Finding Happiness When You Feel Stuck

I’ve been wanting to write this post for awhile now, but I wanted to be able to speak my truth in it and not have to skirt around it, so I’ve been waiting until the moment was right to share, and I’m so happy it finally is time. This post fits perfectly with the idea of finding the light in everything, which is a big focus of mine for 2017, so it couldn’t be coming at a better time. Last week I had my last day at a job that had been draining my energy for months and making it hard for me to keep my happiness. I am so incredibly excited to have a couple weeks to unwind before I start fresh with a new company in February, but this post is about the past six months. Since around the time of our wedding my job has been a bit of a struggle for me on a lot of levels, I knew it wasn’t the right fit but it took awhile to come to terms with that and then finally start looking for something else and eventually find that new thing as well. During that time I learned so much about finding happiness and joy even when you feel stuck in a less than optimal situation, and I wanted to pass that along today.

Sometimes in life we find ourselves in situations that feel constricting, that make us feel stuck, that steal our happiness and joy, that drain our energy, and that we feel we have no way out of. I think we have all heard before that we are the only one with the power to decide if we are going to be happy or not, but some situations just make that so much more difficult than others. This post is to help you through those times where it feels like simply choosing joy will never be enough to get you through, for those times when you feel like the world is against you and everything is an uphill battle.

You are never truly stuck

I know that it feels like you are stuck right now, but being stuck is just a feeling. Unless you are literally standing in a small locked box, you are not stuck, you have a way out of this situation. That being said you might feel stuck right now, because although you technically could quit the job, your family depends on you financially, or you aren’t really stuck because you could cancel the plans, but the consequences of doing so are more than you want to take on right now. It is important to peel back those layers and figure out exactly why you are feeling stuck, and remember it is a feeling not an actual state. Once you have figured out what is making you feel this way you have so much more power to get yourself unstuck. If it is finances that are making you feel stuck, do you have another short term option to get you unstuck like a loan or taking on a side job? We can’t fix the problem until we have uncovered what it actually is, and even if there is no good short term solution, just knowing what is actually making you feel stuck can be really powerful.

Find what you can control

I mentioned in the last section about the possibility of being able to find another solution to the problem that is making you feel stuck, but even when that isn’t possible there is something that you have control over. For example while my job was getting me down and I felt stuck because I didn’t want to quit without a new job for financial reasons, I realized that I did have control over the food that I put in my body, the amount of sleep I got, the amount of exercise I did, and the amount of extracurricular things I took on. Which meant that although I often left work feeling drained and stressed, I was able to control a lot of other factors to my happiness and anxiety levels and relying more heavily on those threads allowed me some ease to some of the feeling of being stuck. Can you delegate something? Can you ask for help? Can you control some other seemingly unrelated factor that will have an impact on this situation?

Look for the little joys

When you feel like you are all out of other possibilities, you have figured out the underlying cause and you have pulled all the little strings you can and have done everything in your power, but right now you are just stuck, look for the little joys. Mindfulness and meditation are powerful little tools to find joy even in situations that you don’t think have any present. Sometimes it is a matter of just taking a few minutes to go for a walk and breath in some fresh air and focus all your energy on seeing the beauty in the world around you. Work really getting you down, how about that paycheck that allowed you to feed your family this week, focus on that instead. Family stressing you out, how about that time your mom said the right thing at the right moment and helped you feel loved and secure. Focus on the good things, because if you look hard enough they are all around, and although a lot may feel like it is going wrong, focusing on what is going right can lift your mood and put you in a place to accept more good.

Keep the big picture in mind

Sometimes it is just important to keep the big picture in mind. Remember in the first section where we figured out the underlying cause of our feeling stuck? In a lot of cases you can’t do anything about that right now, besides identifying it, but that can be truly powerful in and of itself. Just knowing that the reason you are feeling stuck right now is X allows you to keep the big picture in mind. Maybe your living situation isn’t ideal, but if you are saving up for a big move in a year, keeping this in mind when you start to feel extra stuck will put things into perspective and ease some of the pain of the journey.

