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midnight hustler hall of fame

March 31st, 2011   |   Business Advice

From talking with my “midnight hustling” friends (people working to go from a day job to their dream job) I’ve heard over and over that the long hours juggling both jobs is lonely at times. And based on Why It’s Good if You Hate Your Job, there are a lot of other people out there who might be feeling isolated as well.

So today I’d like to create a register for all those who are working towards their dream jobs, businesses, careers while employed doing something else. The Midnight Hustlers tab above will be a place for people to share their businesses/career aspirations and links. This way hustlers can find inspiration and support from others in the same boat.

My hope is that this list will be used for networking, reaching out, and encouragement.

So if you’d like to be included in the Midnight Hustling Hall of Fame please comment below with your name (you can certainly avoid using your last name for work reasons), aspiration, and any links (FB, Twitter, blog, business website, etc.). By adding your name to the list you are stating that you:

  1. Juggle a day job with your dream job – working to change careers or start your own business.
  2. Want to network, reach out, and help other midnight hustlers.

 

the Jess LC “state of the union address”

March 30th, 2011   |   Life

Today I’d like to explain where Jess LC has been in the last year and how we are growing forward. There are a lot of important updates to the Diversey, Division, and Franklin (braille) collections as well. In addition, I also talk about the next jewelry pieces to launch on Jess LC (and when they will be released), the handbag collection launch, and what new product lines we may expand to in the future as well. Later today I’ll be posting this video on jesslc.com as well so customers can watch the update as well.

Enjoy!

The video is about three minutes long.

 

DESIGN YOUR LOOK Challenge

Also, I’d like to thank everyone who has submitted a outfit collage for the DESIGN YOUR LOOK challenge going on now at Jess LC. If you’d like to enter to win $200 cash and two pieces of Jess LC jewelry, hop over here to see the details on how to enter.

Here are just a few looks we’ve received from bloggers so far.

And since Susie, Melissa, Kat, and I cannot enter the giveaway (though we’d love to win the cash for our favorite spring outfit), we decided we will post what looks we’d enter if we had the chance.

This is totally the outfit I’d like to rock this spring. I picked pieces from my favorite shoe and bag designers and boy to I wish I had our handbags ready to include in this look!

[sponsor post] pip & estella

March 29th, 2011   |   Life

(This post is brought to you by MML sponsor, Pip & Estella.)

Hello MML readers! I’m Sana of So Does Estella.

Last year, Pip & Estella donated proceeds from our charity shop to Vanessa of Turquoise LA for her work on the Upward Bound House project in Culver City, CA. So many of you showed your kindness and we’re doing it again!

Jess was kind enough to have me over to tell you about the new charity project happening in Los Angeles this Summer.

A group of 20 interiors designers are taking part in a design charity project to benefit the Good Shepherd Center for Homeless Women & Children. Designers Vanessa De Vargas and Vanessa Kogevinas are leading the two month project that is scheduled for July completion. Each room will be thoughtfully designed, providing a temporary livable space utilized to help women of all ages as they get back on their feet.

100% of profits purchases generated from Pip & Estella’s Charity Section will be donated to the project so come on over! Get something cool in shop while supporting a great cause.

For more on this project, visit the Good Shepherd Charity Design Blog.

Thank you MML!

Wow, what a resounding response to the Why It’s Good If You Hate Your Job post earlier today! Thank you for “getting it.”

I want to share a few other posts for people in the Sucky Job Boat to stay inspired and encouraged. Many people are in this place now. And many more have been there before.

My Small Business Heroes

What To Do When You Don’t Know your Purpose (Yet)

Don’t Trip Before the Start Line

Midnight Hustlers:

People who have juggled a day job with their dream job and lived to tell the story

Midnight Hustling with Kendi of Kendi Everyday

Midnight Hustling with Piper of One Sydney Road

Midnight Hustling with JoJo of Dancing Classrooms

PS- About the Franklin Be Brave Necklace

Fair warning! We are down to our last three Be Brave braille necklaces! Get one now before they sell out (and retire).

why it’s good if you hate your job

March 28th, 2011   |   Life

I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a long time. And rather than go into a long story, I think it’s best to just keep it short and sweet:

If you hate your job, you are more likely to leave it and truly ask yourself what you want to do, what you are meant to do.

If you liked your day job justthismuch more, then you may never end up leaving. Never end up asking the difficult questions that lead to a purpose driven life.

So every time you go into work on a Monday and dread being there, remind yourself that it’s a good thing.

You are lucky that you have a job that sucks so much that it begs you to ask the question: how can I make my life better, deeper, and more purposeful?

There is Enough

In all of our business planning, one thing has stuck out above everything else as a point of anxiety: competition. Not money, not marketing, not even the unknown. It’s always competition. Even the word sends shivers down my neck, as I’ve never been that great at competing. I fold in most games, as I just don’t care about winning. If it’s important for you to win, I’ll let you. Unless it comes to board games with my husband, then no one is leaving until I win.

Now we would be fools to think that we had zero competition in the field of photography. In fact, sometimes I think that’s all we have. Regionally, artistically, or by the sheer numbers of photography business out there — we are literally drowning in a sea of competition. After thinking about it in the sense of numbers, I decided I couldn’t look at competition that way. It wasn’t helping me propel forward, but instead forcing me to take two steps back. If I compare our business to everyone around us, then it’s no longer our business I’m focusing on, it’s someone else’s. If I stack up what we’ve done or haven’t done, to someone else then where does that get me? I’ll tell you where. It puts me in a place of fear and that is nowhere to start a business.

In order to keep my sanity in check, I’ve learned to turn this question around. Are there a lot of photographers out there vying for clients? Yes. But on the other hand are there clients out there vying for photographers. Yes. When it comes down to it, Bryan and I aren’t trying to photograph the entire population of Texas but instead want to build relationships with the handful of clients we have now and will have in the future. Our business doesn’t need to fight for someone else’s client, we want to find our own. In our business, competition isn’t about winning; it’s about being able to start and maintain a business among others who are trying to do the same.

In the sea of competition, there is something so very important to remember: there is enough for everyone. When I think of it this way, competition doesn’t put me in a place of fear anymore, but a place of excitement — to one day pursue the dream as successfully as so many other have before.

I’m not normally one to quantify tips, or really give out that many tips in general. But it just so happens that as I wrote this post, it turned out that I have a lot of ideas with what to do with business “free time.” Sixteen ideas, to be exact.

During the early days of Jess LC in Chicago in 2007 I had a tough time getting the business moving consistently. More times than I’d like to remember I simply stared at my email inbox waiting… hoping… daring… (drooling)… for an email to arrive with a new order. I was desperate for orders, inquiries, and attention. Imagine a water dripping out of a facet. That’s what the slow days felt like. And there were plenty of them.

