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end of the week exfoliation

January 30th, 2010   |   Life

Ah! I need to get a move on if I want to make it to my favorite class in the world (Power Flex, at Bally’s). I gotta get out of here, but check out the awesome exfoliations for this week. If you look carefully, one of the exfoliations is becoming famous in an upcoming movie!

Please note: exfoliations without images are welcome, but will not qualify as a chance to win the giveaway giveaway prize ($40 Jess LC gift certificate).

End of the Week Exfoliation

“This is bag #2 of my “surely I don’t need to take all this stuff with me when I move” cleanout. Purses, hats, lamp, etc. donated to a local thrift store.”


“I have had my laptop from college, which I haven’t touched in 5 years, sitting under the desk of my office.  I always had the intention of clearing the files and donating it.  Today I found an organization (http://interconnection.org) that accepts donated computers, removes the data and refurbishes them for people and communities all around the world!  Right now they are collecting computers for Haiti!  They also give you a shipping label, so all you have to do is pack it up!  I feel so happy to have gotten rid of it and given it to a useful cause, especially in such a difficult time for Haiti.” (no image)


“Old pair of sneakers – saving for working around the yard – I’ll never wear them – tossed.” (no image)

- Bridget

“The twin bed we had in our guest room/office. Since the new sofa is a sleeper, we decided to ditch the bed. After multiple dropped sales, we found a winner. Our bed was purchased by a production company for an independent horror film! They’re filming in an old hospital on the South Side. It’s about college students that participate in a psych study gone crazy. Search for “The Removed” on imbd.com in the future.”

- Cathy

These two shirts have hung, unworn, for the last two years. I see them and feel a twinge of guilt each time I look in my closet. So I finally tried them on, realized I don’t like the fit, and now they are getting donated. Buh-bye guilt and hello new life for the work shirts.

dream report: week one

January 30th, 2010   |   Life

Hi everybody! My name is Ashley Inzer and I have some big dreams. For as long as I can remember I have been a dreamer and not a do-er. I constantly get tons of ideas, get really excited about them and then quietly let them go without acting on them. There are a ton of things that I have allowed to hold me back…fear of failure, fear of success, insecurities, jealousy, fear of responsibility, money mindsets, debt, getting older….the list could go on forever. So here I am, at 32 years old, ready to kick some serious dream butt. When Jess asked me to be a “dream reporter” for her blog I felt some serious fear. What if I can’t do it? What if people think I am ridiculous? What if I am too lazy or unorganized or a terrible writer? But somewhere deep in my gut I know that this is exactly the thing I need to do to end the “dreaming only” cycle and start the doing process. First I want to mention that I am not “prepared” to be a dream reporter…I do not have my ducks in a row, I don’t have a specific plan, I am not a life coach or a self-improvement guru or a writer with a blog filled with amazing content that will help you on your way to your dreams. This whole thing is about the process. Its about the raw realities and authentic experiences. This is an experiment to document exactly what it looks like when a woman decides it is her birthright and responsibility to follow her dreams and live within her purpose.

To get a better understanding of where I am coming from here is a bit about me and my dreams….

I created a “personal statement” for myself a long time ago….”Creator of beautiful experiences”. Since I am a multi-talented person (I enjoy doing lots of different things), this can manifest in a variety of forms. Ultimately if someone encounters me on any level I hope that when they leave they have had a beautiful experience and are inspired to live authentically and with intention. My dream is to be an entrepreneur and to inspire people to dwell within the world of possibilities and to live creatively with intention. I feel my purpose is to inspire people to live authentically.

I have had an entrepreneur mindset since i was a kid. At 7 years old I was going door-to-door selling my own watercolor paintings (for 10 cents) and loom-weaved potholders (for 25 cents). There was never a weekend when I wasn’t selling something in my front yard or trying to explain to people why a certain office supply (that I happen to find in a drawer in my room) or a cup of my special recipe lemonade (that probably just had 2 extra cups of sugar added to it) would make their life so much better.

I have also always loved creating experiences for people. As a kid I would put on productions (fashion shows, carnivals with free prizes, cooking lessons, etc) and go around the neighborhood and pick up other kids in my wagon and bring them to the “event”. As an adult I have coordinated, produced and designed several special events as well.

I also happen to be a designer and artist. I love working in every medium possible. Painting, ceramics, sewing, embroidery, illustration, photography….I love it all. I currently make my living as an Art Director designing print materials mainly for women’s magazines like More, Redbook, Ladies Home Journal, Budget Travel, etc. Also recently I have been working with brides to create print materials and DIY decor to create a truly authentic wedding that is specific to the couple. I started a blog almost a year ago to document my crafty creations and to communicate what it looks and feels like to live an authentically creative life. Unfortunately when we moved, in September, to a new state I kind of lost my center and have been struggling personally (with being so unhappy at my job and wanting to follow my dreams so badly) that my blog has paid a price. I am ready to get back to it. I was never happier than when i was communicating and sharing my story and connecting with other like-minded peeps. I love stories. I want to tell stories because they really are what bring us all together. I love hearing other people’s stories and connecting on that level.

I am so ready to do this dream thing that I can hardly stand it. I have taken several steps to get me going in that direction (mainly personal steps like hiring a coach, a nutritionist and a boot camp physical trainer) though I am still on the edge about exactly what I want to launch. Starting Feb 1st I will be taking a business class (http://www.unconventionalguides.com/100biz.htm) with Chris Guillebeau and I will leave my 28 days with him with a business plan in place (the dream will sprout legs!).

So hopefully all of that makes some sort of sense. The most important thing for me is to be honest and authentic about where I am in this process. It is all very raw right now for me as I don’t have a definite course of action laid out….I only know what I want. I am very nervous about stepping fully into my dreams….I have major financial concerns (especially since I am the only one in my home generating income at this point – my partner is in school full time – and we have a good bit of debt) as well as issues with my confidence and trusting myself to make decisions from my heart. I believe that each person is different and each person has the ultimate power to create the life that they want to live. I don’t want to live re-actively, I want to live creatively (and I don’t mean only in the artistic sense) and with intention. I don’t want another year to go by where I am just wishing that I could be doing something else or being someone else. I want to inspire other people to live authentically as I am doing it myself. I like the idea of revealing the good and the bad…the true path to living my dreams.

As scary as it all seems, spending my life outside of my purpose for yet another year seems a lot more terrifying. When I step back and get that perspective it doesn’t seem so much scary as it seems necessary, important and responsible. (I wonder what the world would look like if every single person was dedicated to living within their true purpose?) So what do you think? Will you go on this journey with me?

I hope you have a great weekend planned! I have just a handful of days before Erwin comes back in town. Which means I’ll be catching up with plenty of friends and doing girly things. (I’ve already “scheduled” a homemade mani/pedi appointment with myself in the living room on Saturday.)

