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introducing the Jess LC shop blog…

June 30th, 2011   |   Life

Though it may seem that our Jess LC studio is filled with intentions, jewelry, bags, and love, the truth is that there is a very large silly-quirky-fun quotient which is often left out. To correct that perception, we have launched a new shop blog, Behind the Chevron Curtain which is a place for Susie, Melissa, and Michelle to share their jokes, favorite funny You Tube videos, baking recipes, and some behind the scenes content.

Hop over to check out their thoughts on hair thongs, dance parties, and more.

Yesterday’s post about separating my career from my purpose was accepted with a less than lackluster response (okay, let’s be honest, there were crickets cricketing in the comment section). And that’s fine, I get it. I know that most people aren’t going to resonate with my purpose and career dilemma, after all it’s about my conflict with purpose and career. But I’m happy to say I think what came out of that realization is going to be some good food for thought today.

At least I hope so.

After realizing that I needed to pull my idea of purpose and career apart, I had a second light bulb moment.

You know how you always hear people say that if you really are in the “right job” it shouldn’t feel like work? That you should wake up each morning bounding out of bed itching to start your workday?

To be honest, I have always been puzzled by my reaction to those ideas – sure I have a career and purpose that are intertwined immensely, I have designed my career with such clarity that it’s amazing and incredible and purposeful and fun and helpful. But my real response to those questions used to be, “Sure, I like my job, and I SHOULD want to bound out of bed and rush to my career each morning, but I don’t. I just wander over to the computer and start working after I’ve gotten ready for the day and eaten breakfast. I don’t really dive out from under the covers into my career with a grin plastered on my face.”

While pulling apart the idea of my career and purpose it hit me; I thought I was working 40-50 hours a week on my career when the real answer was 119 hours a week!

I kid you not.

I have come to realize that for me, work is most largely tied to my inbox. I get orders through email, I get customer service requests through email, I get MML comments through email, I get letters from readers through email, I get twitter responses through email, I get sponsors through email, I get consulting clients through email, and I get bills through email. Having an online business, blog, and consulting business means my email is my access to my business.

Every time I check my email I am working on my career.

Whoa. Hold the phone. Every time I checked my email I was really working? Yep.

I was working because though I may not answer emails at night or before my morning oatmeal, I was still focusing, formulating responses in my head, and dwelling on what what going on in my career.

Which meant that though I may “work” from 9-10am until 5-6pm each weekday, I check my email every 10-15 minutes seven days a week.

My bedside alarm is on my smart phone, so the minute I turn off the alarm, I check my email. I then check it an average of 10 times before I’ve even sat at my computer to work. I check it every 2 minutes while working. In the evenings I continue checking email (excluding dinner) until after my head hits the pillow.

I even have checked it in the bathroom (okay, that might sound gross [it is] but I’m sure I’m not the only one…).

So yeah, I have been working on my career every waking moment for the past two years. Which totally explains why I don’t bound out of bed looking forward to work – I’m already working the minute I open my eyes!

And that is changing. Now.

Since Sunday I have decided NOT to check my email (aka work) after I am done working for the day. I also don’t check my email in the morning until I’m ready to start my workday.

And you know what? I now freaking LOVE my job!

I spend so much time now wondering about what new cool opportunities are coming my way while I’m spending time in the other areas of my life that are also important to me. And it leads to an awesome rush of excitement to turn on my laptop each morning. What neat things are going to happen today I wonder? Before, when I checked email 4-10 times an hour there was no awe and wonder in my career, I knew every second of every day what was going to happen. Which simply wasn’t healthy for my life.

And when I think to myself that this new focus of email during my workday might be too hard to follow I remember that my purpose in my career is to help people design lives with intention – and that means that by doing this myself, I’m also setting an example for others. I don’t want anyone to feel so out of balance in their lives from checking their inbox as frequently as I did. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, and I shouldn’t do it in my own life. By choosing this path, I am taking a stand for what can be possible in all of our lives.

So far I’m beyond thrilled with my results, I have much more presence with friends, my mom who is visiting this week, and with Mr. Lively. I am able to get way more done in other areas of my life because my career isn’t inserting itself in every nook and cranny of time that exists.

I have time to stop and smell the roses on the way to the FedEx store rather than check my email on my phone while trying not to stumble on a crack in the sidewalk.

During Lifebook I realized I need to break up with my career.

Sort of.

As you know, I am a bag and jewelry designer but my purpose lies in helping people design lives with intention. It’s why I write here on MML. It’s why I speak across the country from time to time I speak across the country. It lies in the deepest part of my being. It just IS a part of me. One of the deepest parts of me in fact.

And I have been blessed (and brave enough) to work to make that purpose a part of my career as much as I can. It is a driving force in my life, and most of all in my career. My business is about “design with intention,” I consult with people to build businesses with intention, and I write here on MML about designing an intentional life.

My personal life is also guided by this purpose as I bring intention to (almost) all areas of my life – I eat and move with intention, I pray with intention, I have relationships with intention, I build my character with intention, I read with intention, and I certainly design my career with intention.

Intention, intention, intention.

But as I started to forge a career from my purpose through blog ads, consulting, and soon to be freelance writing(!), I started to lump my career and purpose into the same Big Beast.

Though Big Beast might sound like an overstatement, it’s not that far off. During Lifebook discussions I started to notice that I would use the words “career” and “purpose” interchangeably. In my mind’s eye they were one in the same. “My career IS my purpose” was the belief that I held tightly.

Here is a huge problem with that thought – while my purpose permeates all aspects of my life, my career is just one aspect of my life.

My purpose is the thread running throughout my life, but my career is not.

So I have started to break those two words apart, started to look at my language and put more space between those words.

I’ve started to realize that the energy I put towards my Big Beast has also led to the disintegration of other areas of my life. My biggest strength truly became one of my biggest weaknesses.

And now I’m working to change that.

my new intentions

June 27th, 2011   |   LifeThink About It

Phew. I have been busy with a four day retreat at Lifebook (more on that to come later) rethinking and re-dreaming about twelve areas of my life. Twelve areas? Yep, twelve different areas which include:

  • My Health and Fitness
  • My Intellectual Life
  • My Emotional Life
  • My Character
  • My Spiritual Life
  • My Love Relationship
  • Parenting (for when I do have kids)
  • My Social Life
  • My Financial Life
  • My Career
  • My Quality of Life
  • My Life Vision

I wasn’t only “thinking” about each of these areas, I was reflecting on what I believe about them, what I want out of them in my life, why they are important, and what I need to do to make them happen as I’d like. Needless to say, it was a transformative process.