And although the business has grown immensely and is ohsomuch busier than it was in those early days, I every so often have the same phenomenon pop up. To be honest, these days are like shooting stars, unicorns, or Big Foot sitings. Though super rare (and often non-existent) they may be, I’ve had a few days of calm this week.

So whether you are just starting out (sitting there drooling waiting for your next new order) or you are like I am now (surprised by a rare moment of pause) I have thought of some great ways to use that time wisely.

1. Do Your Accounting

Okay, so I’m starting off with the vegetables before I get to the desert here, I know. But it goes without saying that it’s super easy to put off bookkeeping during busy seasons only to have to crunch numbers on a tight deadline later. Next time you have a moment, catch up on those numbers.

2. Reorder Supplies

Business cards running low? Packaging levels okay? Take a moment to see if you need to order supplies before they run out so you can save on pricey two-day shipping.

3. Social Media, Social Media!

I always have a tendency to be behind on Twitter, FB, and MML comments when things are crazy. Spend 15 minutes catching up on tweets, comments, and other social media outlets.

4. Delegate A New Project

Yep, if you have someone working for you, have a meeting and talk over a new opportunity and put them in charge of it. You can double your impact in no time at all.

5. Sweep Out Your Inbox

If you’ve got nothing to do, you’ve got no excuse for emails to be sitting unanswered. Take some time to see an email free screen. It’s liberating.

…At least until the next email comes in.

6. Do an Interview

Find someone to interview for your business or blog, or reach out and offer to do an interview for someone else’s blog. Outreach like this can lead to new friends, customers, and awareness about your business.

7. Collaborate With Another Business

Scroll through your twitter or blog reader and find another business you admire and reach out- see if there is a way to cross promote your companies and double your impact.

8. Rest

Okay so it can’t be overlooked: a nap might be just what you need. Just don’t let it last longer than one afternoon. Otherwise it will be tough to roll back into a consistently productive groove.

9. Comment On Blogs

This is different from the social media suggestion in #3 because this is where you go out and touch someone new. Make a new online friend (and be sure to link to your business/blog as well).

10. Look at Financials

Take a look at your business accounts and make sure that things are in order. Do you have enough money saved for your next quarterly tax payment? What are you going to owe in sales tax the next time around? Any accounts receivables (people who still owe you money) to check up on?

11. Find New Customers

This could mean creating a new marketing initiative, sending out an email blast with a customer referral deal, or placing an ad on a new blog. One way or another, find a way to introduce your company to new people.

12. Clean Your Workspace

When things are hectic it’s easy to overlook a pile of papers, an overflowing binder, or outdated line sheets. But when you’ve got the time, use it to get things back in order.

13. Do An Inspiration Dive

This is a fun one. Go to a high-end store – learn new ways to improve your techniques, craftsmanship, or displays. Or take a trend from one area of design and apply it to your products in a different capacity.

And of course, a blog surfing session is always great to see what people are talking and posting about.

14. Do Research

Read a business book, business blog (my favs are here and here), or take a class to learn a new skill or element of your business.

15. Watch TED or Gary Vaynerchuk

Okay, so I am biased towards TED Talks and Gary Vaynerchuk – but feel free to watch other inspiring people in industry and feed off their enthusiasm and ideas for business in the future.

16. Call a Buddy Entrepreneur

If all else fails (or is completed) call up a friend who also is self-employed. Chat about what you’re working on, struggling with, and doing well. It’s always great to talk shop with friends and see if you can learn something new. It’s also a great way to stay motivated and supported when things are tough.

interview on scoutie girl

March 23rd, 2011   |   Business Advice

Yesterday Jess Van Den asked me some fantastic questions over at Scoutie Girl. Below are the questions she asked.

Scoutie Girl Creative Biz Success Interview Questions

  • Can you take us on the journey of your creative career path so far? Were you always planning on working for yourself?

 

  • How do you balance the different aspects of your business to ensure they both stay fresh and moving forward – your jewellery design and your blog, for example?

 

  • Do you ever have doubts as to your future creative direction? Are there things you yearn to achieve, but haven’t yet found the time for?

 

  • I know you have staff who help you run your business – how did you make the decision to take that next step, and how do you manage their involvement in the business?

 

  • What key personality traits and life circumstances coalesced to lead to your success, in your opinion?

    Here are my answers.

    lively says relax

    March 22nd, 2011   |   Business AdviceLife

    Okay, so maybe Mr. Lively didn’t say relax, but I like him better than Frankie. Either way, the point still stands. I sit here today in an “lull day.” I’m currently sandwiched between a big Jess LC initiative launched yesterday and an important bag appointment(!) on Friday.

    Given that I also have had the rock star help of Susie, Melissa, and Kat, we are on top of a lot of other daily Jess LC maintenance.

    So here I sit. In a bit of a lull before a storm of bags.

    And at first this morning, I was uncomfortable with this waiting period. I felt like I should be “doing something.”

    Thoughts like “Millions of people are busy working today, I should be too.” “Something must be wrong if I’m not feeling inspired to tackle some totally new objective to fill the time I have today.” “If I’m not driving ahead with something on this Tuesday, March 22nd, the business must be falling behind.”

    Needless to say, the thoughts were unsettling.

    But then I stood back. I reflected.

    Q: Why am I running my own business in the first place?

    A: So that I can design my life with intention in order to fulfill my purpose (helping other people design their lives with intention). So that I can enjoy my life, have a balanced life, and not define my success by other’s expectations.

    None of that answer has anything to do with the fearful thoughts running through my head this morning. And so with grand proclamation:

    I am going to enjoy this day. I intend to complete a few things I want to do for the business, take Susie to lunch, and start a cross-stitching project.

    I’m going to give myself the permission to design my day with the intention of joy.

    Who knows, doing new and different things might inspire a new business idea… or at least a fresh take on business as usual tomorrow.

    Ladies, this is big.

    We’ve decided to launch a new challenge at Jess LC:

    An outfit collage contest to win $200 and two pieces of Jess LC jewelry for the perfect spring look.

    Yep. I’ve decided to launch a contest that I myself would drool over.

    All the details are above and on our DesignYourLook page. But to quickly summarize: we are asking for contestants to create a collage (using Polyvore or a similar program is great) showing how they would wear two pieces of Jess LC jewelry and the spring outfit they want most this season. Once the look is created, it can either be posted on a blog or on our Facebook page and then emailed to theshop@jesslc.com with the subject line “Design Your Look.”

    Here is an example outfit from Ashley M. (which is also our first formal submission to the contest):

    Once the submissions are compiled on April 8th, we will post all of the looks here on MML on April 11th for five days of voting (so be sure to spread the word about your look!). The popular vote will determine which spring Design Your Look contestant wins the jewelry featured in their collage and $200 to put towards purchasing the clothing items in their winning look.

