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Entries in oprah (11)

Monday
Jan062014

5 Powerful People Who Keep Me Motivated

It's that time of year. Time for resolutions and goals and reassessing what you do right and what you can do better. This is one of my favorite times of the year because I LOVE self-improvement. I'm a bit of a junkie if I'm being honest.

It probably all started in middle school when I read my first self-improvement book that recommended I list all the things I wanted to accomplish in my life. It was a comprehensive list that included Read the Bible (check!) and meet Dean Cain (still waiting...). 

From that very first list I was hooked and I'm always looking for big and small ways to improve my life. Over the years, I've found myself going back to the same experts over and over again when looking for inspiration. These are people that are also incredibly invested in the power of personal growth. These are people whose entire livilihood is based on their power to motivate. These people are my gurus. 

Gretchin Rubin 

In 2009, Rubin published her blockbuster bestseller The Happiness Project, which recounted her year long happiness experiement. For one year, she carefully examined and applied the science of happiness to see what stuck. I love this book so much that I re-read it every year month-by-corresponding-month. I have found that Rubin's approach of making small daily changes to impact your overall happiness incredibly useful and empowering. Not to mention, her honesty about her own weaknesses and challenges is completely refreshing. I read her blog religiously and can't wait for her new book on changing habits. 

Brené Brown 

When I first saw Brené Brown's TED Talk on The Power of Vulnerability I was completely overwhelmed by her authenticity, her insight, and her incredible compassion. I am a hard core devotee of her Daring Greatly style that embraces the idea that everything great in life involves overcoming fear and facing vulnerability. Every time she opens her mouth I learn a little bit more about myself and how to face all the emotions that come with being me. 

Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is not for the faint of heart, but I promise you this - his positivity will wear. you. down. His goal is to "help you live with more passion, work with greater focus, and lead with extraordinary influence." He's not here to help you manage your emotions but help you manage your time and your work and your goals. He is my effeciency and productivity guru and I love his podcasts and blog for all the hardcore real-life tips he offers. 

Oprah

Duh.

Tara Sophia Mohr

I first found Tara Sophia Mohr through her 10 Rules for Brilliant Women. At first I thought she was your average inspire-business-women expert, but she has proven to be so much more. Better than almost anyone else she manages to address the socio-political AND emotional impact of being a woman in America today. She is the best combination of big picture insight and small picture advice. I absolutely love her. 

Who are the people that keep you motivated?

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Thursday
Jun142012

Revisiting Veganism

Our worlds have finally collided and I am in California visiting The Other Sarah! For the first time since we started the blog, we are face to face brainstorming ideas and making plans to take over the world. As a result, I haven't had much time to write and am reposting a post I wrote last year after an Oprah show on veganism. The Oprah Show is long gone (sniff!) but the debate surroudning veganism rages on. Enjoy!

As a former vegetarian and Michael Pollan groupie, I could not wait for yesterday's Oprah. Oprah and 368 of her staffers went vegan for a week and they had Pollan and The Veganist Kathy Freston on the show to discuss the results. For those of you who don't know me personally and therefore have not been forced to read The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan is a food writer and activist. Using his food rules - "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." -  he promotes a greater awareness about where our food comes from and what that process means to all of us. He is also responsible for ending my five years of vegetarianism.

Freston is a passionate supporter of the vegan lifestyle and shepherded Oprah and her staff through a week of no meat, dairy, eggs, or animal product of any kind. The point of this exercise and the discussion generally was to promote greater consciousness about the food we put in our bodies.

This awareness is something about which I am very passionate. We eat three meals a day and every single meal has environmental, societal, and political consequences, not to mention psychological and physical impact. This passion is why I have a real beef (ha! pun intended!) with Freston and her advocacy of veganism.

Full disclosure: I did Kathy Freston’s detox diet about three years ago. I gave up dairy, gluten, meat, alcohol, and caffeine. I did it for one reason and one reason only. Oprah asked me to and I generally do anything Oprah asks me, too. I was already a vegetarian with a decently healthy diet. Suddenly, I found myself purchasing gallons of soy milk, meat substitute, and fake cheese. Instead of eating more fruits and vegetables, I felt like I was just eating more soy. After a week all I had to show for my hard work was a missed period and the biggest zit of my life.