Have you felt stuck in your life before? What helped you get through that time and feel less stuck?

Out with the Old, In with the New

Today was my last day at my job, and in a lot of different ways it feels like the end to a year that was kind of crazy for me. 2016 was the year that I worked at this job that never truly felt like home. 2016 was the year that I got married and while that was one of the best days of my life that I will always cherish, the experience of planning a wedding and getting everyone we love into one space was stressful at times and taught me a lot about myself and the relationships around me. 2016 was a trying year in politics and it taught me a lot about my relationship with social media and about how I look at the world and people around me. 2016 was the year that I got up on stage and performed a dance piece I had choreographed myself and that took me so far outside my comfort zone I couldn’t even see it in the rear view mirror. So today feels like the end of a year that in a lot of ways turned everything on it’s head and made me question all the things I needed to question. It was a learning year and a really important one, but I am excited that it is coming to a close and looking forward to what the future holds now that it is behind.

Photo by our amazing wedding photographer: JennyGG

I now have two weeks off before I start a new role at a new company that I am so deeply excited for. It is a role/company/team/position that checks off every box on my list as well as basically all of the nice to have’s and it is a role that feels like exactly where I am supposed to be right now. When I was in the office interviewing for this role I was struck constantly with how much I just felt like I was where I was supposed to be. These next two weeks between jobs though are super important and I can’t wait to get the most out of them, because they are the perfect time to let go of the old and get ready for what is ahead.

I’ve conceptually broken the next two weeks into three parts in my head:

Cleansing/Detoxing/Decluttering

Phase one is the cleansing stage, letting go of everything that has been cluttering my mind, body, soul, and life for the last year. It is about learning what I need to learn from the past year and job and letting go of everything else so that I don’t continue to carry around unnecessary weight. During this stage I will be doing a session with my life coach, I will be doing a sensory deprivation float (I’ll let you know how it goes, I’ve been wanting to do one for awhile!), I will be doing a deep clean of my house, and I will be going through a lot of my stuff (mostly clothes and beauty products) and making piles to give away and taking it to goodwill so anything no longer serving me is out of my life. By the end of this part of my time off I am hoping to feel lighter and open to what the future has in store for me.

Planning/Preparing/Manifesting

This stage I’m really excited about. It is about who I want to be in this next chapter of my life, and I am a big sucker for anything that involves organizing and planning so I am pretty stoked for it. Once I have gotten rid of all the clutter it is time to figure out what I want to fill the space and start filling it up. During this part of my time off I am doing a vision boarding and manifestation night at a local holistic wellness center, I will be visiting a local crystal shop for the first time, I will be going shopping for clothes and beauty products that fill the gaps I found during the first stage, and most importantly I will be doing a lot of research and planning around the new schedules (food, skin care, exercise, etc.) that I want to keep in the future.

Creating/Doing/Being

The final stage is living out my new truth, it is all about getting into those new routines so I can find where they still need improvement, and becoming the person I am ready to be. I will be kicking off this stage with a spa day so I can start totally fresh with a clean slate, and during this stage I will be knocking a bunch of things off of my to do list and experimenting with different routines, recipes, and products that will find their homes in my life in the coming year(s).

I am really excited for this next couple of weeks and the future thereafter and I will be on Instagram and Instagram stories throughout sharing all about the journey, I’d love to have you join me: @SarahCHolzer

Have you ever taken time off between jobs or at the end of a year or a big chapter in your life to detox a bit and prepare for the next chapter, what did you learn from the experience?

Moving to Clean Beauty Products Made Easy

I mentioned it once before that I want to move to cleaner beauty and house hold products, and 2017 is the year I am really going to make that happen! I have thought about how I wanted to go about doing this for awhile and it’s difficult because I feel like everything in my beauty drawer does not fit my new requirements for clean beauty and the hill feels steep to get to a completely clean set of products. So I’ve decided to make the move slow and simple and I wanted to share how I’m doing it in case any of your have been wanting to make the jump, but have been stressing over how to do it as well.

