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my journal

Is Your Lack Of Self-Confidence Masquerading Itself As Fear?

Is Your Lack Of Self-Confidence Masquerading Itself As Fear?

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry I want to help you determine if a lack of self-confidence is holding you back from pursuing the career or business dream you'd really like to see happen. Let's start here - what are the top three things that are holding you back from making your biggest and wildest career dreams a reality? Think about it for a few minutes. I'm willing to bet that your top three includes the fear that it won't work out. But if you've been around for a couple of decades, you probably already noticed that a lot of things don't work out the way we intended and you're still here, alive and breathing and (hopefully) well. Yet, it's definitely the #1 reason people tell me they're scared about starting their own business or making a huge career change like I did. If there are other good, valid, rational reasons why your business idea or career change COULD work out, then I think you're dealing with the pesky voice of fear. Fear is meant to protect us - from the shady character in the dimly lit parking lot, from jumping off a 50-foot building, from trying to lift 100 lbs at the gym when in reality we probably can't even lift 50 lbs without hurting a major muscle group. But all too often a lack of self-confidence masquerades itself as the voice of fear. Why? Because it's a sure fire way to get our attention! It stops us in our tracks and makes us doubt (or at least reconsider) whether we're taking the right path or making the right move. When that happens, most of us feel paralyzed and unable to move forward because we don't have enough confidence in our dreams, ideas, and plans. We don't trust that we could make it happen. We don't believe that we're good enough or worthy enough to live out our big dreams. In short, we don't have enough confidence in ourselves. Making a big, giant leap towards your dreams requires confidence, gumption (I love that word!), and a whole lot of courage. It's hard to have those things when we lack basic self-confidence.

I should be the poster child for self-confidence -- it would look something like a "before and after" weight loss ad except my face would go from looking miserable and totally down on myself to radiating joy and positivity, and the headline would read, "Woman's self-confidence sky rockets from 'bottom of the barrel' to 'off the charts' in less than 3 years." I had zero self-confidence for a long time and I didn't really get into healthy, normal levels of self-confidence until I was about 36 years old. I think all of us (especially females) struggle with self-confidence at least a little bit and we all mask it in different ways. I think my difficulty with self-confidence primarily stemmed from growing up with a father who was extremely critical and very likely bipolar (my grandmother - his mom - was diagnosed as bipolar). Needless to say, I worked through those issues with the help of an amazing therapist I saw after my father passed away and I can now clearly see how my lack of self-confidence often masqueraded as the voice of fear and held me back in so many ways. For one, it kept me stuck in a job I didn't like for over 10 years because I didn't believe I deserved better. I didn't believe I was worth more than that. I believed that it was okay to waste my entire life being miserable and full of anxiety about work (and I worked as an attorney so "my entire life" is no exaggeration because of the extremely long hours I worked). When I changed these beliefs about myself and what I deserved (and it wasn't easy or quick - it took about 2 years), wow did my life change. 

So what's holding you back? Are there rational, substantial reasons why your dream job or dream business could NEVER work out? Or is your dream a feasible idea, but your lack of self-confidence is getting in the way? If it's the latter, one of the most valuable things you could ever do is work on your self-confidence because it'll positively impact all areas of your life. Maybe, like me, you'll need to see a therapist. Trust me, this is time and money well spent. Or maybe you have a healthy level of self-confidence and you just need a daily reminder to distinguish the voice of fear from the voice of self-doubt. It's a daily practice, at least for me, to keep my self-confidence feeling healthy and strong.

If you honestly assess that low self-confidence is holding you back, I can't serve as your therapist but I can tell you one of the theories my therapist shared with me. She told me that increased self-care is one road that can lead to increased self-confidence (and there are books to prove it! Try Kristin Neff's book called Self-Compassion). Self-care includes things like baths, a relaxing weekend with no plans and no running around, journaling in a serene space with a candle and lavender essential oil, cooking a comforting meal (I find cooking so therapeutic!), going for a walk, meditating, etc. It looks different for everyone and is based on what brings you relaxation and comfort. When I was back in therapy, my therapist even gave me an assignment to treat myself to a massage every week for an entire month. (Did the voice in your head just say, "I could never do that!" Yeah, that's probably the pesky voice in your head again saying, "I don't deserve a massage every week. I could never afford that. I'm not worth it." How about getting a chair massage at a nail salon for $20 once a week?). Taking care of yourself in this way teaches your mind that you are worthy of being cared for, which then translates into increased self-worth and confidence. 

xoxo,

Stacy

 

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What Inspired Me to Start Making Jewelry (i.e. how I found my passion)

What Inspired Me to Start Making Jewelry (i.e. how I found my passion)

I'm often asked how I started making jewelry - you know, how I found my passion, my true calling. When I stop to think about it, it's pretty amazing how it all happened. I was a lawyer before this so the jump from law to jewelry was a big one! 

I graduated law school in 2006 and took my first "real" vacation as a working adult earning my own money in November 2008. I'm not sure why my friend and I chose the Virgin Islands (honestly, I probably found a good deal online!) but we ended up booking a week long trip there. The U.S. Virgin Islands is made up of three islands - St. John, St. Thomas and St. Croix - and we spent time on the first two islands because they're only separated by a 20-minute ferry ride.

The trip was amazing from the start. I mean, what beach trip wouldn't be?! As as young attorney, I was often working weekends and late into the evening so any time away was precious. But there was something different about this little corner of the world, almost spiritual for lack of a better word. I literally felt like maybe I lived there in a prior life, you know the feeling?   

