similar to the one above, only smaller) for DIY DYL participants as well linking to the full DIY DYL Guide page.

What is the DIY DYL Guide page, you ask? Well, it isn’t created… yet… but I’ll have it up later today. It’s going to have a little introduction about the series, how it works, how to participate, and a link list to all the DIY DYL posts on everyone’s blogs. This way new readers can surf the links easily and find huge doses of inspiration any day of the month.

So to recap…

How the DIY DYL will work

Write your own DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview on your blog – the format is super simple (here’s what I tell all DYL interviewees): please share 5-7 intentions for your life with specific, first-person examples of how you “design your life” around those intentions. Then add one head-shot at the top and personal photos that relate to the intentions below to add personality. You can post your DIY DYL whenever you like, no special post date is necessary.

After you’ve posted your awesome interview, send me a link and I’ll save it for the upcoming DIY DYL post date (as I mentioned, this October’s will be next Thursday [10/21]). I’ll also pass along a DIY DYL badge for you to link to the DIY DYL Guide – coming later today – or just to MML – whichever you like (the badge isn’t required, but it’s pretty and helps spread the word about your interview and the series as a whole).

Okay, ladies (and gents!) time to start your engines… er…. intentions!

Today’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview is brought to you by the lovely Piper author of One Sydney Road and our amazing MML Dream Reporter. As Piper nears the launch of her awesome new online store(!!), I thought it would be the prefect time for her to reflect on the intentions that got her to this exciting point in her life.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Piper of One Sydney Road

Hi everyone!  Hope you’re not tired of me yet because here I am again – this time with a Design Your Life post.  I think it’s fair to say that this has been a life-changing year for me.  I can’t say that my life is figured out yet but I think that’s part of the fun (and the challenge!)   Here’s what I’ve learned (and what I’m still learning!)

Make time for loved ones

I’ve gushed before about my hubby, which isn’t going to stop me from saying it again!  He’s the jelly to my peanut butter, the han solo to my princess leia.  No matter what’s going on in our lives, we make it a point to spend time together.  He’s my main inspiration – without him making me laugh everyday and just being by my side, nothing would feel inspiring!  I’ve said to him that even if we had to live in a cardboard box, as long as we were together, it wouldn’t matter to me.  I’m just hoping we can locate our box on a beach somewhere!

Live in the moment

This one is a work in progress for me.  Since I tend to constantly think 5 years in the future, sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on the here and now.  It’s the dreamer in me – I think it’s both a blessing and a curse!  It’s a reminder to stop and smell the roses – or at least just notice that they’re there.

Laugh often

One of my favorite stories about my hubby and me actually comes from his grandma.  This was during the time that she was living with his mom and we were over quite frequently.  Apparently one day she turned to her daughter (my mother-in-law) and asked, quite seriously “what are they always laughing about?”  Pretty much anything and everything (the more sarcastic the better)!  Laughter really is the best medicine – for best results make sure to laugh daily and surround yourself with people who make you laugh!   Extra points if you laugh loudly.

Age is just a number

I’ve always felt that if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything. Doesn’t matter what your age is!  And while we’re at it – can we put a stop to those articles that say “what to wear when you’re 20/30/40” – if you like it, who cares how old you are?!  Rock that miniskirt!

Embrace imperfections

Ok, honestly I’m still figuring out how to do this one!  But doesn’t that sound good – embracing our imperfections?  If someone has found an easy way to do this, let me know.  Otherwise, I think it’s back to the basics and remembering that we’re all human, we’re not perfect and, well, s**t happens.  It’s about having the courage to move beyond that!

Dream and take action

Dream often, dream the impossible…but to make those dreams come true, you have to take action.  This year has really shown me that.  Fear gets in the way of our dreams all too often.  The only way to combat fear is to take action.  Doesn’t matter if it’s wrong or imperfect, just that you get out there and try it.  And here’s the great part – the more you take action, the easier it gets!

Live every week like it’s shark week

I took this line from “30 Rock” because it just says so much.  Now granted this one can be tough to do.  But there’s a huge world out there – get out and explore it!  (note to self:  I’m talking to you!)  Nothing gets me more inspired and revved up than being adventurous, trying new things, taking classes, being curious and being spontaneous.  I can find myself getting stuck in a rut quite easily.  But usually all it takes is for me to be a little adventurous and suddenly everything feels exciting again!   The best part is that it doesn’t have to be something huge – it can be as simple as making something new for dinner or wearing something out of the ordinary.  Life is too short to not live it up and go after your dreams!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

This week’s DYL is a throwback from last year. I think it’s definitely worth revisiting my dear friend, Crystal’s DYL, as she is now the fabulous founder and editor-in-chief of the recently launched online shelter magazine, Rue. It’s fascinating for us to reflect on Crystal’s intentions from last year, pre-Rue, because they may have propelled her into this brand new life.

She started early last year as the blogger behind Plush Palate with a restlessness and urge to do something extraordinary with her life. Now, she travels all over the country photographing some of the chicest homes and parties. She’s creating the content and inspiration that she used to glean from the glossy pages of her favorite magazines just a year ago. And it would seem that these intentions she set for herself are the building blocks she used to design the completely new and amazing life of her dreams.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Crystal of Plush Palate


Live a Courageous Life

With each decision I make or at each crossroad I arrive, I try to make sure my decisions are not dictated by fear but instead, driven by courage. Only then do I feel I am living the best and fullest version of my life. When the decision seems unclear, I ask myself, “what would you do if you weren’t afraid?” and then in my heart I know exactly what I need to do. Another favorite quote reminds me that, “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Know Who You Are

It is easy to get caught up in comparing yourself to others or trying to be someone you are not, but I find such freedom in reminding myself not to be anyone but me. I try to use and hone the talents that I already have, not to covet the ones I don’t. The way I stay connected to who I am is by making time for the things that truly feed the authentic me – like writing in my journal at night and spending a quiet hour by myself in the morning – and by being able to say no to the things that don’t feel right inside. This quote says it best, “the wise man is always similar to himself.”

Take Pride in What You Present to the World

I strongly believe that this is one of the greatest ways to show respect to yourself and to others. By taking time to dress nicely or by making sure the project I turn in is a reflection of my best work, I am telling myself and others that we deserve the best. I believe this is an important component for healthy self-esteem and a strive to embody it.

Find Balance in Mind, Body, and Soul


When things get busy and I start to feel off kilter, I check in with myself to make sure I am giving ample attention to each. This helps me prioritize my time and get my perspective back where it needs to be. For “mind” I do things like take language classes so I can exercise new areas of my brain. For “body” I make sure to find time to exercise as a way to relieve stress and stay strong. And for “soul” I stay mindful of my values and try to live a life that is consistent and in accordance with them.

Focus On Your Circle of Influence

This is a concept I picked up from reading, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and that really struck a chord with me. There are many things in life we wish were different, but by focusing on the things that we can actually change within our circle of influence, our circle miraculously begins to grow and, in turn, so does the scope of our influence. When I’m faced with a challenge that seems overwhelming, I remember that through action I can go from a place of feeling powerless to a place of great empowerment and impact.



Traveling truly is something that I cannot image a life without. I cherish being able to get out into the world and opening myself up to what other places and people can teach me. Some of my best and most pivotal growing has happened during my times abroad. One thing I’m sure of is that a person or a place is never the same after having passed through it.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

[photo credits: Miss Muse, and Simply Seductive (2)]













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