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

the shop salon: feature post

Hi friends! I am very excited to share this spotlight post featuring my former hair stylist, Nikki Johnson. I started seeing Nikki at Aveda’s Kai Salon in the North Loop, Minneapolis, and it was very apparent each time I visited Nikki that she had some major ideas to pursue her dreams. We’d often talk about our work, what makes us happy, how we find balance (there’s a lot of time to talk with a full balayage, cut, brows), etc. After a couple of WONDERFUL years of seeing Nikki, she told me she would be leaving Minneapolis to move back home (a dream she was quite open about), and start her own salon. I was initially sad, because I’ve made a new friend in the city and as many women know – you get to know your hair stylist pretty damn well! Her excitement was contagious – she was grinning ear to hear and just glowing with determination. I immediately felt SO excited for her. So, now that some time has passed, I’ve asked her to put together a post on her journey to opening The Shop Salon in her hometown of Rushford, MN. Enjoy!

Grand Opening 2
My first official day working in the salon was July 27, 2017. This was my Great Grandma Clara’s birthday. The day I had my ribbon cutting ceremony was August 3, 2017. This is my Grandma and Grandpa Graham’s wedding anniversary.  I didn’t plan on these synchronized dates, they just happened.

>>Did you always know you wanted to start your own business?<<

I always have had an entrepreneurial spirit. In my first job out of college I received a she “Grabs the Bull by the Horns” award, and throughout my career previous to hair I was told . . . “You have fire in your belly.” I have always been self-motivated and excited about doing a job well done, but it wasn’t until I was 27 years old that the idea of owning my own hair salon found my mind.

>>At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to move back home and start your own salon? What was the ah-ha moment” that made it real for you?<<

I never really intended on leaving the bluffs, I’ve always loved this hidden gem tucked in the valley. I was never an, “uh. . . just get me out of here” kind of person, but it’s interesting how life just takes you where you need to go. My journey was different because it had to be. I had to get to where I was going in a round about way in order to shape me into who I am today, and I am forever grateful for each and every person that I’ve met and learned from along the way. We grow from those that surround us, and I know I wouldn’t be the me I am without ever having left and experiencing all that I did.

I worked in hospitality sales from the day I graduated college in 2007 to 2012. I initially loved it. It fit, and then it didn’t. I was burnt out and not passionate. I didn’t see it fitting me for the rest of my life. The day I realized I outgrew the hospitality industry was in December of 2011. It was a very clear moment for me. One that I feel very fortunate to have experienced. Here’s the story prior to my “ah-ha moment” . . .

After a long day at work my boss pulled me into his office and told me that the outfit I was wearing was not “professional enough.” It was. I’ve always been a bit more fashion conscious so maybe he didn’t like the trend . . . but I can assure you it was “professional enough.” In order to prove a point to myself I wore the exact same outfit a week later, only this time I curled my hair and wore heals (previously my hair was in a pony and I was wearing flats). Nothing was said a week later. I proved my point (to myself) but I was angry and annoyed. I was angry at the situation and annoyed at the idea of someone telling me how to dress every day of my life. Don’t get me wrong . . . I understand dress codes exist for a reason, however, to me, the way you dress is an expression of who you are, and I didn’t want people telling me how to express myself on a daily basis. I didn’t and still do not like the idea of creating expressive parameters such as this. The thought of someone or a company monitoring my attire felt trapping.

I also worked with some pretty miserable people. Miserable in the sense that they hated their jobs, not miserable in the sense of defining their character. They were good people. Good people who despised their work environment. Most of my work week was consumed with constant chatter collectively complaining about this and that . . . about our boss, about the work environment, about how there was never any time for family or friends, that they’d miss a baseball game or ballet recital because of work and the list went on and on. This talk wasn’t just on my coworkers, I 100% participated in this negative monkey noise. We were one big unhappy corporate family that fed off each other’s woes. I saw the weight. I felt the weight. My head spun. I was like “No, I can’t. I can’t be this.” I did not want to fall down the funnel as far as my coworkers had. They were all older than me and truthfully, I saw myself trudging in their muddy footsteps if I did not drastically change directions. The thought of staying in this career made me uneasy.

