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ashley’s dream report: sick day

February 27th, 2010   |   Life

Hi everyone, it’s me (Jess) here to say that Ashley isn’t feeling well and needed to take a sick day from the Dream Reporting series. She’ll be back next week with her updates and newest revelations on her journey.

In case you’ve missed her previous posts, catch up in the Dream Report Archive.

Feel better soon, Ashley!

end of the week exfoliation

February 26th, 2010   |   Exfoliating

The weekend! I can almost taste it. Though this week certainly had it’s lulls for me, I made some pretty big headway on creating the (personal) life that I want. I’m learning to own my truth and follow my gut without fear of non-support. It’s both liberating and emotionally draining. I’m hoping a weekend of rest and reflection will help me pick up the pace next week. After all, I have a spring Jess LC photo shoot to prepare for next Friday!

End of the Week Exfoliation

“I started collecting mason jars before our wedding, and we hardly used any.  They’ve been collecting dust in a closet, which was driving my husband nuts.  So, I offered to drop them off to a blogger in UT this weekend.”

- Abbie

“These exfoliations were a two-step process. After years of just buying a few clothing pieces at a time, I gifted myself a little tax-refund-inspired shopping spree this weekend. So, that meant I had to make room in my closet for everything. I made three piles: “maybes,” throw away, and donate. I let them sit for three days and reviewed the “maybe” pile. I was able to give up all but one thing in the “maybe” pile after realizing I had so many better-fitting, more flattering pieces that are well-suited to my needs now. I can’t say I miss anything I decided to toss! Next step: Shoes!”

- Jillian

“In addition to a few tired tops and accessories, I had put aside a couple of bottles of perfume and scented lotions, as well as a leather wallet, to donate. At the last minute I almost kept them because they they were all gifts and I felt bad giving them away. Truth is, they don’t really reflect my taste and a couple of the scents actually give me a headache – yet, I kept them for a couple of years, barely used. Finally, thanks to your Makeunder principle, I realized someone else would be better off with them, and now I have more space in my vanity for the scents I really love.”

- Flavia

Full disclosure: I’m great at exfoliating regularly, but I’m not quite as good about donating regularly. This is Erwin and my (grammar?) “to be donated” basket full of clothing to be dropped at the White Elephant. The basket itself is this week’s exfoliation. Once the snow melts, these things will be out of our lives.

This week’s DYL features Brigitte of the blog, Covet Chicago. I first met Brigitte via comments and email, and later in person when she stopped by Macy’s during one of my trunk shows. We hit it off right away and I am incredibly grateful for the insights Brigitte had for MML. Before speaking with her, it never occurred to me that I might need to do a quick recap on how I found my purpose. And thanks to her suggestion, many people feel like they understand my story much better now.

I also had a feeling that Brigitte’s own personal intentions would be helpful for MML. And this single line from her intention to “know when to draw the line” is going to stick with me for quite a while, “my actions matter more than my intentions.” What a true statement. No matter what we vision boards we make, mantras we repeat, or businesses we dream about, until we put one foot in front of the other to make those goals become reality, we are going to sit as Henry David Thoreau said, in quiet desperation. Thank you for this awesome insight, Brigitte.


DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Brigitte of Covet Chicago

Live Your Values Daily

I admit…this first one sounds pretty vague. But it’s the most powerful of my intentions, because by forcing myself to sit down and define my values and map my life goals according to them, I have a roadmap for life. I read the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People at a time that I was on the path to conventional success (good job, rapid promotions, increasing salary and responsibility) but utterly unhappy. As I read, I really worked the book, dedicating my precious free time to the exercises. One that was particularly powerful for me came early. I had to envision my funeral and write my own eulogy. In imaging what I’d like my family, friends and colleagues to say about me after I lived my (hopefully long) life, I was able to clearly define my values. And I knew that if I wanted other people to describe my life according to my values, I’d have to live them every day. So my first and more important intention is to revisit my values every year and hold myself accountable to them.

Act Like Nobody’s Watching

I am the classic perfectionist, complete with the intense fear of failure that often accompanies this lovely trait. I cannot count the times I have passed up opportunities, because I was afraid to make mistakes, be the worst in class or simply to avoid scrutiny. On top of this, I was bullied as a child. I think that all adults who were once bullied hold onto a feeling that others are constantly watching them…waiting for them to slip up so they can exploit your failure for a laugh. About five years ago, I had a supervisor bluntly tell me, “It’s not all about you. No one cares one way or another.” I was liberated! No one cared if I succeeded or failed. My family would love me regardless, and other people…simply wouldn’t notice. So many of my current passions and hobbies were made possible by that simple, incredible statement.

Be Brazen…

I’m not quite committed to radical honesty, but I come pretty close. If I don’t like something you say or do, I won’t smack you in the face with it, but I won’t lie and say, “Ooh, I love that” or “I agree” when I don’t. Generally, I just keep my mouth shut. This makes me the worst person to fish for compliments with…because I’ll only take the bait if I actually believe in the compliment I’m giving. On the other hand, my friends know that they can come to me for the truth…and I’ve been told it makes my compliments that much sweeter.

But despite this habit in my daily life, I’m much more reserved when it comes to my writing and even how I define myself. Right now, I’m testing my personal limits, and I’ve let loose a few posts that feel like I’m crossing some sort of line on the public/private divide. But I’m finding that the posts that make me feel twitchy are the ones that I’m also most proud of. So…I’m daring myself to be as brazen in my writing as I am in person.

…But Know When to Draw the Line

This is where I admit that I’ve suffered from low emotional intelligence. I went all the way through college not understanding why some of my friends were “so sensitive.” One friend, in particular, would try to explain to me why my words were hurtful, and I simply didn’t get it. Of course I was kidding when I said xx (I really was). And, no, I guess I wouldn’t like her to point out yy fault of mine (but I only did it for the good of our friendship). I honestly couldn’t understand where she was coming from.

It took me 28 loooong years to figure it out. Some things just don’t need to be said. And whether or not I understand why something is hurtful (because it wouldn’t upset me) simply doesn’t matter in the end. My actions matter more than my intentions.

Always Offer a Helping Hand

When I was starting my career in PR (since abandoned!), I was helped by total and complete strangers. People I’d never met before went out of their way to meet with me, give me advice and introduce me to yet more strangers. I will never forget their generosity. That’s why, if someone asks me for my help, and I truly believe I can be of service, I don’t hesitate. I’ll review resumes, run through my rolodex or simply share some of the tricks that have worked for me. I’ve also worked an annual giving allowance into my budget, which is my way of saying thank you to the universe. And I’m ALWAYS willing to help a friend move or paint if there’s a slice of pizza and bottle of beer on the table.

Choose Joy for Yourself and Share it with Others

Would you believe me if I told you that I used to be a total drama queen? And a pessimist? I’m proof that you can change your outlook on life, simply by choosing to live the life that makes YOU happy. Not the life that others prescribe for you. I’m still a snarky girl (and I wouldn’t give it up even if I could), but I’m also a profoundly grateful and happy girl. I know that I can choose to seek out activities and books and even blogs that make me smile…or ones that trigger my heightened sense of outrage. Jess’s purpose in life is the makeunder philosophy. Mine is helping others realize that there are no safe choices…only ones that resonate deep within you and those that don’t. Always choose joy.

designer file on the pink orange

February 25th, 2010   |   Life

Good morning! As I format this week’s DYL for later today, I want to share a link to my Designer File feature I did today for Rebecca’s The Pink Orange blog, check it out!

