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this week i’m thankful for… moving
September 28th, 2012     |    Life

At long, long last, it is moving weekend! Mr. Lively and I are taking the day off to get our keys and start moving our smaller items into the new apartment.

I’m using Redi-Boxes for the clothing and kitchen items so they can be put directly into closets and cupboards and reused for other stuff that will still need to be packed. Then I’ll use old Jess LC inventory boxes for bookshelf items that won’t be put into place until Sunday when the movers bring all the furniture.

Our hope is that by Monday we will be mostly unpacked and settled in.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!

more please!
September 27th, 2012     |    Life

As I prepare to move to the new apartment this weekend and close Jess LC in November, a sense of change is definitely in the air.

The person I am now is not the same person that moved into this building three years ago. I’m older, wiser, and have a better hair cut.

Oh, and I’m also married, going to be a (puppy) mom, and will be designing a new home.

With all of this in mind, I’d love to hear what topics you’d like to see more of here on the blog!

These are a few of the topics I’m thinking about exploring in more depth. I’d love to know which ones you are most excited about or want to see more of.

  • Thinking with intention
  • Marriage / relationship
  • Decorating the home
  • Puppy photos
  • Style
  • Cheap tricks
  • Overcoming fears or difficult things
  • ______________________

Please comment with your favorite(s) and of course, feel free to fill in the blank with your own suggestion!

I really appreciate your help, as I really want this blog to be as helpful as possible.

September 27th, 2012     |    LifeRelationships

Individualization, according to Marcus Buckingham’s Strengths Finder Assessment, is my number one strength.

To be honest, I was a bit disappointed to find out that was my biggest strength. It definitely does not sound cool or sexy.

However, when it comes to running our household, it has its advantages.

Without even thinking about it, I tend to figure out what people are best at and then divide up work according to each person’s biggest strengths. I do this with the Jess LC ladies and we also apply this to our family.

When it comes to chores and life maintenance, Mr. Lively and I have come to a pretty clear and evenly divided set of responsibilities. Having clarity and ownership over different parts of our lives helps us each feel like we are contributing to the family in important ways. It also helps clearly set expectations, so neither of us feels like they “do more” than the other.

In the home we have divided up the chores based on who prefers to do each task. Or in some cases, what I want to have cleaned more frequently (I’m talking to you, polished nickel bathroom faucet).

Mr. Lively is in charge of vacuuming, trash, recycling, cleaning the toilet and shower, and helping me make the bed. He also does the laundry.

I am in charge of cleaning the kitchen and bathroom sink, dusting, general clutter removal, and helping Mr. Lively make the bed. I fold the laundry and put it away.

As for frequency, we do these chores about once a week or more frequently, when needed. We have also discovered that Mr. Lively prefers that I simply ask him to vacuum or clean when I would like it done rather than stick to a strict schedule.

In larger household areas like health-care and finance we have again found ways to divide and conquer.

Because I am giddy at the prospect of having high quality health insurance (Mr. Lively works for a hospital) after being on self-employed insurance, I lept at the chance to be in charge of the health care for the family. I pick the doctors, make the appointments for us both, get prescriptions filled, and generally make sure we are healthy.

Mr. Lively on the other hand is in charge of the family finances. He has a passion for mint.com and enjoys tracking expenses. I do not. So again, it was a pretty easy decision to hand this over to him. This means that he monitors our spending, retirement, saving rates, and pays our bills (except rent, that’s mine). I of course also have full access to the finances and all the money, I just don’t have to write the bills or monitor as frequently.

If I did not run my own business and stay connected to finances everyday, I’m not sure I would have felt this confident letting him manage the money. But because I am dealing with cash flow, budgets, and income daily with Jess LC, BWI, and JessLively.com, I feel good knowing that if I ever needed to pay the family bills it would be a piece of cake compared to the companies’ finances.

And lastly, I’ve even found a way to individualize the move this weekend. We have decided that since I don’t mind packing and adore unpacking, I will be the packer for the move. Mr. Lively is in charge of shuttling loads of boxes to the new apartment. Though we have movers scheduled for Sunday to tackle the large items and storage unit, we think our labor sharing will be the most efficient on Friday and Saturday when we are on our own.

As our family grows we will need to change and evolve our roles and responsibilities. But I have no doubt I’ll be looking, consciously or unconsciously, for ways to figure out where our strengths lie and divide accordingly.


car bag
September 26th, 2012     |    Life

First off, I would like to thank everyone for their support on my driving post! I had no idea I wasn’t the only one who doesn’t like driving or driving in a big city.

