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this week i’m thankful for… a break

November 30th, 2012   |   Life


This week I’m thankful for… giving myself a break.

I had quite a few intentions and deadlines fall short in November and I’m actively allowing myself to not feel bad about them.

You know how I wanted to thank people every day in November?* I did it for two days. The two days before we got Franklin, on November 3rd. Since then, I’ve been lucky if my hair is washed and I make it to a meeting on time.

I also planned to launch a few new exciting things next Tuesday. But based on the load of work I have on my plate right now, it’s getting delayed.

Oh, and I also still have my Thanksgiving decor up. At this point I’m debating if I’ll do any holiday decor at all.

And you know what? That’s okay.

Have a great weekend and thank you for reading!


* Did anyone complete the challenge? If so, how did it go?!


adventurous living

November 29th, 2012   |   LifeThink About It


As I type this post I have to do the following in the next twenty minutes: write this post, put makeup on/do my hair, take the puppy out, and leave for my monthly business mentorship meeting.

Needless to say, I’m typing coherent sentences as quickly as possible.

Lately, this has been my life.

I “thought” that ending Jess LC, finishing the apartment, and getting past the Thanksgiving holidays would leave me peaceful. That I’d have more time to breathe, to ponder, to wax poetic here on the blog for as long as I liked.

But the truth is that I’m almost a week out from those major projects passing and I’m still frantic with many new projects in my plate. How will I get them all done in time?

I’m honestly not quite sure, but I said a prayer and I’m hoping for the best.

I was relating my story to a recent Business with Intention workshopper, Kimberly of Daily Sip Studios in our first session. Without skipping a beat she said, “I think that’s just how you live your life.”


The woman had known me for twenty minutes and she had me pegged.

As much as I am all about making under my life and I understand that less is more… I seem to personally have a habit of crafting new, exciting projects like it’s my job (oh wait, it kinda is).

But the effect of this enthusiasm is a constant state of, “I have so much to do now, how is it all going to come together? And when to I get to r-e-s-t?”

I think this is in part because of my strengths, according to Strengths Finder 2.0. One of my biggest strengths (besides the world’s least sexy trait: individualization) is activator.

Once I have an idea (which is my second biggest strength: ideation), I want to make it happen NOW. Not tomorrow, not next week, right NOW.

So I suppose with the strength of ideation and activator I’m kinda destined to have this crazy life that I lead. Even though I’m constantly trying to reign it in and simplify along the way.

Though I normally have a clear point at the end of my posts, this one I’m leaving open ended. I think I am just now becoming fully aware of this duality in my life and I am not sure exactly yet how to make peace with it.

Do I just accept that my life will always be crazy and that’s how I, in some [insane] part of my brain, prefer it? Or do I try to let my ideas percolate a bit longer and spread them out over more ‘reasonable’ time frames?

I think there is truth to both approaches.

But right now, I have makeup to put on, a dog to take out, and a meeting to make before I can find the right balance.

intention preparation

November 28th, 2012   |   Life


As December quickly approaches, I’ve started to mull over my intentions for 2013. I don’t usually write my future letter to myself until the week before New Years but I like to contemplate those intentions early.

It’s also nice to reflect on how far I’ve come this year and look at what I’ve done well (work) and what has taken the back seat (friends).

So far I’m excited for next year to be about socializing, getting our puppy routine set, and developing my pretirement plan.

Some cool events will be taking place next year too including co-teaching a workshop at Alt Summit (more on that soon!). Mr. Lively and I would also like to plan a few trips next year and right now we are throwing out optional dates and destinations.

Over the next few weeks I’ll have a pretty good set of ideas floating in my head that will be relatively easy to put to paper in my future letter. So for others out there thinking about crafting their own future letters for 2013, feel free to get a head start by thinking and dreaming about them now!


working with a puppy (help!)

November 27th, 2012   |   Life



I have been working with Franklin for the past three weeks and I have gotten 25% of what I normally get done. I thought that since I work from home that I would be perfectly suited to having a little pup by my side.

But the truth is that he chews everything he can find* (thankfully there isn’t much damage, his teeth are too small), he can get nippy when he’s wound up, and he barks when he’s bored/I’m trying to work/I’m not in eyesight.

Though I’m sure he will outgrow these tendencies as he gets older… the meantime is frustrating for us both.

The best thing so far I’ve found is stationing him with his harness and leash to the kitchen table leg where he has some roaming room near me but he can’t chew cables, curtains, or pee on the living room rug. Yet he’s constantly wanting to hang out with me (and eventually bite my hands) or get into trouble chewing something within reach.