Anyways, at the hotel one evening there was a pop up jewelry shop. My friend wanted to buy a ring but it was the wrong size. The woman who owned the jewelry shop, also named Stacy (and also from the NY/NJ area - I grew up in NJ right outside NYC), told my friend to visit her store in town, where she had the ring in her size.

We went into town the next morning, and her store was fun, happy, and full of good vibes. She sold handmade jewelry and glass objects like vases, ornaments, etc. and she was playing fun music in the store (similar to the music at my favorite, SoulCycle). It really made an impression on me for some reason. My friend got her ring and we went back to the beach.   

That afternoon my friend and I were standing, chatting in the Caribbean Sea and I said, "I'm going to open a store like that back home." (I should note that I was extremely unhappy in my legal job and had been thinking about alternative careers). Back home, there was a nearby town full of little boutiques and I thought a handmade jewelry store just like the one we had been in would do so well there. Now keep in mind, at the time I didn't even know how to make jewelry. Sure, I wore a lot of jewelry and loved all things sparkly, but definitely not enough to ever consider any type of fashion as a career.

I went home and started getting curious about jewelry. I taught myself how to make necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and even rings through books and online tutorials. My mom is really creative and my sister is a painter, so I definitely have some creativity in my genes. I just had never really accessed it before.

In January 2010, about 14 months after that amazing trip, I quit my job as a lawyer to open my own brick and mortar handmade jewelry store. I made about half of the jewelry in the store, and also carried the jewelry of about 10 other artists. I ultimately closed that store and went back to practicing law for a few more years (that's a topic for another blog post), but fast forward to December 2016 when I again visited St. John and St. Thomas and felt deep down in my gut, in no uncertain terms, that I needed to again quit my lawyer job which was still making me miserable. I remember exactly where I was on the beach when I felt that almost inexplicable, but definitely spiritual, guidance and it wasn't too far from where I first said in 2008, standing in the Caribbean Sea, that I'd open a jewelry store. I listened to the guidance I was receiving again, and quit my lawyer job in February 2017, this time for good. I launched grace + hudson jewelry a few months after that and the rest is history!

So really, the short answer is that jewelry came to me in a very random, very divinely orchestrated way. I didn't do anything to get this inspiration, it just found me. All I had to do was be open and listen to it. So if you're searching for your passion, I'd give you two pieces of advice (1) open your heart and open your ears - listen to the messages the world, the universe, whatever you believe in is giving you and (2) pay attention to what you're curious about, what you enjoy doing in your spare time, and what you Google in your free time (how to bake the best cake ever? how to take photographs on a real camera? how to become a professor at a college? you get the idea...). You know, what would you do in your spare time if you could live anywhere in the world and not have to worry about money? There are really big hints in your answer to that question. Cheers to a career that incorporates your passion!

Photography credit: Iron + Honey Photography
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The Entrepreneur Life, Volume 2: Courage

The Entrepreneur Life, Volume 2: Courage
Photo Credit: Iron + Honey Photography

Read time: 3 minutes

If you've been following along, you know I started a blog series recently called "The Entrepreneur Life" because I have received so many inquiries about how I quit my lawyer job to follow my jewelry passion (for more on that, head over to my "About" page here). It is my hope that sharing my journey will help others navigate a negative situation, career, or life circumstance. At the bottom of each post, I'll include some practical steps and "how to's."

The first post in this series was called "Mindset" and you can read that here. It's hands down the most critical ingredient to following a passion. The second most critical ingredient is courage. You can dream and dream (and dream and dream...) about a passion, switching careers, making an important life change, forever.  It's quite easy! That's why nearly 100% of us have unfulfilled dreams. The hard part is taking the first step. That takes courage. And if your mindset isn't right, you aren't going to find the courage (see Volume 1 of this series).

Courage originates in the deepest part of our soul, in my humble opinion. It comes from that tiny voice inside us -- the one that's connected to the universe, God, whatever name you give the energy that makes this world go round. It's very easy to tell this voice to shut up (it's tiny afterall) and most of us do just that. Why is that?

I think it's because the pain of staying the same needs to outweigh the pain of changing before we take action. (Side note: I'm fascinated by this topic, so I've read a lot of books, listened to a lot of speakers, and done a lot of thinking on it. I won't go into how I reached this conclusion here, but send me a note if you're interested!). Change is Hard with a capital H. So many of us would rather love the devil we know than meet the devil we don't (aka change). That's why it often takes a very painful tragedy to propel a person to make significant life changes. We've all heard about, in one form or another, the guy who found his life's purpose after a near-death accident, or the woman who found her true self after a painful divorce, or the wealthy older gentleman who donated his fortune after a battle with cancer that taught him about the simple joys.

I'd love to tell you that I was an exception to the rule, but I was not. I quit my lawyer job and started getting "real" about the life changes I needed to make after my father passed away from a quick and aggressive battle with cancer. The thing about tragedies is, they bring you closer to that tiny voice inside you. After experiencing a major tragedy, that tiny voice gets louder and louder and isn't so easy to shut up anymore. And that tiny voice has a whole lot of courage. It's not scared of anything because it trusts that everything is happening in its own divine time and that we always end up exactly where we're meant to be. So maybe courage is, at its core, the ability to trust that all will be well.      

