be gentle with yourself


A month ago, Mr. Lively asked his company if he can work remotely so that we can move to Austin, Texas.

Our Chicago apartment lease ends in August, and we want to start renting in the city where we’d like to buy a home. At the same time, Mr. Lively would like to stay at the company that he loves.

After considering all the usual “tech cities,” like San Fran, New York, and Seattle (remember that whole thing last year?), we have settled on Austin. Austin is a great possible place for us to settle down – its a tech hub with warmer winters, a slower pace, and more affordable homes compared to my beloved Lakeview neighborhood.

Ever since last year’s Seattle experience, I have struggled to stay put here in Chicago. Obviously I’ve “stayed here,” but this year’s hellish winter served as a brutal reminder that I would still like to experience something new – and warmer!

However, we knew that finding out if Mr. Lively could get remote worker status would take a while. We figured it would take about two, maaaaybe three weeks.

But we’re now inching closer to 30 days of waiting.

And last week, the patience I set aside to cheerfully move through this process… ran out.

I got really upset that after all that waiting, we still didn’t know whether we were moving across town or the across the country.

I started to feel like there was no other way in the world I could be happy, joyful, and fulfilled if we were told that we had to sign another Chicago lease.

Meanwhile, I was busy working on outlining the new curriculum for Life with Intention Online. I was spending afternoons with a curriculum expert, Megan, to make the program on par with the quality, depth, and value of the content itself.

Basically, I was spending my time working on building the very thing that could have helped me deal with my own frustrations.

I felt like a fraud.

There I was, getting emails all week from clients sharing the wonderful breakthroughs they experienced thanks to the concepts they learned in the class — yet I myself was an egoic mess, future-tripping and “expectation letching” like crazy.

Which sent me into another whole tailspin of suffering.

Rule #1: Practice what you preach. Right?

Eventually, the pressure culminated last Friday with a mini breakdown and a major sinus headache that landed me in bed.

After a lot of reflection (and some tears), I finally came to grips with the fact I need to live from my Values, not my expectation of leaving Chicago.

Though I still don’t know if we can move to Austin yet, I do know that if we are told we must stay, I can still embody our home intention here in Chicago.

We can find a quieter place in a calmer, more affordable neighborhood. Staying here longer could set our home buying timeline back a year or two, but it is possible to embody our Values in many ways right where we are.

And though I’d have to experience another Chicago winter, we could perhaps work remotely from a warmer climate for part of that season.

When I no longer demanded something completely outside my control, I realized I am still able to live from my intention — no matter what happens. Even when it comes to choosing where I live.

Since this realization, a huge weight has been lifted.

I feel calm, peaceful. And though I’d still like to know where we will live, I’ve experienced an intense amount of presence, joy, and fulfillment.

Meanwhile, I also had to address my ego’s doubt:

Who would want to learn from someone who still struggles with this stuff sometimes, too?

Well, I’ve come to realize, the answer is simple.

Rule #1 is “practice what you preach,” right?

Well, when I work with clients I never expect that they’ll do things “perfectly forever.”

I simply ask them to recognize when things go off track, to return to the present moment, and go back to living from their Value-based intentions.

No shame or guilt required.

But I wasn’t giving myself the same grace.

The same patience.

The same understanding.

Even though I have transformed many, many parts of my life with this powerful approach and I am lightyears from where I was…

I still struggle sometimes.

I still get caught up in something like an exciting move to a new city.

And that’s okay.

I’m a student, too.

Together we can continue to return to the present moment, live from our Values, and support each other whenever we struggle.

Continuing to grow in this work doesn’t make us bad.

It makes us human.

We must be gentle when we fall.

Otherwise we won’t be able to get back up.


PS – Last night Mr. Lively and I launched the first part of the new site for Life with Intention Online! You can check it out here.


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  1. I love this – so open and honest. So often I have to remind myself to practice what I preach as well! It can be really challenging, but at the same time, we are still human even if we are in this industry! I do find that when things are up in the air in life, I’m not at my strongest, and I definitely struggle with impatience. It’s natural to want to know what path is ahead of you. Keep us posted…! xx

    1. I’m glad you resonated with it, Emily! It can feel a bit hard to share stuff that we are still working on, can’t it?

      : ) Thanks for your encouragement!

  2. Katie Johnson

    What, you may be moving to Austin? How do I not know this? I live in the ATX…hence, my excitement. If you need any info on living here let me know. I’ve been here 9 years.

