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future letter to yourself: 2012

December 28th, 2011   |   LifeThink About It

 

Okay ladies and gentleman, the time for Future Letters to Ourselves has arrived! Though you can see a full explanation of the Future Letter concept here, I will quickly do a recap of the exercise.

Back in 2006, I was in a not-so-great place in my life and found a dusty copy of (wait for it…) The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Though I’ve mentioned this book 1,027 times here on MML it bears repeating. The teen version of the book suggested writing a letter to oneself from the vantage point of one year into future. So I decided on January 1st, 2006 to try out the exercise. I outlined what I wanted to do, be like, and even look like on January 1st, 2007. The important part of the exercise was that I wrote the letter from the 2007 version of myself as if I had already accomplished my 2006 goals. Writing my goals in past-tense was strange at first. In fact, I honestly didn’t think I was even capable of doing most of the things in the letter.

Fast forward to 2007 – when I re-read the letter, I was astounded to find that I accomplished 83% of what I said I would do.

Since that year, I have faithfully written a Future Letter to Myself every January. I generally start thinking about things I’d like to include in the letter the weeks leading up to January, which of course is why I’m sharing this right now on MML instead of January 1st.

As I’ve mentioned in the past:

Over the last five seven years, I have found that I can in large part, predict or complete much of what I set forth in these visions. I also know that some of my intentions will not happen. And after seeing the turn of events with Jess LC this year and the growth of MakeunderMyLife, I now submit this vision with a disclaimer: If any of these statements are not meant to come true, please help me to be flexible and thankful for the other awesome blessings that will come in their place.

Here’s How to Write an Annual Letter

Though there certainly is no wrong way to write an annual letter, I can share how I prefer to write my own. I begin each letter with “Dear Jess, As I see myself walk into the door in 2012, I see a ___________. ” Then I talk about what I have done in 2011 in past tense. For example: “I have decorated my bedroom with crisp bedding, nice side tables, and pretty, modern lamps.” or “I am kind and compassionate, not just with other people, but also towards my own shortcomings.” I also try to describe what I have done in all of my roles, such as: personal growth, Jess LC, MakeunderMyLife, spirituality, and relationships.

After the letter is written, I keep it in a place where I can find it easily, but only try to reread it every few months. Two years ago I tried to read it frequently but found that it was more stressful than inspirational. As the saying goes, we overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can do in a year.

In closing

I’ll be back in January to share some of my 2012 intentions. In the meantime, I encourage you to consider writing your own future letter and emailing it to yourself a few times next year with futureme.org.

c wonder

December 27th, 2011   |   Life

While I was in New York last week and while I’m in New York this week visiting friends, I have made time to stop in at C Wonder. It is a new lifestyle store that seems to be a mash up of Kate Spade, J. Crew, and Tory Burch – at slightly lower price points. Another way to describe it is to say that it’s a glossy, preppy version of Anthropologie with a range of products like clothing, bags, home goods, dog leashes, jewelry, and popsicle colored bicycles.

In other words, a place that I adore.

While I was there last week, I took a few photos to share for those who haven’t seen the snappy Soho boutique.

For me, I love visiting this kind of place because it keeps me inspired for Jess LC. A well executed brand is always something to be admired. And so far, C Wonder seems to be nailing it right out of the gates.

 

my christmas project

December 26th, 2011   |   Life

I hope you had a very merry little Christmas or Hanukkah! With any luck, I have been in deep relaxation mode after the hustle and bustle of the past few weeks. I’m happy to say that I survived the week before my trip to Philly with a cheerful outlook (barring some tears from exhaustion on Thursday morning).

The Nate Show was an amazing time! I can’t wait to share the segment with you here on MML. They expect that the show to air in mid-February, so I’ll keep you posted. I will also say right away that it is not about MML or Jess LC, so that makes the secret a little less mysterious. Overall, I think it went really well! It definitely was an out of body experience and I’d love to have more opportunities to do things like this in the future.

Now that I finally have some time away from the studio, I am also playing with my new little toy (a Cannon Rebel T3). I have never done much photography, but I’m excited to learn and see if I pick it up as a new hobby. I know that it will be a great investment for MML and Jess LC, but I’m hoping it pays off for me personally as well. One of my intentions in 2012 is to continue to learn outside of my purpose and career. And though the photography skills will definitely translate to my company, it could be a rewarding personal hobby, too.

Any resources for a DSLR newbie I should check out?

maggie’s final dream report

December 23rd, 2011   |   Life

My Dream Report Finale

My dear friends and MML readers, I’m sad to report that today is my last Dream Report. Jess and I decided to end with 2011 some time ago, though now that it’s here, I think it went by much too quickly! I’ve so cherished writing for you each week and reading your comments. It’s helped so much in the transition into my new life as a full-time entrepreneur and I can’t thank Jess enough for the opportunity. *tear*

And so we finish 2011 with a theme of “endings” but also looking forward to the great things to come in 2012. Let’s look back…

2011 was the most amazing year for me. Ryan moved up the ranks at his job, I left my day job (!), I redesigned my website (worth the blood, sweat, and tears I should say, because I still get compliments!), I had our apartment professionally photographed which led to features on Desire to Inspire, three separate features on Apartment Therapy, and from there interviews on blogs like Curbed Seattle. I started writing here. We moved to our new apartment (and I love it!), I spent time in Chicago visiting my sister and got to meet Jess in person, and met Maddie, an MML reader.

