Wise Women Wednesday: Sarah Keel

Sarah Keel

Q. Who are you? What is your background? 
A. Hi! I’m Sarah, and I wear a lot of hats!  Wife, mother, photographer, volunteer, entrepreneur (there, I said it!), certified paralegal, armchair psychologist, health and wellness advocate, runner (in the loosest definition), yogi, gym rat, personal development advocate… My background is as varied as my interests – the four times I changed my major in college should have been a big clue as to how the rest of my life was going to go… (I eventually settled on English & Psychology, so apologies in advance for the probably verbose responses).   I was born in Southern California, moved to the east coast at 10, and settled in Greensboro right before my sophomore year in high school and I haven’t left since!  I love to travel (both to new places and familiar ones), but exploring our own city is a high priority this year, so finding the balance between those two is interesting, a little bit challenging, and a lot of fun!

Q. What is your work?
A. Professionally, my chosen career is in the retail real estate field. I love seeing how empty spaces (and sometimes empty land!) transform into retail spaces, and closing these deals sometimes takes a bit of problem-solving and creativity!  It’s funny how this industry has completely shaped how I view things, sometimes - whenever I travel, I’m always on the lookout for local boutiques and other unique mom & pop shops in town, as well as checking out the big national stores.  (To the point I dragged my entire family all over Nashville a few years ago looking for this ONE taco shop… we found it and it did not disappoint!)  I love how Greensboro is seeing a kind of a resurgence of the local pop-up boutiques, and local enterprises and non-profits taking hold throughout the city – our city has a strong entrepreneurial spirit!  My passions are in photography & digital design, and whole-body health & wellness… I’m working on merging those into one neat package but I’ll be honest… it’s been a challenge.  The goal of it all is to bring joy and cultivate inspiration, as well as be a catalyst for encouraging growth and change in my community and circles of friends/colleagues.

Photograph by Sarah Keel

Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. Working on building a web & social presence for my photography and digital offerings which will focus on non-profits and other entrepreneurs who need stock or social media-ready images, campaigns, posts, etc., and to just spread positivity and encouragement in general… as well as incorporating my husband’s woodworking & creative endeavors into the fold somewhere (creating things is high on our list of goals together!).  I have absolutely zero experience in building a website, so naturally, that’s what I want to tackle first. (I’m a lifelong learner, if nothing else!)  I’ve tried to whittle down my passions before, and it just didn’t feel right, so I’m embracing being pulled by multiple projects in one direction – they’ll all intersect somewhere!

Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. Aside from running a trail half marathon, I swore I’d never do again, the most daunting thing I’ve done recently is take control of my overall health, which has been an ongoing learning experience for a few years now.  I have discovered some things that provided a momentary scare, some I will have to monitor for the rest of my life, and others that have answered some lingering questions and provided a sense of relief.  But knowing something wasn’t “right” and taking the steps to fully explore it has been rewarding and eye-opening.  It’s an ongoing, ever-evolving journey that still throws some curve balls (like this peanut allergy, for instance), but looking back at how I used to feel even a year or two ago, compared with how I feel and act now is confirmation it was the right decision... and it has allowed me to in turn help others by sharing my experience, as well as run aforementioned insane trail races (which I still swear I will never do again!).

 Photograph By Sarah Keel

Photograph By Sarah Keel

Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it?  If not, why not?  What's stopping you? 
A. I want to be a positive influence on people’s lives.  I want to encourage those who feel like they have nothing left in the tank.  I want to link arms with entrepreneurs across all industries and help them feel less overwhelmed!  I want to bring joy, inspiration, and creativity into people’s lives through photography and digital design; whether that means a quote on an image every day in your inbox to inspire you or get your mind going, or creating memories through taking pictures, I don’t know - but I have a timeline, I have accountability partners, and I’m working on it!

Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. Travel more.  Change jobs; choose multiple career paths.  Move to a different state for a while.  NO, that is not a crazy idea and you should totally pursue it. Quit doing it because other people are doing it, and do what you WANT to do.  Have some deep-thinking sessions about what you want out of life and then make a plan and go for it.

Mostly, remember that whatever you go through, no matter how sucky, complicated, or exhilarating, is laying the groundwork for something else.  It’s all stepping stones, and they’re all necessary.  It may not be pretty when you’re down in the trenches getting dirty, but it will all make sense when everything aligns.  Everything has a purpose.

Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. “Stop holding on to your history, at the expense of your destiny.” Chad Veach, via Addicted 2 Success Podcast

“What you are afraid to do is a clear indication of the next thing you need to do.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Decide what to be, and go be it.” The Avett Brothers

I listen to a lot of podcasts when I run, and have heard quite a few nuggets, but the first two hit me right where I needed it.  I tend to get bogged down by “The Past” and my perceived shortcomings, and by the fear of making a decision that takes me out of my comfort zone, but at the end of the day, I need to be the one who makes it happen.  My gut has been telling me to “just go for it” lately, so… it’s time to do just that!

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Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. Lately, the feeling of knowing there is something different out there for me, and the realization that I must be the one to pursue it.  Cutting the “fluff” out in the evenings has helped free up some time to do what I need to do to keep going… and creating a life for myself and my family that fulfills our vision(s) also keeps me going – we have some big goals and we are ready to bring those to life!

Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. Since I love to create graphics, and I need visual reminders (you should see my desk – it’s covered in sticky notes!), I created a graphic that I placed at my desks at work and at home to remind me of some areas I need to focus on – “Anticipate.  Appreciate.  Abundance.  ACTION.”  This reminds me that I have to work on these skills daily, as well as take ACTION on something every single day.  Nothing happens unless I make it happen… and I encourage you to look at what may need some action in your life, and create a plan to get after it!

 This image was created by Sarah

This image was created by Sarah

Q. What's your favorite yoga pose? 
A. Warrior!  I love a good Warrior series in the middle of a session… I feel strong, stable and vulnerable all at the same time.  Also, Pigeon is good for stretching out those legs after a good run!

Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
I’ve recently started taking a few minutes at the end of every day to decompress and express gratitude for the day.  Some days it’s hard, and it should be –the peaks and valleys of life need to exist for everything to have some perspective.  I chose a long time ago to not focus on what I seem to lack - there’s always something we feel like we’re missing, no matter what we have going on in our lives.  By choosing to shift my focus to abundance – to what I have currently – I’ve noticed so many more opportunities and examples of where things are going right and working in our favor.  It’s produced a huge mindset shift and changed my outlook on a lot of things.  There will always be struggle, or conflict, or hardships, but there’s also an opportunity to learn something from each of those, no matter what they are, and then apply the lesson.

 photograph By Sarah Keel

photograph By Sarah Keel