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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.

this week I’m thankful for…

February 17th, 2012   |   Life

Recently I shared this TED talk about how being in a positive, thankful attitude makes our brains function 30% better. I’m taking his suggestions to heart and I’m making an intention to snap photos throughout the week of things (or moments) that I’m thankful for. Then, I intend to share them here on MML. By crafting this post weekly I’ll be able to reflect at the end of the week on all of the positive things that happened over the past seven days. By just making this first collage I realized I had already forgotten about some of the highlights and now I’ve got a little token to help me keep those positive moments fresh.

And of course, if you also try this idea for yourself, please feel free to share a link in the comment section or on the MML Facebook wall!

email is not instant messaging

February 16th, 2012   |   Life

Be responsible, be courteous, respond thoughtfully. But don’t assume that you have to look at every email you receive the second it hits your inbox.

The present moment brings peace and joy. A screen does not.

david deida on increasing income

February 16th, 2012   |   Business AdviceLife

 

… And in other news, congrats to Jenny for winning the $50 credit giveaway from Elembee Creative!

live business workshop

February 15th, 2012   |   Business AdviceLife

One of the new projects I have alluded to recently involves live business workshops across the country. What was originally just a lofty idea in my mind quickly became more realistic after mentioning it in my new vision for my career. I got a surprising amount of encouraging feedback on the concept. So I’ve been researching to find out more about this possibility!

To help me get a better understanding of what you would want to gain from a business consulting workshop, I have created a simple eight question survey. This will help me discover the content that you’d most like to see!

For those that fill out the survey, I ask that they comment on this post. I will then take the email addresses provided in the comments and send a special thank you discount for the workshop once it launches.

Thanks so much for your support and for filling out the survey!

business in the city tonight

February 15th, 2012   |   Business AdviceLife

Tonight is the next Business in the City event! It is at 6:30-8:00 at 659 W. Diversey in Next Door’s back open space. I can’t wait to see everyone there!

For those who may not be familiar with Business in the City, it’s a meet up group I started in Chicago’s Lincoln Park/Lakeview area to provide business owners and those with business ideas a place to ask questions and get answers, advice, and encouragement. Lately we’ve had about 25-30 people coming each month. Oh, and did I mention it is entirely free and Next Door provides snacks, treats, and drinks?

Feel free to come and bring a friend too!

Our March event will be March 14th at 6:30-8:00.

 

Mr. Lively loves Jess

February 14th, 2012   |   Life

This handsome guy….

Loves this gorgeous gal….

 

A whole lot…

 

Happy Valentines day Jess. I look forward to many more.

the day before valentines day

February 14th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It

First of all, I wasn’t sure about just what to say about this Valentine’s Day. Like many, I’ve had extremely good and bad experiences with February 14th. Over the years I’ve been adored, surprised, and spoiled. Like my recent trip to Cabo.

And I’ve also spent the holiday single eating an entire box of Samoas in a car. Oh, and let’s not forget the time I was dumped the week before.

As I struggled this morning with how to intentionally write about the holiday, I realized that Mr. Lively really has the lesson to share.

You see yesterday I got the 200 iPad cases back in stock and had 42 pre-orders to pack and ship. While getting them all ready all by myself, I discovered that the new cases weigh exactly one ounce more than the previous cases.

This one precious little ounce took the weight of the packages from 13 oz to 14 oz. While that may not sound that important when it comes to shipping, it is the tipping point. 13 oz packages can be sent through First Class Mail at a low rate and deposited in the blue mail boxes found on street corners all over the country. But 14 oz packages require Priority Mail shipping (doubling the cost in some cases) and needed to be individually entered into the stamp program One. By. One. They also are not allowed to be deposited in blue mail boxes, but must be dealt with directly by the postal service.

The end result of this shipping change tripled my time to finish the orders at the end of the day. I spent three and a half hours getting them done.