In an effort to enjoy driving and being in the car a bit more, I created a little goodie bag of sorts with car essentials. I picked a cute tote which holds the items in the back of the car and also doubles as a grocery bag. Inside there are snacks (the almonds are for Mr. Lively, the K bars are for me), an umbrella, wet wipes, and Kleenex. I also plan to add aspirin and a flash light to the mix.

Aside from the car bag we also have some bottled water and a blanket. The blanket is for comfort during long trips or for warmth if something ever happened in the winter.

Does anyone else have a car bag?

Hey guys! Caitlin here, and happy to be introducing Anne of Anne the Adventurer as our Design Your Life Interviewee this week. Anne is an inspiring writer with an obvious zest and love for life. I have loved getting to know her through her blog and see how she relishes life’s adventures, no matter how big or small. I’ll let her tell you the rest.

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: anne of anne the adventurer

Vulnerability is one of the most difficult gifts we can give ourselves. In this day and age, it is easy to get swept up in our fast-paced, ‘pull yourself up by your own bootstraps’ culture. The truth is, acting like the marlboro man or the lone ranger, someone who achieves success on their own and despite the odds, isn’t the reality. I have had more success when I am surrounded by a supportive community than when I am on my own. When I have taken risks and shared my emotional self with others, I’ve formed deeper relationships and have found a strong sense of validation for who I am. Sometimes, it doesn’t always go as I’ve planned or would have hoped, but to be vulnerable poses a greater return in the quality of my relationships than hiding in the corner (and pretending my problems don’t exist) does.

Let’s do some myth busting! I can sometimes become overwhelmed by my fears or concerns about my life. Here are some examples of fears: “I don’t want to go to a party because someone from work who said something nasty to me might be there”; “I am afraid to fly because that plane landed in the Hudson River”; “I don’t like to put up style posts on my blog because people might think that I am not enough of a model-type to pull it off.” These are all real fears of mine (see, vulnerability!), and the quality of my life is greatly decreased because of the power they have over me. By doing a bit of myth busting, I can work to overcome them. Busting myths requires taking risks and challenging those fears head on, and then creating a track record of my positive qualities or outcomes. For instance, if I focus on the fact that my rude coworker’s treatment of me is more a reflection of who they are rather than me, I can bust the myth that I am not worthy of friendships, and go and enjoy that party! I’ll add the success of the party and having fun with people to my track record. Then, when I have some doubt or fears, I can look to my past successes and say, “If I was fine before, I will be fine again.”

A large part of being vulnerable and busting myths is being willing to love yourself, and to practice self-love daily. I am definitely my worst critic, but have found that self-love has helped turn this bad habit around. I’ve started writing down some of my strongest negative thoughts on one side of a note card, and then writing a piece of positive self-talk that combats it on the other side. I have these all over my house, wherever I will see them most, as a reminder to myself that I am of value. One card I have taped to my computer to remind me that I am a writer of value says, “I am a talented writer who can affect positive change through authenticity and sharing my honest stories and opinions.” Seeing this card everyday keeps me motivated to continue to do what I do everyday. It really does make me feel loved.


Mindfulness is very tricky, considering I am a go, go, go type of person. Always on the run, I rarely stop to think and reflect about what I am doing. However, not being aware of my actions or intentions can often cause me to go off track or slip into a bad habit of negative self talk or letting fear run my life. Being mindful and taking time out of my day to sit, reflect, and meditate on my intentions and actions has helped me to live a more focused life. Mindfulness can also be called prayer and/or meditation. When I am practicing being mindful, I usually stop and close my eyes for a few minutes and focus on my breath. Then, I journal about my emotions and thoughts during the day so that I am in better touch with myself and my purpose in life. I can’t even being to explain to you how much of a difference this has made for me, especially in my work! I am happier, more fulfilled, and more productive because of it.

As you can see, all of these intentions are intertwined. Every one requires the other, but taking risks is one of the glues. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to bust myths or be vulnerable. When fear or doubt has controlled my life, taking risks often gets put on the back burner. When I am in a place of self-doubt and negative self-talk, I fall into my tried and true coping skills, the ones that make me feel the most in control. But usually, these coping mechanisms leave out mindfulness, self-love, and vulnerability, and I am often more closed off and afraid than when I started. Taking risks and challenging myself is the way out. I may be afraid of flying, but I am not going to let that stop me from traveling to Italy, a dream I’ve held since I was a little girl. So, I’ll take a risk and get on that plane (not without a little myth busting, self love, mindfulness and vulnerability, of course!). Taking risks helps to open up our souls to more possibilities, and grows our sense of self. We come to know ourselves better, and in the end, can love ourselves better.

