Author Guides Readers to Mindfulness and Better Mental Health

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Award-winning author Kayce Stevens Hughlett is a tender, healer, and artist of being alive, but she wasn’t always as open to life’s adventures. Her latest release “SoulStroller” follows good girl Kayce out of her carefully constructed comfort zone into the world of international travel, healers, wise winged mentors, and inspiring versions of humankind. I’m glad I got time to check in with Kayce and delve into her experience as an author and therapist.

  1. What is a SoulStroller and what inspired you to develop this methodology?

The act of SoulStrolling is a resonant feeling more than a definable description. A SoulStroller is a person who is present to life in all its intricate details, who listens to the voice of his or her heart and pays attention with all the senses. Guided by intuition and Spirit, the SoulStroller is her own best advocate as she strolls through the streets of life—content, curious, compassionate, complete, and filled with gratitude.

SoulStrolling© was inspired by the personal and professional journeys of my co-creator Sharon Richards and me, and informed by years of working with individuals and groups in the healing arts. SoulStrolling incorporates multiple disciplines like meditation, the arts, and travel and weaves them together to help individuals practice living integrated and fulfilling lives. It offers flexibility for each person to craft their own sense of what being a SoulStroller is for them.

  1. After working as an accountant, you chose to pursue a career in psychology and spiritual healing. How did you come to this path?

Actually the path came to me. When I was in my forties I found myself in a chaotic life, caught between a mother who was disappearing into Alzheimer’s and a teenage son in the throes of drug and alcohol addiction. Out of necessity, our family turned to the therapeutic community for help.  It was in the midst of this uncomfortable situation that I began to find a sense of purpose that had been absent in other life and work experiences. At the age of 48, I enrolled in graduate school to study counseling psychology and subsequently changed the course of my life.

  1. What advice would you give to those who feel it’s “too late” for them to chase their dreams?

I wish you could hear me chuckle at that question. My internal response always shouts, It’s never too late! Typically, we are our own biggest hindrance and I’m not a huge advice giver. I prefer to help others find their own best answers, but if I had to give advice I’d say to seek out a coach, counselor, or trusted friend to offer the support you need to begin moving toward your desired life. By the way, if you’re reading this then it’s not too late to write a new ending or pursue a dream.

  1. A kind of mantra, if you will, in your work is “live it to give it.” Can you delve into how others can do that?

The best platform for me is to live an authentic existence and to walk my own talk. The same is true for everyone. If you tell a loved one to take good care of him or herself and you are chronically exhausted, the message is diluted. (i.e. Do as I say, not as I do.) When we live from integrity, we encourage others to do the same. If we are truthful, others feel more comfortable sharing their truth. If we are happy and celebrate our accomplishments, we invite others to do the same. The key element is to come from a heart-centered place, not an egotistical or false status. I believe we each have the capacity to be extraordinary individuals, and acting insignificant or being unkind benefits no one. Share what brings you life and invite others to join you.

  1. You’ve also written “Blue”, an award-winning psychological women’s fiction title. How was your process for writing this memoir which focuses on mindfulness and spiritual health different? In what ways was it the same?

When I wrote “Blue” I experienced the freedom to follow my characters where they wanted to go without worrying about fact checking and sticking to actual events or timelines. Nevertheless as Jon Kabat Zin says, “Wherever you go there you are,” so both stories carry unique hints into my personal life, mindfulness, and spiritual health. Whether writing a book or living life, our stories will find a way to guide us when we are present to each moment. Both “Blue” and “SoulStroller” had themes they needed to share and I simply became their scribe.

  1. What are the benefits of taking the time to nurture and care for spiritual health?

Wow! That’s a big question that I’ll try to answer even if somewhat in reverse. Our world is experiencing the negative impact of not nurturing and caring for its spiritual health. We see the devastation in numbed out and unhappy people. Increases in addiction, suicide, public displays of rage, and chronic health issues. Separating body, mind, and spirit does not work in the long run. We are designed as integrated beings, so when we choose to ignore our spiritual health we invite havoc. Therefore when we nurture and care for our spiritual health, we experience improvements in our overall well-being and ultimately the world.

  1. The medical field has started taking mental health more seriously in the past years. With your experience as a mental health counselor and psychotherapist, how do you see mental health impacting physical health?

The same is true for mental health as it is for spiritual health. We need to take care of ourselves in entirety, body-mind-spirit. I lived the majority of my life believing that as long as I was a good person everything would turn out alright, that therapy was only for people with major diagnoses like schizophrenia. When my life turned upside down, “being a good person” wasn’t enough to ease the pain I was experiencing. I needed support to help me process feelings of low self-esteem, self-blame, and confusion. Attending to our mental health helps us take care of our physical health and being physically healthy supports our mental well-being.

  1. Can you share some of your go-to tips for self-care?

Most people think self-care needs to be elaborate and/or expensive. Spa days, massage, exotic vacations. In order to be effective, self-care must be affordable and sustainable, so I like to keep things simple. My go-to self-care tip is to have a few minutes (5 to 30) of quality time alone at the beginning of each day. It’s amazing how this simple practice can positively impact our well-being. Personally, if I jump out of bed, reach for my iPhone, check email, and race into the morning, I feel behind and unsettled throughout the whole day. My tool kit includes meditation, journaling, stretching, reading something inspirational, or mindfully sipping a cup of tea or coffee. Whatever I choose to do, I do it with presence and mindfulness for the day ahead.

  1. In “SoulStroller” you describe yourself as going from “Shy Girl” to “SoulStroller.” What advice would you give those trying to break out of the societal roles set for them and reclaim their own lives?

Can I simply invite them to read the book? {laughing} Again, I’m not an advice giver, but I found my way by practicing deep listening to myself. It started in therapy, because I needed someone to help me unravel which stories were society’s and which ones were my own. My mother told a story that said, “Kayce’s our shy girl. She doesn’t talk much.” What I discovered is that I had been silenced by this tale as well as others I heard growing up about women and their roles. The key to reclamation is becoming aware that you want or need it. Take one single step, like naming your desire. Find a mentor. Listen throughout the day for what resonates or makes your heart sing. Pay attention to the places you feel oppressed and make note of what lifts you up. Follow the signs. Step by step practice stating what you need and reclaiming your life.

  1. What do you wish more people understood about mental health?

I wish more people understood that seeking help with mental health is a sign of strength not weakness. We could all use a helping hand at different points in our life. There is no shame in saying, “I need help.” In fact, it could be the bravest thing a person ever does.

Thank you, Kayce, for you encouragement to live more authentically and for bringing awareness to the spiritual side of health! “SoulStroller” is available now. To learn more about Kayce, visit http://www.liveittogiveit.me/ or connect with her via twitter @KayceHughlett.


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