My past behind me like a ponytail (and other mantras that get me through the hard times)

The subject line of this post is from my absolute favorite Drake song. I love this line because it reminds me to take life a little less seriously and to stop beating myself up for choices I made in the past–so that I can focus on my goals in the present. Also it makes me want to whip my ponytail around in a sassy way. Oh Drake, you get me.

Aside from the above Drake lyric, I use lots of mantras and sayings to help me move through moments of discomfort.

Mantras help stop our thoughts in their tracks–so that we create new neural pathways in our brain that help us create more peace and happiness in our lives. Essentially, the negative thoughts we have on repeat in our brains are like bad habits, and mantras help us break them. Here are some of my favorite mantras. Use these and feel better!

  • The person next to me isn’t attainable; only my best possible self is attainable. (my yoga teacher said that once)
  • I accept the things I cannot change. (from the Serenity Prayer)
  • I love myself more than obsessing about this past/future situation/person.
  • What if we decided to never wonder about what could have happened? We’re missing what’s happening when we do. (from Grace Smith)
  • I can see peace instead of this (from Gabrielle Bernstein)
  • I am safe.

These mantras/sayings give me so much comfort throughout the day.

My fave products, podcasts, and songs

Confession. I’m feeling kind of empty and still right now, and I’m working on taking The Happy College Girl in a new direction. Instead of writing a coaching-oriented blog as per usual, I thought I’d just give you a rundown of what I’ve been listening to and doing for the past few weeks.

Stuff I use and like:
Milk Makeup Holographic Stick in Golden Peach. Someone at Sephora recommended this to me and I LOVE it. I put it on my cheeks, eyelids, cupid’s bow, under my nose, and on my chest and shoulders. It makes my skin shimmer, makes me look more put together and polished, and helps my very pale skin look good in pictures. This is becoming pretty much the only makeup I put on now.

Milk Makeup Flex Concealer in Fair. This stuff is easy to put on and lasts for hours and hours. It makes my face look bright and fresh, and gives me natural-looking coverage on my acne/blemishes.

Speaking of acne/blemishes…Dandelion Root by Nature’s Way. I take 9 of these babies every day for my skin, as per the recommendation of my family’s naturopath. My skin and I are going through a thing. It’s frustrating and I hate it. Trying to stay peaceful…also because stress contributes to skin craziness.

Invisible Shield daily sunscreen by Glossier. As I said above, I have very pale skin, so I’m suuuper conscious of wearing sunscreen, hats, limiting time in the sun, etc. Obvi we all do this in the warmer months, but we also need to protect our skin from UV and infrared light all year round. This sunscreen’s light, gel-like formula goes on so easily and doesn’t mess up any makeup or do anything weird to my moisturizer. I just put it on my face and arms before I leave the house and my skin is protected. Plus, the creator of Glossier, Emily Weiss, was on an episode of The Hills. She was the “super intern” from NYC whaaaat.

Stuff I listen to and like:
Kesha’s Praying is giving me the feels. It’s so nice to hear her actual, raw voice. She’s back!

The Lady Lovin’ podcast kicks ass. I binged on it during my recent drive to and from home. Those girls just make me feel happy and inspired. They talk about boys, beauty, health/wellness, feminism, food, sex, and so much more. You gotta listen!

Holy crap and Summer Innanen’s latest podcast episode with feminist marketing consultant Kelly Diels CHANGED MY LIFE. These girls talk about how some online female lifestyle brands co-opt female empowerment (mostly with innocent intentions) to make money, exert control, and promote a specific feminine ideal (ahem, white, thin, pretty), instead of leading and actually creating change in the world, as they say they’re doing in their marketing. This episode is helping me look at The Happy College Girl with a much more critical, social justice-oriented eye. Wowza.

P.S. Kelly Diels talks about how black feminist writers bell hooks and Audre Lorde arguably invented the idea of “self-care.” White women (myself included) talk SO much about how self-care impacts our lives and the world, but that very idea was pretty much invented by bell hooks and Audre Lorde to help sustain other black women, feminists, LGBTQ folks, and other marginalized populations in their fight for equality. Mind. Blown. So. Humbled.

Let’s end this blog on that high, awakening note, okay? Just recapping all of the stuff I’ve been using/listening to has me inspired!

Why You Should Celebrate Your Birthday Everyday

I celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks ago with many friends and quesadillas. It was great!

