Perfect- Everyone’s Poison of Choice

It’s hard to explain social media to someone that doesn’t get it. And I don’t
mean answering “IT” calls during Scandal to tell your dad how to post a photo on Facebook. I mean for the people that don’t have the same urge to create, share, and interact on a virtual reality.

To the naysayers that claim social media is all perfect filters, planned poses, and only the best parts of our days…I don’t know what to say to you. Because you’re not wrong.

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Aka the best part of everyone’s day

I’ve taken an unintentional hiatus from blogging, journaling, and meditating. Just as I tell my yoga students as they enter the love/hate pigeon pose, it is where we are least comfortable that we need to be most. I have been avoiding what I needed most, because I didn’t have the perfect thing to say.

For the past four months, I have been answering the small-talk question “How are things? How is work?” with the small-answer that is expected, “Great!” Failing to mention that I was doubting myself on an incredibly regular basis.

My life is great, it truly is. Online and offline. With and without filters. But after we spend our whole lives going to school and training for a career, and when work becomes the focus of most conversations, it’s hard to have such a large part of one’s life stray from perfect.

Freshman year of college, when we were all home for Thanksgiving, I remember everyone always asking each other, “How is ____? Do you LOVE it?” There seems to only be one right answer to that question. Lucky for me, the answer was genuinely yes, but something tells me there were some filtered yeses reporting back as well.

Conversations about jobs were always focused on nailing the interview, getting hired, and how to negotiate salaries. But what no one talked about is that once the ink of the offer letter is dried, the welcome wagon is long gone, the real work begins.

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“Honestly, Andy, you’re not trying. You’re whining.” Favorite scene. Even more favorite movie.

Because perfect isn’t an option for 40+ hours a week. Perfect is too easy. Perfect doesn’t stick around for learning curves, trying things that scare you, and thinking outside of what’s been done before. Perfect doesn’t prepare you to be the one in the driver’s seat one day. Perfect stays behind the screen as we scroll by.

But when asked in passing, over vodka sodas and loud music, or following good news, no one mentions that. So we think—even if we don’t believe it—it must just be me.

Well team, you fooled me. I believed it was just me, and that I needed to make a drastic change to my career path. But figuring out the 5 Ws of that shift made each day in my current role more difficult. Turns out it’s really hard to move forward with one foot in and one foot out. To the point that I didn’t want the mess of my confusion and doubt written out on the pages of my journal, to dance around in my still mind, and I definitely couldn’t sort them out to make public.

I’ve realized through conversations with my true north confidants, attending the recent Minneapolis Mad Women event, and having more thoughts in a run than steps, that you can’t sabotage your career at 23. Doesn’t seem possible. I refuse to accept that as a possibility.

It wasn’t perfect opportunities that were catching my eye, it was the idea of how perfect it could be. A perfect opportunity is the one that allows you to overcome challenges, and keep trekking to the light even when the tunnel isn’t perfectly built.

There’s no need to fight or flight from the discomfort, or filter the imperfections. Rather, we grow when we stay in the present, and show that we can be a team player and choose positivity even when it isn’t easy.

And most importantly, when work isn’t our strongest (let alone the only) source of fulfillment, worth, and joy, it’s a lot easier to remember how truly-unfiltered-great life is. Knowing regardless of what the light or tunnel looks like, you are a damn good train, and yes, you can.

How Did They Do That?

IMG_4986Always in amazement of Minneapolis Mad Women events, I’m not surprised I’m still sharing, connecting, and gaining inspiration from the March #HowDidTheyDoThat? session. Six women and one redefining-the-term-power-couple made up the panel that shared their journeys of how they got to where they are today.

Journey doesn’t mean read me your resume, for these speakers, it meant sharing stories of vulnerability, doubt, missteps, and embracing risk.

