Our Blog

Today I’m honored to announce that I’ve been asked to be a contributor for The Everygirl! The plan is to dish out life/balance/work/intention advice once a month.

Hop over to The Everygirl to see my three tips on balancing your work and personal life.

keeping it real: jill from good life

February 29th, 2012   |   Life

Today I’m proud to announce a new series on MML called Keeping it Real. Inspired by the applause from my humbling bikini photo, I knew that I needed to wipe away the “blog gloss” a bit. But rather than show you a gross-ish picture of me every week, I thought you might like a little variety. (I kid.) 

So that called for a guest series asking bloggers from around the web to share a peek into the not-so-great side of their life which might not be apparent. 

Kicking the series off is Jill from Good Life For Less. She’s a gorgeous fashion blogger and a mom of two little ones. From looking at her beautiful pictures and pulled together outfits, it would be easy to think she’s doesn’t have a care in the world. 

Take it away, Jill! 


Hello makeundermylife readers!  I’m a huge fan of Jess – both what she does here on MML and with  Jess LC.  So naturally, I was more than happy to air my dirty laundry via Keeping It Real.

As a blogger, I try my hardest to put my best foot forward and luckily since I’m the Editor in Chief of good life, I usually succeed.  But we all know that blogs have a way of making our lives look pretty and shiny – or more specifically OTHERS’ lives look pretty and shiny.  I personally wouldn’t describe my life as pretty OR shiny (those two words wouldn’t even be in the Top 20 Words I Use To Describe My Life).  Here are a few facts about my life as a blogger in real life:

  • To get five or six decent pictures for an outfit post, my husband usually has to take 80 or 90 pictures total. (I’m terrible at closing my eyes mid-shot or of just generally looking awkward).
  • Good lighting and make-up are essential for good pictures. In real life, good lighting rarely follows me around and as a busy working mom… make-up just doesn’t happen some days.  Like in these photos… taken, ironically (or not!?), on the day that Jess asked me to contribute to this series!
  • I stand in my closet and protest “I have absolutely NOTHING to wear” regularly (daily!?!?).  And I call myself a “stylist”.  I know, I’m such a fraud.
  • At age 33, it can feel hard to compete with the gals that are much younger, prettier and peppy-er than me.  There I said it, the age ‘cat’ is out of the bag.
  • Also, I’m pretty sure there is a toilet or shower in my home that needs scrubbing right now.  I’m actively avoiding that bathroom.

Love Jill? You can find her here

my intention for my “stuff”

February 28th, 2012   |   ExfoliatingLifeWardrobe

When I moved to Chicago and started Jess LC from scratch in a studio apartment in 2007 I didn’t have a lot. I was self-funded by my part-time efforts from Jess LC in college and spent a lot of time thrifting for my decor and shopping at inexpensive “fast fashion” stores. It was wonderful because not only was it within my college budget at the time, but it also suited what I enjoyed; vintage decorating and feeling like I had a lot of clothes.

Then after living in the big city for a while, I started to sense a shifting in my priorities and in my personal taste. Suddenly I had a penchant for nice things, high quality things, things that I loved and were meant to last.

The only problem was that I was just starting out and was still “stealing” dozens of free tampons from my business school’s bathroom in order to stay on budget.

That’s right, I didn’t have much money.

So in late 2007 I set an intention to have only nice stuff that I loved, used, and needed.

But at that moment, my stuff looked something like this:

I had a ways to go before I hit that intention, obviously.

But rather than be discouraged by the bleak financial situation and volume of “not nice” stuff that I owned, I decided to manipulate my belongings to tip the scales just a bit.

I started to regularly exfoliate items that I didn’t need, use, or love with all my heart. Though I still love thrifting and some vintage decor, I donated or gave away all that was no longer my personal style. Same went for the cheaply made clothing that made me feel… cheap.

The end result of this concentrated effort was something like this in 2008:

As you can see with less stuff, the pie shrank a bit overall. But the proportion of nice to not nice stuff had increased. For example, if I started with 100 items and only 15 were nice, I was at 15% of my goal.

Then after my exfoliating, if I only had 70 things but the same 15 nice ones remained, my percentage of nice stuff I owned jumped up to 21% – and I didn’t need to spend a penny.  

I worked this formula on my possessions consistently and over time and the proportions continued to shift. I started to reach my goal without needing to go shopping.

And as you can imagine, over the next four years I did get more financial stability and was able to make new purchases. Although this time I had a new standard for what was worthwhile to spend money on: nice stuff. I didn’t get to buy much, but when I did – I made sure that it counted.

