Soul Sessions: How I Live On Purpose

how_i_live_on_purpose

I’m sharing how I live on purpose in support of my friend Dr. Danielle Dowling and her new book The Soul Sessions, a 5-week guide to crafting greater joy and making big things happen. Get a wee, free sample here!

What does living a life of meaning mean to you? Paint us a picture.

To live meaningful lives, I believe we all need to be the architect of our own existence. What I mean by this is that we shouldn’t give our power away to other people for them to make big decisions for us. Society as a whole, colleagues, negative family members- they all have opinions on how we should live our lives. How what we’re doing is wrong or that we should change to be more like them.

Everyone has these different personal influences in their lives, and that’s okay. The point is to harness the power in yourself to live the version of life that you find to be meaningful, regardless of what others believe. Create a lifestyle upon the foundations of your own forms of purpose and happiness.

For me, a meaningful life would not involve a traditional job where I have to work for someone else and abide by their rules. If you can’t tell, I’m not fond of rules! In my version, I would get to help and inspire people with my own business while having the freedom to spend time traveling the world with my family. I’d want to take my future kids on month-long backpacking trips and go on language immersion vacations with them!

Quality time with my loved ones is so important to me, and I would never want a career that kept me from that. I would rather live in a tiny cottage full of love than have millions of dollars without any strong personal relationships. A life of meaning is all about figuring out what you value most and then prioritizing those aspects.

Do you have any rituals that help you return to your truest, most centered self?

I’m honestly obsessed with developing my passions and exploring the process of self-improvement. I continuously try to discover the hidden angles of my personality. Even when I’m 80 years old, I think I’ll still be trying to find the truest version myself. To me, it’s a fun hobby! I’m sure I’ll learn so much about my heart and soul throughout the future, but for now I stay centered by:

Meditating for ten minutes daily – Playing the ukulele – Doing yoga 2-3 times per week – Writing my heart out – Creating art – Laughing with my boyfriend – Traveling abroad – Dancing like it’s my air – Being in nature – Coming to terms with the fact that my true self is uninhibited and impulsive, for better or for worse, and accepting all that comes with those traits!

How do find the courage to jump into a new adventure?

You can strategize and think through all the details of a new adventure for months upon months, but you’ll probably still feel crazy anxious about starting it. Anything worth doing will make your palms sweat and your pulse quicken. So, as with most things in life, what it all comes down to is just doing it. If you’ve been pondering a new life adventure for some time, my cheat is to spend some money on it to get the ball rolling.

When I was going back-and-forth about teaching in Vietnam, I finally decided to just buy the plane ticket. I blocked all nervous thoughts out of my head as I put in my credit card information and then quickly hit “send.” The ticket was nonrefundable, so I knew there was no looking back! Instead of continuing to stall, now, the only option I had was to start planning and preparing for my move to Vietnam in a month. Continuing to be stuck in fear was not an option.

So just decide that it’s okay to not have the perfect plan ready or a 100% guarantee of how things will turn out. Choose a life of adventure, because taking the leap is all part of what makes life exciting. From my experience, you’ll never regret an adventure that feels intuitively aligned with your heart and soul.

What do you always say “yes” to?

I say yes to cuddling with my boyfriend, cocktails with funky names like “Mad Hatter” and “Moscow Mule,” and going on cross-country road trips. I say yes to leaving my worries at the door of the yoga studio and feeling my body get stronger and more flexible by the week. I say yes to dancing like an absolute crazy person to Michael Jackson and Journey. I say yes to any big, new adventure that comes my way. To coffee and conversations with friends. To working towards my dream career and making the bravest choices for myself. And I always say yes to living a life of purpose. :)

soulsessionsIn Danielle’s awesome guide, you’ll find out how to build greater self-confidence, create an inspiring social group, and focus in on your dreams and overall happiness. Check out the link for a free sample!