On yesterday's show when Pollan raised concerns that vegansim for some could mean more processed food, Freston agreed that one could be vegan while surviving on junk food but that's not what she was promoting. (It was also not what Pollan said, but whatever.) She assured Oprah and her audience that being vegan didn't mean more processed food. THEN, she proceeded to take a producer and her daughter to Whole Foods and fill their carts with meat and cheese substitutes galore. There wasn't a fresh vegetable or whole food in sight.

I'm not sure how Freston defines processed food, but turning soy into something resembling cheese is a PROCESS.

For example, this is the ingredient list for soy-cheese slices: water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, tofu, soy protein, carrageenan, maltodextrin, vinegar, calcium phosphate, potato flakes, salt, guar and carob bean gums, nondairy lactic acid, adipic acid, dairy free American cheese flavor, natural color and potassium sorbate.

This is the ingredient list for the mozzarella string cheese in my fridge: skim milk, cheese culture, salt.

Call me crazy but I find it hard to believe there is not only NO room in my diet for the latter, but that I should base a large portion of my diet on the former.

I'm not arguing that all processed food is alike or even bad. I know a ton of people who would really benefit by replacing the beef in their chili or stews with soy crumbles. However, Freston seems to be replacing one highly processed diet with another. Nutritional science is still in the dark ages and the recommendations change all the time, but what we do know is the more whole food and less processed food you eat the better.

Pollan suggests not eating anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. I am blessed to still have one of my great-grandmothers. Alive and well at 97, I'm pretty sure Mama Maggie would be pretty dang confused if I tried to explain soy cheese to her - much less convince her to eat it.

Image: Oprah.com

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Friday
Dec302011

TOS's Favorite Post by Sarah Stewart Holland

Well, Sarah Stewart Holland beat me to the punch and selected my favorite post of hers as her own for 2011. So, I'll share my second favorite with you today. I love this post because it most feels like talking to Sarah in person not only about an episode of Oprah (which we do), but because she's teaching me about something new, lessons learned, and thoughtfully pointing out things to consider. Really, though, when I read it I hear her voice in my head—there's energy and intelligence wrapped up in a Southern girlfriend.

VEGANISM OR SUBSTITUTIONISM?

As a former vegetarian and Michael Pollan groupie, I could not wait for yesterday's Oprah. Oprah and 368 of her staffers went vegan for a week and they had Pollan and The Veganist Kathy Freston on the show to discuss the results. For those of you who don't know me personally and therefore have not been forced to read The Omnivore's Dilemma, Pollan is a food writer and activist. Using his food rules - "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." -  he promotes a greater awareness about where our food comes from and what that process means to all of us. He is also responsible for ending my five years of vegetarianism.

Freston is a passionate supporter of the vegan lifestyle and shepherded Oprah and her staff through a week of no meat, dairy, eggs, or animal product of any kind. The point of this exercise and the discussion generally was to promote greater consciousness about the food we put in our bodies.

This awareness is something about which I am very passionate. We eat three meals a day and every single meal has environmental, societal, and political consequences, not to mention psychological and physical impact. This passion is why I have a real beef (ha! pun intended!) with Freston and her advocacy of veganism.

Full disclosure: I did Kathy Freston’s detox diet about three years ago. I gave up dairy, gluten, meat, alcohol, and caffeine. I did it for one reason and one reason only. Oprah asked me to and I generally do anything Oprah asks me, too. I was already a vegetarian with a decently healthy diet. Suddenly, I found myself purchasing gallons of soy milk, meat substitute, and fake cheese. Instead of eating more fruits and vegetables, I felt like I was just eating more soy. After a week all I had to show for my hard work was a missed period and the biggest zit of my life.

On yesterday's show when Pollan raised concerns that vegansim for some could mean more processed food, Freston agreed that one could be vegan while surviving on junk food but that's not what she was promoting. (It was also not what Pollan said, but whatever.) She assured Oprah and her audience that being vegan didn't mean more processed food. THEN, she proceeded to take a producer and her daughter to Whole Foods and fill their carts with meat and cheese substitutes galore. There wasn't a fresh vegetable or whole food in sight.