    So please, tweet, facebook, and generally spread the word! We’d like to see a variety of looks and see how everyone plans to design their wardrobe with intention this spring!

    Success Defined

    Writing the Dream Report is very strange. Don’t read too much into that sentence — it’s a great exercise for start up business owners and a great feature on Makeunder My Life. But as I sit here on Thursday night (procrastination is my specialty), I keep thinking about one thing: success. Not about my Dream Report, as I should be doing.

    The reason I say it’s a strange thing is because each week I come to you with a new thing/flaw/nugget of wisdom I’ve recently discovered and conquered, but I have to be honest that this isn’t always true. This week I did not discover anything other than exhaustion and the need for a healthy meal. Turns out I’m still a kindergartner at heart. (I can elaborate, if you’d like.) And since I knew you didn’t want to tell that story, I started daydreaming about the launch of our business and what will follow in the months to come. I started to imagine what I wanted our business to look like in 2 months, 6 months, a year, 5 years and so on. And to be honest, you would probably think that my expectations were set fairly low. My definition of success doesn’t have a time period, it doesn’t have hard fast rules on how to get there, it doesn’t look familiar. Somewhere in between my procrastination, exhaustion and day dreaming, I defined the rules of my success.

    I’m not sure there really are any rules on launching a business. I believe that we are on week 13 of our Dream Report and part of me feels like this is a very long time to keep you readers hanging on. The other part of me thinks “who launches a business in 13 weeks?!” And in retrospect, we’ve been talking about our newly re-launched business for the good part of two years now, so really 13 weeks is just a small piece of the pie.

    When we do launch our website, this will not equal success to some but to us it will. When we receive an inquiry, this might not be success for some, but to us it will. Every time we get to work together, it will be yet another success. Because it’s our business, we get to define our success. As luck would have it, we’re pretty successful already.
    In the end, I’ve figured out nothing and everything this week. I told you this Dream Report business is a strange thing.

    -B

    how i get things done

    March 17th, 2011   |   Business AdviceLife

    Over the years I’ve been asked many times how I manage to get everything done with the business, blog, and life. Being self-employed means that I’ve needed to learn how to manage my time wisely, avoid burnout, and effectively build my brand. These aims sometimes compete with one another and the balance between them is challenging.

    Over time I’ve found a great way to manage my time day-to-day is to keep things simple. I sit down at my desk each morning and write out a list of tasks that I plan to accomplish in the day. I don’t think about any particular order, I just dump the tasks on the paper as they come to mind. Once I’ve got everything written down, I look at the list and prioritize the items. In general what is most important or urgent is at the top of the list and less urgent/important items are assigned to be done later in the day. This way if I’m not able to accomplish everything, the items that are left over can be completed the following day.

    Sometimes I take the time to write out bigger scale goals like what I intend to do each week, but these daily to-do lists are what I rely upon for pace, direction, and time saving. By thinking ahead and determining the task order, I don’t have to stop throughout the day to pick the next item. It’s all laid out for me before I even begin.

    Any other scheduling suggestions out there?

    FounderBuzz interview

    March 16th, 2011   |   Business Advice

    Today I’d like to share an online video I did for FounderBuzz about social media strategy. In the five minute interview I cover what I’ve done in social media for MML and Jess LC as well as what business owner’s shouldn’t do in social media.

    Enjoy!

    why business is like high school

    March 15th, 2011   |   Business Advice

    Recently I was speaking with an MML reader and soon-to-be small business owner. Leading up to her business’ launch, she was worried about doing the right things to make sure her business was successful. Even though she knew social media, blogger outreach, blog ads, and sweat-equity were the keys to success, she felt more confident hearing me confirm these facts.

    While thinking about the topic, I realized there are some great parallels between high school and small business marketing. Below I’ll explain how, just like in high school, we do a lot of the same things to meet new friends (customers) and create a positive reputation.

    Do Your Homework

    Take a look at the people you are going to school with (established small businesses). These are the upperclassmen and you can learn a lot from them. What draws you to some people (businesses) and not others? What aspects of their businesses do they do well?

    How can you execute similar endeavors yet still be 100% authentic? Just like in school, cheating (copying) doesn’t pay. So make sure whatever you glean from other businesses is adapted in a unique way.

    No one likes a copy-cat, but a little research can go a long way.

    Become Friends with Your Lab Partner

    Did you get paired with the super-talented future scientist (web designer, graphic designer…)? Make sure to have a positive connection with the people that help you create your new project (business). These people know you well now and can introduce you to other cool people (business connections). They can even lead you to your first sales.

    These freelance people can also be great resources in the future as you grow and develop – don’t act too cool for school.

    Join After School Activities

    Let’s face it, some of our best times in school are actually on the field, on the stage, or in the club (conferences, trade shows, networking). By joining something that is already established you expose yourself to a variety of special resources and people that want you to succeed.

    So make sure to get out there and mingle.

    Don’t Skip Class

    You take the time to schedule your elective classes (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) because they interest you. Make sure that you show up regularly to get the full benefit. Don’t look like a no-show to these commitments.

    People can search your company on Google to find out more… only to find an abandoned social media profile. This then becomes a lasting impression of your company. Be memorable for being present and engaged.

    Drop outs have a hard time making (Twitter, Facebook) friends.

    Comb Your Hair

    Though we don’t have to have the absolute latest fashions (technology) on our sites, we do need to realize that people feel more comfortable doing business with people who have clean, well-kept, organized, and up-to-date sites. If your homepage hasn’t been updated in months… it smells a little stale.

    Freshen things up with new marketing or products to keep people coming back for more… more frequently.

    And Most importantly… Stay in School

    More than any single activity above, the ability to start your business and keep building it will earn you a great reputation over time. What you see from Jess LC is the result of consistent effort online for the past two years (and twelve years of jewelry business experience).

    Though there are always a few freshman that manage to steal the show right away (like Emersonmade’s incredibly quick and awesome rise to success), most people become known through years of consistently showing up. Heavy-hitters like Oh Joy started blogging in 2005 and Sea of Shoes began in 2007. They have been building their reputation and success over several years.

    Conclusion

    So there you have it. Just like in high school there are many aspects to having a positive business experience and gaining a worthwhile education.

    Be a good student and get involved.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the buzz around two popular blogging topics: authenticity and blogging etiquette.

    Last week I read Tam Style’s awesome post, Blogging Now. She summed up a lot of things that happen within the blogging community and called it like it (often) is. I was really impressed with her fearless truth-telling.

    But then, in all honestly, I started looking inward. I started examining my own blogging habits.

    How do I treat people online?

    Do I treat people with special importance?

    Am I exclusive?

    These were not comfortable topics to look at. I felt immediately guilty or worried that I in some ways fell short of my ideals.

    And then the idea of authenticity started popping in my head. This new buzzword has been flowing around the blogosphere like green beer will be on Thursday. Though the word authentic really means “not false or copied, genuine, real ” I have taken the word and warped it in my head to mean “being the perfect person online and offline in all circumstances.”

