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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.

Living in Porto, Lifestyle Design, Guidance by Lesley, Lesley StefanskiEndless walks around Porto-03Endless walks around Porto-04
When I think about our time in Porto, it seems almost a blur. A delightful glorious blur of moments and events that honestly have no particular meaning other than we are doing exactly what we set out to do. We are living our lives, as we would live it in Vancouver, but in a new city.

Over coffee and pastries we talk of how if someone were to ask “what did you see? what is a ‘must do’ in Porto” we almost wouldn’t know what to say to them. Mostly because we are living, and enjoying, and just being in the most natural way that we know how. Of course we have seen sights and tourist attractions, but we don’t view them as attractions mostly because we just fall upon them during our daily walk, hardly ever having a destination in mind except to wander. It is exactly how we want it, and it is beautiful.

Endless walks around the city, sometimes being caught in thundershowers that we run for cover laughing the whole way. But we always find a new cafe or shop to enjoy and explore. We walk side by side, his hand in mine or my arm in his enjoying each other’s company, the thoughts we share, or the moments of silence and just being together.

A delightful glorious blur of moments.

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.

Intentional living, lifestyle design, guidance by Lesley, Lesley Stefanski
We wandered the streets of Porto with no destination in mind but enjoying each other’s company while she slept peacefully in the pram. We talked of dreams, of the life we have lived and the life we are living. We also discussed our list of “should do/should be/should have”.

We all have them.

I believe there comes a point in everyone’s life where we have to stop and ask ourselves, is it really important. Is our list of ‘should do/should be/should have’ really as important as we say it is or should we just stop and let ourselves be?

Mister and I decided that we didn’t want to let ourselves be, but we also wanted to pay attention to what we were putting on our mental list of ‘should’. It is very easy to say the things we should be doing in life in passing, but I desire to be intentional in my life instead of just saying something and never following through on it.

So while we passed beautiful mosaic tiled buildings I asked both of us “do we want to be saying ‘I should be working out every day’ a year from now? How about when we’re 40?! Do we still want to be saying we should be doing something but never actually following through and the result of that (gaining weight and our muscles not being put to good use) becoming a detriment to our health?”. We both agreed that we didn’t want that result.

We wanted to implement our list of should to continue living intentionally, and also creating a lifestyle that had a positive impact.

Before the thundershowers came we slipped into a beautiful café and there over glasses of Port wine and a delicious lunch we made a list. And committed that if we don’t implement the things on our list, then they truly aren’t important enough for us and we will take them off.

None of this “I should…” we are doing instead.

I thought I would share my list with you, to keep myself accountable and to also let you know how it goes. We gave ourselves 6 months to make a go at it.

  • workout twice a week
  • date night every 2 weeks
  • create a meal schedule once a week with grocery list and links to dishes
  • one Vancouver culinary experience a month with Isla

You are welcome to join us in assessing your “I should…” list and seeing what is truly important to you and what you intentionally start designing into your lifestyle.

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.

Inspiring-Women Shanna-Skidmore

S hanna is an inspiring and wonderful business consultant whom I found through Instagram. She is currently sold out until 2015 but she is hosting a retreat early in the new year which might be what you are looking for!

Name: Shanna Skidmore
Occupation: Business development coach + consultant

Please tell us a little about you:

I am big believer in living an intentional life with your time, money, and gifts. I’ve spent the last four years taking one step at a time to discover who I am at the core and what I am called to do. I now encourage and equip others to do the same. I am married to my best friend in the entire world. He keeps me sane, encouraged and challenged to continue chasing after my dreams. We have a sweet Siberian husky who sleeps away most of the day. I love coffee, music and good friends. My heart is happiest outside, on the water, adventuring. Nature inspires me. I absolutely LOVE meeting new people, hearing stories, and building others up. I’d love nothing more than to spend my days loving on others and helping them see the beauty of who they are. I am thankful.

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

Sweat. Seriously. The days I am the most productive, happiest and have the biggest ideas come after a great workout.

I get out of bed in the morning for breakfast. I know people wonder how I eat so much.

My sweet, sweet husband. He really makes me smile.


Who are you inspired by, and why?

My husband, Kyle. He is ambitious but patient. He is passionate but not fearful. He is not easily frazzled. He compliments me in the best ways possible.

Nick Woodman – The founder of GoPro. His story inspires me to dream bigger and to TRUST that small ideas founded on passion can impact the world.

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?

I think most people quit at least once… a day? A week? Being a business owner is hard. It’s not only hard, it’s vulnerable. You put yourself out there to the world and it’s easy to find your worth in the response. Daily I give my fears back to the Lord. I know that ultimately “success” is found in Him. I take one day at a time and focus on every win – A new client inquiry, a new follower, every “like”. The trick for me is to not focus on how far I have to go but where I am right now.. and all the good today has to offer!

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 start every day with some quiet time; reading, writing in my journal and asking the Lord to prepare my heart for the day. This is my time to refocus my mind on what really matters and not get caught up in all the minutia. I then look over my to-do list for the day and start working on top priorities. I DO NOT check my email first thing. I want to dictate my schedule and not let emails throw me off or rearrange my calendar.