So tell me- how do you live on purpose? What do you consider a life of meaning? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, get excited for my new website launch in 11 days! I can’t wait! :D

Have an amazing day,

xo Caylee

45-Minute Yoga Playlist for Eclectic Tastes

yogaplaylist

Why, hello there! I created this mini post so that you all might start the week off more beautifully. Yes, Mondays can suck, but I promise they’ll be much better if you get in the right mindset. So how can you do that? One sentence- practice yoga to this playlist. It’s about 45 minutes of bliss from the indie and classic rock genres.

I crafted this musical list so that it’ll start out calmly to match your soothing warm-up stretches. As your body is building in heat from more challenging asanas, the playlist will also build in tempo and emotion. Finally, you can relax into a few peaceful songs just in time for a meditative Savasana (Corpse Pose) and the ending of your yoga practice.

I hope you find my musical choices to be emotive and inspiring during your home yoga session. I know that when I listened to them I felt like my heart was about to burst out of my chest. But even if you don’t do yoga, it’s a wonderful playlist to help recharge your soul. Enjoy!

TIP: You can, of course, listen to the songs though this YouTube playlist that I created, but I would recommend that you separately download the ones you emotionally connect with. There’s nothing worse than getting disrupted by an annoying YouTube advertisement during yoga or meditation!

 

Do you have any song recommendations for future yoga playlists? I would love to hear more about your preferences during yoga and mediation, so please comment below. Also, look out for a special, soul-focused post dropping this Thursday! :)

Have a wonderful day,

xo Caylee

 

My Job Tips for Millennials in the Workforce

workforce

Hey everyone! Thanks for checking out the seventh and final post in my How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle series. Today, we’re going to be talking about career wellness, which I’m surprisingly passionate about! Since one’s job is such a cultural focus in the United States, I hate to see people miserable at work or unable to break into the field that they’re passionate about. I’ve only been working for four years now, but I feel like I’ve had a wide variety of experiences that have taught me valuable lessons. So for all of you fresh to the workforce, here are my favorite tips:

 

Internships get your foot in the door to difficult industries.

Let me be clear- I think that not getting paid to work is the absolute worst. But the truth is that it’s part of our current American work culture, so we can’t ignore it. There are so many recent college grads who are willing to to work an unpaid internship to get experience that you likely can’t afford to stand up against the injustice. Lots of industries are highly competitive, so you probably won’t get a paid job in them unless you’ve had internships beforehand. Every industry I’ve been previously interested in is an example of this- interior design, study abroad, and event planning.

As a sophomore in college, I got a summer internship with the famous interior designer Phoebe Howard. She’s all over magazines across the US, so do you think I would be able to get a paid, entry level position without her testing me out through an internship first? Hell no! It’s the same with event planning. I only got a paid job where I was able to create $150,000 events for multinational corporations, because I’d helped (unpaid) with a bazillion events in college. Oh, you want a paid job in study abroad without an internship? Not gonna happen. I worked in study abroad planning with UGA and Harvard, and even then it’s hard to find paying jobs in the industry. There’s just so much competition in many industries!

Do some unpaid work in your industry where you live now, and save up some money. Then, when you have enough moolah to get you through a season in NYC or Boston or SF, find a really prestigious internship with a company you admire. If you perform well and get recommendations, you’ll have an awesome paid job in your dream industry in no time!

 

Don’t be afraid to ask for the position you want- even if it’s not posted or doesn’t exist yet.

I’d like to tell you a surprising fact. Out of the variety of jobs that I’ve had in college and after graduation, not a single one of them was listed as an open position on the company website or on any other job search engine. I didn’t find any of them using this common method, and I’ve never applied to a job through a website. Truth be told, I never formally applied to any of them at all! Here’s my method using the event planning industry as the example:

  • I research online to find all of the event planning related businesses in the area and make a list. If you’re living in a city it should be a big list of about 40-60 companies.
  • Check out each of their websites and read all of their information to see if it feels like a nice place to work and to see if they have a reputable portfolio of events. If the website looks like it’s from the 1990′s, I say “no” right away- they obviously have no respect for their business image.
  • Once I’ve narrowed it down to the companies that I would be interested in talking to (usually 15-20 businesses in a city), I craft up an email to introduce myself to them and show my interest. In it, I briefly discuss why I’m interested in their company, my past work background, and what I could do for them. The body should be concise and broken into topical paragraphs- my email was 167 words.
  • I finish off by saying something like, “If you have any job opportunities available, I would love to become part of your team. My resume is attached. Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.”
  • You can find the contact email for each business on their website- you just might have to search a bit. Sometimes it’s on the “about” page, or sometimes it’s on the “contact” page. If there isn’t an email to send job inquiries, I always go for the boss’s email. Use the contact form on a website only as a last resort.
  • Do not send a group email! Remember to personalize it for each company and business owner you’re sending it to. You’re definitely not going to get the job if you send an email addressing the wrong event planning company!
  • Proofread, attach a nice resume, and send! Good luck! :D
  • You should hear back from the businesses within the next week if they have any open positions. Set up an interview from there. The most recent time I tried this method I got 5 responses saying that they had an open position. I ended up working for the company that I liked best out of the whole group!

Using this method of cold emailing companies give you an edge. When you apply through a job search engine or an open posting that the company put on their website, literally hundreds of people apply. You’d have to fight your way through a talented crowd. You have a much better chance of getting a job when it’s not being advertised. Like I said, that’s how I’ve gotten all of my jobs! Email away!

 

Always stand up for yourself (respectfully) in difficult work situations.

Bosses and coworkers don’t respect people that they can walk all over. This is hard to learn, but always true. Do you want to be the person who gets used and abused at work? I don’t! I can understand why people would be afraid of confronting others. We’re worried that we’ll get yelled at and make an enemy, or that we could even get fired. From my experience, as long as your stand up for yourself in a polite way, you’ll be fine.

I’m not going to say where I was working, but I will tell you that my bosses were absolutely crazy. They were judgmental and full of attitude, insulting and yelling at people in the office all day. It was a very fast paced job, but I work well under pressure. Anyway, I was given an event project to finish in 4 full days- I would have to work quickly, but I’d have the time to double check all of the budgeting so that it’s perfect for the client. On the morning of Day 2, my boss tells me that I need to have the project done in only 6 hours now, just because she wants me to work on a different project later in the day. As you could imagine, I’m frantic because that’s an impossible deadline. I do finish in time, but it’s not near the quality that I like my event proposals to have. My boss checks it over and starts badgering me about all of the tiny mistakes in it. My face is starting to boil. She finally says, “What is this? Are you stupid?” And I reply very sternly, “No, I am not stupid. If you’d allowed me the proper time required of a project this size, you know there wouldn’t be any of those mistakes. You set me up for failure.”

She apologized and didn’t say much the rest of the day- like she was embarrassed. But after that, she treated me with much more kindness and respect. I later learned from other employees who’d been there longer than me that she preys on people who show themselves to be weak. Apparently, she made one woman cry everyday until she quit. I could have just taken all the blame and said to her, “I’m sorry for the mistakes ma’am… I’ll be better next time.” But the fact that I stood up to her unfairness is what made her respect and like me. She actually loved me after that day- I soon asked for a raise and to be able to work from home most days, and she said “yes” to both requests! Don’t be afraid to stand up to injustice in the office. Your boss may be surprised that you took a stand, but that shock almost always turns into respect.

Tip: If you want a raise or some other major improvement in your job, you have to have confidence. If they refuse to give you what you want, you need to be prepared to give your two weeks notice. If you stay there, why would they ever give you a raise? You just showed that you’d stay without one! Your power is now gone.

 

If the job doesn’t feel right for your soul, change it.

Everyone has their own worldview, and in mine, I believe that we don’t have to suffer unnecessarily in our careers. If you hate your job, please save up some money, figure out your new plan, and then quit. I’m tired of people in the US saying that they have to stay in their terrible, soul-sucking job in order to support their family (or other excuse). That’s almost always a cop-out. There are single mothers all across the US right now getting a college degree in their passion subject while also working and raising a child. You think you have less time than them?! No, you don’t. You just don’t want to reach your dreams as much. They are working so hard because they want to make their goals and passions a priority.