    Yes, it’s always hard to practice what we preach. As my friend’s mom used to say, “do as I say, NOT as I do.” That line never failed to crack me up!

    1. You haven’t known because I’ve been keeping it a ninja secret thinking that we’d find out ‘soon enough’ to just let everyone know what the outcome was. ; )

      But now, the cat’s outta the bag. I will *definitely* be asking for advice and ideas if we get the go ahead!!

  3. Megan

    Oh yay for Austin! We are in Wimberley, a tiny artist town in the country about 45 minutes outside of Austin — we lived in Austin until we had our first baby, then moved out here. Let me know if you have any questions on the city or living in Texas in general! Best of luck, whatever the outcome…

    1. Thank you so much, Megan! I’m sure I’ll be asking for all kinds of advice if we do get the go ahead!! : )

      Wimeberley… that is such a pretty name!

  4. I literally just went through this-our lease is also up in August and we’ve been searching since March to find a home. I wanted to move so badly, I was afraid I’d settle for anything just to move! I’m so completely ready for a change and didn’t want to spend another winter in this huge drafty house that we didn’t own. Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who helped me get some perspective-like having an even bigger downpayment next spring if we didn’t find an amazing house.
    The best news is we close on our first house in about a week-it feels so surreal! I really feel like once I realized I would survive if we didn’t move (even after downsizing our belongings substantially!), things finally started to fall into place. And I’m moving forward patiently. I’m excited but I’m allowing things to naturally progress, not rushing anything, not even the packing part. Just a little bit at a time because I know moving day will be here before we know it so I don’t need to rush. I do, however, have a really good plan so I just have to follow it and it will all be done in ease! It was just New Years and then St Patricks day and then Easter so before you know it, it will be fall! 😉

    I appreciate your forward approach to honesty, letting us see that you’re just as human as us. For me, that makes what you share even more beneficial and practical. It shows me I can trust what you say because you’re REALLY living it-not just regurgitating information you’ve absorbed.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Jennifer! I loved it! I am so happy for you and inspired by your approach to your move. I can only imagine what I’ll be like when I am actually in the place to buy, like you have been. Holy smokes, that will be a whole different level of all of this!

      It keeps things in perspective, for sure. : )

      I am so happy that you found a peaceful approach and CONGRATS on your new home!! Incredibly exciting. I am sending hugs to you!

  5. Annie Harris

    From my perspective, so much of the reason you are inspirational is because you continue to be a student and share your honest struggles here and in your courses and consultations! Thank you for again reminding us about the importance of giving yourself grace. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Annie! I really appreciate your support and kind words!

      And yes, we all need a little more grace, don’t we?

  6. Loved reading this because we just made the decision to move from NYC to Dallas, Texas. We’re actually all packed and ready for the movers to arrive tomorrow, so the timing is really interesting. 🙂

    I so hear you on the winters, tech friendliness, etc.

    Sending you lots of love and an expedited answer! We rented out apartment in NYC within a few days, so I know even if you had to rent or renew your lease, you could find someone to take it over and be on your way to Texas happily! 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Nathalie, for your encouragement and good sentiments on the renting! I am getting a little antsy about finding a good place in either location since a lot of rentals are going up right now for August.

      And of course, good luck on your move to Dallas tomorrow!!!!! I’m thrilled for you!

  7. Chicspace/Marguerite

    Is there another option, that Mr. Lively could look for a new job in Austin? Maybe there might be something better? (I wouldn’t want everything hinging on a single company saying yes or no to a request.) No need to answer this as perhaps there are company colleagues of his who read your blog (and no need to alert them to whether he’s looking externally). Conversely, one could take the risk of moving based on your income and he could look when you got there. Just other options you may already be considering.

    1. Hi Marguerite, thanks for this suggestion! I had a feeling that people might be wondering that same thing.

      The truth is that he just started this job in December, and he is loving it quite a bit and has no plans to change anytime soon. There are also other financial considerations in this position, too, that make timing a factor. The fact that he loves his new position and wants to stay with this company right now, is I suppose, the “ultimate Value” – as a couple, even if it is on my own professional level, not a value. I respect it and don’t want to impose my own frustrations with staying in Chicago above his own career opportunities at this point in time.

      That’s not to say that he won’t eventually leave, particularly if we are told we need to stay in Chicago at some point in the next year or two.