    It’s time that I accept that if I am really to be genuinely me  – and authentically human – I will never be the perfect person (or blogger). It simply is not possible.

    Juggling a busy schedule filled with MML, Jess LC, and my personal life, also impedes on perfection. It is good for me to have ideals around blogging and work towards them, but I need to be real about what I can do.

    So it’s time to come clean.

    • Though I’d like to answer all comments in emails or in the comment section, I don’t.
    • Though I’d like to think that I answer all requests, emails, and comments perfectly, I don’t.
    • Though I’d like to go to every blogging event that happens or I’m invited to, I don’t.
    • Though I’d like to become good friends with everyone who reaches out in emails or in person via MML, I don’t.
    • Though I’d like to comment more often on other blogs, I don’t.

    I simply do the best I can.

    • I do try to help people design lives with intention via MML.
    • I do read and appreciate every comment I receive.
    • I do answer every personal email via MML and Jess LC that I receive.
    • (I do sometimes take a few days to answer those emails.)
    • I do try to be my best self online and offline.

    So thank you for listening as I finally learn and accept what it means to be authentically “me.” I hope that by being honest about my short-comings with blogging etiquette I can soothe other worried bloggers out there who also project perfection on authenticity.

    I Now Pronounce You, Husband and Wife and Co-Workers

    I think it’s safe to say that Bryan and I are on the same team. When we got married three years ago in a little white chapel, we both agreed on a few terms: “to have and to hold for richer and poorer, through sickness and health, till death do us part.” But as far as I can recall, “through small business partnership” was not a part of those vows. Until now.

    Over the years, we moved too many times, burnt too many meals and lived in an embarrassing number of rental properties. We’ve also had our fair share of fights — over important things and unimportant things. He’s won, I’ve won. And more often than not, we’ve both lost.

    When we started talking about our business together a few years back, we would instantly began to fight. This would lead to me turning into a 13-year old teenager who likes to slam doors and both of us would end up walking away from the idea of business altogether. But why would we fight? Didn’t we have the same goal in mind? Didn’t we both want to start a photography business? Yes of course. But you see, I was right. All of the time and Bryan just couldn’t handle this truth. So he would remind me that he was right. The nerve of that man! (As you can see, the fighting was very mature and productive.)

    For the first time ever in our marriage, we were not on the same page. We both had separate visions and neither one of use were keen on negotiation. Until we both realized that this is what we were meant to do, no matter who was right or who was wrong.  We started figuring out that our vision could be shared. That if one of us was wrong, then we were both wrong. It didn’t matter if I was right, it mattered if what we were doing for our business was right. Our fights were no longer a breaking point of the business, but at times a starting point. We slowly figured out that as long as we were fighting we were fighting for our business, not just the title of being right.

    Figuring out how to own a business has been comparable to marriage therapy for us. It has taken us about 6 months now to get on the same page. We don’t fight about the business any longer, no insults are issued, no daggers thrown. Instead of fighting, we discuss. Instead of insulting, we encourage. Instead of throwing daggers, we offer suggestions. And guess what we found out? We work together very well. So well that you might not even know that we were husband and wife.

    march DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE

    March 10th, 2011   |   DESIGN YOUR LIFE

    Today we have a huge dose of DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE inspiration. Hop on over to the blogs below to see how four awesome MML readers have designed their lives around their intentions. After reading them all, I feel so lucky to be among such incredible women.

    Jennifer’s post is on Fort Saint Nowhere.

    Raj’s post is on Pink Chai.

    Carla’s post is on All of Me… Now.

    And Cailen’s post is on Cailen Asher Lifestyle Maven.

    Want to find out more about the DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE monthly feature? Keep reading.

    new (march) Jess LC ambassadors

    March 10th, 2011   |   Life

    Scroll below to see our March Ambassadors!

    Whoa! I have to say, we have quite the bustling Ambassador group for March. You can check out the whole batch of Jess LC Ambassadors here.

    If you’d like to become an ambassador, simply follow the instructions above!

    March Ambassadors

    i will figure this out: follow up

    March 10th, 2011   |   Business Advice

    Oh my goodness. I stopped working yesterday after posting I Will Figure This Out and tried to let my mind rest and recover from the frustration that’s been building around the handbag project. To be honest, I’d been doing a lot of praying about the situation this week and it was time that I took a break from the whole situation and focused on other positive areas of my life.

    In the meantime, many incredible MML readers got to to work by helping me. I sit down to work this morning with many encouraging comments and several email leads which might hold the answer to the bag production for Jess LC. I’ve been working on this project since January and I was beginning to lose my enthusiasm. But this outpouring of support has fanned the flames and I feel back in action.

    I’m also thrilled to hear the response to the idea of Jess LC bags – this is a totally new market for me and knowing how many people are excited to see and perhaps purchase them is a fantastic show of support.

    Normally I would respond to comments in the comment section or in emails. But today I’d like to do a formal thank you to everyone who has reached out so far and thank them right here, in the post. So here it goes:

    Thank You For Your Comments

    Jill: Thank you so much for your email and I can’t wait to follow up with you on your brother’s experience with his clothing line.

    Helena: It is so sweet of you to remember that I am also planning to try home goods as well! I’m thrilled to hear that you’re excited about too because that’s definitely got a huge home in my heart. Once I conquer (or start) the bag launch I’ll be looking on that horizon next : ).

    Maddie: Thank you for the encouragement about the handbags and for pointing out that this is about more than just bags. This is about all of us going forward into areas we’ve never tried before. We will figure things out!

    Maggie Rose: Oh! You make me so excited to debut the actual designs I have in mind! Though there are no actual paisleys specifically in the designs, I think they all represent my “design with intention” philosophy which translates to jewelry as well. PS – Thanks for sticking by me here on MML all these years and for growing so much in your own as well. You will find what research you need too!

    Moxiemandie: Thank you so much for your support! I’m thrilled to hear that you have grown so quickly and are so busy this past month! That’s a great sign. Perhaps bringing on an intern might be helpful for you to juggle the demands of the shop and your full-time job. Keep it up! The fact that you are dealing with this level of success means you are doing the right things and you are ready to grow!

    Marguerite: Thank you so much for the recommendation! I plan to hop over to Luxirare’s site today : ).

    Dayka: I’m happy to hear that you appreciate the fact that I let the “cat out of the bag” and told you what I am working on! I was a bit hesitant to do so since I really wanted this to be a surprise. But knowing that the process is helpful for others makes it all worthwhile.

    Bruinette: Hah, I hope that the line is miles long! That would make all the frustration to this point totally worth it. (I’ll make sure to save you a spot at the front of the line!)

    Olivia: Thank you so much for letting me know you’ll be one of my first bag customers, that means a lot when launching something so different!!