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.

moving forward
September 25th, 2012     |    LifeThink About It

The great thing about designing a life with intention is that it allows us to reflect on our lives and find ways to move past fears and limiting beliefs.

Without a personal drive to push past our comfort zone, we can end up stalled in some area of our life.

For me, I have created a new intention to push past a very real, but seemingly silly fear: driving.

Over the past decade I have not owned a car or driven more than a handful of times. When I was in high school I shared a blue Blazer with my brother. But I never purchased one in college or in Chicago.

In fact, I chose to live in Chicago partly because I loved the transportation system. I preferred to spend more money on my apartment than splitting my budget on a car and apartment combined.

And even though I was never a bad driver, the sheer lack of driving over the past ten years has left me gun shy.

Yet this never was a big issue because I never had a car.

However, this summer Mr. Lively’s parents generously gifted us their 2006 Toyota Prius.

Which Mr. Lively drives almost exclusively.

He drives it the most because he loves driving and I am afraid to drive, especially in Chicago. The city is much more challenging to navigate than my hometown of Rochester, Michigan where I learned to drive in 2001.

This means my current self-imposed driving ban is now actively limiting potential convenience and my driving independence. And if I really think about it, I believe this also affects my self-confidence more than I’d like to admit.

Sure, I could hide behind valid excuses like taking the bus is better for the environment and cheaper than gas. Which is true. But the deeper truth for me is that I am scared that I will mess up somehow, go down a one-way road the wrong way, or… get honked at.

Yes, I know this sounds so silly. But to me in my head, it really does feel scary.

I have no fear of speaking on national television, sharing my life here on the blog, taking my business full-time after college, ending my business, or a million other things. But the simple act of driving has me worried and leading a limited life.

As the title of this post states, I am quite literally stopping myself from moving forward.

And I want to change that.

Tonight I am going to talk with Mr. Lively about this intention and see if he is cool with me driving us 90% of the time. Long car trips aside, where we share the driving, the short runs can be left to me. This will help me to feel more confident. Over time, I hope that I will feel more comfortable driving on my own.

Once I am driving solo easily, he can regain the drivers seat on our shared trips.

I have a feeling that if I don’t take these proactive steps now to get more familiar with driving in the city, I will prolong the undue worry and continue to limit myself. Plus, I’ll never actually be getting better at driving in the city – which is really all I need to prove to myself in the first place.

As I take these next steps to push myself out of the passenger seat in my life, I encourage anyone else who is limiting themselves in some way to move past their fears with me.

We can do this. We just gotta start with an intention and take it one step at a time.


This week on Wish I Knew Wednesday I’ll be sharing the a-ha moment that helped me realize it was time to close Jess LC and how I chose the final day. And of course, I’ll also share what I’ve learned from the experience that could apply to other businesses 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.)

decorating intentions
September 24th, 2012     |    DecorStyle

As I tell Mr. Lively (frequently) we are just four sleeps away from moving things to our new apartment.

At this point I am pretty much consumed by preparations for the new apartment and the only way I can contain myself is by staying busy. Or sleeping. The level of excitement I feel rivals my nine-year-old self awaiting Christmas.

Or maybe this is how Gabrielle Douglass felt leading up to the London Games this summer.

This is my Olympics.

Over the next few weeks I’ll share how I used the makeunder process to help me decorate our apartment home. But before I get into details, I thought I’d share some personal intentions that have helped me with moving and decorating the new space.

Though some people prefer wait until they have moved to the new space to begin decorating. I am not in this camp. The minute I know where I am moving next I begin to envision what I’d like the space to look like and how I want to decorate to mesh with the style of the space itself.

I think this is in part because I am a designer, because this is my favorite passion of all time, and because I’m so excited to decorate that I cannot wait until I’m actually moved to start doing as much as possible.

The result of this enthusiasm is hope chests. Like those women of yesteryear who used to save home goods for her marriage and new home in a big trunk, I start creating piles of things that belong in the new space. Again, to reference my Christmas-like enthusiasm for moving, I am gathering the new home presents under… anything but a tree.

This year I’ve reached a new high (or low, depending on how you look at it) when it comes to hope chests. The entire apartment at this point is one giant hope apartment.

