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First, let me say I’m overwhelmed, thrilled, and so honored to get the support I got yesterday with the launch of Jess LC. Thank you all so very much.

Today’s post is written by life coach Heidi, of To Be Luminous. Her ideas on personal power are a perfect continuation of MakeunderMyMarch in the mental realm. She is also a  MML sponsor, and last week’s DYL participant. Enjoy!

(And remember to check out the bottom of the post for a sweet giveaway…)

Heidi on Personal Power

I love “Makeunder My Life” for too many reasons to list out here and since you all feel the same way, it would be redundant.  For the sake of time and space I’ll stick to the #1 reason I give MML stamp of approval:

This process paves the way to personal power.

Most people move through life tossed around on the waves while life happens to them and then wonder why their life isn’t going where they want it to go!  In designing your life you are taking your life back into your own hands and are daring to believe you know a better way.

Even after setting powerful intentions and moving forward in our dreams life keeps moving and I don’t know about you, but I still find myself listening to what someone else thinks I should do and doubting my deep desires and personal intentions – even just for a split second.  For many of my clients just as they begin breaking down barriers, throwing away parts of life that don’t suit them (everything from a bad skirt to a sketchy boyfriend), the world starts to scream “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” and sadly enough some step out of their new strength and retreat back into their former comfy world.  Think:  taking off the perfectly styled new outfit you’ve been dreaming of and slipping back into sweats.  It sounds comfy, but comfy doesn’t help us achieve our dreams, become the person we’d like to be, and share our authentic selves with the world that so desperately needs each and every one of us.

We have to strengthen our personal power and as we take the MML action steps, it’s equally important to reacquaint ourselves with our own personal voice, our spirit, our intuition . . whatever you want to call it.  It’s the little guy inside you that says what you really think.  Your intuition fills you up, gives you wisdom, dispels fear, and calms anxiety.  Your personal voice is full of love and joy- for you and for others exactly as you are now. Sometimes it’s even more of a feeling or a whisper, but the closer attention we pay to it, the stronger our personal power becomes and we come closer to our authentic selves and allow the people around us to do the same.  Isn’t it great?  By being our best selves we give our favorite people permission to do the same.

The best three ways to hone in on your own voice are to do the following.  WARNING:  This is a lengthy life long process.  Do not expect to master it overnight, but DO expect to feel amazing strength, energy and courage very, very quickly!

#1 – Toss your energy vampires.

This means do your best to rid yourself of not only your excess stuff (which is perfect place to start), but your excess personal baggage too.  Sit down and set the timer for 15 minutes.  Grab a pen and paper (so much better than a computer for a brain dump) and write down the parts of your life that pull you away from who you dream of being.  Your list might look like this:

  • Screaming boss
  • Critical “frenemy” Jill
  • Guilt over broken relationship with Greg
  • Hour long daily calls where my mom tells me what’s wrong in my life
  • All my excuses for not going to the gym (Grey’s Anatomy, Deep fudge chocolate cake, having one-too many the night before)
  • Vogue magazine (makes me want more stuff and to look model thin)

This list is different for everyone.  One person’s vice (deep fudge chocolate cake) maybe a fabulous motivational tool for someone else.  Keep it personal and remember it’s only about you!  One example from my list will sound silly, but I used to watch the Hills and after watching it I’d always feel frumpy, unstylish, like I need to shop, lose some weight, etc.  It wasn’t that I was actually saying these things out loud, but I never felt good after watching it.  I put it on my vampire list.  Anything that drags you down instead of lifting you up (including people) should be on the list.  For most people on the list, it will be a matter of changing the nature of the relationship.  For example:  if mom yells at you, rather than cut her off, you need to find a new way of relating to her.

Once the list is made, get ready to start cutting.  Some things are easy to cut, others will be difficult.  Go slow and do your best, just know that you are treating yourself with care and deserve to feel alive and amazing, so that you can help others to feel the same way.

#2- Fill up on the good stuff.

Nope, I don’t just mean the aforementioned chocolate cake . . . just like your list of vampires, it’s time to sit down and make a list of people, places, items, and influences that fill you with joy.  Set the timer and go!  This list might include:

  • My best friend Holly
  • Date night with my man
  • Cake batter batter ice cream from Coldstone
  • A long hard run on a Spring day
  • Girl’s night out dancing
  • Long conversations with my sister
  • A day on the beach
  • An invigorating project at work

You get the picture.  This is fun!  If it feels like work, you’re doing it wrong.  Put it down and try again later.  Making this list should bring you to life, quicken your step and start you laughing.

Once the list is made start filling up the holes left by the previous list.  If you go to lunch with Frenemy Jill three days a week and only see best friend Holly once every other week . . . there’s some obvious switching up to do.  You get the gist.  Have fun with it and just get started!

#3- Listen to your authentic voice every day.

The first two steps will get you started, but this last one will keep you going for the rest of your life.  You have got to make time to listen to yourself daily or you’ll never hear that important whisper that could lead you into the life you’ve dreamed of.  The more you listen, the stronger you become internally and all those vampires begin to lose their grip on you.  You will find that you second guess yourself far less and you’ll jump in and take risks at times you never would have before.

Listening means making time.  When I commuted, I’d turn off my iPod, not answer my cell and then I’d dream and talk to myself (out loud  . . . I know a little crazy, but no one could hear).   My car was a sacred place.  I kept it clean and I kept my heart open.  It was on one of these drives that I felt nudged to go live in Bulgaria for a year and a half.  These quiet nudges WILL change your life.

Another way to listen is by journaling.  I’m not talking about writing a discourse on the details of your day.  I mean, sitting down in a quiet calm place for 30 minutes and scratching out whatever comes into your mind.  The words won’t be pretty and often they’ll be grumpy, but half way through (for me it’s around the 15 minute mark) brilliance starts to shine through.  I have been doing this daily for a decade now and every bold, brave, amazing move I’ve made first began as a scratch in my journal, a seemingly silly momentary thought.

If you make no other change in your life than listening to (and acting upon) your authentic voice your life will unfold in beautiful and unexpected ways.  This is the process I work through with my clients weekly.  It’s empowering and frustrating, full of highs and lows, but so is life.  Our dreams need a soft, happy, joyful place to grow and if we start within ourselves, miracles will happen.

GIVEAWAY: Six Weeks of Life Coaching with Heidi

Wow, right?! Heidi has generously offered to do a giveaway for a six-week life coaching session for someone on MML! To enter, comment on this post and I’ll use the good old random number generator to choose a winner next Wednesday, April 7th.

[photos courtesy of Kate Powers]

off the chain: the NEW jesslc!

March 30th, 2010   |   LifeStyleWardrobe

Good morning, sunshine! I humbly submit the link to the brand new Jess LC.

If you’d like a quick tour, here’s some of the surprises you’ll find,

The New Division Collection

I’m super proud to debut my first-ever sterling silver cast pendant collection, Division. I am fortunate to have a friend from college whose family has a jewelry business that can do complicated processes like casting that I’m unable to do in my studio (my landlord doesn’t look kindly on kilns and blowtorches). Now I’m able to find inspiration from interior design and Chicago architecture, draw a sketch, and see that idea come to life! But don’t worry, we are still finishing the jewelry in our studio like normal, so if you want a necklace shortened or prefer a gold chain, just let me know and we’ll whip it up to your preference.