Practical Next Steps + How To's: 

Must we all go through a tragedy before we can start making difficult life changes that we know might lead to greater happiness? I hope not. And I think the key is this: the next time you are at your bottom (and you know what I'm talking about, we've all been there) take the first step. At that point in time, the pain of changing is less than the pain of remaining stuck at the bottom. If you wait until the pain passes and don't take the step, things will get a little better (as they always do) and you'll lose the courage. It's a cycle really. You feel awful, things rebound, you feel awful, things rebound. Gosh, I spent 10 years in this cycle when I had my legal career. 

Cheers to mustering up enough courage to get to your greater self! All will be well!

And as always, if you ever want to chat or email me about this topic or any other, please send me a note at stacy@graceandhudson.com.

 

Photo Credit: Iron + Honey Photography

 

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The Entrepreneur Life, Volume 1: Mindset

The Entrepreneur Life, Volume 1: Mindset
Photo Credit: Iron + Honey Photography

Read time: 4 minutes

It's been a minute since I've blogged but I wanted to get back at it in a big way. I'm starting a new blog series called "The Entrepreneur Life" because I have received so many inquiries about leaving a job you hate and following your passions (for more on how I did that, head over to my "About" page here). I hope you learn something from my musings about following your passions and turning them into a lifelong career. At the bottom of each post, I'll include some practical steps and "how to's."

The first post in this series is called "Mindset" because it is, hands down, the most critical ingredient to following a passion. Whenever someone asks me for advice on how to start their own business or quit their current job to pursue one that's more in line with their passions, my first piece of advice is always this -- work on your mindset the most. Even more than you work on your website or resume. If your mindest isn't right, no amount of work is going to connect all the dots on the path to a successful business or career.

By mindset I mean, quite simply, knocking out all the fears that are keeping you in your current job and preventing you from following your passions. These may include the following: fear that others (such as your family) will judge you for quitting a stable job; fear of uncertainty; fear of giving up a steady paycheck; fear that you can't make enough money doing what you love; fear that it will take too many years to build a business that can support you financially. If you believe you can't earn a living being a writer or personal stylist or baker, you won't. Similarly, if you believe you can make more money pursuing a dream than a regular paycheck, you will. It really is that simple, but it does take a lot of work to get to that place of true understanding and belief in these simple principles. One of my favorite quotes to sum up this learning process is from the Wizard of Oz, "You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself." We are our own worst enemies -- but the beauty in that is that we hold the power to change. You don't need to convince anyone else but yourself. 

The biggest difference for me between my first business (a brick and mortar jewelry store which ultimately failed in 2011) and my current business (grace + hudson) is my mindset. Back in 2011, I didn't truly believe I deserved a better life than billing 80 hours per week as an attorney, constantly arguing with others for a living (if you've come to know me, you know that doesn't fit my personality at all).  Now I believe I deserve to earn a living doing something I love. I believe that I don't need to "sell my soul" to afford my living expenses. I believe that I can create a business that reflects my ideals and my authentic self, and therefore brings me joy on a daily basis. I believe that I can blaze new trails that lead to a super successful business, and that I don't have to be like every other jewelry artist on the planet, struggling to make sales any which way they can. When you truly have these beliefs, you receive out-of-the-box inspiration, you wind up in the right place at the right time, you come up with ideas that seem divinely inspired, you blaze new trails. For example, if you believe you can only make $20k per year as a baker, begging to sell cupcakes to passersby, you are completely foreclosing other possibilities. What if Oprah Winfrey stumbled upon your cupcakes, posted about them on Instagram, and you sold your entire daily inventory and received 1,000 online orders in 3 minutes flat? Your negative mindset is completely foreclosing that option, and other less radical ones that have just as much power to lead to a "sold out" sign. The mental momentum of out-of-the-box possibilities is a powerful thing, let me tell you!     

Practical Next Steps + How To's: 

If mindset is holding you back, I would highly recommend meditating. Meditating helps stop negative, fearful thoughts and helps you get in touch with the amazing, powerful possibilities that come to us in stillness. I would also recommend reading a few books by some of my favorite thought leaders (listed below). This is the exact path that worked for me, and I continue to reinforce it everyday. It's the first thing I do in the morning, and the last thing I do before bed. It doesn't need to take hours. Even a few minutes per day of meditating and reading a short passage will lead to gains. Or, on a really busy day, just set an alarm in your phone that goes off every hour and says something like "I welcome infinite possibilities for success" or "I choose positive thoughts over fear-based thoughts."  

Here are some of my favorite books to get you started. Financial fear is probably a big one for you, as it was for me -- and I'd recommend reading "You are a Badass at Making Money" by Jen Sincero (get it here). If you already meditate and/or believe in the law of attraction, I'd recommend reading "Life Visioning" by Michael Bernard Beckwith (available here). It'll help you get in touch with the vision you have for your life, and understand only you have the power to make it come true, and similarly only you have the power to make it not come true. If you've never meditated before and need help with the constant stream of negative thoughts that hold you back from following your passions, I would recommend a 40-day practice called "May Cause Miracles" by Gabby Bernstein (find it here). It's a great place to start to end those negative, fear-based thoughts that are keeping you stuck. It only takes about 5 minutes per day -- get it on Audible and play it while you brush your teeth in the morning. Giving up these fears is a daily practice. A daily choice. But it does get easier the more you do it. 

If I know one thing for certain, it's that a fulfilling, successful business first starts in your mind.  Changing your mindest is the greatest gift you will ever give to yourself, and your future business or career!

Photo Credit: Iron + Honey Photography

 

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Why Does Tragedy Inspire Us?