I actually feel differently about my life, much more so than I expected.

After looking at my goals and strategies for each area I have no less than 63 total habits that I would like to work into my daily life.

Sound a bit overwhelming? Actually, I feel less overwhelmed than ever before. I ironically feel like I have more “space in my life.” Having gone into such depth about all of those areas in my life, I now clearly understand how to achieve so much of what I really, really want. And a lot of what used to occupy my time less intentionally as melted away freeing up the space, energy, and motivation to do the most fulfilling things in my vision for my life.

With that said, I’m not focusing on all 63 intentions all at once. I’m choosing to focus on five of the most rewarding (and easily implemented) habits until August. Then I plan to reflect, document my progress, and move on to the next focus habits on my list.

So here are my new intentions:

My Health and Fitness

I plan to continue to choose to listen to my gut and intuition when it comes to eating, and how much I eat. I plan to also work movement into my life through things that bring me enjoyment and connect to other areas of my life as well like long walks alone (also related to my Spiritual Life), biking and lifting weights with Mr. Lively (also related to my Love Relationship), walking with friends (also related to my Social Life), and a weekly yoga practice (also related to my Spiritual Life).

My Intellectual Life

I plan to read for 20 minutes each morning before getting out of bed and also read an article in the New York Times. In addition, I am having Mr. Lively teach me about reading music and playing the guitar.

My Financial Life

I plan to triple my savings each month for an overall substantial goal by the end of the year. This goal is important to me because it will prepare me to get my first home.

My Spiritual Life

I plan to write (journal) five days a week to reflect on my life, document my progress with my vision, and seek inner guidance.

My Career Life

I plan to set out concrete sales goals for each month for the rest of the year.

So there you have it. As I’ve mentioned, I am sure that this process will come up many more times in the future. It has turbo charged my future letter practice in a way that I am incredibly grateful for. It has also given me a wealth of breakthroughs, a-ha moments, and intentional ways of living my life that I cannot wait to share here on MML.

So stick with me, the best is yet to come.

maggie’s dream report: week four

June 24th, 2011   |   Life

Let’s talk about fear.

One thing I remember from my Midnight Hustling days (not so very long ago) is being afraid. Afraid that by taking the next step, I’d be exposing myself to rejection. Afraid that if I actually got a client, I wouldn’t know what to do (this one likes to pop up even now, which is silly). Afraid after hitting the “send” button to an e-decorating client that they would hate all my ideas, demand a refund, and tell the whole internet how much I sucked (this never happened).

I looked forward to a time when I would be confident in my abilities to run a business, to please a client, and to network with others. You know, when I was finally a full-time entrepreneur.

Maybe you’ve looked forward to the same thing. Ready for the fear to end and the confidence to begin. Maybe being afraid is keeping you from taking action and, like me for many months, hope that researching and reading will help ease your fear so that you can take action.

The fear doesn’t go away.

Not right away anyway. I was lucky to tackle some of my fears of rejection and bad performance while I was still working the day job. I’d gotten to a point of no return – I knew I couldn’t stay how I was, and the main things in my way were money and fear. Money was easy to come up with a solution for (save, don’t spend any “extra” money). And once I recognized that it was fear standing in my way, I had one of those “screw it!” moments, booked a photographer for my house, and submitted the pictures to Design*Sponge.

Guess what, they were rejected. And it didn’t kill me! Sure, I was disappointed, but all this time I’d been afraid of being rejected, and when it happened…. well, nothing HAPPENED. Instead, I submitted to Apartment Therapy. And when I didn’t hear back, I submitted to Desire to Inspire, who posted them, and caused a huge spike in my traffic and several guest posting and interview opportunities. Apartment Therapy ended up posting them the following week, and a month later I was on again with a full house tour.

With full-time entrepreneurship comes new fears. Money becomes a more legitimate fear. Stress on relationships. Most other fears boil down to those two.

No one will want to hire me.
Am I being selfish by not having a REAL job?
No one wants a designer without a degree.
I’m home all day, I should be keeping the house sparkling clean.
I want to work with other creatives, but they’ll think my ideas are stupid.
Does my spouse/partner secretly resent me?

See?

In regards to relationships, I only know that Ryan has given me no reason whatsoever to think that he resents me or thinks I’m wasting my time. He was unhappy when I was unhappy at my job, and having that weight lifted has been great. My stressing about the housekeeping, not so great. But we’re learning to adjust to our new routine and he has been extremely supportive. Not all partners will be. But that’s probably something you’d know before taking this leap.

In regards to money, I’ve decided to tackle individual fears head on, otherwise they’ll continue to come around to pounce. No one will want to hire me is something that I’m addressing with my web redesign (rescheduled to launch next week). Potential clients need to find a reason to hire me, and only I can provide that reason. I’m sure that once I have a more steady stream of clients the fear will be that I’m doing something wrong or they won’t like this pillow, or what if her husband secretly hates yellow and I just ordered a yellow chaise without knowing. And the only thing that will solve that is preparation and flexibility.

I just wanted to share that even though things have been going well, and I’ve had great opportunities and made amazing connections in the last four weeks, I’m still scared that it’s all going to come crashing down around me. That part hasn’t gone away. What has gone away is the opportunity to let fear dictate what I do. There is no “I’m afraid, so I won’t do that.” It becomes, “I’m afraid, but dammit, I’m going to make this business work.” And I do it anyway.

Let’s hear from you. What are you afraid of?

Today I’m happy to share a very insightful sponsor interview with Leah of Your Nutritionista Consulting (YNC). Below she shares her personal philosophy on health and wellness as well as what YNC has to offer those looking to intentionalize their health and fitness. As someone who has been around this bush many times before (most notably here and here), she totally captures my personal philosophy, so I couldn’t recommend her more!

Plus, stay tuned. Leah is going to be back on MML in no time flat. But more on that later…

On to the interview!

Was there an experience you had growing up that led you to become connected to nutrition and wellness?