Ashley, MakeunderMyLife Dream Reporter

I also want to let you know that if you decide to do a little blog reading tomorrow you will see a new face on MML. Recently, Ashely, a makeunder reader, reached out to me and explained that she is bound and determined to follow her purpose with intention this year. After listening to her story, I thought she would be the perfect weekend reporter for MML. Sure, I think that my story has helped people and can inspire others to start taking steps to design the life they want. But since I’ve been gradually doing this over the past ten years, I often share past experiences. Whereas Ashely is experiencing those milestones right now.

My hope is that Ashley’s story and journey shared each Saturday will help those who are ready to make a change but haven’t… yet. So stay tuned to find out more about Ashely and her story.

Today’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE is brought to you by Jeanine of AphroChic. As I have mentioned (many times before), Jeanine’s business, textiles, and spirit have inspired me to take Jess LC to the next level. She is also a style and interior design blogger, check out her blog, AphroChic. And she recently did a stint as a Lucky Mag blogger(!!).

Though Jeanine has already gone above and beyond to help guide and support me with my new changes, I couldn’t help but ask her to participate in a DYL. The ability to peek inside her brain and see what principals she values is priceless. What struck me personally about her DYL is the intention to dream big dreams. I’m taking a note out of her book and doing the same myself!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Jeanine of AphroChic

Always dare to be different.

Being different is a wonderful thing.  Since I was a child, I have always been different.  I was an incredibly outspoken six year old, who loved politics, and dreamed of becoming a minister, a fashion designer and a writer (all at once).  Why not?  There were times when I didn’t always accept my difference.  Why couldn’t I be quieter?  Why did I have to be so opinionated?  But now, at 31, living out my dream as a designer, I understand that there is a power in my difference, and a strength in my voice and my vision.  It’s what sets me a part from everyone else, and what makes my work unique.  And most importantly, being different and offering a new perspective makes me happy.

Don’t be confined by one vision of who you are and what your life should be.

Life can take you on a number of twists and turns and you can’t be confined by one vision of yourself.  One day you’re a lawyer, and the next you’re making pillows.  That’s my story.  And yes, it seems strange that someone who spent so much time studying political science and law would one day go into textile design.  But, if I had only allowed myself to be and do one thing, I would not be on this amazing journey I am on now.  I’ve learned not to be confined by who I “should be”.  I am open to all of the opportunities that life has to offer.

Dream big dreams, and then make them come true.

I have learned that the bigger the dreams, the bigger the goals and the accomplishments that follow.   I have never been afraid to dream big.  At the start of every new year I sit at my desk and make a list of my goals for the next 12 months.  It’s a list of dreams and big thinking for my company and what I want to accomplish.  It’s a list I constantly revisit and tweak, and it keeps me focused on the big things I want in life.   When you are focused on what you want, when you believe you can and will fulfill your goals, you’ll be amazed about what comes true.

Don’t listen.

Truth be told, I am a terrible listener.  I have always been guided by my own thoughts and intuition.  I never do things by the book, and enjoy thinking outside of the box.  If I listened to what others said, I never would have changed my career and followed my passion.  I would not be living a life that fulfills my creative spirit.  Sometimes, it’s important to know that the most important person to listen to is yourself.

Never go it alone.

My husband is the love of my life and my partner in all things.  Everything we do, we do together, and it’s his support that helps me reach my goals.  Whether it’s a partner, a mentor or a friend, it is important to surround yourself with positive influencers, people who push you, who believe in you, and who help you be your very best self.  I could never have transitioned to this new path or reached my goals alone.  It’s the support of my partner that helps me make my dreams a reality.

Always have fun.

I have always been a Type A personality.  For years my life was on a constant path of stress, the need to control, and more stress.  But now that I’ve discovered a new life as a designer, I want to enjoy what I’m passionate about, and those Type A traits just aren’t fun.  I spend a lot of time each day working on building a business and brand, but I spend just as much time having fun and enjoying what I do.  When life stops being fun, when you can’t find the laughter, it’s time to move on to something new.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

jessica’s raid my closet

January 28th, 2010   |   LifeWardrobe

Good morning! Today’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE will be posted later today or tomorrow. It’s a good one, that’s for sure.

But until I have a chance to get that formatted, I wanted to share a little project I did with Jessica of Polished Sense. If you haven’t seen her awesome selection of shoes, hop over to her store and check it out. One of Jessica’s blog series is called “Raid My Closet” and I was her most recent muse.

Take a look at some of my favorite looks she pulled together- right out of my own closet! Combining the awesome ensembles she made with my existing pieces, she added a pair of her awesome shoes. The outcome is so fresh and original. Take a look at Part 1 and Part 2 for the complete set of looks she made for me.

Needless to say, my daily routine consists of jeans, t-shirts, and cardigans almost exclusively. But after this experience, I’m going to try to step out of the box a bit more. Thanks, Jessica!

This post is really written for me, but might be helpful for others.

Saying “no” means saying “yes.”

Sure, we’ve all heard the anti-drug tag-line, “just say no!” since elementary school. And as children we knew not to accept offers for illegal drugs. It meant bad things. But what I think they didn’t manage to teach well in grade school was that by saying no to drugs, we are saying yes to a healthy life free of drug addiction.

But somewhere between fifth-grade and adulthood I (and probably many others) have lost the perspective we had when we were little. Not about saying no to drugs, but in saying no to things that are offered to us in relationships, career, and life. We all talk about striving for “balance” (I should know – it’s one of the most popular DESIGN YOUR LIFE intentions), but are we ready to actually follow through on that goal?

I find sometimes I struggle with saying “no” to things that I don’t want to do or feel right in my gut. There are times out of (perceived) social pressure, I feel I should say yes to something simply because it is in front of me. For example,

  • I should say yes to an offer to do a social activity I don’t enjoy.
  • I should say yes to more involvement than I’m comfortable with in a philanthropic situation.
  • I should say yes to spending more money than I really want to when going out with friends.
  • I should work longer in the evenings during my off-hours, if that is what others are doing.
  • I should say yes to drinking one or two extra glasses of wine when out with friends.

What I am working to realize, on a daily basis, is that by saying no in those situations I am really saying yes to the following:

  • I am saying yes to doing fun activities that I genuinely enjoy with others.
  • I am saying yes to my gut and intuition, volunteering in an authentic way.
  • I am saying yes to my intention to save more money.
  • I am saying yes to balance and being the best person I can be.
  • I am saying yes to living a healthy life with moderation.

Though I am still working on these intentions, there have been times when I have spoken up for my inner-voice and said no to similar situations.

I find that when I do so, saying the simple phrase “I just want to be honest” followed by my polite decline is helpful. Not only that, but usually the response is completely accepted by the other party, and releases me from the phantom guilt of “I should.”

Anyone out there feel the same?

jess lc $100 giveaway winners!

