What Spirituality Means to Me

spirituality

Hey there! Thanks for being here to check out part three of my series- How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle. This week’s topic is about spiritual wellness, but I’m not going to talk about what you should do to be healthy in this area of life. Spirituality is many things to many people, and I know that the journey to find its place in our lives is a personal one. After all, some get in touch with their spirituality with a more traditional, church-going experience. Others feel connected to a higher power while meditating, volunteering to help people in need, or even surfing!

What I do urge you to do is discover what spirituality means to you. You don’t have to believe in any particular god or in any god at all. Perhaps love is your deity, and you find your higher purpose being kind to others and lifting their spirits. The point is that spirituality, in any form, allows you to find deeper meaning in your existence. Having it in your life gives hope and support during hard times and confidence when you’re feeling fearful. Spirituality strengthens your personal value system. Plus, as I read in Blue Zones, people with spirituality in their lives tend to live longer! The purpose that it gives you, combined with providing a deeper sense of calm and greater community belonging, extends the lifespan greatly.

Since we all have our own take on spirituality, I challenge you to find where it can fit in your life. Check out some books- I loved Like the Flowing River by Paulo Coelho, The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo, and The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. Try out new religious services that have interested you, or just figure out what makes you feel connected to something bigger than yourself. This is an area of my wellness that I’m not as connected to, so I’ll need to explore deeper as well!

 


What I’ve found is that spirituality can be found just as easily in the magic of small moments as in the wonder of large moments. So it’s about to get personal- here are the activities and experiences I’ve found that get me in touch with my spiritual side:

To me, spirituality is… feeling beautiful moments of connection and transcendence during travel. I went to Paris when I was in high school and walked up the steep, cobblestone streets of Montmatre during the first night there. Once I got to the top, the highest point in the city, millions of buildings and the Eiffel Tower glittered down below. It was gorgeous. But towering right next to me was the stunning, white Basilica ‎Sacré-Cœur, and I was drawn in. The warm interior of the cathedral engulfed my emotions with the nuns singing softly by candlelight and the giant gold mural soaring overhead. I was immediately filled with a sense of bursting joy in my chest- all at once, I felt peacefully connected to everything and that life was so unimaginably amazing. It was a beautiful experience. Now, I’m actually not Catholic, but if that wasn’t the most spiritually moving moment in my life, then I don’t know what was!

To me, spirituality is… a magical “coincidence” that pops into my life just when I need it most. In my junior year of college, I’d been single for about a year and hadn’t met any guys who I really *clicked* with. I was feeling really down about not being able to find a good guy, so I wrote out a super elaborate list of every trait that I wished for in my ideal boyfriend. Sounds silly, but I put my heart into this list- a guy who makes me laugh, who has the same values as me, who is kind and helpful to everyone, and who surprises me with loving, thoughtful gestures. I went into WAY more detail, but I’m not going to embarrass myself here! Flash forward two weeks later where I’m at a Christmas party with some sorority sisters. Wine in hand, I say in frustration, “I’m over men… I refuse to date anyone for the whole next year!” Then in walks this cute guy who I met in passing at a bar with my girl friend the week before. Tonight though, his eyes land on mine, remembering me. We proceed to talk excitedly about all of our shared passions, and I just feel something special. I feel sure… like I know he’s going to become my boyfriend. By the end of the night, our first date is scheduled, and my sorority sisters make fun of my now defunct, anti-men declaration. Flash forward: He turns out to be the exact guy that I described in my list, and we end up dating for years. His appearance in my life was the biggest “coincidence” I’ve ever experienced- now I’m a true believer in the power of asking the universe for exactly what you want!

To me, spirituality is… my bond with nature. Whenever I’m alone and surrounded by the forest or in front of a gorgeous vista, I feel something sweep through me and fill me with energy. In those moments outdoors, I feel so alive and connected with all of the universe. Nature is just perfect- ecosystems that sustain themselves, the symmetry of flowers, the hydrologic cycle, butterfly metamorphosis, and all that’s in between. And have you ever read about Fibonacci numbers and the Golden Ratio? The same mathematical ratio appears in everything from eggs to sunflowers to hurricanes to seashells to galaxies to waves- it’s amazing. The perfection of nature is mindbogglingly beautiful, and I can’t help but feel an intense higher connection to it all.

To me, spirituality is… feeling centered and like my true self during yoga class. During yoga, I’m not worrying about any of my problems outside the class. My mind is focused on breath-work and moving into the various poses. I’m completely in my body- present in each moment. This rare moment of freedom away from my often anxious brain allows me to center myself. It’s then that I realize that life isn’t about all of the issues my mind worries about. In these moments of mental freedom, I can connect back with a higher purpose and let go of my malicious ego, being the realest version of myself.