    Gina: I’m thrilled to hear that this post was helpful for you and resonated. I hoped that everyone else in similar shoes right now would feel better knowing that they are not alone in feeling lost.

    Sarah K. S: Thanks for letting me know that you’d be up for a chevron bag! Though I didn’t have that in the first collection, that definitely is now swirling in my mind for a style down the road…

    Sundeep: Thank you! I hope the new baby turns out well.

    Lauren: You are so sweet! Thank you for a) pointing out that I will figure this out (it’s easy to get discouraged after three months of getting nowhere) and b) for letting me know that you’re considering being one of my first bag customers!

    Ajay: Thank you for the recommendations! I’m going to research Skinny Vinny today and thanks for making the Her Campus connection as well.

    Rose: Thank you for the virtual high five!

    Lauren M: I’m happy to hear that sharing this point in the process is helpful for other people in “the dark” about areas of their own lives. Your encouragement is contagious!

    Merissa: Thanks! I’m so excited to share what they look like, but that will be saved for the big reveal ; ).

    Adriana: Yes! That is exactly why I wrote this post! I want people to know that just because you have had success in some areas of life or business doesn’t mean that it comes naturally! It’s earned over a lot of time, trial and error, and hard work. Everyone is the same. We all learn through mistakes and sheer determination.

    Thank You For Your Emails

    Kourtney P: I’ll be emailing you to follow up about your connection, thank you so much for reaching out so quickly!

    Megan F: Thank you for this site! I’m going to follow up with you and look into the Incubator for sure. I never thought to look there!

    Jill: As I mentioned before, I’ll be getting back to you, lady!! You are incredible.

    Phew. The turnaround I feel happened for me between yesterday and today is almost overwhelming. I feel honored to have such strong support and so many new leads to follow. I appreciate you all more than you realize. Everyday that I sit down to write on MML I do so because I know I am meant to. It is my purpose and therefore brings me joy. But to see that it can also lead to so many new possibilities through the unsolicited caring of so many people… is a lot to take in.

    Thank you. Thank you very much.

     

    i will figure this out

    March 9th, 2011   |   Business Advice

    Okay. Truth time.

    I feel like my business is further along than ever before. I’ve conquered tons of business challenges, built the e-business of my dreams, and I know a lot about jewelry. I have 12 years of experience designing jewelry and running a company. As Mr. Lively says, “it’s my jam.”

    And now I’m back to square one.

    (Sort of.)

    You see, I haven’t told many people this yet, but I have a new vision for Jess LC. It’s bigger, broader, more exciting than ever before. It hatched into my brain while I was in New York in January. I finally permitted myself to think beyond designing jewelry.

    I am ready to break into the world of handbags and totes.

    I wanted to keep this a secret here on MML until I could triumphantly reveal the finished pieces and have a lovely completed lookbook. I wanted the reveal to be unexpected and amazing. But the truth is, right now I don’t know how to get handbags and totes produced. I don’t know the handbag making process.

    I have my styles. I know my prices. I have a general idea of materials.

    But I don’t know who to work with to make them.

    As I mentioned before, I know I can figure stuff out. I have called many people, had many meetings, and gotten several opinions on the collection. But none of these efforts have produced the key to production that I’m currently lacking.

    So what I want to say to entrepreneurs (and everyone seeking the next step in life), I know what it’s like to not know how to do things. I’m in that place myself right now. And I have faith that I will figure out this whole bag situation and you will figure out whatever it is that you are working on. As long as we keep going, we will find what we seek.

    So right now I’m trying to be patient.

    This will happen. The answers I need will be revealed.

    And the same is true for you.

    Today I have a great peek inside the tilly | maison shop and blog. Carolyn, the designer behind the home decor line has graciously allowed me to interview her about her products, inspiration, and business experience.

    Read her MML sponsor interview below to find out how she came up with the idea for the adorable Lucite and chevron trays, how she uses blogging for her business, and what she’s coming out with next.

    Enjoy!

    Inside the tilly | maison Shop

    It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of chevron, which is why your shop speaks, no sings, to me! What gave you the idea to combine Lucite and chevron in your collection? Any future color ways coming out in the near future?

    The idea came to me last summer. I remember coming across a patterned lucite tray and instantly wanted one for myself. Unfortunately, the line I was looking at didn’t offer the simple chevron pattern I had my heart set on, and their price range seemed extravagant. So, I did what I tend to do a lot–I thought, “I could make that.” And so I did! I thought that if I loved the result as much as I did, maybe others would as well. It turns out I was right. As for the future, yes! The classics will always stay, but as the seasons change, my own color tastes change and I want to explore that. I’m also planning to expand beyond the chevron.

    After a few clicks around your shop it is clear that you understand how to create a great, cohesive product line. What pointers do you have for other small business owners when they are developing new product lines?

    I think the most important thing to keep in mind is just be true to yourself. If you follow your own tastes and create things that appeal to your aesthetics, I think that cohesion will occur naturally. For me, it’s not really about setting limits or themes or constraints that I have to work within. I believe in pops of bright color–it happens in my own home and in my wardrobe, so naturally it occurs in the shop as well. The same goes for stripes (I wear more striped shirts than I care to admit). Sometimes I find myself trying to force an idea that just doesn’t seem to be working and if I take a step back and think about my gut reaction to the design, it usually just isn’t me.

    I also need to mention your amazing design and inspiration blog. How has your shop benefited from the blog? Which came first, the blog or the shop?

    Thank you so much! The blog has been an amazing tool for the shop in so many ways. I actually had a previous personal blog and when I started the shop, I decided to realign everything under one brand. (My day job is in advertising, so I might be a little overly focused on branding.) The blog not only serves as a pool of inspiration that I can refer back to, but the audience I’ve been able to engage with so far has been fantastic. Not only are my readers so sweet and engaging, but they are so supportive! I can’t tell you the number of times that a reader/ fellow blogger has posted about the shop or one of the pieces. I think it also adds a really important human element to tilly | maison. It gives people a chance to get to know me a little bit further and add another dimension to the brand. Social media in general is the perfect tool for that, but a blog really allows the most space to express just about anything you want. It’s also wonderful to find a community of like-minded people with similar tastes, especially when your shop follows that taste.

    Are there any future projects in the works which you’d like to or share with us?

    Yes! My next frontier will be paper. I plan am working on some stationery designs and I also hope to expand into art prints this year. I studied fine art in college and am excited to get back to painting and drawing.

    What is the hardest things about your shop? The most rewarding?

