10 things I LOVE

With Valentine’s Day now over I just want to keep spreading the love for the rest of the month and give you some more insight into my life. Anyone who knows me, understands that I use the word “love” a lot. I say, “I love that movie,” or “This song!! Oh, I love it,” or maybe even “I love this food so much I could eat it everyday for the rest of my life.” I just love LOVE. It is a pretty magical thing. I’m not talking just about romantic love, but loving as in being happy and present with life.

Without further ado, here are (some of) the things I love in no particular order.

1. My dog

You have heard this one many of times from me, but I can’t help it! She is so cute and pretty much always on my mind. She mainly is now because she is sitting right next to me, chewing on her plastic teething toy (even though she isn’t teething) as I write this post. My favorite part of her? Every morning, she HAS to get her cuddle time. I typically have two alarms in the mornings and she knows that once the first alarm has gone off, it’s her cuddle time. She will come up right behind me and try to big spoon me with her face right on top of mine. She won’t whine or cause a fuss, but she will just lay there, smothering my face. As annoying as that sounds, it’s actually the best part of my morning and sets it up really nicely for me.

2. Food

I would definitely like to consider myself a foodie. I watch the Food Network, I enjoy reading food magazines and I like to pretend I am a sous chef when I make food. The best part? Eating food. I really enjoy eating. I like all kinds of foods from sweet to salty, healthy to indulgent, and even the crazy international food. Want to know a secret? I used to be EXTREMELY picky. To a point where my parents were concerned that I wasn’t eating enough. Until one day that all changed.

My family and I were vacationing in the woods and we were pretty much MILES from any town. The nearest one was 30 minutes away. In this town there was ONE restaurant. Another 30 minutes and we would hit the Walmart. It was a Cajun restaurant and I had never tried that before. It seems like a big pile of “yuck!” My dad got so fed up with me when I said that nothing sounded good and I wanted something else. (Obviously this couldn’t happen since I have no idea where the next restaurant would be). He sternly said to me, “You can’t say you don’t like it until you try it.” I ate a bite of his jambalaya and oh my world had changed forever.

Since then, I have been trying all the foods. Literally, all of them. Some don’t agree with me and others I try to keep control of and everything in the middle I enjoy every single bite.

3. Creativity

There is something about the way that people are when they are creating. It’s absolutely breathtaking. Some get frustrated, others show such joy. It gives me happiness knowing all the people in the world can create. Whether you think you are creative or not, you can create and be creative in something. This doesn’t have to be art. It can be technology, speech, architecture, math, science, what you are having for dinner tonight, literally whatever. I love being able to share my creative outlet, photography, with the world. I love that I can also be creative in so many different ways. Making food to how to organize my office to how to put away my laundry.

I remember growing up and being in elementary school and just believing that art class was where you used your creativity. And let me tell you, I sucked at it all. I can’t draw to save my life, I can paint, but it probably looks more abstract. I didn’t believe that I was creative because of this. It wasn’t until I heard the phrase, “Figure it out, be creative, think outside the box” when I realized that it doesn’t have to be art, it just means to think of different ways to do something and not just the way that everyone else is doing it.

4. Taking care of myself

This is something new that I have started implementing the past year. I got so fed up with how much I stopped caring. I felt miserable and I really didn’t take care of myself. I had to do something about it.

Once I finally put to mind that I needed to get in check I was so determined nothing could stop me. I knew I was terrible at sticking to a workout program but I was pretty creative when it came to making food. So I knew of a program through Beachbody called 80 Day Obsession. I thought if I can do this program 80 days through, then I think I can really set myself up. And boy, did it. I did the 80 days of workouts and kept my diet pretty healthy with indulgences. I had kicked my soda habit and was so proud of myself for doing it. I had bought the online On Demand package so I had access to ALL of the programs. I chose the next one because it would be perfect right before I left for Europe. Then started a brand new program Liift4 when I got back and I cannot stop. It’s probably my favorite to date.

Throughout this whole time I have learned how to eat healthy while on a budget. You just have to learn to not be super picky and be imaginative. I go through the ads every Wednesday/Thursday and play a game of what can I make with the items I have in my pantry and with whats on sale this week. I meal prep EVERYTHING, snacks, breakfast, dinner and lunches. Now I eat the same thing every day throughout the week. So you do have to have some discipline and just suck it up when it’s the same thing every day for 5 days. But, the results have spoken as I am 20 and counting pounds down from the start of my journey.