Why Does Tragedy Inspire Us?

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal entry, I'm talking about tragedy as a source of inspiration. I've been thinking about it a lot after Kobe Bryant's death last month. As some of you already know, grace + hudson was born after I experienced a tragedy -- my father was diagnosed with cancer at age 64 and passed away just 10 months later. Experiencing the death of my father at a relatively young age and somewhat suddenly (his side of the family usually lived into their 90's) caused me to view life so differently. I feel like Kobe's death made a lot of people think about life in a different way, too. I think it left a lot of young people pondering the question, "What if I only live until age 41?" It's a fact -- none of us are guaranteed to live that long. Heck, none of us are even guaranteed tomorrow. How would you live your life differently if you really, truly, took that sentiment to heart? What changes would you make?

The sad reality is, unless the tragedy personally impacts you (like me and my father) those thoughts are usually quite fleeting and no action results. After a few weeks, we settle back into our comfort zone and forget about the deep questions we pondered and the changes we resolved to make. It's kind of like the "vacation effect" as I like to call it. You go away on vacation, get the courage to finally quit your toxic job because the stress is literally killing you (and being on vacation allowed you to get some clarity on that), you work up your "I quit" speech on the plane ride home, and then 48 hours later you completely forgot you even had a speech and you're right back in the throws of your completely stressful job. You identify with this in some capacity, yeah? This was me after every vacation I took while I was a lawyer. Until I came out on the other side of the grief from my father's passing that is. 

Last year, I listened to a podcast by Lewis Howes and Michael Bernard Beckwith and Michael said that big change comes from one of two places -- inspiration or tragedy. He echoed the point that, for most, it's tragedy. Why? He said that for big change to happen, the pain of changing needs to be LESS THAN the pain of staying the same (read that again - it's really good!). Generally speaking, the pain of changing is usually less than the pain of staying the same after a tragedy. For example, after my father's death, I was able to fully admit and accept that my life wasn't working for me. That if I died at age 65 like him, I would be incredibly disappointed with how I allowed my life to turn out. The pain of that reality - of allowing things to stay the same and making no changes - was far greater than the pain of getting out of my comfort zone to make some big changes.  

So I worked with a therapist for almost 3 years on my grief and a whole host of other issues, and then I was finally in a healthy mental position to start making some real changes. I quit my job as a lawyer and started grace + hudson. A short time later, I moved out of Chicago to realize my lifelong dream of living by the beach. I moved to Charleston and got a place 5 miles from the beach. I started to make my relationships more of a priority, and sure enough, I met a fantastic guy and things are moving pretty quickly. It is AMAZING what happens when you say to the Universe, "Ok, let's do this!" 

In short, we are not here for long so do what you want to do. Pursue what's in your heart. Don't waste one more week frustrated, angry, stressed out, and upset in a toxic job or relationship (or whatever life circumstance is weighing you down). I know that my father is smiling down on me, proud of the way I've used his death as a reason to live more of a life. What better gift could a parent give his child? I am grateful for that lesson every single day of my life. And when I feel called to do something that feels a little scary or crazy, like open up a jewelry store in Charleston (which is happening in a few weeks if you missed it!) I come back to this lesson. Life is short. Do what's in your heart. Do what you feel called to do. I'm so proud of the way I've changed my life. It wasn't easy, but it was worth it. SO worth it. And I can now truly say that if my life was cut short, I would leave with no regrets.

So let tragedy inspire you. Let the event that happened last month be a catalyst. What if you died at age 41? The fact of the matter is, each of us, no matter our age, should be living life as if this day might be our last. You get incredible courage, motivation, and inspiration when you look at the world through that lens. 

xoxo,

Stacy

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A Brand New Way To Look At Your Goals

A Brand New Way To Look At Your Goals

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. With 2020 just a few weeks away, it's almost time to reflect on your goals for 2019 and how much you accomplished (or not!). Before you do that, I want to share a new way to look at goals that's been life-changing for me. It's not about whether or not you accomplished the goal - it's about who you've become along the way. How much did you grow? Did you become a better person? Did you acquire new skills? Did you learn new things? Did you meet new people? Did you learn more about yourself? Those are the important questions. When we become too focused on the outcome - the end game - we miss out on a huge part of the journey. In our American culture and particularly because of social media, many people want instantaneous results. They don't want to try unless the outcome is guaranteed. For example, I know a lot of people want to start their own business, but they want a guarantee that it's going to be successful before they'll even try. Not only is that unrealistic, it entirely ignores the learning, growth, and development that'll happen during the process. And that's where the true value is! 

I feel particularly qualified to talk about this topic because I had a business in 2010 that "failed." It was a brick and mortar jewelry store and I had to shut the doors after just one year. While one could label that an utter failure, I choose to look at it differently. I learned so much during that process and I met so many amazing people - business owners, customers, and even someone who turned into one of my very best friends. I am also 100% convinced that grace + hudson is thriving because of the knowledge and experience I gained from running that store. I constantly draw on the knowledge I gained there. This first jewelry store was an important step on my journey. Without it, there would be no grace + hudson.

