organized chaos

Good evening, friends!

This winter has been full of snow, ice, sleet, you name it. Today is cardio day, but since the weather outside is frightful, I thought I’d sip some wine and write up a blog post instead.

A couple people have asked me to write about staying organized/how I stay organized on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. I’ve thought about how I want to approach this and first I have to say, sometimes I have to teach myself to *not* be too organized. I’ve mentioned it before, but planning every moment if your life can become exhausting, and therefore I try to stick to some simple, but effective (for me) ways to stay organized.

At Work: 
I’m staring with work because most everyone in their adult lives spends most of their time at work. Honestly, staying organized largely depends on what kind of job you have. I’ve mentioned before that I’m a project manager at a SaaS company, and quite frankly, my days are hardly ever the same. There are a few things that I do, however, to keep myself in check during the day and throughout the work week.

  • A blank notebook: some people are into daily planners, but this doesn’t work for me at my job. The reason being, it’s hard for me to assign tasks to a specific day of the week. There are days where I am completely derailed and if I don’t get to my “Tuesday” list, well then I feel this stress about being ‘behind’ on my to-dos. Instead, I have a blank notebook, and on each page I write the week’s date range. Example) To Do 3/2-3/9. Instead of writing the date in which I feel I need to ‘do’ the task, I write the day that I need it done by right next to it – it allows me to work through prioritizing tasks at a high level. I couple this with looking at my meetings in Outlook throughout the week and incorporate any prep work into my to-do’s. You might be thinking: You basically have a planner, what’s the difference? But this gives me free reign to plan my time; to push, to move up, to cancel, etc. as needed.

At Home:
I try  to keep my home life rather relaxed, but there are a few areas that I organize for myself to feel accomplished while I’m at home:

  • Goodreads: Goodreads is like Facebook for books. I set a goal for myself to read x number of books during the year (this year is 25!). I can track my progress and also add books to my “to read” list as I find new titles. Bonus: you can see what your friends are reading for future suggestions!
  • Supplement Organizer: I have a Sun-Sat/AM and PM pill organizer. I don’t take many supplements anymore, but I do take some probiotics, vitamin D, and occasionally biotin. I use collagen in my coffee if I make it at home, and I also have a dental probiotic I take in the morning for gum health.
  • #weekendgoals: #weekendgoals is my to-do list I make for myself to accomplish over the weekend. Again, no specific days, but certain tasks that I can do to fill my time. I have a fun notepad that I use and add things and check things off as I go.
  • Meals: This might be a shock to many, because I do post food-prep photos on occasion. HOWEVER, I don’t sit down and plan my meals every week. This is because if I plan out meals too strictly, I end up becoming bored with those meals. Instead, I try to think of incorporating food groups into my diet throughout the week and then I think about what I might want to buy at the store (or truthfully I just browse the store to see if something catches my eye) pertaining to those food groups. For example:
    • Breakfast: Oatmeal (whatever flavor I feel like getting when I’m at the store)
    • Lunch: Foods like soup, salad, some cheese, half of an avocado with Everything but Bagel seasoning (I try to keep lunch low-carb so I don’t crash at work in the afternoon)
    • Dinner: Some kind of protein like fish, chicken, venison, eggs, with whatever side I’m feeling like eating that night. Sides like cheesy-broccoli rice, diced seasoned potatoes, roasted broccoli, etc.
  • Face regimen/routine: I used to be put a lot of thought into what my facial routine should be, but it was too much to think about. I’m not perfect at washing my face every night, but I’ve finally found a routine that is so low maintenance and effective that I actually enjoy washing my face before bed. I should also say, if I don’t feel like doing one of these steps, I don’t. It’s great to have a routine but this is where I just do what I’m feeling like. Sometimes I’ll just do a fun charcoal mask and call it good.
  • Fitness: I keep track of my workouts on Google Sheets. I usually track my workouts when I’m training for a race, which in that case I’ll copy and paste a Hal Higdon training plan into Google Sheets and tweak it to fit my schedule. I have however, been using an app called HabitShare to track how many times I make it to the gym (need that health insurance reimbursement!!) and how many times I go to group fitness classes per month. I set an attainable goal for each ‘Habit’ and then keep track in my phone.