      For now, we are holding out hope that we can have the best of both worlds… or at least try to embody our intention here if that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

  8. JoAnne Henein

    Yes, amen. Thanks for continuing to help us “tame the wild expectations.” It seems like Austin is a real hot-spot/magnet right now (or has been?)…

    1. That is a great phrase, JoAnne! And yes, Austin seems like a really great place to live that is getting a lot of attention lately. : )

  9. Ashlee Thurlow

    Jess…it is literally scary how close to me this hit…Friday night I had a meltdown too about moving. We do HAVE to move soon, but I’m gripping it with both hands and freaking out even though many things are still beyond my (our) control at this point…Thank so much for this love! As always!

    1. Oh man, I hear you, lady!!

      Cheers to you and your husband. Have faith that blessings are on their way and find the Values you’d like to embody in the process – it makes a huge difference!! (And I know, sometimes it’s easier said than done.)

  10. Thank you for sharing your story, Amye! I can only imagine what it must feel like to have absolutely no control. Oh man, that must take a lot of faith and ‘roll with the punches’… but could also feel quite stressful.

    I’d suggest really honing in on your Value-based intention for the situation. You can read a bit more about how to do it here:

  11. Mae

    But of course people (including me) will want to learn from you! And for just the reason you think they won’t: because you’re human, just like the rest of us 🙂 (except you have an amazing pov on living well which not every human has) Who needs to be perfect? Your post reminds me a lot of a talk Kate Northrup once gave about how she got started, and how she didn’t think people would want to learn from because she wasn’t always practicing what she preached either. I’m SO excited about the new Life w/ Intention class, can’t waiiit for it!! And I’m positive I’m not the only one ^^

    1. Thank you so much, Mae! I really appreciate this. And I can totally understand from the Kate Northrup perspective. Hearing that she shared a similar thing, I can see how I don’t ‘blame’ her for that – I actually think I like her more for it. : )

      This is much appreciated and I can’t wait to share the class again! It’s going to be so awesome. : )

  12. Virginia Schneider

    Thank you so much for your honesty! Even when I think I have everything together, life throws curveballs and we’re all human and are bound to have reactions. Sometimes people that I look up seem so perfect and distant but you keep it real (which I honestly like more) and that helps your readers connect and appreciate you more.

    And I have to say, yay Austin!!! As you know I’ve been here for 5 years and have no current plans to leave, it’s such an amazing place to call home! Big (relatively) town with a small town feel, people are crazy nice, beautiful scenery, great music and arts, great food, growing job market, plus Texas is a really affordable state to be in. Keep Austin Weird and Texas Forever 🙂

    1. Yay! Thank you so much for your vote of confidence in my ‘realness’ and for sharing your love for Austin! I would love to experience all you’ve shared about the town myself — hopefully it will become reality soon!

  13. This is so true, Lisa! And as you know, I can totally relate to your feelings about wanting to learn to value DC while you are there so you can take that lesson/ability elsewhere, too.

    It isn’t always easy to do… but it’s worthwhile- and the gratitude lives in those moments as well!

  14. I love this. I experience the same thing as a therapist, that there will be days that I do not perfectly practice what I preach (what I KNOW works), and all I can do is notice that as soon as possible, and nudge myself back on track. Clients love the honesty and knowing that I’m human — it actually gives them MORE trust in me, not less.

    Also I am a former Austinite for 8 years and miss it all the time (in fact when I moved it was not supposed to be permanent), so I’ve had to both allow myself to grieve that loss (especially of all my friends and family in Texas, which is, basically everyone I knew until 2 years ago!), WHILE also being open to the fact that I can embody the same values and find similarly joyful and engaging experiences here in Nashville.

    I gotta say though, I’d have a hard time living in a cold climate… BRRR! 😉

    Crossing my fingers for you but I’m sure you’ll find a way to be fulfilled and content either way!

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Valerie! I really resonate and appreciate everything you’ve shared.

      When I look at it from your point of view as a therapist, I can totally see that it would be impossible to still be human and do what you share all the time yourself… I think I was somehow just missing that perspective for myself for a bit as I was working on the new version of the class. I know that the material is much larger than myself, and that I’m still a student too – I think I just thought that I’d be able to help ‘more’ people based on the level of my own following of the work… which is a slippery perfectionist trap if there ever was one. Thank you, thank you, for helping me keep things in perspective. : )

      I have also heard great things about Nashvielle! I’m sorry you aren’t in Austin anymore, like you’d like to be, but I’ve heard great things about that city, too! If it was a tech hub, it too might have made our list of city considerations. : )

  15. Deirdre

    Perfect timing—how I loved this post! We are on day 90 of waiting to hear if we are moving. So often people wait to share their stories or struggles after the fact, when they can be wrapped up with a bow and none of the vulnerability is there. I so appreciate that you’re sharing while still in limbo. I’ve had to make an effort to not let the unknown cause me to freeze. I haven’t wanted to out more energy into work or our home or even our garden here if we are packing up soon–but I’ve come to realize that I can’t live like that. So even if another family ends up reaping all my tomatoes, I had to get my hands in the soil while still here.