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I’ve decided to make this a slow process because if I threw away everything I owned today and then decided to repurchase a cleaner version of everything I would be completely overwhelmed and have to shill out quite a bit of money. Instead I have decided that all new purchases will be clean and as I use up products I currently own I’ll slowly make the transition. Periodically I will also be cleaning out my products and getting rid of a few things that have expired or I won’t be getting around to using before they expire. This way I can continue to use what I have and not have to spend a ton of money and time to replace everything all at once.

As I’m getting new things, or deciding what to not repurchase I’m using a couple of guidelines. I have a list of beauty brands that I have found and I keep adding and removing from as I do my research. I am also relying on the EWG Skin Deep search to get ratings on different brands and check out their ingredients as I am shopping around.

I am sure that I will still purchase and use products that people don’t think are as clean as other alternatives, but I believe in balance and moderation, so as long as I am taking steps in the right direction I am happy, and I know that I will continue to learn more and get better at this as time goes on.

Have you made the move to cleaner beauty products already or are you going to join me in moving to clean beauty? What products have you found that you absolutely love, let me know in the comments, I’d love to have some to try out as I start my journey.

17 in 2017

Remember when those 101 in 1001 posts were going around blogland and everyone was making  alist of the 101 things they want to accomplish in just under three years? I had jumped on that bandwagon and gotten about a year and half and 50 some odd things in before going down the path of everyone else and stopping never to finish my list. The idea behind the list was a good one and I did get a lot out of it while I was working towards it, so I decided to do a simplified version and keep it really geared towards what is actually important to me, with a 17 in 2017 list.

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  1. Go on a hike | The past couple of summers we have been saying we would go on a hike and then one thing leads to another and the cold weather comes around and we never made it out. So I added it to this list so I can make it a priority this year and actually get out there to see all the beauty in our backyard.
  2. Write a book | I’ve been working and stopping this for a couple of years now. 2017 I want to give it some more focus and see if I can’t get a book or at least a rough draft out the door.
  3. Try running for a week straight (every other day for 2 weeks) | Another thing I’ve been saying I want to try, but keep “not being able to find the time for”. It is very possible that running is not for me, but I can’t say that until I give it a real solid try.
  4. Read 50 books | My reading goal for the past few years has been 50, I hit it last year and then fell short again this year, but I also chose watching TV over reading more often then I would have liked this year, so I’m hoping to put some focus back on reading and hit 50 again in 2017.
  5. Try out 2 different workout class (yoga, pilates, barre, etc.) | I’ve been pole dancing for a couple of years now, and absolutely love it, but I would love to find another type of exercise to switch things up from time to time with, so this year I want to try out at least one different type of exercise class.
  6. Take at least 4 long weekend trips | There are so many great places to visit within a 5 hour radius of us and yet we tend to stay home, go over to Bryan’s families cabin, or save up for a big trip, and not go anywhere else. I’ve been saying for about a year now that I want to go visit more places, and I want to actually make some of these trips in 2017!
  7. Grow herbs | I tried this once before, and I’ll be honest, it didn’t go super well, but I want to really put a focus on eating better and growing my own herbs is a big stepping stone in the direction I want to go so I want to give it another try this year.
  8. Volunteer | Another one I’ve been saying I want to do for years and then “never find the time to”, so we are putting some focus on it in 2017 by adding it to this list.
  9. Go to a show, concert, ballet, etc. | Similarly to the long weekend trips, I just want to get out of the house more often and try out some new things this year instead of getting stuck in the same old habits over and over again.
  10. Donate to charity at least 4 times | If you haven’t noticed the trend yet, this is another one that I keep saying I want to do and then just not doing. I strongly believe that we vote with our dollar and putting some money behind organization that I think are doing important things is a great way for me to get involved.
  11. Buy a house plant | I need to do some research to find a plant that will thrive in my home and is easy to take care of, but I have been reading a lot lately about the benefits of having living plants in the home.
  12. Meditate for 30 days straight | I fall in and out of good meditation practices, so I want to be intentional in 2017 about trying to make meditation a habit in my life again.
  13. Try my hand at knitting | It just seems like a nice way to relax at the end of the day, something calming to do while watching television at night, so I want to give it a try.
  14. Spend a day at a spa | I want to make a point to do this once a year, to really just take a day to pamper and do some serious self care.
  15. Buy a house | We are hoping to hit our financial goals this summer so that we can start looking for our forever home, so this goal is about both bringing intention to the financial goals we have made for ourselves as well as around actually looking for and purchasing a new home in 2017.
  16. Host a dinner party | I love hosting things, I rediscovered that this Christmas season and I want to make a point to do this at some point that isn’t a holiday.
  17. Go skiing with Dad | I’ve been promising my dad I’d make it up to the slopes with him for probably three years now, so I am making an intention to actually do it this year!

