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this week i’m thankful for
June 29th, 2012     |    Life

What a week. Mr. Lively and I have been pretty productive the past few days getting ready to move the furniture in his current apartment into storage. From now until October we will be huddled into my apartment exclusively. The bonus of this living situation is that we’ll be able to save the money that would have been spent on his rent toward decorating the new apartment (!). So though it will be a tight squeeze living with “three” people (Jess LC has enough stuff in this apartment to qualify as a third party) in a one bedroom, we’ll make it work.

Other than working on completing Mr. Livley’s move this weekend, we are hoping to have time to give the Jess LC website a bit of a face-lift. Nothing drastic, just a few tweaks here and there.

Have a great weekend, stay cool, and thank you for reading MML this week!


While we are taking a summer vacation for Biz in the City in Chicago until September, the ladies of New York are starting their new chapter in July!

The ladies from the New York Business with Intention Workshop earlier this month have decided to expand the Biz in the City meet-up to their neck of the woods. On July 18th they will be meeting up and starting their own monthly business Q+A chat session. As usual, it’s free to attend.

If you plan on coming, please email Clara at hello@businesswithintention.com or comment on this post by July 12th.


photo via


a mouth full of starbursts
June 28th, 2012     |    LifeThink About It


As I’ve mentioned recently, I have just been through a season of extreme stress and busyness.

The good news is that my Summer Hours and Not Gonna Try list have substantially melted that anxiety and overbearing schedule. I’ve returned back to my normal, fun, goofy self rather than the tense, uptight, and edgy Jess I was for a few weeks.

It has been nice to be happy and more relaxed again.

As things continue to unfold the rest of this summer, some of the events I thought I would be preparing for very soon are delayed (our apartment isn’t going to be ready until October and our puppy probably won’t be in our home until November).

And I’ll admit, though I was extremely stressed out less than a month ago, it’s hard not to be disappointed that we won’t get our new home and puppy sooner. Even if that meant more stress on my plate now.

But as I’ve reflected on how things have evolved over the past few months, I’ve realized something pretty important:

I had become addicted to having an overwhelming schedule. 

From the moment that I started doing the workshops, my workload increased by 30% in February. Which was exhilarating at the start. But on top of the MML, Jess LC, and BWI juggle, soon rested my engagement, impending move, social engagements, and puppy preparations.

It was all too much.

I went from thrill junky to strung out stress-ball.

It was like eating a handful of Starbursts all at once. Eating one Starburst at a time is pleasant. I can enjoy the flavor of each candy individually as it melts on my tongue. But if I crammed 12 Starbursts in my mouth the experience would be stressful, disgusting, and could crack a tooth.

My packed schedule was very close to landing me in the metaphorical dentist’s office.

So now my new intention is to re-frame how I feel about busyness and what it represents to me. I want to stop seeing other people’s extreme busyness as a attribute (or indication) of their success. I want to stop feeling self-important just because I might have a busy schedule. I want to look at my life as qualitative, not quantitative.

It’s not about how much I do, it’s about doing what I do well.

If I choose to cut back and do “less,” I want to see higher dividends from those actions that I take.

I think I’m finally re-learning the essence of making under in a whole new way: I had been adding more to my schedule, thinking that I would be happier and more successful. But the truth is the happiness I sought was waiting for me underneath the mountain of obligation I had created.


photo via

Good morning! Caitlin from Reverie to Reality here, reporting as Jess’ summer intern! When Jess asked me if I would be interested in reprising the very loved Design Your Life series here on MML, I responded with a resounding “YES!”. Each Wednesday I’ll be sharing inspiring interviews with people sharing how they are designing their lives around their intentions. We’ll even be including some people who have been interviewed before to see where their intentions have grown or even changed altogether. 

I’m kicking things off this week with my own DYL interview, and couldn’t be happier about it.