Oh, and there are also matching earrings for each style and an awesome bangle to boot!

The New Website

The oh-so-lovely redesign by Meghan Radke. SO much nicer than the old site I designed myself. We now have an integrated website, so you don’t have to leave www.jesslc.com to process your order. Yay for efficiency and professionalism.

The Best Day Ever Lookbook

A few scenes from the new lookbook featuring Tieka, of Selective Potential, as the new Jess LC model.

(Notice the AprhoChic pillow? Thanks, Jeanine!)

Off the Chain Update (email letter)

(If you’d like to get my monthly Off the Chain Updates, please add your address at the top of www.jesslc.com or comment on this post with the words “Off the Chain.”)

Please stay tuned, there will be much more about the new launch to come the rest of the week. I’ll share all about the awesome dream team that helped make my vision a reality.

After six months, blood, sweat, and (almost) tears, it’s such a great relief to share this with you. Thanks for sticking with me and supporting me without having a clue as to what I was talking about.

makeunder my march review

March 29th, 2010   |   Exfoliating

As March comes to a close this week, I thought it would be nice to recap the MakeunderMyMarch series. From the exfoliations and emails I’ve gotten this month, it seems as if many of us are in the spirit of spring cleaning and sprucing up. Here’s hoping that this review inspires a little exfoliation and organization for others as well!

Makeunder My March Introduction

How to Makeunder

Step One, Create a Vision

Step Two, Exfoliate Stuff

Step Three, Identify Intentions

Step Four, Reflect and Evolve

Other Makeunder Ideas

Throw Out Fifty Things Challenge

Trash or Treasure? What to Do With Old “Stuff”

My Recent Makeunders

Under the Bed/Wardrobe

Kitchen Desk

end of the week exfoliation

March 28th, 2010   |   Exfoliating

So it seems these exfoliation posts are more and more often popping up on Sundays rather than Fridays or Saturdays. So much for the “end of the week” portion. At least we all get the idea.

I hope you are enjoying some time off with friends and family. I know I’ll be having fun and thinking of anything but work.

End of the Week Exfoliation

“We also gave this box of random stuff to the Brown Elephant. It contained kitchen stuff from old roommates, unnecessary wedding shower presents (including an awful smelling candle), an old camera, and other chotchkies.”

- Cathy

I have a lot of extra gym equipment so I’m going to do away with them not sure to whom or how, but they need a new home.”

- Sarah T.

“These are items that I have never or rarely worn.  My friend and I are going to be doing a bit of an exfoliation swap, but I am determined to get rid of more than I take in!”

- Heather

“I decided to do some spring cleaning over the weekend in honor of the official arrival of spring and realized what an ridiculous amount of shoes I own that I don’t even wear!  These shoes are now bagged and sitting at m front door to be donated so someone else can enjoy them.”

- Shenneth

“I love the pop of color that this spring coat adds to an outfit…but I don’t love the unflattering fit. It’s still in great condition, so I’m putting it in my “Clothes Swap” box for the next time my girls and I get together for some wine and clothing exchange action.”

- Shanti

“Ten more out the door.  Most of them are size 7 1/2.  All but 5, 7, and 10 could use a new home. The aforementioned trio have had their day.”

- S.E. Minegar

I found this old eye glass case/glasses case in my linen closet. At which point I realized it was for my old glasses and does not fit my new glasses or sunglasses. Which means this puppy doesn’t have a place in my life. Buh-bye.

ashley’s dream report: week eight

March 27th, 2010   |   Life

This is a week for celebration!

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the process of getting things done and to overlook the small successes that happen along the way, isn’t it? It’s so easy to just pass by the accomplishments when there is still so much to do before you get “there” – wherever there may be. This week I am going to pause for a moment and celebrate one of my successes.

One aspect of the new business that I am starting is to offer custom designed printable products for weddings and other special events. There are lots of invitation and stationary designers out there but there aren’t many that will create a design and then offer the digital file to the client to print on their own. This saves a lot of money as well as allows the client to have a hand in the creation process. I think of it as DIY meets high quality design. This is a photo of an invitation suite that I designed for a client and she printed and assembled herself (with the help of her fiance and family).


The wedding is next month so we are still working on various other paper pieces that will be incorporated into the day (programs, table signs, door hangers, favors, welcome kits, etc). But the invitation suite turned out great and the bride and groom are so thrilled with everything!

So back to celebrating. The thing is that I tend to be so hard on myself and expect so much perfection from myself that I completely overlook my successes. I’m not really sure why I do it but I know that it takes away from enjoying the process and the journey and the place I am in right NOW. Because really all we have is right now, this beautiful moment.


There is still a ton to do (as you can see from my mind-map wall above), but right now I want to focus on what is already done…beautifully and uniquely.

So I have a challenge for you this week…take a moment and actually pause and celebrate in your own little way when you accomplish something – no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Choose to celebrate what you want more of in your life!

nick dewar and the MML philosophy

March 26th, 2010   |   ExfoliatingLifeStyle

Normally I don’t post too much about art, but when I was shown this Nick Dewar print, I had to share!

Have a great weekend! (I’m excited to spend some time with Erwin after his busy work week.)

the moment of truth

March 26th, 2010   |   Business AdviceLife

Usually, I prefer to go through a difficult situation and learn the lesson from that experience. Then, I like to share it here on MML in the form of business advice, inspiration, and so forth. But today I’m making an exception.

As you are (very) well aware by now, Jess LC will look pretty different come next Tuesday. I have devoted six months to this project and invested personal savings to help get the re-branding off the ground. During the entire journey, I knew deep in my bones that these changes needed to be made. So excited by the new vision, I almost immediately separated myself from the “old” Jess LC (mossy green color, vintage logo, handmade website, PayPal shopping cart, even the font!). In came the new company color (coral), modern logo, professionally made website, integrated shopping cart, and cool new text. I loved every minute of it.

There were some potholes along the road, which I will share once the lessons have been learned. But by continuing to persevere during the rough patches,  I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel this March. How incredibly exciting, right?

Well, this week I’ve started to have some doubts pop up in my mind. Some had tiny voices and I quickly dismissed them, while other thoughts whispered more convincingly. The worries that surfaced asked me, “What if people like the old look better than the new look?” “What if people don’t like the new jewelry as much as the old jewelry?” “What if people can’t really see the differences between the old look and the new look… or worse, what if they just don’t care?”

The truth of the matter is, that these worries, though largely just figments of my imagination, might actually be true for some people. Odds are good that there will be a part of the population that doesn’t prefer the new look, new jewelry, or might not care about the changes. It’s inevitable. I’m just hoping that the majority of people do appreciate the evolution I’ve made and my business grows.

Now, just four days away from the debut, those worries have seemed to quiet down. Maybe they’re taking a nap, only to rear their ugly heads closer to Tuesday. But in their place has come a sense of excitement, adrenaline, and impatience. I feel like I’m about to run a marathon. The training has been done, the course has been set, now I just need to run and give it my best shot.