First, I’d like to give a huge hug to all of you who responded so positively to the re-posts yesterday! I was shocked at the response. Sometimes when talking to people about MML, they ask about something I’ve written about in the past. And for some reason it never clicked, just because I’ve written about something doesn’t mean that newer readers have read it. Duh. I get it now. My apologies. I’m also planning on doing an “about me” renovation in the near future to help point out those foundational posts so it’s easier to find in the future. Thank you for helping me improve MML!

THINK ABOUT IT: Pick Up the Phone

Today’s THINK ABOUT IT topic actually came from a lesson I shared on Spring not too long ago. You can see my video explanation here. And you can also watch/read about Michelle’s revelation about the challenge here.

When I was in college, I had a mentor who did (literally) everything in her power to help me publish my (not-yet-existent) book, Makeunder Your Life. Among her efforts included picking up the phone and calling anyone who might be helpful. Including the CFO of Coach when I mentioned I might want to design handbag catalogs instead. This woman had no hesitation to call anyone she could find who might have the influence to make my dreams come true! And what was even more astounding was that she never premeditated her call, she didn’t write out a summary of points, rationalize why she needed to make the call. She just picked up the phone and started punching in the digits. All the while I sat there with my mouth slightly open in awe. Sometimes she reached the person directly, sometimes she reached a receptionist, sometimes she reached a machine. Though she certainly didn’t have a 100% success rate, we definitely got more than a few connections.

Over the years, her moxy rubbed off on me. As I started Jess LC full-time, I picked up the phone or knocked on the doors of the gatekeepers who could help my vision become reality. And like my mentor, I didn’t have a 100% success rate. But I was leaps and bounds further along than I would have been otherwise. To this day, I rely upon these long shots to help me gain traction and make connections for the re-launch of Jess LC in April. I can count eight people who are active in helping me make the new changes, which met me through an out-of-the-blue phone call or email. Using this technique, I have acquired a dream team of people making my dream come true.

Clearly, knowing how helpful this lesson has been for me in my life, I wish the same for you! And if you don’t have a mentor to observe calling everyone short of the President of the United States, please use my story as inspiration. You have nothing to lose. If the person you reach out to does not answer or worse yet, declines your request, you are no worse off than before you picked up the phone. And if they do decide to help you out, how much more you have to gain!

PS- If you want to feel a bit more confident about the call, try to find a way that you can help that person in their life or career. Offering a service or favor is a great way to turn a cold call into a warm one.

the biggest leaps when going full-time

February 23rd, 2010   |   Business AdviceLife

[originally posted April, 7th 2009]


Since I got such great responses from the business pieces I have posted, I will continue with this question from last week.

What are the biggest leaps you have taken in starting your own business?

This is a great question and the answer varies for each business owner. When I speak with someone who is thinking about starting a small business, 50% of the time I am a huge cheerleader. If she says “it’s too hard to start a business” I respond with, “It’s not any more difficult than a lemonade stand.” Then, once she is excited to start, I find myself bring up all the difficult aspects of small business.

I might be bi-polar when it comes to entrepreneurship, but I think from the dozens of small-business owners that I know, this is a reality. On the one hand it is exhilarating and rewarding to create something tangible from a vision. One the other hand, it requires a tremendous amount of faith in oneself and _______ (insert spiritual provider here: God, The One, Great Spirit, or Consumer Confidence). Below were the puddles that I found the most challenging to leap when I launched Jess LC full-time.

Unknown Income


Business plan or not, there was no real way to know what my income would be. I calculated what my weekly revenue needed to be to cover my monthly expenses like rent, health care, and food after paying for supplies. It was a simple technique which kept me motivated and out of debt. Some weeks I reached the goal easily, others took a bit longer. And a few weeks I even experienced anxiety and chest pains from the agony of not knowing whether I would be able to pay my credit card in full. Budgeting was an interesting idea, but not quite feasible considering cash flow varied from week to week so drastically.

The silver lining within the worry and stress was the realization that I had not considered applying for another job because Jess LC was my job, this was what I was meant to do. This revelation then gave me confidence to get through hard times, knowing that I would succeed. There was no other option.

“So What Do You Do?”


The second murky puddle after graduation was creating a new identity. If someone asked if I had a job, it would have been easy to say “I am a financial analyst for JP Morgan” like the other 345 business students in my graduating class (okay not all 345 students…). But when I responded, “I have a jewelry business” most of the time I just got funny looks. “What kind of jewelry?”  “Who do you sell to?” “Do you have a store?” Owning my own company required a conversation where people tried to estimate how “big” I was. Over the years this has gotten easier to handle, but I will never forget the day a store buyer, while placing a jewelry order (aka: the way I make a living), looked up and asked me, “So what do you do?”

At that point I questioned whether starting a company at 22 years-old was feasible. If customers don’t believe it, who will? Fortunately, this phase wore off, and almost two years later, not being self-employed is unimaginable.

Work Schedule


Being my own boss requires me to create tasks to guide my day and grow the business. Friends would claim they could not handle self-employment because the lure of 24 hours of TV in their pajamas would be too tempting. I always found the opposite was true. Bills come in four week intervals, and if I did not have the money to pay them, there was a big problem. I suppose after bills have been paid, motivation could fizzle, but growing the business beyond utility and rent checks is the exciting (and less stressful) part.

During my first six months, I questioned what my actions should be each day. What should I work on first? When should I stop working? Over time these answers became instinctual, and now I revel in the flexibility the business allows me. Yesterday for example, I took a few hours off in the afternoon to get fitted for new running shoes, and later worked on the couch watching the NCAA championship.

In summary…

As I read this post aloud, I notice even amidst the most difficult parts of the business, I found the up side to each obstacle. This wasn’t my intention when writing the piece, but it does prove my split view of entrepreneurship continues. The positive and negative aspects of entrepreneurship are so inter-woven it is impossible to give a honest, complete account any other way.

why i’m here on earth

February 23rd, 2010   |   ExfoliatingLife

[originally posted on November, 3rd 2009]



Have you ever noticed that a title of a certain book reappears throughout your life in things you read and hear? This has happened to me with two books, The Alchemist (a great book) and A Return to Love. Right now I am deep within Marianne Williamson’s A Return to Love. There are many things I’d like to share, and today I’m going to start with a quote that ironically, I’ve had on my inspiration board for many years before reading (or knowing about) A Return to Love.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light , not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of god. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make and manifest the glory of god that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own  light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

-Marianne Williamson

As I have spent more time devoted to MakeunderMyLife, I have found that my light is best shared through inspiring people in two ways. Some find inspiration and encouragement in my jewelry business and self-employment. To many, my story about starting the jewelry business at 15 and going full-time after college graduation makes the self-employed road seem safer and more traveled. Though unexpected, I think this is a great way to be of service.

But at an even deeper level, I personally feel, deep down in my gut, that I am meant to help the millions of women who live just like me. The women who live in well-developed countries with education, purpose, and the desire to live a meaningful life. I believe I am here to help those women, with boundless potential for good, uncover their vision and vocation which may be laying dormant beneath a mountains of mental and physical clutter.

If I can help those women become who they are meant to be, they will deliver their own individual contributions. And those unique missions will help in millions of people all over the world in millions of different ways.