 DESIGN YOUR LIFE: Caitlin of Reverie to Reality 

In a world where newer is always better and products are constantly being improved and updated, I try to remember that the simple joys in life are the ones that I’ll remember most. There will always be a new iPhone model or the latest J. Crew Collection, but the thrill of rainbow sprinkles, a fresh cup of coffee, or the first trip to the beach in the summer is eternal.

Nothing makes me happier than connecting with people and being creative through my environment. I intend to use my passion for interiors to create and grow my own business.  I recently started offering decorating services through my blog, and I will to continue to evolve this aspect of my career into a full-time position. 

Whether it’s a new coffee shop, a new neighborhood, a new city, or a new country, I choose to spend the majority of my life exploring new places. There is so much to see, take in, and learn in this lifetime.

With so many dreams and aspirations, I’ve learned that I have to prioritize the things I truly want most in order to accomplish things effectively without becoming overwhelmed. Instead of eating a whole buffet of dessert, I choose to select my favorite dishes so I can truly enjoy each bite without getting miserably full.

I can’t pretend to be a health nut, but I do believe in staying active for the benefits it offers my mind, body and spirit. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t want to live in a world without chocolate and beer, but I also don’t want my body or health to hold me back in life. Finding a comfortable balance keeps me feeling happy and confident.


Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

Tomorrow is Wednesday, which means I’ll be sending out another Wish I Knew Wednesday email! I gotta admit, I’ve been loving this series.

The topic I’ll be dishing on is one of my favorite things to consult about: how to stand out in a crowded market. Though this may seem like a complicated, when you look at it in just the right way with a little creativity, the answer can be found.

If you’d like to get the email, simply sign up by clicking on the image below. This email list is also where I announce upcoming Workshops and other BWI updates.

(If you have signed up for the BWI newsletter, you will automatically get this series.)

living in my now house
June 25th, 2012     |    LifeStyle


Over the weekend Mr. Lively and I finally got to walk through our future apartment. When we signed the lease the building was still undergoing a complete renovation and could not be entered by anyone other than the construction staff.

It was pretty much a blind bet that the place would be really nice once it was complete.

However, during our apartment tour we received good and bad news.

The good news is that the apartment seems spectacular. Though it’s still definitely unfinished, the cabinets, moldings, doors, and patio all look excellent. We are really happy we went with our gut and decided to lease in the first place, sight unseen.

And we also learned that the move-in date now looks to be October 1st, instead of September 1st or 15th, as was previously speculated.

Though a few weeks or one month isn’t in the grand scheme of things a big deal, it does present some challenges and changes in regards to my current lease, getting our puppy, and my general excitement/anxiousness to move in and start living in our new home.

For a little while I was bummed out.

Yet I’ve come to realize that I now need to make a conscious intention to continue to live in my Now House (Apartment).

In my excitement for new home, I have been getting pretty antsy about my current apartment. I’m kind of feeling “over it.”

And honestly, I’ve already started seeing myself cut some corners in the current space. I get annoyed at cleaning the bathroom sink. I leave my clothes on the loveseat next to my bed more often than usual. I am getting lazy about my organization and letting small piles of clutter accumulate in corners.

I’m getting more ambivalent about my current home while daydreaming about my future one.

So while my new-found laziness in my current apartment may not seem like a big deal to many, knowing my own disposition and general type-a personality, it’s signifying that I’m phoning it in.

If I was living in my new apartment I would be cleaning everything to the max and treating it like gold. But instead, I’m starting to throw in the towel here and let things slide.

But the problem with that is that I still have three months to live in this current home.

That’s a quarter of this year.

I don’t really want to live in a home that I don’t look after for 90 days of my life.

I don’t want to spend my time living in my fantasy Future Home instead of the home I’m actually living in.

So I’m choosing to recommit to my current home, to de-clutter it, organize it, and also prepare for our move.

By caring for my current home and making sure that it doesn’t get too crowded or messy, I’m making the move and transition to the Future Home smoother, while enjoying a more tidy and beautiful space in the meantime.