Mr. Lively came home from work in the middle of this packing frenzy, just before I tackled the stamps.

He was eager to help me finish the orders and did everything he could to help the process move more quickly. But because I was still figuring out how to do the Priority shipping on the shipping software, I didn’t really know how he could help effectively.

Which left me annoyed and irritable. Rather than project the frustration at the shipping rules, I was short with him.

Mr. Lively pretty quickly realized that the best thing he could do was move my printer from the bookshelf to my desk and leave the apartment.

Not my finest moment, but it is the truth.  

After he left, I was able to focus on getting a shipping rhythm down and complete the orders as quickly as possible. And boy did having the printer close at hand help.

Just as I was finishing up the packages, Mr. Lively returned. He had my favorite nachos in hand, a bottle of great wine, and two cupcakes. He got me the Cake Batter one above from Molly’s Cupcakes because he knows that I love dough more than baked treats.

It was the perfect ending to a not-so-perfect shipping situation.

The moral of the story? Mr. Lively was able to love me despite my not-so-lovable attitude. He did something extremely kind for me even though my treatment toward him at the time didn’t call for anything nice.

He didn’t wait to feel a mushy love-y infatuation for me in order to do something kind. He did it even when I may not have deserved it.

Which is what real love is all about.

 

Jess LC internship opening

February 14th, 2012   |   Life

My career is building momentum quickly now that I’ve declared my new intention. Lots of projects are in the works with some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met. I’m so excited to share the newness as things get completed.

In the meantime, there is one intention that needs to be addressed: a new Jess LC intern.

If you’ve been reading MML for any length of time, you know that I refer to my girls pretty frequently when it comes to the shop. I have Susie who is our amazing Jewelry Making Queen, and we have an incredible intern/manager/wonder woman named Melissa who has been with us for years who is graduating and will be leaving us shortly.

Which leaves us with an opening for a new lady to enter our studio.

We are looking for someone who is smart, outgoing, creative, and wants to learn how to run a business. Jess LC internships are unpaid, but the experience gained as an intern/manager a great way to learn how to grow a successful and intentional business. The intern/manager will work side by side me as we develop new projects, organize lookbooks, execute new product launches, and craft marketing campaigns.

On a regular basis the intern/manager will also be running the day to day operations of jesslc.com. She will fulfill orders, interact with customers, and manage inventory. There may also be times where she can work with us at trunk shows or pop up shops as well.

In addition to the aspects mentioned above, I am very interested in finding out what unique talents and gifts she has to contribute to Jess LC as well. Fantastic photoshop skills, photography, writing, graphic design, or baking (we love to bake) are all valued and appreciated.

Plus, she must also like to watch You Tube videos, be open to watching terrible scary movies at Jess LC parties, and have a positive personality.

Internship Details

Intern/manager must be able to commute to Chicago’s Lakeview/Lincoln Park area to work in the studio. This can, but does not need to be for school credit.

Hours are flexible but will fall on weekdays between 11a-5p. On average, 12-18 hours per week.

A laptop is required.

We are looking to begin as soon as possible.

To Apply

If you think you fit the bill and want to work with us, please email me at jess@jesslc.com and let me know why you’d like to work with us!

photo by Danielle Moss with Liz Schneider and Alaina Kaczmarski 

iPad cases are back (and in a new color, too)

February 13th, 2012   |   Life

Before the holidays I did a little straw poll on MML about color combinations for the new release of iPad cases (which are back in stock!). The vote was between gold with a gray interior or gold with an aqua interior.

The result was about 60 to 1. Aqua was the clear winner.

Now that the cases are done, it’s easy to see why. Thank you so much for your help in making this new case a reality! Though it’s not yet on the site like all of the other color combinations, it can be ordered now by emailing me at jess@jesslc.com.

smurgging

February 13th, 2012   |   Think About It

When I was a junior in college I had what I consider to be an emotional meltdown. It was one of those years where things snowballed from bad to worse, largely due to my own thinking. I binge ate candy bars, was in therapy facing a lot of old demons, and burned down all of my previously held beliefs and values. Thankfully this period of my life later allowed me to grasp many revelations which later allowed me to discover my purpose.