I put him down for a nap in the crate in the morning and in the afternoon when I leave the house for a few hours for work. But other than those two crate naps, I am constantly untangling his leash from a chair leg, pulling the pee pad out of his mouth, or listening to him bark.

Also, he just hit the 12 week mark. So eventually it might be nice to send him to puppy day care a few days a week or take him on longer walks (he has a morning and evening walk)… but what do I do until then?

I thought I would be able to handle having him near me during the day stationed like I’ve been doing. But he is too high maintenance in this manner so far to make it effective for me – right now it’s ruining my productivity, patience, and sanity.

Anyone out there have any suggestions on how to survive as work-at-home business owner? What does crate training really look like? Almost all day?

Mr. Lively and I joke that I should be in a reality show called Pup Moms (like Dance Moms) where all I do is cater to the dog all day.

Because so far that’s what it feels like.



* He likes Bitter Cherry, jalapeno vinegar helps (but fades away), and a squirt bottle has been effective but difficult to time just right.


Tomorrow’s Wish I Knew Wednesday will be a fun one. I’m going to be covering when it’s a good idea to celebrate! So often this aspect of business is overlooked and it’s definitely important in many ways (which I’ll describe in more detail tomorrow).

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.)


sitting pretty (a desk makeover)

November 26th, 2012   |   DecorLife


When Mr. Lively and I moved, I was hitting the CL pretty hard.

One of my scores was a yellow and green bamboo desk for the guest room.

As you can see it had great bones but the color story wasn’t quite my jam. So I went to town with paint. Which meant last week before our families visited for Thanksgiving I spent three days in and out of the same paint splotted sweatpants and shirt working on my masterpiece.

Maybe masterpiece might be a bit of an overstatement, but it did consume much of my time and was worth the effort in the end.

A coat of primer, two coats of white semi-gloss, two coats of Polycrlic, and a coat of Liquid Leaf later… I was left with this.


Thanks to Kim’s painting tutorial and my friend Stacia who helped recover recovered the seat for me in my new favorite color and fabric (cerulean blue velvet) I was all done just before the folks arrived.

I cannot wait to start consulting at this desk from time to time. The guest room turned out to be one of my favorite places in the apartment. Well, that and the bedroom. And the master bath. And the living room… Okay, I love it all but the guest room has a special place in my heart.

Oh, and there is one last surprise…

I lined the drawers with leftover wallpaper from the master bedroom.

Done and done.


the wedding comes to a close

November 26th, 2012   |   LifeOur Wedding


Over the weekend our extended families came into town to celebrate our marriage and elopement over Thanksgiving, a cocktail party on Friday, and a dinner on Saturday.

Though I never expected to have such an unusual wedding celebration three months after the ceremony, the weekend could not have been more perfect ending to our wedding story.

We loved welcoming our families into our new home and introducing them to our new little pup, Franklin. We loved getting to see them all throughout a long weekend of fun and food (and wine).

I can now totally understand why some brides feel a sense of let-down after their big days. The amount of love poured onto us was overwhelming in the best way possible.

And of course the weekend was not without it’s own share of personal pressure. I was downright frantic leading up to the festivities getting the home finished(!!), the food prepared/purchased, and managing the puppy at the same time.

Thankfully, I didn’t implode from my self-inflicted perfectionism with the help of Mr. Lively’s teamwork (as well as his sense of humor), my incredible brother Mike (who stayed with us and watched Franklin and helped in every aspect of the weekend), and family support. Lots of family support.

As everyone began departing yesterday, I felt a tidal wave of bliss and joyful gratitude. I will remember the feeling long after the logistical details of the celebrations fade away.

And though I am sad to see the weekend pass, I am also so thankful we get to spend future times with our families. There will be other events to celebrate and times to share.

But do you want to know the best part? Now that we are moving past our lovely elopement, we get to spend our time focusing on our life as a family.



This Wednesday I am taking the day off from dishing out business advice and instead offering an added bonus for those who sign up for consultations or one-on-one workshops with me between Black Friday (11/23) and Cyber Monday (11/26).

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.)

Jess LC posters live on

November 20th, 2012   |   Life


Though Jess LC has closed it’s doors, the ladies at Ampersand Design Studio have added three of our collaboration prints to their shop!

Purchase here just in time for the holidays.



stress fighting

November 19th, 2012   |   LifeRelationships


Over the weekend Mr. Lively and I were frantically finishing the apartment for both our extended families which are coming into town this week to celebrate our elopement. People start arriving tomorrow (so things will be light on the blog over the next few days).

With Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday, a cocktail party on Friday, and a nice dinner downtown on Saturday, we have a lot to prepare for beyond the decor as well.