To continue this example, this might be a good representation of what my current stuff situation looks like:

Now I have a bigger pie since I have more things than after the shrinkage of 2008. But at the same time, the new things I’ve bought and my new exfoliations have continued to grow the good “nice” part of the pie.

Of course it goes without saying that what is “nice” or “not nice” is relative and is a personal decision that only we can make individually. But for those who are in a tight money spot at the moment or who might be unhappy with what they own; the exfoliation math can help fulfill intentions without breaking the budget.

my daily routine

February 27th, 2012   |   Business AdviceLife

Recently a few people have asked what my daily routine looks like. And though I’m a person who loves a pretty decent amount of normalcy in my life, I don’t have a very tight structure on what I do each workday.

Because I work for myself, I am the only person to blame if I don’t like my job. With that in mind, I have created a few guidelines that I strive to live by to keep myself excited and less stressed.

  • I do my best not to check emails on nights or weekends. There are exceptions to this rule now that I’m midnight hustling to get my business workshop off the ground, but if I’m not working on that project, I’m 99% of the time away from my inbox.
  • I work between 9am and 6pm for Jess LC and MML. This rule gets broken if we have a trunk show on a night or weekend. And as mentioned above, with the workshop in development, that work is seeping into after hours. But right now the passion for the project makes it a fun thing to create, not a “requirement.”
  • I get ready for work as if I was going to an office. Regardless of whether I have a meeting, intern, or am completely alone all day, I get dressed, put shoes on, and do my hair and makeup. I prefer to wear jeans most of the time but my outfit is cute, pulled-together, and makes me feel good.

As far as the actual activities in my workday, I traced my steps last Tuesday with my iPhone to capture what a “normal” day looks like. But since “normal” can be about 17 different things, I’ve also included a general overview of what else I might be doing at that time on any given day.

My Morning

I’ve been getting more intentional about my morning routine in 2012 and have made some good progress so far. The alarm goes off at 7 or 7:15am. In general I intend to read from The Course in Miracles right away before my thoughts have a chance to get worried or anxious.

After reading, I sit on the ground with a small candle in front of me and try to let my thoughts rest on things I’m thankful for and things that I would like help with through the day.

Currently I’m doing the reading and meditation about 50% of the time. Which is really encouraging, I have found that the days I do these two actions have overall been less stressful and simply more fun.

The other morning intention I have made is to workout every other morning. I go downstairs to my building’s gym to do weights and elliptical. In the summer, I run outside.

When I’m not working out in the morning I might spend more time with Mr. Lively eating breakfast and getting ready for our day. I love having the Today Show on and often follow it up by Joyce Meyer when I’m putting on makeup and getting dressed.

In the late morning I tend to get a few household chores done. I like to clean about once a week. I also love doing my nails and do them once a week in the late morning as well.

Generally somewhere between 9-10am I am done with my personal care and housework and sit down to officially start my workday. But to be honest, I’ve probably looked at my emails and maybe even answered a few around 8 or 9am.

My Workday Morning

Once I sit down to get to work, the first thing I do is plow straight into an MML post, or write a to-do list on TeuxDeux. This helps me reflect on all that I’d like to accomplish in the day and then put it in order from start to finish. As I accomplish my tasks, I cross them off the TeuxDeux.

Before or after the to-do list is made, I get to the MML post. I used to write them the day beforehand and while it was nice to be ahead of schedule, I find that I enjoy writing what you read the day you read it.

The reason the post is in the morning is because I feel that it is the most worthwhile thing I do each day. So no matter what else happens the rest of the day, if I shared on MML and helped someone, I know I fulfilled my purpose. And that is enough to make it a “good day.”

Around 10:30 Susie, my jewelry making assistant or interns come to the studio.

Right now Susie comes about three days a week and the interns are soon going to also be on a three day a week schedule. They stay between 11a-3p most of the time.

The nice thing about this is that it leaves me one or two days all to myself where I can leave my apartment and go to Next Door to do some work in a new location. And on Fridays I like to take things easy and do posts, emails, and orders in the morning and leave a bit early in the late afternoon to go to happy hour with Mr. Lively’s co-workers.

When the girls are in the studio I answer emails and design new collections while directing them in their duties. They each have a good understanding of what to do and how to do it, so by giving them their own mini to-do list, they can accomplish a fair amount without much oversight from me.

Susie makes orders, the girls (or myself if they are not there) pack them, and we answer any customer service requests. We also love to watch funny You Tube videos every now and then as well. As far as music, the girls get to pick while they are working.