We can apply this perspective to all aspects of our life, no matter whether our goal has to do with career, relationships, fitness, even weight loss. For example, say you'd like to lose 50 pounds. Sure, you'll focus on the number along the way, but losing that amount of weight is going to require you to love yourself more, treat yourself better, and value your health more. In other words, the journey to losing 50 pounds is most likely going to transform your relationship to yourself and increase your self-esteem. I'd argue that this is much more valuable than the 50 pounds, wouldn't you? What's more is that increased self-esteem and self-love is a lifelong gift you'll carry for many years to come and I bet it'll lead to transformations in other areas of your life, too. As another example, take the area of relationships - perhaps you got divorced this year and you have a child. Would you consider your marriage an utter failure? I'd say absolutely not - you created a life together - a child. And you undoubtedly grew and evolved as a person during the marriage. Does that sound like an utter failure? I sure hope not. 

When you look at your accomplishments in this new light, it takes a lot of the pressure off and you can give yourself a lot more credit for how far you've come. It's not about the end goal. Sure, that's great if it happens. But it's really about the journey. 

xo,

Stacy

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How I Used My Thoughts To Change My Reality And Go From Lawyer to Business Owner

How I Used My Thoughts To Change My Reality And Go From Lawyer to Business Owner

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In last week's Journal, I told you the #1 thing I did to change my entire reality and go from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In short, I became aware of the thoughts that were directing my life and learned how to direct them to what I want. If that sounds really esoteric or "woo woo" to you, it really just boils down to living super intentionally and I encourage you to read the entire journal entry here. It takes a lot of practice (ok, TONS of practice) to live this way, as 99% of us were never taught how to do this and grew up with very different mental programming. Programming that focuses more on what's lacking from our lives than what's abundant, on what can go wrong instead of right, on our weaknesses rather than strengths. Sound like you? This sounded a lot like me until just a few years ago. In this journal entry, I'm going to try to convey to the best of my ability how I got myself out of the mental rut I found myself in when I was a lawyer and how I created a new reality for myself. This is really mainstream stuff at this point, so while I'll convey what worked for me, know that there are hundreds of authors writing and speaking about this topic these days and you can and will find one who resonates with you.

One last thing. This is something you need to learn how to do, which necessarily means you're going to need to study it and practice it. And oh will the universe/God* send you tests to quiz you on what you've learned! (*I use these terms interchangeably depending on whether or not you have a religious practice). We also have a tendency in this day and age to want immediate results or else we claim it doesn't work. That attitude is going to stop you before you even start. For me, it took about 18 months to really see major shifts (smaller shifts came more quickly). You know how yoga teachers always refer to yoga as a practice? What I'm sharing with you today is also a practice. It's something you need to choose to do day by day, even minute by minute. And just like yoga class, you get better the more you go. While you won't be able to do a headstand on day 2, with practice you'll get better and better at it. And again, just like yoga, you'll continue your practice over a lifetime. You never "graduate" but rather you realize with each new level you reach, there's different things to learn and new areas of your life to apply it to. Maybe you'll first apply it to your career, but in a couple of years you'll start applying it to your romantic and familial relationships. It's more of a pathway and a journey than a final destination. Whew, ok, after that long introduction here is the general pathway that unfolded for me.

1. Become aware of your thoughts

If you're not aware of them, you can't change them. If you're running like a crazy person through life full of too many demands and weeks that leave you on "E" with no gas in the tank, chances are you aren't even aware of your thoughts on a deep level (this was me). Instead, your mind is an endless stream of thought after thought, some of which are anxious, and you're constantly focusing on what needs to get accomplished due to the demands on your life. So the first thing to do is simply observe your thoughts. Try this: when you're sitting in the car, or on a train or plane for work this week, take a 2 to 3 minutes each morning to observe what's going on up there. What thoughts are swirling around? Do those thoughts tend to be anxious, hopeful, meaningless, silly, positive, harsh, judgmental? Just watch and generally take an inventory of what's going on. If you have time, write down a few of them in your notes app on your phone. At the end of the week, notice if there are any repetitive patterns or themes. There are probably going to be a few negative themes. This would include thoughts that are filled with self-doubt (ex: I can't believe I messed this up again, I'll never be able to do this correctly), self-deprecating (ex: I'm not smart enough to run my own business), angry (ex: this stupid client hasn't even replied to my email, what nerve!), and judgmental thoughts (example: why did she just post that picture on Instagram - her product looks awful in that lighting!).    

2. You versus your thoughts

If you did step #1, did you feel like an outsider in your own mind? Or at least an observer? You probably noticed that there was YOU and then there were the THOUGHTS (I'm going to continue to capitalize these for ease of reference). By deduction, this means YOU are not your THOUGHTS. YOU may have even felt that YOU had no say in what THOUGHTS were popping up. They just flooded in and covered an array of topics. Can you see the division? This is really important to understand because it sets you up for step 3. 

I think the most influential author on this topic is Eckhart Tolle. He wrote the book The Power of Now which is written in question and answer format. He also wrote a second book called A New Earth and I highly recommend them both. Oprah is a big fan of Eckhart and has done a lot of interviews with him. Sometimes this is easier than committing to a book - check them out on YouTube and on her podcast Super Soul Conversations.

3. YOU are more powerful than the THOUGHTS

When you realize you aren't your thoughts, this can be a little confusing. Like, wait, there are two of me? One producing the thoughts and one observing them? Which one is me? Yes, that's exactly right. Some authors will refer to the producer of the thoughts in your head as "ego" and to the person observing them as "spirit" or "soul." It doesn't matter which terms you use, as long as you understand that (a) YOU are not your THOUGHTS and (b) YOU are far greater than the THOUGHTS you have. In other words, spirit is more powerful than ego (if you choose to use those terms).

Same goes here - Eckhart Tolle is probably the most influential writer in this space so I'd check him out if you're struggling with understanding points #2 and #3.