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

Every Sunday I make a “brain dump” list of ALL the things that are swirling around on my mind – both personal and business. Then I circle the things that are priorities. Those items get moved to my weekly to-do list. For me 3-5 things a day is MAX! Some days may only have one “to-do” based on how large of a project and my meeting schedule. A long to-do list is deflating. Breaking things down to a manageable workload allows me to be most productive and feel accomplished.

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?

When I worked in finance after college we used to always say “live life by design and not by default”. I took this idea beyond the world of financial planning and investing and straight to the heart. In all things, I want to be designing the life I want to live. Without intentionally choosing the direction we are going, we will go somewhere we may not want to end up. This is true with our health, relationships, spiritual and professional lives.


How has your life changed since you’ve been living it intentionally? Have your family/friends been supportive?

A few years ago I had a “good job”, acceptable for my education level and smart for our financial situation – but I came home everyday crying. My husband encouraged me to leave the safe in pursuit of the unknown. It was crazy – to everyone, but especially to me. I am a planner. Walking away, jumping off the ledge, and following the unknown changed my life. There are still days I cry; I still get overwhelmed and feel discouraged – but I know that even if I fail that I will go down with passion. And for me, passion trumps safety every time.

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

I go for a run, I spend time reading and being in the Word. I unplug from all work, social media and email access. My most discouraging times come from comparison and fear. Clearing my head in order to hear truth is the only way I don’t give up.

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

First you have to know what you want, where you want to go, and what living intentionally means to you. Financial? Physical? Business? Home? What are your priorities? Once you know your priorities you have to choose actions that align with those priorities.

The key to intentional living is in your actions. But first you have to know what those priorities are and what actions will help you reach those goals.

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

Reading is my favorite source of inspiration. I read a lot of books about life, business, and pursuing dreams. I’ve always had a fascination with others’ stories so I like to hear how others have gotten to where they are. I always have a notebook handy and jot down ideas that come to mind.

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?

Kyle and I want to be debt free. That is our dream for 2015.


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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.

Week in Porto, Lifestyle design, Lesley StefanskiInspiring week in Porto-02Inspiring week in Porto-03Inspiring week in Porto-05Inspiring week in Porto-06

We find ourselves in an organic cafe for an early dinner and there the owners offer to take Isla from our hands to allow us to enjoy our meal. We happily accept and we savour each bite while they give her a tour of the space. Again, at another establishment with a beautiful garden terrace, that we enjoy during an afternoon of unexpected sunshine, Isla delights the owners and they too soon ask to take her and parade her around while we enjoy our meals. It is one of the most delicious meals we have had in weeks and promise to come back.

I walk around the city centre in the rain pushing her in the pram to help her to fall asleep. Within minutes she is fast asleep and I make my way slowly in and out of stores. There is a mixture of luxury stores next to what would be considered dollar stores, and I enjoy the eclectic mix. Surprisingly, or not, we are most welcomed into the stores that sell the most luxury of items and almost shooed away from the economical ones. And I find a comfort in that…that as I walk around with a soaking wet buggy I can peruse the likes of Prada, Jimmy Choo, and Ralph Lauren in ease without feeling the need to rush off with my babe in tow.

He works, endlessly and diligently to wrap up the final stages of his project – typically working from the moment he wakes till the wee hours of the morning with breaks in between to spend time with us. I wake with her and cuddle in the darkness so not to disturb him. The two of us spend time alone in silence with the exception of the love we express to one another – her with her little giggles and exclamations of glee and me with my endless hugs and kisses while whispering I love you. In these moments, when the world is just beginning its day, her and I spend time alone and it is one of the most precious of moments.

At the end of the week I draw myself a hot steaming bath, one that burns to the touch, and sink in. My body fully relaxes and my I allow my mind to wander. For two hours I drift in the waters and end up writing pages and pages of thoughts that have been turning in my mind for ages. When I finally leave my place of rest I feel completely restored and inspired by everything I have released onto my journal and the insights it brought me.

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.

Living in Porto, Lifestyle design, Lesley StefanskiThunderstorms in Porto-02Thunderstorms in Porto-05Thunderstorms in Porto-07
The thundershowers stayed for what felt like ages, but it was exactly what our little family needed. We bundled closely together, lingering for hours in soft white sheets, pausing every couple of hours for family naps, and then walks out in the rain at least once a day. We slow everything down. Our breakfast routine is no longer cereal in a bowl but toasted bread, sautéed spinach, boiled egg, and of course more tea. She sits in her white highchair enjoying breakfast right along with us…talking in the way that she does and exclaiming in glee whenever she eats something she enjoys. I find that there is so much enjoyment in preparing delicious meals in the kitchen and then having my family together to enjoy them. It is unbelievably rewarding and satisfying.

We explore the city and every day we come home with a list of places we want to see again or shops I want to delve into even further. On one excursion with just myself and Isla I stop into an antique store and find myself bringing a beautiful silk scarf to the counter to bring home. I am invited to a gathering later that week, Isla included and I find we are in the most friendly city ever. We find a café that serves beautiful lattes in white cups while we are seated in plush blue chairs and the concrete walls are covered in artwork.

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Our flat is situated perfectly within the city, anything and everything is at our fingertips. When the rains cease for awhile I throw the windows open and breathe in the fresh air and find so much delight in the view. A manicured garden, cobblestone streets, ancient buildings, a gazebo where lovers stop to kiss or bands play sweet melodies. In this moment I know it is important for us to have a view and the ability to open our windows, wherever we live.

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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.