Category: Life Design

Free Printable Gratitude Journal: Happy Thanksgiving

The Abundance Project - Free Printable Gratitude Journal - Happy Thanksgiving!

If there’s any foreign holiday I would like to kidnap and adopt as my own, it would be the American Thanksgiving holiday. I’m not one to be a history buff, so don’t ask me about that, but all I do know is that gratitude abounds online during this time of year and I think it’s a fabulous idea to set aside a WHOLE day of the year for the purpose of giving thanks. This is certainly a tradition that needs importing to Australia, which is rather condescendingly known as the Lucky Country, but where the majority of folks actually cultivate a culture of complaining. Yup – on the whole, Aussies can be bloody whingers, despite having one of the strongest economies in the Western world, beautiful beaches, sunny weather, a safe and comfortable political climate, and opportunities wherever you turn. After living in Indonesia and seeing how people can be happy living with less than one tenth of what most Australian’s have, it puts life into perspective and makes the whinging and whining rather tiresome.

Anyway, I’ve had this idea brewing since last Thanksgiving. I wanted to make y’all something special. Something that’s needed right now. And… (insert drumroll)… I’m finally so excited to present The Abundance Project, a free printable gratitude journal ebook – it’s a Thanksgiving gift from me to you. Complete with 65 pages full of the best collection of gratitude quotes, inspiration for creating abundance, and lots of space to write – its the only gratitude journal you need to get started with giving thanks! Simply click on the picture above to download the printable PDF file – or you can download it here:

The Abundance Project free printable ebook gratitude journal workbook via A Designer Life

So, to all my American friends – Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a present I made just for you!

To everyone else in the world – Happy day! Have a free gift anyway, just because!

Jess - A Designer Life

Get Shit Done. The best and only goal planner you need in 2015

Get Shit Done - the only planner you'll need in 2015

This, my friends, is what I have been waiting for.

The best and only planner you’ll need in 2015. Get Shit Done!*

Fill it with your hopes, goals and dreams. And achieve them this year.

*No, it’s not actually called that, but yes, this is what you’ll do with it. Promise.

Links are affiliate because I love this planner so much I just can’t stand it! I have pre-ordered mine – the hard copy version and it ships on Dec 1, 2014. I used the ebook version last year and this year decided to upgrade, it’s that good! Getting a head start – YAY!

Jess - A Designer Life

Girl, interrupted* : Learn to say NO so you can say YES to the things that matter

Learn to say NO to the non essential so you can say YES to the things that matter | inspirational quote

*Absolutely nothing to do with the movie and book of the same name.

Does anyone else feel constantly interrupted?

My name should not be Jessica Lea Dunn… because at the moment it feels like I can never get anything… Dunn, I mean, done! My name should be Jessica Lea Doing… because I’m always trying to push through some project or another but have so much trouble finishing. And all I want to do is tick things off my list! My dilemma is as follows: I have no problem starting a project (the amount of fantastic new ideas that flood me daily is phenomenal which is both incredibly inspiring and somewhat overwhelming). I have no problem inventing new things, getting fired up for the start up. But then – another interruption. Life. An appointment. Mama duties (this is a big one, and while I love being a mama, there is simply no “off” button). Housework to do. The constant gear-switching, on/off… losing my place, finding it again… losing my muse, and then having it flood back at the most inconvenient of moments, such as when I’m playing with Alira, supposed to be cooking dinner, or trying to get ready for bed. I’ll start juggling the ball and bouncing another… but then I eventually end up dropping both.

But still – I try to squeeze as much out of every day as possible… just half an hour more, an hour more, three, four, five hours later I’m stumbling into bed in the wee hours – and I’m STILL NOT FINISHED. Does anyone else feel like this?

Admittedly, I’ve a lot on my plate this past and coming month, but the irony is that it is entirely self-inflicted. I’m learning to drive with my test on 28th Nov – eek! I’m trying to build this blog into a little virtual home for myself and find my online tribe. I’m doing more cooking as Chief Nutritional Officer in my house (those who know me, know that this doesn’t come as naturally to me as some of my other talents). I had to process my tax return before 31st Oct so I’m still recovering from the backlog of putting everything else on hold for that. And, of course I’m still trying to do everything that I was before (getting out to see friends, play time in the park with Alira, managing my modest portfolio of shares, making sure the bills are paid on time, hanging out with my Pinterest community, keeping the house, um, sort of in order – if a tornado path could be considered orderly – ha!) I could say no to some of this, but the truth is that everything is important in different ways, some of it urgent, some of it essential, some of it necessary down-time, some of it an attempt to plant seeds for the future.

I’ve come to the realization that the only secret to doing it all is – NOT, at least not all at the same time. The activities will ebb and flow, as our focus shifts from one thing to another. We humans KNOW in our bones that we can’t do it all… and yet we still keep trying. Stop. Just stop. Breathe. Learn to say NO to anything that is not essential… so you can say YES to the things that matter.

Much, much, easier said then done.

Especially when there is money to earn, bills to pay, laundry to do, mouths to feed, souls to nurture, creativity to express, and worlds to conquer.

Women (and men) who seem to do it all – please tell me all your secrets!