What do you want to accomplish this year? Let me know in the comments below, and if you decide to put together your own 17 in 2017 list I would love to see it so we can keep each other motivated through the coming year.

Be The Light

Every year for the past few years I have picked a word to be my motivation and inspiration for the year and to guide me through the year. 2015 my word was “balance“, 2016 was “inspiration“, and now for 2017 my word is “light”. This word means a lot to me right now and I am so excited to bring it into 2017 and see what all I can do with it in the new year.

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“Light” has a few different meanings to me. For starters it is all about finding the good in everything. It is so easy to find the negative, the darkness, in any situation. We all do it all the time, but finding the light while more difficult at times is so worth it. In the simplest form this is what “light” means. Finding the good in every situation. Finding the good in every person. Finding the reason that something happened, what can be learned from it, and just constantly looking for the light side of every seemingly dark situation.

It goes deeper than that though, it is also about being the light and showing others how to find it as well. It is about being the beacon when things feel less than optimal. The light for myself when I need it, the light for my family and friends when life isn’t ideal, and the light for everyone I encounter.

“Light” is also about a simpler life, a feeling of being light (for lack of a better word). It is about getting rid of all the extra’s and distractions in life that make everything feel heavier and bogged down. It is about getting back to my core and what is truly important and stripping away all the extra fluff that doesn’t add any value.

This word is about so many things, and I’m sure it will be about so much more as the year progresses. I’m excited to see what all “light” will mean to me in 2017 and how it will manifest itself in my life during the next year.

I’d love to hear what your goals, word, or inspiration for 2017 are. Let me know if the comments below and we can help each other reach our goals.

How I Style My Short Hair

I am all for easy, practically effortless, hair do’s because I’m not very good at doing my own hair and I don’t want to spend a bunch of time doing it when I could be doing any number of other things. Which is why I’m really excited that I have finally found a hair do that I can do quickly with very little effort and it turns out looking great every time. So if you have a short hair do like mine, or even a longer one (because this look works for most hair lengths) then keep on reading to see how I style my short hair.

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I have very fine hair that typically doesn’t hold a curl well, but I finally found a way to get it to hold a curl well and when I style it this way it not only holds the curl well throughout the day, but with very little touch up I can typically get a full second day of curl out of it. And as a bonus I can get this style in about 10 minutes.

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I start with this Redken Spray Starch 15, it is a heat protectant that has starch in it which helps hold the curl and is my secret weapon for curling.

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Then I just grab strands of hair at random and use my straightener to curl them. To curl a strand of hair with a straightener you simply need to clamp down on the strand of hair, twist your wrist to curl your hair until you have made a full circle (I always go away from my face)  then simply pull down your hair until you reach the end and you have a nice curl. For my look I’m not very careful about making sure I hit every piece, I just grab a piece at a time and sometimes do a full twist and sometimes only a half twist, but always away from my face. The idea is just to get some curl into the hair and add some interest and volume, not to end up with a perfectly symmetrical style.