I could go on forever about the details of each stories (ask my friends, I have) but what sticks with me two weeks later is rather than checking all the boxes and moving through the motions, trust your instincts to follow your own path. Here’s a highlight of how they did it:

  • Kalei Grines, Business Engagement for Target Style, shared that she began her career hiding that she was a single mom, and later having her daughter think of the office as a second home. Once her daughter’s 10th birthday rolled around, Kalei realized she had crossed off all the goals and positions she wanted, but didn’t see her own work in who her independent, extroverted and gifted daughter had become. If something feels like it’s missing from your work/life balance, it probably is. Redefine success to include the life you want to live.
  • Jeremy and Krista Carroll, founders of Latitude, were inspired after spending time in Haiti to leave jobs they weren’t connected to and start their own business dedicated to elevating lives in third-world countries. For this leap to be possible, they asked themselves, “What’s the worst case scenario?” After confirming moving their family into Krista’s parent’s basement was indeed an option, the plan seemed less crazy. Krista credits Latitude’s success to purpose driving talent.
  • Pamela Brown, Brand Licensing & Partnership Management at General Mills, wrote a hilarious letter to her 22 year-old self that prepared her to reframe her career experiences that were to come. She called these “gifts wrapped in shitty ugly paper,” such as receiving a bad boss, terrible pay, no work/life balance; all of which helped her know what to look for in her next role. These shitty, ugly, gifts prepared her not to compromise on what mattered to her most.

After the eight panelists shared their stories, someone asked what their two non-negotiables are in a job. After brainstorming on the way home, and for the last two weeks, I’ve decided my non-negotiables are creative outlets and work/life balance

  • While I currently create content, webinars, graphics, white papers, that is not the only way creativity must show up for me. It’s thinking creatively as well— finding a new solution, trying things that haven’t been done— that make me feel like my whole self is coming to work.
  • Work/life balance isn’t actually a matter of balance. An amazing mentor once told
    me, “If something is in balance, it’s not moving.” So for me, it’s having an employer that allows for flexibility and life outside of work, and for me to be an employee that doesn’t make them regret that. I’m a better employee when I have IMG_4539time for early morning yoga, and evening hours spent away from screens.

I’m lucky that my first role and organization offer these two non-negotiables. At #HowDidTheyDoIt? I realized how many different paths and experiences people come from. We are all too unique to march to the beat of someone else’s drum, or cling to a set in stone five year plan.

For me, remembering that is like a full body exhale. Rather than worrying about being behind or getting ahead, get the most out of every experience and opportunity so you can one day be the panelist saying, this is how I did it.

Chia Pudding- Protein + Coffee

In my book, Sundays were designed for those if only I had time for… wish list items. For me this often means making up new and extensive recipes. However, if the Sunday somehow slipped away, this chia pudding recipe is a quick way to snack plan and make the rest of your week a breeze.
chia puddingWhat you need:

  • Protein Powder: Vanilla SFH Pure if you want to get like me, or any will do
  • 8 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup coffee (let it cool)
  • 1-1.5 cup almond milk (I prefer original over unsweetened)

Hit it:

Mix dry ingredients together, mason jars work amazing for this exact step. Then add in 3/4 cup chilled coffee, stir or shake. Fill the remainder of the jar with the 1-1.5 cup almond milk and stir or shake once again. Be sure that there isn’t any chia seeds or powder chunks sticking to the side.

Leave in the fridge overnight and then celebrate come snack time Monday morning! This amount is good for 2-4 servings, depending on how excited you are about chia pudding. So while you’re at it, make enough for the whole week.

Why I love it:

  • Get a mix of sweet and bitter with the vanilla, cocoa, and almond milk paired with coffee and chia seeds. Tasty enough for dessert but healthy enough for a daily snack. Win-win.
  • Chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats (hard to get outside of fish and nuts), protein, and vitamins. Yes. Please.
  • It truly is as easy as it sounds to make, and is healthy snack to grab and go. Granola bars and flavored yogurt, we’re onto you.

Enjoy!

Zoodle + Shrimp Pad Thai

Yes, please. If you haven’t heard me talk about my zoodler, you aren’t asking the right questions. I am obsessed. If you aren’t familiar, I’m referring to a handy tool that can make noodles out of any vegetable. {Zucchini noodles–> zoodles –> zoodler} Technically it’s called a veggetti…but that name has obvious issues that the entire marketing team somehow overlooked. If you want to convince anyone that your dish is better than regular noodles, I recommend staying away from that word.