So thanks for sticking with me during this process, I feel like I have my own special cheering section along the racecourse come March, 30th.

Today I’d like to introduce you to one of MML’s new sponsors, Heidi of the blog, To Be Luminous. Heidi is a life coach from Florida living in Prague (how cool is that?). Next week I’ll share more about her life coaching (including an exciting giveaway) but today, the focus is on Heidi’s intentions and the life she has designed.

Here are the two things that struck me about Heidi’s DYL, a) I felt like I know her and b) I wish we could be friends “in real life.” Anyone who follows her intuition and believes that the unconditional love of a puppy is equivalent to surrounding herself with amazing people is golden in my book.

Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Heidi of To Be Luminous

Be Authentic

We are all quirky and different.  I am a strange blend of an avid traveler, consummate home body, guilty-pleasure tv watching, spiritually minded life coach.  I love it!  When I was in the fourth grade there was a competition for the best handwriting and I looked at my chicken scratch and was positive I couldn’t win.  Lindsey (I still remember her name) had long red hair and perfect penmanship.  She won the fountain pen and I tried hard to write like her.  Fast forward to eighth grade, my best friend (also Heidi) had a lovely round bubbly handwriting.  It matched her “perfect” puffy bangs (I wish I had a picture of THAT to share). I tried and I tried to write just like her.  One day in college, I started writing naturally.  I wasn’t copying anyone, it felt fabulous!  My unique to me handwriting is now something I cherish because after twenty years of trying to be like everyone else, it represents a part of me that is uniquely mine.  It might take some of us longer than others to embrace who we are, but when we do it it gives permission to the people around us to do the same.  Everybody wins!

Flirt

Flirting makes people feel special and that’s always a good thing!  It brings out the best in someone and the fun in you.  My college roommates used to say that I’d flirt with a tree if I could and they were right.  For awhile I was ashamed of my inherent flirting, but as I watch the way it lights people up (men & women), I’m not willing to give it up.  We all have our own style.  One of my friends has a mega-watt smile that can stop anyone dead in their tracks.  She uses it on everyone and can warm even the frowniest heart.  I’m more of a teasing flirt.  I love to tease in a happy, loving, uplifting way.  But don’t lead any unsuspecting men on . . . that’s just mean.

Follow Your Intuition

We have this wonderful little guy inside each of us that somehow has it all figured out.  I love listening to him because whenever I do magic happens.  Not only do I avoid dangerous situations but my life opens up onto broad and beautiful paths.  My intuition led me to live in Prague, become a life coach, get my sweet puppy Harry and buy that red trench last spring (which I’ve now worn for 9 of the last 12 months).  I make time every day to listen.  For me, I use a combo of journal and my morning walk in the park with Harry.

Look For Beauty

I studied humanities in college and began my quest for beauty.  I love looking for the lovely even in the most unlikely moments.  I’ve learned that what I look for in life is what I find, so I make a point of finding the beautiful and dwelling on it.  This works in situations, on people, and all aspects of life- not just the visual.  When you meet a cranky person you can’t seem to connect with, try seeing what is beautiful about them and focusing on it.  It works!

Surround Yourself with Amazing People

I love to be with people who bring out the best in me and then I want to bring out the best in them too.  There are too many people in the world quick to cut us down and tear us apart, why voluntarily let them into my free time?  I also think having a dog is wonderful.  His smile melts my heart on even the toughest day and when I’m a bear and difficult to love, he still loves me.  It’s unconditional and don’t we all need that?

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

my spring annoucement

March 24th, 2010   |   Life

Good afternoon! I made an announcement on Spring today that I’d like to share here on MML, too.

Feel free to watch the video. The decision I have made was certainly not easy. But Carolyn, Michelle, and Jess have been so amazing and understanding throughout my journey. I wish Spring loads and loads of successes in the future and hope you continue to watch their amazing conversations.

I’m also excited to take on the new role as Spring Ambassador!

A few weeks ago, Shenneth, a MML reader, told me about a book she thought I and other MML people would like called Happy For No Reason, by Marci Shimoff. After glancing at the table of contents on Amazon, I promptly went to Half.com (a great site for cheap used books) and bought a copy for about $3.50. It came in the mail two weeks ago and I’ve been working through the chapters pretty quickly.

Though much of the content is similar to a lot of other intentional books (like my favorite, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People), there are a few gems throughout the text that I’m excited to share here in the THINK ABOUT IT series. The first fresh idea I came across is about how we as a society often try to accumulate happy experiences in order to create a happy life. If we can just get that next bag, apartment, house, puppy, job, smaller jean size, and boy then we will be happy. All of these happy events are like happy beads on our happy necklaces. If we have enough “happy beads” on our necklace than we have a happy life. But Marci points out that if you’ve watched any episodes of True Hollywood Story, this is not always the path to contentment. I’ve also recognized this reality during my desperate attempts to be perfect while in college, just before discovering the importance of making under.

But the brilliant point Marci shares is in the analogy’s conclusion. Rather than worrying about each new bead or event that comes onto our necklaces, we should focus on making the thread that is holding those beads, stronger. If we have a happy thread, then the good or bad events that come onto our necklaces have less of an impact on our overall sense of well-being. Sure, things can happen that can devastate, or delight us for a moment. But the longevity of our happiness is dependent ultimately on our threads, not our beads.

Though the message is essentially the same as Stephen Covey’s proactivity, I love the visual nature of the thread and beads. Jewelry designer or not, I can picture it in my head. And whenever I’m tempted to think a bunch of thoughts like,

  • I will be really unhappy if the re-branding doesn’t go well.
  • I’ll be so happy when I get a puppy.
  • I’m so bloated, I feel like I could float without treading water.

I ask myself, do I want to be dependent on events to be happy or sad at the end of my life? Hell no! I want to be a happy old woman who found a deep sense of peace regardless of what her life was like.

And that’s when I realize that I better start strengthening my thread today.

Goooood morning! I am excited to announce that barring any national disaster, UPS delay, or internet malfunction, I will be launching the new version of Jess LC next Tuesday, March 30th! I kept saying I’d launch in April to buy myself some extra time, but so far the outlook for next Tuesday is promising. As you know, I’ve been devoting what seems to be my entire life to this project using very mysterious words like “re-branding” “re-launching” etc. Which all just basically mean that I’m taking Jess LC to a whole new level and besides the great styles from Chicago Collection and Soc Chic, everything else is brand new. Those of you who have been getting my Preview List emails know all about (some) of these changes. By the way, it’s not too late to sign up for the preview emails if you want to see them (there are three emails total).

Anyways, I can’t keep this a secret much longer. I think I might just explode with excitement. So here’s a peek at the inspiration board which inspired the newbie Chicago collection, Division.

Hint: if you look really closely at the last pattern you’ll see the new Jess LC logo!

makeunder my kitchen desk

March 22nd, 2010   |   Exfoliating

I’ve got another makeunder to share for MakeunderMyMarch! Besides the storage under my bed, the kitchen desk area is the least intentional area of my apartment. As with the bed storage, a lot of what I have in the desk is actually needed; it’s just not organized in a way that shows I respect the items. This carelessness results in a nagging annoyance whenever I open these cupboards. I know they can look better. I just haven’t taken the time to make the changes.