    And as a couple that met and fell in love while living in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, I recommend giving that area a look:)

    1. 90 Days?! Oh man. I can only imagine how frustrating that may be for you! I hope you find a resolution soon – but at the same time, I love your thoughts about getting your hands in the soil where you are. That is very powerful.

      I find myself not really totally wanting to get really into deep cleaning here, like sweeping the patio, for the same reasons!

      And thanks for the Rogers Park recommendation, too!

  16. Kate Carmichael

    I love the posts where you have the courage to be vulnerable- I think we have all felt all these feelings at different places in life (literal and metaphorical places). First, your inner voice starts speaking in whispers and then gets louder and louder and then you suffer through a Chicago winter and you’re like – ok I got it!!!! Austin is weird, bohemian, easy going, and a great place to meet new people and be inspired in all the best ways. If you move here, look me up, I would love to meet you for a drink and welcome you to my favorite city!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Kate!

      I will share the Austin outcome here on the blog. : ) If I do end up moving, feel free to remind me if I forget to return to this message in the midst of the move in a few months!

  17. Erika

    Oh man, I soooo related to that Seattle post and I totally relate to this one, too. It’s so hard to be in a place where you desire change but it may not come on your timeline… and making the choice to be content either way can seem kind of impossible — but it feels so much better! Thanks for opening up and sharing this, Jess!

    1. Thanks, Erika! I know, it has not been an easy thing to do since Seattle, and this month in particular. But really, there is only the choice to suffer in the meantime or live from our Values that extend beyond location, right?

      If you’re facing something similar I hope you find your peace about your situation as well!

  18. Thank you for sharing this story! I have been struggling with what the future holds as I have launched a new business, trying to launch my book, and transitioning out of my day job with a steady paycheck & getting married. Transitions are a challenge, and I can’t thank you for being vulnerable with what you are going through. Remembering to practice what I preach while I go through mini panic attacks wondering what the future holds is such a challenge! But as you say, we are all human. Thank you for your share.

    1. I’m glad this post helped you in your own time of limbo, too. It definitely sounds like you’ve got boat loads of transition, be gentle with yourself!

      And, perhaps a few Value-based intentions could be helpful? : )

      1. Love that Jess 🙂 hearing you talk more about value based intentions has really gotten me thinking. Perfect time to really think more about those!

  19. Ashley

    Hey there! Firstly, congrats on the news about the move! As a fellow Chicagoan (currently in the Loop, moving up to Lakeview come August as it would have it 🙂 ) I just want to say thank you for all of your wonderful podcasts! It’s such a breath of fresh air to hear from these huge voices in the blogging world in a down-to-earth, relatable setting. Very cool 🙂 And about that Chicago winter…if I weren’t born and raised here, this past winter would be enough to leave here and never look back.

    1. Really!? If you are looking for a great two bedroom in Lakeview on Belmont near the lake for $2456… let me know. ; ) (they haven’t leased our apartment yet.)

      I’m also happy to hear you like the podcasts!!

      And I know, right? After 7 Chicago winters I’m ready for some sunshine in February!

      1. Ashley

        I already signed for a place near the Southport stop…so excited! But I will be sure to spread the word to friends on the lookout 🙂 Best of luck in Austin, enjoy! I’m sure I’ll tune in to catch up on your adventures!

  20. Anna Lindsey

    Another Austin resident chiming in here! I went to the University of Texas, but relocated to Denver after graduating. After several grueling Denver winters (I would NEVER have made it in Chicago!), i was so relieved when my husband’s company called him back to the home office in Austin. Even thought it was the outcome I wanted, the stress of when to move, whether to rent or buy, when to tell my employer I was leaving, and just waiting the six months before moving was a real struggle.

    I can’t recommend Austin enough, and I hope that things work out for y’all. I predict you’ll love it here. And I have tons of restaurant recommendations. 🙂

  21. I like this a lot Jess! Accepting we are humans and not perfect seems to ease the guilt. Funny how something so simple can make such a huge impact in the way we handle life and see things. Good luck with everything!

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