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vacation packing with intention
January 31st, 2012     |    ExfoliatingLifeStyleWardrobe

As most people start to prepare for this week’s Super Bowl parties, Mr. Lively and I are starting to get ready for our trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! We will be gone Friday through Monday for a romantic weekend trip that doubles as my Christmas and Valentine’s Day present (I’m a lucky lady!).

I have already got my passport renewed and the rest of the preparation lies mostly in packing for the trip. But rather than waiting until Thursday night at midnight (we have done that before, much to my chagrin), I decided to get on the ball days ahead.

And in true Jess fashion, I’ve decided to see if I can create a more intentional packing process to help me stay prepared, but not burdened by a heavy suitcase full of unused items.

When I travel home for Christmas for a week to see my family I usually find that I have under-packed and feel forced to wear items that aren’t really ideal. But since I’m only heading to Cabo for three days and two nights, I also want to make sure I don’t over-pack due to my excitement to be somewhere warm and tropical.

So here’s what I did today to make sure I have a properly planned wardrobe while I’m away.

The first thing I did was talk with Mr. Lively about what activities we wanted to do while we were at the resort. We debated about whether we wanted to work out while there or not. Since my running shoes and gym clothes could easily take up a decent amount of my checked suitcase, I didn’t want to bring the gear if we weren’t going to really do a workout.

After discussing the workout idea, we nixed it in favor of swimming and relaxing. I have done a great job working out very consistently all month and I think a few days off to enjoy my hard work is ideal. So out went the workout gear from the packing list.

Above you can see what we do intend to do over the long weekend: lots of relaxing, swimming, and dining.

I also checked the weather forecast for Cabo this week. It looks to be about 75*-80* with cooler nights. So I knew that I needed to prepare for warm weather with layering at night.

Then, I pulled out most of my summer wardrobe and looked at all of my options.

Usually when packing, I get about this far and just throw my favorite items into my suitcase. But the end result is usually under or over packing and a lackluster array of outfits during the trip.

Next, I started to try on each item and created my favorite looks. Above you can see the outfits that could be great for dinner, dancing, or exploring. Each one has a layering piece as well in case of air conditioning or cooler temps.

I also made sure I had an outfit to fly back to Chicago in as well as a few other pieces that could be mixed in if I feel a bit more causal during the trip.

One bonus of this step I found was that there were a few items that needed to be steamed or cleaned. Those have been put in a special pile for me to attend to in the next few days so I’m not worried about them while on vacation.

And of course, I couldn’t forget the main event: swimsuits. I had the navy polka dot bikini from J.Crew last year but find that the top is a bit precarious for my chest and is best used only when laying out. So the new orange and black suits will be much better suited to fun at the beach or pool. I got both of the new suits at a huge discount from Lands End Canvas thanks to a recommendation from Jill.

So there you have it! I feel much better prepared for anything that might come up. I plan to use this same process to pack the other peripherals for the trip as well. This will include sunnies, beach towel, books, music, etc.

Viva la Mexico!


recommended read: 100 golden no’s
January 30th, 2012     |    Think About It

The best thing to do with a blog is share the most useful thing you have. And sometimes that useful thing doesn’t always come from yourself.

This afternoon, the best thing I can do is share a wonderful insight from Haley of Tiny Twig, called 100 Golden No’s. I don’t want to give her idea away, so please go read it. It’s very special.

And I have Hope, an MML reader, to thank for the recommendation. Thank you, Hope!

set an intention
January 30th, 2012     |    LifeThink About It

I hope you had a great weekend! I spent my days off relaxing with Mr. Lively and watching Downton Abbey. We are hooked on the drama, intrigue, and dialogue. I can’t be sure, but I think I had a dream that I was part of Downton Abbey myself last night.

Right now I’m headed out the door to check on the iPad 2 case production (still estimating Feb. 1-10th for them to be ready at this point), but I wanted to share something that I think could help myself and hopefully others as well.

The week ahead is full of promise, opportunity, and a chance to fulfill our intentions. So just like in yoga class, I want to set an intention for that I can return back to each day this week and make sure that while I might not do everything perfectly, I might improve in this particular area.

This week I’d like to set an intention to be extra friendly. Though I’m by no means unfriendly, this week I want to be extra kind, interested, alert, and present to friends and strangers.