In summary, I’m not personally here to find renewable energy sources, save endangered animals, or build houses in third-world countries. I’m here to help those who are meant to do those things, find and follow their vocation.

why i started this blog

February 23rd, 2010   |   Business AdviceExfoliatingLife

[originally posted October, 14th 2009]


A few weeks ago I realized that I haven’t ever clearly explained why I started MakeunderMyLife. People have asked me about it in person, but I’ve never taken the time to share the background here. Which is a pretty sad reality, considering that you might be interested to know.

Planting the Seed

In college, I had a huge realization that my best self was laying dormant beneath a pile of “stuff” (read: clothes, junk, head junk, candy bars, fat from said candy bars, and illusions of perfection). At that moment, I realized that my purpose, my vocation, is to share and inspire others to makeunder their lives.

Charting a Path


At the same time as this epiphany, I had an extraordinary mentor named Mary who completely believed that I could become and do anything that I wanted. So I started to research how other women have shared their personal visions (namely, Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey). In Martha’s case, the path to her success was clear. After starting a successful catering business, she wrote a book called Entertaining. This book became extremely popular. In many ways it launched her media empire.

After reading about her success, I decided to do the same. I wrote attempted to write a proposal for a book called Makeunder Your Life. But the process was overwhelming and I was concerned about content and authority. Who was I, as a junior in college, to tell people of all ages what they should do with their stuff? Taking a step back, I realized I was a green banana, unripe without any post-grad experience to share. So I let the project marinate in my head.

1.5 Years Post-Grad Later


As you may know, I moved to Chicago after college and started Jess LC full-time. I envisioned a point in my life where I could juggle the jewelry and writing the book. But starting the business took all my attention the first year and a half. I barely had a moment to consider Makeunder Your Life and put it in the back of my mind.

January 1, 2009

In my new year’s intentions, I decided to revisit the book concept. I had been reading blogs for a month by that point, so the natural step was to start a blog to collect personal content for Makeunder Your Life. This way I could improve my writing, gather new ideas for the book, and start my vocation a bit early.

I never imagined anyone would read it.

But lo and behold, it did find an audience (Jess LC customers clicked the link to the blog and started reading) and here I write today. I have realized that since Martha’s Entertaining was published, things have changed quite a bit. I don’t need to have a book to start helping people all over the world. I just need a small corner of the internet to publish my thoughts and learn from readers as I go along.

Who knows where this blog will take me or Makeunder Your Life. But one thing is for sure: ever since I’ve discovered and pursued my purpose, some amazing opportunities have come my way. And if you are fortunate enough to know your own vocation, I urge you to follow it and see where it leads.

For those who are still finding your calling, it never hurts to makeunder and see what’s beneath your “stuff.” You might even find your life’s work.

And hey, it doesn’t hurt to blog along the way.

madeunder: how and why

February 23rd, 2010   |   ExfoliatingLife

[originally posted May, 26th 2009]


Welcome back! I’ve taken a few much needed days to rest and recuperate. I hope you had a great few days of relaxation and are now ready to get back in the swing of things as well. This week I am detailing how to create your very own makeunder, step by step. The process is free, and can be applied to almost every area of our lives, but I specialize in space and stuff – because it is the quickest place to make an impact and because I love design.

Before I get into the nitty gritty steps and examples, let me first frame how this whole idea came about. The idea was hatched in a 12′x12′ dorm room in January of 2006. At that point in my life I was incredibly unsure of my future career and identity and I desperately wanted to be perfect and happy- in that order. So how does one become perfect? At the time, “new luxury” marketing and an infamous hit tv show, Extreme Makeover, made me believe that if I added a bunch of awesome clothes, bags, makeup, and semi-invasive surgical procedures to my life, I might just be closer to my personal nirvana.

Needless to say, this paradigm left me a disgruntled co-ed, considering I had no means to obtain any of those illusive products or procedures.

That is until I heard a quote from Michelangelo regarding the statue of David. When asked how he created such a beautiful figure from a massive stone he responded that he could see the statue beneath the layers of rock and he simply needed to remove the excess stone.

And then it clicked.

Like David, my best self, the one that I was searching so desperately for in the bottom of a shopping bag or a Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough carton, was underneath that “stuff.” The person I wanted to be was ever-present, but hidden behind a cloud of physical and emotional crap. At that moment I realized the path to contentment and my best self was found by removing the unnecessary stuff in my life. By making under.

First I headed straight to my closet and practiced the makeunder steps I will elaborate more on the rest of the week. I tackled the closet right away because there was a whole wardrobe of expectation and disappointment which could be changed in just a few hours. The more psychological shifts that needed to happen took a bit longer to develop.

I also feel that our space and well-being are tied to one another. If our space is peaceful and clean we in turn feel calm and focused. If our space is cluttered or ill-suited for our lifestyle, then a feeling of dissatisfaction buzzes in our ear like a hovering mosquito. Changing our environment to reflect our intentions provides a space for our best self to develop. And it doesn’t cost a dime.

Tonight’s homework:

Reflect on what kind of change is (or isn’t) needed in your own life. Generally speaking, the bigger the disconnect between our vision of our best selves and our reality relates to the amount of making under we need to do in our lives. What do you really, really want for yourself?

updates and a quick recap

February 23rd, 2010   |   Life

Explaining My Purpose

Good morning! After talking to blogger and MML reader, Brigitte, at Macy’s a few weeks ago, we realized that many newer MML readers might not know the full background behind why I blog and how I got to this point in my life. I think it might be apparent that I have a deep in my gut sense of purpose and passion behind my life, but how that happened might be a mystery for some people. So I’ve dug through the MML archives and sifted out some posts worth repeating from 2009 that help explain my journey. I’ll be re-posting the four best entries throughout the day.

Explaining My Purchase

You might be pretty familiar with my love obsession with chevron. Well, now I’m the proud owner of this new beach towel by Tracy Reese. And if you still aren’t convinced about my zeal for zig-zags, wait until the new Jess LC collection, Division, in April. That will do it.

Explaining Non-Supporters on Spring

Hop on over to Spring to check out Jessica of What I Wore on the topic of non-supporters. I think she has some great insights and I’m impressed with how she’s handled the issues she’s faced on her blog. Watch the video to see what I mean.

Good morning! A few weeks ago I asked for any questions you might have and I thought I’d answer a few of them here on MML. Take a look.

How to build a home from scratch with intention

You’ve taken pictures of your apartment and chronicled your move from one home to another. I will be moving too in a few months, and I was wondering if you have any advice for the process and how to build a home from scratch (with an intention!), and with almost no budget. I just don’t know where/how to start!
- Dee

What an exciting time for you! When I was moving last August, I had a great realization about the move and what I actually needed to take with me. I suggest checking out this post about vision and environment and this (somewhat controversial) post about emotional clutter. Doing what I speak about in these posts has helped me avoid bringing unneeded stuff with me to my new home.

How to pursue a passion

I am thinking about how I have so much more to give this world, specifically in improving child health – I have passion, creativity, smarts, and drive. I just don’t know how to realize these qualities.

First, I’d like to commend you for having a desire and passion for helping improve child health care! That is such an admirable and valuable vocation. My suggestion is to research others who are doing something similar to what you’d like to do, or simply find people who are in the field of child health care. I’d reach out to the two or three people who embody most closely what you think you’d like to do. Calling or emailing those people asking for an informational interview is the easiest way to learn quickly what opportunities there might be and whether their expertise is helpful.

Then I’d consider volunteering or advocating on behalf of child health care in some capacity. Volunteering can be a great way to get a foot in the door. But above all, take consistent baby steps towards making that your reality. Best of luck!