To me, spirituality is… my inner voice guiding me out of my deepest depression when I was younger. Prepare yourself- this next story might make me sound like a woo woo hippy. So I was really depressed during middle school and parts of high school and felt desperate to try anything that might get me out of this pit of nothingness. At a book store, I found a workbook about discovering your inner goddess and knew I had to give it a try. I had my moment of awakening during a 20-minute meditation exercise that the book led me through. During the experience, I felt energy surge through my body and mind that I’d never felt before. A beautiful woman radiating with light proceeded to have a loving conversation with me, answering all of my fear-filled questions about life and the future. This goddess in my meditation believed in me, and showed me the kindness and support that I truly needed at that time in my life. Once I came out of my meditation, I no longer felt depressed- I felt light and hopeful about my life. Though minor depression has reoccurred in years since, I’ve never felt as deep in despair since the goddess in my mind spoke to me. Call it my inner voice, intuition, or a guardian angel- all I know is that it made me see the beauty in life again.

 


So now that you’ve learned all of the diverse ways that spirituality shows up in my life, what does spirituality mean to you? Have you had any big spiritual moments in your life that give you a deeper since of wellness? Please let me know in the comments below- I’d love to hear your story! :)

Have a wonderful day,

xo Caylee

The Basics of Emotional Wellness

emotionalwellness

Hi everyone! So happy that you’re here reading part two of my series, How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle. This week’s post will be an introduction to emotional well-being and the traits that we exude when we’re healthy in this realm of life. Out of the six dimensions of wellness that I outlined last week, I believe that emotional wellness is the most crucial area needed in order to lead a contended lifestyle. You might have all of the other aspects of life balanced, but without emotional stability, you’re probably finding that things are feeling a bit chaotic or under-the-weather.

The two most important characteristics of emotional wellness are the ability to acknowledge your emotions and to express them in appropriate ways. Most people that I’ve met seem to be very out of touch with how they’re feeling on a day-to-day basis. We often don’t take the time to listen to our subconscious, inner thoughts enough in order to read what we need more or less of in our lives.

But acknowledging and accepting your emotions, no matter how ashamed having them might make you feel, is such an important step for getting to know yourself better and understanding how to work with your emotions.

I’ve found that how we view others and treat them is usually a mirror to how we’re feeling deep inside. Challenge yourself to be hyper-aware of your negative thoughts for a week, and try to critique all of them to find out what they really mean. Don’t take your emotions at face value!

For example: My boyfriend has been feeling unlike himself in the past few days. He’s been stressed, and his normally joyful, funny personality just isn’t shining through as brightly. But before Stefan acknowledged his emotions and told me all about how he was feeling last night, I was starting to feel panicked. I put it all on myself and wondered if I’d done something wrong. But when I think about it- was he treating me any differently? Nope, still as loving as ever. Was he being mean to me? Definitely not! So I was projecting my insecure feelings onto him, like it was his fault they were bubbling up from my past, when really those emotions were just about my own baggage.

We project our emotions onto other people all the time, even when they have nothing to do with how we’re feeling. You know what I’m talking about… The mother who is scared about not being able to pay next month’s rent but takes that fear and lashes out at her kids. The colleague who always makes your dreams seem insignificant when really he’s upset because he hasn’t pursued any of his goals. If we try to see these emotional mirrors in ourselves and other people, we become so much better at expressing ourselves in a healthy way.

There are too many ways to express emotions for me to go through them all here, but to simplify things a bit, we can assume that any emotional reaction on an extreme side of the spectrum probably doesn’t count as “appropriate.” Here are a few examples:

  • Yelling or getting enraged about insignificant issues
  • Criticizing others when you’re feeling down about yourself
  • Bottling up all of your thoughts and feelings so that you won’t upset others

The above three examples are emotional extremes that will get you all wound up with poisonous, angry feelings without them actually helping your life one bit. They will only serve to push the people in your life away from you. I know from experience! When I was younger, I had tons of anger and bitterness trapped inside of me, and I had no clue how to properly express it. Instead, I got into verbal fights with anyone and everyone around me- especially authority figures! The funny thing is, I was so angry because I craved more love and quality time from those important to me, but my behavior only pushed people away more.

So what can you do to better acknowledge and express your true feelings? Here are some ideas:

Reflect

Like I said above, take a week to be extra aware of any time you feel a negative emotion- anger, sadness, jealousy, insecurity, judgment, etc. In the moments when you’re feeling that way, explore the “why” part of the problem. Why are you feeling this way? Deep down, is it really about the situation/ person at hand, or is it something in you? Perhaps it’s an issue from your past, or an insecurity that this person has absolutely nothing to do with. Dig around in those feelings to understand yourself more.

Move On

Once you’ve done that, don’t beat yourself up about it! If you’ve found that you’re directing your negative emotions at the wrong person/ issue, don’t make yourself feel guilty and sad. Just accept that it happened, apologize sincerely, and move on to change your emotional well-being for the better!

Be Positive

Learn from your mistakes in a positive way. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes, but the people with emotional wellness are the ones who act to change their behaviors. Acknowledging emotions is the first step, but then we have to work to use them in a healthy way. Take it day by day! Be nice to yourself.