Lunchtime for me happens at noon on the dot. By that point my stomach is rumbling. We chat through lunch and I usually look at blogs at that time as well. I don’t have a set time limit on lunch, I just eat, read blogs, chat with the girls, and then go back to work.

My Afternoon

After lunch I answer emails and make sure the orders are getting out the door. I also might have meetings, consulting calls, or consulting summaries to write.

Last Tuesday I took the orders we had to the FedEx store and then stopped by the grocery store for a few things to make dinner that night. This is pretty out of the ordinary for me, generally I try to not do any life maintenance during the workday, but rules are meant to be broken, right?

Towards the end of the day I took photos for the FLEA launch we had the following day.

Other things I do in the late afternoons include bookkeeping, more emails, and Twitter (I’m not great about responding very quickly to Twitter, but I do my best to respond to everyone).

By the time Mr. Lively gets home I am usually ready to wrap up the day.

My Evening

Though I’m not a big cook, I did successfully attempt my mom’s corn casserole last Tuesday night. Mr. Lively and I usually switch off cooking, cook together, or go out with friends in the evening. We also like our rotating collection of TV shows like Top Chef, Downton Abbey, and Modern Family.

By 10-11:30 we are in bed.

 

So there you have it. That is what my day looks like. I hope that by sharing this you have a better understanding of where I spend my time.

It goes without saying that I’m a huge fan of creating personalized intentions. I don’t think what I do is for everyone. I am not a night person, but if I was, I would be just as fine working till 3am and sleeping in till 11am.

Whatever works for you and your intentions is the most important thing to keep in mind.

the nate show segment!

February 24th, 2012   |   LifeStyle

At long last, the Nate Show segment has aired! I know I’ve been secretive about what the segment was about, but the truth can now be revealed:

My apartment was selected for a House Proud tour. In addition, they asked me to come to the studio in NYC and show everyone how to make three of my popular art pieces in my home. So after the House Proud tour in the video, it cuts to me in the studio with Nate explaining three easy ways to make art for your home.

(For some reason the video images can be a bit wonky; sometimes it works fine, sometimes it’s not showing anything. I’ve found going to the link a few times usually does the trick (or try this link).)

If you’d like to see more about the chevron canvas project, please hop over to step-by-step directions.

PS- I was super relieved that he mentioned The Thomas Crown Affair in the segment, one of my favorite movies of all time. If he had made a reference to just about anything else, I could have totally missed his joke. (Phew.)

this week i’m thankful for…

February 24th, 2012   |   Life

In order to stay more present and grateful throughout the week, my intention is to take snapshots of moments or things in my life that I’m thankful for.

Whew! What a week. To be honest, I have to say that I spent most of it working (I’ve started my own Midnight Hustle getting the business workshop off the ground). But the workshop is a labor of love and so far my enthusiasm for the project is fueling my energy despite the lack of sleep.

What’s more, MML has certainly not been boring as well. I’ve loved discussing authenticity and blogging with everyone. It’s been really enlightening and I’m excited to see where this all leads.

I’m also thankful for the extremely kind reception to our FLEA collection and the incredible Zoe, the newest member of the Jess LC team.

This weekend I’ll be balancing the effort to relax and get more sleep and also to make significant headway on the workshop.

I hope you have a great one!

reminder about the nate show

February 23rd, 2012   |   Life

Just a reminder that I’ll be on tomorrow’s Nate Show on NBC in case you want to catch it!

imperfections

February 23rd, 2012   |   Business AdviceLifeThink About It

On the coat tails of my post about my abs, I think there’s something I’d like to discuss a bit more.

The idea of being authentic online. 

There were many people who mentioned on that post that they enjoyed my authenticity here on MML. And I appreciate that so much. Those who may not have been reading MML for long might not really know this, but I try to be very honest about things that I go through. Though I don’t drag drama with friends, family, or other people here (I respect their privacy), I do explore my own learning curve in living an intentional life.

It’s actually kind of funny, now I only get surprised when people don’t automatically know that my life is not all sunshine and roses, and that I’ve battled a lot of tough stuff like smurgging, weight, growing a business, and a million other things. In fact, I actually made a conscious decision at the end of last year to be more positive here on MML and share the good things in my life as well as the negative ones.

And yet, for those who may be new to MML and not know all the back story, it might seem effortless for me. Or, those that have been reading rather consistently, might tend to forget the rough battles I’ve faced and focus on my stomach or a new product launch.