It was a scary year too. I took a huge leap of faith, and luckily we’ve been able to keep it going the last six months. But it hasn’t been without sacrifice and late nights worrying about how it’s going to all come together. Especially when we faced the real possibility that Ryan would be laid off. And don’t forget that I spent the first three months of the year wondering if I was EVER going to take my business full time. I couldn’t take one more second of that commute or of sitting in a cubicle wondering when my life was going to start.

I took chances. That’s one things I’m immensely proud of this year, because I’m not what you’d call “gutsy”. I’m careful, thoughtful, probably even timid. I’m a worrier. I’d known for several years that my job was not my future, but it took me a long time to feel confident enough to make a move. So the fact that I not only up and quit my job but that I also reached out to people to promote my work… that’s a huge thing for me. It gets easier each day, but I’m still proud of myself about that.

As for challenges and hurdles, well… I’ve had a share of that too. Most of them have been inner-struggles. Working on time management, staying focused, staying positive, continuing to put myself out there, getting clients. And getting used to not knowing where the money is coming from this month. Great lessons in faith and patience for this control freak.

And I know that 2012 is going to kick major ass.

I have lots of plans for 2012 and several goals, although I haven’t wrapped up my official written year plan (yes, there are charts). Here’s what you can expect from me…

More content - I have an e-book coming out in early January (practical decor tips!) and another one in the early stages. I’m working on a few different recurring blog series that showcase designers I love, artists, and products. I want to do more in terms of producing photo shoots and video to demonstrate design ideas and techniques.

More projects - Both continuing with my online, long distance clients and beginning to grow more locally. I’ve gotten my toe in with my local clients, but I can’t wait for a killer project to come my way (know anyone in the Seattle area who needs design help? Send ‘em to me!). This also means I want to open more trade accounts to diversify what I can bring to my clients. I want to cultivate great relationships with vendors, particularly craftsmen/women in my area for things like drapery, upholstery, custom cabinetry and millwork, and of course product vendors. I’m also looking at how my service offerings could be improved, particularly for local customers.

A shift in focus -
I love blogging, but I think it’s important to define what my focus is, which is interior design. While I’m bringing new features to the blog, I also may step back from blogging time-wise to focus on building the tangible side of my business. I hope that this shift brings more quality articles to my blog that showcase my skills and talents and aesthetic without necessarily posting everyday. Quality over quantity. However, I’ll never lose the blog altogether because I love the community it brings and it’s a great marketing tool. But, I’d rather be a decorator that blogs… not a blogger that decorates. So my working hours need to reflect that.

Marketing - If you’re in the home-decor blogging world, then you’re going to see me everywhere. In 2012 I’m all about networking, connecting, meeting new people, collaborating and sharing. I want to be contributing as a guest poster, be interviewed, partner with companies, and have my design projects featured in all the best places. Being super social scares the pants off me (Miss Introvert) but it’s a boost that my business needs.

Trying new things - Video for the blog, traveling to High Point Market (dying to make this work in the spring), maybe being on TV? Ok, getting a little ahead of myself perhaps, but why not? Dream bigger. I do have a new marketing element that is going into place in January – teaching a group of women (potential customers) how to style their bookcases during a live event in a client’s home. I’m excited to share my knowledge and try something outside of the marketing norm of advertisements and social media.

Self-care - Starting January 1st I’ll once again have health and dental insurance (so you can stop holding your breath, Mom), thanks to the affordable rates at Ryan’s new job. I’ve also been looking back at some of the workbook-type exercises I did before quitting my job (where you write about your vision of your life and career) and see some major elements missing from what I’ve got going on now… mostly in health and appearance. I want to eat healthier, I want to be in shape and active. I want to do yoga. And I want to dress better… something that I feel my draining office job sucked right out of me. I used to have the cutest wardrobe and I’m in a serious jeans and tee rut. So with some Christmas gift cards, some thrifting skills and bargain hunting, I hope to fix that. First though is not over-doing the sugar over the next two weeks ; )  Self-care is something that was missing when I had an employer and I want to have that as a focus in my new life as an entrepreneur.

So, dear readers, I leave you with this ridiculously long post and farewell message. So many of you have shared your common struggles and/or your dreams to take the entrepreneurial leap yourselves. You can do it. You can find a way and you can make a plan. Be working toward your dreams and not let them pass you by. Be prepared to struggle, but face your challenges with even more determination. If you work hard and do work that you love, eventually the pieces will start to fall into place as long as you keep learning and growing. Each and every one of you has the ability to make it happen. I can’t wait to see where you end up!

If you’d like to keep in touch with me (and I hope you do!), here’s where you can find me around the interwebs…
My site and blog
Subscribe to my blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
and/or email me at maggie@maggieroseonline.com

Farewell, happy holidays, and happy New Year!

xoxo Maggie

Thank you Maggie

From the bottom of my heart, Maggie, I cannot thank you enough for your amazing contribution you have made to MML! I have sincerely enjoyed reading along on your journey and cheering you through the tough and awesome phases that have come.

Though you always hear how much I love your writing style, content, and perspective, I also want you to know how much I appreciated your integrity, reliability, and excellent partnership skills you possess. It was a joy to have you as a Dream Reporter and I cannot wait to see what things are in store for you!