One of my biggest intentions is to love and care for the place I live in. And I am choosing not to shirk that intention just because something exciting is around the corner.

I need to live in the now and the home that goes along with it.


this week i’m thankful for
June 22nd, 2012     |    Life

Happy Friday! This week’s thankful pics are mostly snapshots from my trip to Brooklyn last weekend. It was so great to explore Williamsburg with Clara.

I am happy to report that I’ve kept my Summer Hours 99% of this week and it felt wonderful. I feel insanely more relaxed and ironically, insanely more productive at the same time. I cannot believe that by turning back the hours of my workweek and inbox checking would increase my effectiveness. But I like it.

This afternoon after work I’ll be dropping off a Jess LC order at Macy’s and spend the afternoon shopping downtown before meeting up with Mr. Lively’s co-workers for happy hour. We’ve formed a little group of friends that is so fun to hang out with. This is what the summer is about. Relaxing and being outside with friends.

I hope you have a great weekend relaxing too! Thank you for reading MML this week!


 PS- Congrats to Angela, comment #16 for winning the Print Runner giveaway!


client spotlight
June 21st, 2012     |    Business Advice


Today I’d like to congratulate Kathryn of Protect Your Pumps for getting her first news segment showcasing her products! I have consulted for Kathryn for several months now and have watched her take huge leaps forward in her business. In fact, you may remember her impressive re-branding story that I shared in May.

Though she would be the first to tell you that getting a company off the ground is anything but easy (or quick), this news segment proves that she’s got the gumption to see it though and great things can happen when you just keep going.

And though Kathryn may feel like she’s still got a long way to go to get where she wants, this is a milestone moment that needs to be celebrated.

Well done, lady, well done.

why i’m marrying mr. lively
June 20th, 2012     |    LifeOur Wedding


When it comes to getting ready for marriage, I’ve had quite an interesting journey.

After peacefully ending a long relationship, I was determined to find out “why” it happened. And the only answer that I could ever arrive was that there must be something out there that was a better fit for both of us.

So with that in mind, I entered the single world in search for the person who was that “better fit” for me.

But in between the past relationship and my current one, I went from a paradigm of “a good relationship is a healthy one,” to “a great relationship is a perfect one.”

For a year I struggled with the idea that I very, very much wanted to get married. And I very, very much wanted to find the perfect person to have a perfect relationship with.

As Mr. Lively and I dated, I honestly struggled with the concept that we were right for each other because he didn’t “complete me.”

Though Susie, my partner in crime at Jess LC for three years, would tell you that she’s never seen me happier than when I dated Mr. Lively, I had my doubts as to whether he was “enough.”

It hurts me even to type this. But it was true.

Mind you, I have never in my life struggled with the idea of a perfect man or perfect relationship before. In high school I dated a guy that wouldn’t even call me his girlfriend, and even asked someone else to prom instead of me… and I stayed with him anyways. 

But with Mr. Lively I suddenly turned on the microscope.

Though in real life I felt completely great and confident with our relationship, when I looked at relationships shared online I felt we were missing something.

All the glossy pics of couples and tender stories of love had me pining for that kind of relationship. The fairy tale online kind.

So needless to say, it seems fairly obvious that I should have just smacked myself upside the head and bolted out of my insanity. But that isn’t what happened.

Instead, I doubted us.

And when that fear bubbled up I would also have a nagging worry: are you with him because you want to get married? 

Oh yeah. That’s a great thought, I can tell ya that.

To help myself process all of these conflicting emotions I turned to prayer. Whenever I prayed about the situation, I got some calming responses in my heart, but it didn’t give me the outright direction I desperately wanted.

But eventually, after months of spiritual growth, great times with Mr. Lively, and the general maturing of our relationship, I had a breakthrough.

Instead of running away from the fear that I wanted to get married more than I wanted to find the “right” person, I embraced it.

Rather than push that fear down, I brought it up to the light and celebrated it.