Job vs. passion / Finding a great accountant

I’m currently in a situation where my current job may be non-existent in a month, and I’m wondering if it would be wise to just stay in the same field (which I’m only somewhat happy in) or try to pursue something that I really enjoy, yet have no real-world experience in (including the possibility of having to go to school). It’s good that I’m in a transition period, but not so good that I’m really not sure what to do about it. Oh, and I am the breadwinner right now, as my husband is currently starting his own business. Any advice?

Also, one from my hubby…being an owner of a small business yourself, how do you find a good accountant that knows the small business stuff, but also won’t make you poor with consulting fees and such?


Hi Nicole, it sounds like you are going through a very uncertain, but high personal growth time right now! In regards to staying in your field or branching out into a new industry, I don’t feel qualified to tell you which way to go. There are a million ways to proceed from this point forward, and everyone has a different path to blaze which works for them. But, I do believe that if you take time to think and listen to your heart, deep down, you will eventually find an answer. And also don’t be afraid to do something non-passion related if you steadily make efforts to grow into that true purpose at the same time. The key is to start hustling to make your life align with your vision as circumstances allow.

As for finding a great accountant for your husband, I would recommend asking a fellow self-employed person in your area for a referral. This way you can find out from a trusted source whether the accountant is inexpensive and worth their salt. I found my own accountant this way, and it has worked out very well.

end of the week exfoliation

February 21st, 2010   |   Exfoliating

I hope you are having a great weekend so far! To be honest, I am writing this post on Friday afternoon while listening to an old Counting Crows cd, wishing I was running outside in Michigan along my favorite routes in Rochester. But since travel is not in my near future, I’m guessing that as you read this I am actually having brunch with a dear friend. And later I will go grocery shopping at Aldi and Trader Joe’s with Erwin.

My hope is that I manage to get a bubble bath in tonight- candles and all. : )

End of the Week Exfoliation

“Reading your blog has really helped me clean.  Reading your entry about the three questions to ask yourself and if I haven’t worn them in the last 6 months (or for me… a couple years!) then I don’t need them.  I was holding onto old clothes that I had good memories wearing or I remember how much I purchased them for.  But they are hiding the clothes that I really want to wear!  I don’t need them in my closet to remember them.  Less really is more.  I’m glad I can give them to our local thrift store so someone else can enjoy them as much as I used to.”

- Lisa

“A shirt and skirt which are both too short. I don’t know why I’ve been holding on to them for so long.”

- Melissa

“This cute little alarm clock got me through college and now it’s stuck at 5:16…it’s still ticking…just not moving.  Time to go. I thought about keeping it bc it’s cute and little and because it’s been w/me for so long…BUT do I really need a clock that doesn’t work?  I think this is how hoarding begins!”

- Eva

A custom lavender throw pillow. It has a beaded trim and sparkly mesh on the front. I like it, but it doesn’t match my decor. It’s about 23 inches wide and 9 inches tall. I’m going to ask for $10 for shipping via Paypal if anyone wants to comment and claim.”

- Jillian

“I have a jewelry box, container thingy that has a velvety bottom(comes out), a foam pad and snaps shut.  It is good for display a couple necklaces and they won’t shift during transport because of the foam pad.”

- Christina

As you can see, my exfoliated shirt quickly found a new owner 40 seconds after I decided to pass it on. I’ve had that navy shirt for a year or so and only worn it a few times. The sleeves felt a little tight around my elbows (not a comfortable feeling) and it turns out, that is because it is meant to be Susie’s shirt. Sometimes it takes me years to realize that the clothing I buy is often meant for Susie. It’s funny how life works.

ashley’s dream report: week four

February 20th, 2010   |   Life

Being a person who likes to have my hands in lots of things at once, and also being a person that can do a lot of different things well, it has been challenging for me to pick exactly what i want to do to make a living while staying within my purpose and following my dreams. I want to run my own business, I want to inspire people, I want to be creative, I want to promote living creatively and authentically, I want freedom from “the man”….I could go on forever. And it is fine for me to sit and want all of those things until my little heart is content but if I don’t take any action I will never get anywhere close to living my dream life.

Living creatively means having to say that I am responsible for everything in my life. It means that I am the only one who can create my success and make my dreams happen. It means that I need to start NOW.

Remember that business class I am taking with Chris Guillebeau and Pamela Slim? Well I have had a hard time actually doing any of the assignments to move forward with starting my own business because I have been waiting to “receive” some sort of inspiration that would assure me that I was on the right path and that I was making the right choices. The class has been going on for 18 days and I have just now reached a point where I realize that nothing outside of myself is going to give me any answers. The answers are within me and the only way I can begin to trust myself is to practice making decisions and to make them now. I cannot wait for the perfect idea to strike me from heaven above. I will never realize my own power without first taking action to see it as real.

So I have finally decided on the type of business I want to start first (I promise to share my decision soon).  Do I know that it will be a success? Nope. Do I know that people will buy what I offer? Absolutely not. With the huge pool of talent and beautiful products out there I don’t have any clue if anyone will even be slightly interested. But If I don’t try it I will never know. I don’t have to be the best. I figure that if I just start taking steps and trusting my intuition I will figure a lot of things out along the way. I just have to start somewhere, just jump in and see where it naturally takes me. I believe that I will find the things that I am passionate about and that work for me within the action that I am taking and not necessarily within the thoughts I sitting around thinking.

And what is the worst that can happen? Maybe people will not be interested and then I can try something else. But I feel like it would be better to try and fail then to not try at all and live the rest of my life wondering what might have been. I have never looked back at something I failed miserably at and thought to myself “man I wish I never would have even tried”. I always end up thinking exactly the opposite “I am so glad that I tried because look at all that I learned”. Its the truth. It is time to start now. It is time to be the creator of my life and my dreams. It is time for me to claim the power and creativity that I know I have within me.

(Jess shared this saying with me this week and I have to say that it shook me to the core. Its powerful stuff!)

So what do you say? Let’s do this thing!

intentional message semi-finalists

February 19th, 2010   |   Life

Last month, I asked you all to help create the second spring collection for Jess LC. The response on the first and second posts were overwhelming. Thank you very much.

As I have mentioned, I am excited to mesh intentions and jewelry for the first time in my line. And to do that, I asked for intentional phrases you would like to wear on a necklace.  Susie and I spent a lot of time reading and compiling a collection of phrases based on your submissions. Below are the semi-finalist phrases for the collection. We’d like to narrow the field down to five or six phrases based on your comments on this post, and on our informal focus groups here in the Jess LC studio.

As you read the ideas below, please remember that each phrase will be on a different necklace, but the words themselves will not be visible to people looking at your pendant. So you won’t feel cheesy or uncomfortable wearing the necklaces.

  1. Integrity
  2. Less is More
  3. Baby Steps
  4. I Love You
  5. Persistence
  6. Be Thankful
  7. Be Present
  8. Dream Bigger
  9. Be Brave
  10. Do Unto Others
  11. Breathe
  12. Carpe Diem

Please comment listing the top one or two phrases that you would most like to purchase.

This week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE participant was selected in a rather unusual way. I first learned about Erin, her blog (Just One Week), and her story based on her comment she shared last week on Ashely’s Dream Report Week Three.

After reading about her life, I knew she would have a lot of insightful intentions to share. Boy was I right! Take a look below at some of her intentions. I can honestly say that I relate to so many of her experiences, as I’m sure you will too. And I am now taking stock of my own life and determining whether I have any “creep” areas that need attention or observation. Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Erin of Just One Week

Don’t Creep, Decide.