Love

It might sound cheesy or hippy-ish, but just choose love. When you feel the urge to say something judgmental or to react angrily, think: Do they deserve this? Will this make their life or my life any better? The answer is probably “no.” So instead, choose to love. Be kind. Why are we so harsh with our words anyway? The more often you choose the loving reaction, the more it will become a behavioral habit. Before you know it, your life will feel so much more positive and emotionally stable. That’s what happened to me when I was younger and lashing out all the time. I decided that I was sick of feeling constantly angry and mean, and I allowed the softer, sweet side of my personality to shine though. Now, that nice person is who I view myself as completely (but with some sass left over for fun, of course!).

Make Happiness a Priority

Straighten out your priorities and align your emotions with them. Make your emotional wellness important to your life. Are there certain people or activities that are depleting you of happiness? If you aren’t being treated the way you deserve to be treated, with kindness and respect, then let them go. People and activities that selfishly bring you down don’t deserve your time. You have the right to be happy just as much as anyone else.

Meditate

Practice meditating to gain more clarity in your mind and calm in your life. If you have a hyperactive brain, try activities like yoga, dancing, surfing, or doodling. They’ll provide a similar effect by keeping your mind focused on one task instead of worrying about a million life issues.

Ask for Help

Don’t try to go about hard times alone. Find people that you can open up to so that you can keep emotions from building up inside. And if you’re having serious emotional problems that are dramatically altering your life, please visit a therapist or doctor!


I could literally create an entire blog about the importance of emotional wellness and tips for stabilizing this area of life, so I hope this post can work as a basic introduction to the overwhelming amount of information I could give! If you have any specific questions for me regarding this topic, please leave it in the comments below! The next post in the series will cover spiritual wellness- one of the areas that I’d like to improve more in myself.

So what do you need to improve upon emotionally? Do you need to be more communicative about how you’re feeling with your significant other? Or maybe you need to filter yourself better, because you say things that *sting* too much? Let me know below, and please share with your friends! :)

Have a wonderful weekend,

xo Caylee

How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle – Part One

create a wellness lifestyle

In fitness magazines sold all throughout the country, we continuously hear “health and wellness” lumped together as one thing. But if wellness isn’t the exact same thing as health, then what really is it?

Wellness is never just one part of a person- it is their whole life. It’s not how many vegetables you eat, or if you’re a non-smoker, or if you go out for a jog every morning. It’s all of those behavioral choices combined and then much more than that. Wellness can be explained as being the varied dimensions of life that holistically form a healthy, contented lifestyle.

This multifaceted approach to understanding health and happiness is what made me want to use the term “wellness” as part of my blog title. Arguably, there are six different areas of life that contribute to wellness (shown below), and I don’t believe that you can be 100% well if you’re only focused on a couple of them. You might be thriving in your career, but are you sacrificing your health by sleeping only four hours per night? Or you might love your social life, hanging out with your girlfriends all the time, but are you also taking the time to challenge yourself intellectually with new creative pursuits? Maybe you’re lucky enough to have found your sense of purpose in life, but do you notice yourself constantly holding in negative feelings until you have emotional outbursts? We all have moments of lack in the different areas of life, but what it all comes down to is balance.

Creating a balanced lifestyle is what I want to inspire though my blog- Being brave by pursuing your biggest creative goals, making delicious, nutritional recipes, finding one’s purpose, learning how to have healthy relationships, and so much more. Over the next six weeks, I’m going to be delving into each of the six dimensions of wellness and showing you how to get more out of life in each area. It’s a gutsy move to stand up and decide that you want to live the best, all-around version of life possible.

So are you with me?

If so, here’s an infographic that I created to describe the six different, but equally important, parts of wellness that we’ll be exploring in the upcoming weeks:

wellness infographic


So what areas of life do you feel yourself lacking in? Where would you like to improve? Let me know, and I’ll focus even more on those areas!

For me, I feel like the aspects I need to develop most are spiritual and social wellness. And just to clarify, I’ll be talking about spiritual wellness in a very open sense without any particular ideology or religion connected to it. So whether you’re Pagan, secular-humanist, Jewish, or anything in-between, this is for you!

Comment or “like” to show that you’ll be challenging yourself, alongside me, to grow into a deeper sense of well-being in order live the most joyful, healthy life possible. First up, next week, we’ll be tackling emotional wellness! You can find the rest of the post series listed below.

Have a beautiful week,

xo Caylee

Part Two PostThe Basics of Emotional Wellness
Part Three PostWhat Spirituality Means to Me

– I was inspired & guided by this wellness model from the National Wellness Institute. –

Algae & Exercise – the Perfect Match?

energybits2

Just from one glance at the post title, I’m sure you’re all just dying to add some of that primordial, green slime to your workout routine, right? Oh, you’re not? Well, I was approached by a fitness fuel company called ENERGYbits last month, and they offered to let me try a free sample of their product that’s popular with Olympians and other top athletes who want to improve their performance. It’s organic Spirulina algae that comes in tab form! Luckily, the ENERGYbits are easy to take, just like a pill, and not slimy at all. ;)

Here’s why I couldn’t resist trying this interesting new product. Keep reading for a special discount!

