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Wellness Warrior

Article by Samantha Schoengold Beranbom

Photography by Photos provided by Caryn Sullivan

Originally published in Fairfield Lifestyle

Multi-hyphenate Caryn Sullivan is an entrepreneur, author, podcast host, motivational speaker,  wellness expert…the list goes on. She is a fighter, a hero, a champion - who energizes the people around her with her charisma, enthusiasm and, most notably, her optimism. She’s currently sharing the inspiring stories of luminaries and thought-leaders on her podcast, Happiness to Hardship. I am grateful to be able to share a little of her own story. Meet Caryn. She is truly exceptional.

Tell us a little about yourself, a little background info.

A: I grew up in the Midwest and moved to the east coast for a job in my 20s. I’ve always been a “glass half full” girl, though luckily, nothing too stressful happened to me growing up. It wasn’t until my first diagnosis with breast cancer that my world really rocked. I was 31 years old and it was three months after my wedding. I was a good patient - did what I was told and went on to have a miracle baby and enjoy my dream job. Nine years later, it came back as stage IV and I’ve been living with it for 10 years now. My doctors continue to tell me that I’m exceptional. The little, silly girl in me laughs…of course I am. Through the ups and downs of treatments and understanding the reality of this disease, I often draw upon those words - I’m exceptional, my case is exceptional and I will continue to beat the odds.

How did you start your company Pretty Wellness and what Is it about?

A: I started Pretty Wellness, a healthy lifestyle brand, nearly ten years ago after my stage IV cancer diagnosis. I changed my lifestyle drastically to embrace wellness. Despite the stress and harsh cancer treatments, my body had more energy and vibrance than before because of these healthy additions. In my career, I spent nearly 20 years in sports, entertainment and media with a marketing and business development background. I decided to use my corporate skills to share the information I was learning and Pretty Wellness was born. I wrote and created content and started a blog, which led to a book and podcast, as well as regular local media opportunities and motivational speeches about taking small steps toward better health and happiness.

What is your philosophy on healthy living?

A: My philosophy on wellness is that we all can improve our health by taking small steps. Adding wholesome foods, physical activity and mindfulness practices on a regular basis can improve our lives on many levels.

Can you share a few easy steps to take towards a more healthful lifestyle?

A: First and foremost, I always tell people to add to their lives. Many people try and make too many changes at once, and they deprive themselves. This often leads to frustration. I encourage people to eat more fruits and veggies at every meal, however, it works for them- smoothies, juices, salads, just eat more whole foods. This philosophy of “adding to your life” works with many wellness modalities. Fitness - just add where you can. Yes, while I know I will feel great if I get on the Peleton for 30 minutes or do a high-intensity workout, I usually don’t. I try for 30 minutes a day, to walk on Jennings Beach. I also talk a lot about finding some time to just be. Life is busy and stressful but when we find some simple-tasking time with activities that truly calm us, it can improve our stress levels. Some of my favorite zenful activities include unplugging and laying on my hammock, journaling or doodling in my notebook and using the Calm app.

You also wrote a book! Im wondering what your process was and what that journey was like writing something so personal and intimate.

A: Writing the book was a dream I never knew I had. Greenwich Hospital would give my name to young cancer survivors to help them navigate their diagnosis. Through the years, patients and caregivers have continued to reach out regularly. So one day, while walking on Penfield Beach, I thought about how to take this intel and share it on a larger and more meaningful scale. I decided to sell it with half the proceeds going to metastatic breast cancer research through The Cancer Couch Foundation ( I created an outline and went through my past journals from 10 years prior to get into the mindset I had at different points in my cancer journey. I would then schedule time to write, sometimes it worked and other times it didn’t. It was a huge undertaking and much more tiring than I anticipated. However, being an author is incredibly humbling. Seeing my words and hearing feedback on how the advice helped others fills my heart so much more than I could have dreamed.

Your podcast is all about sharing stories to inspire. What are your favorite stories that have been shared? 

A: I love love love the podcast. It's the next evolution in the brand of Happiness Through Hardship. The first - the book - is for cancer patients and caregivers. The podcast, however, is for everyone. We have all been through hard times and the wise words of many of the experts interviewed are inspiring. Over the past three years, there have been so many topics covered. I love the parenting episodes with a few different psychologists and authors who share their philosophies on raising digitally healthy kids, communicating with our children and taking care of ourselves while doing it. Since we started in 2020, several episodes have been about wellness and finding purpose. Honestly, I don't really have a favorite. Just like in life, we all have a story. It's fun for me to draw it out of people or, for many, give them the mic to shine.

What is your connection to Fairfield and what are some of your favorite things to do?

A: My husband, son and I love living in Fairfield. There are so many things I love to do here. The beaches! I love walking Jennings Beach and circling through the Marina to see the boats. I love meeting friends for juices at Catch a Healthy Habit and Organika. I love riding my bike with my husband into town for dinner at Sinclair, Quattro or Centro and if my son comes, grabbing him an ice cream at Saugatuck Sweets. I love the people in this town. My son plays baseball and we have met the greatest friends through our baseball family. And the nerdy side of me or better yet, the girl who loved  Little House on the Prairie, loves that we live in the midst of Revolutionary War history. I love the drive near Beach Road and Town Hall that captures this old-school community feel. Fairfield is special for many reasons, and I’m grateful to live here.

Who or what inspires you? What is your advice for positivity and a happy, more balanced life?

A: Ever since I can remember, I’ve said, “I like to like.” I am drawn to people that try to make the little world around them better. I like to see the good, even when it’s dark. It just feels better inside. My advice is for everyone to start a mindfulness practice. For me, it’s been about gratitude. Even when I’ve received some tough news, I often spend time thinking about how lucky I am to have (insert long list here). When my son was little, we created “The Grateful Game,” where we climbed in bed together and spoke about what we were grateful for and why on that day. As we practiced this regularly, I noticed that each day I would be looking for positive things to share. I now close out every podcast episode playing “The Grateful Game” with each guest. I know I sound like Pollyanna asking people to look for the good but I genuinely mean it from the bottom of my heart. Just try - take a few minutes most days over the course of a few weeks and see if you notice any changes. I realize this act doesn’t cure my cancer, but it has brought many smiles to my face and memories for my family.

My philosophy on wellness is that we all can improve our health by taking small steps.