I’m one of those people who tried every diet out there, from the reasonable to the completely insane (you can find all about my experiences with different diets in my Nutritionista History post here). When diets didn’t work, I started to read about nutrition constantly. I landed on a way of eating — an approach to health — that made sense for me. The basis of that approach is all about real food, even if it’s not considered “healthy” by mainstream America (like butter!). But because I read so much, there’s a strong scientific foundation for everything I recommend.

Why did you start YNC?

I realized that the approach to health I had designed for myself was something I needed to share with everyone who feels lost or confused about food, nutrition, and fitness. Also, I had started getting tons and tons of questions through my blog,

Your Nutritionista. So it made sense to create a place for people to get the one-on-one support from me that they were looking for. I know that there’s no one-size-fits-all diet, so I built a foundation for health that applies to everyone but can look very different in practice depending on who you are and what your life is like.

What makes YNC different from other online weight loss programs?

A few things set it apart from other online programs: first of all, the personalization. No two YNC plans are exactly alike. As part of the program, you receive a customized YNC booklet. It’s filled with everything you need to make sure you know what to do in any situation. I want my clients to feel like there’s no eating situation that’s off-limits to them! YNC is definitely not a stagnant meal/workout plan. Read about everything you get as part of YNC here.

The second way it’s unique is the support and accountability you get. I talk to my clients on the phone every single week (and am available by email or text 24/7). When people are looking to lose weight or achieve a health/fitness goal, they’ll eventually reach a point where they know what to do, but they’re not doing it for some reason. I help them get past that. I sort of see myself as a food therapist in that way. I’ve come to understand it’s not just about what you’re eating, it’s also about why, where, and with whom.

Another way YNC is different from everything else out there is the food and my general approach to health (read about it here). I want to make sure that eating is a pleasurable experience for everyone. If you don’t like what you’re eating and you don’t feel satisfied, then I’m not doing my job. You can feel full after a meal but still not feel satisfied. I’m going to make sure you feel completely satisfied and satiated. YNC food is just plain good!

What has been the most rewarding aspect to starting YNC?

Honestly, I love talking to my clients! And I love that I get to celebrate their successes along with them. I feel like a proud mama bear when one of my clients reaches a health or fitness goal. I’ll do anything in my power to help my clients succeed, whether it’s making them homemade trail mix, shipping them a copy of my favorite nutrition book, or incentivizing their goals with a discount (yes, I’ve done all those things!).

What action made the wellness lifestyle click for you as an individual?

One of my mantras is, “Never do anything on a diet that you’re not prepared to do for the rest of your life.” That’s why you have to make sure that, from start to finish, you’re eating and living in a way that you could eat and live forever. One of the exercises I’ve had clients do is name the 5 foods they can’t imagine living without. If they can’t live without them, then we’ll find a way to incorporate them into their diets in a sustainable way! I do the same thing for myself. Real ice cream is definitely a part of my personal weekly plan.

summer home updates

June 22nd, 2011   |   Style

Since the last photos were taken of my living room and bedroom, I’ve made some summer updates to my apartment.

Given the warmer weather and my evolving sense of style, I’ve chosen to go with brighter pops of color. Some of these colors and trends are even making their way into upcoming collections as well…

An ice bucket and wine rack from the thrift store, acrylic tray from CB2, and my favorite chevron decanter from Cathy round out a pretty little spot for drinks.

Since the first living room photos, my old sea foam living room rug has bit the dust. It discolored, wore out, and got red wine stains. So in came this gray little number from Rugs USA which brightens the whole space. The blue pillow caught my eye at Pier One. After obsessing about the pillow for a few weeks I finally caved and bought it.

A discounted aqua tray from TJ Maxx is the perfect way to carry barbecue goods to the patio.

Mr. Lively’s favorite candle scent I’ve ever had, Firewood by C.O Bigelow.

I obsessed over this Pottery Barn duvet for months and finally ordered it. If it’s good enough for Sarah and Diane, it’s good enough for me. I love it.

My new favorite scarf found for $16 at TJ Maxx.

What summer home updates have you done lately?

growing forward

June 21st, 2011   |   Business AdviceLife

Okay guys, I feel like I’ve been a bit behind in filling you all in on what I’m working on what I’m building lately. And considering the “ML” in MML is “my life,” I feel it’s time to be a bit more transparent with everything. But not too transparent.

After all, there is still the satisfaction that comes with the buzz surrounding surprises.

Anyways, I have been B-U-S-Y. The only downside to busy phases is that they often seem the most quiet on blogs because the writers are working on projects that eventually land on the blog much later down the line. So ironically, being busy in real life often seems like the most relaxed period from a blog reader perspective. And for this, I apologize.

Lately I have been helping a local company called Lifebook for several days over the past month which left me out of the studio more than usual. The basis of their company is closely aligned with MML concepts and I’ve been amazed at their four day retreat process which is made to help guests design twelve areas of their life with intention. Further, this Thursday through Sunday I will also be participating as a guest myself(!!). I’m pumped to really take a four day look at my life and see how well I’ve been doing with my intentions as well as fleshing out areas of my vision that I’ve never even touched before. And of course, I’ll be sure to report back here as to what my new intentions are and how I feel about my vision going forward.

I’m also happy to say that my business consulting practice is going very well and are some of the best, most fulfilling, hours of my workday. I’ve been floored at how much I’ve been able to really help the wonderful ladies who have worked with me and I look forward to continuing to help others into the future.

Okay, now to the really big stuff. The stuff coming up at Jess LC. For starters, we have our annual online sidewalk sale going on this week which is keeping us on our toes. We are also training our newest lovely, Michelle, and creating a manager book which contains all the information needed for managers (aka interns) as a resource.

Further, I’ve been stretching myself to design more than I ever have before. We have no less than six collections launching between now and October. Yep, six unique projects with over 62 new color combinations across more than 20 styles. Will we be adding more jewelry and bags? Absolutely. But we will also be adding new product categories, working with two awesome businesses on new collaboration projects, and expanding Jess LC goods to four new areas of life beyond bags and jewelry. So needless to say, there are a lot of balls in the air, phone calls to make, details to approve, and sample swatches to choose.