First. Consuming strange, internationally popular foods is somewhat of a hobby for me. Cow tongue? Surprisingly delicious. Jellyfish salad? So refreshing. But algae tabs? They’re an easy sell in comparison to the other foods I’ve loved.

  • Japan already consumes billions of dollars worth of algae every year, and they’re known to have some of the longest lived people in the world.
  • Algae packs in the largest amount of edible protein of any food out there- 3x more than steak!
  • The algae in ENERGYbits is actually grown and harvested, not created in a lab! I wonder what an algae farm looks like…

Second. I haven’t had as many nutrients in my diet lately as I should. Since I’ve been on the road away from home for the past two months, I haven’t gotten to cook my own food at all. I’ve been trying to eat dinner out as healthily as possible, but sometimes it’s so difficult! I needed something easy to consume, like algae, to restart my health and get some more vitamins and minerals into my body- of which ENERGYbits have 40 different types! Say what!?

  • ENERGYbits have a crazy amount of antioxidants and B vitamins, such as Riboflavin and Thiamin. To get an equivalent amount of vitamins you’d have to eat 25 bananas and close to a pound of cheese. I’ll pass on that.
  • According to NASA, “1 gram of algae has the nutritional value of 1,000 grams of fruits an vegetables.” Huh? I’m sold. It’s much easier to pop some 100% natural algae tablets than to eat a wheelbarrow full of broccoli.
  • Luckily, I don’t have any big food restrictions, but these tabs are great for anyone who does! They’re vegan, raw, non-GMO, and kosher.

Third. Most importantly, I have major problems with fatigue. I’ve never been able to figure out if the cause is anemia, low-grade depression, eating the wrong foods for my body, or even poor blood circulation. I’ve been to the doctor to try and get it all sorted out, but no answers are ever found. On that note, I’ve fallen out of shape lately, because I wasn’t making fitness a top priority in my life. So I decided to set an ambitious fitness goal for myself. I wanted to be able to do all of the crazy yoga inversions that I always marveled at on Instagram- headstand, handstand, chin stand, side crow. The problem is that being able to get into these yoga poses (and stay in them!) takes some intense core muscles, in addition to arm strength. I ended up joining the Invert Your Life Challenge, which taught me how to do yoga inversions properly. I also started doing (almost) daily PiYO workouts at home, which was part cardio, part Pilates and yoga muscle toning/ stretching. The problem is, staying in shape requires that a lot of energy be expended that I just don’t feel like I can give due to my constant fatigue. ENERGYbits saves the day!

  • The fact that algae is a complete protein means that the body absorbs it easily, so you get the perfect flow of energy without the jitters of coffee or energy shots. I actually have a history of getting into emotional meltdowns from consuming energy drinks- like literal temper tantrums. The intense rush of caffeine and then the terrible crash does not do my body, or emotions, any good. I avoid any type of energy drink now, but I don’t have to avoid ENERGYbits! They provide a steady input of energy without any caffeine or other unnatural additives.
  • I took ENERGYbits before several of my PiYO workouts and, to my surprise, noticed that I wasn’t feeling completely exhausted after the intense cardio and muscle-toning sessions. I honestly felt great- like I could keep going with even more exercise! If you knew how I felt after most workouts in my life, you’d know that this energy within me was not a common feeling. Normally, I’d just want to lay down and die. Or perhaps eat a tub of ice cream and then die. My legs are usually shaking and spent, and I’m not in the mood to go out and do anything afterwards. But after taking the algae tabs, I felt amazing and like my day was just beginning.

inversion

So what do you think? Do you think ENERGYbits are something you would try in order to make your workouts easier, or even to add more nutrients into your diet?

If you’d like to try this awesome new product, I was lucky enough to be given a discount code for you all to use on the ENERGYbits website: Enter the word “BLOG” into the coupon box at checkout to receive a 10% discount.

I hope you all enjoyed my first product review! Just so that you know, I wasn’t paid to do this or obligated in anyway, but I just felt like it’s a great new “food” that you all would benefit from as much as I did! :D

Hope you have a wonderful week,

xo Caylee

What to Do When You’re Feeling Uninspired

world inspiration

For the past couple months since creating this blog, I’ve written all of my posts in a flurry of excitement and creative energy, unable to fall asleep until I finish typing the very last sentence at around 2:00 AM. But this is not one of those nights, and it frightens me. On this night, my mind is blank, and I feel completely blah. I’m sure I’ll still be up until the wee hours of the morning, but it will be for a very different reason. I’ll be trying to get my idea mojo back.