Love,
Jess!

mml facebook page

December 22nd, 2011   |   Life

To be honest, I’m not sure what took me so long to discover that a Facebook page for MML might be a good idea. But I recently realized that this may be a great way for people who don’t have blog readers to check out when I post new material on the site. I also plan to use this space to share inspiring posts and quotes that I read on other blogs.

And of course, if you blog about any topics that hit home for you here on MML and would like to share them with other readers, please share the link on the MML wall!

what i don’t want for christmas

December 21st, 2011   |   ExfoliatingLife

Two years ago I started a new holiday tradition for myself here on MML. I started my annual What I DON’T want for Christmas List. Each year I exfoliate items that I wouldn’t want to receive for Christmas (because I don’t need, use, or love them) before the holidays begin. This helps me avoid the clutter that accumulates after December 25th and have plenty of room in my home and life for the new gifts that may come my way.

If you think about it, it’s the same reason my weight-lifting class instructor, Shannon, always made us work out extra hard before Thanksgiving and Christmas. She knows we will soon be eating a lot of food. And by stepping up our fitness now, we can offset (some of) the sweets later.

So I plan to do a deep dive into my wardrobe and pick out what I don’t envision myself wearing in 2012. If the piece of clothing doesn’t match my vision for 2012, it doesn’t deserve to be in my wardrobe come January 1st.

Because of my travel this week, I won’t have a chance to sort through my wardrobe before heading out to Philly on Friday. But I am excited to return to Chicago in January and do a through exfoliation in my bulging closet. The nice thing about having a small apartment is that I am forced to continually exfoliate any excess.

 

dream bigger

December 20th, 2011   |   Life

Recently I received an email with this incredible story from Kristi Springer, an MML reader and Jess LC customer. I think her story shares what can really be possible when you dream bigger.

Kristi’s Big Dream

I was floored to see your December wallpaper, because I bought that pendant from the Franklin line last year, and it’s now my favorite – I wear it all the time. In fact, that call to “dream bigger” has really changed my life. On a whim, I decided to try something I’d always dreamed of doing (kind of a bucket list thing)…audition for my all-time favorite game show, “Jeopardy!” Yes, I’m a trivia nut. Well, believe it or not, I actually made it through the audition process, and I got to be on the show! I didn’t win my game, but just being there in the studio, meeting other contestants and Alex Trebek, was an absolute testament to the “dream bigger” philosophy – and so I wouldn’t forget that, I wore my pendant on the show.

Wearing my pendant is a reminder to me that big dreams can come true – they have for me, in ways that go far beyond the game show. I just thought the game show experience was such a fun example. Thanks so much for sharing your work and your approach to life. You’ve really had a big impact!

Franklin Update

As you can imagine, I am sure many people are now interested in the status of the Franklin necklaces – they have indeed sold out and due to costs more than tripling, have been discontinued. But rest assured that I am working on a launch that will resurrect the spirit of the Franklin collection in 2012!

photo credit

 

i’m saying “want to”

December 19th, 2011   |   Business AdviceLifeThink About It

This last two weeks has been a whirlwind! Like most people, I have been busier this holiday season than ever before. While wrapping up the holiday orders for Jess LC and celebrating the with friends and Mr. Lively, I have had the opportunity of a lifetime come my way.

Tomorrow I will be flying out to New York to shoot a segment with Mr. Nate Berkus on The Nate Show.

Totally insane, right? While I can’t get into details, I can say that the segment will come on sometime in February. And when it airs, I’ll be sure to let you all know the details.

But let’s just say that this 36 hour trip to NYC falling right on the last week four day week of holiday selling for the year more than hectic. There are a million things to wrap up here in the shop, we have our Jess LC holiday party this evening, I have to make a trip to our new manufacturer for the iPad cases, and I need to prepare for the holiday break as well as get all the last orders out the door by Thursday.

It’s enough to make my head spin.

And after noticing my thoughts turn from want to’s to have to’s quicker than the temperature is dropping, I am taking a stand.

For the rest of this week, I intend to use the words want to regarding everything that needs to get done between now and my flight to Philly to see my family on Friday.

Though my to-do list will not be shortened one iota with this line of thinking, I refuse to allow myself to go have an incredibly great experience in New York while grumbling about everything else. I don’t want to look back on this week and think about how I murmured my way through.

I want to reflect back and think about that wonderful time during the holidays that I got to go on TV while still getting all of my other intentions completed cheerfully.

I think that’s something we all can remember right now as things get a little out of hand before some much needed time off.

 

Though this is a few days late, I’d like to thank everyone who came out to the December Business in the City event! I believe that we had 24 people attend and I want to thank all of you for taking the time to meet up, share your questions and answers for everyone in the group. I am so thankful to see this group take shape and become such a fun thing to organize!

Thanks to Malcolm and Jordan at Next Door, we have a summary of what was shared at the event via the Twitter feed they created. Read /click below to see the highlights of what we covered.

Click here to see the transcript from Google Reader.

 Business in the City FB Group

And thanks to Nick‘s idea from this week’s Business in the City, we now have a Business in the City Facebook Group. Feel free to join if you’d like to share your projects, services, or want to post an freelance work you may need. The goal with this page is to help connect people across different businesses to one another so we can all grow.