I will say, nothing really beats this when it comes to feeling good in my clothes again and just feeling confident again.

5. My boyfriend - Zech

Allow me to get a little sentimental on this one. I cannot believe how wonderful this man is. When I was growing up, I always thought I knew what love was just based off the movies I had watched. I believed something that RARELY even happens. Nothing in life is that easy. I would search and search for someone to love me that way and I what I was searching for was something non realistic.

When Zech came into my life, he was just a coworker. Matter of a fact, he was dating someone else. Then he dated someone else right after that. I was just a friend. We were in the same friend group from my coworkers and it was like a fun get together after work every weekend.

I left Bloomington and about two years later, my junior year of college during spring break, I came back down to visit. I just had a couple of days to come down and see my friends since I had to work the rest of the week. It was during that time when Zech looked at me from across the pool table. We were at a local bar playing pool with our friends when our eyes met and he gave me the look that sent my heart racing. It was the “I see you” look. That look made it very hard to breathe.

We hit it off and now almost 5 years later, I could not be happier. He lets me be my own person and supports all of my crazy dreams. Zech helps bring me back to reality. I could go on with everything but to sum it up he is my other half. He gets me. If I were Phoebe off of Friends I would say, “He’s my lobster.”

6. My loving family

I don’t even know where to begin with them. For those of you that don’t know, I have my mom, my dad and my two younger twin sisters, Savannah & Paige. Growing up, you could say was very much a war zone. Being the oldest, I was distraught when my sisters decided to come into this world and take all of my attention. And there were TWO of them, so more attention could be given to them. Since then, we hated each other and were constantly fighting for attention.

Take a few years away from home and plus some and you would never guess that until we all got together and we told you ALL of the stories from our childhood. Like the time my sisters tricked me into getting into a storage container “because there is no way you can actually fit in it” and I had to prove them wrong. So they snapped the lid on and started carrying me to the stairs to through me down them as I was screaming bloody murder in the container. Or the time I thought I would play hairdresser in a large box that was very dark and cut my sisters long, bleach blonde , curly hair in so many different directions. And my mother proceeded to take them out in public like that. Let’s just say we were pretty cruel towards one another. And as a kid, you don’t ever want to be seen with your parents and they made the rules so they were the enemy.

Fast forward to today and I will tell you I call one of my sisters and my mom at least once a week just to chit chat. I always go to my dad for advice and we even have our annual Covered Bridge Festival trip we take together. When we all get together, we act like we were never against each other, but family. I could never be more thankful and grateful for that.

7. Optimism

Seeing the positive in life is kind of my life motto. I choose to see the good in people and choose to be happy because I don’t see the point in life to just be mad or upset or “woe is me” all the time. I do like to play devil’s advocate and see both sides, don’t get me wrong, but I prefer the optimistic side. I have a quote on my desk that I really believe in and that is “You will be exactly as happy as you decide to be.” I fully and whole-heartedly believe this.

8. Traveling and exploring

I put both of these in the same category because you don’t need to travel to explore and you can explore by traveling. They are one in the same to me. I LOVE to get out and see new places whether that be near or far, domestic or international, I want to see the world. From everyone’s perspective. As a photographer, I want to show people the world. Especially the ones that don’t have that luxury to see it for themselves. (I highly recommend trying though because it is SO thrilling, adrenaline rushing and breathtaking).

Ever since I went on my trip to Europe by myself, I caught the traveling bug. I knew I had always wanted to see the world. I was just so terrified of all the things that could happen. (I may be a Positive Polly, but I am also a Nervous Nelly just as much if not more). It was so liberating to go out all on my own into the world. I did that. Me. I gave my fears a kick in the behind and said good riddance.

I cannot wait for my next adventure. Suggestions, please leave in the comments.

9. Continuous learning

Learning will always be a part of my life. I honestly really loved school, to a point where I wanted to go to grad school since I loved it so much. I didn’t. But I really considered it. Instead I have been reading books, taking classes and constantly trying to find ways to learn more. Just because I am not in school doesn’t mean that I can’t keep learning.

I try to read a book, listen to podcasts and even take free classes through Edx.org. It’s something I really have been enjoying. This is one of those things I highly recommend because it’s at your own pace and completely free unless you want to add a certificate once you have finished the course.

10. Organization

If you know me, you know I like things to have order. Things have a purpose and a place. I like to color code almost everything. If something doesn’t match, I get a little uneasy about it.