But during that junior year, there was not much good to be found. I was miserable.

After classes, I remember walking home to my dorm room (I was a RA, resident advisor) thinking about all the horrible things I said, how much everyone in class must hate me, and what a lousy woman I was. I dwelled on my lumpy thighs which previously were in fantastic shape months earlier. I counted every calorie I ate in the cafeteria.

By the end of the night I would be so calorically and emotionally bankrupt that I would binge eat before bed. There was a period of time where I couldn’t sleep in my room if there was chocolate.

I had to eat it that night.

“Starting Tomorrow I will stop eating chocolate for a month and be skinny.”

It was always about what I was going to do perfectly “Starting Tomorrow.”

But more than overeating, over-thinking really made my life a living hell.

I had an inner monologue that Would Not Stop. It was a mean voice that was critical of everything I did, said, or felt.

And for a long time, I believed the thoughts this voice told me. I allowed myself to recognize these thoughts as harsh, but true.

However, ever so slowly I began to rediscover my spirituality as an adult. Around this time I also started to question the catty chatter inside my mind.

And one day while standing in my dorm room, I noticed another ego rant amping up inside my mind.

Instead of listening to my ego spouting off all of my shortcomings, I decided to give that negative self-talk a name. I called it “smurgging.”

Why smurgging? I don’t really know, perhaps because the word sounds negative, petty, and ultimately untrue. Just like the crappy thoughts I heard in my head.

Then, every time I began to hear those gross, lingering doubts and fears, I just labeled those thoughts what they really were: smurgging.

Over time, the ability to label the negative thought process left the thoughts themselves weaker, less real. I started to recognize that they were not necessarily facts, but negative beliefs that could be stopped, or at least mostly ignored.

And as they became less important in my life, they stopped popping up quite as much. Which allowed me the space to let in good, positive things that helped me grow.

Just like our homes, sometimes we gotta take out the trash that accumulates in our minds.

what are you celebrating?

February 10th, 2012   |   Life

I don’t know about you, but this week has been looong. For me, Mexico was immediately replaced with ups and downs and some not so nice mood swings (thanks, PMS).

But today is Friday.

Amen.

And I’d like to do a bit of positive reflection. I’m choosing to celebrate my progress on my intention for this week: thinking bigger about my career. I did a pretty good job with that intention this week, I wasn’t perfect, but I did keep going and got further than I was last week.

Sometimes sowing seeds for something big in our life takes a long time before we see the sprouts, let alone the harvest. 

So this weekend I want to kick back, relax, and soak in the fact that there are exciting new horizons ahead. When I go to the weekly happy hour with Mr. Lively and his co-workers tonight, I’m seeing it as a celebration of my progress. I gotta enjoy this journey, even when it’s not visible to others that I’ve moved ahead.

How about you? What intention have you made progress in that deserves a little celebration, nap, malbec, or homemade brunch?

the happy secret to better work

February 9th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It

Yesterday my friend Amy sent me a great TED Talk. It is so funny, insightful, and helpful, that it is one of my favorites of all time.

In the talk about positive psychology, Shawn Achor explains how to get more success at work, intentionally.

(Since WordPress isn’t letting me upload the video in this screen so you’ll have to pop over to TED to watch.)

 

chocolate with intention

February 9th, 2012   |   FoodLife

Yep, that’s right. I’ve found a way to make chocolate intentional.

Though I will say right off the bat this is not your chocolate lover’s fantasy… this is more of a health intention turned more enjoyable.

Since I’m not that fond of dairy beyond cheese (I love me some cheese), I realize that my calcium intake is probably not that stellar on a regular basis.