When I woke up on my birthday, I felt so excited, special, and happy, and felt that way all day. All of the texts, FB messages, calls, and gifts I received made me feel great. In that space of feeling special and like my life mattered, my anxiety about other areas of my life decreased. My typically anxious, nervous thoughts shifted into something much more peaceful. I noticed that I was telling myself: everything is going to be okay, you can do anything, you’re much stronger than you think you are, you can handle anything. Cool, right?

Do you have those moments on your birthday too? There’s something about acknowledging the day you were born and became part of this world–and having others acknowledge that too–that makes us feel special, important, and confident.

That’s why I think we should create more of those moments in our lives. We shouldn’t have to wait once a year to feel special; we can create that feeling every day, which then motivates us to live kick-ass, super productive lives.

Unfortunately, society conditions us to downplay our special-ness and enslave ourselves (especially the ladies) to self-deprecation. But how far has that really gotten us?

Our world is no more productive or peaceful with people being afraid to acknowledge their attributes, worth, and special-ness. For example, in the area of body image, people, institutions, and thought systems that make people feel ashamed if their bodies look different from the social ideal–for the purpose of motivating them to make “healthier” choices–don’t actually motivate those people at all. When we feel bad about ourselves, we don’t have the motivation or sense of self worth to make positive changes in our lives–we just crawl deeper into our hole of shame and wither away, commit acts of violence on others, etc. We have to tell ourselves that we matter–as we are NOW. Only from that space do we have the sense of self-worth and motivation to elevate our lives and the lives of others.

So, my beautiful friend, you have my permission to feel special and lovable all the time. You have my permission to feel like it’s your birthday every day!

When we feel special and important, we want to get out into the world and do good work. That’s what our world needs right now.

How to surrender your desires and take guided action

As a hardworking, ambitious, and amazing college or post-college girl, you have a lot of goals and desires. And sometimes, it’s super confusing to know how exactly to get what we want, or achieve what we want to achieve. For example, if you want to have a more fulfilling romantic life, where do you start? Do you sign up for a dating app? Which one? Do you break up with your current partner? Or work to create what you want within the relationship? Similar questions come up when we think about our career. If you want a more fulfilling professional life, do you quit your current job and start a blog? Do you switch your major? Do you go for internship in your desired industry? Do you do a bunch of informational interviews?

Regardless of the area of your life that’s confusing you right now, questions, confusion, and mental back-and-forth always come up.

But what if there was an easier way to achieve your goals and get what you want? What if you could relax a bit, take guided, peaceful action, and have a little more fun, too? Good news–that’s totally possible!

I’ve been reading Gabby Bernstein’s The Universe Has Your Back and it is rocking my world. In my life, I’m working on surrendering money and love, and so far, I feel more peaceful and hopeful. Good things are on their way.

Surrendering our goals doesn’t mean we relinquish our power or stop working hard. Surrender simply gives us space from all of that mental chaos that drains our energy and makes decision-making hard and ineffective. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental chaos in a certain area(s) of your life, I invite you to surrender it and clear the path for a peaceful, guided way to achieve your goals. Use my tips below!

1. Connect with God/The Universe/your intuition more often. Surrender requires us to get quiet and connected with ourselves so that we can hear the higher guidance that’s waiting for us. Instead of waking up, rolling over, and checking Snapchat (um, me), sit up in bed, close your eyes, and take ten deep breaths through your nose and out your mouth. Do the same thing in the middle of the day. Try to go to a private place (like a bathroom stall), and just breathe deeply. Before you go to sleep at night, take those deep breaths again. Breathing floods our brains with oxygen and connects us with our bodies and inner voice–all things that make our intuition louder. Plus, connecting with a higher presence makes us feel more protected, which helps us open up to new ideas that our “logical” brains may deem stupid, scary, or impossible.

2. Get clear on how you want to feel in your desire/goal. How do you want to feel when you’re in that new romantic relationship? Connected? Loved? Excited? Passionate? How do you want to feel in that new job? Focused? Relaxed? Stimulated? We get so caught up in how we’ll actually get that new boyfriend or professional achievement, but that just creates mental chaos and actually drives away those things. Instead, try embodying how you want to feel when you reach your desire or goal. Experiencing connection and passion, for example, in your life NOW actually draws more of those things to you. Like attracts like! Plus, focusing on how you want to feel is often easier than worrying about how you’re actually going to get that thing.

