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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.


this week i’m thankful for

June 15th, 2012   |   Life

I’m off to NYC for the Business with Intention Workshop! I am looking forward to spending time with my lady, Clara, and meeting our new group of business owners! I’ve made some great changes to the workshop format which I’m excited to implement.

I’ve also launched a whole new way to participate in the workshop anywhere in the country (or world). You can check out more here.

As you can see above, I’ve been to a lot of great places including the Half Acre brewery tour and Ravinia for Iron and Wine. While at Ravinia I tested out a new oversize tote courtesy of Citta Design, out of New Zealand.

The bag was the perfect size for our blankets and all the food be brought to the concert. (I’m also toting it as a carry-on for my clothing for the workshop this weekend as well.)

Have a great weekend and thanks so much for reading MML!

the view from my desk

June 14th, 2012   |   Life


Oh my, what a busy day! My best friend, Maggie, is in town and I will be heading to NYC tomorrow for our next BWI Workshop.

I thought it might be fun to share a glimpse into the studio from the vantage point of my desk. I love working from home and having the hustle and bustle in a place that I love so much.

As you’ll notice below, Susie refused to be in the photo (she claims she’s not cute today). But she sits in the empty chair below making our jewelry orders. And Caitlin is following up with a supplier about one of our upcoming collection colors.

I hope you enjoyed the glimpse into my crazy-busy life!

My own little breakthrough today…



I know that MML has a strong entrepreneurial streak. So I’m guessing that this giveaway could come in handy for many small business owners out there looking to get some free promotional materials.

And, as I’m in wedding mode, I could also imagine custom postcards making some cute save-the-dates!

So without further ado, I give you the details on how to win 100 free custom postcards from MML sponsor, PrintRunner.com.

Enter to Win 100 Free Print Runner Custom Postcards

Prize Details : 1 winner of 100 custom postcards
Postcard Size : Postcards 5×7
Quantity : 100
Colors : 4/0 Front Only Printing
Paper : 14 PT. UV Coating on Front
Rounded Corners  : Yes
Proof : None
Ready to Ship In : 4 Business Days

Here’s how you enter:

1. Please comment below sharing why you want to win this set of postcards.

2. Optional : PrintRunner will greatly appreciate it if you can follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook or add them to your circle on Google Plus.


Winner will be randomly chosen next Wednesday, June 20th.

Before going into tomorrow’s Wish I Knew Wednesday topic, I first want to share that tomorrow is the June Business in the City meet up! We’ll be talking business q’s and a’s at Next Door from 6:30-8:00. Hope I see you there!

And… tomorrow is the last day to register for the New York BWI Workshop! Please register if you want to come!

Okay, now on to tomorrow’s WIKW: Why I’m dropping the Seattle workshop. It was a big decision to make, and I’m looking forward to sharing the story.

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.)


PS – And congrats to Becky (comment #48) for winning the Be Brave giveaway! You will be getting an email soon.

i’m not going to try

June 12th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It


I’m going to be honest, the past two weeks since getting engaged I’ve found myself so tired, overwhelmed, and exhausted that I’ve spent one night each week so tired that I feel ill and need to lay on the couch the entire night. I’ve also had back-to-back melt downs the past two days as well.

This cannot continue.

With all my heart and good intentions I have attempted to prepare five Jess LC product launches, train two full-time interns, do traveling workshops in New York and Seattle, visit family across the country, post on MML five times a week, re-brand one of my sites, stay on top of social media, do one-on-one consulting, train for a half marathon, run Business in the City, produce a fantastic pop-up shop on Daley Plaza, attend and stand up in two weddings, prepare to move into a new apartment with Mr. Lively, and plan a wedding during the next two months.

Oh, and after all that? We get a puppy.

With all my stuff stress on my plate, I know that if I don’t do something soon, I will quickly implode over and over and over this summer.

So now I’m looking at my life very carefully and deciding what I’m not going to do.


I’ve decided that I’m not going to:

  • Travel to Seattle for the BWI Workshop. (I have a new plan I’ll be announcing on Wish I Knew Wednesday which will serve not only Seattle residents but people worldwide.)
  • Try to keep up with Twitter. (I’ve never been quick, and now I’m not going to stress myself trying to be up on it all the time. When I get to it, I will get to it.)
  • Train for a half marathon. (Though Mr. Lively and I have talked about doing one in October, I will not stress myself out about getting long runs in every weekend. If it doesn’t happen, that is okay. I’ll keep doing my short runs for health and stress relief.)
  • Go to one of the weddings we were invited to. (I’ve already talked with the bride and filled her in on my intentions and she is wonderfully supportive.)
  • Worry about the puppy details. (I can figure out what I need to learn the weeks leading up to getting the puppy. I don’t need to learn everything three months ahead of time.)
  • Decorate the new apartment early. (Instead of dwelling over and over what I want it to look like, I will let myself see the space in person and deal with the decor at the end of the summer.)
  • Try to host an Olympic Opening Ceremony party. (As much as I was looking forward to hosting a party for the Olympics I’m going to just invite a few friends.)
  • Try to take on any new projects or commitments. (From now on I’m saying yes to very little until I move into the new home and have a chance to settle down.)
  • Plan the wedding reception. (I can deal with that stuff after the summer.)