No need to actually be at the Chicago events, you can join the group even if you’ve never participated!

maggie’s dream report: week twenty-eight

December 16th, 2011   |   Life

Special Q&A Edition!

Thank you all so much for the positive response to last week’s post! Glad that resonated (and that I’m not alone!). I loved reading all your comments.

This week I’m going a little off-script and answering some questions you left in the comments last week and via email. And if you missed that opportunity, feel free to leave additional questions in the comments section and I’ll be sure to answer them there!

Let’s see what we have here….

Susan asks: My husband and I are on a tight budget, we live in an apartment and I would really like to put a personal touch on our rather bland landscape. If you have a $100 to decorate where would you start? Would you buy a great piece of art? would you invest in a chair or accent item, like a lamp or vase? Should we spend it all on one thing or a few little things. Any thoughts? Just trying to make our ‘house’ a ‘home’!!

Hi Susan – what a great question! If it’s a possibility, I’d take half of that $100 and put it toward paint. Painting can have a HUGE influence on the personality of the room. With the other $50 I’d get either a great painting or a vintage chair. If you have some artistic skills (or can just hold a paintbrush) you could even do an abstract painting on a large canvas. The idea is to create a focal point. With $50 you could also find a killer vintage chair on Craigslist or at an estate sale. Get something that is full of personality and speaks to you and your husband. I wouldn’t fritter it away on lots of small stuff though – that will just get lost and not further the overall design. Make one or two big statements. And just take the rest of the room bit by bit and save up for big purchases. Good luck!

Valerie asks: Besides blogs and giveaways, are there any marketing techniques that you have used and/or that you feel are effective?

The best marketing has been and always will be word-of-mouth. My best clients come from other awesome clients who know we’d click. But when you’re just getting started, that can be slow to produce results. The next best thing is to create buzz and interest through the media. Being featured in a local newspaper or magazine or on blogs with large audiences (depending on if you want to reach local clients or online clients) can be a great way to introduce people to your services. Bonus : since you’re being featured by an entity with clout and credibility, you’ll automatically be seen as credible as well. Get working on a great press release featuring your new opening, public event, product launch, or other juicy news-worthy tidbit about your business!

Haley asks: BRAND NEW to blogging…what did you do to connect with people in your niche? Leave comments, write personal emails?

Yes, I did leave comments and write personal emails (and I still do!). Since I started blogging, twitter has become an amazing place to connect with peers as well, so I recommend that to anyone wanting to connect. I also joined online communities (20 Something Bloggers was one) and I took an online blogging class back in 2009 that was forum-based and promoted a lot of discussion. You might join other groups or conferences/events related to your niche – if you’re meeting in person, be sure to bring business cards!

Laura asks: You’ve just had your six-month anniversary of your business. What are some of your goals for Maggie Rose Interiors for the next year?

Woohoo! I have lots of goals for 2012, including more in-person events for potential interior design clients, working on getting some projects published in an online magazine like Rue or Lonny, and to bring some sort of product component into play (obviously that isn’t too fleshed out yet!). I’d also love to take on an intern (maybe even employee??) by the end of 2012.

Thanks for asking, and remember I’ll ask additional questions in the comments below if you want : )

Maggie Morgan is an interior decorator in Seattle. Visit her website to see her work and read her blog, Maggie Rose.

Yesterday was a pretty big day in the blog world: Off Switch Magazine and The Everygirl made their debut. The launch of these two new online resources makes me very excited. I am so impressed with all of the amazing talent and drive so many women have to design a life and online career with the intention.

Off Switch Magazine – which is available online and in print just launched their first volume. The magazine is founded by non other than MML reader Katie Michels. She has done a great job curating a selection of topics that as she says, help us get up and act upon their dreams.

For this issue she asked to interview me about the intersection of Jess LC and MML, which was a true honor. You can see the article named after my new catch phrase, Just Keep Going, about me above. I highly recommend reading the feature. Of all the interviews I have ever done, I think Katie’s piece captures what I am all about more than anything else I’ve read.

In addition to Off Switch, The Everygirl just announced it’s debut in February 2012. This resource for people just like me (and probably you too) is geared towards helping women starting out in the real world to “have it all” in an affordable and realistic way. While there is plenty of aspirational material online, the incredibly talented founders and friends, Danielle and Alaina, are here to give us tangible and do-able content that empower us to live the life we want. Interiors, entertaining, business, finance, and travel will all be featured on TEG. However, this is not a magazine; they are actually creating a brand new platform for their content.

I know I’m going to get a lot of inspiration for my own life and intention from these girls and The Everygirl starting in February, 2012.

Bravo, Katie, Danielle, and Alaina! I am so excited to see you all reach new heights and intentions!

 

let it be

December 14th, 2011   |   Business AdviceLifeThink About It

Over the course of the last year you have seen Jess LC grow by leaps in bounds from a product standpoint. We went from just jewelry to an array of products to create the beginning of what I intend to be a lifestyle brand.

And during the year you’ve also seen what I believe is a more pensive side to my own perspective on life and business. Things have been hard.

So while the outside shell looks “better than ever,” I am always quick to point out that I myself don’t feel that changed or different because of the success.

More success has meant more stress.