The reasons I wanted to get married were largely spiritual by that point (as opposed to some early ego wishes exacerbated by rom coms and romantic blog posts). I now believe that a holy relationship (which can be in the form of a marriage, or not) can bring me even more personal growth. To commit to being with someone through thick and thin, to celebrate them, and accept their weaknesses. To grow together and start a family that I can share this acceptance and love with. That is what a holy relationship, or in my case, marriage, is really supposed to be about for me.

However, as my prayers led me to understand, my ego will inevitably wish for someone that will “complete me.” And I will inevitably fail to find someone who does.

So I basically get to choose someone who has traits that I value, via a mix of my spirit and a bit of my inevitable ego, to be my partner in this journey.

Instead of waiting for “Mr. Right” who sweeps me off my feet so that I’m suddenly ready for a holy relationship because he is perfect, I’m putting the commitment to a holy relationship above my future Mister’s perfection, or lack thereof.

No longer am I looking though a dirty lens of “What does he do for me? Me. Me. Me.” I’m now looking through a clearer lens of “I’m choosing my partner in this journey so we can love, grow, and give together.”

And since I intend for this commitment to be a lifelong one, I’m not taking my partner decision lightly. But I’m also not waiting for a pedestal.

When I think about what person I want to be in a holy relationship with for the rest of my life, my mind and heart immediately turned to Mr. Lively.

The answer suddenly became simple.

His kindness, wit, intelligence, loyalty, thoughtfulness, and good-heartedness are all qualities I’m excited to celebrate in our lives. And with our future children.

And though this may not be the way most people arrive at their marriages (or talk about them online), for me, it is what feels good and real.


In tomorrow’s Wish I Knew Wednesday email I’ll be sharing when Midnight Hustlers should go full-time with their businesses. I know there are a lot of people here on MML in that situation who might be wondering about this exact topic. (And I’ll also be explaining what the heck pasta has to do with the whole thing as well.)

If you’d like to get the email, simply sign up by clicking on the image below. This email list is also where I announce upcoming Workshops and other BWI updates.

(If you have signed up for the BWI newsletter, you will automatically get this series.)


A few weeks ago I received an email from a 2012 college graduate asking me for advice for the next chapter of her life. As I contemplated what to tell her, I thought it might be worth sharing here on MML as well for other new grads too.

However, this morning as I decided what I would say to this lovely lady (and other lovely ladies at large), I got a bit fearful. Sure, there are a lot of things I think would be helpful. But since everyone has their own unique situation in life, how can I possibly address all of their needs perfectly and say just the right things that they need to hear?

How can I make individual advice… universal?

Then it hit me. I was a 2007 graduate myself and have recently now celebrated five years in the post-college world. So why not write the letter to my own 22-year-old self (shown above)?

Rather than try to speak to everyone’s unique situations, I am going to write a letter just to Graduating Jess from 2007. I’m going to tell her all that I wish she could know at that time.

My hope is that by sharing my advice to Younger Me, I will somehow help other women.


Dear Younger Me,


As you graduate today I know you have a lot of bravery in your heart. You have decided to take a road less travelled in your career from the start. And quite honestly, a lot of people (including those graduating with you) think you are bit stupid or crazy for going after your dream. But I cannot applaud you enough for having the guts (and innocence) to go through with it. Over the next few years, especially in the beginning, you will doubt your choice and you will get even more criticism.

Please remember to just keep going. Even when things are tough.

Because there will be tough times ahead.

Also, please do not underestimate your strength. I know right now you have seen yourself succeed at many things in school as well as quit, give up, and fear others. What the next few years will prove to yourself cannot be cheapened. You will face hard times, uncertainty, and heartbreak.

But you will go on. You will do great things.

I know that some people are choosing careers that make them gobs of money. And part of you wishes that you could budget, and have the same kinds of perks that they do.

But what you do not realize right now is that those who are going after careers for money and not passion are going to be disillusioned and many will even lose their jobs during an impending recession.