I’m going to end this post by saying, I’ve enjoyed learning to be more relaxed with myself. Making lists is great, however the minute it starts working against me (and I start to feel ‘unsuccessful’) I stop. Keeping track of workouts, to-do’s, writing out health regimens, etc. should motivate you. It shouldn’t feel like homework. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with all of your lists and ways to organize; consider a) what is the VALUE and b) what are you trying to accomplish:

  • Are you making lists and to-do’s for the sake of organizing? Is it taking more time to organize your thoughts than actually do the tasks?
  • WHY are you tracking your workouts, food, etc.? Are you trying to count macros?Look at daily nutrients percentages? Track calories? What is the goal?
  • Do you really need a planner in addition to your work calendar, Apple calendar or Google calendar, and to-do lists? What is the true value? Is this taking up too much time? Are you repeating yourself?
  • Are you easily overwhelmed by your lists? Does it stress you out to think “wow look how much I have to do this weekend”? If so – remove anything that is a small task. If quantity freaks you out, stick to quality tasks. Conversely, if the larger tasks freak you out, break them out into small tasks so you can see the accomplishments along the way.
    • Large Task = Clean Kitchen: This is open to you and how/what you want to clean in your kitchen. Do you want to tackle the sink and counter tops, and do the floors a different time?
    • Small Tasks = Clean countertops, sweep floor, clean sink, wipe down stove, clean out fridge, etc.

Organized chaos is okay. Not organizing is okay. Intentional organization is okay. Figure out what makes your brain tick and try something new, or get rid of something that isn’t serving you. You’ll know it’s working when you don’t even have to think about it!

xo Karen

you need to read this

My mind likes to race; it races around and around. It causes me unneeded stress. I then start to think about how much I think. You see how this can be a spiral toward some kind of mental breakdown?

The truth is, I’m a thorough person. I’m loyal. I put 100% into people, things, and projects. Being relational and passionate about work, dreams, etc. are admirable qualities, however it can lead to burnout if we don’t remember to pause.

Sometimes it’s too much to think about all at once; and therefore too hard to execute on. I’ve felt my fair share of failure for backing out of commitments that I feel are not serving me in a given moment. But instead of being hard on myself, I’ve learned to view quitting and failure from a different perspective.

“Taking time to honor the needs of your body is taking time to respect the needs of your soul.” – Journey to the Heart

We’re told from day 1, to never EVER quit. If you’ve ever played sports in high school, college, etc., you know exactly what I’m talking about. Great athletes don’t quit. Great athletes don’t give up. Great athletes don’t burnout. Successful people don’t burnout — but oh, they do… they just learn to manage it, or change their current situations.

Luckily for me, there are a TON of blogs and podcasts underneath the sun that address the general topic of burnout, quitting, and having the power to say ‘no’. We are humans in a world in which there are rarely any constants. Our financial successes, health, relationships, and career goals all rely on variables. They are all dependent on various life scenarios and interactions with people that are hardly repeatable for any two people. When I start to feel overwhelmed,  I do a couple of things:

  1. Remember to NOT compare my successes (or lack there of) to others’ successes. It does NOT make sense to compare myself to other people. All those variables I just talked about – they are different for everyone. The intensity of those variables are different for everyone. If you feel this way –  here’s a solution: do some soul-searching and figure out what drives you and makes you happy. Use your discoveries as a foundation to determine what success means to you. Although people can have compatible and similar personalities, it does not mean any two people function in the same capacity or use the same thought processes. The definition of success should stem from an intrinsic place, yet we are often using society’s definition of success as a measuring stick. Here’s a thought… does society care if you as an individual are fulfilled and happy?
  2. Find effective stress relievers. No, I don’t mean unwinding with a glass of wine (but yes, kind of). Okay, but seriously, find sustainable stress outlets to get you through the bumps in the road. I’ve found that exercise, stretching, reading, writing, meditating, dancing, napping, bingeing Gilmore Girls..etc. have all been effective stress relievers for me. Disclaimer: it might take a while to figure out what actually works for you, but the only way to know is to TRY.
  3. Start saying ‘no’. I struggled with saying ‘no’ to friends, family, and coworkers for quite some time. Fun fact: I recently took an Insights personality assessment which revealed at work I feel I need to be extroverted as hell, but at home I’m in the fast lane to introversion. This doesn’t surprise me because I am a project manager, and as a project manager I have the pleasure of working with many people. But at home, I’m not a project manager. I’m a person who likes peace and quiet. I’m someone who doesn’t need other people around to give me energy – I need to be alone to recharge. So friends, family — if you’re wondering why I’m saying ‘no’ to invites, don’t take it personally. I am putting my health first, and allowing myself to be selective about what I participate in. You can do it too – and you don’t have to feel guilty about it. Imagine a life where everyone did what they wanted to without feeling obligated! A-m-a-z-i-n-g. 
  4. Re-evaluate activities in my planner and/or schedule. I am a total Type-A person. I love planning out my week, my meals, my workouts, you name it. It’s cool to feel in control; but if all of a sudden my mood is not aligned with my plans, or I’m feeling burnt out, you better believe I’m removing or pushing out some of my to-do’s. As a project manager, it’s intuitive for me to want to stick to schedules and follow through for my clients and peers. However, I have learned that I don’t need to project-manage my life outside of work. I can use my intuition to guide me; I can ebb and flow through the week depending on how I’m feeling. There isn’t anyone over my shoulder at home looking at my planner and saying, “Oh no, Karen! You did not go to yoga tonight, you’re fired!”. Think about it…planning is meant to make life simpler. The minute it becomes the enemy is the minute you should be taking a step back from the pressure you are putting on yourself. Go with your gut, you will feel much more relaxed. I know I have.

In closing, this month was full of “quitting”. I made intentional decisions to redirect my energy to other aspects of my life. I decided that the Whole30 was not serving me this round – and it’s not because I think the Whole30 is hard, it’s because the Whole30 meant something different to me in 2015 than it means to me now. I did a nice two-week detox from the holidays and found that was enough; it served me well. I now feel rejuvenated to take on the rest of the month and the new year. I also “quit” training for a 15k that I pressured myself into. It felt like a good idea at the time, but I started training about four weeks later than I would have liked and there’s no reason for me to put pressure on myself to run the longest distance I would run in my entire life with minimal training.

“We need to learn to adapt to change but we also need to learn to tell when a situation is wrong for us and not force ourselves to fit.” – Journey to The Heart

I leave you with a few resources that have grounded me recently. They’ve taught me to say ‘no’ to things I don’t want to do, and ‘fuck yes’ to things that are calling to me. They’ve taught me that quitting is not necessarily failure, it’s recognizing that something is not serving me. They’ve taught me that burnout is real, and that stress can be mitigated. If it can’t, I need to take control of my life and seek change.

 

xo Karen

“Sometimes it feels easier to doubt ourselves, to make the perceived safe decision, to make the excuse, to change our expectations, to follow ill-fitting societal norms, and uphold our false beliefs that only exceptional people can do the thing we want to do. But that’s bullshit.” – Minimal Wellness

