Our Blog

Clay Buddha Story
January 31st, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

Hannah over at What Have I Got To Give? (love her blog concept!) sent me over this video by Jack Canfield about The Clay Buddha. She mentioned it was about making under. Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical at first click. But as I watched the 4 minute video, I was shocked at how clearly and simply Jack retold a story about a clay Buddha capturing the essence of making under perfectly.

Check out the video here.

worry flashcards: free download
January 31st, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

Part of the recent Rue Mag feature of my apartment and work studio space was a Worry Flashcard PDF Download (pg. 52). Courtney Khail, the talented graphic/stationary designer and blogger,  did a fantastic job taking my ugly cards and turning them into works of art.

If you are new to MML and haven’t heard of Worry Flashcards, hop over and read the full story. I still think it’s the most valuable thing I’ve ever shared.

kendi and bryan’s dream report: week six
January 28th, 2011     |    Life

Be The Business Owner You Want to Be


You might remember the above print ad from American Express. It came out about 3-4 years ago. That’s Tina Fey, sitting scared underneath her desk, underneath her mess with her daughter, half-clothed in the midst of it all. Why of all of the thousands of ads I’ve seen in those past 4 years did this one stick with me? Because one day while perusing through magazines with my mom, she lovingly laughed, pointed to the article and said “This will be you someday. I can’t wait.” Now my mom did not mean this as offensive. In fact, at the time I took this as a compliment. That would be me as a mom some day, I said to myself with a laugh.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I’m tired, my brain is tired. I can’t move and I can’t think. We’ve got laundry coming out of our ears, my desk looks like I work at a paper factory and we don’t even have a working printer so tell me how that is possible. I kept escaping to the nearest coffee shop to work. I didn’t want to be in my house anymore. I had turned into Tina Fey. Ok — I had turned into the Tina Fey in the ad. Do you really think I’d be writing this post if I’d turned into the real Tina Fey? Uh no.

I’d had it with myself by the end of that week. I woke up that Saturday morning and I started to clean. Bryan looked at me and he knew I was a woman possessed. He stayed out of my way and vacuumed whenever I silently pointed to an area and grunted. Not only was I cleaning our house, I was cleaning our house out. I cleaned out cabinets, drawers, bookshelves. Anything that had creeped in while I wasn’t looking and blocked the way of my thinking got tossed. I tossed many forgotten treasures into a box and drove 30-to-nothing to my local Salvation Army and said goodbye forever. (Included in this box was a tea pot set, mismatched vases, ugly pillows and an extra copy of “Drop Dead Gorgeous.” Don’t ask.)  By the end of that day, I was exhausted, but as I looked around at my calmed down surroundings, I was back home.
My natural tendency is to be messy. But regardless of my habits, I can’t stand to live in mess. I can’t work in clutter, I can’t work in chaos. Most importantly, I can’t start a business with these life habits. If I can’t keep my life in order, then how can I ask someone to let me keep theirs in order? I had to look at my home as if it were my business headquarters, because that’s what it is. I asked myself “if you walked into this business right now, would you hire them?” The answer was no. I rejected my own business! But the truth is I CAN keep my business in order, I CAN keep our clients business in order, I just wasn’t doing it.

I ran across a similar theory in the book The E-Myth Revisited (a book Jess has talked about before). Here’s the part that gets me:

“Your business is nothing more than a distinct reflection of who you are. If your thinking is sloppy, your business will be sloppy. If you are disorganized, your business will be disorganized.”

I can not expect to be the business owner I want to be until I change. My business will look like whatever I want it to look like, because I write the script, I make the story. If I don’t like where the story is going, I can change it. That’s the beauty of a small business, heck of life. If you don’t like something, change it. I was done with being messy, so I changed. If this is the way I want to run my business, this is the way I must live my life.
It’s been a week since the small but significant overhaul. Our house is still clean and clutter free. My brain is free to work again on our business. All week I’ve worked perfectly in my clean space. Who knows? I might even look into Feng Shu next week. And someone, somewhere is hopefully enjoying our extra copy of “Drop Dead Gorgeous” while sipping tea out of a polka dotted tea set.

my bedroom tour
January 27th, 2011     |    Style

Time for bedroom pics! You’ll see a lot of photos that didn’t make it into the Rue Mag feature (pg. 46) because the article was focused on the live/work space rather than my bedroom. And again, Emily Anderson did a fantastic job capturing the special moments in this room.