In fact, I think this is a common phenomenon that happens online while looking at other people as well. It is easy to think that super successful people (whatever that means) have it easy – or at least easier than us. That they either haven’t struggled, or that they did struggle a little bit and then “made it” and all their problems melted away.

But the thing is that as I’ve watched some of my friends do amazing things online, I’ve seen what it takes and all of their own flaws and humanity. So though it may be not so clear that what they do is difficult and not-so-pretty sometimes, the truth is that they have worked their asses off, faced financial risk and unknowns, felt heartbreak, and just kept going.

Additionally, I think that part of this disconnect from what people online seem like and what their life really is like comes from the incredible leaps in technology and prowess. Years ago when blogging began, not many people had access to incredible (and affordable) digital cameras, expensive editing programs, a network of friends doing amazing things worldwide, and a real understanding of how to share their story with the world. People were novices back then and things didn’t look quite as “pretty” as they do now.

We’ve come a long way and the content we create can simply be more beautiful looking.

And in an effort to present a polished brand, execute content at the highest level, and just generally keep improving their online efforts, it starts to look like they aren’t human anymore if they don’t take the time to tell us all the troubles they face behind the scenes.

Please believe me when your ego wants to tell you that X, Y, and Z have it all figured out that they don’t. They are just as clueless as they challenge themselves to new heights in their career as the rest of us. Sure, experience can vary immensely, and even fate can super charge the new kid on the block, but everyone is still struggling, hurting, and growing.

What’s more, I think that it’s easy for us to read the amazing blogs out there and think that the people are living a life of perfection. Some people might come off this way because they want to create the best content based on their topic as possible. They aren’t purposefully not sharing the ugly parts of their life because they want to hide it, it’s simply about executing a professional brand. People with insanely popular interior design blogs, for example, spend their time focusing on luxe interiors made by amazing designers rather than about their cystic acne, debt, or depression. It’s simply not on topic. Or they might want to keep their private life… private.

Fashion blogs can also be a slippery slope in this area as well. Such beautiful women with amazing style and wardrobes? I gotta do my best to keep in mind that there are a ton of other pictures that didn’t make the cut for their post that day. Same goes for Facebook photo albums.

Or, there are the people that we can look up to that we admire so much we block out the hard stuff they talk about and focus instead on all of their blessings. I know that I look up to Bri and sometimes think she’s “got it all figured out,” but then I remind myself that she recently shared this. Or, I can think that Joanna has a life of sunshine and roses and then I remember this. So this is all to say that we can also sometimes have selective memory and value their positives more than their negatives. When in fact their own personal experience of the negative parts of their life can be way more overpowering than we realize.

And finally, there is the last deception that is easy to forget: how much time, effort, and work goes into the execution of some of the highest level sites out there. While Alaina and Danielle launched The Everygirl yesterday to a huge fanfare, I’ve watched them create this site from just an idea while we were drinking wine a year or so ago to a full-fledged destination. They have worked from 8am to midnight recently in preparation for the launch and to still do their day jobs to support themselves. They have given the site every ounce of their life for the past several months and that hard work paid off. Which is fantastic, but also shows how much sacrifice can be involved as well.

Phew! I actually have no idea if this post is something that will help people or not. But the thought of anyone thinking that people doing awesome things online are any better than the rest of us is simply too much to bear.

We all have our unique contributions to the world, some might be more visible than others. But we all are human and we all are just trying to flourish despite the challenges we face – publicly or privately.

thank you so much

February 22nd, 2012   |   Life

I cannot thank you all enough for the overwhelming response from my post about my abs. Holy cow. It was kind of a love fest that was so strong it had me buzzing until 1AM.

Thank you for that, now I’m really tired.

I kid, I kid.

Seriously though, I cannot say thank you enough for the overwhelming support I felt by sharing my “keeping it real” story with you all.

To be honest, sometimes I look at the amazing fashion and lifestyle bloggers (and friends) who have dozens -or hundreds- of comments and hundreds of thousands of readers and I wish, just a little bit, that I could be like them. That I could put together amazing posts about home trends, color inspiration, and what’s hot at Fashion Week.

But as my lady, Joyce, always says, “I don’t have a dessert ministry. I’m more of the meat and potatoes.”

So though I’d love to share with you some amazingly curated posts like the ones I see and devour myself on a regular basis, I know that’s not my purpose here on earth. And then I quietly go back to writing about intentions, my life (and the not-so-great-parts too), and how to move past clutter.

It doesn’t get the same fan fare as the beautiful blogs I enjoy so much, but it is simply what I’m meant to do.