3. Pray/say a mantra throughout the day. Whenever you freak out about that goal, desire, or area of your life, ask your intuition/God for help. Try saying: Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say, and to whom?  Just say this whenever you get a pang of worry, fear, or anxiety throughout the day, and experience the calm that sets in. And if calm doesn’t set in, trust that you’re moving towards a sense of calm, along with your desires.

Just give surrender a try. It makes life easier, richer, and more fun.

Pack These Essentials for a Peaceful Road Trip

Recently, I (with my amazing parents and a U-Haul in tow) drove six hours to my new-ish place of residence. Leading up to my move, I’ve been pretty anxious about whether I’m making the right decision, what others will think, and all of those questions that our brain comes up with!

So to make my car ride down to my new place a little more peaceful and not so anxiety-ridden, I packed a few essential things:

1. Lots of water. Water moves excess cortisol (the stress hormone) through our bodies. The more you drink, the more you get rid of the cortisol that’s making you anxious and experience symptoms like increased heart rate and short breathing.

2. Calming podcasts and audio books. During my drive, I listened to The Universe Has Your Back and a few episodes of the Kate and Mike Podcast. They kept my thoughts focused on positive, self-development things and gave me some great tools to practice in my life when I reached my destination.

3. Deep breathing. It’s so easy to forget to breathe! And when we’re anxious and thinking about the past or future, our breath gets really shallow…which just makes the anxiety worse. Every 30 mins or so, I made a point to take 10 deep breaths through my nose and out my mouth. This returned me to the present moment (where true peace lies) and helped my body calm down. Set a timer on your phone to take breathing breaks, or make a point to take deep breaths when a podcast ends or you finish one chapter of your audio book.

The best part of my peaceful road trip packing list? All of these things are cheap and/or free!

Did You Just Binge Eat? Do This Next!

Once upon a time, I had a blog called College Kid Yoga, and I wrote a lot about yoga (der) and body image. Since body image is a topic that’s so close to my heart, I want to share a post I wrote about binge eating. I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this post before, but binge eating was a huge, chaotic, and destructive part of my life throughout my college and post-college years, and if you can relate, then I want you to read this post closely!

Here it is!

Today, I’m writing about what to do immediately after a binge, as in the few minutes after we put the food down and the reality that we’ve just binged sets in. In those moments, we often recoil in horror as we assess the empty food cartons, half-empty bags of chips or gallons of ice cream, and the half-eaten loaf of banana-chocolate chip bread. Unfortunately, the post-binge horror, shame, and embarrassment that we inflect upon ourselves is counterproductive. If we wallow in those feelings, we hit the food again, and often harder than before.

To avoid a second binge and to restore our minds and bodies to a peaceful state, here’s what you do:

You just move on. You binged. Acknowledge that. Then go on with your day (or night).

What does it mean to “just move on” look like? Specifically, it looks like taking a small, simple action to get yourself out of binge mode and into mental and physical calmness.

Here’s a list of small, simple actions that you can take to shift your entire day or night after a binge (I did all of these myself today):

1. BREATHE. Amidst all of the food wrappers and crumbs. Take 3-5 deep breaths.

2. Sip on a glass of water. No, I’m not talking about warm lemon water with cayenne so that you can detox immediately in a desperate and ill-advised attempt to lose weight fast. Just fill a glass with cool or room-temp water. Sit down and drink it. Hydrate your body.

3. Research something cool/interesting/productive on the internet. Watch a TED talk. Plan your dream vacation; look up all of the cool places to visit. Today, I opened my laptop and did some job research. I found a couple of jobs that I want to apply to. This stuff takes your mind off of your binge, giving your body freedom to digest and your mind a break from post-binge anxiety.

4. Shave your legs. I know the last thing you want to do after a binge is see yourself naked. But I took a shower and made a point to shave my legs really well. Afterwards, I felt clean and a little sexy and summery. Not in a bingeing mood, that’s for sure.

5. Say really sweet things to yourself. Today I said (in my mind and out loud), “I love you. You’re doing great. You’re okay. I’m so proud of you. Everything will be okay. You’re doing the best you can, Sarah ol’ girl (a la Helga Pataki).” Say that stuff to yourself. It really does make you feel better.

6. Promise yourself that you will keep going and fighting. It’s so easy to wallow in self-hatred and hopelessness after a binge. But that mindset just sets you up to binge again. Make a promise to yourself that you WILL overcome bingeing, that you will never give up on yourself, and that you WILL live binge-free.