To be honest, I hated this room for quite a while. But over time it’s come together nicely. I finally feel like I have that “grown up” bedroom I’ve been wanting for so long.

This is the big shot of the bed. My nightstands were both (amazingly) free. The white one was found on the curb without paint and the left nightstand was found in the dumpster in perfect condition. I couldn’t have gotten more lucky.

The pink painting was actually an old print from Bed Bath and Beyond that I re-painted. Here is the before and after. And believe it or not, this wall is painted the lightest shade of pink possible. I love it, but I sometimes forget that it’s actually pink. I think I could have gone a shade or two darker.

This is my love seat. Though I’d love to say that I spend a lot of time there… I don’t. It usually holds pillows at night. But I can pretend, right?

The dresser and chest are pieces my best friend had in her childhood room. I refinished them and added the antique brass knobs before I moved to Chicago three years ago.

This is the left side nightstand I mentioned earlier. I found it in next to my apartment building’s dumpster. A gold and marble miracle.

These Michael Kors pillows (link below) were a no-brainer for me. My obsession with white and gold runs deep.

(And no, my bed isn’t always this perfect – but it is made everyday.)

My Grandma’s silk scarves are easy to see and accessorize with in this vintage glass bowl on my dresser.

You can also see how I’ve used my DIY Chevron Paintings in the bedroom too.

My new favorite way to display and store everyday jewelry is in a small bowl like this one from Anthropologie. (Those are my Chevron Earrings.)

As you can see, I’m pretty minimalist when it comes to table tops. (You can spot my Chevron Bangle and Simple Paisley Dotted Earrings too.)

And one last shot of my bathroom. I love my custom silhouette of my family’s Westie, Mackenzie.

Where to find my pieces:

Bed Frame
Throw Pillows
Duvet Cover (similar)
Nightstand Lamps – CB2 NA.

my living room/studio
January 27th, 2011     |    Style

I have to admit, I’m still buzzing with excitement over the Rue Mag feature (pg. 46) today. In fact, there were so many more awesome photos that didn’t make the magazine, I decided to make an entirely new post sharing them. Emily Anderson did such a great job with the photography it was impossible to just pick a few. And in case you haven’t seen, here is the tour of my bedroom as well.

It’s also awesome to finally be able to look back on my original makeunder plan (post one, post two) from this summer and see how it all came together.

A shot of the full room. Living room on the left, studio desk on the right. (The kitchen is directly behind this space.)

My DIY gold paintings with white felt flowers. So easy to make for such strong impact.

My desk. Where I spend my workdays working on MML and Jess LC. One day I’d like to turn this white marble farm house table into a kitchen island.

Gotta give a shout out to Erin at Plush Studio for making my custom blue chevron curtains.

These Lack Shelves from Ikea are so fun to re-accessorize with the seasons (little can you tell that there were Christmas decorations all over the apartment the day before this shoot!).

The yellow chair was my one large color commitment. It pops in the room perfectly. I’m so glad I went bold!

Coffee table (found in the dumpster) with Voluspa candle Crisp Champagne.

A jewelry box holds my desk supplies.

Thanks for visiting my home! I’ll be back later today with the bedroom photos.

Where to find my pieces:

Bookshelves with these shelves laid horizontally
Arm Chair
Table Lamps
Floor Lamp
Love Pillow
Desk Chair
Vintage found thrifting or in the trash: white marble farm table (used as my desk), polka dot bowls, penguin book ends, and gold metal coffee table.

my home/studio feature in rue mag!
January 27th, 2011     |    Style

After five looong months I’m thrilled to announce that my apartment/studio combo has been featured in Rue Mag‘s third issue, which launched this morning!