    There are two big lessons I’ve learned since opening in September. The first: package your products really, really, really well for shipping! The shipping route can be brutal, and I’ve had some headaches and heartbreaks over damaged pieces. But I think the hardest thing I’ve learned (and am still learning) is how to say ‘no.’ When you’re just starting, it can be really exciting when shops and blogs and other people show interest in what you’re doing. It’s really easy to forget your own value and to flex to meet requests just because you’re new and feel a little bit desperate for attention. But the thing to remember is that if you devalue your work, so will everyone else. It can be very tempting to give in to every request. Saying no might feel like walking away from an opportunity, but I’ve found that sticking to my guns actually adds more integrity to the brand and the work.

    Choosing the most rewarding element of the shop is a tough one! I still get so excited over every single order, and there is nothing better than wrapping up a finished piece with my ribbon and hang tag. It is so entirely satisfying. At the same time, the blog, by proxy, has really opened me up to some fabulous people and driven positive awareness of the shop that I am really proud of.

    nixing self-improvement

    March 8th, 2011   |   Think About It

    Over the weekend I read a fantastic post via Danielle LaPorte’s White Hot Truth. In the post she explains that her self-improvement methods over the years have been based on incorrect intentions. As she states,

    “Rather than doing whatever it is that you do to ease, mitigate and transform those states of being as acts of “self improvement” and “getting fixed” or “making better”, what if you approached those rituals and remedies as ways of getting to your power?”

    - Danielle LaPorte

    I have taken a day or two to marinate on this idea and have realized that I’ve been doing this quite a bit myself. I’m all about designing a life with intention, and a lot of times my intentions (read more, exercise more consistently, eat more veggies, save more, etc.) are actually “improvements” or “fixes.” Instead, I should think about these actions as ways to draw from my innate resources and powers. It’s the same as a makeunder; removing the unnecessary in order to reveal the potential already within oneself.

    I know that I have unlimited potential and my best self lies underneath layers of unneeded clutter and ineffective habits. But when I’ve tried to tap into that potential, it’s become easy to forget the real motivation, uncovering what a great person I already am, and just focus on “fixing myself.”

    I think this is something that my ego whispers to me over time. I’m not good enough. I need to change who I am. But in my gut I know that I have all the skills I want to develop, it’s just a matter of flexing those muscles with consistent practice.

    Thanks, Danielle.

    love with intention?

    March 7th, 2011   |   Life

    Before I start on today’s post, I’d like to thank everyone for the sweet and encouraging emails and comments about my new Business With Intention consulting! I’m excited to say that I have a new booklet that describes the packages available for people thinking about a business idea, growing a business, or honing a business.

    Over the past few months I’ve gotten a handful of emails regarding the question of whether one’s love life can be designed with intention. Overall, I think that is a tough question to answer with absolute certainty. Nevertheless I put Melissa, our amazing Jess LC intern and assistant, up to the challenge of seeing whether we can make intentions for love. After reading Mari Ruti’s book, The Case for Falling in Love, Melissa has kindly shared her thoughts on the subject.

    Enjoy!

    Love With Intention?

    Let me start off saying that I am not an expert on anything, except possibly how to make a mean Whoopie Pie (Jess, Susie, Mr. Lively, and the UPS boys can attest to this).  I am definitely not an expert when it comes to love, relationships and men.  Yes, I have been in relationships, two serious ones within my lifetime, and experienced the pain of a breakup recently back in August.  Moving to present tense Melissa, I am single and ready to mingle.  Dating is a rough scene to break back into, especially after being in a long term relationship.  Jess gave me the book The Case for Falling in Love by Mari Ruti, and upon receiving this book, I decided to open myself up to what the book had to say, but also what I can take from the book and apply to my future dating ventures.  How can I date with Intention after reading this book?

    How I Think About Men:

    1. Men are NOT from Mars, and Women are NOT from Venus.

    I learned in school that we all are from planet Earth actually, no matter what any book says, and Ruti agrees with me on this part.  Men and women are different in a variety of ways, but we tend to experience the same emotions and fears. Just because I am a woman does not mean that any man is not capable of having the same feelings or attitudes as me and vice versa.   There is also this perception that men are the “hunters” and women are the ones being hunted.  I personally do not want to be hunted; I would rather be “wooed” like they did in the olden days.  Don’t let these silly gender ideas hold you back in the dating world ladies.

    2. Don’t Be Scared of Being Alone

    I know sometimes being single is not the greatest. I have had those moments where I want someone to vent to besides my Mom, or someone to cuddle up next to on the couch besides my body pillow.  Sometimes this fear leads us rushing into things, allowing us to settle for anything less then what we deserve.  We have to set our own standards for the people we date.  My roommate and I ended up making a list of traits I was looking for in a guy when getting ready to go on a date one night.  The poor guy didn’t even make it past date number two.   I set my standards though, and didn’t settle for anything less then what I felt I deserved, and neither should you.

    How I Think About Love and Relationships:

    3. Love Should Be Filled with Idealizations

    I know after an extended period of time knowing someone, the qualities you see in someone go from being extraordinary to just plain ordinary.  When it comes to a relationship, there has to be something extraordinary, some sort of “fire” that keeps the relationship going, and you loving that person.  I have had the boyfriend who could always make me laugh, whether I was crying, or just waking up in the morning.  I also had the boyfriend who was reliable and would be anywhere I needed him to be, whether it was because I was having a meltdown or I just wanted to go to Steak N’ Shake.  That one particular trait about both of these guys made them extraordinary all the time.  We need to not only focus on the extraordinary in our loved ones, but also in ourselves.

    4. A Love Failure is NOT a Life Failure

    I know break ups are the worst.  There is always that feeling of loss.  You go back and question what you did wrong, where you should have put more effort, why it fell apart.  I had a 2 year long distance relationship, which fell apart after a difficult summer being in different time zones, and living completely different lives.  Like anything that goes wrong in our lives, I learned.  I learned about myself, I became in tune with my own emotions and I learned about what I want out of my life, which is a good start for being 20.  Love failures are not the end of you; it is more the beginning to a new stage of discovering yourself.

    5. What is Meant to Happen Always Will

    Things happen, you forget your coffee at home, you get toothpaste on your sweater, you have a bad hair day, your laptop pulls a Diana Ross on you, and your relationship ends.  Yes, all have happened to me within the past 6 months, two of them happening today.  Isn’t that how it goes though?  Things happen, and sometimes relationships need to end.  My relationship ended in August because it needed to.  Plain and simple.  If we kept the relationship going we would have beaten it down until there would be nothing, not even a friendship.   Everything happens for a reason, even if it sucks, it needs to happen, and we all need to remember that.

    Now that the book is done, and this little excerpt from my brain is almost done, I believe I am ready to not only tackle the dating scene, but I can start dating with intention.  I hope everyone starts to date with intention, no matter what your status is.  And to those braving the dating world with me, good luck!

    Today I am excited to launch my second step (the first was creating MML) towards making my purpose – helping people design lives with intention – a full-time career!

    Though I still juggle Jess LC, MML, and my life, I want to open up time to consult with eight business owners a month to help them align their businesses with their intentions. Below is the content from the new Business With Intention page found in the nav bar above.