It hit me so clearly how these two pictures are so different when Lauren commented on the announcement that we are pre-selling iPad cases and raising the price in 2012. She mentioned that it was like an early Christmas present for myself. My first thought after reading that statement was honestly, “Is she crazy? Didn’t she just read that we are going to have to spend more money than ever before and raise the price because of 37% increase in labor? That we ran out of product in the height of the holiday selling season? That’s not a gift, that’s just stress wrapped in a bow.”

Clearly, I have have had a warped way of looking at things.

But this morning I took a step back and really looked at what has happened and finally I’m starting to see a glimmer of what this whole learning experience might have to teach me.

You see, I have always taken the hard road with my career. I ditched the business school interviews for $60k-$80k jobs to make less than a McDonald’s employee the first few years while starting up Jess LC full-time. I flossed so I didn’t have to go to the dentist for three years because I didn’t have dental insurance. I have had anxiety attacks over cash flow.

In my experience, self-employment is not easy. But it is worth it when you do it with intention and just keep going.

So I think that as things progressed this year, I continued to look at the challenges I faced as the price I paid for the company growth. I looked at the whole experience as a happiness neutral exchange. Sure, I got what I wanted, but at the same time my responsibility and stress rose equally. I’m sure this can also apply for others with different careers, relationships, or life changes.

But the truth is, I want to change.

I want to bask in the success of the company and see it rise to even higher levels. I want to take on new opportunities and share them with you. I want to get excited and share the successes as they come. I want to let the successes I have inspire those who are just starting out (or debating about whether to do so at all). I want to show that it is possible to succeed at what you are meant to do (and not be poor).

At the same time, I also want it to be abundantly clear that it is never easy to ascend to the next level. It takes hard work, learning, growth, higher quality, and perseverance. It takes a crap load of faith, too.

But I think I’ve made it pretty clear this year that new levels mean new challenges. Now I want to lighten up on that in my head and on MML and share the blessings as they come.

Designing a life with intention isn’t meant to be a life of lack, frustration, and stress. It can be challenging, but deeply meaningful and wonderful.

So now I’m going to soak in the goodness I have. And let it be.

 

[sponsor post] meet words of williams

December 13th, 2011   |   Life

Today I have two special sponsor guests (who have popped up around MML before, too). Words of Williams bloggers, Eric and Kelsey, write daily about their journey to live intentional lives and develop an intentional marriage. I personally have been reading along on their journey for a while now, and I love hearing their perspective on marriage and finance. They are definitely inspirations for me in these areas. And soon they are embarking on a whole new journey which they’d like to share personally…

Meet Words of Williams

Hey MML readers! We are Eric and Kelsey Williams from Words of Williams. We are thrilled to be sponsoring MML through the end of January and wanted to provide a little peek into our world and how we are being intentional these days. You may have read our previous guest post on Designing an Intentional Marriage, but guess what…we’re pregnant!

This is a whole new world for us. Along with being intentional with our marriage and continually striving to push our relationship to the next level of awesomeness, we are now faced with the greatest challenge yet: making, having and raising a human being.

Having a baby is something that we certainly don’t take lightly. It’s a precious gift and a great responsibility that we accept with humble hearts. As we think intentionally about having a baby and all of the skills that are required or acquired through having children, we really just want to run and hide. It’s so overwhelming!

Here are a few ways we’re preparing for our baby’s arrival:

  1. Reading. We have signed up for countless pregnancy/baby email updates that offer unique perspectives on how we should be feeling during each week of the pregnancy. Most of them are spot on. They also offer helpful parenting tips and/or skills that will no doubt help us during our infancy of parenthood.
  2. Learning from others. Everything changed for us when we found out we were pregnant. We started noticing more and more about parenting from the world around us. Things that were always there but we hadn’t really needed to pay attention to them. Now we are like sponges in the desert trying to soak up all the knowledge we can about the world of parenting from those around us. Kelsey’s sister has an amazing calmness in how she handles situations with her twin 4-year-olds. It’s been a huge blessing for us to learn from her by observation.
  3. Asking questions. People hold no qualms about telling us how to raise our little girl (yes, it’s a girl!) the “right way.” It’s important to sift through all of the advice and ask questions about things that don’t make sense to us. It’s a tough position to be in, hearing stories from others but not having been through it ourselves. We must ease our feelings of vulnerability by engaging in conversations with those more experienced in the realm of parenthood.
  4. Developing a plan. As we gather information from the steps above, we try to come to an agreement on how we will raise our first child. Again, we do this with humble hearts, realizing the plan must allow enough wiggle room for the trials that life will throw our way. We believe that God gave us this specific child to raise and that we can do it!

Every parent I have talked to regarding parenthood says the same thing: “It’s hard, but worth it.” Those are words of comfort to us as we head into the unknown world of parenting. We are so excited for the challenge when our little bundle of joy joins us in March. Keep up with our adventures at Words of Williams, and, please, help us along the way!

i can do

December 12th, 2011   |   LifeThink About It

business in the city is tomorrow

December 12th, 2011   |   Business Advice

Come one, come all! Business in the City is happening tomorrow from 6:30-8:00 in Chicago at Next Door for free. Find out more about our meet up.

You can RSVP and food/drinks are provided.