7. Do something with people. Post-binge feelings are smothered by positive social interaction. I went to the pool with a friend today and am going out with more friends tonight. Make a date with one or more people who make you feel happy and relaxed. This not only gets you out of the house (isolation increases the likelihood that we’ll binge), but it also takes your mind off of your body and food. My friends, and most of them don’t realize this, have pulled me out of my darkest post-binge feelings.

Take this list seriously. If none of this resonates with you, generate your own list of small, manageable actions that you can take SECONDS after a binge so that you avoid another binge and feel peaceful.

There you have it. My three-year-old blog post that still resonates for me (and hopefully you!) today.

Let’s Create Our Bucket List for 2017

Summer has officially begun, and my fave blogger recently posted her Summer Bucket List, i.e. a list of the stuff you want to do, experience, and/or accomplish over the summer.

I looove the concept of the Summer Bucket List because it encourages us to get out of our comfort zone and take action on our goals. And as you know, when we’re out of our comfort zone, we realize that we’re actually stronger and more capable than we thought…which gives us confidence to continue experiencing and accomplishing new things…which helps us create a life of our dreams! Plus, the Summer Bucket List encourages us to explore many of our interests and dreams, rather than focusing on the stuff we typically obsess about (weight loss, food, our bodies, etc., for example).

I’m still crafting my 2017 Summer Bucket List, but here’s what I got so far:

  • Read three fiction books.
  • Do an FB live for my Facebook group once a week. I did one all about summer bucket lists a couple weeks ago!
  • Do some volunteering.
  • Think before speaking (oy, this is an ongoing goal for me. I’m using this to help).

I wanna know what’s on YOUR Summer Bucket List for 2017! Email me at sarah@thehappycollegegirl.com!

Weight Loss Does NOT Have To Be Your Goal This Summer

When I was in high school and college, I would always freak out at the start of summer because I felt too big and disgusting to wear summer clothes and bathing suits. My goal for the season would be to work out as much as possible and go on some “diet,” whether that was cutting out sugar, going vegan, eating like a Parisian or Mediterranean woman, or some other type of food manipulation. I wouldn’t work out or alter my food to increase my sense of well-being or overall health. I did it to get thinner.

After only a few days or weeks, I would feel so deprived that I would hide in my house, binge eat like crazy, feel even more disgusting, and usher in an entire summer of food and body chaos. Sound familiar?

If you tend to freak out at the thought of getting into your summer clothes or if you set weight loss goals for the summer, then I want you to know that there’s a different way to feel good in your body and take care of your health. Aaand fun fact–I created it here!

Real talk. Setting weight loss goals for the summer probably hasn’t worked for you…because you keep setting them every year. Also, you’re reading this blog post, so you’re probably looking for another way to live a fulfilling life without having to deal with body and food chaos! That’s why I created The Body Confidence Workshop.

You can TOTALLY live a kick-ass, happy life where you feel peaceful and confident in your own body, and maintain your health at the same time.

End your body and food chaos once and for all. Grab my workshop (and free gift!) right here.

How To Have Authentic Relationships

At a conference I attended a few weeks ago, I learned about the concept of self-monitoring, a personality trait characterized by being able to adapt your words and actions to a particular situation or person. We all possess this trait in varying degrees. Someone with a high-degree of self-monitoring typically asks themselves (consciously or unconsciously), “What does this situation/person want me to be and how can I be that person?” or “How should I behave in this situation?” while someone with a low-degree of self-monitoring typically asks themselves, “Who am I and how can I be me in this situation?” Neither is good or bad.

While learning about this concept, I realized that I have a high degree of self-monitoring, which helps me make friends easily, network, and feel comfortable in a variety of social situations.

BUT I’ve also realized that being so concerned with the needs of another situation or person hinders me from really being myself in relationships. Sometimes I’m more concerned about being liked or making other people feel comfortable that I don’t act or speak authentically and honestly–I just become who I think the other person wants me to be.

This has led me to create some relationships wherein I’m not 100% honest about my own feelings and needs…which has cultivated resentment inside of me. I think, “Why can that person just say and do whatever they want and I can’t?”

Know what I mean?

It’s totally great and beneficial to adapt your words and actions to the needs of a situation or person to an extent. But when you stop listening and acting on your own needs and desires, that’s when you begin to create unfulfilling relationships and feel resentful that the other person can be themselves and you can’t be yourself.