January 26th, 2010   |   Life


Thank you so much for all of your wonderful comments about MML and your awesome suggestions for the upcoming intentional jewelry for Jess LC. There were 177 comments, some with as many as five intention message suggestions! Needless to say, I am going to need to do a little searching and come up with common themes that surfaced throughout many suggestions in order to narrow down the submissions to around 20. Then I’ll post those ideas here on MML and we can vote on which ones you’d be personally interested in buying or wearing. From there, we will narrow down the selection to the six most universal phrases.

But as you know, there was also a little giveaway attached to this post for two $100 Jess LC gift certificates… (I apologize right now, I had such a cute little graphic for all of this but my server seems to be acting funky and I can’t upload any new images which aren’t already on MML).

#2 – Marie

“how fun to read these comments! My message would be “together” – a daily reminder about community and the strength of relationships.”

#111 – WDT

“Your blog is the first I check everyday…I love it. Thank you and congratulations on a wonderful first year.
My mantra for 2010 is “breathe”. 2010 brought lots of changes and new schedules and added stressors, so I am trying to remember to breathe, come back to my intention for the day and do it gracefully. So that is my submission for a necklace: breathe.”

And as much as I’d love to comment and email every single person who suggested an intentional phrase, that is not in the best interests of my sanity and so I will say this to everyone who participated:

Thank you so much for your kind comments, and suggestions. Without your support and encouragement throughout the year, I may very well have abandoned MML. Sometimes it’s not easy for me to post and share five days a week, but your emails and comments help me to continue to grow and push myself to share the message of MakeunderMyLife. Your intentional phrases were touching and in so many cases, incredibly personal. I loved hearing your stories and I hope we will be able to compile a jewelry collection that speaks to your intentions for your life.


Good morning! I hope you have had a great weekend. Mine was relaxing and a bit strange since Erwin is on location shooting for the next show he’s working on (if I haven’t mentioned, he’s a tv associate producer). I felt like I had a lot more time in the day on Saturday and Sunday than usual. Then I realized that was because I wasn’t watching college or pro football- which is typical when E is around.

Anyways… I’m excited to (finally) mention that our Spring part 2 video about Intentions, Goals, and Resolutions is live! Click here to check it out here if you’d like a dose of inspiration and motivation to keep up your intentions for 2010.

end of the week exfoliation

January 23rd, 2010   |   Exfoliating

This week we have a larger batch of exfoliations than usual. If you want to send in your end of the week exfoliation, email your image, caption, and blog link (if you have one) and I’ll post it next week as well.

End of the Week Exfoliation


“This week I am happily exfoliating two old laundry baskets and their contents (one is chock-full of clothing, purses, and shoes)! Next week, I hope to shed a few old coats!”

“Set of old dishes – given to thrift shop for someone who has nothing. Proceeds from the shop go to support the VNA I work for.” (no image.)
- Bridget
” I have an upcoming move, and even though I don’t yet know which city I’m going to end up in, I know I don’t need to take all this stuff with me! Here’s bag #1 of my cleanout.”
- Anne
I love how funky and vibrant these earrings are, but they just don’t fit my style. I was told they are deadstock from the 80s, so they are pretty unique. They deserve to go to someone who will actually wear them!”
- Bek

“This is the loveseat I bought from a friend after college. She was moving back to Denver from St. Louis, so obviously didn’t want to truck it home. So we used it in St. Louis and brought it to Chicago when John moved up in October. In order to make room for the new sectional, and through the magic of Craigslist, we donated the loveseat to a preschool serving low-income families.

- Cathy


These booties from Forever 21 are cute, stylish, and usually unworn. Since they are collecting dust in my closet they deserve a better home. Any takers? $10 for shipping and they are yours. (Size 8.) First to comment gets them!

semi-homemade garlic pizza

January 22nd, 2010   |   Food


Happy Friday! This week’s End of the Week Exfoliation will be up tomorrow morning. I am looking forward to this weekend as I have a coffee chat with a very dear blog friend on Saturday and dinner tonight with a close Chicago buddy. I hope your weekend is dry, sunny, and relatively warm!

It’s been a looong time since I’ve posted any food recipes. Mostly because I don’t generally cook that much (hello, oatmeal, scrambled eggs, turkey wraps, and Chicago restaurants). But today’s recipe is a new favorite and so simple to prepare.

While dining at Piece in Bucktown a few months ago, Erwin and I discovered the joys of garlic as a topping on pizza. It was incredible. And now we are recreating a knock-off version every week or two. We’ve started to cook frozen pizzas while simultaneously roasting two heads of garlic. Once the pizza and garlic are finished cooking, we add the garlic cloves on top of the pizza slices. It’s that easy.

Take a look.





Cook the garlic on 425* for 20-30 minutes, until golden and soft. Cook pizza as directed.

Once the pizza and garlic are done, carefully pull each garlic clove out of the shell and place as much as desired on the pizza.


(We add Parmesan and red pepper flakes for extra flavor.)

There you have it. Such a simple twist on a no-brainer dinner.

my first tv interview

January 21st, 2010   |   Business AdviceLifeStyle

Good morning! First, I want to mention that DESIGN YOUR LIFE will be back next week with one of my personal business heroes.

Today I have a pretty exciting piece to share: my first official television interview! Sure, its for a very local show, sure I say the word “absolutely” 26 times, and sure there is an interesting caller in the middle of the segment. But even with all of those things, I’m darn proud of this video.

To give you a heads up, I talk about how I grew the jewelry business, why I started the blog and how it’s improved Jess LC, and my favorite quote. (Personally, my favorite parts are in the last ten minutes.)

THINK ABOUT IT: single-tasking

January 20th, 2010   |   LifeThink About It


Wow. Oh wow. I am so excited by all of the awesome submissions for the spring Jess LC intentional message necklaces on yesterday’s post. Not to mention all of the blog birthday wishes. Thank you, thank you. I will continue accepting submissions until next Tuesday (Jan/26), so feel free to keep posting messages.

I’m also excited to share the tv segments that I taped yesterday. One feature about MakuenderMyLife will air on WCIU in Chicago next Thursday (TBA) and the other interview about Score and Jess LC aired last night on CAN-TV at 5:30PM. Of course I will be sure to post the videos once they are uploaded online.


Today’s THINK ABOUT IT is based on a personal intention I have made recently. It all began after the holiday season when I found myself easily distracted, forgetful, and generally a little “out of it.” I pondered why I struggled to hear someone speak while the television was on (sorry, Erwin), why I couldn’t remember details in recent conversations, and why I had difficulty concentrating.

After thinking about the frazzled trend, I started to wonder whether my work days were taking a toll on my mind. I hop between a half a dozen projects at any one time throughout the day. Running both Jess LC and MML at the same time require quite a bit of work in a million different directions. And when I thought about it, in a million different browser tabs.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Firefox fiercely and the tab feature is incredible. But I started wondering if keeping four windows open at one time was multiplying my distracted, air-head tendencies. Or, if talking on the phone while reading online was a good idea. So I’ve started to keep just one (or two) windows open while online. I’ve also tried to focus on one task on my to-do list rather than juggling three simultaneously.