While we have been pretty good at avoiding conflict over the last few weeks, even with the stress of learning to raise a young puppy… this weekend things hit the fan. A non-stop list of to-dos and little sleep, thanks to Franklin’s 3am and 6am potty breaks, made us two cranky campers.

I had three separate meltdowns directed at Mr. Lively yesterday alone. And the truth is that though disagreements were bound to pop up here and there, the degree to which I was upset was unwarranted.

And the ironic part? We are stressing out at each other in preparation for events which are meant to celebrate our love and union. 

So as I went for my morning run today I was setting an intention to be nicer and less argumentative with Mr. Lively this week. But knowing that we are already this tired going into the festivities has me a bit worried. How am I going to cope better when things are about to get even more challenging?

The answer turned out to be simple. I need to make time for my spirituality.

Over the past few weeks since getting Franklin my morning routine of reading from A Course in Miracles for a little bit and meditating/praying has taken the backseat to (very) early morning potty breaks for the little guy.

And in general we have been so worn out due to his erratic sleeping schedule that I don’t get around to my morning reading and reflecting. I’m simply getting by and trying to give him attention in between his naps while I’m getting ready for the day or doing work.

Beyond my running routine, my spiritual time helps me cope with difficulty more than anything else. So it’s time that I make that a priority again, this week especially. No matter how tired I am, I need to make sure I keep the intention to reflect internally in order to start my day in a positive direction. I’m also more likely after my morning time to talk to the Universe about the troubles as they occur, rather than snapping at Mr. Lively.

In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr:

“I have so much to do today that I had better spend another hour on my knees.” 


hallway organization

November 16th, 2012   |   Decor


When it came to decorating the back hallway I knew it needed to be practical. With the back door right across from our bedroom we would eventually be taking Franklin out that way often.

To add quick access storage I turned an Ikea bathroom towel rack into a coat organizer.

We now have hooks for Franklin’s puppy coat, scarves, leashes, and keys. The shelf at the top also adds a place for plastic bags, a lint roller, and treats.

Plus, the hanging items add some nice interest and color to the otherwise neutral nook.

Overall, we spent $29 West Elm bath rug and $34 on the Ikea stainless organizer. Not bad for a cute little space that otherwise would have gone unnoticed.

having “it all”

November 15th, 2012   |   Business AdviceThink About It


This year I have learned many lessons. It was outwardly my most transformational year and inwardly I made similar progress as well.

One lesson I’ve learned over and over each month is that having “it all” in my career is not a recipe for happiness.

I received many emails and compliments while I was juggling Jess LC, Business with Intention, and the blog. Very kind mentions about how I was so lucky to “have it all.”

But I will tell you the experience of juggling everything was not increasing my quality of life.

There is a saying that I was reminded of time and again this year that says “when you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other.” And holding three sticks logs with opposite ends so weighty was draining.

I constantly felt like I was working “in” my businesses, not “on” them… unless I was pulling night and weekend hours (which is never my long-term intention). And though I initially planned to alleviate some of my workload by taking on a more permanent manager for Jess LC, I was stopped in the nick of time by my intuition.

When I started this blog in 2009 I named it Makeunder My Life. After a series of failed attempts at deep happiness via external additions like purses, candy bars, guys, and lipstick, I realized life is improved and strengthened when it is reduced to the most intentional elements. When the unintentional excess is cut out, we shine.

And this universal concept applied to my career as well. Sure if I was truly meant to juggle all three businesses for the rest of my life I would have found a way to make it work. But the fact that I was feeling dull, exhausted, and depleted was a great indication that my “all” was too much.

I think what I’m really trying to say is that no matter how glossy a career looks from the outside, no matter how tempted we are to wish we had a company/job/career like so-and-so, we never know what’s lurking on the other end of that stick. And spending time wishing for “it all” is really a recipe for stress and burnout.

Rather, I hope that we can learn to look inside ourselves for internal direction to find the path that is suited to our strengths, talents, and purpose. Because that’s the stick worth holding.


getting more out of my wardrobe

November 14th, 2012   |   LifeStyle


Over the summer I got a fantastic injection of new pieces into my wardrobe. But as the weather dropped I found myself gravitating to the same favorite items again and again.

Rather than do any major shopping in order to feel inspired by my closet, I opted to track the tops I wear. After I wear a top, I flip the hanger the other direction when I put the it back in the closet. This way I’m able to see what I’ve worn recently and what I have yet to mix into an outfit.

So far, I’ve been pleased to see that by making this intention I’m wearing much more of my wardrobe. Sometimes by just adding a new accessory to an old shirt helps me get excited about an outfit I otherwise would not have worn.