Feeling uninspired is incredibly common in creative communities, but that doesn’t make the experience any less panic-inducing. And even if you aren’t an artsy type or working in a creative industry, we all have those moments in life where everything fades to gray. We can’t help but think, “How long will I feel like this? What if I never think up a great idea again? I don’t want to be boring and unoriginal.” Trust me, I’m right there with ya! So what should you do when your creative juices stop flowing momentarily? Here are five of my favorite inspiration sources that I’ll be using to get out of this rut:

1. Listen to a few uplifting TED Talks.

I’m basically obsessed with TED [Technology, Entertainment, & Design]. Where else can you find hours upon hours of inspirational, mind-expanding speeches that simultaneously warm the heart and make you feel like an engaged, global citizen? Yes, you will need to dedicate about 20 minutes of your time per TED Talk, but you’ll usually gain so much in return. These filmed speeches have allowed me to discover some of my favorite authors, have given me amazing new insights into the human experience, and have pushed me to want to jump up and make changes in my life. I’d call that getting out of a rut! Though you should definitely check out your own topics of interest, here are a few Talks that have influenced me the most:

2. Create something using a different medium than you’re used to.

Step outside of your normal comfort zone to create something new and exciting. It probably won’t be a masterpiece, as it’s not in your area of expertise, so don’t concentrate on trying to create perfection. You just want it to be fresh and not the same old stuff. If you’re into writing, try making a short film on your point-and-shoot camera instead. Enjoy playing guitar? Try writing your own song lyrics about something you’re going through right now. Love coming up with vegan dinner recipes? Figure out how to make the most delicious breakfast smoothie your taste buds have ever experienced instead. Is your favorite hobby wakeboarding? Try kiteboarding for a different take on a similar sport. You get my point. After trying out a new medium, you’ll likely have refreshed excitement for your creative outlet of choice and plenty of new ideas to keep you going for a while.

3. Give your brain some time to relax.

Sometimes feeling uninspired is just your subconscious’s way of screaming, “I NEED A DAMN BREAK.” We live in such a fast-paced, information overloaded society that our minds eventually have a way of overheating and crashing. It shouldn’t be a shock that our brains need a breath of fresh air sometimes. If you feel like this is part of your problem, go on a mini digital detox. As soon as you get home from work, turn off the social media apps on your phone, and keep the TV off and the computer closed. I know this sounds incredibly difficult, because we’re all so connected to our various devices these days. But we all need a break. So what do you do once the house is still and silent except for those pesky cricket chirps? As they like to say in one of my favorite TV shows, (Yes, I’ll have to shut off Parks & Recreation too) – “Treat yo self!”

treat-yo-self

I’m not personally into retail therapy, but I do believe we all need to treat ourselves to a day of relaxation when we’re feeling burnt out. So do whatever that means for you! A long walk in a park? Treat yo self! Chat with your best friend over coffee? Treat yo self! A candlelit bubble bath? Treat yo self! Whatever it is, make it a time to enjoy life and to disconnect from the information overload that’s clouding your mind.

4. Free write or journal.

This one is simple- just write. Don’t try and make it sound pretty or have a cohesive story line. In fact, if it doesn’t read like the ramblings of a madman, then you’re doing it wrong! Grab a pencil and a pad of paper, and literally start writing about the very first thing that pops into your head. It could be about anything from the lunch you ate that day to the way your coworker pissed you off in a meeting last week. Just write anything about it! The instant that a new idea string materializes in your brain, feel free to go off writing on that tangent. Be as descriptive or non-descriptive as you’d like. The point is to write without barriers, and let your subconscious take over with what it wants to say. You might form with a new idea based off of your ramblings, or perhaps you’ll end up seeing a problem from a different perspective that your conscious mind wouldn’t allow you to see.

5. Begin a passion-filled quest with clear parameters.

If the above inspiration sources aren’t drastic enough for you, maybe it’s time for you to pull out the big guns and start on your own quest. This idea was a major inspiration for me after I watched this interview with two of my favorites, Chris Guillebeau and Marie Forleo. In the talk, Chris discusses topics from his new book, The Happiness of Pursuit, which goes into how quests can play an important role in creating happiness in our lives. You’ll get much more from watching the interview, but basically, I want to ask: What creative quest can you start yourself on today that will provide you with more meaning and purpose in your day-to-day life?

This quest needs a start and end date with clear goals and parameters. It also needs to be a challenge for you, so that you’ll be pushing yourself to grow. For instance, a quest shouldn’t be, “I want to visit a lot of countries.” Instead, it should be, “I want to visit 100 countries before my 40th birthday.” That’s a clear, measurable goal. But a quest doesn’t have to be as big or expensive as traveling all over the world! It could be, “I will learn 1,000 songs on my ukulele and post a recording of each one online before January 1st, 2020.” Whatever floats your boat! The point of this being a great source of inspiration is that if you dedicate yourself to a quest based on your passions, then you’ll be held accountable to keep creating even in your most blah moments. Sometimes, all we need is a little push and a goal to focus our efforts on.