And you know what? I think I’m getting smarter.

…Or at least I’m not feeling as dumb as before.

I suppose it goes to show that if driving while texting is dangerous, working on three projects at once is not healthy either. Sure there are no lives lost in the latter situation, but losing my mind is pretty disappointing.

Anyone else on the single-tasking bandwagon too?

MML first birthday + $100 Jess LC giveaway

January 19th, 2010   |   Life


I can’t believe it’s been one year since I started MakeunderMyLife. Pretty incredible. I started this blog without any expectation, hoping to one day compile the contents into a book. And today, 365 days later, I’m being interviewed by a local television show about the blog and my message(!!).

I’m pinching myself.

To show my thanks for reading the blog and making my life so much more purposeful, I am doing something brand new on MML: I’m doing a Jess LC giveaway. (I know what you’re thinking- Finally!)

And it’s not just any ol’ giveaway. I’m giving away TWO $100 GIFT CERTIFICATES. Yep. That’s how excited I am about this birthday.

How to Win the Gift Certificates

To win a gift certificate, please submit (in a comment on this post) a intentional message that you would like to wear on a piece of jewelry. If you responded to this question on yesterday’s post, you are welcome to submit it again to enter the giveaway on this post as well. My hope is to continue to get new message ideas to vote on later this month. If you’d like to learn more about the new Jess LC collection these intentional messages will be used for, read on.

I’m also excited to announce that the authors of the six messages which become part of the new line will receive their own necklace with their phrase compliments of Jess LC. :)

And of course, feel free to spread the word about the giveaway and the intentional message contest!

(Giveaway winners will be picked and announced next Tuesday 1/26.)

help: intentional messages

January 18th, 2010   |   Life


Good morning! I hope you had a great weekend. I thought about doing work the last few days, but decided it was in my best interest to give myself a break. So here I am rested and ready for some exciting projects happening this week. I’ll fill you in on them as they come up. And I’ll give you a hint: one project involves the first ever Jess LC giveaway on MakeunderMyLife.

Intentional Messages

I’d like to take a moment and ask for your input and help on making my summer collection of Jess LC jewelry. In the past, I have always wished I could make my message a bit more connected to the designs I create. And I’m delighted to say that this is now becoming a reality. I have a new collection debuting later this year that involves intentional messages on jewelry. And after hearing all of the intentions many of you made in your 2010 future letters, I’m sure there might be some intentions you’d like to be reminded of throughout the year.

To create the best selection of phrases for this new collection which actually have meaning for you, I’d like to create an ongoing conversation here on the blog. We can start by brainstorming message ideas and then come back in a week or two and vote on which phrases strike a chord with the most people.

To help get the ideas flowing, here are a few messages I’ve thought of already:

  • Compassion
  • Be present
  • Live with gratitude
  • Integrity

If you like any of these messages and would consider wearing one of them on a piece of jewelry as a reminder, please comment and let me know. Or, if you have your own message (three words or less), please share that as well. I would like to eventually narrow down the phrases to just six.

Thank you for your thoughts, I really appreciate your involvement with this project!

end of the week exfoliation

January 16th, 2010   |   Exfoliating

Happy weekend! I can’t believe things flying by so quickly again! This weekend I will be taking time off of work to relax. I’ll be going to my favorite weight class, Power Flex at my gym this morning, and I have date night with Erwin for dinner.

End of the Week Exfoliation


“We are currently selling our wireless router on Craigslist.”

- Cathy


“I’m moving and trying to be conscious of what I move with me. This music box church was something I bought my Grandma in my 20′s and when she passed on it was given back to me. With the picture of it I’ll be able to share the memory without the actual item in my possession.”

- Christina


This chair used to be my office chair until I got my cute new white one. Now this puppy needs to find a new home. Any takers in the Chicago area? I will put it down in my building’s laundry room with a “free” sign on it if no one comments to claim and pick up the chair by Sunday night.

the dark side of starting Jess LC

January 15th, 2010   |   Business Advice


Okay, maybe the title of this post is a bit dramatic. But the truth is, the interview I did for The Good Life For Less‘s new Dreamers Into Do-ers series really does highlight the not-so-pretty parts of starting Jess LC full-time after graduation in 2007.

Jill asked me several questions covering topics like what my business school peers thought about Jess LC, how I keep going when things get tough, and what is in store for me and Jess LC in 2010. I really have to say, this is an authentic and honest interview.

Thanks to Jill for asking such great questions!

helping haiti, makeunder style

January 14th, 2010   |   Life


I’d like to start by saying that what I’m about to reveal, though not of extreme importance, was never intended to be shared here on Makeunder.

However, given the recent earthquake in Haiti, I feel that if by sharing this intention, more aid goes to those in need, it is well worth revealing.

My Private Donation Intention

Since I don’t have a steady salary, I have found it difficult to incorporate the idea of tithing or creating a “personal donation budget” into my life. Sure, through Jess LC I donate to a variety of causes with Soc Chic, but personally I don’t do as much as I would like. So one of my intentions for 2010 is to donate $20 to a different cause each month. It’s not a lot of money, really just the cost of my dinner at Matisse last night, but it’s $240 a year more than I’m personally donating right now.

I thought about sharing this intention earlier, but decided to do it for myself in a quiet, personal way. Something I’d do “for me.”

But once I got an email from Jeanine at Aphro Chic about the Bloggers Day of Action for Haiti, I knew sharing this intention is my way of helping the cause.

How I Donated to Help Haiti

So I promptly went to the Red Cross website and donated my January $20 donation to the International Response Fund which will give aid to people in Haiti.

I also saw an even easier way to donate to the Red Cross is by texting “HAITI” to the number 90999 and they will make an automatic donation of $10 towards the relief effort. Here is the info on the texting method. The $10 donation is made through your cell phone bill. Pretty simple, right? I could have just texted “HAITI” twice to make the donation rather than using the website. Which, might be a good idea if the servers are full on the Red Cross website.

If you have been thinking about doing donating, whether it be once a month or not, hopefully you consider helping Haiti in this time of need.

Bloggers Day of Action for Haiti Participants

Here is the list of other Day of Action blogs participating. Hop over to their sites to see how they are helping Haiti and getting involved.

aphrochic-logo-on-blogAphro Chic


We all have our favorite tv shows.* We all have our favorite blogs. My favorite tv shows are Curb Your Enthusiasm and Private Practice. And near the top of my (long) blog list are The Pioneer Woman and Life in the Fun Lane. Which means featuring Holly of Life in the Fun Lane today on DESIGN YOUR LIFE is just as exciting as having Katherine Walsh do an interview on my MML.

Or at least that’s how I see it.