Let’s hit it:IMG_4491

What you need (Prep 20 mins)
-First and foremost, a Zoodler! Aka a vegetti…but that name has obvious issues that the
entire marketing team somehow overlooked. So I call it a zoodler. Rice noodles could be used if you aren’t convinced this tool will change your life.
-6 zucchinis (on the smaller side)
-3 eggs
-15 shrimp, defrosted
-1 can chickpeas
-3 tbsp garlic
-Simmer sauce (Trader Joe’s Red Thai Curry is my fave)
-Crushed red pepper
-Lemon & pepper seasoning

IMG_4492How to (Cook time 15 mins)
-Start boiling the water and zoodle all zucchinis into a large bowl, set aside.
-Sautee shrimp and season with lemon & pepper spice, set aside.
-Add zoodles to boiling water, cook for 5-7 minutes; drain
-Chop shrimp into thirds, add to zoodles with drained chickpeas, garlic, and stir in simmer sauce to cover mixture. Low heat for 5 minutes.
-Scramble the 3 eggs, and stir in.
-Add crushed red pepper to taste, and serve!

Serves four. Or in my language, bring to work in a large tupperware and have with salad for four days 🙂 Why Zoodle?

  • Zucchinis are rich in fiber, protein, vitamins (A, B6, C & K), potassium, magnesium, and folate. This is true for zucchini squash as well!
  • Sweet potatoes are an amazing source of vitamin A (shout out to that beta-carotene), vitamin C, copper, magnesium, fiber, vitamins B1 & B2, and phosphorus. And then you get to say sweet patoodle. My kind of perk.

Compared to pasta, which usually has at least 200 carb-dense calories/serving. For me, the main differentiator is that vegetable noodles have one nutrient-rich ingredient going into their production, while pasta is processed and preserved.

I can tell you from my four months of living in Italy that all of those ingredients, preservatives, and coloring agents do make a difference. Fresh and homemade pasta was not reserved for the most gourmet restaurants, it is just how Italians make pasta. As a result, Americans who are gluten-intolerant/sensitive tend to not experience issues.

If a trip isn’t in the near future, start experimenting with fresh zucchini noodles! Have a favorite zoodler recipe? Please share!

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The Best Guests

 

“We are coming tomorrow- Thursday am,” my mom texted me at 9 pm Monday night. To which the only logical response was, “Who knew?!?”

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Kylie, Ingrid, Myself, the stars: Sheryl, Scott

With ski equipment and an early birthday gift packed, a dogsitter arranged, and a non-refundable hotel reservation on the books, it seemed the suggested February 19-21 visit to the Cities had accidentally been moved up a month. Even as the last to know, I am so glad it did.

To ensure the 5+ hour drive from Milwaukee is worthwhile, I normally have a detailed itinerary with the objective of making them as obsessed with the Twin Cities as I am. Clearly we’ve made progress if they’re voluntarily visiting in January. AmIRight?

So Tuesday’s date night of fish tacos at Brandon’s and late Revenant viewing became a double date. While my go-to is visiting the best or newest restaurants, I think we may have discovered a new tradition. Brandon and I take our homemade dinners very seriously (let me know if you want to score an invite), so getting to share a meal and snapshot of our weeknights with my family was far more meaningful than any trendy menu.

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Important vegetarian note: Freehouse allows black bean substitutes for any burger *heart eyes emoji*

We met back up for lunch Wednesday downtown at Ling & Louie’s, which my roommate Sarah Duever joined us for. In an effort to make everyone feel like a celebrity, I like to alert the masses that my parents are in town and see what they’re able to join us for. My mom then spent hours exploring Nicollet Mall and mastering the skyways in the name of shopping. While I was being a worker bee, my dad showed himself around town and visited the Mill City Museum.

With some help from a Minneapolis event calendar, we decided on dinner at Freehouse and a comedy show at Acme Comedy as our evening activity. With the very intense viewing of Revenant (I spent a lot of time hiding in my scarf) the night before, I figured laughter would be the best medicine. However, any night with the celeb guest list of my parents and freshman year clan/Florida and Vegas travel companions Kylie and Ingrid is destined to be hilarious.