So question yourself- if you’re feeling blocked to go towards your dream career, what is the real reason? Are you afraid to fail? Worried it will be too challenging? Scared of what people will say about you? Upset that you’ll have to change your lifestyle? Be honest with yourself about what’s stopping you. It will be hard, but it’ll be worth it. Make your job happiness a priority. And if there isn’t a job that suits your passions, create a new one for yourself!

 

There you have it- a little tough love for all of us Millennials. The truth is, I want everyone to feel satisfied with their lives and careers. I believe it’s entirely possible and hope that you’re gutsy enough to believe that too. So get out there and make a happy life for yourself. It’s all in your hands! Do you have any career advice or job experiences that you’d like to share? What is your dream job? Please share in the comments. We’d love to know! :)

Enjoy the rest of your week,

xo Caylee

 

Easy Lifestyle Changes to Achieve Physical Wellness

physical wellness

Hey guys! Thanks for checking out my sixth post in the How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle series. For the first time in years, I feel strong. My body doesn’t feel brittle or achy or finicky like it has in the time since graduating from college. I can lift heavy things with ease, and I don’t get out of breath easily. Since noticing the gradual physical changes in myself, I’ve been in complete wonder about how amazing the human body can be. It has so much more power and ability than I ever imagined. And that brings me to my point- too many of us have gotten used to feeling sluggish and weak as the new normal.

It’s so easy to feel that way. It’s more simple to just relax on the couch after work or eat a huge helping of that delicious, cheesy lasagna. I know. Like I said, even I felt physically “blah” until fairly recently when I started changing up my habits. Improving upon habits is really what it’s all about. It won’t matter much to your physical well-being if you convince yourself, only once, to exercise in the morning. Same with eating healthily- sandwiching two healthy dinners between fifty unhealthy ones won’t really make a difference. And no gimmicky fad diets! It’s about changing your long-term, day-to-day habits.

 

From my experience, here are some easy tips and recommendations to achieve physical wellness through healthier eating and fitness:

  • Eat until you feel comfortable, not until you’re full. It takes the brain about 20 minutes from when you begin eating to register that there’s food in the stomach, so you’ll keep thinking you’re starving when really the brain just hasn’t had time to process the meal yet. So don’t shovel your food down! You’ll be incredibly stuffed and have an unnecessary amount of calories in your body. Just take your time, and slowly enjoy the taste of your meal.
  • Frozen grapes are an awesome alternative to normal dessert. Trust me, I’m quite the fan of cupcakes and donuts, but having one of those everyday just won’t work for the average person wanting to stay in shape. I don’t believe we should ignore our sweet tooth though- that’s just setting ourselves up for failure. Instead, for those of you wanting to watch your diet, try freezing seedless grapes! There’s nothing added to them, but the grapes taste like a fun, bite-sized sorbet.
  • Drink lots of water and then drink even more. It’s estimated that up to 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Humans need a lot of water to keep their body functioning properly, and most people only drink a couple of cups per day. We need at least eight! When you have a headache or feel drained, it’s most commonly due to dehydration. So what do you do if you’re not a fan of the taste of water? Try flavoring it with things like lemon, mint, or cucumbers!
  • Try almond milk instead of regular milk. If you’re not sensitive to dairy (aka lactose intolerant), congratulations! You’re basically the only person in the entire world who isn’t. Sorry to put this out there, but if your stomach hurts or you have to go to the bathroom quickly after meals, you’ve got a problem. Notice if there’s dairy in what you’re eating/ drinking. More likely than not, you’ve been consuming milk all throughout your life and never considered that it could be the thing causing you discomfort. Try almond milk instead- Almond Breeze (original; unsweetened) is my recommendation. I use it in all recipes instead of regular milk, and it tastes delicious!
  • Go to yoga. My boyfriend and I have been going to yoga two to three times per week, and that’s been my main source of exercise lately. I know a lot of people who do yoga as cross-training when they’re not jogging or biking though. Some of Stefan’s guy friends have been making fun of him for going to yoga classes and make it seem like some effortless activity for weaklings. All I have to say is- go to Power Yoga, Vinyasa, or an Astanga class, and then come back to tell me you didn’t sweat and your muscles didn’t burn. Didn’t think so! My body has felt more strong and powerful than ever because of yoga. I can do crazy stretches, headstands, and handstands that require core and arm strength that I never knew I could have. But the best part is the mental and physical rejuvenation you gain after going to class. My body feels free and bendy, and my mind got time to focus on nothing but the depth of my breath and the sensations of my body. Ommm.
  • Eat out at restaurants less. This one makes me sad, but it’s true. Restaurants pack our food with so much butter and salt that it’s insane. Food tastes more delicious that way! But if you’d like to live healthier, cooking your own nutritious meals at home is the best option. This way, you can control what ingredients go into your dishes.
  • Go for smaller portions. I know all of these tips sound so common sense, but you don’t know how many people I hear complaining about their weight and then heap a gigantic dinner portion onto their plate. It really is simple. We have to be aware of what’s going into our bodies. When I go out to dinner, for example, I know from the get go that I’m only going to eat half of what’s on the plate. I’ll literally half it, and enjoy that portion of the meal. The other half won’t even be considered- it will go home with me as my lunch for the next day. Simple as that, and the same goes for when you cook at home. So if the “eat until you’re comfortable” method is too relaxed for you, go for this half and half method!
  • Find a physical activity that you love. Explore different fitness classes and try out a variety of workout methods to discover what works best for you. Decide if you like working out alone, in small groups, or with a large class. Do you prefer hardcore, bootcamp style workouts or sassy dance classes with Latin music? Would you rather sweat with cardio or build up muscle? Have fun exploring your options, and decide to make fitness a social event that will keep you wanting to go exercise!