I hope that you’ll find your creative juices replenished after trying some, or all, of these inspiration building activities! I know that I’m feeling super pumped up after writing this, so maybe that’s all I needed. And if that’s not enough, I get to meet Chris Guillebeau tonight while he’s in Atlanta! So excited to ask him a million questions about quests! Anyway, please let me know how you refresh your brain when dealing with a creative block. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts. :)

Have a wonderful day,

xo Caylee

It’s My Birthday! And Other Happy Life Updates

Costa Rica May 2014 430b

I’m officially 25 years old, you guys! The age when it finally sounds like I’m a real adult, although most people know that I never want to become a standard, boring, adult-y type person. Year 24 of my life was filled with a whiplash of changes and a bunch of exciting experiences that I never imagined I’d get to have just one year prior. This has been, simultaneously, one of the hardest years of my life, and the happiest year of my life. It has zoomed by in the blink of an eye in some moments and has seemed to fall into slow motion at other points. I’ve started to redevelop myself into the person I truly want to become, rather than faltering under the pressure of what other people want me to be. I’ve savored, I’ve laughed, I’ve cried, I’ve finally been proud of myself, and I am so excited to see what my 25th year has in store for me. But before we get to my hopes for the next 12 months, here are some defining moments of my past year.

Year Twenty-Four Recap:

1. I started a new chapter of my life by moving to Miami with Stefan last year, and I’ve explored so much of the town already! Art shows, concerts, parks, kayaking, beaches, salsa dancing, festivals, farmer’s markets, restaurants in every neighborhood- it’s been so much fun going on mini adventures with my boyfriend in our new city. Though Miami definitely isn’t the place I’d like to live in forever, it’s been such a great learning experience for me. Plus, being only an hour and a half away from my parents in Naples and getting to visit them every month has been a nice change of pace from my usual far-off locations.

2. I got the most interesting job experiences of my life so far through working in corporate events and travel planning. I never would’ve guessed that I’d get the chance to plan a conference in Costa Rica for Louis Vuitton, or that Audi would allow me to plan an entire travel itinerary for their executives in Manhattan, or that I’d get to be an event producer for an iHeartRadio concert on South Beach. I got to coordinate and attend stunning, dream events which I am so thankful for, but I also learned that it’s not the right career path for me. I had to do a lot of soul searching and had many rough days at work, but I’ve come out confident in where I want to go now. The experience of this year in events gave me so many new skills that I can’t wait to use throughout my future.

3. Some amazing vacations have been had! In May, Stefan and I traveled to Costa Rica for 10 days, which may have been the most perfect trip of my entire existence. Except for Stefan feeling like his organs were disintegrating during our last two days- but other than that, paradise! Not only was it gorgeous, but it allowed me to clear my mind and refocus on what I truly find important. This summer, I also went on a three road trip up the East Coast stopping to visit friends and family in Washington DC, New York City, Ithaca, Boston, Charlottesville, and Raleigh. Even as I write this, Stefan and I are still on the road. We’ve been living at a hotel in Atlanta for the past month while Stefan works on engineering the new Atlanta Falcons stadium. I can’t wait to be home in my own bed! So unsettled…but I guess that’s what Year 24 is all about, right?

4. It’s been a year of crazy important personal development. I was pretty depressed when I first moved to Miami, but I was able to turn the year around by focusing on trying to find my passions and experience new things. I learned how to play ukulele, got really great at cooking healthy meals, and dedicated much more time to practicing yoga. But what’s most exciting is that I found my dream job that I’m going to pursue, and I started this blog, which I love to write in! Gutsy Girl Wellness has given me an outlet to creatively express all of my thoughts about life, travel, and health, and I’ve never been happier. I adore writing- getting to speak to you all through my words has already been the most amazing experience. I’m only two months into blogging though, so I hope you stick around for a while!

What’s Planned for Year Twenty-Five:

1. I’m taking a major leap towards jump-starting my career in the wellness industry! I applied to a nine month coaching training program last month, and after plenty of essays and a phone interview, I was accepted! That means I’ll be flying out to California in January for our welcome retreat, and I am beyond excited and nervous about what’s to come. This is the dream job I’ve been speaking of. I’ve been thinking about a career path in coaching for years, but I’m finally going to do it now! In addition to this big step, I’ll also be working on writing my first book and altering my blog to make it even better. So exhilarating. So scary.

2. More travel, of course! For my coach training program, I’ll be going to the Napa Valley area of California for several days. Stefan is planning on meeting me there and then we’ll road trip down the coast. We’re going to explore San Francisco, Carmel and lots of other little towns going south, LA, and finally San Diego before flying home to Florida. I’ve actually never been to California, and I have a feeling I’m going to love it. Besides the trip out West, I hope to travel back to Germany for the first time since studying abroad there in high school. I want to bring my mom this time, and show her the town I lived in and get to see my host family again. It’s been far too long. I miss Germany!

3. By the end of this upcoming year, I hope that Stefan and I will have decided on a city/ town to make our home for a long while. Though traveling is clearly one of my favorite activities, I also crave finding my place where I can become a true part of the community and put down some roots. It’s been too many years of me hopping from place to place and never having the time to build a strong enough connections to people. This will be the deciding year, so who knows where we’ll move in Year 26!