There is stuff on the floor.

Behind the furniture.

And even on the top of the refrigerator.

Some of these new online orders haven’t even been opened yet. I will view for the first time in person when we are in the new space.

So exciting. 

As you might be able to tell already, I did a lot pre-shopping for the new space. Armed with a vision of what I wanted the new space to look like thanks to tons of daydreaming, a floor plan, and measurements, I picked what new pieces we wanted and started ordering.

For this new space and most of my apartments in the past, I generally choose a few items to splurge on and many less expensive objects to balance it all out.

Because we eloped rather than had a wedding, we have had a bit more money to invest in the space than we otherwise would have. Which was an overall intention all along.

We have chosen to really splurge on three main pieces for the new space. A new couch, headboard, and entry table.

Though the entry table’s luxe-ness wasn’t quite a necessity, the couch and headboard got a good chunk of our budget because they are things that we will use every single day. I believe that well-crafted furniture is worthwhile. Plus, investing in these areas means the resale value of the items is generally higher than less expensive options. So though we splurged on a new couch, we had $500 from selling the old couch to go towards the bill.

Due to the added luxury of shopping ahead of time, I was also able to snag many of our items as they went on sale. So far I think we’ve saved about $400 due to sale purchases.

I also spent a lot of time searching for deals on rugs, accessories, patio furniture, and shelving.

We found counter stools and rugs on Overstock.com. Our patio furniture is entirely from Ikea, and our shelving is almost all from the Ikea Lack collection.

As for accessories, this is where I hit the thrift stores and Craigslist (did you know they have an iPhone/iPad app!?!).

We scored this awesome cedar-lined brass trunk shown above at The White Elephant (now closed, RIP) for just $35 this summer. We also found another similar side table/brass trunk for $35 at the Randolph Market as well. These guys are great because they are table surfaces and storage at the same time.

On Craigslist so far I’ve found two vintage chrome chairs ($150 for the pair), an awesome little bamboo detailed desk and chair ($125), and a vintage soda pop cooler to use as a coffee table on the patio ($60) which again has table surface/storage capacity.

And there are a few other items I’m still on the hunt for:

    • Entry mirror
    • Vanity mirror
    • Dining table wood top
    • Bedroom curtains/rods

Over the next few months I’ll be looking to round out the space with these items. Once these are in place the space will be about 85% complete. Sure there will be fun things to add here and there, but I love that we will get to start enjoying our home in a largely finished state pretty quickly.

This also means we can welcome our families into our mostly-complete new home for Thanksgiving and it will be great to get our puppy after the bulk of the decorating is done.

When it comes to a new space, I personally like to only keep the items that really make sense in the new space unless they have major sentimental value.

This is why we sold my old sectional on Craigslist and why we are selling the yellow chair, too.

Some small items that we won’t need I either gave away or donated. And my bedroom furniture which is very dear to me is going to be passed on to Caitlin, a summer Jess LC intern. These pieces were given to me by my childhood best friend, Carol Beth. I had refinished them before moving to Chicago five years ago when I could not afford to buy new furniture. I cherished them and I am so thankful to see them live on in Caitlin’s home as she embarks on her own self-employed journey in Chicago.

Knowing that these pieces will be so loved and serve someone who deserves them makes me happy to pass them on to a new generation. And at the same time it also helps me live with the most useful and well-suited pieces for my new space and life.


So there you have it! These are just a few of the general intentions that I have followed while preparing for the move and designing my new space. Though they may not work for everyone, hopefully they shed a little light on how I have designed my own home with intention.


this week i’m thankful for… change
September 21st, 2012     |    Life

This week and year, really, has been one of the most dramatic, growth-filled periods of my life. And though there are countless things that I am thankful for, it has come with it’s share of stress, problems, and challenges.

In yoga this week the instructor read a quote about change and pain, somewhat similar to this quote:

There is no growth without pain. Change for the better always requires letting loose of a certain degree of status quo. You realize then that the pain of moving ahead … the trials, the frustrations, the disappointments, and the failures … are always better than the situation you once found yourself in and accepted. Change won’t begin until you seize the courage and mental discipline to immerse yourself in a certain amount of pain and disillusionment concerning where you are in the present.

I definitely can relate to this pain. And over the past week I’ve received many amazing comments of support, and a few mentions that it has seemed that I have handled it so beautifully or gracefully.