Take a look below to see the makeunder reveal. So much nicer, no?

end of the week exfoliation

March 21st, 2010   |   Exfoliating

Happy weekend! I just got finished doing a makeunder of my kitchen desk which has become messy and quite frankly a dumping ground for miscellanieous items that I probably really don’t need. Now it looks great and I actually enjoy opening the cupboards.

This weekend I spent a lot of time working on the new Jess LC website (which is intended to launch May, 30th!) and had a good old high-school-style sleepover with my friend Kristin in the suburbs. Last night Erwin and I also had a fantastic dinner with my friend Vicki and her friend Monique at The Bristol. So amazing.

End of the Week Exfoliation

“My dvd collection is not all that extensive, but there are a few that are good for nothing more than collecting dust.  they are going into the summer yard sale pile!”

- Heather

“I cleaned out the makeup bag in my purse and am purging items I never use. More space in my bag- what a great feeling!!”

- Melissa

“I Exfoliated my books. Updated my status on facebook offering any of these books to others I knew and said any money donated I would send to World Vision.”

- Sarah

“These are a few more things John and I found in our closets. A jacket I never wear anymore, a few long sleeved shirts, a shirt of John’s, and a wallet I received at a white elephant gift exchange. These were promptly taken to our local Brown Elephant.”

- Cathy

These items are all from a makeunder I did on my kitchen desk area this weekend. The full reveal will post tomorrow. It feels so nice to have those proverbial “junk drawers” organized!

spring affirmations

March 19th, 2010   |   Life

Good afternoon! I’m excited to announce that the lovely ladies at Kind Over Matter have coordinated with the ladies at Spring to do a set of affirmations!

Hop on over to Kind Over Matter to see the affirmations the four of us came up with (here’s a link to mine).

And now, back to a lot of work for the new Jess LC launch, only 10 days to go…

Ashley’s Dream Report: Week Seven

March 19th, 2010   |   Life


After my post went up last week, Jess and I started going back and forth emailing about how I was feeling. I wanted to share (with her permission) one of the emails she wrote back to me because I think there is so much goodness in it. So much goodness!! I know it will be helpful to you guys too.

Ashley,

I’m glad that my perspective seems to be helping. You will do a great job, but you have to start. If a baby waited until it was perfectly poised for velocity to walk, it would never get there. He starts with a dirty diaper, indigestion, and slobber all over his face. But he smiles the whole time and bumps his head – a lot. He cries. He takes naps. Then he rolls over, and tries again. I think this might be a stronger visual for you to think of as you get started. Sure, a foundation is awesome, especially one based on personal character (which is why I always bring up 7 Habits). But please don’t get too caught up in feeling perfect or even “good” to begin.

As you said, just do it! What is the one baby step that you can do today that will help get the  ball rolling? Do that one thing. Then ask the same question tomorrow. Repeat. That’s really all there is to it.

Here’s something else to consider about perfectionism. Sure, you are older than I was when I started, so you have a lot of experience and will be able to launch with a much better business than I did at 15 years-old. My business started with the name “Starlette Jewelry” and hot pink and black business cards – with stars all over them. This was my first piece of jewelry which began the business. The fact is: no matter where you begin, you will inevitably improve your business as you go along. So to expect any kind of perfection in your business this time around is impossible, and also distracting you. (If you have your “life” figured out, do ballet, paint, acupuncture, flossing, etc., etc. you won’t be left with time to work on the business!) You think it’s investing in you and your business, but it’s really taking you further away. The ego is a tricky thing; lots of plans, checklists, to-dos, must-dos, should-dos. All you need is just do!

What gets my hands dirty and out of the land of “one day/what if” is the vision I have for the business. It is so juicy, exciting, colorful, tantalizing, and aligned with my purpose that I feel any time that I’m not getting closer to that vision is a disservice to myself and to the world. (Please don’t think this means I don’t take time off, I certainly do quite a bit. But I spend my “working time” accomplishing this purpose and vision.) I know my business alone will not bring me happiness. My business is a vehicle for me to support myself and reach women and help them through my real purpose and message, MML. And that brings me a deep, penetrating sense of satisfaction. If I died tomorrow, I know I did everything I could to share the lessons I’ve learned (up to this point) via the blog. And that is an exceptional feeling. You want to improve peoples lives by creating beautiful experiences. Start creating those experiences now. You do not need to wait for your life to fall into place. As you fulfill your purpose, life unfolds on it’s own.

You have so much potential it is a shame to cover it with a host of things you “need to do.” I’d suggest making under those expectations in order to reveal the lasting satisfaction that your purpose alone will bring you. No amount of flossing, eating plans, workouts, meditation, de-cluttering will bring you the same sense of peace. And the longer you put it off, the more doubt and insecurity you will feel. Stop suffering and put one foot in front of the other.

Because I love you and want the best for you, I feel I can say this with concern and understanding to how you are feeling. I have been in your exact shoes four years ago. Right before I discovered my purpose about ‘making under.’ You owe it to yourself and the world to push past these barriers and move forward.

So be like a baby and learn to walk :).

Jess

Amazing, right?! She is so right on about this stuff. My favorite part is when she says that her business is a vehicle for her to support herself and reach people with her real purpose and message. Sometimes I get so caught up in believing that every single thing I do has to be profound and life changing. Well that is just crazy thinking on my part. Everything will not be profound…in fact, most things will probably be pretty normal and routine. But the normal and routine stuff can be the backbone of my real purpose. It can support my message as well as put food on my table.

So after all of this discussion with Jess I decided to make a change in lat week’s commitment to paint 30 minutes a day. I switched to working 30 minutes a day on my business. It was a good choice for me. Eventually I would like to go back to painting 30 minutes a day but this new practice was so effective for me that I am choosing to continue it this week. I was able to get a few things done that just felt overwhelming to me before. I purchased a new domain name and mapped it to my trial blog space. I designed a new blog header and installed a new blog template. Part of what I have decided to do for my new business is wedding invitation design…I spent some time working on new designs. And I have to admit that IT FEELS GOOD!


I already shared this image on my own blog but I thought it was perfect for this weeks post too. This was a simple watercolor painting that I did during one of my 30 minute painting times. It’s true don’t you think??

Onward and upward!

colormekatie1

Happy Thursday! In honor of the spring weather we are having here in Chicago (with a high of 68* today!) I thought I would re-post one of the happiest and most colorful DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews we’ve ever had here on MML by Katie of Color me Katie. Enjoy!

(From July/9 2009)

This week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE (DYL) is about Katie of Color Me Katie, writer of one of the happiest blogs I have ever followed. Katie is a wonderful photographer and street artist (I suppose that is a good word for her random acts of kindness). This interview actually came about from a (first ever) reader request. Claire, a friend and MakeunderMyLife reader, told me about Katie’s blog and asked me to connect with her about DYL so she could learn more about Katie’s intentions.

Katie was extremely kind and agreed to sharing her intentions and some of her awesome photos. As I suspected, I was inspired myself to shake things up in my own routine after reading her thoughts. This morning I will not be eating cheesy oatmeal. It sounds like a small step, but I happen to have a serious addiction.