I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my home in Crystal and Anne‘s wonderful magazine. Not only did Anne inspire me to start blogging seriously back in January, 2009, but Crystal has become a close, dear friend here in Chicago over the past year and a half. As sad as I am to see Crystal transplant to San Fransisco this month, I’m happy to know her dream is rapidly taking shape.  — And that I’ll have a fabulous place to stay the next time I’m in San Fran.

But it wasn’t only Crystal and Anne who did an amazing job on the feature. Emily Anderson was one of the most easy to work with photographers and stylists. We had an instant connection and loved getting to know one another as she shot my home. I definitely cannot recommend her enough for anyone looking for a talented photographer in New York. I’ll share more of her photos of the space later today.

I also need to send a virtual hug to Adrienne Murrill for the excellent perfect article that accompanies the eye candy. Her writing captured what I’m all about, what the business is all about, and what the studio/home is all about. Thank you so much.

And last but not least, Courtney of Courtney Khail Stationary gets a huge shout out for doing an incredible job turning my worry flashcards into a work of art! Download them yourself on page 52 (more on this on Monday).

Okay, enough chit chat… hop on over to Rue Mag to see the entire feature (page 46)!

share the Jess LC love
January 26th, 2011     |    Life

Today in the Jess LC studio Melissa, Susie, and I have been busy planning our newest web initiative, With Love. Over the past few years we’ve been honored to receive many positive, touching, and inspiring stories about how our jewelry has impacted the lives of our customers.

So we’ve decided that it’s now time to share these special letters on the Jess LC site. If you would like to submit a story for our upcoming With Love page, please email Melissa your letter at theshop@jesslc.com. (If you have a blog, feel free to send her your blog link as well so we can send some love back to you.)

Once we compile our first batch of love notes, we will launch the With Love page officially.

PS – Only four pairs of White and Gold Diversey Paisley Post Earrings left! Get them while they last.

It’s true. I haven’t written my 2011 Future Letter to Myself yet. As I’ve mentioned before, for the past five years I’ve written a letter to myself that explains what I’d like to accomplish each year– as if I’ve already fulfilled the intentions.

Normally the Future Letter is the thing that I look forward to the most come holiday season. Drafting the letter is as fun for me as opening gifts on Christmas morning. I plan for it, dream about what I want to include in the letter, and then anxiously await the fulfillment of the letter throughout the year. These future letters have been incredibly motivating and clarifying. I’ve found that on average I fulfill 80% of what I set out to do in the letter each year.

But this year, I didn’t look forward to the letter.

On Sunday afternoon, I was more determined than ever to finally complete this year’s intention letter. It has been on my to-do list for weeks, but I never actually accomplished the task. After all, I’m “Miss MML,” I should practice what I speak about. Or so I thought. I turned my “want to” into a “have to.”

In frustration, I stared at a blank word document wishing and willing myself to feel inspired about this year’s intention letter.

But nothing would come.

So I stepped back for a minute and questioned why I suddenly seemed to have lost the spark that used to get me so fired up. And suddenly I realized that over the past five years of writing these letters, I’ve become more and more closely aligned with the person I’d like to be. And this year, I have some level of confidence that I will continue on this path but don’t need any radical overhaul. The person I am now is largely the person I want to be throughout 2011. The things I want to do this year are mostly incorporated into my life already.

For the first time in writing these letters, I feel a sense of completeness about who I am. I don’t feel lacking in any major way. Though this may sound prideful, this really has shown me how far I’ve come in my life. You see, the first time that I wrote my future letter as a college junior, I was miserable and hated living with my own thoughts. I hated being me. And the letter I wrote that first year explained who I desperately wanted to become – though I had no confidence that I’d ever reach my goal. But over the last five years, I have in many profound ways evolved into the person I used to dream about. Though far from any sort of perfection, I like “me.”