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For the record, I took this before photos were outlawed (Kylie, not so much)

As a first-timer to the Acme Comedy Club, I would absolutely recommend it to anyone visiting or living in Minneapolis. It mixes the posh atmosphere of it’s North Loop stomping grounds with the comfort and coziness all Minnesotans love. Servers visit you in the red plush seating for drink orders, as we laughed (with a few cringes) through three openers and the main act: Minnesota-native, Cy Amundson.

While Amy Schumer Radio sometimes gets me through the work day, nothing compares to the intoxicating atmosphere of a comedy club. Surrounded by other audience members, some with a crazier laugh than mine, you can’t help but be present. Even though I couldn’t have told you Monday this is what my week would have looked like, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I wanted to be, or company I’d rather have.

Sometimes it’s what we’ve planned the least that we need the most. Scott and Sher- you are welcome any time.

 

Thanksgiving Gamechangers

TurkeyDinnerRollsLargeThanksgiving is an interesting day for a vegetarian. Yes, the option of having a “bread turkey” has been visited, but I have never been one to get on board for swapping protein for carbs. I’ve had black bean burgers on my plate for many years, and frankly, it’s a little sad. I have friends that opt out and go for Noodles mac&cheese, but to my last points, I am determined this year to be more included in my favorite holiday.

This year, whole foods it is. Regardless of a specialized diet, it’s great to have options that you will be happy with during the feast that won’t leave you in a food coma. I promise these recipes are tried and true, even by coworkers terrified of kale. Let’s get cooking:

Autumn Salad

-2 cucumbersIMG_3690
-2 honeycrisp apples
-2 cups steamed/sauteed kale (optional)
-1/4 french baguette*
-1/2 chopped red onion
-3/4 cup dried cranberries (note: not craisins but just a health preference)
-3/4 cup chopped walnuts
-cover in balsamic vinegar** and olive oil
*If celiac sensitive: swap for quinoa, or leave out.
**Little known fact that I love to share: balsamic vinegar is amazing to pair with anything starchy (bring some for those mashed potatoes!) because it slows the spike in your blood sugar that comes from digesting carbs. On Thanksgiving, my blood sugar will take any help it can get.

The BEST Apple Butternut Squash Soup
(this is actually a Martha Stewart recipe, not a Sarah Reed original but I make it a lot so that counts for something, yes?)

I swap the chicken stock for vegetable broth and butter for coconut oil- highly recommend!

Balsamic Eggplant & Tofu
This is like my version of meat and potatoes, the end result is just about as colorful but don’t be fooled, this is filling and nutrient packed.

thanksgiving2 eggplants
1 package of extra firm tofu (TJ’s has my favorite)
Coconut oil
At least 2 cups balsamic vinegar
Cayenne pepper, sesame seeds, other seasoning as desired
1-2 handfuls raw almonds

Dice eggplant and place large pot with simmered 2 tbsp coconut oil. Pour 3/4 cup water over eggplant and cover
Stir occasionally, around 15 minutes until eggplant will be soft. Drain excess water and pour enough balsamic vinegar to cover top layer, cover again. Cook for 5 more minutes, or until balsamic is absorbed. Add sesame seeds & serve. (4 servings)

Slice tofu into diced quadrants, and soak in bowl of balsamic vinegar for 10 minutes. Add tofu to simmered coconut oil in sauce pan, flip tofu slices once golden brown (about 10 minutes). Expedited route: add balsamic vinegar to tofu after flipping, instead of marinating. Add in almonds while the second side browns, or add at end. (2-4 servings)

ENJOY and as always, let me know what you try!

 

My Why

“I don’t know why anyone does what they do,” I confessed to my coworkers, “I know why you’re good at your jobs, but I don’t know how you ended up in them or why you’re passionate about them. So here’s my why.”

Hosting a marketing lunch & learn for my coworkers, I realized what drives every element of my life—passion—has yet to be communicated to the majority of the people in the room, despite the small size of our group.