If you haven’t seen Holly’s amazing furniture and home renovations and you’re the slightest bit interested in interior design, please visit her site right now. Then come back and read her awesome intentions which help her design such a beautiful life. While you are at it, you might also want to take a look at her furniture shop, White Berry Reinvented.

Ok, now it’s time I stop gushing about Holly and get on to her intentions. Ahem.

Though all of her intentions are awesome, I particularly empathize with her intention and struggle to let go of her furniture creations. I think the same feelings apply to a lot of us concerning our possessions as well. Sometimes we hold onto things longer than necessary, only to realize that once we exfoliate, we feel so much better. Take a look at her intention “to share what she loves” to see what I mean.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Holly of Life in the Fun Lane

If you love something, share it.


Once upon a time I used to think that bigger was better and less was not more. In some instances it may still hold true, but for the most part I have started to see the beauty in loving something and letting it go. I guess it kind of comes with the territory of my new occupation. Every time I work on a piece of furniture a little bit of my heart and soul goes into its transformation and I always feel a small twinge of uncertainty before it leaves to a new home. “Should I have kept that one? Will I ever love another one as much?” the hoarder in me temporarily takes over for a split second until I regain control. The funny thing is that as soon as it is gone I always feel successful, inspired and motivated to keep working but I have yet to master the moments just before that.  Slowly I am getting better and better at it, and when I actually step back and think about it I really want to apply it to other areas of my life besides my business. If it really brings me so much happiness then imagine how good it will feel to pass that feeling on.

Write your own road map for success, but read the traffic signs on your journey.

Remember all those exercises in school where they tell you to write out your goals, make a life plan, etc.? I did them all, and thought I was nowhere close to what I had imagined. Until I took a second look and realized so what if I’m not a lawyer or high-paid corporate CEO? When I wrote my goals (at like age 15) they were what I thought would make me happy at the time (money, high-powered glamorous jobs). I am REALLY happy with my job now, in fact I love it! So I guess my plan may not have been job-specific but I actually met my goals in a more important way. Sometimes it is necessary to be really specific, but I have to remember there is a bigger picture. I think that it is much more important to write out your priorities long before you focus on goals. Because sometimes the two don’t go hand in hand, and I can’t believe I might have missed my sign to slow down and take a chance.

Embrace imperfection.

I think this one is natures attempt at irony. I have absolutely no troubles seeing the beauty in really ugly furniture, bent and faded books, and chipped old plates but I have a hard time letting a dirty plate on the counter go. I am not insistant that the house always be in magazine-ready form but a wet towel on the bathroom floor just bugs me a little too much. I need to let go a little when it comes to my expectations around the house and spend more time enjoying my time at home.

Never stop finding out who you are.


If you would have asked me who I was 8 or 10 years ago my teenage self would have told you I knew who I was, where I was headed and a whole lot more (because I knew everything then, duh!). My sister was the creative free spirit, I was the rational smart one. Never in a million years did I imagine that only 10 years later my life would pretty much revolve around creativity. I guess that was something I didn’t see then. And as I get older I see many other things that I had no idea were there like my desire to be a little less rational, and becoming more capable of taking chances. I am sure that in another 10 years I will look back and be amazed yet again the mysteries I have unveiled inside of me.

Learn how to not kill your plants.


This one is pretty straight forward. Today I actually bought a cactus so we will see how that goes. I haven’t tried killing one of those yet.



While I LOVE things, I don’t want to be bound to them. I guess it relates back to #1 again, because I think that letting go is really the secret to simplicity. By most people’s standards I think I am actually fairly simple in most areas of my life. I don’t text, have no need for a facebook page, am not chained to desk 8 hours a day, spend relatively little time online with the exception of my blog and business, rarely watch movies, etc. For the most part I enjoy a good book, playing with Wren and decorating. But I want to improve on being more efficient at things like housework and finishing our renovations so that I can spend even more time enjoying those simple pleasures. To accomplish that I think it will have to be a combination of spending a little more money to get the renos done already (with a little help) instead of burdening ourselves with doing everything all the time (even though that sure is rewarding!) as well as organizing and planning the spaces we are working on to be more efficient when they are done. Oh how I long for the days when I didn’t trip over tool belts while cleaning the bathrooms and cans of paint when doing laundry.  But at the same time I have to let go and just live in the moment!

* Except those people who don’t watch tv. And to those intellectual few, I give you a high-five and commend you. For you are far cooler than me and my Tivo lineup.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

THINK ABOUT IT: money = guilt?

January 13th, 2010   |   LifeThink About It


Today’s THINK ABOUT IT came to me back in December while I was on the EL (subway) platform at Belmont. What I came to realize about my thinking that evening might be helpful to discuss here on Makeunder.

Money = Guilt?

One day last month I created an expensive custom piece. A few people were interested in the design and asked to place an order. I was thrilled, but unsure of how to price the jewelry. As I mentioned, the supplies and labor for the item were significant. Given a standard markup, the item ended up costing a pretty penny. And instead of feeling proud of the design I created, I felt guilty.

The following thoughts about the situation raced through my mind as I stood waiting for a Brown Line train:

“Why should I make that much money on a piece of my work?”

“This is more money than my usual designs. Something doesn’t feel right about this.”

“Maybe I should decrease the price, they might not be able to pay for it.”

And then I thought:

“What if they do buy it at full price? I shouldn’t make that much money.”

What was I thinking!?

Rather than feeling confident in my ability to make quality jewelry with high quality materials, I felt like a fraud. I felt guilty about my success rather than thankful for it.

I could have been thinking:

“I’m so incredibly thankful and fortunate for the awesome customers and people I know through Jess LC. Without their support and encouragement, I would not be self-employed and doing the job I love.”

“Though this custom piece has a higher price than the other pieces I’ve made in the past, the price reflects the craftsmanship and materials that went into the finished piece. This is a testament to my design skills improving.”

And finally,

“It is my job to create beautiful, fairly priced jewelry that improve the lives of those who wear it. It is the job of the customer to determine if the piece fits into their life and budget. They can always pass on the item if it is too expensive.”

So my question is, have others felt similar feelings of guilt in regards to making money or entering a new level of career success?

I’m willing to wager that if I pursued a corporate career, I would not feel guilty about getting bonuses and raises. Perhaps because I’d compare myself to others at my level receiving similar wage increases. But when I directly grow and improve my business, I seem to take things more personally fearfully.

Who am I to really grow this company and succeed with flying colors? As I’ve mentioned before, the question really is: who am I not to be?

And for that matter, who are you not to be?

send your annual letter on futureme.org

January 12th, 2010   |   Life

dearfuturemeDid you write an annual letter to your future self? If so, I have a great new resource to share.

A few days ago, Jillian, a friend and MML reader, shared FutureMe.org, a site that lets you program when you’d like to receive emails from yourself. What a great way to plan when you will receive your future letter!

I think I’m going to schedule my letter to pop into my inbox once a quarter. That way I can see my progress, but not need to worry about it day to day.