Talk about DESIGN YOUR LIFE, right? It really can work.

While this revelation may sound incredible, enlightening, and euphoric, it brought about a deep uneasiness within me. Where do I go from here? How do I keep making progress in life without a lingering sense of dissatisfaction between who I am and who I want to be?

The answer lies in focus.

I have now realized that my focus has shifted. No longer do I need to put my priority on my own self-efficacy.

My new focus is: my impact on others.

Every step I’ve taken to become more proactive has led me to my next purpose, to positively impact other people. My future letter now needs to reflect this new aim.

So my intention letter for 2011 will dwell on what kind of impact I want to have on the people around me: my friends, family, co-workers (Susie, Melissa, and Kat), customers, MML readers, and even Mr. Lively. Sure, I’ll also think about what things I need to do in my own life to continue to be happy and healthy, but those goals are now also a means to an impact-full end.

And that is something worth writing about.

Before I begin, I’d like to make it very clear that this post in is no way meant to be a commentary on my sex life or anyone else’s for that matter. This is purely a generic example of how sex is similar in some ways to starting a business.

Over the past few months I’ve recognized a common thread amongst many people who are starting their own businesses:

They are worried that their first business launch won’t be that great.

And the truth of the matter is: in many cases they are completely right.

Businesses often aren’t that great in the beginning and improve over time.

Just like sex.

With practice and experience, sex and business both improve. Prowess in both activities is not intuitive in the beginning, but is gained through trial and error.

And the longer business owners wait to launch their companies, the longer they are delaying any improvement or tangible results.

I have struggled to find a way to make this really clear to new business owners. Their fears and worries are so strong that they often have a hard time really understanding that they are only going to become better business people by actually starting to do business. And my hope is that this blunt analogy will help cut through the mind clutter and clearly illustrate how much they have to gain from pushing past their fears.

Just because the first time might not be that great, doesn’t mean it won’t be awesome later.

So stop thinking and start doing.

kendi and bryan’s dream report: week five
January 21st, 2011     |    Life

Putting Yourself Back into Your Business

I asked Kendi to step in for me last week because I was preparing to attend a national conference for photographers. I went into it excited about the opportunity to learn from some of the best and to have the better part of three days to focus completely on our business and where we were headed. I got home, my head swimming with story after story trying to relive the sessions I had attended in order that we could figure out how to apply this into our business. Every speaker and every session had something to offer, and I wanted to ensure that I heeded their words, each with innovative and exciting ways to help increase success and to try and dodge bullets of failure.

The problems with this method is complete overload. I was paying too close attention to every word said, thinking literally rather than with perspective. What can I say? I am a theory man. Point being, I sought out advice and expertise and what I got were theories of someone else’s business experience that I was working to maneuver into our business. If there was any need for the square peg in a round hole reference, it would be now.  Albeit most of the advice was good and helpful and very useful, but I missed the biggest question of all: what does this look like for YOUR business? What does YOUR experience tell you is the best advice to heed? Each business has a threshold. As businesses mature, there tends to be more room for the adoption of new ideas that align with the original mission. But you can’t start out with ten years worth of experience of owning your business, you just start with the experience you have. Each time I try to include someone else’s theory or new idea without collaborating with my own theory or idea, I am forcing my own experiences out. Every addition of someone else was relinquishing control, and transforming our business into something not easily recognized as an extension of me.

Don’t get me wrong — I learned a lot of valuable advice and practices at my conference this week. But the best thing I learned did not come from someone else’s experience, it came from my own experience of mental overload. That’s it. I am putting myself back into my own business. I need to go with MY gut, and MY knowledge, and MY understanding of what I want MY business to be rather than only copying methods that worked for someone else.

We are all unique. Each of us has our own special gifts, talents, and beauty to pour out into the universe. I am the best me that there is, and you are the best you. I want to create a business that thrives because I did not hold back and I poured the best and worst of me into making it what it is. I know that I will make mistakes. And that is OK. I would rather make my mistakes over someone else’s.

