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  • Do you desire a life where you know and live your inner purpose? That instead of floating through life you know exactly what your true desires are and living to your fullest potential? Do you feel like what you are longing for is just hidden under the surface and once you discover it there will be no holding you back?

    Live your desired life thumbnailDownload the Live Your Desired Life workbook and learn the 4 easy steps on how I started to live the life I always dreamed of.

Weekend in Lisbon-16
We prepare for our trip south and we are packed into one backback before jumping in a taxi and then on a train within an hour. As we settle into our seats we smile at each other that being the well seasoned travellers that we are it takes no time to fill a bag with only the things we need for a weekend getaway. She sleeps soundly on the train and when she does wake she is happy to enjoy sitting on our laps playing with our faces and hands.

We arrive into Lisbon and instantly feel the pulse of the city and the warmth of the sun on our faces. What a change from stormy Porto! A quick walk from the station we enter into a luxurious apartment right in the centre of the city with a view down a famous street that meets the water. We unpack and settle in before placing her in the stroller to grab a quick bite at a nearby cafe. With eclectic furnishings and the friendliest baristas Mister and I eat in silence while they entertain Isla so we can enjoy our meal. I grab a cup of fruit salad and savour every single bite of kiwi, pineapple, mango, and grapes. It is so delicious I cannot help but smile.

We stroll through the city to another nearby station and hop on a train West. We step off the platform in the most magical of places where there is a beautiful flowing energy that makes you think of secret gardens and fairies dancing in beams of light. We walk the cobblestone path through a thick forest that smells of fresh rain and spring water, the air thick with humidity but a coolness of dew on your face. We make our way to a beautiful and majestic country estate with an indian influence. Everything is simply romantic filled with light and open spaces. We spend as much time as possible walking through the house and through the gardens before we have to make our way home. Throughout the whole experience Isla babbled and exclaimed in her excited way whenever we walked through a passageway in the home or through the forest, completely happy with our excursion. And while we made our way home she fell asleep in his arms, completely at peace to be with us. We place her in the pram later that evening to go out for dinner at a nearby restaurant and have a delicious meal that once again we savour and enjoy completely. We talk excitedly about the past few weeks together, how much Isla has grown and the little person she is becoming, we talk of our plans for the next couple of weeks and most importantly our last week in Europe. When we finally crawl into bed we are tired, full, satisfied and completely energized.

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The next morning we are awake early and ready to start the day with anticipation. We leave the flat and walk across the street to a nearby hotel lounge where we enjoy a delicious breakfast and a latte while Isla sits in her highchair, content and happy. She gravitates everyone towards her with her smiles and willingness to giggle and play peek-a-boo with ease. We walk the streets towards Igreja do Carmo and take in the beauty of the old ruin and the magnificent stone carvings and the view of the city below. Our afternoon is slow wandering around the city, the air thick with the smell of roasting chestnuts as we make our way through the streets taking in as much as possible. We stop into a lingerie store where I stock up on beautiful italian lace bras and then later I stock up on classic cardigans in grey, navy, and black. We take a tram to nearby Mosteiro dos Jeronimos where the building is filled with such intricate architectural details that everything looks like lace. Once again everything is breathtaking. We head out for dinner later that evening and under a candle lit dinner where the room smells of delicious vanilla we sink into deserts that leave a lasting flavour on our tongues.

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Sunday morning we take our breakfast once again in the hotel lounge where they are excited to see Isla. We linger over bowls of fresh fruit, buttery croissants, and tangy orange juice. With our stomachs full we explore the castle above the city, spending as much time as possible before the rain sets in and our train whistle blows to take us home. She sleeps almost the whole train ride home while him and I sit in our seats next to one another we hold the other’s hand filled with love – for each other, for her, for travel, and for this experience of living abroad.

The evening we return from Lisbon we feel a jolt of energy run through our system as we realize it is our last week in Porto and our last week in Europe. We place her in her pram late at night and wander until we find a restaurant that is open and find a french influence tapas restaurant that delights us completely. We savour each bite and sip a smooth yet bold Portuguese red wine. While she sleeps next to us we talk of traditional elegance and how we want that to look like for us. We also talk of a chateau in the mountains where we celebrate future Christmases together, starting our own traditions and way of doing life.

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Lesley Stefanski, Lifestyle Design
Our second to last week in Porto is filled with all the familiar rituals of daily life. Of waking in white sheets and bringing her into our bed so she can crawl and explore to her heart’s content while we wipe the sleep from our eyes. Of laundry tumbling then being hung to dry, playtimes on the hardwood floor where she learns to crawl up and down the couch with such ease and speed that soon the bed is no challenge for her. Of bottle washing, feedings, and bedtime snuggles. All within its own space in time.

Porto is filled with hills so we get our daily exercise pushing her pram up and down the steep hills to our many destinations. Everywhere we turn we met with beautifully restored buildings with gorgeous tile work and intricate ceiling details and also with completely run down and ruined buildings that it is impossible for anyone to live there.