I’m also keenly aware of those few pieces I hesitate to wear. If by the end of the challenge I’d rather not wear a top that has gone unworn, I will donate or pass it on to someone else.

It brings a whole new meaning to “shop your closet.”


PS – Tonight is Chicago’s Business in the City!



Tomorrow on Wish I Knew Wednesday I’ll be talking about how product and service businesses can use Small Business Saturday to help stimulate sales for the holiday season.

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.)



seal by

cheap tricks for puppies

November 13th, 2012   |   Life


Yes, yes, I have been talking a lot about Franklin and raising a puppy over the last week. It’s honestly because he’s been a huge new part of my life which is currently taking up a lot of my time, attention, and intentions as we get to know each other and establish a routine.

But I promise that he’s not going to be running the show here on the blog. I plan to continue to share a mix of life, home, and business intentions going forward.

However, today I’d like to share a few inexpensive cheap tricks I’ve discovered for Franklin. Some are purely practical and others are a mix of form and function. And all the tricks are under $12.

When Franklin is getting riled up and being really mouthy, this ducky on a string has been a life hand-saver. Instead of getting bit repeatedly while trying to play with a toy in my hand, the string allows me to keep my skin several feet away from his sharp puppy teeth.

Though we don’t let him play with the duck unattended due to the string, we have found him to be one of Franklin’s favorite “big boy” toys.

When it came to food bowls, I spotted these adorable little white ramekins at Target for just $1.99 each! They are far and away cuter and cheaper than the options I found at our local PetSmart.

For keeping the floors clean, Mr. Lively picked out this sea-foam tray at Ikea for just $11.99. It’s metal with a great coating that makes it waterproof and puppy-proof. Nothing he can do to this tray seems to alter it one bit.

In fact, we’ve found that Franklin also uses the tray as a napping station too.

After one week of clicker training Franklin has now learned “sit,” “lay down,” “shake,” “leave it,” “kisses,” “drop it,” and “high five.”

We’ve also been able to work on his impulse control immensely with these simple $1.49 clickers found at the checkout at PetSmart. There are actually four of these clickers all around the house paired with little snack bowls (filled with his actual food) for when he’s looking for attention and wants to do some “tricks.”

I’ve found some great clicker training tutorials here that have helped me get new ideas for commands and training.

Like most puppies, Franklin loves to chew. He’s fond of chewing baskets, rugs, pillows… whatever he can get his teeth on. We first purchased Bitter Cherry from a local supply store but we found out that Franklin actually likes the flavor.

After later reading about Tabasco, but not wanting to cover our furniture in orange sauce, we opted for white vinegar with chopped jalapenos. We’ve dabbed this on the baskets he adores and already we’ve seen him turn his nose at the scent and walk away. Victory!

Though it might not work for upholstered pieces, it’s great for cables and hard surfaces. Freezing his toys has also helped calm his little teeth and make his toys almost more appealing than the rug.


So there you have it!  A few of the simple, cheap ways I’ve found to keep our house in order and help our puppy grow into a little gentleman.

the power of words

November 12th, 2012   |   Life


Over the last week Mr. Lively and I have gotten into some not-so-great habits.

When Franklin is acting up, which is pretty often at this point, we have started to refer to him as the Little Jerk (and other non-wonderful names) amongst ourselves and our friends. I also joked a few times about how he’s not the same pup that we first met.

And we’ve quickly realized this is not a worthwhile habit to cultivate or continue. Yes, he’s not very well behaved much some of the time. But he’s not terrible or far worse than normal puppy behavior.

We need to start speaking good things about his future as a more mature dog, rather than dwell on his current misbehavior and label him based on things we don’t love about him. Though it feels kinda funny in the moment, it’s not helping us to be better parents to him or interact with him in the best way possible.

I have a feeling these little nicknames are helping us lose our patience quicker and tainting how we see him as a whole. We need to stop calling him complaining nicknames and accept that he has a long way to go, but will become a great little guy in time.

We have joked that we love him, but don’t always like him. Now it’s time to start refer to him more lovingly, even when he’s not very likable.

The same goes for other aspects of life as well.


This week I’m so, so, so thankful for the teamwork and rhythm that Mr. Lively and I have created when caring for little Franklin.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m big on individualization and we’ve found a good balance. Since I’m the morning person in the relationship, I have been in charge taking Franklin out anytime after 5am. And once Mr. Lively comes home from work until bedtime the potty training up to him.

I feed Franklin most of the meals because his feedings are at 7am, 12pm, and 5pm when Mr. Lively is at work.