4. YOU can control your THOUGHTS

If YOU are more powerful than your THOUGHTS, this means you can control your thoughts. For all you perfectionists out there (I'm a recovering one), you have full permission to control here. In fact, I'd argue that this is truly the one and only thing we have full power to control in this lifetime. Say it over and over again - "I can control my thoughts. I have power over my thoughts." Claim this, own it, repeat it, set it as an alarm reminder on your phone. Every time there's a negative thought, call it out! It can become a game you play - like "hey I see you negative thought!" Don't worry about making your thoughts more positive yet. For now, do all you can to feel powerful, in charge, and confident about your ability to control your thoughts. Feel it in your bones! 

At this point, you might start to ask yourself, how in the world are we not taking care of our minds like we are our bodies? How are we not taught this? I just love the analogy to working out. A lot of us place working out high on the priority list for the week, but we do absolutely nothing about our minds. And our minds are far more powerful than our bodies. What goes on in our minds all day long literally creates our reality. I think this is part of the mental health conversation. In any case, be thankful that you are willing, interested, and able to become in charge of your thoughts.

5. Change the thought 

Once you fully commit to your power over your thoughts, you can start to change the thoughts. Remember this though: if you're like the majority of the population, negative thoughts bombard you all day long, so recognize this is a moment-by-moment choice. It is not easy, and you don't need to do this perfectly. It's a practice. Right now, you just want to build up your muscles. Eventually, you will naturally think more positively and dispose of the negative thoughts. But right now, it's going to be a struggle and that is completely normal. Liken it to working out - the first time you get in the gym is awful, but by month two you're in the routine and starting to feel pretty good. It takes a ton of practice, but stick with it.

This is how I like to change the thought:

(1) a negative thought creeps in my head;

(2) I call it out; and then I either

(3) flip it around (example: if the thought was "I feel like I never have enough money to pay my bills", I say to myself, "I always seem to come up with the money I need to pay my bills on time. Thank you universe for the abundance you show me!")

or

(4) I say a little prayer to myself, "I surrender this thought to the universe/God. Please take it from me." When the negative thought is a tough one - you know, one that really stings or stabs you in the heart, I tend to use the prayer method because it's more effective for me. Say this prayer as many times as you need. Eventually, you'll feel strong enough to flip it around and make it positive.

6. Enough changed thoughts add up to a belief

Last but not least, it's not enough to change the thought to a positive one. You need to believe the more positive thought. You need to believe the universe/God is taking your negative thought from you, or you need to believe how you re-framed it into a positive. For example, in the paying bills example, it's not enough to say "thank you for the abundance you show me." You truly need to believe in that abundance and feel grateful for it. The universe/God can tell when you're faking it! This is the most challenging step for sure, but know that the more times you call out the repetitive thought that is holding you back and replace it with a positive one or pray for help to take it away, eventually you're going to start to believe it.   

For me, the most persistent thought that was holding me back was, "I can't make enough money doing something I love. I can either do something I'm passionate about and struggle to pay bills, or I can do something I don't like and be financially secure. The two are mutually exclusive." I started to call out this thought, then I would say, "I can earn more money having a jewelry business than I ever did as a lawyer." And I eventually started to believe it (it took a few months). I hope you'll start to feel the same way about your business idea. It is possible. 

Of course there were 100s of other things I did on the journey from lawyer to business owner and I hope to share them all over the course of this Journal. But by far, the most crucial thing I did was stop being such a negative thinker. It held me back in so many ways. It kept me stuck. It made me feel helpless at times. And worst of all, at one point in my life, I wasn't even aware that I had so many negative thoughts. So, cheers to becoming more aware this week! That is certainly the most difficult part.

xo,

Stacy

 

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The #1 Most Crucial Thing I Did To Escape My Job As A Lawyer And Start My Own Jewelry Business

The #1 Most Crucial Thing I Did To Escape My Job As A Lawyer And Start My Own Jewelry Business

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. I always get asked how I managed to quit my job as a lawyer and start my own jewelry business. I'll admit it was a drastic leap - going from a "prestigious" profession to a creative job, from a big paycheck to an uncertain financial stream, from being employed by a large company to being my own boss. A lot of people tell me they want to do the same thing but "How?! How did you do it?!" they ask. And believe me, I get it! It seems so far-fetched that this actually worked out. I still look back in shock and surprise sometimes. But I've finally determined the #1 most crucial thing I did to quit my lawyer job, start my own business and have it succeed more or less. You probably aren't going to like the answer because you probably want a step-by-step list of instructions and hear about the number one thing on the list. But it's not about the list. It has nothing to do with the "practical" concerns related to starting a business. It's about you

Let me try to make an analogy. Think about the woman who wants to get pregnant. She does everything right - she reads all the books, sees all the doctors, gets all the tests, passes all the tests, uses all the tools and resources, takes all the vitamins, and yet she struggles to get pregnant despite all the conditions being optimal. She stresses out about it and it's actually her frantic energy and negative cycle of worry that pushes away what she most wants. It's the same thing with a business. You can do all the things. But unless you are in the right headspace for it, it's not going to work out. It just won't.

I know this because I had a business in 2010 and it failed. And the reason it failed despite my best efforts is because I was not in the right headspace. This was subconscious at the time but I see it clearly now: I didn't believe I could make a living selling jewelry. I was used to a big law firm paycheck and I just didn't believe I could earn a similar wage doing something I love. Now there's plenty of people making millions selling jewelry, so jewelry wasn't the problem. I was the problem. I didn't believe I deserved a life doing something I enjoy. And sure enough, the universe closed the door on my first business and I went back to being a lawyer (i.e. doing something I didn't like, because that's what I thought I deserved).

