The Intentional Life

Secrets to improving your life, achieving your dreams and making your difference in the world from Intentional Living Academy creator Sean Rosensteel

I'll Never Do THAT Again

Jan 15, 2018

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I recently took my four-year-old son to an ice rink for a skating lesson. He and I had done a few group lessons last season, so I figured this time would be just like the others.

However, when we showed up, it turned out that because of his age the lesson would be with the instructor - alone. I couldn’t come out on the ice with him like I had before.

I wasn’t happy about this, because I love to skate - but my son was even more disappointed.

In fact, he didn’t want to go out on the ice at all. After desperately trying to lace up his skates and endure all the kicking and complaining, we finally managed to walk up to the door of the rink.

I noticed a group of toddlers skating with an instructor in the far corner. I began to wonder how my son, who has never skated by himself, would get all the way over there on his own.

Luckily, a nice gal who worked at the rink skated up to us and asked if she could...

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The Best (and Worst) Days of 2017

Jan 08, 2018

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A few years ago a friend of mine, Laurel Donnellan from Bright Livelihoods, sent out a letter at the end of the year to all of her friends, family and clients. It included reflections on her best day, as well as her worst day, of that year.

I thought this exercise was so insightful that I just had to try it myself. So, for the past few years I’ve been reflecting on the best and worst days of my year, and sending that letter to my immediate family, as well as my in-laws.

This year, I decided to post my reflections here.

You see, it’s my hope that you will find some value from my experiences and perspective; and should time allow, perhaps you, too, would benefit from trying this exercise as well.

My worst day was back in March while my family was visiting Dallas. Shortly after we arrived, I noticed a few large lumps in our yellow lab, Addie’s, neck. My wife knowingly took her to the vet right away...

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How Moving to a Farm Taught Me to Never Fear Change

Jan 01, 2018

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Have you ever had to go through a serious change, either in your personal life or in your career, that absolutely scared the living daylights out of you? Or perhaps you’re approaching a change right now, and you’re just not sure how to process it?

When I was just five years old, my family moved for the first time. I remember feeling sad, because I loved the home where I was born, but also a little scared, not knowing what to expect from the new home we were about to move into.

A few weeks before moving day, my Dad invited me to join him on what he called a “site visit.” I was super excited, until I found out that we were moving to a farm out in the middle of the country, miles from downtown.

When we arrived, we got out of the car and walked up to this barbed wire fence. I had never seen a fence like this before, and my Dad taught me how to cross through it to the other side. He then pointed...

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Remember to Breathe (A Reminder From My Two-Year-Old Daughter)

Dec 26, 2017

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Last weekend, my two-year-old daughter was crying uncontrollably in the kitchen while my wife was making dinner. I entered the room and picked her up (my daughter, not my wife), and tried awkwardly to do whatever I could to console her.

I brought her into our living room, and she began to scream words I couldn’t understand.

Since my wife has always been the translator for these types of things, she eventually peeked her head into the living room and told me what my daughter was saying:

“I want to calm down!”

I couldn’t believe it. I was surprised to learn that my daughter had an awareness for how she was feeling, and that she was really telling me she wanted to calm down. Clearly my previous attempts to console her weren’t working, so with this new information I simply repeated back to her what she had been screaming at me all along.

“Do you want to calm down, hunny?,” I...

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When Explaining "Why" Just Isn't Enough (Hint: Role Model the Way)

Dec 18, 2017

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In my household, dinnertime is always interesting. Some nights my children (and I) behave well, other nights not so much. Recently, in an effort to enjoy mealtime together as a family,  my wife and I made a decision to loosen the rules a bit.

So far, dinnertime has been a lot less stressful.

However, we continued to struggle with our four-year-old son. You see, we only have one dining table in our home, and it happens to be one of those nice hand-me-downs that we’d prefer to keep in good condition.

The chairs to this dining table have a nice fabric, with a kind of pattern that’s a few decades old. In other words, irreplaceable. With one of the world’s messiest toddlers for an eater, sitting on a towel is a must.

The problem?

He absolutely hates sitting on the towel.

For months my son asked me why he had to sit on the towel. Now, I know that this question bugs a lot of parents, but I happen to...