Read on!

Be creative

1

It’s important for me to express myself creatively every day. I have all of these fun ideas in my head and if I don’t get them out I’m pretty sure my mind would explode. Realistically, I’d probably just get frustrated and fall asleep. But explosion or no explosion, doing something creative acts as a therapy for me. I feel better after taking photographs, making street art, painting, or making wall sized collages. The messier and more sweatier I get, the better I feel.

Don’t grow up

2
Well, not completely anyways. I think it’s important to keep that little kid inside of you. I see a lot of people turn into grumpy old men that just complain about everything. I know that we’re all adults and we have important adult-like things to do but that doesn’t mean we have to let go of that playful side of ourselves. I’m still all about blowing bubbles, running around in the rain, and playing with my food and I always will be!

Break your routine

3
I hate the idea of getting up, eating breakfast, and going to work the same way every day. It eventually gets boring and I will not stand for boring! I want to wake up to a day that is always new, so I make sure I change it up a bit. First of all, who made this rule that for breakfast we should eat cereal. If I wake up and want spaghetti, I’ll make spaghetti. Whenever I leave the house I go a different way each time. I walk down a new street, ride the bus, take a different train, or hop on a forklift if I can find one! Even if it’ll take me longer to get there, I don’t care. I just always want to see something new.

Be Optimistic

4
It’s raining again? Wonderful! It’ll make the flowers grow. I got paint on my favorite coat? Great! I can turn it inside out, sew on new buttons, and make it better than before. There’s always a way to find something positive in a situation you would normally think was negative.

Give yourself a gift everyday

5
There are some days that can feel so long but it makes it a lot easier to get through if you give yourself a gift. I always like to give myself something little like a cupcake, a flower, balloons, or an iced coffee at my favorite cafe. It’s not expensive and it’s a lovely little pick me up during the day.

Be yourself

6
I’m not perfect, I know that. I have this thing where I trip at least once a day and somehow my dress will always find a way to fall down at the most inappropriate moments. I say the wrong things at wrong times and only have laughing attacks when I’m alone on the train, which makes me look like a crazy person. I used to be really embarrassed of myself when I was younger but now I find all these little things to be funny and they make me who I am. The next time my dress accidently falls down at a funeral it’ll fall with pride!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

lesson learned: the price of good health

March 17th, 2010   |   Life

Good morning! Today I’d like to share something I haven’t discussed here on MML: health and self-employment. Though I am certainly no expert, the following is what I’ve learned so far while being self-employed.

(Very) fortunately I’ve been blessed with good health and a proactive sense of responsibility. As an active 25-year-old non-pregnant woman, I have several positive health factors on my side for a low-ish cost of health care. So what works for me won’t apply to others in different situations. That said, here’s what has worked for me so far.

General Credo

As a full-time designer, I pay for my health insurance myself. Over the past three years this fact has given me a very conscious understanding of the (financial and physical) “value” of wellness. I recognize the impact a healthy lifestyle can have on my bottom-line and bottom-line (Anyone notice the pun? Ha…  Ha.)

I run, lift weights, don’t smoke, drink (relatively) moderately, and eat as well as I can without sacrificing too much. All the things they say you “should” do. Since I’ve done those things most of my life, none of them were directly correlated with my quest to keep health care costs low. But now I have a better idea of what these actions are actually saving my bank account.

Health Insurance

In terms of health insurance, I have chosen a relatively high deductible plan with a lower monthly premium.  This gives me a monthly health insurance bill under $170.

I also have an Health Savings Plan (HSA) which is a tax-free savings account for health purchases and fees. I deposit money in this account yearly and use a HSA debit card when I go to the doctor or order contacts.

Dental + Eye

In order to save on my monthly premium, I don’t have dental or eye care included in my health insurance. Overall, this has worked well so far. In the future I might add these features to my plan.

To save money on eye care, I had my mom order a year supply of contacts before I moved to Chicago. And though I’m not particularly proud of it, I wore the contacts past their two-week expiration in an effort to save money. Eventually I ran out of contacts and shopped around my area for an affordable eye exam and contacts. My money from the HSA covered the bills.

But then there are my teeth. Though I had all forms of orthodontia for most of my childhood (braces, retainers, head-gear!, you name it), I went a full three years without seeing a dentist. I know, I know. I should have gone to see a dentist sooner. Every six months. I know. But up to this point, I honestly didn’t make the effort or save the money for this very important part of my body.

That said, the proactive sense of responsibility I spoke about earlier definitely has worked overtime in my dental care. I now have a regular flossing habit. I also use a Sonic Care toothbrush three times a day. Pretty good, right?

Well, last month when I decided it was time to grow up and see a dentist. I was faced with these choices:

  • My health insurance offered a $30/month plan for dental- which means about $360/year.
  • The dental cleaning and check-up fee without insurance was $166.
  • Cavities cost $330.
  • X-Rays were $100.

What was I to do? Should I get dental coverage for $360 a year – which would save me $$$ if I had a cavity. Or, should I risk it and pay just $266 for the appointment and x-ray out of the HSA?

It was a tough call.

I ended up forgoing the dental health plan and paid for it myself. Fortunately, all that flossing and brushing paid off. I didn’t have a cavity! It was a tremendous feeling. A real accomplishment. Though I don’t plan (or recommend) going three years without a dentist appointment, I am so thankful that those healthy habits helped my teeth and my checking account.

So all I can say to those starting a business is: floss your teeth.

off the chain update: preview list

March 16th, 2010   |   Life

Good morning! As you might guess with only two weeks until the launch of the ‘new’ Jess LC, I have a lot to accomplish. I’ve been showing the new Chicago collection, Division, to store buyers. I’ve also been working to upload the new and existing jewelry onto the new website platform, printing new packaging supplies, finalizing the lookbook and video, and coordinating a new payment provider (To PayPal or not to PayPal? That is the question.).

Once the new Jess LC is revealed, I promise I will share this whole journey with you here on MML. Since I know many of you are small-business owners yourself, you might be interested to know who helped make my vision a reality. I’ve chosen to keep most things underwraps to this point because I don’t want to bore you with unfinished details and because the unveiling will be that much more exciting.

That said….

If you’d like to get on the Preview List for the three pre-launch emails with behind the scenes details about the new logo, design inspiration, photo shoot, fashion blogger/Jess LC model, and a preview of the new Division collection: comment on this post or email me (jess@jesslc.com) with the subject line “Preview List.”

Good afternoon! In honor of Makeunder My March, I’m doing my first of several makeunders in my apartment. Today I tackled my wardrobe and storage under my bed. These were the two biggest areas for improvement in my space and I feel more peaceful knowing they now match my intention for this spring and summer. Take a look at the process for each below.

Makeunder: My Wardrobe

As I mentioned on Saturday’s End of the Week Exfoliation, a good friend of mine wanted to makeover her well-worn wardrobe last week. But with her husband in grad school, she didn’t have the resources to create a brand new look. So I decided to makeunder my spring wardrobe a bit earlier than usual in honor of her. Almost all of the items that I no longer envisioned wearing in the future looked beautiful on her. In fact, most items looked better on her frame than my own.