When we first started dating, my husband told me that the thing he most fears is creep.  He defined creep as the act of moving from one thing to another without conscious decision.  He told me that he thought creep was the reason people were unhappy in relationships and unhappy with their careers.  He described friends’ relationships that creeped from casually dating, to long-term dating, to living together, to marriage – all without conscious decision making.  The same can be seen in people’s careers – you are miserable in your job, but you keep getting promoted or it is too difficult to leave, and so you stay and creep along.  You simply move on to the next expected step without actually deciding to make that step.  Needless to say, there has been very little creep in our relationship.  Before we moved in together, my husband initiated conversations on chores, fighting, parents, etc. all before moving day; but that doesn’t mean my entire life has been free of creep.

People Will Support You

When I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to become a doctor.  However, after two years of pre-med classes in college, I was passing but unhappy.  And yet I continued to creep from semester to semester.  I started to realize that my roommate would talk incessantly about her classes – she was passionate and interested in what she was studying – whereas I could barely tolerate my courses.  One night I stayed up until 6am writing my parents a letter discussing the reasons why maybe, just maybe, medical school was not the right path for me.  I called them  and read the letter the next morning.  To my shock, my father congratulated me on my decision (I didn’t know I’d made one!) and my mother expressed relief that I was changing my major.  Walking into the dean’s office that afternoon to drop my classes and change my major was exhilarating; I realized that I could control my life.  So often when we are wrestling with a big decision, we negatively (and inaccurately) anticipate other’s responses and judgments, which hinders us from making the right decision for us.  I remind myself that people WILL support me and don’t let fear of judgment (often unfounded fear) paralyze me.

Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

Changing my major empowered me to look at other aspects of my life.  Well into my second year of college, I was terribly self-conscious and quite uncomfortable in my own skin.  In my homogeneous group of friends, I felt like I stood out – in the wrong way.  I’d always wanted to become more confident, but I didn’t know how.

Like most college campuses, while walking to class there are several student organizations looking for members or soliciting attendees for their events.  One night, I passed a friendly guy who was looking for people to join a Step group.  According to wiki stepping or step-dancing is a form of percussive dance in which the participant’s entire body is used as an instrument to produce complex rhythms and sounds through a mixture of footsteps, spoken word, and hand claps.  I told him that surely his group did not want an albino (Chicago winters are rough!), rhythm-less, awkward girl in their group.  He persisted, and I signed up.  I am a square with very precise ninety degree angles – if I sign up, I show up.  And so I became the sole white female in an African-American Step group!

If I felt self-conscious and uncomfortable before – my first day of Step practice quadrupled that feeling.  I was the only white person.  I was the only non-practicing Christian (they prayed before and after practice).  And most awkwardly, I was the only person who could not dance.  (It required several glasses of anything before I’d even dance at a crowded frat party).  But everyone was incredibly nice (people WILL support you) and with each practice I felt more and more whole.

After several months, it was time for our big show.  I had to tell my roommate that I’d joined a Step group (she kept walking in on me as I was secretly practicing in our room) but I’d hidden the group from everyone else.  My roommate wanted to come to the show and wanted to bring our friends.  I protested – claiming that I didn’t want our friends (who are predominately Jewish) to be offended by the overt Christianity of the show.   My roommate could see through my lame excuse and knew that I was worried that our (incredibly kind) friends would laugh at me or judge me.  My roommate knew that People WILL Support You, and so as I stood on the wings of the stage, I could see that my entire family had come into town and they were sitting with several of my sorority sisters.  And they did support me, and they still do.

It is not realistic (nor healthy) to spend your entire life stepping outside of your comfort zone.  A comfort zone is NOT a bad thing.  But every couple of years I try to do something that really challenges me and targets my weaknesses.  Psychologists use exposure therapy to treat phobias.  If you are exposed to something that you are scared of, and survive, it is no longer as frightening.  Dancing, sober, on stage, without music, in front of hundreds of people – I was scared.  And I survived.  Stepping outside of my comfort zone gave me confidence in myself and in my friendships.  It woke me up.  It invigorated me.  I haven’t Stepped (nor been on stage) in the 10 years since the show, but now I dance all of the time – even when sober!

Embrace the Present

People often declare that either high school or college were the best years of their lives.  I find this incredibly depressing as it shouldn’t be all downhill after 22.

As I left college and entered “the real world,” I inevitably encountered some trying times with bad jobs and bad relationships, but I would try to reflect on my mother’s habit of embracing the present.  My mom has always had distinct reasons for thinking that whatever age she was at was superior to any she’d yet experienced.  She would say that her 20′s provided freedom, her 30′s provided stability, her 40′s provided money, and her 50′s have provided time (presumably to enjoy her freedom, stability and money!).  She has always loved birthdays, celebrating each year with great fanfare.  She never lies about her age or complains about “being old.”  She has given me a great gift in that while I may mourn the passing of time, I do not mourn the fact that I’m aging.  Besides, it would be a waste of time (of the present) to fret about something that is inevitable.

off the chain: so long southport, 40% off

February 17th, 2010   |   Life

In the process of re-launching Jess LC this April, we have decided to do a bit of spring cleaning to make room for new jewelry in the Chicago Collection. Enjoy 40% off all of our Southport styles. (Which means prices range between $20-$33!)

THINK ABOUT IT: cash vs. credit

February 17th, 2010   |   Think About It

The Cloud

Today’s THINK ABOUT IT came to me officially (though I didn’t know it) on January 30th, 2009. While on the way home from the airport after spending the holidays with my family in Pennsylvania, my wallet was stolen. The actual event was fortunately non-violent. A man on a crowded bus “helped” me with my giant suitcase, while his friend grabbed the wallet from my purse. I had no idea that it was missing for two hours.

In the two hours that the men had my wallet, they managed to make ten transactions across all five of the cards in the wallet (personal debit card, personal credit card, business debit card, business credit card, and health savings account debit card), spend my cash, and use my gift certificates from the holidays. Fortunately, I called the bank and had the cards closed before they could do any more damage. And over the next few weeks, all of their fraudulent charges were eventually reversed. Besides a lot of tears, headaches, phone calls, and affidavits, the ordeal was pretty much over.

Without a wallet for the first time, I was forced to depend upon cash for spending over the next several days. Up to that point, I rarely carried cash and charged everything on my credit cards, paying in full each month. A delayed debit card, if you will. But living on cash exclusively was an eye opening experience. I found myself ordering differently at restaurants and bars, uninterested in “going shopping,” and generally much more aware of my cash flow. This experience opened my eyes to living a more financially mindful life.

The Silver Lining

I’m proud to say that I’ve stuck with the habit long after the new credit and debit cards have arrived. Sure, my groceries, gym membership, and large expenses still end up on the card. But I’m now pulling $100 a week from my checking account and budgeting my money accordingly. If I want to shop, that might mean I don’t go out three nights a week for dinner. If I’m at a bar with friends, I might forgo the last drink in order to pay for the cab ride home. And I haven’t gotten a professional manicure in 2010 (yet).

What I’ve been surprised by is the lack of resentment I feel towards this informal ‘budget.’ Rather than wishing I could buy whatever I want, I am enjoying each purchase I make, more than before. And this is not to say that I won’t by nice, expensive things in the future (I love Rebecca Minkoff handbags way too much), but now I’m much more thoughtful and purposeful with large purchases. In addition, this new habit is helping me make another intention for 2010 come true, to save more money for my future.