I’m also thinking of other ways to use this service intentionally… any ideas?

j.crew: spring 2010 + a little surprise

January 11th, 2010   |   Life


Photo courtesy of Gigi’s Gone Shopping

As I was scrolling through my blog reader today, I came upon Gigi’s Gone Shopping and this morning she posted pictures of the Spring 2010 J.Crew catalog. Not sure if you’ve seen it yet, but mine hasn’t arrived in the mail. Take a look at the full spread on Gigi’s site in slide show form.



I’m also excited to announce that Jess LC was featured on Canada’s SweetLife. Take a look at the feature.

You’ll be glad you did. ;)

intentional obsession: new desk chair

January 11th, 2010   |   ExfoliatingLifeStyle

Last Friday my friend Kristin and I went to Ikea and I came home with a new desk chair. I’ve been debating on what style to choose ever since my old wooden black one started to get rickety. I settled on the white faux-leather egg style chair. Other options at West Elm and CB2 were nice, but too expensive.

My only concern with the chair was getting the vinyl dirty. To prevent that from happening I’m going to find a fabric to cover the cushion with, and I got this adorable yellow and gray peony pillow from Target by Dwell Studio.

Here’s what the studio desk and chair looked like when I moved in September of 2009.

Old Desk and Chair


And here’s the desk and new chair.

New Desk Chair


So far, so good! The only other major changes I’d like to make involve a new brighter colored rug (beige or yellow) and new metal and white glass desk.

Sorry this is posting a few days late. I decided to share my 2010 intentions on Friday and do the End of the Week Exfoliation today. Check below for the winner of the Giveaway Giveaway from December.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!


“I got a new purse, so I’m getting rid of two old ones.”

- Christine


“We’re currently selling these TV trays on Craigslist.”



“The shirt is too big and I never wear it. As for the flash light, I just got a new one for Christmas that doesn’t run on batteries.”

- Erwin


These slippers have seen better days. They are covered in dust and not worth keeping around- especially considering I have another nice pair of satin black slippers which work beautifully.

December Giveaway Giveaway Winner

winnerCongratulations for S.E. Minegar! I’ll be emailing you to give you your $40 Jess LC gift certificate.

Want to enter to win January’s $40 Jess LC gift certificate? Send me your exoliations (up to 4 a month) and each entry will give you a chance to win the free jewelry.

2010 Intention Preview

January 8th, 2010   |   Life


I am amazed and excited by the outstanding response my annual letter post received earlier this week! I have been doing my best to answer the comments with actual emails, so please be patient if you commented and haven’t heard from me yet. I’m so excited for everyone who has written a “future letter” to themselves. Knowing from my own experience with the tradition, I’m sure many of you will be amazed by what you accomplish in 2010. And I will be sure to have a post next year where we can share our stories about our annual letters. It will be awesome.

Anyways, I thought you might be interested to hear some of my intentions for 2010. I debated about posting the full letter. But since it is an intimate exercise, I feel more comfortable sharing certain passages than others.

Here it goes:

Personal Growth

“Over the past year I have learned to balance my business and do things single tasking. I still check my email on my Blackberry, but I turn it off when I don’t need it, and I don’t check for the red blinking light all the time. I also keep my browser on one task at a time. I keep a single focus on whatever I am doing that moment and stay present.”

“I also recognize when I can control something and when I cannot, and work to be better at not worrying about that which I cannot control.”


“I have devoted myself to creating useful content that is more directly related to the themes of Makeunder and I have had a great response to “Think About It.” I have also loved being a part of Spring and we have grown that readership immensely.”

Jess LC

“As for Jess LC, well, I couldn’t be more excited. I have completely rebranded with a new logo, website, video on the site, color scheme, shopping cart, and new jewelry.”

“I interact with customers daily and enjoy all of the opportunities we have to work with other companies, and help people. Jess LC has also gotten a lot more exposure in the media on tv, print (Lucky, O, US Weekly, Real Simple, and Inc.). I have promoted myself to a higher level of business and enjoyed learning and growing.”


“I still live in my apartment with Erwin and we have finished decorating the bedroom. There are great night stands on each side of the bed with lamps and artwork is hung all over the apartment. I also use more cash and rarely use my credit card. Though there has been radical growth in the business and the blog, I have focused my personal sights on more qualitative than quantitative progress. I realize my best self is within myself.”


This week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE is pretty freaking awesome. Though Stephanie and I both graduated from Michigan the same year, I didn’t meet her officially until she moved to Chicago last year. Which is strange, considering how alike we are. Her passion for her blog and personal training is outstanding. She is also one of the most genuine, purposeful, and energetic people I’ve ever met. Really. If you don’t believe me, check out her blog videos to see for yourself.

Knowing how intentional she is with her training and life coaching, I thought she’d have some insightful intentions. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, I got goosebumps reading her intentions. I am now more excited to fulfill my own intentions after reading her DYL. And I’m also excited to get into the gym and do some workouts with her. This girl has abs.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Stephanie of Step It Up With Steph

It’s My Way, or Everyone Else’s Way

Growing up, I was constantly asking, “What should I do?” about anything and everything: from the pants I should wear as a child to the classes I should take as a college student, I always thought that I’d find the answers from other people. I would ask my parents, friends, advisers, classmates, and mentors what THEY thought I should do in certain situations, how I should respond, what I should dress like, or what actions I should take. After a lifetime of trying to do things “Everyone else’s way”, I decided to start trusting myself and doing things MY way. Not in a snotty, “my way or the highway” sense, but more like I know that I have the answers to my questions, so why would I do things someone else’s way, when I can do it my own way? When I started practicing yoga five years ago, all of this started clicking, and while I still ask for advice, at the end of the day I ultimately conclude that I need to do things my way.

Live Your Passion


Since high school, I’ve always wanted to spread happiness, health, and fitness through the media. When I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Communications in 2007, I knew I wanted to go into television to spread those things, but I thought I needed to gain experience before doing my own thing. Therefore, I moved to New York City within a week’s notice to take a public relations job at Lifetime TV because I’m very passionate about women’s issues and the media. After only two months on the job, multiple breakdowns, and the constant voice in the back of my head telling me “this is not your passion!”, out of the blue I got a call from a job I had applied for months prior: the Dr. Phil show in Los Angeles. The only contingency on this job offer was that I had to quit my Lifetime job, move across the country, and start my Dr. Phil job within a week. So, I gave my week’s notice on a Monday, worked my last day at Lifetime on a Friday, packed and flew to LA Saturday, found an apartment, and started Dr. Phil that Monday. After working on the show for a season, and feeling pressured by coworkers and parents to continue for a second season because it was the safe thing to do in this economy, I decided to stay true to my first intention (see above), and quit. I had NO idea what was next for me. So I took a secretarial desk job that bored me to pieces and ultimately motivated me to live my passion – I did my yoga, pilates, personal training, and life coaching training and certifications, and just KNEW that Step It Up with Steph was my passion. I haven’t looked back since!