Two hours later, she left my apartment with a few dozen items and my closet felt a lot more intentional. It was truly a win-win.

And the best part? Many items I have previously exfoliated but haven’t donated to the Salvation Army (yet), worked for her. Everything happens for a reason, right?

Makeunder: Under The Bed

At the beginning of Makeunder My March, I admitted that though my apartment photographs well and looks pretty, there are still parts which are ugly and less than organized. One of the biggest problem areas for me was hiding under the bed. Since Erwin and I have no storage beyond our bedroom and hall closet, much of what we don’t need on a regular basis ends up lurking below our pillows.

Here’s what was hiding just below the beautiful pictures Becki took of the bedroom.

I reluctantly admit we do need to store some items under the bed. But at the same time, what we store and how it’s organized can definitely be improved. So here’s what I did:

To find out what needed to stay and what needed to be passed on, I pulled everything out from under the bed and looked at each item individually. The bags below contain what I decided to keep.

Here is what the underside of the bed looks like now:

Though much of the contents are still the same, I feel more peaceful knowing exactly what is in the bags and that each item actually serves our lives in some way. Keeping them organized in a row also makes it easy to find what I’m looking for. This storage has gone form unruly to intentional and that makes all the difference.

end of the week exfoliation

March 13th, 2010   |   Exfoliating

Happy weekend! I am off to celebrate my Irish heritage (and freckles) with a few pints of green beer. I hope you have a great weekend planned yourself!

Green or otherwise.

End of the Week Exfoliation

“Every time I get a new pair of running shoes, I get rid of the oldest pair in my closet. Since these were far beyond donation condition, I dropped them off at Niketown. Nike has a recycling program where they turn old athletic shoes into sports surfaces (tracks, basketball courts, and playgrounds). Check out nikereuseashoe.com for more information and drop off locations. Shoes can also be mailed directly to Nike if there isn’t a location near you.”

- Cathy

“I Exfoliated my books. Updated my status on facebook offering any of these books to others I knew and said any money donated I would send to World Vision.”

- Sarah

“This pink shirt completely washes me out. I wore the other shirt today and it just looked blah, so both of these shirts will be donated. Our new phones have an answering machine so this old one will be donated as well.”

- Melissa

I bought this plant stand from Craig’s list about 2 years ago.  It now doesn’t match my decor and no matter where I move it to…it just doesn’t fit like it use to.  I am passing it on to my boyfriend’s mom.  Talk about making the best of something…1) Exfoliating AND 2) Brownie Points!”

- Eva

These pieces of jewelry and my old silver watch have now become the property of a good friend in Chicago. She came over yesterday after explaining that with her husband in law school, she’s been unable to go shopping for nice clothes since high school. Let’s just say that I got a little carried away with exfoliating and ended up doing a complete makeunder of my winter and spring wardrobe (more on that coming next week). She looks stunning in all the nice clothes that don’t fit my shorter frame properly. Now I have the room to build an even better clothing collection for myself and she has a great new wardrobe foundation. It was truly a win-win.



ashley’s dream report: week six

March 12th, 2010   |   Life

I’m really confused this week. I’m pretty frustrated with myself. It kind of feels like I am not getting anywhere. I really do know that these things take time but for the last couple of weeks I have felt like I have lost my sense of clarity. After I posted about how I had made the decision about the type of business I wanted to start I was super excited and ready to move forward in full force. But the problem is that I didn’t move forward. I began to avoid the business class I was taking like the plague. I turned my focus during my free time to decorating my house. I allowed myself to get completely distracted from taking tangible action in the direction of starting my own business. What the heck happened?

My ideas about what I want to do keep shifting and it’s kind of driving me crazy. At this point I feel like I need to take some steps back. I need to get clear again. I need to play and explore and get my hands dirty doing stuff that makes me genuinely happy and brings me joy.


I am currently reading The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharpe. She is a pretty cool woman who is a choreographer and has a really compelling take on developing habits of creativity in daily life. In chapter 2 of her book she says…

“A warm, secure dancer can work without fear. In that state of physical and psychic warmth, dancers touch their moments of greatest physical potential. They’re not afraid to try new movements. They can trust their bodies, and that’s when magic happens. When they’re not warm, dancers are afraid – afraid of injury, afraid of looking bad to others, afraid they’re falling short of the inner bar they set for themselves. That’s a rotten state to be in.”

I was a dancer for more than 15 years. In all my years of ballet there wasn’t a single class that didn’t begin by warming up at the barre. Not one. I never questioned it but I never truly understood it either. I thought it was just practice. And it’s true that it was practice but now I see that it was so much more. Not only did it improve my technique but it got my body and mind warm. It removed barriers to my potential. It generated trust in myself, eliminated fears of injury as well as insecurities and brought me into an entirely new realm of possibilities. It set the stage for magic to happen.


So I have decided to go back to the barre. The place where a solid foundation is set for success. I have decided that for 30 minutes everyday for at least the next week I will go back to my foundation. I will paint. There is something about pushing paint around a page with a brush that moves my soul to sing. I don’t feel like I am that great at painting but that’s not the point. Painting brings me joy and opens my spirit to creative possibilities. I need that right now.

I feel kind of embarrassed to say that I have to take a step back at this point but it’s the truth. It’s where I am at on my journey.

Thanks for your continued support. I am so grateful for each person who leaves a comment and even for those who just read the posts quietly and I am especially grateful for Jess, thank you for believing in me. I feel so honored to have this opportunity to share this part of my life with everyone.

Has anyone else hit this sort of block and needed to re-group and re-center themselves?

Good morning! This week’s DESIGN YOUR LIFE participant, Liz of Sincerely, Liz, is also a new sponsor for MML. I’m excited to share her intentions and her amazing photography so that you all might get to know a bit more about her and her talents. As you will read, Liz has an incredibly kind heart. You can also follow her daily on her blog as well.

I’ll be taking her intention to give people the benefit of the doubt some serious thought in my own life. I can already think of a handful of situations where this is much needed. Enjoy!

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Liz of Sincerely Liz

Positivity.

We all have bad times, right? Here’s my cure-all solution to getting rid of the darkness in your life: put some light in it. My light comes 100% from my faith in God, but I have a few things I practice regularly, in addition to my faith, to keep my chin up. One of the big things I have done in recent months is surround myself with positivity. This includes actions like unfollowing negative tweeters (tweeple? tweeps? twitter folks?), stop spending time with people that leave me feeling drained 100% of the time, give myself permission to let go of people/behaviors/habits that weigh me down. In addition, I started doing more positive things like sharing smiles with strangers, posting uplifting quotes on facebook, writing weekly Gratituesdays on my blog. It took me 26 years to realize that the banner in my 5th grade classroom really WAS right. “Attitude is everything.” I tell ya what, keep it positive and you can get through anything. :)

Use your talents to give back.

I truly believe God has given us all talents that we should use to bless others. Not only does it lift up and help the people around you, but giving to others is enjoyable! It’s all a big, happy cycle of blessings and I think it makes life a bit better.

Give the benefit of the doubt.