Now let’s go out there experience life and create our own theories, shall we?

– B

a life realignment
January 20th, 2011     |    LifeThink About It

On Monday night I gave myself a life realignment.

Just like visiting a chiropractor to maintain an aligned spine, I think we sometimes need to “crack” our life back into place. I found myself over the past few weeks ever so slightly out of whack. My center was off. My priorities a bit murkier than normal. My effectiveness slightly compromised. I’ve been busy, but not always doing the things that are most important to me. My activities haven’t always aligned with my life intentions.

Though it could partially be a bit of the winter blahs, the culmination has made me feel off my game. I’ve watched more tv than read books. I’ve eaten more sweets than veggies. My workouts have been irregular. My sleep has been insufficient.

I think most of us go through this every so often. And the tricky part is snapping out of the funk to start making positive changes that reflect our truest selves, our potential, our intentions.

In these cases I think a life realignment is called for.

My own realignment was an informal journal entry with a to-do list at the end. But there is no right or wrong way to do a life alignment. It really comes down to reflecting on what actions or habits are disagreeing with our intentions and then committing to the changes we need to make. It’s like we’ve already written our DESIGN YOUR LIFE manifestos, and we just need to redirect our actions to reflect those intentions once more.

After my 20 minute reflection I had a to-do list that looked like this:

  • Keep a food journal for a week – This is so that I can begin to return my attention to my hunger cues rather than eating unconsciously.
  • Throw out 50 things – My apartment was getting a bit too full, so I implemented my handy 50 Things strategy to lean out the space (more details on this to come).
  • Launch the I Love You necklace -This new necklace needed to be launched in time for Valentine’s Day. No more delays!
  • Cook a healthy dinner for Mr. Lively and myself – Time to eat those veggies!
  • Find a yoga studio – I promised myself this holiday season I’d start doing yoga again. It’s time to make that happen.
  • Have dinner with a family member – I’ve been putting off making a simple call to see someone I love.
  • Make peace with a friend – I needed to put a strained friendship back on my radar and let water flow under that proverbial bridge.
  • Do laundry and errands – It’s time that I had a fresh stash of socks and new body wash.

All of these loose ends were weighing me down. After putting them to paper I promptly accomplished several in just a few hours. The rest have been done throughout this week. And just as I suspected, I’m starting to feel more like my old self, my intentional self. Though there is still work to be done, I’m well on my way.

For the past few months the girls and I at Jess LC have been busying preparing for the launch of our newest Franklin design – the I Love You Necklace!

Just in time for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day, this baby version of our popular braille necklaces is the perfect gift for a friend, sister, girlfriend, wife, mother, or oneself.

We made the new “I Love You” pendant smaller than our past braille pendants so that it is easy to mix and match with the other intention necklaces – or any other pendants in your jewelry wardrobe. And of course, the words “I love you” are printed in English on the backside as usual.

The New “I Love You” Lookbook

[Click on the image below to see the fullscreen version of our new online lookbook.]

We also whipped up a cute new lookbook to kick off this special design with the help of some fabulous models. Crystal, co-founder of Rue Mag and blogger behind Plush Palate, Dana of The Broke-Ass Bride, and Naomi of The Rockstar Diaries all styled their new Franklin necklaces to show off their personalities. And I have to give a shout out to Becky Hill of Becky Hill Photography for shooting Crystal and Dana in California over the weekend.

They also shared what “I love you” means to them as a single woman (Crystal), married woman (Dana), and momma-to-be (Naomi). Their thoughtful quotes can be found in the lookbook.

How You Can “Drop a Hint” For That Special Someone…

Dying to get an I Love You necklace for Valentine’s Day or another special occasion but don’t know how to get the mister to listen? Try using the special Tweet and Like buttons on the product page to let him know about the necklace.

And of course, if all else fails, just have your best friend tell him.













Contact us

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.