justin key photography

Hi friends! I have the pleasure of knowing a power couple whose goals are to follow their dreams of running their own businesses. You may remember my feature post about Sarah Key, and her career with Rodan & Fields skincare. Well, her husband, Justin Key, has his own photography business: Justin Key Photography.
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Photography is an art I truly enjoy; photos can capture timeless memories, but what’s refreshing about Justin’s photos are that they expose you to organic, picturesque sites. He focuses on landscapes, structures, nature; they may seem like simple shots, but they leave room for the person viewing the photo to interpret what they’re seeing in any way they’d like. For example, what do YOU see when you look at Justin’s “Runnin’ Down A Dream”:
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Runnin'-Down-a-Dream
Runnin’ Down a Dream – Justin Key Photography
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Pretty cool huh? To me this photo represents a few different in-depth ideas. There are independent branches, but they are intimately intertwined. It represents us as people; we are individuals who need interaction, support, and inclusion. To me this photo represents a holistic and spiritual world — a humble reminder that you are part of something much larger than life itself.  It’s family, work, play, love.
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With that said, please join me in learning more about Justin, and how he got to where is today in his photography career!
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>>What inspired you to get into photography? And at what age did you decide to learn more about photography?<<
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I was always curious, as a kid, about the science behind photography. The first big purchase I ever made was this $70 Fujifilm film camera that I thought was the coolest thing ever. I brought it everywhere and looking back at my images, mostly of zoo animals, they weren’t great in any aspect but I remember the excitement of bringing my film in to get developed and the anticipation of seeing the prints. I wish I could remember how old I was, my guess is about 12 or 13, but for some reason photography drew me in really young and was the one phase of my childhood I never out grew. Photography was always a hobby of mine, I enjoyed doing it but never worked at the craft until I went to college. I shot for the yearbook in high school and started to understand the capabilities of my camera better, at this point I was shooting digital and the instant viewing allowed me to figure out what everything in the camera did and how to control the light better. It wasn’t until I started thinking about college that I even considered photo to be a path for me. In college, I entered an art program with primarily a photojournalism background so it led to a lot of learning and experimentation in different genres. That was when I think I truly fell in love with photography
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>>What are your favorite photos to take, and why?<<
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I have shot darn near everything when it comes to photography. I started out shooting sports primarily and loved it but my focus has shifted over the years. I would still love to shoot sports because being on the sidelines of big games is a feeling unlike any other. I’ve tried portrait and weddings but I have a hard time directing people so I have tried to distant myself from that genre. Landscape and travel photography is what I’m focused on now and see myself doing going forward. I like to look at my work as art, I don’t shoot a lot of the colorful sunsets or breathtaking panoramas, I try to find a sense of place in my photography. I like to think of my work as capturing the character of Earth. I’ve always been drawn to nature and travel and my eye tries to capture the moments and the details that make up the memories we take from places. I don’t know that I have crossed over into the fine art realm quite yet but that is the type of work I would like to be classified under some day.

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>>Where do you see Justin Key Photography being in the next 5-10 years? What kind of portfolio do you plan to build?<<
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My current goal is to become self sufficient through my photography and I’m hoping to do that in the next year or two so looking beyond that is tough. I see a lot of growth that can be made in my work. I continue to look at my images and think they could be so much better than they are so in 5-10 years I would like to see my portfolio improve to the level I believe I can achieve. I would love to have checked off a lot of places on my travel list and see my name grow larger in the photography community. I plan on sticking with my landscape work and am currently in the works of expanding my website to include a new segment of my work I’m calling the Long Shutter Project. Currently it will be a collection of abstract series with the goal to raise money for muscular dystrophy but I see it expanding beyond the single cause down the road and I hope in 5-10 years to have raised a good amount of money for those causes.
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>> What advice do you give aspiring photographers?<<
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If I had to give aspiring photographers advice or even thinking about what I would tell myself starting out would be not to be afraid. I spent a long time doubting myself and worrying about the potential of failure and it held me back for a number of years. Once I got over those fears and doubts, I’ve seen my work improve, I’ve seen more opportunities come my way and I believe more in myself and my future. You can’t be afraid to chase your dreams and the sooner you can believe in yourself and put the time in to make it happen the sooner that dream becomes a reality.
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>>Who are some of your favorite artists? Do you have any particular favorite art pieces that speak to you?<<
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As a landscape photographer obviously Ansel Adams has been a big inspiration to me. I did a study in college of Masumi Hayashi’s technique and her work gave me a different perspective of the way we view scenes. Art Wolfe has some incredible work, Martin Bailey has a style similar to mine, I have been listening to his podcast for a while because he has a lot of the same views as me and it wasn’t surprising to find our work is pretty similar. Mark Rothko is a painter I have been inspired by as well.