Assumption is a dangerous thing. I have to make a solid effort to give others the benefit of the doubt, especially during those dark days of life. You know, the ones where you want to assume everyone is out to get you and you’re the victim. (Whew, dark days!) I forget sometimes what a positive impact giving others the benefit of the doubt has on my attitude and how that spreads throughout my daily routine of life.

Think before you speak.

I have two questions I ask myself before I speak. Okay, realistically I ask myself these questions as often as I can remember. Which is not ALL the time. But, I really, really try. Question one: Is what you are about to say going to negatively impact anyone? If so, don’t speak. Question two: Are you simply observing out loud or is what you are about to say productive? Someone once told me that he didn’t speak much because he realized that almost everything he would say was simply an observation about life. “She said this,” “We went here,” etc. For someone who has a mouth that has gotten her in a lot of trouble in the past, this was an amazing concept. One that I adopted for my own life from that day on.

Judge yourself first.

I don’t know if it was the way I was raised, or the culture I grew up in, or simply my sinful nature, but I have had a lifelong struggle with judging others. I find that my mind is assuming things about other people based on the tiniest glimpses I see of their lives before I even have the opportunity to process what I’m seeing. I am continually coaching myself (in silence) to STOP assuming and judging others. The way that I do this is to always think “what if that were me? What if what the person was saying, doing, or behaving like… what if that were me? What could possibly justify what I was witnessing?” It’s a continual thing for me, but I genuinely strive to someday reach a place in my mind where judgments never, ever happen.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

comment replies

March 10th, 2010   |   Life

As those of you who regularly comment on MML know, I do my best to answer each comment I get personally via email. I do this for a two reasons:

  1. I am not good at going back into the comments on each specific post and responding there. So this technique is slightly faster for me as comments come in.
  2. I personally rarely re-visit another blogger’s post after I’ve commented to see if there is a new response.

I realize that this form of response is also not extremely efficient overall. Depending on my schedule, it can take me a week or so to get back to people. So I just want to say that I am going to continue to do my best to respond to as many comments as I can, while recognizing that I’m human and may not be able to answer every single one via email. Please be assured that I love and appreciate every comment and will reply to as many as possible. And I will also continue to answer all emails, so feel free to reach out via jess@jesslc.com as well.

Thank you so much for understanding. :)

As I’ve started to post old exfoliations like the Throw Out Fifty Things Challenge, I’ve gotten a few emails about what I do with the stuff that I’m perpetually exfoliating. So today I’d like to talk about my frank and honest views on trashing, treasuring, and passing on exfoliations.

First, I will say that last year after the Throw Out Fifty Things Challenge, I did a big Free Garage Sale on MML. It was a huge success and most of my things found new homes across the country.

But what about you and your stuff? What should you do with it all?

The Ventilator Test

As you look around your home for things to exfoliate, you might find that there are some things you don’t need, but have no idea what to do with. In my experience, there are three general exfoliation categories: trash, recycle, and pass it on. Recycling is a pretty straightforward group. If it is plastic, glass, or furniture, chances are it can have a new life. “Pass it on” stuff is still in working order and useful- it’s just not working or useful for you personally. These items can be given to friends, donated, or sold at consignment stores. Clothing is the most popular item in this group.

But what about the trash? This is where I find the most difficulty when working with people who are making under. The idea that something might be end up in a landfill is sometimes enough to scare someone into keeping it for months or years longer than necessary. We are good people looking to make a positive impact on the planet, and imagining that our past purchases might one day end up in a landfill is downright depressing. But the harsh reality is that even if something enjoys years of future pleasure with new owners, eventually everything that is not recyclable has an expiration date… and will one day end up in the trash.

So here is a little test I like to use when I find I have resistance to getting rid of something in this “trash” category: If I was suddenly killed, moved to Timbuktu, or put into the Witness Protection Program at a moment’s notice; what would my family do with my stuff? Would they donate it to a charity? Send it to the recycling center? Sell it on Ebay? Or put it in the dumpster? If the answer is the latter, it’s safe to say that if you don’t throw away that really old prom shoe, someone else will.

If something can serve no purpose for you or someone else, it doesn’t deserve to sit in purgatory at the bottom of your hall closet. Pull the plug. Give it a proper funeral. Say a few kind words (you can even take a picture). And let it go.

You might feel a lot better once you come to terms with the death of that thing. And you won’t feel guilty every time you struggle to close that closet door.

February Giveaway Giveaway Winner

Congrats to Jillian! She won the February Giveaway Giveaway (chosen by a random number generator #12 of 13). She is now the new owner of a $40 Jess LC gift certificate. To win the March Giveaway Giveaway, please read the details and best of luck!

End of the Week Exfoliation

“A blogger-buddy mentioned that she is loving headbands now that she has short hair.  I sent her an email telling her I had loads of them that I never wore, and off they went!”

- Abbie

“This was part of my evening winter “uniform”. I would wear this fleece pullover everyday after work because it was so cozy. It has seen way better days but I’ve been waiting for the perfect replacement. I found a new “uniform” fleece so this one has a one way ticket to the garbage.”

- Melissa

“Here is our unsuccessful attempt at selling clothes at a consignment store. There’s a pair of dress pants that do nothing for my butt, a few sweaters I don’t wear anymore, a dress shirt, and an old sweater of John’s. I also added a pair of shoes to the pile that weren’t very comfortable.”

- Cathy

This baby pink sweater is great. But I recently got another one in a similar blush shade that I prefer more. Now Susie owns this little guy.

off the chain: new photoshoot sneak peek

March 8th, 2010   |   LifeStyle

Good morning! First, I want to mention that last week’s end of the week exfoliation will go up later today along with the February “Giveaway Giveaway” winner. After the insanely fun and exhausting photoshoot last Friday, I did a lot of relaxing and walking outside this weekend. It was a much needed break to re-energize.

That said, I’m incredibly excited to reveal the Jess LC re-branding in April. It’s so close, I’m getting goosebumps. I’ve decided to keep most of the project under-wraps until the big day…

BUT those who are excited to see the changes I’m making before April, can do so by signing up for a Jess LC pre-launch email list. Over the next three weeks I will be sending out one email a week (three total) with behind-the-scenes pictures and info about what I’ve got up my sleeve. You’ll see pictures of the new jewelry, clips of the new video, images from the photoshoot, and find out which awesome fashion blogger is the new model for Jess LC. Plus, don’t be surprised if you get a bonus discount once the new website launches ; ).

To Sign Up for the Pre-Launch Preview List

  • Comment on this post! I’ll include your email from the comment form.
  • Or, email me at jess@jesslc.com with the subject line: “Preview List.”

And now, for a few behind the scenes pictures from last Friday.

ashley’s dream report: week five

March 5th, 2010   |   Life

Making all of these decisions about following my dreams has forced my brain into overdrive this week! it has been an intense (emotionally) couple of weeks. Excluding the time that I was so sick last week i have not been able to stop my mind from generating idea after idea after idea. There seems to be so much to think about and so many things to do…i need to decide between Typepad and WordPress, i need to design my brand, i need to decide on etsy, big cartel or my own shop, i need to finish up the lessons from the biz class, i need to create some actual products, i need to be writing blog posts…i could go on forever. And unfortunately patience is not a virtue that I am good with so I want it all to happen right now.