If any of you are reading this that were involved in this part of my journey please know that I am not trying to project negativity toward you . . . rather I am trying to be truthful to the situation, and without having faced this particular darkness I would not be where I am today.

I felt emotionally and physically drained, and I certainly wasn’t proud of the person I was becoming. Prior to these events and observations, I already knew that I had fallen out of love with hospitality. My passion and light for the industry in general was dim, and I knew I needed to change something or I would be stuck in the muddy muck.

Now back to my ah-ah moment. It was the end of the day when my boss pulled me into his office to talk about my attire . . . as he spoke to me I tried my hardest to not let him see that his critiques were affecting me. I quietly nodded my head and said, “Okay.” I walked out of his office, shut down my computer and took the elevator home (I had just moved back from Dallas, TX and was living in the hotel as I had not found a place to rent in Minneapolis yet). I decided to go work out and try to move my emotions in a more positive direction. It did not work. I was still upset. When I got back I walked into the bathroom and just stared at myself in the mirror. I said out loud . . . “What am I going to do with my life.” I really just thought I was having a moment asking myself a rhetorical question and would go on with my night but honestly, I just stood there looking at myself and thought quietly in my mind . . . “I should go to hair school. I would be good at it because of XYZ. I could move back home one day (which is something I’ve always wanted to do), and . . . and, I could open up my own salon! Be my own boss. Wear whatever I want.” Yep, my mind was set. I sat on one of the queen beds in my double room and I wrote down all the things I’d love to have in my shop someday. I still carry that piece of yellow paper in my purse and the coolest thing about it is . . . a lot of what I wrote a little over 6 yrs ago actually exists in The Shop today.

 

Letter
December 2011 | The dream, the vision, the letter that started it all.

>>What was the hardest part about starting your own business?
Logistically? Aesthetically? Financially?<<

Having patience, hands down. I am not a patient person in anything, and throughout this entire experience I had to learn patience.

I knew I could not afford a vehicle payment in school so I worked at the hotel for a year after my ah-ha moment paying double payments. Ironically, I smashed up that little Scion TC near the end of my time in hair school. Oof, it was quite the trying year.

The second hardest thing was the emotional stripping I didn’t know I was going to experience. I was 28, financially independent . . . independent in general, and all that freedom was taken from me. I didn’t realize what that was going to do to me emotionally until I was deep in it. 2013 was a hard year for me . . . to be completely honest I still feel a sting in my gut from the past as I write this. I was so emotionally lost and broken, but I have learned that sometimes life breaks you in order to build a stronger you. My foundation needed to be shattered in order for me to rebuild a stronger more emotionally in tune version of myself. Boy, it was a long process.

As far as logistically and aesthetically my vision was clear (thank you Pinterest). These two things were never really “hard” for me. I had a clear aesthetic vision and an unwavering trusted gut feeling that logistically it was just going to work out when the time was right.

Financially things freaked me out from time to time, but again . . . I just knew it was going to work out. I did save every penny and dime I could during this process knowing and trusting that “one day” I’d use it to open up a salon.

So to recap . . . the hardest pieces in this journey thus far have been patience and the emotional instability. I have learned to be better with patience and believe this was Gods way of teaching me this virtue. I also believe God knew that I needed an improvement to set a solid foundation of who I am. To this day, I am still sad that this part of my life was lead with my head down . . . however, I am extremely grateful for the struggles that shaped me and that my perspective on life is light.

Core Values
Core Values: Gratitude | Simplicity | Self Love


>>What advice do you
give aspiring business owners? What are some lessons learned from your experience?<<

I am a lover of quotes and during the toughest of times there were a few that held me together. Those being . . . “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams “Let passion devour laziness” and “Start Somewhere.” I would literally take a breath when I read those words and be like . . . “Yes, okay. I got this.” I love quotes so much that I have my color clients write me a quote during their processing time. A few of my favorites so far are . . . “Real queens fix each other’s crowns” and “You have to be odd to be number 1.” I post up the quotes in this mini porcelain pig I bought from Magnolia Market, and rotate a couple of them at a time.