Do you have an intention for the week? I’d love to hear what it is in the comments, if you like!


life with intention is live!
January 27th, 2012     |    Life

As promised, Life with Intention consulting is live! If you look at the nav bar at the top of MML you’ll see the Life Consulting tabs (if it doesn’t show right away, try refreshing your page).

Along with the introduction, process, and pricing, you’ll see a rare glimpse of Mr. Lively!

Have a great weekend and feel free to email me if you’d like to schedule a Life with Intention consult!


ryan gosling’s advice for MML
January 26th, 2012     |    Business AdviceLife

Recently Ryan Gosling has become somewhat of an internet meme. I thought I’d share his enthusiasm for all those MML readers working on their dream job after the day job ends.

We can all use a little encouragement, right?


original photo credit, current state via MML


Earlier this week I announced the three chosen to work with me one-on-one in Life with Intention consulting. Though I wasn’t able to work with everyone who reached out, below is a brief summary of one of the stories I heard and my response. I hope it is helpful for others in similar shoes as well.

I taught for three months before realizing that teaching wasn’t the career for me.  This was a devastating realization as being a teacher was a big part of my identity. I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for work since then.

My current big dream is to start my own life-coaching business that helps women go after their dreams.

I’m not sure how to get from here to there.  I think my biggest obstacle is lack of time.  I feel like I’m chained to a desk all day and can’t be on top of my personal things because my creativity is stifled when I’m sitting in a florescent box for 40 hours a week. I also have a little bit of anxiety related to this, wondering how hard it will be, how much courage it will take, how much failure there will be along the way. While I don’t think I lack creativity, passion, or drive in making this happen, I think I may lack financial resources and time necessary to get this off the ground.

I want to make a difference in people’s lives, I want to have an income. And I want to be really good at what I do.

So that’s where I’m at.  Trying to figure it all out and find a path and a purpose while enjoying everything I have in the present.

That is the first step, and the one that progress can now stem from. So that’s great, give yourself a pat on the back.

Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Okay, and because you know what you’d like to do, it’s now time to get to doing it. You have a continuum of choice here: you can take this fast, slow, kinda slow, you name it. If you want to make this all happen “as soon as freaking possible,” that may require you to release the excuses about the day job stifling your energy (it may be true, but you can use your willpower to overcome the urge to relax after the workday is over, or devote Saturday or Sunday to coaching work). To get fired up about the “just go do it and be a midnight hustler” I’d suggest watching some of Gary Vaynerchuk’s keynote speeches. He is a fire starter when it comes to working on a business after work.

By starting to see progress on your coaching after hours, you might get a renewed energy and eventually get some revenue. Which over time, could allow you to take a part-time job to make ends meet as you navigate your way to full-time coaching. Michelle from When I Grow Up Coach is a great example of doing just this and talks about it in her archives in video form. She could be a great source of inspiration as she’s someone who has navigated what you are seeking to do yourself. (Plus, she’s awesome.) : )

Or, if you are looking to take a more gradual approach to the business, you could start by creating a blog and devoting your off time to putting content there and generating a community that could eventually become potential clients. This will still obviously require your time after work, but you could do it at whatever pace you’d like and eventually ramp up to the other steps mentioned above. And the good thing about this is it doesn’t require much investment. In the process of blogging you can keep working your day job and lower your lifestyle so that you can start stashing some of your paycheck to go towards business expenses when you are ready to invest there.

Whatever your choice, fast or slow, making sure you can create the habit of working on your business or blog after work will be the next stepping stone to get where you want to be.

I have watched friends go from jobs to full-time self-employment and I feel like there is some kind of crazy energy that takes them far beyond their normal abilities and helps them push through to get the business started. Perhaps it’s momentum that builds on excitement, but eventually they hit a point where they have just enough financial stability to take the leap and cut the cord to their day or part-time job. Some it took many months, others a few years. But each one did it and you can too, if you just keep going.

: ) So I hope this is helpful and has you fired up to start taking the first baby steps (start a blog, or look into creating a website for the business) to make this happen for you!

the perfect moment
January 25th, 2012     |    LifeThink About It

behind the scenes
January 25th, 2012     |    Life

Today I’m sharing my goals, vision for my life in five years, and other little tidbits you might not know about me over on Vmac + cheese in Victoria’s Behind the Scenes guest series. I also share my love for “fluffy cloud island” which hasn’t made its way onto MML just yet.

