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

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

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

 

When Is the Best Time to Start a Goal?

say yes to now sky graphic

To start off, I have two questions for you to answer honestly:

Do you have any life goals or personal projects that you keep putting off for another day? Does the guilt of not beginning it nag at you constantly?

Don’t feel alone in these habits- Postponing goals and passions is one of the most common problems people face. I’ve definitely struggled with this issue too, and still do at times, because it’s so easy to get stuck in the trap of telling yourself that you’ll get to it eventually. But, as an example, we all know how that story went in college.

At the beginning of each semester, your professors passed out a syllabus outlining all of the required projects and specific test dates for the upcoming several months. The whole class would know exactly when a paper was due from the first day of school, but how many of us waited until the very last minute to complete any of that work? If you’re not raising your hand, you’re the oddball here.

This experience from college is a metaphor for life. Just like we procrastinate writing a 20-page research paper that’s crucial for getting a good grade in class, we put off important things in our life thinking we’ll have plenty of time to do them in the future. Well, we won’t. Life will get in the way. Things might get messy, and two months of putting off your dreams will suddenly turn into twenty years. You don’t want to be trying to cram in all of your best life experiences at retirement age like you’re trying to cram during an all-nighter for an 8:00 AM test.

I’m not saying that you should dramatically quit your job today, backpack the world, and grow flowing dreadlocks- Unless that’s your heart’s dream, and in which case, go for it! What I am urging you to do is take this one small step:

Take five minutes to focus in on something that makes you truly excited. The type of “excited” where you feel heart pumping, bright-eyed energized. It can be a person, place, thing, goal, whatever! Then ask yourself how you can integrate that more into your daily life, even in the smallest way. Act on these thoughts immediately. Like, right now.

Take me as an example. I completely adore writing, and I’ve been so crazily happy since I started expressing myself on this blog on a regular basis. I could have just put off my happiness and told myself that I’ll start a blog in the future, but I decided I was so sick of putting off my dreams. I wrote my first post right then and there which gave me the excited energy to write another one the next day (and so on).

Writing a couple posts per week might not seem like much now, but let’s do this math. I’m about to turn 25 years-old- If I keep writing only until the young age of 40, then I still wrote regularly for 15 years with a total of about 1,500 blog posts!! I’d be a writing and coaching expert by then!

Now what can you do with that precious time if you take little steps everyday to further your goals? Just start now. Don’t keep making excuses and then feeling guilty about it. Take the teeniest step today and then another one tomorrow, and by the end of the week, you’ll be proud of yourself and rolling in momentum.

Please let me know in the comments below what baby steps you’ll be taking today, alongside me, to further your passions. I’d love to know so that I can keep motivating you along the way!

Have a beautiful day,
xo Caylee

 

Any Type of Person Can Have Depression, Even “Happy” Girls Like Me

newyork

As the shocking and heartbreaking news about the death of Robin Williams was heard around the world this week, my brain was spinning with how many celebrities have either committed suicide or accidentally overdosed after self-medicating their depression. The common thread that I notice in online comments goes something like this: “How could a person who seems so happy be so depressed?”

Everyone wants to believe the stereotype that those with depression are always outwardly gloomy and withdrawn. Then they can feel comforted and think, “Nope! I don’t know anybody who fits that description! All my friends and family act happily, so we’re safe.”

Well, that’s just the thing – happiness can be an act. Some of us are damn good at pretending like everything is peachy perfect and that we’re not crumbling on the inside. Take me, for example. I’ve struggled with depression, on-and-off, since middle school. I’ve learned how to hide it well, because there’s such a huge stigma attached to depression and related mental illnesses. I never wanted new friends or potential employers to think that I wasn’t worth getting to know because I sometimes struggle with depression. And that’s part of the problem. The fact that I feel embarrassed about my feelings and have to hide this big part of my life makes me feel even more ashamed and depressed. It’s a vicious cycle.

I know a surprisingly large number of people who have struggled with depression, and almost all of them feel like they have to hide this about themselves out of fear of not being accepted anymore. One time, when I’d been in a major low for a while, a former boyfriend of mine yelled at me to snap out of it and stop being pathetic. What did this experience with him teach me? It taught me that I need to constantly fake being happy so that people will like me and respect me. I need to crack jokes, smile, and be amazingly conversational all the time in order to be loved. That’s what we’ve all learned. Are these useful talents in life? Definitely. But did I feel more alone than ever because most people have no clue that I struggle emotionally? Yes, yes, yes.