Though I know that these steps will help immensely, there is still much to be done. So with the remaining things that are still on my plate, I am learning to break down the tasks week by week and having Future Jess take care of anything not on the current week’s docket.

As I always say, if I don’t like my life or career, I only have myself to blame. I designed it this way. It’s up to me to edit as needed for a joyful, balanced, and service-filled life.


how mr. lively proposed

June 11th, 2012   |   LifeOur Wedding


I know that some may be wondering how on earth Mr. Lively popped the question. Though he scheduled a very sweet post here on MML that went live right as he was asking me to marry him, how he did it in real life is still a bit of a mystery for many.

And though I could go on about the dozens of roses, candles, song he played, and the driver picking us up for Blackbird to celebrate afterward… that’s not really the full story.

You see, he really unofficially “proposed” back in February.

And that’s the story that really should be shared.

So let’s go back to the winter and I’ll tell the story from there, shall we?

Back during the winter Mr. Lively and I were just past celebrating our one year anniversary and were in a period of time where we were deciding whether the relationship was going to go the distance.**

Though nothing had to be decided in that moment, I knew that given our relationship’s pace, it was likely that we were either going to move in together in the fall or go our separate ways if we decided that we weren’t going to be together long into the future.

And all of the uncertainty at that point in time had me worried and unsure. When I envisioned myself the following Febraury, I wasn’t sure if I was planning on being single or theoretically on my way down the aisle.

This also influenced how I felt about my career vision as well. Living with him and getting married affected how I viewed what I would be doing in my career, to some degree. And all of the fuzziness made me feel lost.

As we at lunch on Southport one Saturday afternoon, these nagging worries were in the back of my mind.

Though I didn’t want to be proposed to immediately, I really wanted to know if he was going to get on that page or not.

I remember vividly that I stood in The Southport Grocer’s bathroom that day giving myself a pep talk.

“Jess, he’s only going to want to be with you forever if you are in a good, positive place. He’s got to see you at your best in order for him to love you that way. You’ve got to be a happy, complete person before he’s going to really know that you are the woman he wants to be with for the rest of his life. Chin up and be act happy!!”

But regardless of my positive self-talk, my mood remained pensive.

As we returned home on the bus, I shared how I was feeling unsure about my career in the future. And eventually as he listened to how I was feeling, I also alluded to the fact that it was in part about our own uncertain future as well.

By that point, we had reached his apartment and I had taken my boots off and laid on his bed, pretty much in the fetal position.

I was not the Happy Jess I was hoping to be, let me tell you.

As I laid there and he stroked my hair, out of seemingly no where he declared that he did want to marry me, that he would talk to my friend Emily about the ring, and that he would propose in the summer before we moved in with each other.


All of the sudden my life looked completely different.

The funny part? I actually was still in my fuzzy, unhappy mood. Just because he made his decision, my roller coaster of emotions did not automatically jump to the heights it became eventually. It was such a shock to me that he decided there, that it took about an hour to set in.

He chose me.

When I was feeling yucky.

He chose to be with me when I was NOT the most confident, collected, whole, happy, sexy, etc. Jess.

He chose to be with me regardless of whether I was on the top of the world or not.

Instead of loving me unconditionally because I seemed perfect at the time, he decided to love me unconditionally when I wasn’t anywhere near perfect-seeming.

And that means the world to me.

As Oprah has said, “Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

He was there for me, ready to be with me forever because he decided that is what he wants. Period.

When I’m feeling up or down, he’s ready to be there next to me. Stroking my hair and telling me everything is going to be okay.

And as they say, the rest is history.

From then on, we began to plan our intention for our future and have been doing it ever since.

So though the “official” engagement was very sweet, nothing will compare to the love and acceptance that he demonstrated that dreary, February afternoon.

I didn’t have to be charming for my prince to propose, after all.


** When Mr. Lively and I first started dating, I was honest with him and told him right up front (not quite immediately, but within the first week or two) that I wanted to get married one day and was looking for a relationship that could lead to that outcome. He agreed that if we ever came to a point where we didn’t see this working out for the long haul, we would end the relationship and wish each other well.


this week i’m thankful for…

June 8th, 2012   |   Life

What a whirlwind of a week! I have to say, I’ve loaded too much on my plate in my personal and professional life (especially with the engagement is added to the mix). So this week I’m doing some restructuring making under to keep my life enjoyable and to be able to continue to execute what I intend to do at a high level. If I don’t make these changes, I have a feeling that a lot of balls are going to start dropping and I will be a miserable person without any time to enjoy the blessings in my life.

This should be a time of celebration. Not stress.