But the truth is that this has not been the easiest thing for me at all. I have felt pushed to my edge, overwhelmed, and stressed to the max. Though there are moments or days of exhilaration, I am usually worn out.

Yesterday while walking to Bed Bath & Beyond with Mr. Lively I broke down on the side of the road and this morning I did the same.

Apparently massive changes do not mix well with PMS.

Anyways, I just want to say that despite all the fatigue and overwhelm I am thankful for these changes in my life. It is the hardest time and the best time.

To imagine these changes not happening in my life is definitely worse than experiencing the pain of getting to the other side.


Thank you for reading and I’ll see you next week!

an intentional life
September 20th, 2012     |    LifeThink About It

When it comes to designing an intentional life, Leo Babauta explains it rather beautifully.

His philosophy is the same one that I apply to my life everyday and I hope to encourage others to try as well.

Thank you, Merissa, for sharing the link with me!

our last macy’s trunk show
September 20th, 2012     |    Life


First of all, I am blown away by the emails, comments, and orders that have come in since my announcement to close the Jess LC shop on November 2nd. Thank you so much, guys. Your support makes me even more excited to share this next chapter of my career!

For those people who have placed orders online, we are busy making each piece of jewelry by hand and filling each order with care. So we thank you for your patience as we work as quickly as possible to ship your order. Right now we are estimating orders to ship within 5-7 business days due to the volume of orders.

And last but not least, today is my last Macy’s trunk show. I am very grateful for the three years the Chicago State Street location has sold our jewelry in their Designers of Chicago collection. I have spent countless afternoons there over the years doing little trunk shows and I feel like in many ways I grew up there since graduating from college. It has been an honor and such a cool opportunity to work with a wonderful company.

So if you want to stop by between 11a and 3p and say hi, please do! I’ll be at the Macy’s on State Street in the jewelry section on the main floor near the elevators.


I can’t think of a better time to bring out a new design your life interview than today! After Jess’ big announcement yesterday, I think we’re probably all feeling inspired to focus our attention and energy on our true purpose and passions. Today, Joelle from Something Charming is going to be sharing her intentions with us. As a wedding planner and blogger, I knew Joelle would be able to shed some insight on her intentions for her creative passions and business. I definitely resonated with all of them as I was reading this morning. Thanks so much for sharing, Joelle! Enjoy, everyone! –Caitlin

DESIGN YOUR LIFE: joelle of something charming

This. I have a problem with this sometimes. You see, I like to over think things, and plan out what I need to do. Sometimes it gets to the point though where I don’t get things done because I’m too busy planning out what I need to get done. Or I’m too busy worrying about all that I need to do to actually get things done. I’ve realized recently that I need to stop. I just need to stop worrying and thinking and just get it done. Because I’ll feel a lot better once I do.

This has to be one of the most powerful things I’ve realized in my life. I have a lot of experience with unhappiness, and even depression. And while I don’t believe that changing your mindset is going to change everything, knowing that you have the power to control your circumstances and outlook is a powerful thought. I make a very intentional decision every day to choose happiness and joy rather than anger or sadness or anxiety. I try to remember what is important in life, and that I’m seriously blessed to have all that I do.

I would not be able to get through the day if I didn’t prioritize. When you’re busy and have a thousand commitments, you just have to. And you have to be okay with the idea that you won’t get your entire to do list done in one day. That’s the beauty of prioritizing. I definitely prioritize things intentionally, making honest decisions as to what I value most and what work is the most important at the time. It really does help!

I am not an overly religious or spiritual person. I was raised in a church, but I currently consider myself religiously indifferent, though not necessarily agnostic, since I do have a set of beliefs that I subscribe to. That being said, I’ve recently {very recently} realized the power of having faith. Faith in anything, really. Yes, I pray to God, but I also have faith in myself and my family and my circumstances. I have to, or else I’d be too worried to get anything done. I have to believe that this is what I’m supposed to be doing, and that I can do it.

Over the summer, I got rid of 90% of my closet. Most of it was hand me downs leftover from my high school days {seriously embarrassing, at 25 years old}, and a lot of it was stuff that I bought spontaneously just because it was on sale. I’ve built my wardrobe back up over the summer using some of the lessons I’ve learned right here from Jess. If I’ve been intentional about anything in my life, it’s to only buy things that I absolutely love. It’s resulted in a closet that I am proud of, which hasn’t before happened in my life. I now only wear things that are my style, and it’s been fun to discover what my style is!

Check out past DESIGN YOUR LIFE interviews.













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