We need to allow people with depression to come forward and talk about their experiences without the stigma. We need to love them instead of shunning them and making them feel even more alone. If you had good conversations with me and laughed with me before you knew I had depression, why does anything have to change now? If I was lovable before you knew I had depression, why can’t I be just as lovable after? Yes, I deal with depression, but that doesn’t define me. It doesn’t define any of us. I can still be a great girlfriend, employee, friend, daughter, and adventurer. I don’t need any sympathy – I just want to be able to talk about my own life experience without feeling ashamed. I believe that is something we all deserve.

As a final note to give you some more background about my situation, I don’t take any medications for depression and never have. Instead, I worked with a famous psychiatrist to develop a holistic lifestyle plan that helps alleviate my depression. It was through that work with her that I’ve seen how important holistic wellness is to living a life of happiness and health. My goal in life is to continue down this path and help others lead a life of wellness too. I now feel more happy and stable than I’ve ever felt before, and I’m so excited to share my passions with you!

It was honestly very difficult to write this post, because the thought of repercussions can be scary. I feel very vulnerable, but I also know I’m speaking my truth. Hopefully my voice will add to shedding light on the fact that depression is a very common issue for diverse types of people. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments below. I know this blog post is more serious than my usual ones, but I felt it was pertinent and necessary. Lighter ones to come! 🙂

Love to all of you,

xo Caylee

The Importance of Following Your Intuition

Most people I’ve ever met seem to struggle with indecision while making major life choices. This is common in the human experience – we all feel scared that we’ll make the wrong decision and be led down a path that we never intended to go in life. We then resort to making a pros and cons list or talking endlessly with our best friends and parents to try and debate the correct answer to our problems right out of each other. But how many times have you settled on a life decision and then changed your mind again less than a day later, because you somehow talked yourself out of it?

The truth is – nobody in the entire world knows the correct answer to your dilemmas and life choices better than you. The problem is that you need to follow your inner intuition first.

I’ve had a great deal of experience in this method of inner decision-making. Usually, I’m really good at following my intuition, and I’ve found it has never steered me wrong. But there’s been a couple of big instances, in recent rears, where I desperately didn’t want to hear what my intuition was screaming to me.

The most major time was in relation to an ex-boyfriend who I’d hoped more than anything was “the one.” He had everything going for him and was such a fun, thoughtful guy, but when he invited me to permanently move up to the Northeast with him to start his shiny new career, my insides froze. Not just froze, but shut down. Every time he would mention our future plans together up North, I would get sick to my stomach and feel trapped in despair. He was being just as sweet as ever, but I became depressed and developed major anxiety issues. Now, if I’d just listed to my intuition that was yelling to be heard, I would have ended it then and saved us both a lot of drawn out hurt. Instead, because I didn’t want to believe my intuition to be my truth, I ignored it and played our emotions back and forth for many months. “I want to be with you” changed to “I can’t be with you” in a matter of days – it was emotionally exhausting and devastating for both of us. In the end, we obviously broke up for good, but it left us with more emotional baggage and dark memories of each other than if I hadn’t avoided my blaring intuition about the situation.

So how do we become better at listening to our intuition? Since everybody has varying physical and emotional reactions when intuition is trying to steer you, I believe the most important thing you can do is to be in-tuned with your body – listen to it. Recognize how it feels when everything is normal and then the difference in feeling when something is wrong. Here is an example:

A completely non-threatening looking guy comes and sits down next to you at a bar. You know from your experience of listening to your body that usually when a nice-looking man approaches, you might feel a little shy and have a slightly higher heart-rate due to that. But as this man starts talking, your chest clenches up tightly, your hands feel disconnected to your body, and you feel an unexplainable sense of fear in the pit of your stomach.

PLEASE LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. You don’t want to find out why your body was having a terrified reaction to that man. It is so important to hear what your body is telling you in any situation or decision. Intuition is your deep, subconscious way of telling the social version of yourself exactly what you want. The subconscious will usually win in the long wrong, because it’s trying to lead you towards happiness. You might as well listen to it in the first place!

Next time you’re needing to make a big decision, go over all the choices in your head using vibrant imagery like it’s actually happening. Imagine what the outcome of the various choices would be, and listen to how your body feels with each one. Does one make your stomach clench? Do you suddenly feel a tinge of sadness? How about a feeling of joy or relief? Don’t ignore these emotions – I guarantee that if you follow this intuition regularly, you will always make the best decision. Just like I should have made the hard decision with my ex-boyfriend and broken up with him sooner – sometimes, the hard answer is still the right answer.

Don’t let your future be dictated by a pro and con list or what your loved ones think is best for you – only you can feel the right choices for your life. So what are your experiences with listening to your intuition? Have you ever had an experience like me and ignored your intuition? Please share your stories in the comments below! 🙂

Wishing you a happy Monday,

xo Caylee