H&C 2014 - CopyI explained that I was originally drawn to Work Effects for the apples and discussion of “health” I saw on the website. It turned out this referred to organizational health (aka not being a toxic workplace) and with time that has caught my interest as well. 40 hours a week (and often more) is a lot of time to spend in one place, and I take pride in contributing to those 40+ hours being healthier and happier.

The presentation was designed to give people an idea of what I do, but that couldn’t be explained without why I do it-

Screen Shot 2015-03-05 at 10.45.10 PM1. Brands tell stories: There is so much more that goes into why you buy one brand over the other, which brands you follow on social media, and how you think of an organization. I love interpreting, creating, and telling these stories. Whether that’s through writing, images, or events, stories draw me to content creation.

2. Create the best version of oneself: This is where my worlds cross. Out of the office, I am dedicated to helping others nurture the best version of themselves through health and fitness. I get to do this in a very different way with brand management, and make strategic choices to create a brand’s story.

3. Plan to execution: There’s something extra rewarding about being involved in each step of a process. Expertise is proud in when needed, but I love playing an active role in the strategy, creation, fine-tuning, and execution of an idea.
Webinar 1 Promotion

4. Give attention where it is deserved: I think marketers have the unique opportunity to decide what and who is in the limelight. For example, Work Effects was recently asked to speak at an Organizational Development Network event. There was many other similar organizations being considered, but they were most interested in our approach to culture and wanted to reward that quality of work.

There is so much about our daily lives that is unique to who we are. Even if the activity, role, or organization is the same, how each person got to the present moment is a different journey. I believe in sharing these stories, which sometimes calling for going a bit off script and blurring lines of our personal and professional lives. I don’t want my coworkers (or anyone for that matter) to understand my role, I want them to understand me.

So, tell your story. What is your why?

3 Reasons to Recharge

“Your name, and the best news you have received in the last week.” This is what I was recently asked to share as part of an ice breaker introduction. I jogged my memory for the best thing that happened in the last week, and oddly enough it was the time that was originally placed on my calendar as a chore.agd

“Hi, I’m Sarah. This isn’t really news,” I explained, “but I am a Recruitment Specialist for my sorority, and I feel like this week I really just got my shit together.” Followed by some laughs, the leader of the group asked if there was anything in particular that I did to get a handle on my work. My eyes lit up. “So I made this spreadsheet,” I started, and I think I lost everyone after that. But that’s okay, the enthusiasm of how great it feels to organize my life carried through.

I think of this as admin time, something we would understand as part of any job description, but often forget to pencil into our own lives. Whatever the specifics may be for you, the time to recharge is now:

1. Honesty is the best policy: This quality time with my laptop and excel came after weeks of not giving my position and chapters the attention they deserve. Not so surprisingly, ignoring my shortcomings was not making them any less real. This catch up time allowed me to be honest with myself and others, and start working towards solutions. It’s only when we make the conscious choices to push through what doesn’t come easily that we get to enjoy that weight-off-the-shoulders/shit-together utopia. Shout out to Nicole Mardell for reminding me of this.

2. Healthy habits: Like anything, this reminds me of yoga and fitness. Once you know how good you can feel, it’s hard to go back. Since this revelation, I’ve made habits of being consistent with this out-of-work commitment, and creating routines the same way I would for work responsibilities. When something is top of mind, it’s much easier to squeeze in or block time off for the task. This week I tried a new routine: focusing on myself in a favorite Alchemy workout, then going to Spyhouse next door to send emails and finish reports. It was perfect. I was so focused that I tried to stay longer even when the coffee shop began playing “Closing Time,” and dimming the lights, until I was personally informed that it was time to go.

3. Be present: If something doesn’t relate to working out, it relates to recruitment. This is how my world works. This morning, when I was getting on the bus I sat down next to an older man, who was sitting crookedly, not by choice. I left a seat between us to leave room for his legs, but at the next stop a woman my age sat between us. The man explained to her he had to sit this way, and apologized for his legs being in her way. Instead of nodding and sitting quietly the rest of the time like all other 8:00 a.m. passengers, she assured him it was not a problem and that she would help him if needed. They talked the remainder of the bus ride, and because I was eaves dropping instead of actually reading my book, I know that they made a great connection. She found out what happened to his leg, heard stories of his motorcycle rides in California, and learned about his connection to Minneapolis. At the surface, they had nothing in common and had no reason to engage. These connections are only able to occur when we are present, not looking at our phones, and have enough inner peace to start seeing the world through others.

