Soul Sessions: How I Live On Purpose

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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! 😀

Have an amazing day,

xo Caylee

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My Job Tips for Millennials in the Workforce

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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! 😀
  • 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

 

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

Part Four Post10 Online Resources to Improve Intellectual Wellness

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

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

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