Many who right now mock your decision to work for yourself will later wish they could do the same.

Some of your friends will remain unsure as to what they want to really do with their lives and will go into grad school as a way to stall. To give themselves time to figure it all out. But those who go in without a clear plan will ultimately find themselves with heaps of student loans and still remain unsure.

You will also find yourself living in a tiny humble studio apartment for the next two years. Please treat this studio like the palace you wish it was. Clean it, decorate it, and give it the same respect you would give a three bedroom condo in Lincoln Park. How you treat your “stuff” now will reflect how well you will be ready for future blessings.

Also, you will one day find that your current relationship will end. Though this will be difficult to process, you will find love again. Please do not later get distracted by another man, an extreme opposite from the first relationship. This too will not be a good fit for you. Please weigh both lover’s personalities and find the middle ground that has the best of both. You will eventually find someone with the mix of loyalty, calm, and wit that you are looking for.

Remember to explore your spirituality and find prayer again. This will get you through many difficult seasons in your life. The more you also study the first three habits of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, your favorite book, the more you will find yourself ready for life’s challenges.

In addition, I know this may sound scary, but please begin to give yourself up to service as soon as possible. At first it will seem strange to pray and offer to be used for whatever purpose there might be for you. But as soon as you start making this conscious decision, doors will begin to open. You will find the joy that you are seeking.

But more than any of this, please remember to floss. Your health insurance will not be that great as you work for yourself.

And cavities cost $300 to fill.


With all my love,

summer hours
June 18th, 2012     |    Business AdviceLife


Today is my day off from work! After a very successful and awesome New York BWI Workshop, I’m taking my allotted time off to rest and recharge.

During my weekend travels I also did a lot of reflecting on how I could melt the stress ball factor in my life. Last week was full of meltdowns and frustration, which is the opposite of this summer needs to be about.

Since February 1st of this year I have been running on overdrive. Launching the BWI Workshops has been a tremendously empowering experience, but at the same time has required an unprecedented amount of time, attention, and energy on top of Jess LC, MML, and my regular consulting.

To get it completed I relied on the lovely Clara of Clara Persis Events and our Jess LC girls. But regardless of delegating and all that there have been lots of nights and weekends of work followed by a very busy pace to my workday. Though I have learned to “work faster/harder” these past five months, I’ve not slowed down or really rested.

And this needs to change.

Instead of looking at this summer’s fun things like moving, preparing for our new puppy, planning the wedding, and traveling to visit family and weddings, as fun things, I’ve been looking at them as frustrating events that must be lived through.

In fact, a friend of mine asked me to get dinner or drinks with her sometime soon and I only had the mental capacity to offer her sometime in September.

Hello, Jess, somethings gotta give. 

So, I’m now deciding for the first time ever to institute Summer Hours for myself.

Rather than wish this summer would go away, I’m choosing to embrace it and hold it in high priority. I’m choosing to spend my time this summer prioritizing my personal life.

So going forward until September, I’m instituting Summer Hours.

This means that I will be working on my business not in it as much as humanly possible. I will be ending my workdays promptly at 5:00pm. I will be ending on Friday for the weekend at 1:00pm. I will be checking my email as few as three times per day, Monday through Friday only. I will work at a slower pace, on higher priority projects. I will be delegating more responsibility to my Jess LC girls. And I will look forward to putting a renewed attention and energy into personal friendships after hours.

Last week I shared what I’m not gonna try to do, and my new goal is to keep my plate in this more open state. When new things come up, I will continue to say no unless they are of extreme importance until September.

So thank you for listening and understanding. This will not change anything here on MML (which is my top career priority). But I do hope that my new intentions might serve as an example to anyone else who is feeling burned out and needs to pace themselves this summer as well.

It is okay to slow down, rest, and recharge.

In fact, it might just be what we need to be successful in our lives and businesses in the long run.


* Watermelon cake from the New York workshop, courtesy of Patricia of PVE Design.














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