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Once I have curled every hair I wait for it to cool off and then run my fingers throughout to get a softer more natural look.

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And that’s the final look, now I’d love to hear, what is your go to hair style?

Holiday Brunch and Dinner Menu and Prep Plan

The holidays are officially upon us which means it is time to start preparing for hosting family and friends for all the festivities. While I love having people over, I also want to enjoy myself and not end up stressed out trying to get everything all squared away, cleaned, cooked, prepped, etc. I assume I am not alone on that which is why today I wanted to share how I prepare for and execute a gathering. This year we are having people over for Christmas Eve brunch and then have a couple of hours before we are having another group of people over for Christmas Eve dinner, so along with how I go about picking out the menu for an event like this and creating my prep plan, I am also sharing my menu, grocery list, and prep plan for this year so if you are in a real pinch you can just steal mine.

Picking Foods

Step one is to pick the foods that you will be preparing, which seems like an obvious place to start, but this is also what gets most people in trouble. I have been there too, picking out all the coolest looking recipes and not paying attention to anything else just to end up with a near impossible task of getting it all cooked in time. Now when I am at this first stage of the hosting game I look for a handful of things to keep me on track and ending up with the perfect menu. Overall I start by thinking about the more fun things like color, taste, and variety and keep the possibilities open then narrow down as I make it farther down the list to more practical things.

Numbers – I find that the best place to start is with the numbers. How many people will I be having over and how many dishes will I need to accommodate that group? I like to give myself a range so I can play around as I continue on. This year for brunch there will be 4 of us so I wanted to do a main dish and two side dishes, for dinner there will be 7 of us so along with a main dish and dessert I wanted about 3 side dishes (I ended up with 4). You can play around with the size of dishes later, but generally speaking for more people I like to play around with a few more dishes if I can, and personally I’d always prefer to have leftovers for the days afterwards then end up with not enough food.

Variety – Now that I know how many dishes I am looking for I take to Pinterest and start a new board (usually private) and go crazy. To keep my options open I pin a ton of different things in each category (main dish, side dish, dessert, drinks, etc). I start with broad searches like “Holiday Dinner”, “Main courses”, “Winter Side Dishes”, and slowly narrow down to find more and more options.

Color – Once I have a sufficient amount of stuff I do a once over for color. It is really easy to look back over and realize you have tons of beige’s and greens after pinning a bunch of chicken, pork, potatoes, salads, and vegetable dishes. It is perfectly normal to end up in certain color silos, which is why I make a point at this stage to go back and look for different colors, grab that carrot side dish, or that salad that had berries in it, anything to add in some different colors to my board.

Cohesion – This is where we start to reign it back a little bit and start thinking strategically. As much as some recipes may be calling your name it is important to determine if they fit in with everything else. As I was preparing my menu this year I realized that I had some sort of fruit in every dish (pomegranate, cranberry, pear, apple, etc) and that I didn’t want or need every recipe to look the same. You want to go with flavors that will compliment each other without competing. I ended up toning down my side dishes for plainer options to allow just my main course and salad to shine with more flavor.

Prep-ability – The above couple of steps are easy to remember, but usually I would just stop here and not continue on. This step (and the ones to follow) should not be skipped though! At this point you probably have your board narrowed down to just the recipes or maybe a couple of versions of each dish that you want to be making, now it’s time to look into them a little deeper and see if there are any pieces that you can prep ahead of time. To keep yourself from running around burnt out on the day of it is imperative that you can do some prep ahead of time. It is alright if you have a recipe or two that can’t be done ahead of time at all, but if all of your items fall into that boat you may want to consider replacing some of them. You can get creative with this too, for example I will be doing all the prep for my salad ahead of time so all I need to do at the last minute is toss it.

Cook time – If everything on your list takes hours to cook you don’t leave yourself much room to schedule around. I am fine with my main course taking awhile, and a side dish that may need a lot of love, but then my other dishes should be much simpler with shorter cook times so I can give that attention and focus to the first few items.