Jess - Find me on Pinterest

How to have the best Mother’s Day EVER

How to have the BEST Mother's Day EVER | via A Designer Life

It’s been a year and a little bit since I became a mother, and oh what a journey it has been. On this beautiful Sunday, it is time to reflect upon the amazing sacrifices our own mothers made for us, so that we may not only survive in this world, but to grow and thrive. It’s only since I have birthed my first child, that I truly feel as if I understand the significance of this day, and the importance of recognizing the incredible (and often invisible) work that mother’s across the globe do.

On that note – I’d like to say, to all the amazing mothers, everywhere, that:



“You are doing the very best you can with the resources that you have. I know you are.”

These are words that I really need to hear myself. Not just today, but every single day.

So, beautiful mama, how can you have the best Mother’s Day EVER? What should you do?

The secret is…

You don’t have to DO anything. You just have to BE.

By JUST BEING YOU, whoever you are, wherever you are in the world.

When you just BE, let it go and let it BE, the truly wonderful mama that you are will have a chance to shine through. No matter how many times you woke up last night, how many crumbs are on the bench, how many dishes in the sink, how many dirty clothes in the laundry, and how many toys on the floor.

Just breathe, breathe in deeply, let it out, and know that what you are doing matters. It is the most important job in the world. A gift to humanity.

So this Mother’s Day – it’s important to indulge in a little self care:

  • Don’t do any housework – it will wait until tomorrow
  • Don’t cook dinner – order takeaway or get someone else to cook
  • Take time to reflect – on who you are, your journey, your story, how incredibly significant you are – even if it’s just ten minutes of quiet time
  • Pour yourself a cup of tea and sit in the sunshine

And – just in case anyone wants to know what the perfect Mother’s Day gift list looks like for the BEST Mother’s Day EVER? Well…

An uninterrupted night’s sleep, a leisurely long sleep in, breakfast in bed, a back massage, a few fresh blooms and a piping hot cup of tea would be very much appreciated on this Mother’s Day. None of has to cost any money – but I know that these things would make my Mother’s Day the best one ever. Spouses take note!

So, on this beautiful Sunday in May, I wish all mamas a very HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

x Jess

15 things to do while commuting on public transport

Bored on your commute? Here are 15 things to do while commuting on public transport that will make your journey go quick!

Bored on your commute? Here’s a great list of things to do while commuting on public transport. I’ve been catching buses and trains as a commuter for as long as I’ve been working, and while I know it can be a luxury to have your own transportation, and of course the trip sometimes takes longer when you travel on public transport, the fact is that it’s easy to get a LOT done when you are not having to worry about driving and traffic conditions. It’s a far less stressful way to travel, and not to mention that it is SO much cheaper to live without a car.

So what can you do with all this “free” time – so that you feel more productive and that the time is not wasted? I have divided my list into two sections, depending on whether you are “technology equipped” ie. have a smart phone or tablet with a fast connection, or whether you prefer to enjoy the rare time to be disconnected from the internet for a little while.


1. Practice meditating, letting go of thought and judgement and being still. Enjoy the journey and breathe. You’ll feel great upon arrival at your destination.

2. Eat a nutritious breakfast/snack/meal that you prepared for the journey. For those who are too busy to eat a good meal during the day, the time on the train can be used to make sure you eat the recommended 5 serves of vegetables/salad per day or 3 serves of fruit. Nuts are also a great portable snack.

3. Read an industry trade journal, and impress your colleagues with news of the latest trends & technologies during the day.

4. Read a good old-fashioned book – fiction or non-fiction – make a dent in that long reading list! One of my favourite things to read is a quarterly “mook” (halfway between a magazine and a book) called Dumbo Feather, full of interviews with inspiring people doing unique and fascinating things with their lives.

5. Plan your day/evening/week. Choose the 3 most important things that you wish to achieve in the day, and commit to it!

6. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. The evening journey is best for this – unless your friend/relative is an early bird, too!

7. Practice sketching. All it takes is a sketchbook and a pen which is not too much extra to carry – contrary to popular belief, sketching while in motion is a fast-track training ground to develop your skills and achieve a super-steady hand! Even if you think you can’t draw, with daily practice you will very soon find that you can.

8. Have a nap! I have difficulty with this one but envy those who do, as getting enough sleep is one of the major challenges in our modern society and if can get as much as possible, your body and mind will thank you for it in the long-term.

9. Make a list of things you are grateful for. This list could be about something or someone specific eg. “Mondays”, “my job”, “my partner” or it could be about life in general. Give thanks for everything on your list at least ten times.

10. Enjoy the view! Try to notice something new.


1. Write a blog post. Believe it or not, I wrote this one in the space of two trips! (With a quick tidy up of the formatting at home before posting).

2. Make online purchases. Are there items on your wishlist that you never get around to ordering, or do you want to avoid the crowds at the mall? Order online during your transit time – and await delivery at your leisure.

3. Do your banking. Pay your bills, pay your rent, but most importantly, pay “yourself” – and watch that savings account grow!

4. Catch up on your RSS feeds. Have them categorised into theme and topic area so you can always read your favourites first.

5. Spend some of the limited time in travel to nurture your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn networks, so you don’t have to disrupt your active life with it later, prioritising enjoying real-life interactions and relationships in the moment.

x Jess