And because I’m home working during the day with him, I am pretty worn out by the time Mr. Lively gets home.

What has been the biggest sanity-saver for me is how Mr. Lively has shifted his schedule and tasks so that I can get the breaks I need at night. He’s stayed home every evening this week so I can consult, go out to dinner with friends, and speak at an event.

He’s also switched sides of the bed with me to be closer to Franklin’s crate so I can sleep better (I hear every little sigh and noise from him which means I haven’t gotten more than four hours sleep in a row since we got him). And last night he offered to take him out regardless of the time in the morning or night (Amen!).

It’s been really reassuring to see that even when we are exhausted, stressed, learning to parent our puppy, and maintain the home, we are acting like a team. No matter how frustrated we’ve been with our little one’s mouthing or chewing we worked together on the same side.

And that makes all the difference.

Have a great weekend and thanks for reading!


puppy training

November 8th, 2012   |   Life


I thought that by picking the sweet puppy who gave us kisses and didn’t bark we were hitting the puppy jackpot.

I thought that he’d sit quietly on a bed next to me while I worked happily chewing a bone. That he’d be our faithful companion and woo everyone with his cute looks and clever tricks.

But as Mr. Lively famously said two days in, “I think we’re going to need to grow.” (Another famous Mr. Lively quote: “I think I wanted a dog, not a puppy.”) We are going to need to learn how to guide this little guy and help him become the good pup and dog he has the potential to be.

I’ve got to admit, it’s been a tough five days. I haven’t slept more than four hours straight since last Friday. I’ve spent 20+ hours with him each day and every simple task I complete is ten times more laborious and exhausting with him.

If having a puppy is anything like having a baby, I’ve got enough birth control for the next few years.

The first three days were the worst in terms of mouthing, chewing, crate training, and potty training.

And on my first run spent away from him, I had a heart to heart with myself. I had to admit that he wasn’t perfectly behaved, not even kinda well behaved. He really was kind of a jerk sometimes (namely when he was tired, needed to go out, hungry, thirsty, or playing really hard). I knew he’s a puppy and that he’ll grow out of it soon enough. But I also felt unprepared with how to guide him into becoming the good dog I so desperately hope he becomes. I didn’t have the knowledge and resources to cope with the biting and chewing.

So I resolved to be proactive about the situation. Just because I read a few puppy books ahead of time didn’t mean that I suddenly knew it all. I promptly began schooling myself again on other techniques and alternatives.

Fortunately I discovered Teacher’s Pet by Victoria Stilwell and I devoured her short videos intently (Franklin did too, he was fascinated by the dogs on the screen).

Instead of waiting for good behavior to surface from copious “good boys” I got the clicker out and started training that day. Within a few hours he learned “sit,” “[lay] down,” and “kisses.” I also put a toy on a string in order to play with him when he’s really riled up and mouthy without getting bit in the process.

For chewing we tried Bitter Cherry, but he liked the scent so we got a spray bottle with water to help curb intense chewing. I’m also going to try Tabasco on the cable cords near my desk to discourage chewing there too.

Already two training days in we are noticing a pretty substantial difference in his demeanor. He’s getting accustomed to his schedule, he’s more familiar with being alone in his crate with a treat toy, and the training commands with the clicker are working extremely well.

We still have a fair amount of chewing and mouthing to conquer  but it’s more manageable with these new tools. The most important being coffee and patience for me and a stuffed ducky on a string for him.

Despite my exhaustion I’m also trying to capture the little moments like taking the steps to welcome Daddy home while half-falling down the stairs, his first ice cube, and his confusion about what “shake” really means.

He’s only going to be five pounds for a short while. And though he can be a little jerk sometimes, he will outgrow the puppy habits and his little harness. I gotta appreciate the cute moments as well as curb the less desirable habits.

I’m glad I shouldered the intentional responsibility to grow as a human for the sake and well-being of our dog.

It’s a work in progress, but we’re all doing pretty good so far.


why i’m pre-retiring

November 6th, 2012   |   Business AdviceLifeThink About It


Now that Jess LC has ended, I have decided to pre-retire.

In fact, I’ve smooshed the word together and shortened it to: pretiring.

Why am I pretiring you might ask? And what does it mean?

I am pretiring because I am now at a point in my career where I’m no longer balancing a day job with my dream job. Though Jess LC was a fantastic adventure and is certainly more my jam than many other careers out there, it was still a J-O-B for me. Even being self-employed, I wasn’t living my dream. I was paying my bills doing something pretty fun, but not directly related to my purpose and passion in life.

Quite simply: I am meant to help people design lives, homes, and businesses with intention.