So, in order to keep it all in perspective and to remember my truth I have developed a few practices that seem to be working for me to aid in controlling the mental chaos.


With the encouragement of my Life Coach Lisa, I have intentionally developed the habit of waking up and immediately going into the bathroom to brush my teeth. It may sound silly but I use this little routine to set my intentions for the day. I don’t mean practical intentions like cleaning the house or finishing a project, i mean mental intentions around how I want to feel and who I want to be throughout the day. Before I developed this habit I would jump out of bed and immediately start into something….email, dishes, a project, etc. And I wouldn’t make it back into the bathroom to brush my teeth until an hour later. But this isn’t really about dental hygiene – its about the practice of setting intention. And it works for me.


Another thing I have learned is that I need constant reminders in front of me to keep my mind focused and to keep from stepping into a victim or overwhelm mindset. I have post-it notes in my bathroom with affirmations and/or quotes (i change them often). I have them on my nightstand and on the fridge and most importantly above my computer monitor.


Again, this practice that I have may sound silly but I believe that these little things are really helping me to stay focused on the realities that I want to create in my life. They help me remember to dream big and to not shrink back into a victim mindset. This is powerful and I encourage you to try it.


And one more thing I have been doing is keeping a notebook (yes, a moleskine) right next to me at all times so I can jot down any idea that comes into my mind. This can be anything from a product I want to create to a website I want to be sure to explore more. I have to do this because it seems to free up space in my brain. If I get the idea out of my head and onto the paper it relieves me of the pressure of remembering it later and possibly the experience of loss if I forget it. Since I started this practice I feel like my mind is lighter and not so overwhelmed and scared of forgetting something.

There are tons of small practices like these that can be used to stay in line with intentions. I honestly believe that it is the small practices that turn into daily habits that create the lives that dreams are made of.

Do you have any habits or daily practices that help you stay focused on your dreams?

Holy moly. I feel extremely privileged to bring to you the DESIGN YOUR LIFE intentions of none other than Summer Thornton of Summer Thornton Design! As many of you interior design buffs know, Summer’s portfolio and personal home tour have become inspiration for many, many homes across the blogosphere. In fact, her home was actually the inspiration for my own home decor with Kelly + Olive months ago as well.

So without any further delay, I give you a peek inside Summer’s extremely talented brain.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Summer Thornton of Summer Thornton Design

Take Risks

If you never take a risk, you’ll never have an opportunity to really succeed.  Overcoming obstacles, enduring setbacks, and truly taking leaps of faith are what give you the courage to do so in the future.  If you live within your comfort zone, you’ll never experience anything unique, spectacular, or adrenaline-rushing!  Don’t let fear hold you back.  I had to quit my job and basically go 100% commission (on my own) when I started my business.  Scary at the moment, but looking back it was so apparent that it was the right decision.

Gain inspiration from outside your ‘bubble’

We all live in somewhat limited cultural bubbles.  We have our limited group of friends, we live in a certain neighborhood or city, and we are rarely exposed to truly original experiences.  Travel serves as my main inspiration and boundary-stretcher.  Last year was a whirlwind of travel and a lot of fun.  I traveled to India, New Orleans, New York, Kentucky, Miami, and LA in an effort to expose myself to other cultures, experiences, and design inspiration.  India was certainly the most culturally shocking experience.  While there on a service project, I was reminded of how fortunate and blessed I am, and at the same time I was gaining new appreciation and understanding for cultural elements that I would use in my career.  I came back with a love of block prints, a passion for jade, and an increased interest in new color schemes.  Another example was the Miami trip which was a short vacation.  It was also an opportunity to visit the Viceroy & Tides hotels which were designed by Kelly Wearstler as well as the spa at Icon Brickell which was designed by Philippe Starcke.  I left relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to create again with some great inspiration from two premiere designers.  In 2010, hopefully I’ll be headed to Paris for some serious flea marketing…

Do what you love

If you don’t love what you do, do something else.  Even if you have to take a pay-cut, even if you have to ‘start over’, do whatever it takes to do what you love.

Better bold than boring

Stand for something.  Anything.  In design, indecisiveness is the death of a great room.  Beige walls for instance, are oftentimes the result of indecisiveness.  Sure they don’t offend anyone, except me perhaps, but they also don’t say anything about the home owner.  The same can be said about a slew of ‘acceptable’ decisions in life.  Maybe this is the same as #1 (take risks), but its more about identifying who you are, and being proud of that.  I’m working on a design for the DreamHome in the Merchandise Mart that opens this April.  Some of the people who see it are going to think it is over-the-top, and they’re absolutely entitled to that opinion.  But my hope is that others will find it over-the-top in an utterly amazing, challenging, and completely original way (that they love).  And even if the latter isn’t the majority, those are the ones I hope will want to work with me in the future.  I would rather my rooms inspire thought and discussion, even if negative, than tired yawns of boredom.  You can’t please everyone, so why try!

Do something good for someone else

If you can, find ways to use your talents & natural gifts for a higher purpose.  It’ll be more rewarding than even the most profitable business venture.  And if you’re blessed financially, look for opportunities to use those resources for someone/something that really needs it.  Make it a priority, and your life will be changed forever.

(To get Summer Thornton Design updates, visit her facebook page.)

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

chicago city print

March 3rd, 2010   |   LifeStyle

First, let me say this post is looong overdue. I actually got these awesome Chicago city prints by Karen at Studio K months ago. If there is one thing I’m good at, it’s procrastinating about buying frames for artwork. So please be assured that there are three other prints still sitting in my closet patiently waiting for a final home as well. One day, one day.

Needless to say, now that my prints are finally framed and hung in my hallway, I love looking at them each morning.

If Chicago doesn’t happen to be your style, Karen has plenty of other cities like NYC, Paris, and Washington D.C. on her etsy shop as well.

throw out fifty things challenge

March 3rd, 2010   |   Exfoliating

To continue the theme of MakeunderMyMarch, I’d like to revisit a series I did last April called the Throw Out 50 Things Challenge. Below is the background on the challenge, followed by the photos of my fifty exfoliated items. It was a great practice and I was shocked at how easily I exfoliated dozens of items.

“Last Friday I searched online for a book I saw on a Today Show segment. While searching, I happened upon a book titled Throw Out 50 Things by Gail Blanke. My jaw dropped when I read the short segment summary. Blanke mentioned a Michelangelo quote, the same quote that sparked my makeunder philosophy and changed my life four years ago. Needless to say, I kept reading.

Blanke’s book is aimed at helping people open up their lives by getting rid of 50 things they no longer need, use, or want. And I have to say, coming off the Michelangelo quote, I was pretty intrigued. So I decided to give her idea a try. When I told Gertie and Natalie, two of my Jess LC girls, they both wondered whether I actually owned more than 50 things. I even wondered with all my exfoliating and making under whether I would be able to meet the goal. At first I assumed I would need Erwin to help me find objects in our storage unit to use for the challenge. But after just an hour and a half in the Jess LC studio alone, I found more than 50 things. In fact, I am looking around, and it is hard to tell I even got rid of anything.”

(From April, 14th 2009)

Day One

Day Two

Day Three

Day Four

Day Five


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