After twelve summers of business, I’m more happy than I’ve ever been as a designer. What I once wanted to discard as soon as I could support myself on MML related activities, I am now more invested emotionally, financially, and professionally than ever before. I think for me, at this point in my life, I have designed my business with so much clarity of intention that I love it more than I ever imagined I could. It is as if that fateful ugly ankle bracelet that sold a dozen years ago at a pool in Algonac, Michigan was leading me to this summer. There were literally thousands of bumps during the 4,380 days that I’ve been in business, but the fact that I just kept going and redirecting my course with my overall vision lead me to so much joy.

To know that I’ve found a way to not only do what I love (help people design lives with intention via MML and business consulting) and love what I do (Jess LC) is beyond rewarding.

Of course that isn’t to say that there won’t be thousands of bumps ahead long into the future, that part is inevitable, but the courage to keep honing in on what makes me happy and fulfilled, even at the expense of profit at times, has led to the career of my dreams.

And the best part? The ability to just keep going and choosing meaningfulness over fear are traits we all possess.

summer lovin’ sale over at Jess LC

June 20th, 2011   |   Life

Great news! We are having our summer sale a little early this year – hop onto Jess LC to get 25% off your entire order (enter code SUMMERLOVIN) today through Friday only.

And in other great news, Lauren L. won the Golightly Jewellery giveaway.

maggie’s dream report: week three

June 17th, 2011   |   Life

Two people walk into an elevator…

Ah, the good old elevator speech! Well I’m not going to give you the usual drill because if you google “elevator speech” you’ll find dozens of how-to’s and examples (probably both good and bad). But the essence of the elevator speech – how to explain your business or business idea to someone in the time it takes to ride an elevator, well, that I’m keeping.

I’m talking about WHAT DO YOU DO?

For the entrepreneur who can still count the days of freedom on her hands and toes, it’s a scary question. And it’s one that’s been on mind while I’m working on the site redesign.

Because of the layout of the pages, it makes sense for me to re-do my “about me” page and my “services” pages. And it got me thinking about what it is I’m selling to people. And who those people are. As a new business, now is my chance to tell people what I do before they hear it from someone else. And it brings up some really conflicted feelings for me.

When I first started blogging, it was all about inspiration. Gorgeous homes, Vogue-worthy fashion, feats of design that only come with one price tag: a BIG one. At some point I wanted to be creating more original content on my blog (which I still do) – taking photos of  my own design projects at home was the most logical, but I don’t exactly have a BIG budget. This ended up being about the same time as I was taking on my first clients. And when I started thinking about “branding” and “marketing” and “finding my niche” it seemed that “budget design” was right up my alley.

Right away I hit a conflict: In order to price myself fairly in the market (ie: after researching the competition) and to make any kind of decent hourly wage, I priced myself out of the “budget clients” that I was aiming to attract. That’s pretty clear to me now. And yet matching the price expectation of the budget decorating world didn’t value my work as that of a professional. On the flip side, I wonder how many larger projects have been turned off by my low prices because I wasn’t perceived as a professional?

The truth is, I just don’t love doing “budget projects”. Now I’m not going to go all “Million Dollar Decorators” on you (new Bravo TV show), but even though I like a deal as much as the next girl, I love design because I love pretty things – designer furniture, hand-painted fabrics, rugs that aren’t synthetic… and I’m a true believer in spending some money on quality pieces for your home that will stand the test of time. That just hasn’t been meshing with my branding. I’ve had some GREAT clients, but I’ve had projects where I felt extremely limited by the budget (and not in a fun way). And to be honest, I’m not the best budget decorator out there. I can name others who truly LOVE sniffing out a deal, and take pride in their ability to spot a trend and recreate it for half the price. But I don’t have that same passion for it… and isn’t the whole point of quitting my day job to do what I love?

So where does this leave me? Well, I looked through my past client folders. Most of my favorite projects have been working with young(ish) couples and single women who have either purchased their first home, or are finally ready to “take decorating seriously” (in one client’s words). They haven’t been millionaires, but they’ve saved up and are ready to make some investment purchases, like a well-made sofa, a beautiful wool rug, or reupholster a family heirloom. Some of them have been repeat clients. Sure, we’ve had to cut corners here and there (mixing one designer fabric pillow with some from TJ Maxx…) but it’s been about creating a vision for their homes.

So I’m working on my “What do you do” and “About me” and “Welcome to my new fancy site, please hire me” statements and here’s what I have so far:

“Maggie Rose Interiors is a Seattle based interior decorating company with a flair for mixing old and new, bargain and luxury for a home that feels layered, collected, and just like you.”

As far as my pricing goes? Well, I’ll be making some adjustments. But now I know more about who I like working for and the position they’re in. No longer am I basing my pricing off of my competition, but basing it on the clients I want to attract.

P.S. The plan is to upload the new site design over the weekend, so if you visit Maggie Rose and it’s down for maintenance, that’s what we’re up to! You can follow me on Twitter (@MaggieRoseBlog) to get the heads up on Monday when it’s back up… cross your fingers it all goes smoothly!

Here are June’s DIY DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews! As a reminder, you are welcome to participate in this series by posting your DESIGN YOUR LIFE on your blog and sharing the link with me (jess @ jesslc.com).

Enjoy!

Caroline’s post is on Treat Yourself Well.

Emilie’s post is on One Foot On Shore.

Jessica’s post is on Jessica Hannon Photography.

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

PS – On a very sad (but proud) note, our very dear Kat of Jess LC, who has faithfully illustrated and designed many of our graphics as well as manned our Facebook Page, has graduated from Northwestern University! She is now headed off to California to start an incredible life journey. I am so thankful to have had her wonderful support and help for nine months. And I still cannot thank her enough for helping us get our online USPS shipping figured out! Tonight we will celebrate her graduation with Mexican food, sangria, and sombreros. Plus, Melissa says she’s bringing a mustache. Can’t wait.

We’ve all been drooling over the pretties spattered among the fresh batch of up and coming web businesses like Emersonmade, Bando, Bailey Doesn’t Bark, and our own One Sydney Road. But I am happy to announce I have a new crush on who I consider my personal “next big thing” (and new friend), Claudia of Fig. 2 Design Studio.

I adore her fresh take on graphic design, stationery, and color.

Of course, the second I stumbled upon her site I promptly added her blog to my reader. And to my delight she has done an amazing recap of her first time doing the National Stationery Show. The info is real, practical, honest, and helpful for anyone considering trade shows in the future.