I know this to be true deep down in my core and doing these things makes me happy to no end. And now that I have the opportunity to go down this path full-time, I want to live the experience to the fullest.

Don’t get me wrong: I still have every bit of financial responsibility that I had before with my J-O-B. But the difference is how I’m earning those dolla bills.

I get to do what I am meant to do and get paid for it. 

This new transition also gives me the chance to have more time to think, ponder, and explore. Before when I was balancing the blog, my shop, consulting, and workshops I was constantly at maximum capacity. I was always running on the treadmill of work trying to get it all done in a reasonable amount of time so I could have a life (which is equally important to me).

Now that I’m cutting a substantial chunk of my business time out of the picture, I will have actual down time to rest, research, and work on high-level aspects of the business that will move it forward in the future.

And at the same time I’ll have time to be worried and fearful.

Because when I step back from Jess LC into a still relatively young business full-time, I won’t have the 14 years of business growth to pull me forward. There could be slow times, lulls, and silent moments to freak out about how I’m going to earn enough money.

Not that those thoughts will be useful, they are purely an egoic and fearful reaction to the new and unknown. Experience with Jess LC for the last five years has taught me that things work out, life provides, and I will be fine despite any fearful thoughts that pop into my head.

In order to meet those fearful pauses head on, I’ve decided to pre-retire.

Instead of approaching my dream career as another self-employed J-O-B, I’m going to act as though I’m retired. Instead of bills motivating me to forge ahead, I am going to focus on the aspects that happily retired people center their lives around: contribution, service, and joy. 

Each day I am going to give myself permission to get up and do what I want to do. And if something eventually feels forced, contrived, or lacking the oomph to keep going, I’m going to turn it down. I’m going to do what I’d do if I didn’t have to make money.

I’m going to be internally driven to help people in a full-time capacity from a state of contribution and service first.

Sure there may be aspects of my business that I may not love, like bookkeeping. But it still needs to get done. So I will either hire a bookkeeper if I don’t like doing it long-term or I will find a way to set an intention that makes me internally motivated to do it with joy. For example, I do really want to know how this grand experiment of pretiring will pan out. I have hunch that it will bring me much more money than approaching it any other conventional way. And in order to find out if this hypothesis is true, I will need to know how much revenue and profit I’m making. Which means if I do the books myself, I’ll have an accurate picture of the financial landscape at all times. 

Boom. Now I have a motivated reason to track the books and do it without complaining.

By continuing to take the stress off the bottom-line and bring it to the service-side of my career (or non-career, as I’m looking at it), I will be able to keep the fear monster at bay. I’ll be too busy filling my life and days with contribution, service, and joy to pay attention to fear or worry. I’ll be operating out of faith.

Of course this isn’t to say that this is a lifestyle choice everyone should make. It’s simply for me, a more exciting and alluring way to spend my days doing what I love without the coulds, shoulds, and woulds floating in the back of my mind. I’m taking control, being proactive, and living life the way I really want: as a pretired Helper of People.

I don’t intend to “work” another day in my life.



Tomorrow on Wish I Knew Wednesday I’ll be discussing how to raise your rates. This is a topic I cover often when consulting and at Business in the City (which is next Wednesday). It can seem tough to do, but it is often necessary over time for a variety of reasons.

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.)

listen to your instincts

November 5th, 2012   |   Life

Today I’d like to introduce a dear reader and jewelry designer, Jen Moulton. I invited her to share her story which encourages us all to trust our instincts, especially where our health is concerned. Thanks, Jen, for your bravery and for sharing your story. 

Last year, my 25th, was one of those years that you think can’t happen, especially to you.  It was so terrifyingly scary that I still have nightmares.  It all started innocuously enough, with stomach pains and upset, then progressed to feeling full too quickly and an inability to get comfortable and sleep through the night.  My abdomen quickly grew to what I would look like 20 weeks pregnant but because it happened over a few months, it was slow enough to rationalize.  I told myself that my body was just settling and holding onto a few extra pounds as I progressed into my mid-20s.

Well, I can tell you now that I was very wrong.  And after 10 weeks of doctor’s appointments and a few misdiagnoses (I was told I was too stressed and referred to stress classes and when I returned, I was misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome and a urinary tract infection), I was finally sent for my first real test to see what was going on.  An ultrasound revealed that I had a large (think grapefruit) ovarian cyst.  And while I was terrified to have surgery, I was reassured that it could not be cancer because I was too young.