We take a walk to a near by manicured garden and lay my scarf from Tanzania on the damp grass to let her crawl around and explore her surroundings. The view of the city is gorgeous from the stone walls the surround the garden and the greenery is just starting to change from the lush hue of summer to the tangy hues of autumn. She crawls over and under us and we leave her be, happy to watch her from our spot on the grass.

We find a quiet little restaurant that serves that most delicious burgers that we frequent often and becomes our go-to lunch spot.

Lesley Stefanski, Lifestyle Design, PortoThunderstorms rage on in Porto-02Thunderstorms rage on in Porto-04Thunderstorms rage on in Porto-06Thunderstorms rage on in Porto-07Thunderstorms rage on in Porto-08Thunderstorms rage on in Porto-09Thunderstorms rage on in Porto-11Thunderstorms rage on in Porto-12Every Wednesday our housemaid comes and we find it so luxurious. We leave to enjoy our morning latte and a morning walk and upon our return home our home is cleaned top to bottom, fresh white towels are folded and ready for use, and new linens have been fluffed and our bed remade. Our kitchen is spotless with all the dishes put away and there is a lingering lemon scent throughout the whole home.

On a walk with just Isla and I try on gorgeous lingerie and come home with a black silky piece with gold and black lace around the edges. Later I soak in a warm bath then slip into my feminine and sexy lingerie. He cannot keep his hands off me and I feel unbelievably desired, wanted and sexy.

On a particular Thursday I have an intensive coaching call and it feels so good, so natural to be offering guidance and encouragement. I feel so at ease and energetic while I sit with a latte, my hair curled, and my phone in my hand. We have a follow up the next day and we’re both filled with inspiration and ideas and I walk away with a new way to describe my services. Guidance by Lesley.

The thundershowers and storms continue to rage on and I find so much comfort in them. I draw many baths and soak while reading classic novels. During the day the laundry tumbles and then I set out her tiny white sleepers, little ballet pink socks, and her grey and white onesies. There is something so soft, warming, comforting to see her clothes laying out to dry next to our classically coloured adult clothing.

While ending a luncheon where Isla slept the whole way through he goes to the front of restaurant to pay, and when I look up to see his figure in the distance my breath catches and my heart skips faster. I relish these moments, where I realize that the man who I am so attracted to is my husband with his clean shaven face and stylish hair, the fitted jeans with a knit grey sweater, the dress shoes all paired together with a very stylish navy wool coat with the propped collar.

There are many restful mornings in white sheets followed by buttered toast and cuddles on the couch with Isla. And there are many relaxing evenings after she has gone to bed where him and I sip from wine glasses just enjoying each other’s presence without needing to say a word at all.

Inspiring-Women - Heather-Thorkelson

Heather is one of those women who I truly find inspiring from her location independent business to the life that she lives as a result of it. She is currently on an exhibition to Antarctica! I hope you find something inspiring to take away from her interview.

Name, occupation, blog/website:

Heather Thorkelson, Location Independent Small Business Strategist at www.heatherthorkelson.com

Please tell us a little about you:

I spend my days working with people who want to create unconventional livelihoods, putting the pieces together for a sustainable and profitable online-based business. Between November and March I also spend some time working as an expedition guide on a ship in Antarctica; just to mix things up so I don’t get stale in my business and also because hey – how cool to get paid to go see penguins and whales in Antarctica! I’ve lived long-term in 6 countries outside of my home, Canada, and traveled to 43 more of them. My unofficial title is Architect of Freedom because I love to help people create frameworks within which they can find their own freedom and not give up financial security.

Three of your favorite things to get you through the day (apps/drink/workout):

Napping, laughing, and Google Calendar. Maybe not as sexy as green juice and some fancy iPhone app, but it’s the truth! At this stage in my business, I’m really committed to enjoyment and that means a good laugh and letting my brain rest when it needs/wants to. Google Calendar is crucial to keep me on top of my client appointments because I’d forget every single one otherwise.

Who are you inspired by, and why?

Bjork – Partially because she’s Icelandic (I’m half Icelandic) and she was able to break onto the international scene, making the rest of the little volcanic island proud. But mostly because she’s a creative genius who creates for creation’s sake. Because she works without the limitations of trying to create something for the popular masses, she’s able to do things (both musical and educational) that other people don’t even dream of.

Ze Frank – Also a creative genius who manages to weave a stellar sense of humour into almost everything he does. He’s an adult who hasn’t lost the uncorrupted wonder and humility of a child. I love pretty much everything Ze produces.

James Altucher – Honest and vulnerable, James is a freaking phenomenal storyteller and teacher. His consistent and hard-earned message of not wasting your life living by default is so needed and so well delivered on his blog and in his FB posts. I think everyone who wants to live a better life should be reading his stuff regularly.

To get where you are today, how did you ‘feel the fear and move through it’ anyway? Where there any moments you thought you’d just simply, quit?