The universe, God, the divine (whatever name you want to call it) is very simple. It operates on clearly defined rules. And those rules aren't based on your education level, your income, your gender, your race. The universe doesn't see those things. In short, you tell the universe what you believe and the universe delivers the right set of circumstances to fulfill that belief. It really is that simple. The problem is, we aren't aware of the defeating, negative, critical beliefs we hold, nor do we know how to effectively change them to something more positive. You might say you believe you deserve to work in a job you love, but do you really believe that in your heart and soul? If you haven't seen the changes you're desiring, chances are "no." You say you do, but you don't believe you do. And that's what causes us to feel like victims - you know, the "I'm a good person, why am I stuck in this stupid job where I get treated like crap?" or "I'm doing everything right, why won't this business take off?!" Until we accept that our thoughts are powerful things that create our reality, and that we have to learn how to control them and harness them for good, life is going to continue to feel unfair. 

Let's face it, most of us aren't taught how to be aware of our thoughts and direct them to what we want. But that's ok. We can teach ourselves. I taught myself! It takes a lot of practice, but I promise you it's the #1 thing I did to change my entire reality - it's the #1 thing that helped me go from lawyer to jewelry business owner. Think of it this way, we workout multiple times per week to improve and strengthen our bodies, and we need to do the same thing with our minds. Otherwise, those thoughts are just running around in circles up there and those circular, defeating thoughts are creating our reality. But just like working out, slowly but surely we get stronger, we get better at the exercises, and before we know it we're running a marathon.  

If you're new to mindfulness as well as living and thinking intentionally, I know this entry was a lot to digest. So I'm going to stop here and in next week's Weekly Journal, I'll tell you how I taught myself to get out of the negative rut I was in and how I learned to control my thoughts and make them more positive. For now, try to accept that if you are in a job that you do not like, your thoughts got you there. But also accept that once you change your thoughts to be more positive (and this might take months) you'll see that you're no longer a match for the job you hate. It's seriously fascinating stuff. And it's becoming really mainstream at this point so there are tons and tons of resources and authors out there to connect with and learn from if you are wanting and willing to do the work.

You've probably heard me say this before: work on your mindset more than your website and you'll have a successful business. And this is exactly what I'm talking about! Cheers to becoming more aware of the thoughts that are (literally) running your life and the new power you can find to control them.

xo,

Stacy

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Are You Willing To Do What It Takes To Make Your Dream Come True?

Are You Willing To Do What It Takes To Make Your Dream Come True?

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. In this week's journal I'm sharing some real talk about making your dream a reality and I promise I won't sugarcoat it. The dream is the easy part, making it come true - not so much. Whether your dream is to start your own business, find the love of your life, move to an island and open a yoga studio, have a child...we all have them! To dream about our wildest hopes coming true is part of being human. But the real question is: what are you willing to do to make your dream come true? This is where most people get tripped up (and again, I think this is part of being human!). It can be scary, uncertain, and risky to take steps towards manifesting your dream into real life. It also can require a lot of work, a lot of discipline, and a lot of sacrifice. Few are willing to roll up their sleeves and get to work, and many want it handed to them on a silver platter. What's that quote I'm thinking of? Nothing worth having comes easy. Yes, something like that. And the bigger your dream, the more it's going to take. So where does that leave you? 

First and foremost, you have to make friends with the fact that some sort of sacrifice is going to be required. Maybe you need to invest a lot of time into your dream, maybe it's money. Maybe you're going to need to get a little uncomfortable for a while. Maybe you're going to need to work really hard on your mindset to make your dream come true - you know, change the negative beliefs that are holding you back. You get the idea. I truly think *this* is the main sticking point that most people can't get beyond. People want things to change and they want their dreams to come to pass, but they aren't willing to change anything about their current situation to get there. Let me give you an example. I hear from a lot of lawyers who want to leave the practice of law and start their own business of some sort, but many of them say, "Well, I don't want to change my standard of living though." Code for: I make 6 figures now, I have gotten used to a cushy life and I'm not willing to give that up. Really? Not even if it means seeing your dream come to life? Here's the deal: making some sacrifices now for a little while could potentially add up to a lifetime of happiness. Isn't that worth the "pain" of giving up the lifestyle you're used to? Let me tell you from firsthand experience, it is!

When I left my lawyer job in 2017, I was at this crossroads in my life: buy a condo or quit my job and try to make my dream come true. I had saved enough money to put a nice down payment on a condo in downtown Chicago, but there was a nagging thought in the back of my head that I should use that money to quit my job and start my own business. I chose the latter, which means I still rent and I don't own a home (and I'm 39 years old). That's the main "sacrifice" I made to start grace + hudson (I use the term "sacrifice" loosely as I realize some people never even get the chance to buy their own home). I am so glad I made that decision for myself because it gave me financial flexibility - I am not handcuffed to a certain income level in order to pay a hefty mortgage each month. And you know what else has come of it? The money I make now feels good - it makes me so proud to earn a living from something I love to do and I know it's going to feel so good to buy a home someday. The money I made when I was a lawyer didn't feel good, and I know the home I bought with that money wouldn't feel good in the long run either.  