    If you or someone you know might be interested in working with me, please spread the word!

    Business With Intention Consulting

    Many people feel designing a life with intention often includes running a business with intention.

    Over the past few months I have been getting more and more requests for personalized business advice. Since business strategy is something that I touch on frequently on MML, it makes sense that people have reached out seeking answers to their unique business obstacles.

    And now I’m ready to help business owners move past mental roadblocks and design their business the way that they want (not as people tell them they should).

    My Story

    I’ve had a lot of business practice over the past 12 years while running my jewelry company, Jess LC. I started in 1999 as a 15-year-old girl with a $5 bag of beads. I unexpectedly sold 6 (ugly) ankle bracelets at a local pool. I then taught myself new jewelry making techniques and sold my products to twelve stores while in high school.

    I later graduated from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan and promptly moved to Chicago in 2007 to start Jess LC full-time. I first focused on selling wholesale with a team of sales reps to 100+ stores nationwide. I later took on interns and part-time help to grow even further. I also built our previous website and we dabbled in Etsy. In 2009, I changed my business direction and dove into the world of blogging, social media, and online selling. Then in 2010, I completely re-branded my company and re-launched my e-commerce site, logo, product selection, and took my business to the next level. It wasn’t easy. But it was worth it.

    Now I am immersed in the online community and work hand-in-hand with bloggers to create unique partnerships. I’ve also delved into the world of PR, coordinated sales with group coupon sites, and launched a very successful ambassador program for my business. I’ve flip flopped my revenue from 20% retail and 80% wholesale to 80% online retail and 20% wholesale. This swap has grown my revenue by 145% and increased my profit-margin even more.

    But most importantly I have designed my business with intention.

    The Bottom Line

    I love what I do and I want to help others have the same satisfaction with their own businesses. Because you see, the truth is that my purpose in life is not to (exclusively) sell jewelry.

    My real purpose is to help people design lives with intention.

    And right now, I can help people one-on-one with their business intentions to fulfill this mission. My jewelry business experience and college degree has molded me into a great resource for entrepreneurs. I have gone through an incredible learning curve over more than a decade, so I know tools and tricks to grow a business from a $5 bag of beads. But most importantly, I am interested in helping people design businesses that speak to their purpose, passion, and life intention.

    If this approach to business advice speaks to you, please feel free to reach out and speak to me! My email is jess@jesslc.com – please include the words “Business With Intention” in the subject line.  I can send you more information for two consulting packages: brainstorming sessions, and hourly consulting on the specific trouble spots for your business.

    I wish you the best of luck with your business, growing forward!

    kendi and bryan’s dream report: week ten

    March 4th, 2011   |   Life

    Lose the Wait

    I don’t know whose research it was, but I believe there have been studies done to quantify how much time, through our entire lives, we spend waiting. Waiting for the bus, waiting in line at a store, waiting for the coffee to brew…so many of our everyday activities involve waiting in some form or fashion. And although I am not sure of the specific number of hours, I would bet this number doubles for a small business owner.

    Lucky for me, I’m a patient man.

    When it comes to our business, I often feel if something is not immediately progressing in leaps and bounds in front of my face, that I must passively wait. I love immediate results. But growing a business does not always work that way. Often what we put into motion typically will not have results until much further in the future. This lack of obvious results can lead to discouragement, or even worse idleness.

    I think that my main problem of waiting within our business is the false sense of security that it offers. As I am going through task lists and monitoring the current status of projects, a “pending” issue means that I am awaiting a response from someone else. This is when I assume that there is nothing more I can do to advance this particular issue. But even so, I don’t leave it alone. I wait. I wait for it to call me on the phone, send me an email, tell me how awesome I am. I think about it, I worry about it, I lose sleep over it. I basically stop what I’m doing with everything else on my plate, and I wait it out. Even though it’s a waste of my time to do so.

    But I am learning as the owner of a business, when you stop making progress, the entire operation’s progress stops. There is only one answer to this problem — I have to lose the wait. I have to beat the waiting game before it beats me. Instead of patiently waiting for someone to get back to me, I’m figuring out how to move on to a different item while waiting for another. This doesn’t mean that I’ve forgotten about my pending issue, it just means that I’ve put it on the shelf until it needs my attention again.
    So with this wait loss, I am using my time more wisely. I am working to reduce my number of clicks on “Get Mail” for the highly anticipated answers, and instead, focusing my attention toward the other infinite tasks, changes, projects, and tweaks that shape up our business.

    How do you handle the tension between patiently waiting and actively progressing?

    Do you have any tips on how to “Lose the Wait”?

    -B

    Today I have a great DESIGN YOUR LIFE interview to share. Kevin “Mr. Peace” Szawala is a motivational speaker and friend of mine from the University of Michigan. He is also one of the most engaging, positive, and inspirational people I know. I am thrilled to present his intentions for his life and to share his story of leaving his cushy 9 to 5 job for his purpose: Being Who I Want 2 Be.

    Enjoy!

    DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Kevin “Mr. Peace” Szawala

    The greatest human tragedy is to die with the music still left in you.” – Jim Tuman

    A college counselor once gave me this example about money.  Countless students walk into his office and tell him they want to make $100,000, a six figure income.  They don’t care how they do it or if they’re going to hate it, they just want him to tell them what it will take to make this amount of money.  The truth is, though (and what he ends up telling them), if you despise what you’re doing, chances are you’ll either end up getting fired (by someone who is passionate about what they do and so outperforms you), end up quitting altogether, or what so many people fall victim to: continue working only for the weekend, miserable day in day out, compromising your entire life for the ‘green stuff’ and ultimately feeling unfulfilled.

    I was one of those people working solely for the paycheck and did so for close to five years.  However, I finally came to realize that while yes, we do need money and yes, it is important and what makes the world go round, if it is your only motivation (as it was mine), you will not find happiness. You may find temporary satisfaction and gratification, but that’s all it is: temporary.

    Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Rather, ask yourself what makes you come alive.  Because what the world needs are more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

    Quitting my 9-5, stable, comfortable job with endless perks and benefits is something I will never forget nor regret.  Choosing to leave a guaranteed source of income I had at my previous employer (a global automotive supplier) this past July for another uncertain, risky, go-against-the-grain type path was not only a giant leap of faith, but one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make in my life.  I have always felt that I am someone who has always been extremely driven, just not necessarily in the direction of my calling.

    When I finally left Corporate America to fully pursue my passion for motivational speaking and working with the youth, I realized why the decision was such a difficult one and had been burning in me for over a year leading up to the separation: it was because I knew now what my purpose was and could clearly see it.  Up until that point I just was not living it yet 100% of the time, and until I was completely aligned with it, I would not be truly happy or fulfilled.  Now that all of my energies and efforts are going toward things that make me come alive, all the ‘work’ I do really isn’t work, rather, ‘fun’ and something I love to do each and every day.