If you were to walk into my office today, you would see binders for each and every aspect of my business with tabs for each new section/new paper source (i.e. blog posts printed out, emails from business tips, etc.). You would also find three different filing cabinets. One is for office supplies, another is for personal things and extra paper and the third is for everything for my business. I even have a binder just for my taxes and have been doing so ever since I started filing them.

Somethings that would make me super happy to receive as a gift would be organizational and office supplies. Literally. Maybe even a Staples/Target/Office Depot gift card and I will use it all on organizational items. I even have color coded my calendar so I know what’s going on.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit more about me. Let me know the things you love in the comments below.

Why I decided to start my own photography business

Time to get personal with you all. I share a little story with you in my about me section of my page, but I don’t really go into full detail. So sit back, and grab some popcorn for this little feature I like to call “Why I decided to start my own photography business.”

Back in 2010, I was starting my senior year of high school. I was in my third year of photography which was the independent study group. Photography is a very popular class at my high school and I can honestly say the teacher, Mrs. Fowler, had a lot to do with it. She was in all sorts of ways amazing and inspiring.

Mrs. Fowler asked me what I wanted to do with my life? She was very much a friend and a mentor at this point to me and I had no problems opening up to her. I told her photography was what I wanted to do with my life. I really didn’t see myself doing anything else. I had mentioned that I had shadowed studio photographers and I wasn’t so thrilled with doing that.

J. Fowl (Mrs. Fowler’s nickname we gave her) asked me if I knew anything about photojournalism. What in the world was that, I thought. She opened up a new window on her computer and showed me a video of someone giving a talk on being a photojournalist. How he traveled the world and took photos of the good, the bad and the ugly. How it was more of storytelling than portraits, even though that is what he took a lot of. Instantly, I was hooked. I wanted to travel the world, see all the places and all the people and photograph them.

I graduated high school in the spring of 2011 and was ready to set out on my own. I was turning 19 and had the world at my finger tips. Most of my graduating class would go on to study at Indiana University. It was the party school. It’s where dreams came true. I was no different in wanting to go there. However, I got wait listed. I wasn’t the most attentive in high school and didn’t really focus on my grades as much as I did trying to have a social life. I should have seen it coming, but was shocked when I saw the letter saying “wait list.” My cousin had a condo that he rented out in Bloomington so my two best friends and I decided to go to Ivy Tech Community College and move down to B-Town.

I wasn’t super excited that I was going to a community college. I honestly thought it was below me. I got into every other college I applied to and turned them all down because I was so hooked on the thought of being in Bloomington, home of the IU Hoosiers and party central. (It makes me feel real dumb looking back on it). I will say though it was probably one of the smartest decisions I could have made though. I didn’t have to live in the dorms and I paid all my bills when I lived on my own. I ate rather healthy and held a part time job serving at Outback Steakhouse. So I saved a TON of money as well as saving money on books and tuition because I was going to have to take those classes any place I went. I was just able to do it cheaper. I can say that now, because some of my friends from my graduating class from college have almost $10,000 to $20,000 more in student loans than I do. And that is for someone who took the exact same amount of credit hours, but just transferred my sophomore year.

After about three quarters of the way through my time in Bloomington, I decided that IU really wasn’t for me. Sure I made a ton of friends (even my boyfriend that I have today) but IU didn’t even offer the program I wanted. I really only wanted to go there for the sake of saying I went to IU. I know, that was dumb. I applied to two places that I wanted to go: Corcoran School of Art and Design and Ball State University. I was torn between the two because Corcoran was out of state (Washington D.C. to be exact) and Ball State was in state but had the photojournalism program I wanted to pursue. Corcoran was an art school. It would mean I had to take all art classes. I honestly had no idea which avenue of photography I wanted to take advantage of. That spring break, we took a trip to D.C. to take a tour of the school and it would help me make a decision. After long thoughts and considerations, I realized I could not afford art school. So Ball State I went.

Since I took 98% of my prerequisites for general education classes, I was pretty much able to jump right into the photojournalism program. It was journalism with a focus on photography so I took all the classes that involved journalism from writing to audio to media law and also photography. It was an awesome experience. I stayed super involved in Greek life and other various groups and held a part-time job still with Outback Steakhouse, but in Muncie. I honestly thought I was doing all the right steps to get me a job right out of college: I was involved in multiple organizations, I was a part of student media (and even held a position), I worked a job while in school, I graduated Cum Laude and I even had an internship during my time at Ball State. Crickets is all I heard after I applied to hundreds of places. I got one interview. That was with the paper I interned at and I am pretty sure it was only because they knew who I was.