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The Power of Photographs in Your Physical Environment

Dec 11, 2017

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My wife and I moved into our home about three years ago, and I’m embarrassed to admit that up until recently, we were still struggling to fill the walls with framed artwork.

You see, we have all this blank space, filled with neutral paint colors. And after numerous trips to Target, Ikea and HomeGoods, we just couldn’t seem to figure out what we liked.

One evening, when my son was just three years old, he provided us with all the answers we were searching for.

While helping him in to his pajamas, he randomly mentioned that the pictures in his room helped him calm down whenever he became angry. He pointed to the wall opposite his bed where three pictures of a trip we took to Florida the year before were framed. 

On the left was a picture of my son with his mother; on the right was a picture of my son with me; and in the middle was a picture of my son, alone, playing on the beach.

I mentioned to him that my...

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The Profound Impact of a Smile

Dec 04, 2017

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My family and I have had the good fortune of visiting Dallas for the past few weeks. In fact, my mother-in-law was gracious enough to open her home to us, and we just couldn’t resist her invitation.

I don’t think she realized what she was getting into, because it has been like a whole-home takeover since the day we arrived.

During our first week here, my wife mentioned a father/son/daughter fishing tournament in the area, and I thought it sounded like a fun idea. After all, back home in Chicago it’s about thirty degrees, so fishing in November sounded like an experience I just couldn’t pass up.

So on a sunny Saturday morning, my four-year-old son and I arrive at this fishing tournament. We didn’t have any equipment, but luckily the people sponsoring the event were gracious enough to lend us a fishing pole and some bait. As we selected our spot on the pond, I began to realize that most of the kids...

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People Are More Important Than Things...But Do Your Children Know That?

Nov 27, 2017

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A few weeks ago, my four-year-old son was playing with one of my favorite tools, the telescopic magnet. (For those of you who aren’t familiar with this tool, just picture one of those old TV or handheld radio antennas that extend out - but with a magnet on the end.)

To get a sense of the significance of this tool, I’ll have to disclose the fact that I’m a total pinball geek. I enjoy restoring these old, dilapidated machines just as much as I enjoy playing them. And as you can probably imagine, there are a lot of small, mechanical parts and hundreds of tiny screws underneath what’s called the “playfield”, the surface where the ball glides.

Restoring a pinball machine might seem difficult, but without one of these telescopic magnets, it’s darn near impossible.

So while my knee-jerk reaction was to grab it out of my son’s hands and tell him he couldn’t play with it, I decided...

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7 Big Takeaways from The Awakened Family by Shefali Tsabary, Ph.D.

Nov 20, 2017

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I recently watched a TEDx talk on the topic of conscious parenting by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. Her presentation moved me so much that as I continued investigating her work, I eventually found that not only has she has been involved with world leaders like Oprah and the Dali Llama, but she recently published a book called The Awakened Family: How to Raise Empowered, Resilient, and Conscious Children

This book really resonated with me because it puts the spotlight where I believe it belongs: on the parents.

Growing up, my father would always say to me ‘Sean, no one is responsible for you but you.’ I’ve taken this advice to heart, and it has helped me to do a better job at parenting myself, as well as my own two children.

Similar themes are evident throughout this book, and what I’d like to do today is explain what I believe is the main theme, as well as some of my favorite takeaways.

Main Theme


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Listening to What Your Body is Telling You

Nov 09, 2017

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One aspect of life I’ve always found fascinating (probably because I’ve struggled with it so much) is self-control. And more specifically, the ability to listen to what your body is telling you.

When I was in high school, for example, it was challenging for me to limit my time in front of the television. In college, it was limiting the amount of alcoholic drinks I would consume on a given evening. And now that I’m a bit older, limiting my dessert intake has become my achilles heel.

Recently I was out to dinner with my family at a local restaurant called Portillo's. It’s one of our favorites. Besides having great burgers, beef and salads, they have what I would argue is the best chocolate cake in the Midwest.

Now, the rule in my family is that we all eat our dinner first before moving on to dessert. I was impressed with how much our children ate that night, and I noticed after finishing his hot dog, my...

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