Funny that you ask that because for about a decade before I became an entrepreneur, my personal email account had the tagline at the bottom of every email, “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Of course in the first two years of my business, I felt like quitting many times. But I never once truly thought that I would. Even when I was sobbing on the bathroom floor and super stressed about money, the thing that always got me through was the knowledge that there was no Plan B nor did I want there to be. The fact is, I never ever want to work for someone else again (except for when I contract in Antarctica but that’s quite a different thing). And I was willing to tolerate as much mental badminton with myself as it took to move through my own resistance and make my livelihood a reality. I knew what I was capable of and I knew that any negative thoughts or bad days were transient. So I breathed through it and kept on going.

We always want to know how others balance it all, and I’m sure you feel like you don’t, but tell us some ways on how you stay on top of your game. What gets left behind, what gets top priority, and what helps you stay grounded?

I stay on top of my game by only focusing on the things that are truly the most important. I prioritize the must-do’s, delegate the should-do’s to my virtual assistant, and let everything else slide. If I get to them, that’s great. But if I don’t because I’m driving along a fjord in Iceland (as I am right now as I write this) then who cares!? So much gets left behind and it doesn’t really matter as long as my business feels in good shape, my clients are taken care of, and I’m excited about projects I’m working on. I like spending the rest of my time enjoying the scenery rather than thinking about my to-do list.

What are your must-have tools to keep on top of every day tasks as well as your busy life?

Evernote
Basecamp
Things
Gmail and associated apps like Boomerang and the EmailGame
Google Calendar
Magic Jack (for permanent Toronto phone number no matter where I am in the world)

Living intentionally takes action and dedication, is there a specific moment in your life where you made the decision to live intentionally? Or has it always been the way you’ve lived life?

I had a pretty crap upbringing. Our home was not a nice place to be, and after my parents split when I was ten years old, I pretty much had to raise myself. I remember hiding in my closet at night when I was about 11 or 12 years old writing in my journal at a particularly low point. I wrote a letter of encouragement to myself saying that it was imperative that I keep on going and become the woman and leader I was meant to be. I wrote that the only reason life was so bad at that point was because the adults in my life were calling all the shots, but as soon as I was free (i.e.; living away from home) that I would be able to carve my own path and live a beautiful life. I left home at 17 and never looked back. And fortunately, I made younger me quite proud in the long run.

How has your life changed since you’ve been living it intentionally?

Well, I’ve never felt particularly beholden to anyone or anything. I can honestly say that I’ve felt like the master of my own destiny for most of my adult life, and that’s pretty empowering.

How have family/friends been supportive?

My family are just used to me because it’s been this way since I left home. And my friends are supportive because this is how everyone has always known me. For most of my friends, I’m That Friend – the one who’s out there making things happen and having adventures. They don’t know me any other way and thankfully, love me for who I am even though I forget birthdays and don’t come to visit often enough.

Do you have any rituals or friends you call upon when you need extra support or encouragement?

I have a couple of friends I like to jump on Skype with to give me perspective or a laugh if I’m struggling with something. That always does the trick. That, or a good nap. The key is to never take yourself or your work too seriously.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who wants to live intentionally but doesn’t know where to start?

Look at where you’ve become complacent. Where have you settled for ‘good enough’? Those are always the areas in which you aren’t being true to yourself and it’s really tough to live intentionally when parts of you have resigned themselves to playing small. Start there and break those habits/alter those relationships to be more aligned with what you want your life to be.

Where do you look to draw from when you want inspiration, visual or narrative, for the life you intend to live?

I try to always surround myself with only the best people – people who are examples of living well, living with generosity and compassion for themselves and others.

I’m always inspired to hear what other people’s dreams are, what dream of yours are you currently working towards that you envision happening in the next year?

In terms of life in general, I feel very much like I’m living the best life I have in me. I really love how I spend my days and months, and the people I spend them with. In terms of business, I’m about to launch a program called the LEAP Guide for people in jobs who want to make the leap into working freelance with their skill set. I’ve never been this excited about anything in my business because of the sheer potential for it to change people’s lives. I’m launching it with a partner and we’re going to build it out over 2015 to become the go-to resource for wanna-be freelancers. Stay tuned!

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Live your desired life thumbnailDownload the Live Your Desired Life workbook and learn the 4 easy steps on how I started to live the life I always dreamed of that you can start implementing immediately.

Lesley Stefanski Coaching, Lifestyle Design,
As I sway her from left to right, left to right, left to right I feel her body slowly get heavier in my arms. We just finished one of those epic meltdowns that babies and toddlers have when they are fighting sleep and you end up wrestling them in your arms and a head smash was bound to happen.

I am tired and exhausted, and there is a to do list repeating itself in my head reminding me of the things I wanted to do an hour ago. It is hard to turn off the to do list, the things I wanted to do for myself, but I know in the end it is worth it.

In this moment, nothing is as important as swaying her left to right feeling her snuggle into my body the further she slips into sleep.

In this moment there is nothing as important as hearing her breathe deeper and her tiny little hand curled up next to my chest.

In this moment, in this season, nothing is as important as her.