And in other news, Karlita introduced me to a great article by Martha Beck for O Magazine that talks about the difference between happiness and excitement. I found it fascinating and has helped me unravel a lot of my own frustrations with my happiness (or lack thereof) at times. Definitely worth checking out.

photo credit


life with intention free consultation decision
January 24th, 2012     |    Life

After reading through the emails I received in response to the Life with Intention consulting I will be starting shortly, I am more convinced than ever that I am on the right track in my life. The emails of those who wanted to be considered for the three free consultation calls were incredible. I was touched by each person’s honesty, bravery, and desire to make their intentions come true.

And of course it goes without saying that the decision to pick just three people to work with was difficult. I just didn’t imagine how hard it would really be. But nevertheless, I have selected the first three people I will work with:

I’d like to thank everyone who reached out and applied (I’ll be emailing you individually soon). I also hope that anyone interested in working with me once the consulting is official reaches out!  I am excited to share my purpose and help people one-on-one in deeper ways than ever before.


Jess LC, incorporated
January 24th, 2012     |    Business Advice

Last Wednesday Jess LC went from being a sole proprietor business to an S-Corporation. I mentioned this on Twitter and several people asked me about the decision and the process itself.

Though I by no means am going to tell anyone what is best for their company structure, I can share a bit of what it’s been like for me. And if you want more specifics, I suggest reading more about incorporating vs. sole proprietorships.

For as long as I’ve had Jess LC, it’s been a sole-proprietorship. It was simpler that way, I wasn’t insanely worried about getting sued (I didn’t have limited liability under my sole-prop), and it didn’t make too much difference on the taxes I owed.

But this year after speaking at length about the decision with my accountant, I decided to form the S-Corp. I will also say right away that many people in Gen Y and Gen X seem to lean toward Limited Liability Companies (LLC). Though my accountant, who is a bit more old school, advised me the S-Corp direction to save money on taxes. It seems that LLCs are helpful for those with partners in their businesses, those dealing with real estate, and businesses with high legal fees. All of which didn’t apply to me.

Before I get into anything too specific, I hope that my advice and content in this post is seen as generally helpful, but not a professional opinion. To be honest, I don’t know too much more than what I share below.

So after you read this and you consider incorporating or creating an LLC, I suggest you talk with your own accountant.

Phew, okay, now here’s what I’ve picked up from my accountant that may be helpful for other people as well:

  • If your worried about getting sued, and you have assets you wouldn’t want to lose in a lawsuit, incorporating or forming an LLC will provide a wall between your personal wealth (home, car, etc.) and the business’ assets. For most people starting small businesses that don’t involve children, safety, chemicals, etc. this may not be a serious concern at first.
  • Sole proprietorships just need a Doing Business As (DBA) in most cases. As well as filing a Schedule C tax return at the end of the year.
  • If your profit (not revenue) is somewhere around $25k-$35k, then incorporating your business may save you money on your taxes. This is because you can create a “salary” for yourself that is below your total profit, and the profit above the “salary” is taxed at a lower rate. When you are a sole-prop all of the profit is taxed at the higher, salary rate.
  • Incorporating for me also made it simpler to create a wall between my personal finances and my business’ cash flow. This means that down the line, when I merge accounts with my future husband, I will have a simpler view of my business vs. my joint accounts.

After I made the decision to incorporate, I then paid my accountant to file the necessary paperwork and walk me step by step through the process. I believe you can also do this online as well, but I don’t know which method is better.

I will say that paying someone else to do the filing is not cheap, but the peace of mind that it is processed properly and I didn’t need to bash my head against a wall trying to figure out how to do it on my own is priceless. Taxes have always thrown me for a loop and give me nightmares from when I filed on my own in college with the business. So now whenever I have a question about moving my sole-prop bank accounts over to the new incorporated bank accounts, I can just pick up the phone and ask him any questions I have.

And if you don’t have an accountant but want to find one, I suggest reaching out to a fellow self-employed friend and ask them who they use or would recommend. That’s how I found my accountant and it’s been a great fit.



move past the clutter
January 23rd, 2012     |    ExfoliatingLife

Forgive me, I’m feeling a bit feisty today.