Quick Decisions

I know that when I want something, I get it. However, the problem for me is deciding WHAT I want. One of my trainers once told me that if you can’t make a decision in 9 seconds, you’re not ready to make that decision. I thought about that for a minute, and now daily reflect on it. ALL of my major life decisions have been instinctively made very quickly. Accepting my Lifetime TV job, the Dr. Phil job, creating Step It Up with Steph, dumping a boyfriend, moving to Chicago, etc. While this may be viewed as “impulsive”, I believe that when I’m connected with myself and my innermost desires, I am able to make these quick decisions intelligently and intuitively rather than out of fear or based solely on impulse.

The Road Not Taken


“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” -Robert Frost

Growing up, I remember being called “weird”. In high school, I was also called “weird” (not sure why, because I was also voted prom queen…) But, alas, I guess if being friendly to everyone and a bit crazy (in a fun way) is considered “weird”, then I am! However, even though growing up people thought I was weird, I didn’t let that stop me from being myself. Sure, it made me feel unsettling inside, but I didn’t want to change myself or how I acted just to follow the herd. There is a saying that 80% of the world is consisted of followers, and 20% are leaders. In order to be in that 20%, I believe we have to take “The Road Not Taken”, as my favorite poet Robert Frost says. I remember reading this poem in middle school, and its message has stuck with me ever since. Of course 80% of the population is going to think I’m “weird”, but my intention is to take the road less traveled, and then bring the 80% along with me!

Acting Out of Love vs. Fear


Sometime in college I read Marianne Williamson’s book A Return to Love. I know Jess has mentioned this book in her blog, and it has also inspired me. (So much so that I interned for Marianne for a summer) The main take-away for me from Marianne’s book is to question myself: Do I act out of love, or out of fear? When I act out of love, I’m connecting to my deeper self, a higher being, or God (however you’d like to look at it.) When I act out of fear, I’m often escaping the very thing that may help me grow.

Acting out of Love – for MYSELF.

I’ve tried to treat myself with respect, kindness, and love as often as possible. But never was this love for myself tested so much as during a past relationship/breakup. I had been dating someone for almost two years. What started as a long-distance “fling” turned into my first serious relationship: “I love you’s” were exchanged daily, “forever” was mentioned, and he moved across the country to be with me. We were the picture perfect couple, but slowly things started deteriorating. I knew it wasn’t right, but when you love someone so much, that part inside you wants things to work out and you tend to ignore the flashing red lights. I ignored the red lights for a while, and even ignored the shooting pains in my leg when I would talk to him (talk about mind-body connection!), and finally decided that I needed to respect myself, my body, my mind, and my spirit. I needed to love MYSELF as much as I was loving him. I no longer stay in unserving relationships, whether they are romantic or friendships, out of guilt, weakness, fear, or out of the hope that things will get better. Now when I’m dating someone, and even in relationships and opportunities in general, I really pay attention to how I’m feeling deep down when I’m around this person or in this situation, and don’t ignore my instincts, talk myself out of my feelings, or blow off shooting pains :)

If you can dream it, you can do it.


Daily I am amazed by what seems to be dropped in my lap in regards to my business. While I am hustling to spread healthy, fitness, & happiness to the masses, I am still repeatedly blown away by opportunities, people, and resources that come my way to support my dream. It reinforces to me that if I can dream it, I can do it, and so can anyone else. When I’m being true to myself, living my purpose & passions, and acting out of love rather than fear, it’s like I am signaling to the universe, “Yes, bring me more of that!” I’ve also heard someone say that the bigger the WHY, the easier the HOW. If you know why you have a certain dream or goal, it will be a lot easier to figure out how you’re going to achieve it.

signature-stephCheck out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

THINK ABOUT IT: the regret sack

January 6th, 2010   |   Think About It

tairegretsackWelcome to the first official installment of THINK ABOUT IT! I have had this post idea written down for weeks (maybe even months) and I think it is the perfect compliment to a fresh new year.

The Regret Sack

As Erwin and I were watching tv one Sunday morning, we heard Joel Osteen speak about an old folk tale. In the story (as I recall), there was an old man who had a sack on his back with a hole in it, and a sack on his chest without a hole. When he made mistakes, failed, or had regrets, he put them in the leaky sack on his back. And all of his accomplishments and positive thoughts went on the sack in the front.

As he walked, he could see all of the blessings he had in his life placed in the front sack. Meanwhile all of the negative memories fell out through the hole in the bag on his back. So not only was his load lighter as the regrets spilled to the ground behind him, but he was propelled forward with the momentum and weight of the good things in his life.

I think this is a great analogy to have for 2010 as we let go of what may not have gone well in 2009 and carry with us the lessons we’ve learned. What dissapointments have you been holding onto in your life that deserve to be put in a leaky bag?


Happy afternoon! It was great to hear your responses to the “Future Letter” for the new year. I’ve been working as hard as I can to answer each of your comments personally through email, rather than on the blog post comment section itself. Cuz lets be honest, do you really go back and check to see if I’ve responded there all that often?

I actually speak about my annual letter tradition in today’s new Spring Conversation, Intentions, Goals, and Resolutions. Check it out. I definitely think this is one worth watching if you are inspired by new years intentions. I also love Michelle’s Chutzpah Goals and Jess Swift’s Goals and Intentions Kit as other great ways to chart your vision and path throughout 2010.

About Michelle

By the way, in my break from blogging in the past few weeks I didn’t get to link to Michelle’s About Me video on Spring. Her DESIGN YOUR LIFE got a huge response, so here’s a chance to see her story on video.

reader inspiration update: lessons learned

January 5th, 2010   |   Life

As you may remember, back in October a Makeunder reader shared her story of  intentionalizing her life. She took a huge leap and left her job, unpaid, for three months to figure out what was really important to her. Well, those three months have passed and she’s offered to share what she has learned. Take a look. I’m pretty inspired myself. I keep asking myself what gets me excited and what makes me weaker…



I started my sabbatical de-cluttering and cooking healthy meals. Although I was excited about the free time I would have, there were major life decisions that I was putting on hold because of circumstances, like setting a wedding date and buying a home. I was confused; I had always been a very proactive person and couldn’t understand how I got to such a situation at work where I needed to  go on an unpaid leave from a comfortable job during a recession.

This made me feel very pressured to find answers ASAP! What happened? What do I want to be? What kind of lifestyle do I want? I felt so guilty that I couldn’t really enjoy the time I now had. That first month and a half went by really quickly with no answers.