So thank you for yesterday’s kindness. It made me feel a little bit like a princess.

… A princess that is told she is beautiful for sharing a crappy photo of herself on her blog.

 

the “abs” situation

February 21st, 2012   |   Life

Okay. Remember this photo?

It’s caused a few waves and I want to do a little follow up. I’ve recently realized through reading and some offhand comments by friends that a few people have been impressed/surprised/envious of my abs.

And after a recent (very kind) post about them, I wanted to share my comment in response.

I hope it is helpful for others as well.

First of all, I will say that though I’m flattered that you like my abs, there are several things you should know about me and that photo before you berate yourself or set yourself up to look like “me” or any other ideal of yourself that you have in your head.

1. While I do have a strong core, I think it comes because I carry most of my weight in my butt. There is a reason you don’t see that in the photo! Lol.

2. It’s not that I’m some super human eating well; I eat burgers, craft beer, and all the rest as frequently as I like, I just don’t overeat (which I used to do). In fact, please go read these two posts:

My Struggle with Weight Part One

My Struggle with Weight Part Two

3. That is simply a good picture, taken in some mystical shade that highlighted my abs. I didn’t edit the photo to make myself look any different, but that shade definitely ended up making my abs look very defined. There are many other pictures we took in different lighting or times of day and they didn’t look that noticeable.

4. Though I used to run marathons and I still run and workout, I don’t do anything crazy. Right now I try to work out 3-4 days a week and I do some light lifting and 30 minutes of elliptical due to the weather outside being cold. But I don’t put any huge focus on my abs, that is just a perk of my body (perhaps to balance out the cellulite on my butt?).

Phew! I hope this helps and takes your mind off of too much criticism of your own body. I’ve fought with my body for nine years of my life and I want nothing more than to help others to find a place of peace with their own bodies.

Because not only is it more peaceful, real, and positive, it also gave me the body you see. I spent years struggling to “lose weight.” Then, after a lot of prayer, work, and dedication to not obsessing, I actually lost most of the weight I tried to lose for so long.

I love you.

Phew. And because I love you all as well, I’m going to share a not-so-ideal photo of me from the exact same trip, that for obvious (vain) reasons didn’t make the blog.

I laugh just looking at it. No makeup. No smile. No mystical shade highlighting my abs. No flattering angle.

Though both images are me, one just looks better. And the problem is if we all think that everyone looks like their best picture we see online, it’s easy to think we don’t measure up.

The truth is everyone is just trying to accept themselves – flaws and all.

introducing the Jess LC flea collection

February 21st, 2012   |   Life

For the start of 2012 we are looking back in time for inspiration for our new Jess LC FLEA collection. We have gone treasure hunting for vintage items to re-work into our signature Jess LC style. It was incredibly fun to experiment with new colors, textures, and materials that you just can’t find these days.

Here is a little sample of what we’ve got in store for the first FLEA batch.

Each of these styles are made in limited quantities of 10 or less. You can see the batch quantity on the product pages.

If something you love sells out, have no fear! We will be regularly updating the FLEA collection with new styles.

Hop on over to shop the FLEA.

i’m on The Nate Show…

February 20th, 2012   |   LifeStyle

For those who are also obsessed with Downton Abbey and are now experiencing withdrawal symptoms waiting for season three…

I will be on The Nate Show this Friday (February 24th) on NBC.

I know, I know, I’m not nearly as exciting as Mary and Matthew’s will they / won’t they saga. But hey, I’m all ya got until the next episodes come out.

(I kid.)

For those who are new to MML, I was asked to participate in a segment on the Nate Show last December and have been patiently waiting until the air date to fill you all in. I can’t say exactly what I’ll be sharing. But I can say that I will be in the last 15 minutes of the show, and yes, I do chat with Mr. Berkus for a bit. (He has such pretty eyes!)

So feel free to DVR, Tivo, or catch it live. Mr. Lively is trying to work out something with his co-workers that might involve watching it from a bar in downtown Chicago at 2pm. Will it happen? I have no idea, but either way, I’m happy to finally be able to share the secret with everyone!

 

Also – does anyone know how to record live TV onto a computer file? I’d love to have a copy of this for myself to show my kids in years to come.


Reach Out

Want to learn how to live from Values-based intentions?

I run an online course, Life With Intention Online, to share exactly how to do just that. Sign up for updates and special bonuses here. (The next class will most likely begin in late 2015.)


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Have a question about your Intention Tattoo order?

Have a question about your intention tattoo order? Please email Ashley at jess(at)jesslc(dot)com directly.

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