(credit)

Click the headers below to hop on over to the posts directly.

Enjoy!

that didn’t feel good

June 14th, 2011   |   LifeThink About It

Okay guys. I’m gonna get pretty real here today. Though I write about intention and how I’m doing my best to design my life around it, it is no big surprise that I am just as human as the next person. And though Mr. Lively and I are very, very happy together, we also have our share of “long talks,” discussions, and heated arguments. Not too often… but sometimes.

While Mr. Lively is resoundingly rational and slow to anger, I’m proportionally less rational and quicker to anger. So despite my spiritual earnestness, I have said things that were not kind. Not extremely cruel things, but hurtful ones regardless.

Pretty early on Mr. Lively would respond in our arguments heated discussions with the phrase,

“That didn’t feel good.”

Honestly, at first I disregarded the comment altogether. I’d never heard that kind of phrase in an argument before and didn’t really think it was relevant. After all, I was the hurt one at the moment, upset about something stupid that he said. (Or at least that is how my wounded ego felt.)

But eventually after hearing it a few times in a random spattering of discussions, the words started to seep into my mind while I was still upset.

When I paid more attention to the statement, I started to realize more quickly that the situation had reached a level that was no longer productive or helpful. It also made me accountable to be aware of his feelings during a fight.

As I’ve begun to regard his feelings while I’m hurt, I’ve learned to cut much quicker to the apology in arguments and I am also much more aware of my impact on him (ironically) when I’m mad at him.

And now, I also have a great new tool. Whenever my feelings are hurt I can also go straight to the “That didn’t feel good” and cut through a lot of drawn out anger and discussion that often isn’t as necessary anymore. It holds Mr. Lively accountable for recognizing my feelings in arguments as well.

Because as much as we might be upset at the time, we don’t want to make the other person feel badly out of accident or spite.

Mr. Lively also describes why he chose the phrase and how it has helped him as well in his own words,

‘That didn’t feel good’.

A simple phrase that came to me from a simple thought.

Every disagreement has two people with two issues. First is more analytical and logical. To disagree is to fundamentally analyze a topic and come to a different conclusion than another person. It’s where the issue generally came from and requires a lot of discussion to reconcile. This is generally the crux of a disagreement. That isn’t to say two people can’t just disagree, it happens and it’s completely fine.

Second and what I am focusing on is the giant storm of emotion surrounding the disagreement. This is where you will find yourself getting defensive, angry, upset, and being very irrational. One of the big things I to keep in mind is emotions don’t come from place where 1 + 1 = 2, they come from a place of 1 + 1 = ‘I’m really pissed off’. Me being the analytical person I am, it’s easy to write these off as irrational and not important.

This is where some of the biggest mistakes of my life have come from.

Emotions are valid, it doesn’t matter where they came from or why. They are there, there’s no getting around it, so just say it. Confronting, accepting, and discussing whatever emotion (good or bad) you are having with the person you are next to (friend or more) is a tremendous help in any situation. It’s relationship builder and stress reliever all in one.

So yes, when I don’t feel good I say it, and ironically, it feels great.

Over the past few weeks I’ve spent several days helping a company in town and I have enjoyed stepping back from Jess LC and MML a bit. It was refreshing to work in a new place, meet new co-workers, and learn new skills. It was also an enlightening experience since it was the first non-entrepreneurship role I’ve had since 2007.

For the first time in years I was no longer the owner. I was the assistant to the assistants.

At first it was novel. Then it was terrifying. My quest to execute my role perfectly was stifling and made me uneasy as I was no longer in charge. I had a lot of questions, uneasiness, and stress. Apparently not being in charge has become more stressful for me than being in command.

Eventually I am happy to say that I relaxed into my role, became more familiar with the flow and required duties, and started to look at the company process as my own and regained my confidence.

But I cannot stress enough how enlightening the whole experience was for me.

Because even though I eventually found my groove and did a great job, I also saw how clearly what I do everyday with Jess LC and MML rocks.

I’ve been doing my own thing for so long that my awesome business has become my “daily grind.” Taking a step outside my career and trying something new for a few days shed light on why I am here at Jess LC and MML. And though at times (like today) I feel stressed and overwhelmed by aspects of my business, I also know I am a great fit and fulfilling my purpose.

So for those who are also fortunate to love what they do but need a fresh appreciation, I encourage you to leave your post for a few days and try something completely different via volunteering, interning, or serving a friend’s company. It may just remind you of why you love your job.

maggie’s dream report: week two

June 13th, 2011   |   Life

(Sorry for the delay! This is Maggie’s Dream Report from last Friday – I have been out of the office on other business since Thursday.)

Adventures in Web Design

One of the first things I’ve learned as a brand-new business owner is that I am it. All of it. CEO, Finance Director, Marketing Manager, Sales Person, Custodian… and while I do believe in hiring out professional help when necessary, as a teensy baby business with a teensier budget, that can be hard to do.

My original plan had been to have a new, shiny, spiffy website launched a few months before I went full time. As an interior decorator (really, any service-oriented business), my website conveys who I am as a business and what I do. I don’t have a pretty storefront display to show off and bring in customers. But my original designer fell through only weeks before my last day at work. After pricing out new designers (and having to start from scratch, negating the funds I’d already spent) I had to admit that it just wasn’t in the budget.

So I’m doing it myself.

“This girl must be crazy,” you’re thinking right now. You might be right! But it comes down to knowing that my site needs a change, but not being able to afford what I really want.

The problem right now is pretty easy to identify: As I prepare other marketing materials for both in print and on the web, I’m directing potential clients to my site for the first time ever. When you get to my site, it’s not immediately clear where you should go to hire me. It takes you straight to my blog. Instead, clients should be able to see right away the services I offer, where to buy them or request a custom quote, and any other profitable areas of the site I want them to see (my etsy shop, my ebooks, etc). The blog is an amazing marketing tool, and I think it is a great way to share information and for potential clients to get to know me before putting their home in my hands. But it’s not the “hire me” hook they need to find.

