In the hectic and harrowing world that is college, an inspired voice quiets the chaos. Meet Sarah Wood: a business student, sorority woman and Michigan native who founded the holistic wellness blog and oatmeal pop-up, Oats and Woes.
So who is Sarah Wood?
Sarah is a Sophomore at the University of Michigan studying business, football and most importantly, oatmeal. If you live in Ann Arbor, you have probably heard of Oats & Woes and if not, you can educate yourself here. Oats and Woes is Sarah’s brainchild. I’ve heard it described as a mixture of a food blog, wellness guide and work of art. However recently it has gained more concrete footing as an artisan oatmeal pop-up bar. I met with Sarah to pick her brain about what it means to be well in this often confusing, college bubble.
Lets get right to it. What is wellness?
The often exuberant, always contagious, genuine enthusiasm that I have grown to see is what sets Sarah apart from everyone else. The founder of Oats and Woes began to tell me what she saw as being well and how she came to see it that way. First off, she broke down the paradigm of how physical health is the defining feature of wellbeing in present society, and went on to explain how health and happiness meant so much more.
Being a college student it is hard not to begin to forget yourself. Using Sarah’s words, college students are “group oriented”. We have been taught to be selfless team players and to help others, often at the expense of ourselves.
Sarah is a member of the University of Michigan Panhellenic community and this played into our discussion. She explained how she sees this group mentality manifested in many of the women she interacts with regularly, and it seems to make it okay for girls to not be kind to themselves.
“I see it everyday. My friends, wrapped up in competition and other people’s lives. It often reaches a point where they no longer hold themselves with the grace they deserve. The key is balance.” She continued to explain how that phrase is often overused and cliched, but in this case it rings true.
College students need to find a balance between value and acceptance. Find the balance of valuing yourself and accepting when it is okay to say no. Wellness is being grateful for your personal attributes and what makes you unique. Wellness is taking time to appreciate the little things that make you happy and honor the big things you put your passion behind. Wellness is healthily making your own grace your priority.
Well then, how does Oats and Woes play into this idea of wellness?
Wellness was part of Oats and Woes from the very beginning. Surprisingly, the beautiful bowls began in a dining hall as a cure for loneliness, a creativity outlet and a newfound passion. Sarah turned something as odd as oatmeal into her form of wellbeing. “Nobody really likes oatmeal” is a direct quote from Sarah, yet surprisingly she loves it and has developed quite a following who shares her love.
She has done this through her ability to differentiate oatmeal from the norm. Finding quality in the little things is the key. Finding joy and pursuing passion is healthy. Immersing yourself in environments that make you excited, giving yourself a reason to smile and finding possibility everywhere is wellness. Sarah Wood discovered this with each bowl of oats, with each sliced strawberry and each almond butter drizzle.
How have health and happiness proven to be key to college “success”?
From her work with Oats & Woes Ann Arbor Sarah has concluded that success is not quantitative. Oats and Woes is not about the money, it’s about the experience. Sarah and her team have a mission to add value to every individual’s day. They want to get people to try new things and actively be aware of their being. Success is more than what other people see. Success is finding individual peace.
Some words of advice for pursuing a life of wellbeing?
Surround yourself with an environment that values you. Be aware of your value and who you can actively share your value with. Be energized. Be authentic. Be motivated. Be confident in the fact that you can put yourself first. In a nutshell, let yourself be you, let yourself act and not be acted upon.
Be sure to check out Oats & Woes online and in person here in Ann Arbor!
Facebook: Oats & Woes Ann Arbor
Location: Comet Coffee, 16 Nickles Arcade, Ann Arbor MI, 48104
Sarah’s personal website: oatsandwoes.com