    The time is NOW to step into, to breathe into our greatness and become the blossoming genius inherent in us all!” – Kevin ‘Mr. Peace’ Szawala

    I remember being asked this question on countless occasions by friends and family prior to my transition.  My response was, “Because I have everything to gain.”  Then, I was posed with whether the economic scare would encourage me to rethink pursuing some of my goals?  The answer to that one was, “Not at all.”  I willingly detached myself from my position because despite the present and ongoing financial woes, I was (and still am) so centered and grounded in my faith that I just trust the process and know that everything will work out.

    I am a firm believer that America remains a beacon of entrepreneurialism.  Regardless of the risks that come along with the entrepreneurship challenge, it’s apparent that many are still seeking a niche to secure their own developing business.  I was one of them.  Now, it is not to say I have not had some economic challenges.  I have.  These dire straits make it a little more difficult as to how to market the impactful message I wish to share to the degree that many potential school or organization speaking bookings do not have as much money to offer speakers, or any outside companies for that matter.

    On the other hand, with such a tough economic hold on everyone, basically worldwide, we as a nation, as a planet, need inspiration and hope now more than ever.  An entrepreneur needs to be positive, self-motivated, and driven to succeed despite all circumstances.  I am confident in taking the risk because I look at it more as an ‘opportunity’ and something that has been burning inside of me for years now, and unless I take a chance and go after my dreams 110%, I will not be truly free.

    At the end of our lives people will only remember our hearts.” – Jim Tuman

    It was not until I became intentional about asking myself who I wanted to be for my community, rather than what I wanted to be, that I knew what it was I wanted to do with my life and where my true passions laid.  Once you can answer the ‘who’, you start looking for career paths that will both foster and nurture who it is you want to be.  Many of the issues I see with at-risk teens are merely the symptoms of bigger problems like a lack of connection among their peers and not having that sense of purpose which gives them identity and self-worth.

    Further, when you begin with the end in mind and think about how you want people to remember you by, all of a sudden your actions and decisions become based on who you want to be (which is hopefully a positive person for this world).  For me, I knew speaking was my greatest joy and connecting with others through my heart, humor and musical talents is how I wanted to share my time.  I knew in the core of my being that empowering individuals and helping them step into their full potential was my true calling.

    Still, I see many people who think that by going to another personal growth workshop, reading the next self-help book, exercising until they reach the ‘perfect’ body figure, buying another boat, car, a bigger house; that something external is going to bring them permanent, internal happiness and give them some meaning in their life.  They have the mentality that if I can only change the outside factors in my life: my surroundings, my appearance, the things, then I will find my purpose.  That is never the case, however, and never will be.  The transformation must be inner to outer, and not the other way around.  All of us have a purpose and it is just a matter of looking within to find out that true happiness, true peace, and a true purpose comes from knowing that we all have been given unique gifts from our creator.  What is your motivation for wearing a seat belt?  Yes, you don’t want to die, but what makes you not want to die?  There has to be a reason for living.  And the deeper your faith and spiritual connection to what your divine purpose is, the more clear your heart will be led to what you should be doing and why it is you are on this earth.  When you are where you’re supposed to be, you can just feel it with every part, with every fiber, of your being.

    The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.” – Unknown

    Whether it is solving global warming, curing a disease, or combating world hunger, the solution to so many of the world’s problems today lies within people being who they want to be.  If we have people truly into what they’re doing filling the various societal roles, then the issues we are faced with everyday would be solved more quickly. If it is only for the money or because someone told you this is what you should be doing, though, these matters would not be addressed with the same level of intensity, attention, purpose or desire, and so would take longer to get resolved.  The bottom line: Passionate people want to keep progressing and succeeding in whichever field they choose.  As long as you love it, the career you do choose will not matter.  What will matter is finding out how that thing that makes you come alive will contribute to making this world a better place through being, once again, who you want to be.  And on top of that, as the title of the New York Times bestseller reads, “Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow!”  It’s true.  If you’re that passionate about what you do, you will excel that much more in that field and advance to reach a comfortable lifestyle.

    Unfortunately, many people never realize this.  Some individuals do not discover who they really are their entire lives.  Sometimes to find ourselves, though, we must first lose ourselves or make some drastic change in our lives and thinking pattern.  Sometimes we need to challenge the ideas presented to us and really take an extensive look inside ourselves to see if our values and morals are in line with them.  Until you find yourself and are the person you want to be, you cannot fulfill your dreams.  Be fulfilled to fulfill.

    Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

    letting go

    March 2nd, 2011   |   Think About It

    To be honest, the past few weeks have been a bit rough for me. No need to worry too much, but let’s just say that I’ve been struggling to find life balance lately. In fact, things are good overwhelmingly great. Which in itself brings a whole new set of lessons.

    I feel like the gratitude I’ve felt in the past has equaled the blessings I’ve had in my life. It looked something like this:

    Amount of Gratitude = Amount of Blessings

    But recently I feel like this:

    Amount of Gratitude < Amount of Blessings

    This is strange, unfamiliar territory. I’m learning how to grow my gratitude to fit the overflowing of blessings. I’ve even wondered if there is a limit to gratitude that can be felt at any one time. I feel like I’m at capacity, I’m 100% grateful. And yet that still doesn’t seem to encompass or do justice to the (seemingly) 150% of blessings in my life. I’m not sure if this is making sense, but it’s the best way I can describe it.

    Due to the fact that I’m so overwhelmed by the goodness in my life at the moment, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed in other areas of my life in not-so-good ways. I’ve been eating more unconsciously, spending slightly unaware, and there are dozens of thoughts – both negative and positive – swirling inside my brain. This thought tornado has left me unsettled, uncomfortable, and again – feeling overwhelmed.

    Because of all of this anxiety this morning, I decided to make some worry flashcards to stop my spinning mind. The flashcards paired with the quote (above) from Keira were amazing in helping me see what needed to be done.

    I first began sharing my blessings with others so that they can flow to me and also through me. I think the blessings are kind of like a river and I don’t want to be the dam that stops the current. I also need to let go of a lot of negative thoughts which are weighing me down.

    By performing this “mind makeunder,” I think I’ll find an equilibrium.

    Thanks for listening.

    March Free Wallpaper: Click here to download the full-size version of the wallpaper above.

    Happy March! I am beyond happy to see this “warm,” sunny weather here in Chicago today. It definitely sets a great tone for the month to come.

    I’ve decided to design this month’s wallpaper with a quote from a recent post. I like this statement because it can apply to all kinds of things in our lives. When I look at it this month I’ll be thinking about eating more fresh foods, running outside more often, launching a new product line, and about adding more PT in my life.

    What are your intentions for March?

    [Click here for the full-size version of the wallpaper.]

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