Category: Life


As Mr. Lively, Franklin, and I gear up for our next adventure in Austin, Texas (two weeks!), I feel compelled to share all the places that I’ll dearly miss about the wonderful city of Chicago.

Though I spent the first seven years of my life in Ohio, and the following 15 in Michigan, Chicago is the place I call home.

It’s where I moved after graduation. No hesitation.

Into a tiny studio apartment, with a tiny jewelry business that I was determined to take full-time… so I could also write a book and eventually get a TV show one day.

You know, like Oprah and Maratha – “because that’s how you help people,” my 22-year-old self would assure you.

Since August 16th, 2007 I’ve had many triumphs, dark times, defining moments, and nachos.

Lots and lots of nachos.




So while I’m eager to make Austin our new home  (and perhaps even our permanent residence), I fully expect that Chicago will always be my favorite city.

… For at least six months of the year.

So rather than make a list of only the ‘must see’ and ‘must eat’ places that you have to visit if you come to Chicago, I’m going to share the places and spaces I’ll personally miss the most.

The places that mean something to me, even if they aren’t all the most dazzling hot spots (though a few of them are).

Hopefully this list will serve as a reference for those who come to visit and who live here already. 


Today on The Lively Show we are getting proactive with our money!

I’m talking with Mary Beth Storjohann, of Workable Wealth, about how we can best use our money in our 20′s, 30′s, and 40′s.

Mary Beth is a financial coach providing accountability to her clients, and has been featured in many major news outlets including The Wall Street JournalForbes, NBC, and MSN Money.

In the show, we discuss how to prepare financially for big life transitions like planning a wedding, buying a home, having a baby, or being self-employed full-time.

Plus, Mary Beth shares her advice for couples who have merged (or not merged) their finances.

This episode is perfect for anyone who is looking to become proactive about their money, wants to merge finances with a partner, or is self-employed.



This week on The Lively Show we are going global!

To Australia, to be specific.

I’m talking with Rachel MacDonald of In Spaces Between, a life and blog coach that loves intention, living wholly, and is pretty much my kindred spirit.

In today’s episode, I ask Rachel to share how she has come to embody such a high level of love and joy in her life… Because if you’ve ever seen her work, you can sense that there is a tangibly high level of joy and love seeping through in everything she does.

This show is perfect for anyone looking to increase their experiences of joy and love in their lives!


Lately, I’ve felt the urge to do another habit experiment.

Like the #gratefulfor30 experiment (which was awesome!), I’d like to see if a new work habit will help improve my ability to execute Values-driven priorities, rather than checking my inbox (or social media) unnecessarily.

However, I’m not putting any restrictions on my email or social checking.

free july wallpaper

July 1st, 2014   |   LifeQuotableSpirit


Happy July to you!

I don’t know about you, but I was feeling kinda felt like I was swimming in honey while working on projects over the last few weeks. Things were moving, but oh so slowly.

But now that July is here (and Mercury Retrograde is wrapping up), I feel like things are picking up and moving along again!

To celebrate this new month, I’ve got a new summery wallpaper to share.

be gentle with yourself

June 17th, 2014   |   IntentionLifeSpirit


A month ago, Mr. Lively asked his company if he can work remotely so that we can move to Austin, Texas.

Our Chicago apartment lease ends in August, and we want to start renting in the city where we’d like to buy a home. At the same time, Mr. Lively would like to stay at the company that he loves.

After considering all the usual “tech cities,” like San Fran, New York, and Seattle (remember that whole thing last year?), we have settled on Austin. Austin is a great possible place for us to settle down – its a tech hub with warmer winters, a slower pace, and more affordable homes compared to my beloved Lakeview neighborhood.

Ever since last year’s Seattle experience, I have struggled to stay put here in Chicago. Obviously I’ve “stayed here,” but this year’s hellish winter served as a brutal reminder that I would still like to experience something new – and warmer!

However, we knew that finding out if Mr. Lively could get remote worker status would take a while. We figured it would take about two, maaaaybe three weeks.

But we’re now inching closer to 30 days of waiting.

And last week, the patience I set aside to cheerfully move through this process… ran out.

I got really upset that after all that waiting, we still didn’t know whether we were moving across town or the across the country.

I started to feel like there was no other way in the world I could be happy, joyful, and fulfilled if we were told that we had to sign another Chicago lease.

Meanwhile, I was busy working on outlining the new curriculum for Life with Intention Online. I was spending afternoons with a curriculum expert, Megan, to make the program on par with the quality, depth, and value of the content itself.

Basically, I was spending my time working on building the very thing that could have helped me deal with my own frustrations.

I felt like a fraud.

There I was, getting emails all week from clients sharing the wonderful breakthroughs they experienced thanks to the concepts they learned in the class — yet I myself was an egoic mess, future-tripping and “expectation letching” like crazy.

Which sent me into another whole tailspin of suffering.

Rule #1: Practice what you preach. Right?

Eventually, the pressure culminated last Friday with a mini breakdown and a major sinus headache that landed me in bed.