 

When it comes to physical wellness, I’ve found that you just need to listen to what your body wants and needs. It is naturally intuitive and will tell you exactly what’s best for it if you really listen deep down. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. You can handle so much more than you give yourself credit for. You can learn to do handstands or splits or compete in triathlons or run a marathon. All that’s necessary is putting in the day-to-day work by improving health habits and gradually getting better until you reach your physical wellness goal.

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On that note, here’s my physical wellness goal: I would like to run my first 5k before March 1st… and I’ll work up from there. Now this may seem like a simple goal to all of you cardio fiends and marathon runners out there- but for me, it’s big. I don’t run, like ever. I’ve tried to jog a few times, and I think it’s the worst thing on earth. BUT I just read an article about how people who run half marathons and full marathons make more money in business, because you build the similar skills needed for endurance running as you do in entrepreneurship. So I’m going to see if I have what it takes to become a runner- a huge personal challenge if I say so myself! :)

What habits do you need to change in order to improve your physical wellness? Do you have any other tips for us? Please share in the comments below!

Have a great rest of the week,

xo Caylee

 

Why I’m Not a Social Wellness Expert

social wellness

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by to read Part Five of my series, How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle. I could talk to you about how to form a thriving circle of friends and explain how to maintain these friendships throughout the years. I could even gush about what it’s like to be part of a tight-knit community who goes on retreats together and has monthly slumber parties with bottomless sangria fountains. I could, but I won’t- because I don’t want to be a lying hypocrite.

Honestly, building friendships is my weak spot and my open wound. It’s gone back and forth between being a dull pain and a sharp stab in my heart for many years. I’ve realized that I try to conceal my hurt by acting like I don’t need or want anyone in my life, because they’ll just prove to be another huge disappointment to me. But I actually crave deep, meaningful friendships- not just random acquaintances. I want a close group of girl friends who I can meet up with every week over drinks. I want to discuss our wildest dreams together and laugh about the ridiculous things happening in our lives. Okay, I think I’m describing the plot of Sex and the City, but you get my point! In all reality, I’m pretty jaded in the friendship department and don’t know how to get over years of that negativity.