Fast forward through three weeks of life stress, which included a cross-country move to be closer to family along with indescribable discomfort and pain, to my surgery.  Much to my surprise (remember my doctor’s promise?), I learned that I did have ovarian cancer and that all the bad advice I’d received and misdiagnoses I’d endured allowed my cancerous tumor to grow to the size of a watermelon.  Can you imagine?  Needless to say, it was the shock of my life and indescribably unfortunate.  I’d diligently gone to my doctor to get help and my symptoms had been disregarded as hyperbole.

Here’s what you should know:

Ovarian cancer has earned the ‘silent killer’ nickname for a reason.  It is often symptom-less until it has progressed and its symptoms are similar to other diseases.

Symptoms can include bloating, digestive upset, feeling full with little food, frequent urination, change in bowels, abdominal discomfort, nausea and a lack of energy.  This is a good resource for more information.

Here’s what I hope you take away:

Trust your instincts.  I knew something was wrong, so I kept going back to my doctor.  Never ignore what your body and heart are telling you.

I believe you should trust your gut in all areas of life, especially concerning your health.  If your doctor doesn’t take your concerns seriously, go to another one.  Keep going until your needs are met.  I had my yearly exam in July and I started feeling symptoms in October (and I didn’t find out what was wrong until January).

Always go to your yearly exams, ALWAYS.  I know how awful/uncomfortable/sucky they are but they can save your life.  And trust me, you want to avoid having the 13 “yearly” exams I had least year.

The only peace I’ve been able to find in all of this (which ultimately included chemotherapy and took a year of my life) is to share my story so it stops happening.  At the very least, I hope you make that appointment you’ve been putting off and listen to the message your body is trying to communicate to you.   And if you can, please share this story with the ladies you love, you never know who it might help.

meet my new business partner, franklin

November 5th, 2012   |   Life


Over the weekend Mr. Lively and I added to our little family. (Benjamin) Franklin Lively has now entered our lives and our home.

The first 24 hours were a big adjustment for us all. But we are starting to get into the swing of things and today is his is first day “on the job” with me.

So far here’s what he’s accomplished.

Yes, this is his food tray. And yes, he has a bed two feet from the food tray.

He seems to have a tray fetish.

Just like his mom.


this week i’m thankful for… Jess LC support

November 2nd, 2012   |   Life


This week there is a lot to be thankful for. Primarily in the Jess LC arena. I would like to dedicate today’s Thankful For post to everyone who has supported Jess LC over the past fourteen years.

The “stylish” ankle bracelet design that started it all…

I would like to thank the fateful women that purchased my (ugly) ankle bracelets from me at the marina pool in 1999. Little did they know what they started…

I’d like to thank my mom and dad. After my first sale, Dad immediately encouraged me to turn my fateful ankle bracelets into a business at the age of 15. He encouraged me to grow, try selling online at 16 years-old, and even unknowingly gave me the insight needed to launch full-time after graduation.

Meanwhile my mom has more Jess LC items than any other person on the planet. She has dozens of my earliest pieces stored in a tray that I would have personally pitched a long, long time ago. Also, my mom really was my business role model. She made and sold crafts at fairs and to neighbors my entire childhood. So when my ankle bracelets accidentally sold, it was natural to grow a business modeled after her own crafting career while in high school.

Mr. Lively also deserves a hug and a kiss for listening to me go on, and on, and on about this new product or that new business opportunity. He was the number one supporter of my bag designs early on and he believed in my talent to go beyond jewelry design.

I’d also like to thank the ladies of Jess LC. Over the years I’ve worked with almost two dozen wonderful women of all ages. I  would like to thank my first assistant, Gertie, for training her then-roommate, Susie, how to make jewelry. For the past many years Susie has been making each piece of jewelry by hand for each customer. She has stood by me during thick and the thin. She also has listened to countless posts and emails and helped me become a better writer each day.

Then there are the assistants and interns of Jess LC. These wonderful ladies are beyond talented, dedicated, and will go on to do great things. I’m so thankful for their help and support along the way. They have helped make Jess LC truly special for our customers. Melissa deserves an extra thanks for going above and beyond the call of duty for so many, many years.

I would also like to write a special thank you to my business mentor, Mitch. I meet with him monthly for guidance, wisdom, and a good discussion on the growth and progress of the company. He has been behind me all the way and I cannot thank him enough for listening to me talk for the past four years. (I also hope he continues to assist in the future of my career as well.)

Of course I also need to thank the many, many store owners who have purchased our products. They have helped us grow and thrive across the US and Canada. They believed in my products and the buyers were a joy to work with.

And of course, I cannot leave out my early sales reps, they helped Jess LC distribution climb dramatically just before the recession, which made all the difference during that tough time.