One day I was browsing Oprah.com and saw a web seminar “Take Control of Your Career and Your Life” featuring Marcus Buckingham; I went through the sessions and it literally changed my life. The main idea of the web workshop is you discovering  what makes you feel good then doing more of that and discovering what weakens you and working towards not doing those activities anymore. This made me realize how many weakening activities I put myself through for various reasons: family, work, because I thought it was good for me, etc…

So now I had a list of Strengths and Weaknesses and strategically filled my days with activities that made me feel good like doing Yoga and learning something new. When I slipped and did something that made me feel weak like saying “Yes” when I really meant “Hell no”, I would go and do something that made me feel good and I would feel so much better. Living life like this felt really good and it lead me to really unexpected places and to exactly what I had been looking for all along. For example on a whim I went to Europe by myself and got to experience snow in Paris and a Masquerade ball under the London Bridge.

Reflect on Your Life and Work

Every month, I plan to go through the exercise of reflecting on the activities in my life that are making me feel good and weak. On top of that, I am writing in a diary and reflecting every day. Sometimes we’ve accomplished a great deal but forget because it never gets documented. I feel confident that this strategy will help me build the life I want. In the short term,  this especially will be helpful now that I am heading back to the same job and don’t want the same thing to happen.


I was not happy with my day to day, but kept hoping that it would get better. I did not have the courage to ask for a personal leave until the sudden death of a long time friend taught me how short life can be. Every day I remind myself how nothing is guaranteed but this moment. It’s hard for a serious future thinking person like me, but I try my best to really enjoy the journey.

On your own journey to design a life with intention? Email me at jess@jesslc.com to share your story here on MML!

2009 Intention Review: a letter to myself

January 4th, 2010   |   Life


Good morning and happy new year! I know it’s a few days past the actual ball drop, but I’d like to start 2010 off by sharing how I celebrate new years with intention. Not to be misleading, this New Years Eve night I happened to have a party with close friends and definitely didn’t do any major soul searching.

But during the month of December and over the last few days, I have started to create a vision of what I’d like 2010 to hold.

Where it all began

Writing a letter to my future self is a yearly tradition for me which started out in 2006, during a very difficult time. Back in my junior year of college, I faced a lot of hard realities, and needed to rebuild my belief system from the ground up. While at home on Christmas vacation that year, I stumbled upon a dusty copy of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey* sitting on my bookshelf. The First Habit suggests writing a letter to my future self explaining all that I would complete in the time between writing the letter, and reading it at a future date. I thought it was a pretty good idea. So I sat down at a Caribou in my hometown on January 1st of 2006, and wrote what I’d like to accomplish before January 1st, 2007- as if I had already achieved my intentions.

Given my mental funk and insufferable lack of self-esteem, I did not genuinely think I would be able to accomplish most, if any, of what I wrote. Nevertheless, I did not let that stop myself from sharing what I really, truly wanted to be and do in the following year. After writing the letter in a Word document I used as a journal, I pretty much forgot that it existed for most of 2006.

I continued to read and practice the Seven Habits however, and it helped me build a solid mental foundation. And that 2006 vacation is where I also discovered my purpose, which is currently in the form of this blog, MakeunderMyLife.

Now back to that “future letter” I wrote. As I said, I forgot about the letter most of that year but in November of 2006, I rediscovered the journal entry – and I began to cry. I was amazed at how much of what I wrote actually happened. As I mentioned, I did not really think I was capable of all that I laid out. But nevertheless there I was 11 months later, with most of the letter fulfilled. On January 1st of 2007 I revisited the letter and counted the number of statements that I wrote which could have happened. Then I counted the number of events or situations which did actually happen that year.

83% of the statements I made came true.

At that point I decided I would continue this annual “future letter” to envision what I’d like to do each year. And each year following 2006, I have indeed written a “future letter” and achieved the majority of the statements I make.

My 2009 Annual Letter

So you might be wondering about my 2009 inventory. I just took a look at my past year’s letter and was surprised by what I found. Some of the most specific statements came true while some of the more general ones landed in the dirt. Here’s a sample of a few of the true and false statements:

True Statements:

I have the perfect place for the business, either in my spacious apartment or in low rent office.

The apartment is nice with a large kitchen where we [Erwin and I] love to cook and a great living area we enjoy a lot. We have a new living room couch and the white loveseat is in the bedroom.

We continue to spend time with each other working out, during date night, and we go to church almost every week.

I write three times a week on my blog, Makeunder My Life. I blog about my journey as a small business owner and as someone taking the road less traveled to the life I love and want. I enjoy writing and have a loyal following.

False Statements:

Jess LC has a PR team and we have been in Lucky and O Magazine.

I have done a few trade shows in 2009 with Jess LC and we are gearing up to do them on a grander scale in 2010.

I love taking bubble baths to relax.

I am looking into getting a puppy (if I find that I will be around enough to care for one responsibly).

After doing some math, I found that I made 82 statements in this 2009 letter. Of those statements, 51 are true, 6 are mostly true, and 25 are false. Which means about 60% of my intentions came true. And when I look closer, there is more to the story. 12 of the false statements came in the portion of the letter where I talk about Jess LC. And the parts which are false did not happen because I changed my strategy and direction for the company. These changes have made Jess LC more purposeful, fulfilling, and profitable. So those things which did not occur happened for the best and intentionally did not come true.

So… if I subtract the false Jess LC statements from the mix, I again get about an 80% fulfillment rate on my vision!

What I’ve Learned

Over the past five years, I have found that I can in large part, predict or complete much of what I set forth in these visions. I also know that some of my intentions will not happen. And after seeing the turn of events with Jess LC this year and the growth of MakeunderMyLife, I now submit this vision to God with a disclaimer: If any of these statements are not meant to come true, please help me to be flexible and thankful for the other awesome blessings that will come in their place.

How to Write an Annual Letter

Though there certainly is no wrong way to write an annual letter, I can share how I prefer to write my own. I begin each letter with “Dear Jess, As I see myself walk into the door in 2011, I see a ___________. ” Then I talk about what I have done in 2010 in past tense. For example: “I have decorated my bedroom with crisp bedding, nice side tables, and pretty, modern lamps.” or “I am kind and compassionate, not just with other people, but also towards my own shortcomings.” I also try to describe what I have done in all of my roles, such as: personal growth, Jess LC, MakeunderMyLife, spirituality, and relationships.

After the letter is written, I keep it in a place where I can find it easily, but only try to reread it every few months. Two years ago I tried to read it frequently but found that it was more stressful than inspirational. As the saying goes, we overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can do in a year.

In Closing

I hope that sharing my personal story with “future letters” is helpful. If you decide to write your own letter, I suggest keeping in mind that these are “intentions” – which means that your motivation is genuine, but you are not tied to a specific outcome. I know I personally can become discouraged by the word “goal” or “resolution” in front of something that I want to incorporate into my life. Because to me, the moment that goal or resolution I made does not get fulfilled, I see it as a personal failure. Whereas an unfulfilled intention is something to keep working towards.

Happy New Year and thank you for reading MakeunderMyLife!

*Stephen Covey, his father wrote the original book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – a great read, and the book I most highly recommend reading.

Reach Out

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