I was at a fork in the road. I felt like a failure. Did I really just go to school for no reason? Did I just spend all of that money and go into debt to be told that I wasn’t good enough? I even tacked on two courses AFTER I graduated to try to help me. One being an immersive learning class and the second an internship with another paper in Bedford, IN. Since I couldn’t find a job, it was easier to go ahead and move in with my current boyfriend in Bloomington, IN. I came back because even though the university wasn’t for me, I still really loved the town. I needed to find a job and fast because bills don’t just stop when life is rough. I went back to my old stomping grounds for weekend work while I was at my internship in the Bloomington Outback Steakhouse and quickly realized I was in deep trouble as it was their dead season (students are all gone). I transferred to the one in Greenwood until I could get a full time job.

I found a job working at the local vocational school as a daycare teacher. Nowhere near what I had went to school for, but it paid something and they wanted to hire me so I didn’t really care. I needed the money. Soon after, I missed taking photos. It was a part of my life. I did it for so long and I wasn’t going to give it up just because of the bumps in the road. I knew I could take the photos but I knew NO ONE in Bloomington. All my friends had already graduated and moved on and all I knew where my co-workers and the people I was living with.

I took the leap of faith anyway. I had the “if you build it, they will come” mentality. So in October 2015, I opened the “doors” to Kaytee Lorentzen Photography. I got my LLC and became official.

I have had so many trials and errors and successes throughout these 3 years. I am constantly growing and learning. I have been blending my interest of portraits with my love of lifestyle photographs (which is very similar to photojournalism). I have continuously asked myself if all of it was worth it. And every single time I come back to yes.

Thank you for reading along my journey. I can’t wait to keep writing it and I hope that you get a part of that story as well.

Featured Business Blog: The Toy Chest

Hilary & Danny Key - Owners of The Toy Chest

Hilary & Danny Key - Owners of The Toy Chest

"[The Toy Chest] is a specialty toy store where you'll find quality toys that you can't find in big box stores like Walmart. You can come in and have an expert staff recommend toys: toys for special needs, toys for any ages, toys for a kid you don't know. You can try things out and have an experience more than just going shopping," The Toy Chest owner Hilary Key states. 

Hilary and Danny Key, of Nashville, Indiana, own The Toy Chest in both Bloomington and Nashville, Indiana. They became the third owners of the 46 year old Nashville location in July 2014 after Hilary decided she wanted to be in the toy industry instead of pursuing a career in the field she was in her PhD program for. She moved to Nashville to learn from the Toy Chest. As she was looking for a place to live, she met Danny, who owns a real estate business in Nashville. "The rest just took off," says Danny. 

The opened the Bloomington location in November of 2015. 

One of the unique things about the store is that it is set up to allow children to play and test out the toys before buying them. There are toys out for them to explore and demo tables set up for the children to come and play with them. "We try to set up the store so that there are play places in each section so you don't just have to look at a game and guess if you're going to like it based off the box." says Hilary. "Sales people can teach you the game and you can play it in the store and make that decision."

Walking through the store, you will find many toys out for kids to come up to and get their hands on. Anywhere from games to books and puzzles, kids are able to explore. "We are really demo heavy because ultimately it is an experience that the kids, the families are getting when they come here," says Danny. 

Creating the experience and the atmosphere for the customers is why they wanted to become the owners of The Toy Chest. "We really wanted a place where families and kids can come and play and not forget anymore that play is how kids learn and so they can come here and experience that," says Hilary. "[The toy industry] is a fun industry to be in. And for me it has more purpose than probably another. I can feel like I am helping someone find the right thing and really believe in what they are buying and that it is going to improve sometimes the quality of life for the kid."

My most favorite moment was when we opened this store, the first Saturday morning that families were playing everywhere. A lady actually thanked us on the way out. She said, ‘You know, I don’t remember the last time I sat on the floor with my kids and played.’ I got chills. That is exactly why we do this. For them.
— Danny Key

An interesting part of the business is the social enterprise that Hilary has incorporated. She wanted to get toys to kids who don't have any. So they implemented a giving program, Unplug and Play Toys. They are able to give toys and books to these children through charitable partnerships. The Toy Chest is able to give children quality age-appropriate toys to learn through playing. 

The Toy Chest is located in the College Mall across the hall from Charlotte Russe. Many of their popular items, as well as more, are shown below in the gallery. 

Kaytee Lorentzen
Owner & Photographer | Kaytee Lorentzen Photography