If you’re getting tired of not being yourself because you’re worried that someone won’t like or accept you, use these tips to create more authenticity in your relationships:

1. Be present when you speak to someone. The next time you’re speaking to someone and you catch yourself thinking about the future, past, or something random, take a few deep breaths, and come back to the person in front of you/on the other end of the phone. Focus on what they are saying. Authenticity lives in the present moment, so once you’re present and focused on someone, it’ll be much easier for you to be yourself…and you’ll get a fresh perspective on them, too.

2. Try the 3-second rule. Remember this? The 3-second rule asks you to pause briefly before saying something. These few moments help you be more present and intentional when you speak–so that you can make what comes out of your mouth really matter.

3. Ask yourself this question. If you feel yourself shifting into fake or inauthentic mode in a conversation, take a deep breath and ask yourself, “How am I showing up right now?” This question helps you step out of yourself for a moment, take stock of what you’re saying/doing, and make a shift to something more authentic.

4. Get to know the REAL you. We’re bombarded with messages about how someone of our age/looks/gender/job/etc. should act or live. But all of that’s bullsh*t if you’re not happy or don’t have fulfilling relationships. Get to know who you actually are instead of looking to other people or forms of media to tell you. Spend a few quiet moments in the morning and at night just with yourself. Journal. Stretch. Meditate. Have a dance party. Connecting with your true self will help you be that person in your relationships.

Remember, adapting yourself to the needs of a situation or person, or self-monitoring, isn’t an inherently bad thing. In fact, it’s needed and good for us to do that. But when you stifle your own needs, and worry that someone won’t like who you really are, that’s when relationships begin to lose their authenticity and level of fulfillment. These tips can help!

3 Keys to Forgiveness

Forgiveness has been on my mind lately and man is it a tricky subject. Of course forgiving others or a situation or ourselves is the “spiritually evolved” thing to do, but it’s f*cking hard. And it’s easy to think that forgiving something means that the same thing will happen to us again, or that if we forgive someone, they have to be part of our lives. Ug.

Forgiveness is complicated, and I’m still figuring out what it means to me. But there are a few people and situations in my life that have been replaying in my head over and over–so much so that they’re decreasing the quality of my life. Replaying those old scenarios drains my energy, affects my other relationships, and pushes away other good things that are trying to come to me. So I’m thinking it’s time work my forgiveness muscle.

Take a second right now and think about one person (maybe it’s yourself?) or situation that is circulating in your head all the time and not making you feel any better at all.

I just started my journey with forgiveness, but in part thanks to the amazing Gabrielle Bernstein, I’ve learned 3 things that will help us ease into forgiveness and experience peace and freedom. Check it:

1. Willingness. The very first step to forgiving someone or something is to be willing to forgive. You have to want the peace, freedom, and happiness that result from forgiveness more than hanging on to your hurt, anger, or resentment. Even if you’re just slightly open to forgiveness, that’s enough to get the process going. When you catch yourself replaying that old scenario or conversation that you’re resenting, just say to yourself (I do this out loud), “I’m open to forgiving,” “I’m willing to forgive this situation/person/myself,” or “I don’t need to hang onto this. I’m open to releasing this.”

2. Face your feelings. It’s crucial to be willing to forgive, but you can’t just slap a prayer or mantra over your feelings and expect to experience true and lasting peace. You have to face the pain, hurt, anger, etc. that you experienced because of the situation you’re resenting. Most of the time, when we think about a situation or person who triggers us, we push it down or distract ourselves so we don’t have to feel it. But that just keeps those feelings alive and silently torturing us. In the forgiveness process, we have to acknowledge how a certain situation made us feel instead of running away. Then the feelings will move through us and leave us for good, never haunting us again. So whenever you experience an emotion because of that person/situation, just take a deep breath, notice where you feel it in your body, and breathe through it or journal, stretch, cry, etc. Feel your feelings with the intention that you’re moving towards forgiveness, and thus peace, freedom, and happiness.

3. Give it up. The best and most relieving part of this whole process is that we don’t have to take some major action. We simply have to surrender that situation or person and our feelings about them to God or The Universe. We don’t have to worry about what the forgiveness will look like, how our lives may or may not change, or whether we’ll actually be able to forgive. We just have to take it one day at a time, be willing to forgive, and feel our feelings along the way. God/The Universe will handle it from there.

Forgiveness is a process, and I’m still figuring it out. But if we want to experience more peace and ease in our lives, and attract wonderful, high-vibe things, then we have to consider forgiving the people and situations that are haunting us and keeping us stuck in fear, resentment, hurt, and anger.