So on the techy side of things, I’m learning a lot (one of my other roles is IT Manager, although my computer-whiz boyfriend Ryan is an invaluable resource). Obviously I’m not going to code the site from scratch. I use WordPress as my blogging platform, and luckily there are tons of developers writing unique and flexible “themes” (design templates) for free or for a small fee. I chose to purchase a theme on ThemeForest, which was only $35. I looked through HUNDREDS before choosing one that had elements I knew I wanted: a static home page with lots of visual elements and places to advertise different aspects of my business, a footer at the bottom with additional information, a built-in portfolio widget to showcase examples of my work, and a clean and simple look overall.

I was also able to trade my interior design services with a graphic designer friend for the branding elements I needed to make the theme uniquely Maggie Rose. While I’ll be creating some of the visual components myself, I wanted a pro to give me a look that I could carry from my site to my facebook page to my etsy shop. We just wrapped up that step and I love the simple design we ended up with.

As for the coding, well, it’s a steep learning curve. So far I’ve broken down in tears about three times, usually over something that I manage to figure out within the next thirty minutes. It’s really frustrating for someone with limited HTML or CSS knowledge. Fighting through the jargon in the forums and help section has been difficult (I just learned what “javascript” is).  Last night I told Ryan, “I just want someone else to do it!” and promptly burst into tears. Turns out, I just needed to re-read the help file that came with the theme and copy and paste a line of code.

But on the other hand, the problems I’ve managed to solve (getting my “contact me” form to show up, getting a weird error message to go away) have given me a huge sense of pride and accomplishment. And while I wish that the traffic spike I got during my first week of self-employment had gone to a fancy and efficient site, at least I know that I’ll know my site inside and out when I’m done. How many CEO’s can say that?

new Jess LC ambassadors

June 9th, 2011   |   Life

First of all, thank you so much for the outstanding feedback yesterday on the upcoming color choices! I have to say the top three were definitely my picks too, but it seems like it’s close to a draw between the navy/pool blue and eggplant/fuchsia options. Only time will tell as to which colors actually get added to the new collection.

Today and tomorrow I will be out of the studio working with Lifebook here in Chicago, so I won’t be back to a laptop until Monday. My hopes are that my trusty new iPad can help me get Maggie’s Dream Report formatted for Friday. But if I’m not tech savvy enough to get it posted on the iPad, I promise to post it as soon as I can.

In the meantime, I would like to introduce the newest batch of Jess LC Ambassadors! Thank you so much for your support and feel free to browse the new Ambassadors blogs by clicking on their badges below.

If you’d like to become an Ambassador, please read on.

New Jess LC Ambassadors

 

upcoming Jess LC color ideas

June 8th, 2011   |   Life

Hey ladies, I need your help! As I mentioned yesterday, I have a lot of exciting product launches coming up throughout the rest of the year. Yes, there will be new jewelry and bags, but there are also a few other tricks up my designer sleeve.

And I can really use your input on the next collection’s color selections.

Below you’ll see a variety of color combinations I’m debating between for a product launch this summer that is for a leather good (not a bag). The large rectangle is the leather color option, the smaller rectangle is the inside lining. Please comment below and let me know which of the options you prefer or would consider buying! My hope is that by getting your feedback I can design the best product in the best possible colors.

So what do you think? Let me know which ones are your favorites!

Okay guys, time to level. I apologize about not getting too “deep” here lately. I’ve been very busy with Jess LC, consulting, life, and so on. Not too “out of whack my life is upside down,” but just working at a very brisk pace. And as an result, there will be some exciting product launches at Jess LC in the next few months.

I should also mention that I highly recommend Bridesmaids as a movie choice. (Even Mr. Lively thought it was great.)

Okay, now it’s time to get back to business, or in this case, life.

A few weeks ago I was going through some serious pangs of wondering, questioning, and over-thinking. And it’s taken me a lot of thought, reflection, and seeking to really sort out the cause, solution, and wisdom from the experience.

I believe that we all have pieces of our life puzzle that shift in and out of place over time. Sometimes pieces change shape, get lost, or simply disappear. And sometimes pieces miraculously fit, appear out of thin air, and complete the picture. Puzzle pieces can be large or small, foundational or peripheral.

But when one of the foundational pieces seems to be missing, it’s uncomfortable.

Lately I want to know whether something in my life will happen (or not happen) in the future. Though I have a million thoughts about what I want to happen, I know that I need that cool, deep, calm feeling of knowing in my gut before taking any real, decisive action.

But the simple truth was no matter how hard my ego thinks about this topic, it does not make me one ounce more confident in the spiritual knowing that I seek to feel so desperately.

Eventually on a run last week I realized that the pangs of frustration and uncertainty that I felt about my situation probably correlate closely to the pangs others feel about trying to find their life purpose or a fulfilling job.

Or those who are seeking their life partner.

Or those might be ready to have children.

Or for those with a relationship needs to end (or begin).

Or for those that need to seek help for an addiction.

Or those contemplating retirement.

Or those who feel a deep sense of discomfort in some area of their life.

And then, in that moment of clarity, I began to reflect on my own personal quandary and apply what I’d tell a purpose seeker.

I began to remind myself to not forget the other awesome pieces of my life that are in place this very moment. Though one important piece of my life puzzle isn’t in place yet, I have so many other pieces – HUGE pieces – that are there. And I do a disservice to my life and enjoyment of this present moment if I disregard the right parts of my life in order to focus only on the missing pieces.

I also realized that there was no way that my ego is able to talk my spirit into knowing anything. I could rationalize all day long, but I was never going to turn thinking into knowing. And the worry that began to grow with this crazy obsession became more of a witch hunt, trying to attack all the thoughts I felt about the situation and see if they lead to some (un)certain conclusion.

All the frustration and frantic seeking got me was worried and anxious. Eventually I even felt sick to my stomach.

But none of the craziness was going to help me find the puzzle piece I was seeking.

So I started to interrupt the crazed and worried thoughts and started to replace them with the truth that I didn’t ‘know’ but that I was doing the best I could and realized I was exactly where I needed to be in that very moment. I started to re-balance my perspective on life to include all of the dozens of things that are going really well right now.

I let go of the “needing to know” and just started living life with the not-knowing.

Since then, my mind has relaxed quite a bit. And ever so slowly I am starting to get a better handle on where my gut might lead me in the future without pushing it in any one direction. By living my life, trying new things, and leaving room for the unknown I think I might just make a place for knowing to actually exist when the time is right.

I just need to remember that the “time” just isn’t something I can force with my mind, but trust to my spirit.