Cook type – And finally don’t forget about how you will be cooking all of this. I dream of a kitchen with multiple ovens, but right now I have a small kitchen with a single oven, so if my main course needs to be in the oven for 4 hours, I can’t really make two side dishes that also need to bake. You can get creative here a bit and try a main course that goes in the crock pot or is cooked on the stove top, or pair things up. My main course needs to be in the oven and I have one side dish that starts on the stove top and then finishes in the oven at a higher temperature then the main course, so I will be putting it on the top rack of the oven and giving both it and my main dish a little extra time to accommodate.

Delegating Tasks

Once you have the menu all ready to go it is time to figure out what parts you don’t need to do. This can mean delegating parts of the meal or other tasks to other people. As the host you will end up doing a large majority, so don’t feel bad to ask for help in some areas. Some great places to delegate that are really easy to peel apart are:

  • Dessert
  • Appetizers
  • Side Dish
  • Cleaning

As a reminder, whatever you delegate allow the person you are delegating to, to take full ownership of that item and completely let go of it.

Making a Plan

Now that you know what you are going to be in charge of it is time to make a plan. You can do this as small or as detailed as you feel comfortable, but I think it is important to make at least some sort of plan so that you don’t have to worry about what time to get things in the oven or what order to do things on the day of. In the plan at a very minimum it is important to put together a grocery list and look at and read through all of the recipes so you know how long everything needs to take and come up with a timeline for what you can your prep the day before and what you need to get into the oven and things at what time.

My Menu and Prep Plan

Alright, if you just read all of that and don’t have the time or energy to put together your own plan I have listed out below my plan for Christmas Eve brunch at 10am followed by Christmas Eve dinner at 5pm.

Brunch
Coffee, Water, OJ
Orange, Cranberry Mimosa Float
Monkey Bread Muffins
Potato, egg and sausage casserole
Fruit Salad (Mom)

Dinner
Wine and Water
Rolls
Glazed Carrots
Balsamic Brussel Sprouts and Shallots
Winter Salad
Apple Stuffed Pork Loin
Dessert (Grandma)
Decaf Coffee

Schedule

Friday December 23rd

  • Before 4pm – Clean the house
  • Before 4pm – Grocery Shop
  • 4pm – 5pm – Prepare the walnuts for the salad. Prepare the potatoes, sausage, peppers, and onion for the breakfast casserole and put the casserole together and in fridge to bake in the morning.
  • 5pm – 6pm – Monkey bread time! Make the muffins and while they are baking set the table for brunch.
  • 6pm – until bed – Shower and then relax and enjoy the night!

Saturday December 24th

  • 7:30am – 8:45am – Do hair and makeup
  • 8:45am – 9:45am – Preheat the oven and get the casserole ready to bake and baked. While casserole bakes get dressed.
  • 9:45am – 10am – Start the coffee pot, get the coffee out of the oven and get everything plated on serving dishes and onto the table, and pour yourself a mimosa!
  • 10am – 1pm – Enjoy time with family!
  • 1pm – 2pm – Relax a bit
  • 2pm – 2:30pm – Mise en place, also known as chop the apples, onion, bread, brussel sprouts, shallots, carrots, and parsley
  • 2:30pm – 3:20pm – Make the stuffing for the pork, butterfly the pork, preheat the oven, and jelly roll the pork and get it into the oven.
  • 3:20pm – 4pm – Clean up again and reset the table.
  • 4pm – 4:30pm – Start the brussel sprouts on the stovetop and decant the wine.
  • 4:30pm – 4:45pm – Move brussel sprouts to oven, mix up the the salad and start the carrots.
  • 4:45pm – 5pm – Get the pork out of the oven and let it rest. Heat up the rolls, cut and plate the pork, plate everything and get it on the table.
  • 5pm – end of night – Pour a glass of wine and enjoy the evening!

Now I would love to hear, what are you making for the holidays this year? What other thigns do you do to make sure that you aren’t completely overwhelmed on the big day?