So though the pickpockets initially caused me to lose cash and gift certificates, this experience has now inadvertently helped me to save money and realize to my intentions for 2010.

step it up: sweet potatoes

February 16th, 2010   |   Food

Good morning! After being gone last Thursday and Friday at the trunk show, being out of the office over the weekend, and taping our March Spring video yesterday, I have a lot of work to do today. One of those “I’ve-been-out-of-the-loop-the-mountain-of-work-seems-pretty-big-and-I-don’t-quite-know-where-to-start” kind of days. I think a well planned to-do list and a good sense of humor will help me gain some traction.

That said, I’d like to share my friend, Stephanie’s favorite sweet potato recipe. She’s kindly taken pictures of the process below and above you’ll find her video explaining the process in person. It’s such a great recipe I’m making it for the third time later this week.

Yum! Keep these potatoes in their foil wrappers in your fridge and grab as you need throughout the week. They are super sweet with their own caramelized skins and can be heated or eaten cold. The perfect afternoon “sweet” snack.

MML tv page

February 15th, 2010   |   Life

Over the weekend, I put together a page with the recent tv segments that aired about MML and Jess LC. The first interview is short and sweet with shots of my studio. And the rest of the clips are pieces from a longer interview I did about the business. Breaking the full 30 minute piece into 1-3 minute segments make it much easier to see exactly what you’re interested in right away. Check out the new page.

end of the week exfoliation

February 14th, 2010   |   Exfoliating

I know, this exfoliation is arguably at the beginning of a new week. But with Valentine’s Day festivities yesterday, I didn’t get around to posting. Instead, Erwin took me to a new Chinese restaurant out in Logan Square called Friendship which has the worlds best pot stickers. I highly recommend trying it if you live in Chicago. (They deliver, too.)

End of the Week Exfoliation

“A large painting of The Last Supper that was previously in my grandparents home.   I’ve donated it to a local catholic school to be placed on their campus.  They were pleased to receive this gift and I will feel better knowing more individuals will enjoy it.  (my grandparents had given me a smaller copy for my home and I certainly did not need both of them)” [no image]

- Bridget

“4 purses, 2 wallets and some makeup bag thingy are going off to Goodwill.”

- Christina

“I bought 3 new pair of shoes this week. Out with the old, in with the new. Anytime I buy something new, I make sure to get rid of something! It makes for a much more manageable closet.”

- Melissa

“Why is it so hard to get rid of clothes…that don’t even make us look good?!  Well, practice makes perfect…maybe next week, it will be easier!”

- Eva

“A bag full of impulse buys that I realized later were mistakes…. Happily, all the items still had tags and receipts, so they’ve all gone back to the stores from which they came!”
- Anne
“A plush teddy bear that says “hug me, squeeze me” when his paw is pushed. Pretty cute. He’s new and clean and everything; just not my thing. Please comment to claim him. I’m going to ask for $10 for shipping via Paypal.”
This boyfriend cardigan from J.Crew was nice and long… before I washed the “dry clean only” garment. Now it’s shrunken beyond repair. So I went to LOFT and got a similar blush colored cardigan on sale this week. (Which fits better than this one ever did.)

ashley’s dream report: week three

February 12th, 2010   |   Life

I’m in the in-between place and I am finding that it is really hard to balance everything. Working a full time job and trying to follow your purpose and dreams at the same time is not easy! Almost every single day I wake up and wish I could just put in my 2 week notice at work and move on to “real” life. I feel like I am wasting so much time and especially energy on a job that I don’t believe in at all. It is hard for me to do work that I don’t believe in. Some people can just go to their job and work and do whatever needs to be done (even if it is to design an ad for a greyhound dog track) and then just go home and never think about it. Not me. I have to believe in it because when I do something I do it completely and with my whole heart. I just can’t half-ass anything. I couldn’t even do that as a kid. My heart and passion for the human element in every single thing I do just overrides my ability to be mediocre. I know its all dramatic and soap-opera-like but I honestly wouldn’t want to be any other way.

Of course i know i have the option of just jumping ship. you always have a choice to be in any working situation (even if you feel like you don’t). But is that the best option for me? I am not bringing in any money on the side yet. I am still working on my plan (more about that next week). But here is what I DO know… I do know that the things I need will be provided at the right time and place to move me further into my dreams. I do know that if I keep at it and stay focused on what I know to be true and believe in I will remain in my purpose and keep moving toward my dreams. And I do know that I will continue taking small steps in the direction I want to go because you can’t get anywhere without first being where you are.

Thanks for continuing to go on this journey with me. Have any of you experienced this place I am in now…wanting to quit your (life sucking) day job so badly but not being in the place to do so yet? I would love to hear how you handled it. Please share!!

P.S. I am almost finished reading the book Linchpin by Seth Godin. AMAZING book! I highly recommend it if you are in the business of following your dreams.

Good morning! Today’s DYL is written by a very dear friend and mentor of mine, Vicki of Heavenly Metal. I first met Vicki as a college sophomore. Her adorable and unique boutique, Heavenly Metal, in Ann Arbor, Michigan was one of the first stores to carry Jess LC. Through working with Vicki via my jewelry, and eventually working for her shop part-time, I learned about self-employment and life. Vicki is always ready and willing to impart her advice in an incredibly authentic and honest way.

When I struggled with Jess LC during the first six months in Chicago, she was the only person I could seriously rely upon for business advice. Only Vicki shared my entrepreneurial spirit and understood what was at stake, and what could be gained. When I eventually asked her if it was time for me to throw in the towel, she immediately scoffed and said I had to give it at least one year. And so I took a deep breath, and did just that. Thanks to her long-term perspective, Jess LC is where it is today.

So with no further ado, I give you a peek into Vicki’s wonderful and inspiring life.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Vicki of Heavenly Metal

I have a degree in film from the University of Michigan which I put to use for a number of years. After volunteering for the Ann Arbor Film Festival for 10 or so years, I became the Festival Director, a position I held for 15 years. I thought it was my career job, but it didn’t work out that way.

Simultaneous to running the film festival, I cut hair in my little storefront business, Vicki’s Wash & Wear Haircuts. The festival office was in the back room of my haircut shop. When the festival moved out, I began selling Kathryn Arnett’s recycled metal artwork and some locally made jewelry. Word got out that there was a new store in town, so I came up with a name and started attending trade shows to bring in more product…and that’s how my gallery/gift shop Heavenly Metal was born!

Ten months into my new career I was diagnosed with breast cancer and spent the next year and a half undergoing very aggressive treatment that made me quite ill. I was unable to work because I was at high risk for infection. Fortunately friends kept my business going and the community graciously raised funds for me, as I ran out of money. Now it is 7 years since diagnosis and Heavenly Metal has become my dream come true!

I love going to work every day….my shop is cheerful, filled with unique handmade art, jewelry, bags, apparel, shoes….it’s very comfy and cozy and I feel lucky to be earning a living making my shoppers happy. Plus I get to bring my precious Lucy, an 8-lb Papillon, to work with me every day! With the relief of cancer behind me, and the knowledge I have gained owning a retail business, I’ve created a huge intention: take my business to the next level so it can gain national attention. Why keep it a hidden local treasure? This means learning about facebook and twitter and staying current with the store’s online store and blog: so much work for one little person to take on! If anyone has suggestions for me to make my intention come true, please share your thoughts! I’m soooo excited to make this work for me!

Embrace who you are.