Next week I will share exactly how I’m planning on doing just that.

In the meantime, please pardon the fact that I haven’t responded to Twitter in about a week, that emails will go unanswered while I’m at the Macy’s trunk show today, and that I haven’t picked a giveaway winner yet.

I’m choosing to be present at the trunk show and enjoy my weekend! Cuz that’s what designing an intentional life is really all about. The rest will be accomplished on Monday.

Have a great weekend and thank you so much for reading MML!

macy’s trunk show tomorrow

June 7th, 2012   |   Life


Holy smokes! This day has flown by and unlike my normal intention to not work in the evenings, I’ll be ditching that idea completely tonight. But it will all be worth it so that everything gets done and I have time to enjoy my weekend plans (Half Acre brewery tour on Saturday and Iron and Wine concert at Ravinia on Sunday!).

Tomorrow Caitlin, our newest (and awesome) Jess LC intern, and I will be at Macy’s on State Street for a trunk show. We will be debuting our newest and soon to be released jewelry collection from 12:00 to 5:00.

Come on over and say hi and even get one of the very first new pieces!

Yesterday I shared on The Everygirl how I’ve learned to use my intuition to make big life decisions. There are three simple ways that I’ve found are often most reliable when I really need to be looking inward.

I encourage you to read it if you have a big choice to make in some area of your life. Hopefully it will help you access the part of you that already knows the answer you seek.

To stay true to my own gut, I’ve also decided to lay pretty low on the wedding planning this summer. I’ll be traveling six out of the next thirteen weekends, have two workshops, two long distance weddings, a move, and puppy to prepare for. So though I may do things here and there, there may not be much about the wedding on MML for a little while.

However, tomorrow I’ll share how Mr. Lively proposed. Since you all found out via his post the same time that he proposed, I figure it’s fitting to share a bit of the story.

Again, you can read The Everygirl column right here.


photo via The Everygirl by Stoffer Photography


Tomorrow’s Wish I Knew Wednesday email will be covering what I wish I knew about donations. I’ll be going into how donating has helped me break through self-imposed limitations, made my sales jump big time early on, and can be a effective branding tool.

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.)

Registration Deadline

Next Wednesday is the deadline for signing up for the New York BWI Workshop.

Register here.

new Jess LC neon totes!

June 5th, 2012   |   Life

Today I’d like you to meet our new Jess LC Kinzie collection of totes! This is a collaboration with artist and illustrator Ann Shen. I first met Ann as a Jess LC customer and later stumbled upon a post about her talent in the blogosphere. Shocked that the person I had been emailing was such a talented artist (she’s done work with J.Crew and Ban.do!), I immediately asked her if she would be interested in working together on a tote collection.

To my delight she said yes, and the result is a collection of three adorable bags in two different sizes.

We have a neon pink fish with the phrase Just Keep Swimming, a bright yellow lemon with the phrase Make Lemonade, and a silver metallic cloud with the phrase Find the Silver Lining. Each one is made with heavy duty canvas and made in Chicago.

This collection is a great merging of a few of our intentional themes across different Jess LC products like our Just Keep Going print, Pink Lemonade necklace, and Silver Lining necklace.



For the Kinzie lookbook, I worked with a new bevvy of bloggers including (in order of appearance):

Kiley (a soon to be fashion blogger and Jess LC intern)

Clara of Channeling Contessa

Sue of The Zhush

Chassity of Look Linger Love

Jill of Good Life for Less

Audrey of A Lovely Escape

And our crisp white product photos are done by the lovely Liz of Coach House Pictures.


I hope you like the new totes! Feel free to shop them here!

free june wallpaper: wandering

June 4th, 2012   |   Life

download full-size white wallpaper here

Happy June! With the new month comes a new wallpaper. As usual, I have one in white and one in photo form.

download full-size flower wallpaper here

As you might have guessed (or not), last month’s wallpaper was in part to remind me to be patient as I knew a proposal was somewhere in my near future.

This month’s quote also has a bit of wedding meaning as well. With so much to plan for my wedding, I want to remind myself to take my time, go with what feels right, and let myself and Mr. Lively enjoy these early days of engagement. I’m sure they go fast, so I want to savor each one and not be afraid to take my time.


this week i’m thankful for

June 1st, 2012   |   Life

As you can imagine, this week I’m thankful for getting engaged! Though I knew a ton of details about this engagement along the way (part because of Mr. Lively and part from being a smart cookie), I will say I was completely shocked when he proposed.

Though I knew it would be soon, I had no idea it would happen Wednesday night.

Point for Mr. Lively.

Anyways, his parents are in town this weekend and I will be taking some time off to soak in all the blissed out-ness that I’m experiencing and enjoy the flood of love that is coming our way.

I have to say, I am so incredibly touched by each and every comment, tweet, and email I have gotten! I am even smitten over our little drawing too!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your love! My heart has a hard time holding it all in.

I love you. Thank you for reading. I’ll see you next week.



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