After a lot of reflection (and some tears), I finally came to grips with the fact I need to live from my Values, not my expectation of leaving Chicago.

Though I still don’t know if we can move to Austin yet, I do know that if we are told we must stay, I can still embody our home intention here in Chicago.

We can find a quieter place in a calmer, more affordable neighborhood. Staying here longer could set our home buying timeline back a year or two, but it is possible to embody our Values in many ways right where we are.

And though I’d have to experience another Chicago winter, we could perhaps work remotely from a warmer climate for part of that season.

When I no longer demanded something completely outside my control, I realized I am still able to live from my intention — no matter what happens. Even when it comes to choosing where I live.

Since this realization, a huge weight has been lifted.

I feel calm, peaceful. And though I’d still like to know where we will live, I’ve experienced an intense amount of presence, joy, and fulfillment.

Meanwhile, I also had to address my ego’s doubt:

Who would want to learn from someone who still struggles with this stuff sometimes, too?

Well, I’ve come to realize, the answer is simple.

Rule #1 is “practice what you preach,” right?

Well, when I work with clients I never expect that they’ll do things “perfectly forever.”

I simply ask them to recognize when things go off track, to return to the present moment, and go back to living from their Value-based intentions.

No shame or guilt required.

But I wasn’t giving myself the same grace.

The same patience.

The same understanding.

Even though I have transformed many, many parts of my life with this powerful approach and I am lightyears from where I was…

I still struggle sometimes.

I still get caught up in something like an exciting move to a new city.

And that’s okay.

I’m a student, too.

Together we can continue to return to the present moment, live from our Values, and support each other whenever we struggle.

Continuing to grow in this work doesn’t make us bad.

It makes us human.

We must be gentle when we fall.

Otherwise we won’t be able to get back up.


PS - Last night Mr. Lively and I launched the first part of the new site for Life with Intention Online! You can check it out here.


TheLivelyShowEsmeWangHappy Lively Show Day!

In today’s episode we’re chatting with Esmé Weijun Wang of Esmé Esmé is a talented writer, novelist, copywriter, blogger, and mental health advocate.

In this episode, we’ll be exploring how Esmé juggles her challenging career while dealing with schizoaffective disorder. She’ll share what she recommends for those who also have a mental illness diagnosis, as well as what we can do if we have friends or loved ones who face something similar.

In addition, we discuss how to overcome the urge to say “fine” whenever someone asks how we’re doing, and how we can become more radically sincere.

This show is perfect for anyone who wants to be more compassionate (with themselves and others), wants to connect to people in deeper ways, or who have been affected by mental illness in their own lives, or those they care about.


the “abs situation”

June 11th, 2014   |   Life


As we head into the summer, a conversation with a friend reminded me of this post from 2012. It’s a nice reminder – and a good laugh. Enjoy!

Okay. Remember this photo?

It’s caused a few waves and I want to do a little follow up. I’ve recently realized through reading and some offhand comments by friends that a few people have been impressed/surprised/envious of my abs.

And after a recent (very kind) post about them, I wanted to share my comment in response.

the #gratefulfor30 experiment

June 3rd, 2014   |   IntentionLifeSpirit


Today I’ve got something very exciting to share!

I’d love to have you join me in The #GratefulfFor30 Experiment.

new free june wallpaper

June 2nd, 2014   |   IntentionLifeQuotable


Happy June to you!

I don’t know about you, but I love the month of June.

The weather in Chicago tends to be warm – but not crazy hot – the flowers are still blooming, and the whole summer stretches out before us.

But enough about the month, let’s talk about the quote on this month’s free wallpaper, shall we?

facing challenges intentionally

May 27th, 2014   |   IntentionLife


Lately, a few (possible) big changes in my life are being determined by a handful of factors beyond my personal control.

As I’ve waited for these situations to unfold, I’ve felt like an acorn floating down a river.

Sure, I can chart an intentional path down the river, that’s what this whole site – and my life’s work – is devoted to!

But there are times when a rock blocks an opportunity, or a canoe paddle catapults me to a completely different part of the stream.

In those times, I’m trying to get my head above water, rather than careening head-over-heels down the stream dizzy, upset, and gasping for air.

Though the (sometimes dormant) perfectionist in me would like to think that I can one day reach a point of “Acorn Zen” where I never get caught off guard by a waterfall, where I always keep my head above water, that may never be the case.

Or at least that is certainly not my reality in the present moment.

So rather than fight the rocks or force myself to always keep my chin up 100% of the time, I’m working on my

TheLivelyShowWithErinGatesToday’s show is a huge honor for me!

I’ve been a big fan of Erin Gates of Elements Of Style for many years and I have loved reading her blog and learning from her as a designer and following her life and career.

In this episode we talk about her exceptional career path and book deal.

But our main topic is perfectionism (starting at 18:30) – how Erin has learned to make the most out of it and appreciate it for what it is, rather than fighting to change herself.

This episode is perfect for bloggers, designers, aspiring authors, and anyone who struggles with perfectionism. 

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