For those of you out of towners you can now follow the discussion live on Twitter! The details are here.

maggie’s dream report: week twenty-seven

December 9th, 2011   |   Life

*To submit a question for me to answer in next week’s Q&A post, leave it in a comment!*

Popular

As much as I love blogging and what it’s done for my business (starting it, for one thing!), the internet can start to feel like high school sometimes.

I remembered this the other day, while seeing that another blogger had gotten a pretty prominent feature on a big site. And while I like that blogger a lot, I couldn’t help but feel jealous and frustrated. “It’s not fair!” I whined to myself (and the cat), “I should be on there!”

You know, like a bratty teenager.

The internet has its popular girls. And you and me and everyone else (yes I’m generalizing) looks at “the cool table” and wonders when they’re gonna make it there.  And seeing one of your buddies get that coveted invitation… well, you feel good for her and kinda hate her at the same time. Not that I’m particularly proud of this… I just have a feeling that some of you may have experienced something similar. Wishing and hoping for approval and to be deemed worthy.

And you can’t forget the “new girl”. The blog that comes out of nowhere and seems to be an overnight success. “How was that so EASY for her?” you wonder. There may or may not be desperate attempts to “get in” with her before she figures out you’re not one of the cool girls. Ahem.

But since it’s been a while since I actually was in high school (almost 9 years if you’re counting), I do have a little bit of insight to how to combat the popularity ladder… at least in your mind and attitude. See, in high school, we didn’t really realize that the popular girls were insecure too. They may be aware that they’re popular, but they’re human just like the rest of us and are probably pinching themselves and hoping it doesn’t all just disappear. This completely goes for bloggers too (think she’s always wearing those stilettos and Chanel, or is she in her pj’s just like you?). Also, your “level” of popularity is totally dependent on perspective. I may sometimes feel like a grade A first class loser sitting at the freshman table, but to that girl over there, I’m doing really well. She wishes her blog were as successful as my blog, even while I wish mine was as successful as the homecoming queen’s.

As my analogy falls apart, my message is that everyone feels like they are, at times, at the complete bottom of the totem pole. Like there is so far to climb and that you’re getting passed over by the new-girls of the world. That everyone else is more successful, has more opportunities, and has the hottest boyfriend (ok, slipping back into that analogy!). But everyone experiences those feelings.

I wish that I’d spent less time in high school wanting to be popular and had just taken some chances and not been so scared. I would have tried out for cheerleading. I would have joined the school newspaper. I would have taken more art classes. I would have talked to the boys that I considered “out of my league”. And you know what? Now that I have a business and a blog, I get a second chance to (ahem) flip the bird to popularity and take those chances. Nope, not picking up the pom pom’s anytime soon, but go after the dreams that are important to me now and not wondering if I’ll “fit in”. Popularity and success will find me, instead of me chasing them.

Anyone else sometimes feel like blogging is like high school? Now that you’re not 17 anymore, how do you combat those familiar feelings?

P.S. Next week I want to do a special Q&A and answer any questions you have for me – about my business, blogging, interior design, anything you want. Leave your questions in the comment section below or email me at maggie AT maggieroseonline.com. Looking forward to it!

Maggie Morgan is an interior decorator in Seattle. Visit her website to see her work and read her blog, Maggie Rose.

Over the past two weeks my boyfriend and I have been reading The Way of the Superior Man by David Deida. Or, more accurately, he has been reading it and I have heard several chapters and a spattering of passages. The book definitely has a strong point of view and is intended for men. From my perspective, it seems to be a slightly humorous Maxim magazine translation of timeless wisdom.

Surprisingly, I have had a lot to think about based on the topics presented despite the focus on the male point of view.

You see, Deida talks a lot about the balance of masculine and feminine energy in relationships. Though these masculine and feminine energies can be found in all people, most people are an unbalanced mix of the two, which is a good thing. (A same sex couple, for example, could have one more masculine energy partner and one more feminine energy partner, he says.)

He claims that this complimentary contrast between the two energies in intimate relationships is very good and healthy. While the workplace has become more and more neutralized with these energies in both sexes, he insists that the polarity of the male and female energy at home keeps things balanced – and steamy.

Though I may not agree with 100% of what he lays out, I can say that I have found myself nodding in agreement many times.

And after an honest chat with my boyfriend, it became clear that though I do definitely have a more feminine energy as a whole, at times I also have a tendency to take the lead on things in our personal life, problem solve, and attempt to advise – all masculine attributes.

Though none of those things are really bad, when I am quick to do those things I take the opportunity away from him to do them himself.

Which is kind of stupid – I want him to do them for us, but sometimes I do it myself so quickly I don’t give him the chance.

As I reflected on why I might be doing these masculine aspects in our personal life despite the fact that it’s not what I truly want to be doing, I had a realization:

In order to run Jess LC, I need to make hundreds of masculine actions to make sure things run smoothly. It’s only me at the top of our very tiny company, and all customer service situations, contracts, purchases, finance, marketing, strategy, and design decisions fall to me. The buck stops with Jess. There is no one to look to besides my business coach whom I meet with once a month for counsel – and even then, I still need to make the decisions and actions myself.

What is even more interesting is that I often don’t like having to take all the really masculine initiatives, but I am forced to because I don’t have a company big enough to support another partner to take on those responsibilities.