Cheers!
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Well, friends, thanks for reading! It’s so rare to find a passion and turn it into a supportive career and I envy  Justin for doing just that! I hope Justin’s post inspires you to stick with your passions, and even if you figure you need to do something else for ‘work’, make sure to leave a large space in your hearts and schedules for passion projects. Check out his Instagram: @JustinKeyPhotograhy and his gallery to see more of his portfolio.
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xo Karen
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You can’t be afraid to chase your dreams and the sooner you can believe in yourself and put the time in to make it happen the sooner that dream becomes a reality. – Justin Key
Jolene
Jolene – Justin Key Photography

entrepreneur spotlight: sarah key

Hey all! If you recall in my pilot blog post, I’m going to be posting bi-weekly Spotlights. Spotlights are blog posts about other people and their passions, experiences, successes, etc. that will hopefully motivate you to be your best self and chase after your dreams. Today’s post is an Entrepreneur Spotlight featuring one of my former college housemates, Sarah Key, as she talks about her business journey. Enjoy!

∗What were the turning points and/or motivators in your life that inspired you to start your own side business?
Honestly, the main thing that made me think about starting my own side business was the fact that I wasn’t able to do the thing that brings me the most joy in life as often as I liked: travel. Starting a business with flexibility and unlimited income potential was a huge motivator. Life is way too short, and I didn’t want to wait until retirement to live our dreams. 
 
My husband and I love to travel and he is a photographer, so traveling is our main priority. We didn’t want to have to sacrifice on visiting a new place on our list because of finances or time. 

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I chose Rodan and Fields because I know the insecurities that are a result of skin concerns. Insecurities take over and crushes any confidence you have, and that is not an exaggeration. I know from experience. No one should ever have to live with a skin insecurity when there is a solution out there. I wanted to be able to help others realize there is a solution and if I could also help others change their life with our business, even better. 
There are plenty of side business options out there. I would highly recommend if you’re not happy with where you are, your finances, or what your life looks like, be open to learning about these options and take the time to invest in yourself. 
∗What are the challenges you’ve faced so far? How are you overcoming them?
People not believing this side business will ever amount to anything. I have big goals for my Rodan and Fields business and it’s hard for some people to wrap their minds around it. I overcome that challenge by focusing on why I’m doing my business and believing in myself to truly make my dream life come true. Why not me? Why not you! Also, when people doubt my abilities to do something, that is motivation right there not to give up.
Another challenge is the big learning curve for entrepreneurship. I never thought I would be going down this path, but here I am, and I am forever grateful for my friend Ali Zieman who introduced this opportunity to me! I knew nothing about skincare before Rodan and Fields, I knew nothing about running my own business, I had no clue how I was going to make this work. But I’m learning while I help others. I’m learning while I earn. I’m learning while I get closer to my dream life. I love to learn and grow, and this opportunity has given me a chance to continually grow personally and intellectually, and in return has allowed me to help others do the same. 
 
∗Although it’s early in your journey, what advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Never quit. Ever. You started on this journey for a reason. Always go back to that reason when things get real tough. Because they will. It is a roller coster journey, but it is so worth it. Knowing you are working for your dream life (not someone else’s dream) and that you WILL make it happen is so rewarding and motivation enough to keep going! 
 
∗What resources help you succeed? 
A strong support system. Starting on a new path in life that is not considered the typical “right” path to follow is hard. Your friends and family may not understand why you’re doing this, which could make it hard for them to support you. That is ok. Join entrepreneur groups in your town, talk to friends who get it. You aren’t alone, you just have to find your tribe to help you through the struggles of entrepreneurship and to celebrate the best times that come with entrepreneurship. It may take your family or friends time to come around to what you are doing, but know you will be celebrating with them one day soon!
∗What are you favorite books, blogs, and podcasts that continue to inspire you through your journey? Do you have particular role models?