Screen Shot 2014-12-27 at 3.37.17 PMInner-peace starts with the removal of inner-chaos, and ridding your life of the habits that nourish chaos. Had I not taken care of myself first by going to yoga this morning, would I have been present enough to notice how the old man was sitting, or their conversation? I can’t say.

What I can say certainly, is that it’s easier to disengage. It’s easy to go through the motions. But that’s not what recharging is about. I didn’t organize contact information or sit in a coffee shop because I felt like I had to, that wouldn’t be rewarding in the slightest. The first step in this admin time is remembering why you do what you do, remembering what you are missing when chaos is present, and most importantly remembering to only give your time to what could contribute to the best news of your week.

Here’s to Happy

“I know you like to give gifts you can take part in,” my boyfriend Brandon said to me, as he attempted to guess what I had planned for his birthday. It’s very true. I believe experiences trump all. That’s why I’ve moved away from tangible gifts and given those close to me something we both value more, time.

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Split Rock Lighthouse

Even though birthdays are designed to be focused on the person of celebration, they tend to snowball into elaborate plans including a list of people you “probably should” invite. Think of the last weekend you had where nothing was on the agenda. Somehow, doing exactly what you want becomes a luxury.

It required a complete disregard of FOMO to skip UMN Homecoming and instead take a spontaneous trip to Grand Marais for Brandon’s birthday weekend. But camping without electricity, hiking for hours, and being removed from the noise and motion of the city was far from a downgrade,

We skipped a night of bar hopping, and instead spent an afternoon at Vine Park Brewing making our own craft beer. And instead of leaving it to the experts at Brasa, we opted for a birthday feast that evening was entirely homemade.

Yes, doing things differently has its perks.

When it comes to experiential gifts, there is an element of uncertainty. If I order a present online, I am guaranteed my expectations. Experiences? Rolling with the punches is required.

I was reminded of this this week when Brandon and I returned to the brewery to bottle our beer after it fermented for the last 2 weeks.
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Making the beer on his birthday had been great; we measured the hops for a recipe similar to our favorite IPA, Surly Furious, and while it brewed in stages we had down time to walk around St. Paul (read: and then quickly walk to the bar across the street, sorry Alchemy 365 Challenge).

For the bottling session, we brought Pizza Lucé and sampled our new beer in between cases. With a few beers overflowed, I was continuously demoted from my place in the assembly line, and instead focused my efforts on brainstorming our brewery label branding.

When 6 cases of delicious IPAs were ready to be brought to the car, we realized someone had taken Brandon’s jacket that was hanging on the coat hook. Not great, especially when the pockets included his sunglasses and work ID. This is the punch that comes with experiences. As with any day, it can be hard to overcome the hiccups.

I worried that this would overshadow the entire experience and that the bad taste left in our mouths would overpower that of the IPA. This isn’t the first time I’ve worried about this type of selective memory, because it’s only with intentional choice that positivity is our default. After a quiet car ride home, we made an intentional choice.

The great thing about experiences, is the memories cannot break, get misplaced or stolen. True happiness isn’t tangible, and it comes from people, not things. This choice was the calm after the storm of a stressful morning, of calling strangers to see if they had a coat*, of losing focus on thebeer present moment. And that’s what this beer, all 72 22 ounce bottles**, will be as well.

That’s how I finally landed on the branding for our imaginary brewery, The Gorge, and the new delicious IPA, Lotus. The label is also drawn in my mind, because this is a marketer’s idea of fun. Lotus flowers bloom after rooting and growing in mud; and I believe the best things, experiences, mindsets—and now beers—come from appreciating the work that goes into them.


*Brandon’s coat was found at a nearby bar and returned. HUGE shout out to Vine Park Brewing, Bennett’s Chops and Railhouse, and that Minnesota Nice.

**6 cases of beer is not an exaggeration, if you would like to try Lotus, please holler.