I’m not going to go into major details about all of the friends in college who let me down or all the people who made me feel unloved and unworthy in my life, but let’s just say it’s enough to make me never want to be vulnerable in making a new friend ever again. So that you can get a quick picture, here are three more recent experiences off the top of my head:

  • I went to the University of Georgia where I didn’t know a single soul and was befriended by a group of three girls at the beginning of my first school year. We hung out all the time, ate every meal together, and had a complete blast. But when I didn’t get into the same sorority that they all got into, they dropped me completely. Not even another text message. When I passed them on the way to classes, they acted like they’d never met me. I felt so alone.
  • Almost all of my college “friends” stood me up (11 people!) for my 21st birthday dinner that I invited them to. They just never showed up and had no excusable reason even though I’d reserved an entire space in a restaurant for the celebration. The waitress kept coming over every few minutes to ask if more people would be joining me. It was hurtful and very humiliating.
  • I’ve lived in Miami for over a year now and the people I often hangout with through my boyfriend still don’t remember my name, They haven’t asked a single question to try and get to know me, and it makes me feel like I’m completely invisible.

I could literally come up with 5,000 other stories from my past similar to these, but you get the gist. I don’t even know if I just pick bad friends who hurt me or if I somehow deserve this treatment. In fact, now, I think I’ve turned into a bad friend myself because I push people away and stop contacting them. I don’t want to get close and be disappointed again. As you can see, it’s all a self-fulfilling prophecy- the social wellness part of my life is what I’d like to call a giant shit show.

Okay, I’m done with being emo! Sometimes we just gotta be vulnerable and get it all out there in the world so that healing can start to happen. So, what does one do when their social life is a crumbling mess? I have no freaking clue! I’m not the expert on this. Though I’m experienced and happy with the other areas of wellness in my life, having healthy friendships is not my forte. The only idea I have is to challenge myself to get out there and try to make a friend. It’s the only way to avoid permanent hermit-hood, right? If you’re feeling lonely or frustrated with your current friendships, give these things a try along with me. In the next month (by December 1st), I will:

1. Go to a Meetup. I think I could find some like-minded people in the following Miami groups: Borderlink (for travelers & curious, culture lovers), Pageturners (a book club), Girls in their 20′s, and the South Florida WordPress Group. I’ve always made friends through work or school though, so this will definitely be a nerve-wracking experience!

2. Ask the girl that I *click* with most at the Meetup to get coffee or brunch sometime soon. This is the hardest part for me. It feels like asking someone out on a date! What if I get rejected? GAH! Sorry for turning you down in the past, boys… I now know how it must feel!

3. Keep in weekly contact with my internet friends. Through blogging and using social media, I’ve started to build connections with some awesome ladies online. I just wish they all lived closer so that we could have beach days together! I’m pretty bad about staying in touch as much as I should to keep relationships alive, so this personality trait needs to change. Contacting each other on a regular basis is half the battle right there.

4. Hangout with an old friend. I desperately need new friends, but continuing to be there for old friends is just as important. Case in point, and my one bit of happy friendship news, is that I’m going to be the Maid of Honor at the wedding of my best friend since middle school! I’m so excited to experience these special life moments with her! Keep cultivating those old friendships- we all need wonderful witnesses to share in the memories of our lives. :)

5. Keep being open and vulnerable. Writing such a personal post and talking about my failings in friendship is hard for me. I would much rather keep going on with my life like everything is perfect and like I have a billion friends. But true friendships require each person to be vulnerable and invested. This will be the hardest, but most important, step that we all need to focus on in improving our relationships.

So are you feeling lonely in your social connections? Perhaps you have a lot of protective blockages, just like I do, that keep you from making new friends. If so, I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, and let me know what you’re doing to cope. On the other hand, if you’re awesome at community building and consider yourself a friendship guru, then I’d LOVE to hear your strategies. In fact, it’d be great for you to guest post about it here! Email me at caypugh@gmail.com if you’re interested. :)

Have a wonderful rest of the week!

xo Caylee

10 Online Resources to Improve Intellectual Wellness

intellectual wellness

Hey everyone! This week, as Part Four of the How to Create a Wellness Lifestyle series, I’ll be talking about my favorite topic- intellectual wellness! I am a curious, researcher type by nature and just love to learn new skills, debate ideas, and take on big challenges. And that’s what intellectual wellness is all about! By being healthy in this area of life, you will expand your knowledge base and nourish your creativity. This makes all areas of life more deep and vibrant!