I'm not sure how Freston defines processed food, but turning soy into something resembling cheese is a PROCESS.

For example, this is the ingredient list for soy-cheese slices: water, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, tofu, soy protein, carrageenan, maltodextrin, vinegar, calcium phosphate, potato flakes, salt, guar and carob bean gums, nondairy lactic acid, adipic acid, dairy free American cheese flavor, natural color and potassium sorbate.

This is the ingredient list for the mozzarella string cheese in my fridge: skim milk, cheese culture, salt.

Call me crazy but I find it hard to believe there is not only NO room in my diet for the latter, but that I should base a large portion of my diet on the former.

I'm not arguing that all processed food is alike or even bad. I know a ton of people who would really benefit by replacing the beef in their chili or stews with soy crumbles. However, Freston seems to be replacing one highly processed diet with another. Nutritional science is still in the dark ages and the recommendations change all the time, but what we do know is the more whole food and less processed food you eat the better.

Pollan suggests not eating anything your great-grandmother wouldn't recognize as food. I am blessed to still have one of my great-grandmothers. Alive and well at 97, I'm pretty sure Mama Maggie would be pretty dang confused if I tried to explain soy cheese to her - much less convince her to eat it.

Image: Oprah.com

- Sarah Stewart Holland

Monday
Jun272011

Amos's Birth Story

The contractions started at around 10:30am. The night before I was convinced I was about to go into labor. I could feel Amos dropping down into my pelvis. I went for a long walk, relaxing into every Braxton Hicks contraction. I tried other suggested activities (insert throat clearing here) to bring on labor. Finally, I went to bed.


I woke up still pregnant...and cranky as hell.

I tried to go about my day. I took Griffin to the park. My grandmother came over for a visit. Around 11am, I noticed the nonstop Braxton Hicks contractions had taken on the more distinctive characteristics of menstrual cramps. I called my midwife — at first, suggesting that she stop at another visit before coming to my house. Two contractions later, I called her back and said, “Scratch that. Come here first.”

My grandmother stayed with Griffin, while I went to pick up Nicholas from work. He dropped me off my mother’s, where I laid on my left side to slow the contractions until my midwife’s arrival. They were still completely manageable at this point. I had on Oprah’s Master Class in the background, which was sort of amazing. It was like Oprah was in the room coaching me. (Y’all KNEW I wouldn’t give birth without at least one Oprah reference!)

About an hour and a half later, my midwife and her assistant arrived. She checked me and said I was between 2-3 centimeters. I spent the next hour walking around and squatting into the contractions. Working very hard to move things along, I knew I could get in the pool once I was at about 6 centimeters — anything short of that there was a chance the pool would actually slow down my labor.



Another hour or so later, my midwife checked me again. This time I was a solid three centimeters and much more effaced. More walking. More squatting. I was finding it difficult to get in a relaxing position. Finally, I got on exercise ball and braced myself on the side of couch. My midwife’s assistant would push hard on my lower back during every contraction. That pressure and my breath was all I had to get me through and things were starting to get intense.

I started to complain. I didn’t remember it hurting this much last time I said. This baby’s head must be huge I said. I wasn't getting time to rest because they were coming two at a time. The complaining turned to moaning turned to more than a couple of screams.

I kept waiting for my midwife to say it was time to check me again. Finally, I was at the end of my rope. I wanted to get in the pool. I didn’t care if I was 3.5 centimeters and my labor came to a screeching halt.

Pool. Now.

I made the long walk back to the bedroom for my midwife to check me.

9 centimeters! HOLLA!

And this is where things get exciting. My midwife yells out, “Anyone who wants to see this baby be born, better come now!” I walk back into the foyer where the pool is. Inexplicably, Griffin is in the next room doing a puzzle. (He had been taking a nap up until this point.) After some pretty serious rushing, he and my stepfather leave.

I get in the pool. At my next contraction, I feel the urge to push and my water breaks. I start pushing and screaming. Minutes later, Amos is crowning. I’m leaning over the side of the pool when his head emerges. My midwife has me get on my back (and by that I mean she and her assistant pick me up and flip me like a pancake). One more push and Amos Edward Holland was born.