I grew up in an unconventional family. There have been many many situations where I’ve felt awkward, where I obviously didn’t “fit in” because I’m not suburban, I’m not conventional, I’m not christian/catholic. But what I am is very deep-seated in me because of all those things I am not. I grew up in a city that had a strong mix of black and white, poor and middle class. My family embraced all (well as long as they were of the same politically liberal belief system as us) and never knew we were different from those around us.

Being different is good.

Not being like the status quo is good and its empowering. I appreciate that my upbringing exposed me to culture, politics, art, music, counter-culture, “free-thinkers”….in fact, I wouldn’t have it any other way! What I learned growing up has made me an open-minded and out-going person who does not fear because of innate mistrust in people. And check this out: I’ve never had harm come to me because of it!

It’s a total waste of time to feel sorry for yourself.

I do have regrets. I attended the wrong high school. I attended the wrong college. I didn’t fully embrace my summer abroad as a junior in high school. I smoked too much pot. I chose the wrong guys. I never left my college town. I made poor choices in my marriage. Shoulda/woulda/coulda. But when I start thinking that way, I remind myself that it’s ridiculous and a waste of time to feel regretful and sorry for myself. When I become envious of people who have great marriages and families, no financial worries, a fireplace and a piano in their house…maybe even a cottage on a lake….I remind myself that it is just silly to feel envious: I made the choices that put me where I am today. Besides, I have two toilets in my house, no difficulties keeping the heat running, a refrigerator full of food, and wonderful wonderful friends: I’m wealthy!

When feeling like it can’t get any worse, remember there are people who have it way worse.

I had breast cancer. I’m fine now, but for a year and a half I was very very sick. When closing in on the end of treatment and the beginning of recovery, many people told me I was their inspiration. I was completely dumbfounded because I didn’t feel like I’d done anything extraordinary, except to live treatment day in and day out, as was necessary. Now that I’m 7 years past all that, I remember that when I was feeling I couldn’t feel any worse, couldn’t have possibly been any sicker, I’d remind myself that there were so many others who had it much worse than me. That is the way I live day-to-day and with the world….but it was pretty brilliant to embrace that when I was sicker than anybody around me.

Life doesn’t come to you, you have to go to it.

It’s a waste of time to sit around wanting, wishing, hoping, dreaming…..if there’s something you want you have to make it happen because it’s not going to wind up unannounced in your lap. Life is hard work. To be who you want to be, to have what you want to have, you must create it, find it, make it happen….willing it for yourself is just unrealistic.

Work hard. Play hard. Relax hard.

Having work is absolutely the most important thing in the world. OK, good health, love, friends, a roof over one’s head…those are just as important but having a reason to get out of bed every morning is crucial! But just as important is being able to play….and to relax. I strongly believe in integrating work, play, and down time into my life….I may not be able to do that every day, but each one requires the other. I feel grateful for knowing and embracing that.

Make the best out of where you are.

I own a fabulous store during the hardest economic times I’ve ever experienced in my 59 years. It’s scary. I have no one to fall back on: it’s all me and nobody else. But I love my business (as do the people who walk into my store) and I thoroughly love what I’ve chosen as my career. I gave up a wonderful career in my early 50′s due to circumstances, a career I felt I’d be with my entire working life, but it didn’t work out that way. I fell into what I’m doing now (though it had always been a dream of mine) and though it’s more work than I’d bargained for, and it’s tough tough tough given where I’m located and the economy of my State, I love the task at hand. I’d love to be closing in on retirement, but that’s not going to happen so I am living my creed and making the best of what I’ve got!

Be happy. Get a dog. Like your work. Don’t waste your time with people you don’t completely love and respect. Don’t burden yourself with the things that didn’t happen.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

reminder: free ship + trunk show thurs/fri

February 10th, 2010   |   Life

In case you want to get a treat for you or your sweet,

(Free shipping ends Monday.)

This week’s THINK ABOUT IT is a topic both near and dear to my heart and straight out of Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. In the overview of the book (starting on page 53), Covey explains that effectiveness is based on honoring what he calls the P/PC balance. The P stands for “production” and the PC stands for “production capacity.” He maintains that in order to be successful and effective long-term, we must balance our ability to produce (create, build, sell, input data into Excel, cook, clean, you name it) with our ability to protect our well being. Just like a machine needs care and upkeep to work properly, we must care for our bodies and minds; which includes regular relaxation and time off.

He maintains that in order to be successful and effective long-term, we must balance our ability to produce (create, build, sell, input data into Excel, cook, clean, you name it) with our ability to protect our well being.

In the short-term, we can push our bodies and our minds to do more and more- focusing solely on increasing our output. And sometimes this is necessary. But over the long-term our spirit, health, and relationships will be sacrificed. And since the spirit, health, and relationships in our lives are what feed us, we will inevitably reach a point where we can no longer produce to such extremes.

For example, a friend of mine (also a designer and business owner) launched her business years ago. It took an incredible amount of work in the beginning, and she rarely had time to sleep or socialize. Over the course of a year and a half, the extreme workload wore her body out and she became incredibly ill for over a month. The “strike” her body went on forced her to recognize and honor the P/PC balance. But had she been able to manage a more balanced life earlier, her body may never have reached such a compromised state.

Personally, I have found through monitoring my own workload, that my attitude and quality of work decreases as I resist my natural rhythm. But the more that I honor and value my time out of the office as an integral key to my success as a business-owner, the better work I produce and the happier I feel.

Remember the fable of the goose that laid the golden eggs? When the farmer became impatient waiting for his daily egg of gold, he decided to kill the goose to get all of the eggs at once. Only to find that by killing the goose, he killed the source of all future golden eggs. So the better we honor ourselves, the better we care for our golden eggs.

MML on TV!

February 9th, 2010   |   ExfoliatingLifeWardrobe

Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned that MML was turning one-year-old and was being featured on tv? Well, that segment we taped aired this morning on Chicago’s WCIU. Check it out!

Thanks to Aleah and Erica for hosting and producing the piece, I love what you did with it! (PS- We shot the segment in the Jess LC studio.)

spring video: who’s in your tribe?

February 9th, 2010   |   Life

Good morning! I hope to post the segment about MML that aired this morning on Chicago’s WCIU morning show later this afternoon when it goes online.

But until then, check out our new Spring video about what Danielle LaPorte calls our “tribe.” And you can also now follow Spring on Twitter for updates about tapings and blog content, @SpringInspire.

Here’s today’s Spring tribe conversation.

blogger meet-up

February 8th, 2010   |   Life

I know this is going up a bit later than usual. This morning I was at an early meeting in Bucktown (aka: the other side of the world Chicago). And given the awesome party last night for the Super Bowl, I’m a bit tired and playing catch up.

On Friday, I met up with Crystal of Plush Palate. We’ve been blog friends for about a year, but finally met up for the first time. “Just a glass of wine” turned into a four hour conversation. It was awesome to share life stories and blog experiences.

And a few weeks ago I was also lucky enough to meet Jill from The Good Life For Less at Molly’s Cupcakes as well. So if you are ever in Chicago, let me know and we can try to arrange a meet-up!

ashley’s dream report: week two

February 6th, 2010   |   Life

First I want to thank everyone for the wonderful and encouraging comments that you took the time to leave on last weeks post. I had no idea what to expect when I put myself out there and I was completely blown away by the warm reception. A million thank yous go out to each one of you!!