The point I'd like to leave you with is this: everything is a decision. Everything. When it comes to the dream of business ownership, you can prioritize home ownership or luxuries like expensive coffee and weekend trips away or you can prioritize saving money for your dream by, for example, downsizing to a smaller apartment so you can quit your job. Realize that the power is in your hands. It is your choice. Own it. Own your choice. It'll empower you, even if you decide to choose the stable paycheck over business ownership. And for some of you that might be the reality. So when you embrace the fact that you're choosing a stable job with a nice paycheck over the risk of business ownership, you can let the business dream go and be happy where you are. And maybe a different dream, like adopting a child into your stable home, will come to greet you. In either case, decide, own your decision, and stop pining for what you don't have. The grass is always greener...until you decide to let yourself feel empowered by the choices you have made.    

xo,

Stacy 

 

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Overcoming Perfectionism (And Why It'll Block You From Starting Your Own Business)

Overcoming Perfectionism (And Why It'll Block You From Starting Your Own Business)

Welcome to another edition of my Weekly Journal! I use this space to share a bit about jewelry, and a lot about my journey from lawyer to jewelry business owner. By request, in this week's journal I'm talking about overcoming perfectionism. It's something I've struggled with in the past and worked really, really hard to overcome. I'm also going to tell you why being a perfectionist will ultimately block you from starting your own business.

What is perfectionism anyway? Some people joke, "Oh I'm a perfectionist ha ha ha..." but there are deep rooted issues underlying perfectionism. My definition is striving for unattainable ideals because we feel we are being judged by others and want to please them to prove our own worth. Ouch. You may have never thought about it that way. People can strive for perfection in career, in relationships, in their physical body by working out, in all sorts of things, but there is one common denominator underlying them all: a feeling of unworthiness. We think that if we are "perfect", we are proving to ourselves and more importantly to the world that we are worthy of {insert your desired achievement, emotion, outcome, etc}. A lot of times, we are trying to be perfect to prove to the world that we are worthy of love - and that's not just romantic love. It could be love in the form of admiration of the people you work with, for example. Or love in the form of approval from your parents.

Let's get real about perfectionism for a second. Perfection is unattainable! Read that again. Unattainable. It's a manmade trap! Why? Because there is no such thing as perfection! Humans are not intended to be perfect, they are intended to be themselves. Authentic and real and true. And that's going to look different for everyone. So striving for perfection is in and of itself a manmade trap because you can never get there...perfection does not exist. And you'll only continue to beat yourself up...thereby continuing the cycle of not feeling worthy...by trying to attain something that is not attainable.    

Now, to really rock your world...did you ever consider that our imperfections are what make us real and authentic and true? When we learn to embrace our imperfections, we often grow in tremendous ways. We begin to see how they make us different, special, and unique. Our "imperfections" might cause us to see the world a little bit differently than the person sitting next to us, and that unique viewpoint - for example - might cause us to come up with a solution to a problem, that leads to a business idea, that leads to a thriving company. Also, admitting we have imperfections allows us to connect with people on a real, true level. How many times have you connected with a friend or coworker because you both are struggling with the same thing? The times are too many to count! There is beauty in imperfection.

For me, in particular, I think perfectionism came from childhood and schooling. I grew up with an excellent education, but school does teach you that you should strive for perfection by getting 100% on all of your tests and projects. In the real world though, there are no tests, gold stars, and 100 percents to be given out. I also grew up with a father who rewarded success at school. It was hard to get his attention and "approval" (i.e. love) in other ways, but he usually praised the 100%. So I think I grew up thinking that I need to get straight A's (i.e. be perfect) to gain the "love" of my father. Totally false, but as a kid you don't know any better. It's all subconscious. And then that belief ultimately translated into: let me get into an Ivy League college, let me go to law school, let me get the best six-figure lawyer job I can...all to prove I'm worthy...all to earn the "love" of my father (and all of this was subconscious of course). Perhaps you have a similar experience with one or both of your parents. Ironically, I started to uncover all of this false thinking in therapy after my father died. I went into therapy to process the grief from his death, but boy did it unlock a lot of other issues. That's a post for another day. I'll leave it at this: if you're anything like me, you might find really deep seated emotions at the core of your perfectionism, and it might require therapy to work through. I'm the biggest proponent of therapy - I don't think I'd be standing where I am today without it. The self-discovery that occurs is absolutely amazing and I'd highly encourage you to at least give it a try for a few sessions.   

So, do you now see how the focus of perfectionism is earning love and respect from others by trying to please and impress them? I hope so. If you do, it's easy to see why perfectionism will stop you from starting your own business. Starting your own business 9 times out of 10 requires you to go against the grain. Let's look at an example: Mom loves your 6-figure job as a doctor because it's stable, prestigious, and she's oh-so-proud to say she has a daughter who's a doctor. Well, when you tell mom that you are unhappy with your doctor job and want to start your own business as a clothing designer or baker or fitness studio owner (or whatever it may be!), she's probably not going to approve of it 100% out of the gate. It's easy to see why - it goes against what society deems "normal." It goes against the "traditional" career paths we are encouraged to take in school. Mom might withhold her approval for a while, and maybe even forever. And a perfectionist won't have this. Mom's disapproval is too heavy a burden to bear. And the perfectionist daughter will stay at her doctor job to earn and keep her mom's love. 

If you are struggling with perfectionism, I hope you found my experience with it to be enlightening. It can be overcome with some work. And it's incredibly freeing on the other side. Instead of striving for perfection, strive to be YOU - authentic, real and true.

xo,

Stacy 

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