Today we have an inspiring post by Jen, an MML sponsor, Midnight Hustler, and jewelry designer. Her company, Golightly Jewellery has a great mix handmade gems and classic styles at very affordable prices. Below she shares some encouraging words about entrepreneurship. And to makes just a bit sweeter, she’s sharing a pair of Whitney earrings in a giveaway as well – details are below.

Enjoy!

Worth its weight in gems

Golightly Jewellery is officially at an Internet connection near you. Yep, and it’s a newsworthy if not historic moment. Ok, maybe not historic – not in your life, but in my life? You better believe it. You may think that small businesses just apparate overnight, you know, like the wizards in Harry Potter. Well, I hate to break the bad news, but you’d be wrong. In fact, your favourite small businesses – the downtown boutiques, the corner cafés? Well, they worked harder than Cinderella to just be, let alone succeed. But here’s the silver lining: it’s worth it.

I launched Golightly Jewellery in April, but it’s been in the works since 2010: designing jewelry, making mistakes, investing in inventory, making mistakes, launching the site, making mistakes… It’s a long road – a road with ups, downs, U-turns, and the occasional cautionary cliff. And if you’re the type of gal who experiences carsickness when the vehicle is parked, pack your Gravol and brace yourself. Like any ride in life, launching a business is fun, and it’s scary. But, in the end, it’s worth it because it’s yours.

Jess shared a post last month about why it’s good if you hate your job (because, chances are, hating your job will drive you to change, to do what you love.) Well, the girl is right. I believe that you should love your life, and if you don’t love your job, it’ll be tricky to love your life. So, listen to Jess, listen to me: to do what you love isn’t always a piece of cake; sometimes the journey is rocky, but if you keep truckin’, the cake tastes that much sweeter.

Jennifer is the Creative Director of Golightly Jewellery. She’s a freelance writer and editor, and works in web and social media management.

Giveaway

Jen has kindly offered to give away a pair of these Whitney Earrings ($40 value) made with sterling silver and freshwater pearls. To win, please visit her shop and come back here and comment about your favorite style in her collection.

Enter to win before 6/13 (winner will be announced then).

Cathy sent me this thought-provoking article by David Weliver about intentional spending earlier this week. I found it helpful and connected to the idea of designing a life with intention, so I thought I’d share it here as well.

Enjoy!

introducing the next dream reporter!

June 3rd, 2011   |   Life

Good morning and happy Friday! I am pumped to announce that we have our next MML Dream Reporter on hand, Maggie of Maggie Rose!

[Insert cheers and applause here.]

If you read Wednesday’s guest post by Maggie here on MML, you’ll know that she is exactly three days into running her e-decorating business and Etsy shop full-time. I chose her as the next Dream Reporter as I think it will be wonderful to see the perspective of a business fresh from the Midnight Hustling path. Sharing this perspective I believe will be helpful and inspiring to those who are Midnight Hustling, self-employed, or even tossing the idea around that one day they might like to do their own thing.

So without further adu, I give you Maggie Rose (she’ll be here each Friday).

Enjoy!

Maggie Rose’s Dream Report: Week One

Hi everyone! I am so honored and thrilled to be the new Dream Reporter! As Jess said in Wednesday’s post, I have been a longtime reader of MML and have taken so much information and inspiration from the site that I am excited to give some of that back now. Thank you all for your sweet and supportive comments on that post. The first few days of full-time entrepreneurship have been strange but in a good way… I kind of feel like I’m getting away with something!

For my first post, I thought I’d share a little bit of history of my business to get you caught up.

In late 2007 I started my blog (then called Magchunk – obviously not thinking in terms of branding a business yet!) all about interior design, entertaining, and fashion. The blog grew steadily, hit some plateaus, then started growing again. Some readers asked for design advice after liking what I had to say and show from my blog. After e-decorating became a new buzz-word, I began advertising my services, probably sometime in early 2009.

In 2010 I’d had just about enough of my job. I’d moved to Seattle, was commuting 4 hours each day, and had just been cut back to 4 days a week. I’d been reading inspiring blogs like MML, When I Grow Up Coach, White Hot Truth, and IttyBiz. I finally decided that my love of interior design was well-rooted enough that I could potentially make a business out of it.

In May of 2010 I registered as a business in the State of Washington and City of Seattle. I chose to register as a sole proprietor, but someday I will need to upgrade to an LLC. That summer I also began working with Michelle Ward, a licensed life coach who specializes in people in creative careers. Michelle was a huge help in identifying my work efficiencies, personal roadblocks (like procrastination), and a great cheerleader. I also made some amazing friends through group coaching. These three people, along with other supportive people in real life and in the blogging community, are what I consider my “tribe” that I can turn to with questions or doubts.

As soon as I was registered as a business, I also opened a bank account for Maggie Rose Interiors. I plopped in $200 of my own money and it’s been self-sustaining ever since. I wrote a short business plan – I didn’t stress over it because I knew I wasn’t going after investors at this time. I had a designer  create a logo and business cards for me and I took out some ad spaces on other blogs. I also guest posted on 10 different blogs in 2010.

I should point out that until November of 2010, my live-in boyfriend of 5 years, Ryan, was unemployed. He’d been laid off only months after we moved in together and did not qualify for unemployment checks. At the time, it wasn’t possible to plan leaving my job.

When Ryan started working again, I began to take the business even more seriously. It had grown enough that I didn’t feel that I could take on anything else without creating more hours in the day. I wrote a growth plan for 2011 – over 5 pages long with charts and tracking devices for revenue, expenses, readership and activity goals, and long-term goals. When Ryan was promoted to full-time and we knew his employment was secure (about five months ago now), we began planning my departure from work in earnest.

Without sharing our entire financial position, I’ll tell you that I was able to set aside money, but not as much as I might have liked in an ideal world. We were able to take care of some large expenses before I quit, and I had all my doctor, dental, and eye exams before my insurance ended. Things will be tight, and I may end up working a few hours a week at one of the several coffee shops in our neighborhood. That would be fine – what I don’t want is another full-time career-type job that wants more from me than I’m willing or able to give.

And that more of less takes us up to Wednesday, when I had my first taste of freedom! I’m happy to answer any questions in the comment section, or take suggestions for topics for future posts.

easy diy nailhead corkboards

June 2nd, 2011   |   Style

Today I have a little DIY project to share. I’ve had this one on my mind for about a year now, and a few weeks ago I finally completed the project.