I must also send out a salute to the Jess LC collaborators, models, and photographers who have helped bring new and exciting products and lookbooks to the Jess LC shop. It was a pleasure to work with such talented people. I’m also honored to now call these women (and men) my friends.

On top of all the support I’ve listed I cannot help but share the magnitude of my gratitude for the Jess LC customers who have supported us over the years. Without these wonderful men and (mostly) women purchasing our designs each day I would not have been able to grow this little company into something so special. We are fortunate to have some of the sweetest, most generous, and caring customers in the world. Literally the world! We have huge followings in the UK, Australia, Canada, and Singapore to name just a few. It has been a pleasure to ship our products to Paris, the Netherlands, Alaska, and Japan. Knowing that our goods produced in our little studio are being worn by people worldwide is beyond humbling.

And of course last but not least, I’d like to thank you, dear readers, for following me on this journey. Each launch, announcement, and sale was posted here on the blog and I thank you for listening, supporting, and even purchasing our products. When people ask how I was able to grow such a successful online business it is largely due to your support and I cannot thank you enough.

I know many are saddened by my decision to close the shop. I completely understand this and dedicate the second half of my career to helping others design lives, homes, and businesses with intention. No longer will I be focusing on products, I will now simply be of service. I now will focus my time on contribution, meaning, and intention.

After all, it’s what I’m meant to do.


Thank you for reading and have a great weekend.


a farewell to Jess LC

November 2nd, 2012   |   Life


As we close the Jess LC shop tonight at 6p CST I think this sweet, sweet email from a dear customer sums up all that I’ve hoped to accomplish over the past 14 years.


Jess & company -

What a bittersweet moment it was this evening to carefully unwrap the blue tissue encasing my last, and possibly best, purchase from you all.

After jumping on the Jess LC bandwagon maybe one, two years ago, my mother would come peek over my shoulder and ask if I was on “that jewelry site again” far too often. I’ll never forget the first item I purchased, a golden Braille pendant emblazoned with “dream bigger” (on sale) – thus began the surfeit of “where did you get that?” “what does it say?” “what does it mean?” questions. How proud I was of that necklace. I coerced the credit card out of my family wallet to order it – my first online purchase.

You are a home of firsts for me. The first time I fell in love with chevron. The first moment I figured out what the security code on a Frost card is. The first time I seriously considered small-business owning as a future for myself. The brand you have created for yourselves is classic, iconic, so fresh – and so, so personal. I am touched by the extent your kindness goes to each customer, to each piece. So often are these important things overlooked.

I know this all must seem so foolish coming from a sixteen year old like myself, who knows nothing of the trials of jewelry making, let alone business-owning.



Confidently I will walk into the future, my future, with “dream bigger” swinging from my neck and two beads of furious yellow tickling my earlobes. And I pray that you will continue on knowing that, whatever the stress, whatever the cost, you have inspired one little girl from Texas by simply dreaming bigger.

You have already done so much to help me – never stop designing, never stop HELPING.

“I have everything I have due to a lot of faith, my share of talent, and the simple ability to just keep going.”


free november wallpaper

November 1st, 2012   |   LifeThink About It


download full-size white wallpaper here

Last month the free wallpaper for October slipped away from me. In the bustle of the move it got lost in the shuffle. But today I’m back with a new quote just in time for a thanks-filled November.

download full-size flower wallpaper here

And of course, I have another option for those who enjoy image-based wallpapers too, of the actual wallpaper in my bedroom by Oh Joy for Hygge and West. It’s kinda like wallpaper inception.



a thanks-filled november

November 1st, 2012   |   LifeThink About It


Now that November is upon us, I definitely have the holidays in mind. Partly because Mr. Lively and I are hosting our extended families for a huge Thanksgiving weekend. It’s going to take a few weeks of prep for the four nights of entertaining… starting very soon.

But beyond the logistical aspects of this unusually epic holiday season, I also want to experience the essence of what the holidays stand for in a greater way.

Which is why I’ve created an intention to thank one person each day of November for the impact they have had on my life. This daily “thanksgiving” ritual, I hope, will help me keep my eye on the real prize this month: giving thanks.

Right now I don’t have a full list of people in mind. I’m simply going to take it one day at a time and reach out in an email or letter to a different person who has helped me become who I am today as a person, business owner, and friend.

I’ll be reporting back here in a month to fill you in on how the experience went (yay for accountability). And of course, I invite anyone else who is also hoping to seek the intention of Thanksgiving to join me.

I’d love to hear how this intention affects your life and holiday season, too.


Reach Out

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

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

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Have a question about your Intention Tattoo order?

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


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