This list could go do FOREVER! I am a sucker for personal and business development in the form of books and podcasts.
 
Some of my favorite books are: “You are a Badass” by Jen Sincero and “She Means Business” by Carrie Green.
 
My favorite podcasts are: Happier with Gretchen Rubin, From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl, Your Virtual Upline, and Creative Empire.
 
I also subscribe to pretty much every Travel magazine out there. I am always finding new places to travel to and explore. And when I can’t be traveling, it helps itch my travel bug a bit.
I wouldn’t say I have one particular role model. Any strong woman making a name for herself is my role model. I get so inspired by hearing how other women are out there making their dreams come true and overcoming every possible obstacle. I also really respect women that share their struggles in their journey. This isn’t an easy road and no one should think they are the only one struggling!
 
I am also lucky to have many, many successful women in my company to look up to as role models. One of my favorite parts about being with Rodan and Fields is that everyone is there to help everyone succeed. Whether you are at the tip top of the organization or just began today, we are all trying to help each other out.
Long story short, my role models are women who motivate other women to follow their dreams and make it happen. We have one life to live, mine as well make it awesome!
 
∗How can others join the R&F business?
It’s pretty simple to join our R+F team, just make the decision you want a change in your life and jump in! More specifically, let’s talk to see if this could be a right fit for you. If it is, we get you signed up and then the fun begins! Feel free to shoot me an email sarahvkey@gmail.com and we can set up a time to chat.

pilot

blog1Hi, I’m Karen. Welcome to my blog! This is a safe space where I will share my experiences, thoughts, and inspirations. This is my blank canvas and I hope these thoughts serve you well (and maybe even inspire you). My end goal is to be happy and healthy, and to find balance and peace in an extremely terrifying world. I’m a millennial woman residing in the beautiful city of Minneapolis, Minnesota. You might ask me, “what do you do?”. I do a lot of things. I try to be as intentional as possible with my limited hours of the day. Why spend time doing things you don’t love? I go to coffee shops to enjoy hazelnut coffee and dirty chai tea lattes. I try new recipes. I sweat my ass off at yoga and barre classes. I run, slowly. I read books to unplug from the constantly rushed world we live in. I frequent happy hours and sushi bars with coworkers and friends. I binge watch Netflix series and spend many weekends viewing various documentaries (mostly about food). I travel as frequently as I can with my love (near and far!) and will share our adventures through this blog. I enjoy taking photos of visually appealing landscapes, skylines, and food. Professionally, I am an IT project manager. I’ll probably get into that in a different post, but that’s all you need to know about work right now.

Regular posts you’ll see:

  • Featured Recipes
  • Bi-Weekly Spot Lights
  • Book Reviews and Recommendations
  • Blog posts born from motivational experiences and inspirational people

Disclaimers:

I’m not perfect nor do I strive to be. This blog would be so boring if that were the case.

I’m not a professional writer; my grammar isn’t perfect anymore so please bear with me.

I’m not a nutritionist, but I like to experiment with foods and holistic lifestyle approaches to discover what works for my mind and body.

I’m not a personal trainer but I’ve experienced ‘falling off the wagon’ and have discovered my own motivators to get me back on track to being strong and healthy.

I’m not an expert. In anything. Literally. You’ll see.

I am, however, real. I’m emotional, motivated, and loyal. I’m inspired to be the best version of myself every single day. I’m a person with feelings, goals, and frustrations. Consider this my journal; an avenue to share real and raw experiences as I navigate through my 20’s and beyond.

If you’re a visual person like me, follow my Instagram account [@kdahl.mpls]. I’ve become good at capturing life through an iPhone lens.

the natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well ~ hippocrates

xo Karen