4. This will be a year for even more personal development. I’ll be participating in a five-week intuitive painting workshop, called Bloom True, starting next month. I love to create art, but I’m always so scared that I’ll make a mistake that I rarely pick up a pencil or paintbrush. I’m hoping this course will push me beyond those boundaries so that I can create some beautiful pieces. I’ll also be continuing with Beachbody workouts! Right now, Stefan and I are starting our second week of Piyo (Pilates and yoga combination) and participating in a challenge that teaches you new yoga inversions everyday. Doing headstands and handstands was way past my comfort zone just a few weeks ago, but I’m loving learning how to do inversions! Maybe thoughts of doing a Yoga Teacher Training are in the works…

Looking back over this list, Year 24 seemed to be a time of planting seeds for my future. It was twelve months of planning and figuring out what I wanted. It was my prep year. So that means Year 25, to keep going with the gardening metaphor, will be my year of growing into my goals and expanding my skills. Year 26 will hopefully provide some financial harvest. ;)

So if I could pick one word to meditate on and focus myself towards for the whole rest of this next year, it would be “courageous.” I want to push myself to be brave enough to follow through fully in all of my coming challenges and to become the best version of myself possible. I feel in my heart and intuition that this is going to be a big year for me- I’m not sure how yet, but I’ll have to work hard to make it happen! Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my yearly life update! :)

Have a beautiful September 12th,

xo Caylee

Are YOU the One Holding Yourself Back?

limiting beliefs surf graphic

I’m not the type of person who’d be good at playing ukulele and covering my favorite songs. I’m not a sporty, adrenaline chasing girl who’d be into surfing. I’m not a New Age, woo-woo seeker who’d enjoy doing yoga and meditation. I’m not… I’m not… I’m not…

How many amazing opportunities and potential talents have you passed over or talked yourself out of because you believe you’re not a certain type of person? The above hobbies – playing ukulele, surfing, and doing yoga – are all things that I never thought I’d love to do, or even be good at doing!

Last year, I showed Stefan a bucket list of things I wanted to achieve before the age of 30, and one of my goals was learning to play the ukulele. Part of me actually wanted to learn. I didn’t know how to play any instruments, and I felt like I was missing out on this giant part of human existence by not creating music. But the other part of me thought, “If I haven’t learned how to play the ukulele or guitar before my age of 24, then obviously it’s not in my life path. I’m too old to learn something so complicated. I’m clearly not an instrument playing type, or I would’ve done it already- maybe I’m just more of a singer.”

False. If it was up to me and my stubborn brain, I never would’ve gotten to learn what turned out to be one of the loves of my life. Thankfully, Stefan saved me from a sad, music-less fate by buying me a beautiful baritone ukulele for Christmas. But it sat alone in the corner of my room for over a month before a disappointed Stefan asked if I was ever going to use it. I’d been feeling guilty seeing it there everyday, untouched, but I was honestly too scared to even try strumming it once. I was terrified to confirm my suspicions that I, in fact, was not a music playing type. Then all of my ukulele dreams would be dashed forever.

Stefan picked up the ukulele and showed me where to place my fingers on the strings. He then demonstrated some easy chords. The fateful moment came when it was time for me to try- and I SUCKED. It was hard, and I didn’t like the feeling of being new and bad at something. So there Josefina, my ukulele, sat in the corner for another couple of weeks before I summoned up the courage to try playing her one last time before giving up. This time, I did it my way. When I saw the movie “Her” a few months prior, I decided that if I only learned to play one song, it would be The Moon Song by Karen O. So sitting alone with my ukulele, I slowly learned the chords to The Moon Song and then added the words to sing along with my strumming. Once Stefan got home from work a few hours later, he was flabbergasted that I’d learned how to play and sing an entire song by myself.

I suddenly felt exhilarated that I was a music playing type of girl! I could recreate new versions of any song on the planet with my own beat and strumming style and voice. Amazing! Over the next few months, I practiced every single day and learned how to play at least 50 different songs on my ukulele while singing simultaneously. It turned into a time of total mental and emotional absorption for me. It was my meditation. It was my release. It was my joy. Tears came to my eyes as I sang Hurt by Johnny Cash, and I laughed as I covered We Can’t Stop by Miley Cyrus. In just a couple months time, I became the type of girl who played music and was confident in her abilities. The previous way that I viewed myself was totally shattered, and it opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for me. I never would’ve believed it if you told me that a year ago.

So, to get to my point, how are you holding yourself back? This entire post was inspired by a great quote that I found this weekend:

“It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you’re not.” – Denis Waitley

Think about all of the limiting beliefs that you hold about your personality and your life. What positive experiences, jobs, and hobbies are you stopping yourself from trying because you think you’re not a certain type of person?

I thought I wasn’t a musician, but after giving it a real shot, I feel like I’m a natural at playing ukulele. I was absolutely terrified to try surfing in Costa Rica and didn’t feel like I was athletic enough to be good at it, but I popped up on the board on my very first wave. I’ve shocked myself time and time again by realizing that I’m not the diluted version of a person that I stifle into a tiny box inside my mind. I am so much more. I am whoever and whatever I want to be. And so are you!