  • Find quotes that inspire you. Ones that give you fuel.
  • Try your darndest to not let the crazy affect your personal relationships. Starting something completely unknown is uncomfortable, and uncomfortable feelings feed shadowed emotions. I was not the best version of myself during these trying times and that is still hard for me to accept.
  • Do not allow the unknowing emotions hinder the relationships closest to you. Trust.

Looking back I knew where I was going, I fully believed in my vision with my whole heart . . . I just wish I would have enjoyed the moments more. I was so forward focused I forgot to live, and like I mentioned above this too is still hard for me to accept. I honestly lost years, and you can’t set back the clock on the choices you make.

  • Keep your vision clear, but enjoy the ride (even the bumpy parts). It’s all temporary. 
  • I marked my savings account “DO NOT TOUCH.” This helped me. Save any amount you can. $1 is a $1. Even if it’s a small amount, in the end it makes a difference.

As you can see I struggled during this time, but I also believed in myself.

  • Believe in yourself, even if others don’t. Bulldoze naysayers (not literally, but in your mind), and shine your light in the darkness. You only need to see one step in front of you to get where you’re going.

I wrote down my ideas in the notes section of my iPhone, and would Pinterest ideas any chance I could get. Writing down my ideas and seeing photos of the things I sought made my dream real. I searched pictures of ‘open and closed’ signs, wallpaper, décor, décor, décor, marketing tips, you name it. I am so happy I did this because there are about 842 things happening at once when it is time to start moving, and come “go time” this helped me tremendously in reminding me what it was that I actually wanted.

  • Pinterest your ideas. Write down your unique ideas as soon as they pop in your mind. When it comes time to open your business you’ll be so thankful for all of this.
  • Breathe. Balance. Believe. Whatever that looks like for you . . . breathe, balance, believe.
MissionStatement
Mission Statement: My goal for clients to recognize their own individual beauty, one that is uniquely theirs. My vision is for beauty to be seen not only in hair, but in the simple gifts we are awarded each and every day.

 

>>What is your favorite part about your new journey as a small business owner?<<

Wearing whatever I want. LOL no, there are so many “favorites” being a small business owner (challenges too) but as they say . . . the rewards outweigh the risk / trying moments.

A few favorites that come to mind are . . .

  • I get to talk and learn from my wonderfully awesome clients all the while sprucing up their ‘do.
  • “The look— it is the look a person gives themselves in the mirror, like . . . “Heck yea, I like what I see.” Knowing that I helped someone gain confidence in who they already are has got to be one of the most rewarding gifts a hairstylist can have.
  • As a stylist and business owner I am allowed to express myself in so many creative outlets . . . from hair, to décor, attire, products, marketing, etc. and to me . . . that is freedom.

Karen Dahl, you shining soul . . . thank you for giving me a platform to tell my story.

Nikki Johnson
Owner / Hairstylist The Shop Salon
Instagram: @theshopsalon.mn
Website: theshopsalonmn.wixsite.com/theshop

____________________________________________________________________________________________

(Back to Karen, now!) — I truly loved Nikki’s expression of her journey and all of the hard obstacles and raw truth she shares with the rest of us. I leave this post with an amazing photo Nikki sent me – the Enso:

Enso
T H E  E N S O
The “broken circle” in The Shop Salon’s logo is an ensō circle. When I found out the meaning behind this expression of art I knew it was made for The Shop.
The ensō . . .
: :  Is created in a single brush stroke reminding us to appreciate the beauty in each moment.
: :  No two are the same.
: :  The break 1). Signifies how moments in life are imperfect, but perfect and 2). Illustrates that we are not closed off from the universe, but instead reminds us that we are part of something greater than ourselves.
So . . . just as no to ensō circles are the same, no two humans are the same. We are all imperfectly perfect human beings existing together in a universe greater than ourselves.
Live in the moment, experience the beauty, embrace what is #uniquelyyours and go on with your imperfectly perfect self!

 

“What if I fall? Oh, but my darling . . . what if you fly?”

If I can do it, you can do it.