Lately, almost all of my time has been devoted to learning how to blog, growing in my yoga practice, and creating intuitive paintings. I guess I’m a bit lopsided by working on my intellectual wellness too much and should focus more on other areas- spiritual and social wellness. But what if you’re feeling the itch to add more mental stimulation to your life? Explore these free and amazing learning resources:

1. Learn to meditate. Curious about adding meditation to your life, but have no clue how to do it alone? Try out the Headspace app (on your phone or computer) and learn how to meditate. The app will guide you through ten different meditations, and you’ll find your mind much clearer by the end of the experience!

2. Learn time management. Try using the Pomodoro Technique in order to better your time management skills. Keeping track of “to-do” list items and being able to manage distractions are very important signs of intellectual wellness that Pomodoro can help you improve upon.

3. Learn about your inner artist. Check out this free, creative workshop video series called Total Alignment where you learn how to connect your mind-body-soul with your inner creativity through painting. What could sound any more amazing to me?! Even if you feel like you’re not artsy, or you’ve never painted before in your life, this is for you. It’s a series to explore your heart and have fun making things!

4. Learn about money. Learn something new about stocks and investing! Sounds boring, but stay with me… I found the MOST AWESOME way to teach you the basics- behold An Illustrated Guide to Investment Types based off of Arrested Development cartoons!!! Check out the rest of Listen Money Matters to learn more about personal finance in simple ways.

5. Learn a new language. Want to learn languages fo’ free in a super fun way? Duolingo is all that you need in this world. It offers 8 common languages right now and teaches you in a way that feels just like a game. I’ve started on the Spanish and German classes, and it’s truly addictive- I just want to earn more grammar trophies!!!

6. Learn tons of creative skills. CreativeLive is basically my favorite thing on the interwebz. They bring in top experts in all creative industries to present live video workshops to all of us (for free!) with multiple courses running 24-hours a day. Each workshop is usually a few days long, so I tune in whenever I eat lunch or have some free time. Then, CreativeLive continues running old workshops, so you can catch anything you’ve missed. Learning awesome skills all day, everyday? Just my type of website! Some topics I’ve watched recently are: “Build Your Influence, Build Your Business,” “The Right-Brain Business Plan,” and “Food Photography & Styling.”

7. Learn how to code. We’re in the 21st century, guys, and computers aren’t going away. Tech jobs are on fire right now, and you don’t even need a computer science degree to land a position- just awesome coding skills. So where can you start learning? Codecademy. It offers an interactive, easy-to-learn style with several coding language options. Even if you don’t want a job in the tech field, Codecademy is a great way to stretch your brain!

8. Learn about achieving your goals. Everyone needs some career advice and a motivational push every now and then. Marie Forleo was that person who inspired me to get into this line of work a few months ago on her popular, online show called MarieTV. Every week, she gives quirky but relatable life advice on topics such as: Thank You For Not Believing in Me and The Mental Exercise That Can Turn Wishes Into Reality. She also does awesome interviews with expert guests that you should check out if you’re needing some positivity in your day!

9. Learn yoga poses. If I haven’t jabbered about it enough for you to guess, yoga is one of my favorite activities to do on a regular basis. What many people who’ve never tried it don’t realize is that it’s a full mind-body-soul experience. I would definitely recommend trying Do You Yoga to learn how to do many different yoga poses and sequences at home. All you need is a yoga mat (or even a rug) and comfy clothes to do it anywhere and reap the amazing benefits!

10. Learn about academic topics. Coursera is a phenomenal learning resource that partners up with 114 different academic institutions, including Harvard, Duke, Berklee College of Music, and University of Virginia, to offer real, online classes for free. How cool is that?! There are over 800 different course options- Intro to Sustainable Development, Calculus 1, Introduction to Music Production, and much more. The world is at your fingertips on Coursera… learn it up!

BONUS Intellectual Wellness Tip: Keep reading my blog! ;)

So which of these resources do you think would be the most fun to get involved with? Which ones pique your curiosity and get your brain juices flowing?

I hope that you’ve found my post to be intellectually inspiring! If so, please “like” and share it with any of your friends who would love to read it too!

Have fun learning,

xo Caylee

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