Or at least it wasn’t that regular until my best friend Maggie let me in on a little secret:

There are Target brand chocolate calcium chews that taste almost like tootsie rolls which fulfill your daily dose of calcium and vitamin D in two little rolls of goodness.

Of course there are also brand name chews out there as well, but I’m frugal when it comes to items like this and always go generic when possible.

Here’s what they look like inside.

See? Just a tad bit tougher and less sweet than your average tootsie roll. And at 20 calories a pop, they are a great little treat after dinner or when I feel like eating something small.

Mr. Lively and I ate them plain for quite a while, but over time they started to get a teeny bit dull.

… Until Mr. Lively brought another player to the table.

Yum. Obviously any peanut butter will do, but Natural Jif happens to be for me the perfect mix of childhood Jif with a tad more sophisticated flavor and texture.

If there was such a thing as healthy food porn, this could be it. The peanut butter and calcium chew combo reminds me of Tagalong Girl Scout cookies, a candy bar, or some other delicious food memory that I can’t quite place.

All I know is that I’m much more likely to get my calcium if I’ve got these at home.

Two calcium chews a day keeps the osteoporosis away.

instagram for instant Jess LC savings

February 8th, 2012   |   Life

Hop over to the Jess LC FB page to post your pic!

the best of people

February 8th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It

This morning I woke up with a feeling of excitement for the many new projects I’m working on for Jess LC. And at the same time, I also had a knot of dread bigger than an Ann Sather’s cinnamon roll in my stomach.

You see, we have been in the process of getting our new Quincy iPad 2 cases (which were featured yesterday on the Glitter Guide!) made for quite some time. Because we switched to a new supplier and the supplier and I decided to make improvements to the inner-workings of the case, this next batch of cases is taking a bit longer than first expected (I did recently adjust the estimated ship time to be within the window of this week, but the current ship date is still at the tail end of that estimate).

The dread I felt in my stomach this morning was due to the fact that I knew I needed to email the 38 people who are anxiously awaiting their new amazeballs cases and let them know that it’s going to be just a few more days until the manufacturer thinks they will be completed. Though I know that I cannot affect the completion date – that is all decided in the production team at the small Chicago factory – I am ultimately the only person the customers can talk to.

And so, I was worried and apprehensive that the customers who have up to this point been extremely happy, satisfied, and excited, might suddenly hate me for the Friday ship date that the manufacturer has now said is most likely.

But then, while working out this morning while listening to J. Meyer, I had a breakthrough.

I was expecting the worst of people, rather than the best.

In her show this morning, she mentioned that “love believes the best of people” and I was already expecting (read: fearing) the worst.

From that aha moment on, I was huffing and puffing “love believes the best of people” the rest of my elliptical workout.

Feel free to go ahead and laugh at that image in your mind, it’s fine with me.

But regardless of the funny scenario, I think the overall point is something we all can keep in mind when we find ourselves pre-disposed to expecting the worst of people in our lives. Instead of that negative foregone conclusion which manifests in worry and fear, we can approach new situations with positive expectations and give the people we interact with the benefit of the doubt that they are indeed, wonderful people.

They deserve it.

 

back from cabo

February 7th, 2012   |   Life

¡Hola! Mr. Lively and I are back from our long weekend in Cabo, Mexico. We had a great time. I didn’t realize how much we needed the trip … until I hit the hot tub. With just four hours of sleep and fourteen hours of travel, I had bickered with Mr. Lively most of the way there. But once I hit that hot tub all words escaped my brain and I relaxed with more peace than even my deepest meditation.

{I have a feeling Mr. Lively is going to keep that hot tub insight in mind the next time I’m feeling stressed out, cranky, or worried. My tub may be transformed into a bubble bath pronto.}

Once we had a chance to unwind hit the hot tub, we let the stress of our jobs and life in Chicago melt away. We enjoyed a lot of relaxing time at the pool, walking along the water, eating seafood, eating insane guacamole, and drinking cervezas. As you’ll see below in a quick recap in photos, we even had a chance to catch the Super Bowl, Mexican style.