When I started MML and seriously began to design my life with intention, I focused on exfoliating items that I didn’t need, use, or love. And the content on MML reflected my clutter-free focus as well. But as I continued to pare down my possessions to those which were needed, useful, and loved, I had a revelation:

The clutter is only the weed, not the root of the problem.

Clutter-free is not the end-all be-all when it comes to having a life we love. It is just a sign that we might need to tend to matters that are much deeper than the stuff itself.

The same could be said with excess eating, drinking, shopping, or any addiction. Perpetual clutter can be a symptom of something more serious we need to work on. Just like Geenen Roth’s enlightenment, “it’s not about the stuff.”

And even if clutter is not an addiction (it wasn’t a serious problem in my life, for example) focus on it can still distract us from more important matters.

Getting rid of unnecessary things simply allows us to make physical and psychological space. That space then provides us the capacity to deal with the deeper issues that may be out of balance in our relationships, career, personal life, or spiritual life.

The real work we need to do is beyond our exfoliating and in the realms of thinking with intention, contribution, and love. Those are the things that will transform our quality of life.

So as much as I love a good exfoliation, I am more interested in our progress in the deeper aspects of our lives.


seven rules for intentional love
January 21st, 2012     |    LifeThink About It

This is a guest post by Amber from Blonde & Balanced, a blog about striking a balance in life, health, and money.

7 Ways to Love Intentionally

This June, I wore a fitted, white, satin gown as I walked down the center aisle of my church to marry my then-boyfriend of 4 years.  We met almost 6 years ago when we were hired within weeks of each other at the same accounting company.  (Insert joke here about how we bonded over bean counting!)

In a society where divorce is the norm, my now-husband and I have strived to go against the norm and design our relationship with our own intentions.  We’ve worked hard to not allow outside factors to influence our relationship.  We bring out the best in each other and foster each other’s strengths.  But, it takes intentional work to maintain this kind of relationship.

Here are 7 intentional relationship “rules” we follow to keep our bond strong and exciting:

  1. Keep Secrets.  People are nosey curious.  They’ll wonder why you make the decisions that you do and what your relationship is like behind closed doors.  Keep them wondering by ignoring them.  Your relationship is sacred and special (as corny as it sounds, you have to believe this for it to grow and strengthen), so don’t blab to others about the secrets that lie within.
  2. Have Two Games.  An older and wiser – and very happy – couple once told my husband and I that every happy couple has to play two games together regularly: a board game and an outdoor game.  Too often, you can become like strangers passing in the night with your spouse or significant other, so this allows you to set aside intentional time to grow together as a couple.  My husband and I are already fierce ping-pong players, but we’re working on the board game.  Maybe Words With Friends counts?
  3. Be Spiritual Together.  You don’t have to be religious or even believe in the same thing.  But, if you regularly practice some sort of faith or spiritual practice together, it will bring you closer than you ever thought you could be.  Discussing your thoughts about the bigger picture is very intimate and enlightening.
  4. Let’s Get Physical, Physical!  No explanation necessary.  This is definitely an important component of a strong relationship.  And if there doesn’t seem to be time for it …  make intentional plans for it!
  5. Be Mindful of Health.  Health is a very intimate and sensitive subject, so working together to better one another’s health will bring you closer.  Work out together.  Go on nightly walks.  Play tennis.  Learn to cook a healthy meal together.  Buy a juicer and create some fancy juice recipes.  Apply sunscreen on each other … you get the picture!
  6. Haters Gonna Hate.  There will always be people that want to bring your relationship down.  People hate change and, unfortunately, hate seeing others happy (especially when they are unhappy themselves).  Make it a point to not allow outside factors to influence your relationship.  You both deserve better.
  7. Manners!  With your significant other, it’s easy to let manners go out the door as soon as you get comfortable.  Set the ground rules early on by not calling each other names, not bringing each other down, not criticizing, and being respectful.  It’s hard to do, but there is no doubt that it creates an underlying respect for your significant other that is super important to a lasting relationship.

Love is probably the most significant aspect of our lives, so it only makes sense to approach our relationships intentionally – just like with everything else in our lives!















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