Caleigh Keith is part of my circle from our time working together at the University of New Orleans. She grew to be one of my absolute favorite coworkers as we shared lots of laughs and good talks throughout the last year. Caleigh is fun, spunky, inquisitive, expressive, supportive, and driven.

Caleigh and I started new positions at the same time – in July 2013. (She had been working at UNO previously doing her grad work.) She was a First Year Academic Advisor and I am a Student Success Counselor. Different jobs but similar area. Our friendship grew mostly through last summer’s retreat season. (Attending student retreats is a definite perk of our positions.) At one particular retreat, Caleigh and I spent an incredible amount of time journaling and discussing our dreams and plans with each other.  

Caleigh is from Roanoke, Virginia. She moved to New Orleans in 2010 to go to graduate school for acting. With an MFA in Theatrical Performance, she’s taught acting both at the University of New Orleans and at Tulane University. This past December, Caleigh moved back to Roanoke with her fiancé, P.J. - Caleigh and P.J. are getting married in October in Scotland! They are so excited. I think it’s beautiful that they’re doing an intimate, destination celebration.  

Although she isn’t currently acting, Caleigh is most certainly an actor. This is simply part of her essence and also her education and background. Right now, she is a Communications Coordinator at the Steidle Law Firm in Roanoke, Virginia.  She says she loves her new position because she is working in an urban community that rests in the middle of a heavily influenced Bible-Belt city. And, of course, Caleigh also working at a local arts venue, helping with house managing their music, dance and theatre shows.

Caleigh shares in a lot of my excitements. She sees the merit of a good side hustle (or two, or three. . . ) and is also invested in financial growth and literacy. She (and our amazing coworker friend, Nick) exposed me to podcasts and Serial was a major part of our fall! (On the day the last episode came out, Caleigh brought head phones to work to make sure I could listen over lunch because she was desperate to debrief about it!)

Caleigh is incredibly supportive of my entrepreneurial endeavors and gives me lots of positive energy and feedback – even now from Virginia. While working together, she was always happy to listen to me gush about my small victories and upcoming plans. She’s also helped me brainstorm and shared lots of helpful ideas with me. Plus, she is a major social media supporter of my Cat Inspired ventures – which I truly, truly appreciate!

This past fall was full of fun, and sometimes serious, work talks with Caleigh and Nick – two of my favorite colleagues. Caleigh and I had late nights together during her last semester at UNO (we both were staying late to make up time that we were away adjuncting during the day) and this lead to even more great chats and check-in. Now, it’s odd for me at work because both of my work bffs have moved on to bigger and better things. (Though, I will be, too, at some point ;).)

It’s only March and I can’t wait till I get to see Caleigh this June for her bachelorette beach weekend. Like, seriously, I think about it daily and simply cannot wait! Although I don’t believe it’s likely that we’ll be living or working close to each other again, I look forward to staying in close touch with Caleigh so we can see our dreams and plans unfold and provide support to each other along the way.

Read about what and who inspires Caleigh as well as her thoughts and advice below. . .

What inspires you?

“Truth and honesty! I love seeing people be themselves. I lived for about 6 years in a situation that stifled my true self.  I have found in the last four or five years that I am allowed to explore who I am, what I believe, what I love and I am allowed to display those things proudly!  I love watching other people (especially women!) enjoy themselves and their passions.  It's so inspiring!”

Who are women that inspired you?

“I've always felt a connection with Frida Kahlo.  I love that she's an artist who saw herself honestly and saw beauty differently than most.  She's unapologetically herself.  I think an artist painting a self-portrait is the epitome of self-awareness, especially if it's accurate.  Kahlo is known for her self-portraits and they are brutally honest! I love that about her.  I also connect with Kate Middleton. I know, how very basic of me.  But she's totally shaking up the British Royalty and she seems to give zero fucks what anyone thinks about her decisions.  She's a normal woman who happens now to be royalty.  That shouldn't change who she is, and she doesn't let it. That's badass.”

If you could give advice to your younger self, what would it be and why?

“Question EVERYTHING.  We don't have to follow the rules!  We don't have to listen to our authorities if it doesn't seem right. (Obviously follow the law, tho right?) Right now, my fundamental beliefs are very different from how I was raised. And they might change again as I get older and mature more.  It's important to being open to change and to question everything to ensure that you're living by your beliefs!  I also love conversations that allow for thought exchange. It's hard listening to thoughts that are different than your own, but I've grown so much from allowing myself to shift perspective and question things.”

Caleigh also adds:  “Culture is so important. Connecting to your own culture and exploring other cultures.  How cool is it that somehow on earth, people naturally think completely different thoughts than others? It's a cool reality to know that we were meant to be individual and unique.”

This March, I am celebrating all the amazing women around me! Sharing women who have influenced me and make up my personal history. As the month goes on, you can see all my Inspiring Women posts here!