Here was my inspiration from my friend Alaina over at Live Creating Yourself:

I adore nailheads and given that I wanted the boards to be gold and white – my favorite color combination of all time – this project seemed perfect.

Except for the fact that I’m a bit lazy when it comes to projects.

I’m the kind of person who is more likely to use pre-made pizza dough than make dough from scratch. Heck, I use canvases to make art without painting.

So rather than using the spray adhesive and linen that these cork board projects usually call for, I decided I’d try painting the boards white to get a similar look more quickly.

So I started with this:

Two cork boards from Target to be used on Kat and Melissa’s desk.

And these:

Gold nailheads from Ace Hardware. They didn’t have them in stock, so I special ordered them. I don’t recall exactly how many boxes it took to complete both boards, but I’d guess around 8-12 boxes with 25 nailheads per box. The maker is Anchor Wire and they are “brass furniture nails.”

Then I decided to try spray painting the boards white to see if that would do the trick.

And coincidentally break the law.

What? You didn’t know that spray painting outside in Chicago is illegal? It is. Kat and I totally broke the law for 12 minutes on a windy afternoon (not recommended). Wind and law-breaking are both less than desirable, but somehow seemed easier than using spray adhesive and fabric.

As you can see above, the spray paint was a good start, but definitely not thick enough to cover the boards properly.

So I took it to the next level with a topcoat of glossy white paint I had left over from another project. Here is the result of spray paint and glossy paint:

Not bad, if I do say so myself. I then started to push the nailheads in along the side.

… Until Mr. Lively innocently asked if they were supposed to be straight or not.

Whomp. Whomp. Whomp.

After that, I decided to draw a line in pencil along the edge where the nails should go, to help guide my pinning more accurately. If you squint closely you can see the line here:

Things got better after the line was drawn. But there are still some inconsistencies along the rows of nailheads. I choose to ignore the flaws.

And here’s how they look now:

Ta-da. The boards look great, and provide a place to put inspiration and notes from customers and friends.

Overall, the project was pretty easy and cheap. The nailheads were about $1.50 per box and the boards were around $12 each. While the spray paint and glossy paint were free.

june wallpaper

June 2nd, 2011   |   LifeThink About It

A new month means a new free down-loadable wallpaper (full size wallpaper available here).

I chose this quote about peace for June because sometimes I choose to spend a bit too much time doing things which do not align with how I’d like to spend my life. Thinking about the choices I make while working online (Am I reading my blog reader more than I’m accomplishing work? Should I stop checking stats for Jess LC and answer Twitter comments more quickly?) and while not working (Am I watching another re-run of How I Met Your Mother instead of reading a book? Am I sleeping in instead of working out as I intended?) makes me realize there is room for improvement.

By thinking about the lasting peace, or lack thereof, that I will feel based on my actions will hopefully give me the extra umph I need to make the right choice instead of the lingering habit.

sponsor rate changes begin june 15th

June 1st, 2011   |   Life

I’d like to give a quick heads up to anyone interested in sponsoring MML. Beginning June 15th the MML sponsor rate will increase. Thanks to so many wonderful readers and contributors, MML is growing faster than ever. I will also be adding a new, larger button option to the current 125×125 pixel ad choice.

The last ad price adjustment happened over a year ago, so it’s time to make this change, but I also want to give fair warning in case anyone thinking about advertising soon. If you are interested in snagging the current, lower rate, please email me at jess@jesslc.com for information before June 15th.

Today is a big day.

Maggie of Maggie Rose, a longtime MML reader and Midnight Hustler, is starting her own full-time interior design business. She’s been plotting, planning, and growing her business to reach this point and I could not be more proud of her. I’ve followed her progress and seen her become more confident, prepared, and ready for this moment. As a celebration of her Midnight Hustler Alumni status, I asked her to share the feelings she’s facing this morning.

Enjoy!

Maggie Rose’s First Day of Self-Employment

Today is my first day as a full-time entrepreneur. Yesterday I gathered up my personal belongings from my cubicle, drove home to Seattle, and cracked open a bottle of champagne. Today I am equal parts terrified, exhilarated, ambitious, unsettled, and wondering.

A bit of back story: I started working my “corporate” (actually non-profit, but the visual remains the same) job five years ago, even before I graduated college. With graduation came a promotion to full-time, and a salary that meant big things to me. At the time, it was so important to me to grow-up fast, have a “real job” and live on my own, without roommates and where I could decorate freely. In my adventure of furnishing my bachelorette apartment, I started a blog about interior design.

I knew almost immediately that the job was not the dream job I had hoped for. I was working in fundraising and development, and while it can be an exciting and innovative field (and I got to use that English degree and NOT teach), after a while it felt wrong. It simply wasn’t the right fit. And when you stay with something that doesn’t fit for too long, well, you get a blister.

It took me a total of five years, a move 40 miles away, and hundreds of hours of self-reflection to finally leave.

I put in my notice five weeks ago and while that was scary and exhilarating, that feeling pales in comparison to what I’m feeling today. On the brink of… what, I’m not sure. Greatness, I hope. Success, I dream of. Happiness, I’m sure of.

You see, my little design blog not only fueled my passion for designing my own home, it brought me my first interior design clients. All while still working 40 hours (and then 32 hours, thanks economy), and commuting 16 hours a week, I grew a blog following, I opened an etsy shop, I wrote an ebook, I designed living rooms and dining rooms and bedrooms and entry ways. I spent every evening huddled over my computer, and every weekend tackling home decor projects to blog about on Monday.

And it all led to today. My first moments as a full-time business owner. With the realization that I can do whatever I want today comes also the realization that my entire paycheck is up to me. ME. No one in payroll cutting a check and calculating my benefits. No one else running budget numbers. But also no one else prioritizing, demanding, or controlling. Just me.

It’s an amazing and nauseating and incredible feeling, and one that I hope all of my fellow Midnight Hustlers get to experience.

When I got home from my last day at work yesterday, I saw that former Midnight Hustler and Dream Reporter Piper shared a quote from Georgia O’Keeffe. And I’m taking a lot of comfort and inspiration from it. I hope it speaks to you on some level too.

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

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