First, a bit of Instagram action.

And now for a more detailed play by play.

This view…

… from this chair on our private balcony was pretty insane.

The weather over the weekend bounced between mildly hot and slightly cool.

Me, pre-sun. (Don’t let the shade fool you, I was pretty pale in this photo.)

We spent our mornings lying along the sundecks reading Bossypants aloud.

Mr. Lively, looking like a boss.

I am now completely smitten with these sunnies from Betsy Johnson scored at TJ Maxx (a few weeks ago) for just $15.

I also spent my mornings playing with my new camera. This shot was taken with my 50mm (thanks, Danielle).

By Sunday we were ready to head out of our resort and into town. We hit up a sports bar to catch the first half of the Super Bowl. Though we had our fair share of delicious Mexican food, by this point we were ready to mix Mexican with traditional football fare.

These Pacifico Lights are extremely familiar thanks to Corona Light. They were the ideal Super Bowl beverage.

At halftime, we went to the beach to continue watching the game. Mr. Lively cheered on the Pats as we sat in a surreal outdoor TV room.

All in all, we had a fantastic time in Mexico. By taking a few days off I realized how worn out I had become in Chicago. Running my business and supporting myself as a self-employed person can be extremely taxing. It just took me a few days to realize how stressed out I can become. And now, I am working to make that stress lighter. Though I know I cannot change all the instability in my job, I can work on how I react to that uncertainty. I feel the same amount of fear as any business owner, and though I’ve been able to push through it, I haven’t been able to relax as much as I’d like.

So now, it’s time to see how I can bring un poco México to Chicago.

 

Today’s sponsor post is from Lisa, a MML reader and Midnight Hustler. She’s a huge asset to anyone thinking of starting an online business and need help branding, getting their shop designed, and making sure they make a great impression on their future customers. I love her work and can’t recommend her more! Be sure to check out the details below on her giveaway to get credit towards your own branding.

-Jess!

Hello MML readers! I’m Lisa of Elembee Creative, and I’m so happy to be sharing my business here with you today. It’s been a long time coming!

I first discovered MML in August 2010, just a couple of weeks after having to move in with a friend unexpectedly, and I was feeling pretty low about where my life was in general. One of the first posts I read was Produce Your Own Success Story, and it was just the kick I needed to start making things happen for myself and forget about trying to do everything the “right” way.

Now I’m happy to say I’ve entered the ranks of the Midnight Hustlers! I offer graphic and web design services to small businesses and individuals, people who, like many of you MML readers, have a big idea and just need some help making things pretty.

So if you’re starting a business, the first thing I would say is to just keep going. It’s a theme that runs throughout Jess’s posts here, and she’s absolutely right. At times you will feel completely overwhelmed, but you WILL figure things out.

And second, if you’re in need of a graphic designer, I would love to work with you! Let’s make sure your business or blog says hello to the world the way you want it to, shall we? You can get in touch through my website, or stop by my blog and say hello!

Thank you so much to Jess for this opportunity and for the constant inspiration!

Giveaway details:

$50 credit on any services!

To enter, please visit Elembee Creative and leave a comment on this post on how you would use the credit.

Winner will be randomly selected on Tuesday, February 14th.

weekly intention

February 6th, 2012   |   Life

Today I am traveling back to Chicago from Cabo. And while I do so, I’d like to take a moment and dedicate my intention this week to thinking bigger.

I had a great talk last week with Claudia which really got my mind churning. And while a week ago I was feeling kinda lost, I now feel much more excited to take on some of the challenges I laid out in my new vision.

How about you, what’s your intention for the week?

 

PS- The adorable Westie above is my family’s dog, Mackenzie. I one day not too far from now would love to have my very own named Elsie.


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