I had the Today Show playing in the background as I buzzed along to get ready for work earlier this week. It was simply noise (don’t judge, I know you do it too). I heard a segment aimed toward women and the “Have it All Myth.” The story played out on my peripheral senses, the content not important but the idea sticking to my feminine psyche and current situation.

Get ready to roll your eyes. I have a wonderful man in my life, cool apartment, fantastic and challenging job with a Chicago start-up, an active hobby list that ranges from street art to yoga. Over the last year I landed a super-competitive internship with Red Frog Events, and then hit the road as Klean Kanteen’s Tour Manager on Vans Warped Tour 2012. And I balanced (uh, juggled) it all between 65+ cities and 25+ great American states.

Still want to be friends? Because it’s not easy, I’m sure there’s a scar or two that could tell a story. But it’s possible. While I’m not trying to blow your mind with the following tips, hopefully it can be a refresher (if nothing else a cucumber spritz to the face), different take, and/or reinforcement of a real person making it all work.

Know when to be multi-tasking and when to be….single-tasking. Send a text to your boyfriend while entering info into an Excel spreadsheet with your favorite jam bumpin’ in the background and a pie in the oven. Get it girl. But if you’ve got something you deem worthy of full attention at that moment, don’t give it anything less. This takes far more discipline than successful multi-tasking, hands-down. Consciously finding balance between complete abandon and complete control will blow your mind.

Act selfishly in a graceful manner. Could be a lethal mix of Aries, oldest child, and Midwestern nose-to-the-grindstone work ethic, but I can’t help it.  If I know what I want, I am not embarrassed to get it. I want to be clear though, it’s not about clubbing your competition to death like a baby seal. You need to truly get to know yourself, so you can go after the opportunities that make you happy. Use this mentality in approaching a job; here is what I can offer you, and now tell me what you can offer me. If it’s a real match, great! If not, I’m going to flat out say no, and selfishly find a better fit for me no matter what. It’s scary, but going after what’s really important to you will make any type of relationship work.

Make by making. Have to give credit to Threadless Co-Founder Jake Nickell for this one. In a recent Dabble class, he put words to what I was already doing. I didn’t know how to be a Tour Manager for a well-established and grueling 51-day long tour before I just did it. But I knew I liked music, had management skills, and wanted to see the country. So I used the tools I had, and went into each day with a sponge-like mindset. In leaving myself open to new experiences and charging ahead with a hands-on mentality, I rocked the face off that tour; ending with sales up 30K from the previous year. Plus I came out the other end knowing how to hunt down and hook into any in-ground water source. Never know when that’ll come in handy.

Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to the world. If you take away only one thing from this post, hear this: live an aware life. The world has strangely beautiful undercurrents that rise up at the right time, and you have to be aware enough to recognize them. I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend, so of course that’s when the best guy comes along. I had never heard of Red Frog Events until a good friend sent me a link, “you’d be perfect!” Before I knew it, my resume was selected out of 2000+ and I landed the internship. Through a very real bond that formed out of a professional partnership (and shared love for good ol’ H2O), I was invited to head up Klean Kanteen’s sponsorship for Warped Tour. And when my guy said we should take a woodworking class through Dabble, I saw beyond one class and recognized their mission was something I wanted to dedicate myself to. Go with your gut on those opportunities!

What’s the moral of the story? I’m not perfect. But I’ve had some pretty awesome experiences by tuning in: to myself, to others, and to the world. Trust me, with good people as the connector, and passion as your guide, you can design your life without straining to do so. I suggest giving it a try.

“For the people that put the passion before them being comfortable,” Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.


Kelsey is Many Projects Manager for Dabble. She lives in Chicago’s Bucktown Neighborhood and spends her weekends in either Milwaukee and Chicago; enjoying amazing food, catching a live show, or snowshoeing. The most recent Dabble class she’s taken was Street Art & Print Making at Once Strange Bird. She’s one of the lucky few who loves her job!