So I am left alone to do all the masculine and feminine energy things in the small business. And surprisingly, as I have gotten better at some of the more analytical tasks, I have started to enjoy them.

But I think this approach to problem solving, directing, and leading has leaked a bit into my personal life by accident, out of habit.

I want to change this about myself.

I want to be able to contribute to our decision making, but in a more balanced way. And after thinking about it some more, I actually do personally want him to take the lead on most things. I want to be able to be my feminine self and not have to try to “fix” or “solve” any hiccups along the way. I want to be able to relax and not feel like I am in the drivers seat. So why do I tend to grab the wheel?

After making these connections, I am so thankful that I now have the awareness to evolve. I am now grateful that I have the chance to pursue my masculine side with Jess LC and grow the company with strategy, logic, and feminine intuition. And I am equally pleased that I don’t need to do the masculine aspects in my relationship.

I want to sit back and enjoy the ride at home as a contributing partner, but steer my business anywhere I please.

Though I will certainly won’t be a slouch as a girlfriend, I am way too intentional for that, it will be nice to relax a bit and trust him because I know he’ll do an amazing job.

 

chris the tree

December 7th, 2011   |   Life

As I mentioned last week, one of my intentions for December is to cultivate Christmas traditions. And one of the big actions for this intention is complete:

He’s the newest addition to my apartment. Mr. Lively and I picked him out at the market around the corner. We used big and little white lights due to some inspiration from the Ralph Lauren trees downtown at their flagship store. And then a slew of my childhood Christmas ornaments filled out the rest. That little mouse about a third of the way from the top? She is from my first Christmas in 1984.

Each year I plan to get Mr. Lively an ornament as well so we can get a little more Mister on the tree.

quincy iPad 2 case update and pre-orders

December 6th, 2011   |   Life

First of all, I’m excited to share that I stumbled upon our Quincy iPad 2 case in the new Rue Holiday issue on page 65! It’s also been featured in Lonny’s Gift Guide as well as several other places among the interwebs. I am so thankful for all of the support for the cases and our new product lines!

While this press is exciting, it is also making it hard to keep the cases in stock.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I am in the process of working with a new, bigger facility in Chicago to produce our cases and bags. And as we make this transition, there are faced with a few changes: our labor and material costs for the cases have risen significantly. The labor alone has risen 38% from our previous contractor on these cases. As you can imagine, we are not raising the cost of the case by the full increase, but we do need to raise it from $80 to $86 to make sure we cover some of our increased unit expenses. The price increase will be official on January 1, 2012.

But for the holiday season we are allowing people to continue ordering cases still left in inventory at the regular $80 rate, as well as pre-order cases that are now sold out at the $80 rate through December, 31st.

We estimate that the new batch of cases will be ready at some point in January, but to be safe we are officially estimating February 1st as the ship date.

If you would like to pre-order a case at the grandfathered rate in December, please email me at jess@jesslc.com. Currently the gray/canary and cocoa/coral options are sold out completely and we only have one gold/fuchsia left. As the other colors sell out, you can also reach out to me to pre-order those as well. Plus, as an added bonus for MML readers, I am allowing pre-orders of the new gold/aqua color option that will be available also – since you all helped me make the color choice.

Thank you so much for your support!

Each year I find that though I accomplish a million mini goals, I tend to also face ONE large and formidable intention, problem, or opportunity as well.

I call this – regardless whether the change is good or bad – my “monster.”

It is something that seems larger than myself and something that can span several months or the majority of the year for me to understand and thrive with.

Some of my past personal life monsters have been:

Learning to fire my ego from controlling my weight.

Living with an ex-boyfriend while going through a five month break up.

Learning to focus on my “be’s” more than my “have’s” and “do’s.” 

And the business monsters were:

The 2007 monster was “Grow From Part-Time in College to Full-Time in Chicago.”

The 2008 monster was “Selling Jewelry Wholesale to Over 100 Boutiques Nationwide.”

The 2009 monster was “Transitioning from Wholesale to Become an Online Shop.”

The 2010 monster was “Re-Branding Jess LC.”

And the 2011 monster was “Create a Lifestyle Brand with Contractors.”

Each of these monsters were tough, scary, and unfamiliar. Yet each were also simultaneously integral in the evolution of my life and business. Without these struggles, I would not have the strengths I gained from slaying the beasts. And it is precisely those strengths which make me more capable of taking on bigger challenges in my life.

So I’m learning not only to accept these impending beasts as inevitable, but also as essential to my growth as a person and business owner.

And you know what? I’m starting to get pretty good at predicting which monsters are coming up around the corner.

Though I will undoubtedly be sideswiped by a monster here or there, I think I have a pretty good hunch as to which monsters are lurking behind the calender in 2012.

In my personal life, I think the monster will have to do with growth in my relationships. And in Jess LC, the monster is the much higher production volume.

Both of these beasts are a bit scary and I am not going to lie; part of me is afraid.

But that doesn’t mean that I can’t face them and realize that by working through them, I will ultimately be happier and more prepared for anything hiding behind door 2013.

 

[Download the full-size wallpaper]

Now that December is upon us, I am turning my thoughts gently towards the start of 2012 and the intentions I want to cultivate in the new year. Personally, I mix reflection on the previous year and musings about what I’d like to cultivate in months to come during the month of December. That way by January I have a somewhat fuzzy but familiar list of intentions to flesh out in more detail.