Despite being in an enormous amount of pain, I felt that instant sky-clearing-ray-of-light-shining-down moment of pure love for this baby in my arms. I would describe Griffin’s labor and delivery as easier but I didn’t really have that intense bond with him the moment he was placed in my arms. It was completely and totally mind-blowing.



Maybe it was because the labor went so fast — a mere six hours from first cramp to his birth. Maybe it was because the labor had been so hard. Let me tell you — going from 3 centimeters to 9 centimeters in a little over an hour AIN’T EASY. My first birth was a lesson in trusting my body. My second birth was a lesson in trusting my gut, which was screaming, “Get in the pool! This bloody hurts!”

Either way that moment was worth it all.

~ Sarah Stewart Holland

Thursday
May262011

The FINAL Episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show



"Oprah, watching you be yourself makes me want to be more of myself."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

My love for Oprah is well-documented and I felt all that love flowing back my way as Oprah took to the stage and said her final farewell. She shared the highlights of her journey and the lessons she hopes we all took away from 25 years of programming. I knew some of them so well I could have completed her sentences.

Was it perfect? Short of my own personal lunch with Oprah to process my emotions on the final season, I'm not sure anything would have been perfect. However, I got the closure I needed and felt her sincerity in reaching out to thank the viewers who have loved and supported her all these years. I've been in Oprah's audience. Everything she said about needing us there and feeding off our energy is true.

I even got one final "Aha! Moment." She shared a lesson learned from her recent reunion with Iyanla Vanzant. "There is a difference, you know, between thinking you deserve to be happy and knowing you are worthy of happiness." Aha!

In the spirit of Oprah's final lesson and all the wisdom I've learned through the years in "the world's biggest classroom," I thought I would share my most important lessons—the Oprah-isms I repeat and repeat and repeat, the aha moments that changed me, the truths who shaped the person I am.

Don't let yourself be taken to the second location! Retired police sergeant Sanford Strong shared this tip in 1991. "Rule number one—and frankly, it's probably, in my opinion, the most important: Never allow them to take you anywhere else. Never," says Sanford. "Because crime scene number two is going to be isolated, you won't choose it, you'll be the focus of the crime."
I know I was probably too young to have seen the original episode but this has been scalded into my memory after tons of follow-ups where Oprah viewers credit this tip with saving their lives.

The Imago Theory. A relationship theory developed by marriage therapist Harville Hendrix, Imago Theory is basically the idea that you draw people into your life to either heal or re-enact old wounds. It's why we marry men just like our fathers or act like our mothers (basically, the premise of every episode of 16 & Pregnant). Understanding this central idea has really affected how I view my marriage and so many other relationships in my life. It helped me understand that what I usually think is all about the other person is most likely all about me.

When people show you who they are, believe them. Although coming via Maya Angelou, this was not an easy lesson for me to learn. Maybe I wanted to believe the best in people. Maybe I was too busy worrying that there was something wrong with me. Either way, I finally learned that I have no space in my life for toxic people. So, I say goodbye when they show their true colors...the first time.

All pain is the same. Oprah was interviewing women in prison for killing their own children—the worst crime imaginable. After the interview, one of the woman came to Oprah and said, "I can't believe you don't hate us." Her response, "No, I don't hate you. I see that's what you did with your pain and I do something else with mine." It was a profound lesson in empathy, sympathy, and compassion that was reinforced throughout the show. A lesson that has stayed with me and colored the way I see everything.

You teach people how to treat you. So simple. So important—especially for us moms. If you give and give with no concern for yourself, then don't be surprised if those around you take and take with no concern for you either. Putting everyone else first and waiting for someone to do the same for you is a fruitless endeavor. If you want people to respect you, then you must respect yourself. Simple? Yes. Easy? No...well, unless you have Oprah to guide you.

I know Oprah will still be there to guide me. I still have O Magazine and the all-important OWN. I appreciate the heartfelt goodbye and gratitude she expressed yesterday.

That didn't make it any less sad today when my 4 o'clock came and went with no Oprah.

- Sarah Stewart Holland