Who says you can’t be the type to hike the Pacific Crest Trail? To own your own business? To learn how to sail? To make your own movie? To be a great parent? To create your own vegetable garden? To get toned and healthy? Sometimes you are the one stopping yourself! I hope that you choose to challenge yourself into being the person of your wildest dreams. Surprise yourself, and show that you can be more than you ever thought possible. You don’t ever have to keep being a certain type of personality, unless you decide to be the type who kicks ass and steamrolls your goals. In which case, go for it! :)

Thanks for reading, and please share your thoughts in the comments below. What type of person do you wish you could be but think you’re not? What’s really stopping you?

Have a beautiful Monday,

xo Caylee

Tweet this: “It’s not what you are that holds you back, it’s what you think you’re not.” – Denis Waitley via @Cayleepugh

When Your Family Doesn’t Support Your Dreams

AUTHENTICSELF

What do you feel is the appropriate reaction when your loved ones don’t support what you’d like to do with your life? I would confidently say: I love you, but this isn’t about you. This is about what’s best for me, and only I can know that answer. If you believe I don’t know what’s best for me, you’re wrong. You’re thinking about what you would do if you were me. But you’re not me. So, I love you, but if you’re not coming with me on this journey, then please move out of my way. I’m turning into the most badass version of my authentic self possible, and I need supporters with me, not downers and haters. So are you with me or against me? *drops mic*

Let me start off by saying that I personally feel like I’m the Queen of Familial Disappointment. The family member that I’m always trying to impress is also the person who I oppose most often. I see this as a common thread throughout the lives of my friends- they care about their family’s opinion more than anything, but they’re also tired of trying to be the people that their families wish them to be. Do you see how problematic this is to our happiness? I’ve noticed that the most common way family members demonstrate their lack of support is through pressuring, manipulation, and most of all- giving unwanted advice that we should stop pursuing our dream. Though these acts aren’t necessarily dubious, they can certainly influence us away from the goals of our authentic self.

My dad wanted me to attend his favorite Florida university, but I wouldn’t consider it for a second. Didn’t even apply there. He wanted me to get a business degree and work in a high-paying, office environment. Then, once I got enough corporate experience, he thought it would be great if I started working at his business, just in time for his retirement. Of course, you can guess where this story goes. I tried to get a degree in absolutely everything besides business- broadcast journalism, interior design, and finally, cultural anthropology. I studied anthropology because I completely loved it and felt passionately about it. I did it for me. Since graduating, I’ve taken on a multitude of interesting jobs and heard all of my dad’s advice, but I usually choose to listen to my personal intuition instead. Brazenly following my heart has led me to where I am today, and I’ve been more consistently happy this year than I’ve ever been in my whole life. Without a doubt, I can say that listening to my own intuition instead of other people’s opinions has been the wisest decision.

Now, this is not to say that your family members aren’t wise and knowledgeable. My dad has made many great decisions in his life and has built a business that I truly admire, but there’s one important fact missing: he is not me, and I don’t want to be him. I want you to consider this simple question for a second:

Would you love to have the life of your parents? Or sister, grandpa, uncle, etc.

If your answer is “yes,” then you probably should listen to their advice. They know exactly how they got to where they’re at, and they’ll surely be happy to tell you all of their stories about how to live the same lifestyle. But if your answer is “no,” then please stop following their advice! Your parents aren’t experts about any life other than the one they chose to live.

For example, before getting engaged, would you ask someone who has cheated and been divorced four times already how to make a marriage last forever? Or if you wanted to create your own tech start-up company, would you get your business advice from someone who’s worked only in nursing for thirty-five years? No, of course not! These people don’t have experience in your realm of interest. So why would you follow everything your parents say if you want to live a life that’s very different from the one they have?!

It’s tough love time, because I don’t want anyone influencing you to live their dream. Own your own damn life. Stand up for yourself and what you want. Show your family love and respect, but you must show yourself love and respect too. If what you want out of life is different from what your family or friends want, then giving in to them and living their version of happiness is a crime against the soul. Here are my five basic tips for moments that your family tries to steer you away from your dreams:

1. When people are giving unsolicited advice on what you should be doing with your life, just listen with respect and kindness.

2. Contemplate if they have true expertise in the area of your dreams. If so, consider taking their advice. Even if it’s not what you want to hear, is what they’re saying valid? Listen to what your intuition is saying in response, and go towards that.

3. If they don’t have expertise in the area of your goals, contemplate if the advice that they’re giving is still useful or relevant. If so, take it. If not, just say, “I appreciate hearing your thoughts,” and move on.

4. Do what’s best for you, and live your own damn life! Be gutsy! We’re getting too old to follow what our family says without a second thought about if it’s really best for what we want. Going against what your loved ones think takes crazy courage, but it will be so worth it!

5. Even if you’re not being emotionally supported by your family at the beginning stages of going against them, I’ve found that they usually come around. Once your loved ones see how happy and passionate you are about your choices, they’ll understand it was the right decision for you to make. So forget about their support at the beginning, and be your own shining light. Remind yourself everyday what a brave, kickass woman you are for following your heart!

So have you ever felt unsupported by your friends or family? What did you do in response to their backlash? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

I hope you have a beautiful, brave day,

xo Caylee