So the truth is, after the response from last weeks post I kind of freaked out. I started to put a ton of pressure on myself and for the life of me couldn’t figure out what to write about next. I kind of felt like it needed to be profound and life changing and I also want to make sure that what I am writing about is actually what is happening as I follow my dreams. But honestly, this week wasn’t profound and life changing.

A little story:

It’s kind of funny what happened first, after the wonderful response I received from all of you I decided I absolutely MUST have a beautiful office space to birth my genius in. I mean, that’s the way it is supposed to be for successful creative people, right? There are tons of groups dedicated to beautiful office spaces and studios on Flickr, there is even a magazine called “Where Women Create” that displays the perfectly messy and beautiful spaces that creative women work in every day. In my head, if I was going to consider myself successful and on my way to my dreams, my office MUST match that mission. Um…ok. First problem, to have a beautiful office you have to be able to buy beautiful things…or have beautiful things to start with…or have ugly things that you can turn into beautiful things. Well, there isn’t much money in my bank account so buying an entirely new office was out of the question, and I certainly didn’t have beautiful office things to work with (even though it sometimes seems like creative folks are birthed with beautiful things from the start) so I decided to go with the latter option…turn my ugly things into beautiful things. I decided that I would attempt to paint my ugly brown desk (made of fiberboard).

Bad idea!! After hours of spray painting 3 different desk sections in the Florida wind, I realized it just wasn’t going to happen. I ended up with a hideous looking desk in 3 TOTALLY DIFFERENT COLORS (in the middle of painting the desk white I changed my mind and tried blue)! And then when I barely touched it the paint peeled right off. It just wasn’t possible for me to make this ugly thing beautiful (someone with more patience, probably so, but not me). So off to Ikea I went happy for an excuse to spend my very limited $40 budget. Honestly, at that point, anything would have been better than a 3-colored-paint-scratched-fiberboard monstrosity.

The result still isn’t impressively beautiful but it totally works for me. It doesn’t look like a photo you would find in a cool Flickr group or in a magazine but I really love it.

So then, in the middle of the desk painting fiasco, my parents called to let me know that they would be coming to town to visit for a few days. The good thing is that I got to hang with my mom and dad and eat lots of good food and explore the city that is still so new to me. We had a lot of fun. The not so good thing is that nothing profound happened this week for me to share with all of you.

So as I was dwelling on (uh..obsessing on) ideas for today’s post it dawned on me….you are here reading this because you want to share this experience with me…authentically. How on earth could I forget that even for a moment? Then I realized that you might be interested in what I have done and the events that occurred that brought me to this point today.

The concept of making some serious changes in my life began around this time last year. I was really unhappy with my job and the tiny town that I lived and, though I was working in a creative position as a graphic designer, I hadn’t actually done anything creative, on my own, in a really long time. So I signed up for an online craft class with artists and bloggers Elsie Flannagin and Rachel Denbow. This class totally rocked my world. For $60 we had access to an online blog where 30 project tutorials were posted in 60 days. To document my creations and to share them with my new online classmates I started a blog. I got a lot of positive feedback and once the class was over I decided I didn’t want to stop. I signed up for 4 more online classes. Blogging Your Way with Holly Decor, Unravelling with Susannah Conway, In the Fish Bowl with Marisa Haedike and Creative Pathways with Deb Owens. I became a little obsessive with the classes maybe, but I blogged about the things that I learned and I continued to work on creative art projects in my spare time. I began to see that people really liked a lot of my work and that I really enjoyed connecting with people through writing on my blog. And funny enough, people liked reading what I had to say, I gained quite a few followers in a pretty short time.

A couple of months later, right as my boyfriend and i decided to move to a new state for him to go back to school, I purchased a program by Christine Kane called Uplevel Your Life. It was expensive (i just made my last payment yesterday) but it was SO worth it. This course taught me that I really needed to start changing how I was being before starting to change what I was doing. It taught me the importance of self-care and of not playing small. It taught me how vital it really is to my health and happiness to follow my dreams and live within my purpose.

So two months ago I hired a life coach, I hired a nutritionist, and I began an intense physical boot camp training class. At this point you may be wondering how I am paying for all of this stuff, right? The truth is that most of these things are being put on credit cards. Now I am not recommending that anyone should go into debt (Suzy Orman’s voice is now screaming in my ear), it has to be a decision you alone are comfortable with. But I really want to share the truth with you, the honest experiences that I have had and am having right now.

Also around this time I discovered the Make Under My Life blog and subscribed to the RSS feed. I left a comment one day not too long ago and Jess and I began corresponding with each other. And that brings me to today.

Its funny how signing up for one class started an entire chain reaction to follow my dreams. I guess you never, ever know what will be the spark that lights the fire!

I’ll see you guys next week! I started the online business class on Monday so hopefully I will have stuff I can share about that.

If you made it to the end, and you’re not my mom, I think you are pretty cool! Thank you so much for reading! If you have any questions or want to correspond with me one-on-one feel free to email me ashleyinzer (at) g mail (dot) com.

Here’s the very first sneak peek at what we have coming up for March! Due to the popularity of our Astor St. Cluster Necklace, we have decided to expand on the collection and add a new take on the old favorite. As you can see, we used larger stones and bright ribbons to add color and contrast- perfect for spring frocks. and simple tops.

Since this style won’t be officially available until after Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be nice to slip you a peek. If you’d like to order the necklace now, before it goes live on jesslc.com, please email me at jess@jesslc.com. Once you place your order, you can have one of the first Astor St. Ribbon Cluster Necklaces in a matter of days.

(In March we will also be debuting other ribbon and stone color combinations. On Charlotte you see the white/yellow and shore/pink samples.)

end of the week exfoliation

February 5th, 2010   |   Life

Good morning and good TGIF! I’ve got to admit, I’m pretty excited about the weekend. Some weeks I find the days just fly by. Others, not so much (like this one).

I’m also pumped about hosting a Super Bowl “Sundae” party in a few days. Since I’m not much of a cook, desserts and ice cream are definitely on the menu. I hope you have a chance to sit back and take in the commercials or football, whichever is more entertaining to you.

End of the Week Exfoliation

“Old jacket of my grandfathers – saving for sentimental purposes.  Realized I don’t need the jacket to have fond memories. I’m giving it to someone who needs it for warmth.” (no image)

- Bridget

“This flat screen computer monitor and speakers are going to my father in law for his photography business. They have been sitting in our office collecting dust for far too long- and I now have a reason to redecorate!”

- Melissa
Here is bag #3 of my pre-move cleanout. This was more of a challenge as even though I have no problem exfoliating items from my apartment in general, the one thing I never want to get rid of is books. But thinking about how many boxes my books will require in the move, I selected a bag full that aren’t my favorites and gave them away.”
- Anne

“This suitcase has been all around the world (Canada, Singapore, Czech Republic) but it is now falling apart. I now have a suitcase that is in better condition, so its time to exfoliate this one.”
“In my recent decluttering efforts I’ve been targeting the things I own personally (as opposed to household stuff) to whittle down my possessions to things I absolutely cherish.  These books made it through several previous decluttering sessions, but not this time!  Although I loved looking at the photos for inspiration, I can find similar material online via blogs and flickr so I no longer feel the need to own these books.”
At first I was clueless as to what I was going to exfoliate this week. “Maybe I’ve finally reached an end to exfoliations” I thought. Not so. I remembered that the studio’s closet has been getting (relatively) crowded and I was sure there were things that could be passed on. And lo and behold this seat cushion, purchased for my old desk chair, no longer serves a purpose in my life.

Reach Out

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