To help me make this slow transition over the next few weeks, I used our popular (and now retired) Franklin collection phrase, Dream Bigger, as my inspiration. Lately I find the phrase to relate to dreaming for more meaningful intentions than for more “stuff.”

Feel free to download the wallpaper here.

maggie’s dream report: week twenty-six

December 2nd, 2011   |   Life

Six Month Update

December 1st marked my six month anniversary as a full-time entrepreneur. Did you hear that popping noise? That was my bottle of champagne ; )

I feel like this is quite a milestone, and yet, it’s only the beginning. It has been the beginning of what I hope will be a long and prosperous career, a beginning of asserting who I am, and a beginning of healing and hope.

When I left my job at the end of May, I was totally sure that this was the right choice and confident in what would happen next. I believed that everything would fall into place. I had amazing opportunities right out of the gate – features on large blogs, interviews and new clients started coming in. It was a whirlwind of excitement and adrenaline. And then the buzz of my new business began to wear off and I understood all those entrepreneurs who say “I never thought it would be this hard.”

It’s been damn hard. I bounce between exhilarating days and scary ones. One week everything is amazing and the next week I’m wondering what the hell I got myself into. I never know when the next client opportunity will come along or if my blog readers will come back. I wonder if this is sustainable and when it will get easier. It’s terrifying.

But it’s been so. worth. it.

No more getting up in the dark to commute for two hours in the rain. No more sitting in a cubicle wondering when my life was going to start. Or crying in the bathroom stall at work. Asking myself if this is all there was.

Instead, I’m in control of my own work, my business, and my future. Every day I get to decide what the company priorities are, how I work, and what happens next. Of course, with this power comes responsibility, as they say. The hard work has just begun, but so have the rewards.

I’ve learned more about my dreams, what I really want. I’ve screwed up. I’ve dropped the ball but then learned from my mistakes. And it’s time now to keep moving forward. I have more big dreams and they aren’t going to happen all by themselves. Six months ago I went after them and I’m going to keep going after them. I didn’t like my life. I didn’t like my career. So I did something about it and followed my heart. And to be honest, I still can’t believe I had the guts! But I did, and I do, and the future looks bright. Not all smooth sailing, of course, but worth it.

To the next six months!

the twelve days of discounts at Jess LC

December 1st, 2011   |   Life

Happy December! In keeping with the holidays, we are singing a new tune at Jess LC. More specifically, we are singing The Twelve Days of Discounts. Though we have no use for “Lords a-leaping,” we thought you might like the chance to grab some of our jewelry styles at a discount.

Each day now through December 12th we will be marking a specific style down by 20%. No need to worry about discount codes, the price drop will be already adjusted on the product page directly (discount does not apply to any past or future purchases). You will find each day’s jewelry deal on the homepage.

What products will be in the sale? Well, that’s our little secret. Check Jess LC daily or join our Facebook page for updates.

Today’s sale item is…

The Ainslie Single Pearl Drop Necklace.

Gift to Self: Just Say NO

Every year, I tell myself that THIS is going to be the holiday season I slow down and soak up. That is, actually enjoy the best parts: family, friends, trimming the tree, even cookie exchanges. And every year I find myself Googling “gifts for one-year-olds” over my lunch break, or doing my nails in the car (at the stoplight) en route to some tinselly boondoggle when I’d really rather be curled up with Mr. Bets, watching Love Actually and sipping port. I realize my plight is far from unique—and I don’t even have to host or shop for more than a handful of people—but even the best laid holiday plans can lead to a near meltdown if you’re not careful and purposeful. The only solution? Learn to say NO.

What? Did you think I was going to suggest a massage or tropical vacation? Those work, too, and I’ve done both. But the fool-proof solution to keeping your pretty little head sane is to get your priorities straight and stick to them—even if that means saying no. It took me the better part of my twenties to figure this out, then another few years to actually follow through. Turns out that NO is the most empowering, life-changing word in the dictionary. When used correctly, it will fill you not with guilt and grief, but with an overwhelming sense of relief and freedom. That’s the true test.

At Beauty Bets, I get questioned daily about the best product for X, or treatment for Y. We’re all searching for a way to look and feel better, and that’s a good thing. But if you cover up those dark under eye circles (answer: Bobbi Brown Corrector + Creamy Concealer) without figuring out why you’re so spread so thin all the time, you’re doing yourself an injustice. Sure, we’re all sleep-deprived and stressed out, but if you feel that way because you’re not living a life of YOUR intentions, then it’s time to start saying NO. No to the things that don’t bring you joy, fulfillment, peace, health, positive challenges, or personal growth. No to people that make you feel less instead of more. No to activities that deplete your energy instead of boosting it.

Some of you will ask: But what about work? I hate my job! Been there, done that, and will surely be there again some day. Work is a part of life, so start making it work for you. You can’t say NO to deadlines and bosses, but you can shift your attention to the aspects of you job that you do like (the paycheck, perhaps?), and start exploring new outlets. Ask someone whose work you admire to coffee. Volunteer doing something that genuinely interests you. Let people in your network know that you’re looking for a new opportunity. Once you get good at saying NO, a funny thing happens: You have more time to say YES to the things you really want.

Wishing you a beautiful and happy holiday season!
Elizabeth

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