What exactly does “WHOLE” mean?

INTRODUCTION

Complete.  Full.  Balanced.  We know all the buzzwords.  Call it whatever you want.  We all strive for a full, complete and balanced life.  I prefer to call it a “WHOLE” life.  A whole life is one where your health, finances, career and relationships are all in alignment and working together for your greatest good.  When you are whole and aligned, you are your best and most authentic self.  When you are whole, nothing is too big for you to achieve.  You are health and strong, your finances are in order, you’re doing work you love and you have satisfying relationships with family and friends.  Nothing is impossible for the person living a whole life.

 The First Component:  HEALTH

Health is the most important of the four components.  Without your health, it doesn’t matter whether you have money, a career or personal relationships.  Health is always priority one. 

1.    Physical Health

This slice of health refers to the condition of our physical body and the functioning of its internal systems.  Flexibility, blood pressure, cardiovascular endurance and strength are all measures of physical health. 

2.      Emotional Health

Emotional health refers to our psychological well-being.  It is how we feel internally about ourselves.  Emotional health is measured by self-esteem, confidence, hope and contentment. 

 3.      Spiritual Health

This is where we keep the sense that there is something bigger than ourselves in the world.  This slice is the most ambiguous of the health slices because its definition dependents upon the faith of its owner.  For the religious person, it may be belief in a particular deity.  For the atheist, it may be her personal creed.  However, the most important items held in the Spiritual Health slice are our core beliefs, our values and the principles by which we live our lives.  Everyone has these, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof. 

The Second Component:  RELATIONSHIPS

The relationship section of the pie refers simply to our connections to others.  Imagine it as a series of nesting circles.

1.      Family

The first section holds our relationships with close family – spouse/partner, parents, siblings, children, grandparents and , in some families, aunts uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.   The Whole person typically views family as a cohesive unit that actually enjoys each other’s company.

2.      Friends

 This middle ring extends beyond the family circle to our friends and coworkers.  The person with a Whole life has a solid circle of friends that you spend time with and who you can call for help or a shoulder to cry on at the end of a failed relationship.  Because of the many hours we spend at work each week, this circle may also contain some coworkers.

 3.      Community

This outermost ring tends to be the most complicated and the busiest.  “Community can be defined very broadly these days and it’s not at all uncommon for a person to self-identifying as belonging to many communities based on race, ethnicity, religion, age, occupation, residence, etc.  For example, here are a few of the communities to which I belong:  African Americans, unmarried women, lawyers, writers, Delawareans, Americans, humans and Unitarian Universalists.  Each of us belongs to many communities large and small.  The slice of this circle depends on how many communities you identify with and how broad they are.  The most important thing to remember is that “bigger is not better.”  She who belongs to the most communities doesn’t “win.”  The key is knowing where you’re comfortable – whether it’s in one group or in one hundred groups. 

 The Third Component:  Finances

The term “money” suggests cash or other liquid funds.  I chose the broader title of “finances” for this section so that it could include all aspects of financial management – cash, credit, debt, benefits, etc.  Each of these items is part of the financial equation. 

1.    Income

 Income refers to money or goods you receive in exchange for work or other consideration or as the result of a gift or inheritance, or as a government benefit without regard to the amount of money received or the desirability or tastefulness of the work performed.  In this regard, a monthly trust fund disbursement, realtor’s commission, cash wages, social security check and government assistance check are all considered to be exactly the same.  They are all income. 

 2.      Spending

Spending refers to how that income is used during any measurable period.  It can be a simple household budget that includes rent, phone and electricity or an elaborate spending plan that includes vacations and the management of multiple homes.  All money spends the same. 

3.      Savings and Retirement

Savings and retirement are actually types of spending and uses of income.  We save a portion of the money we receive to fund our life after we stop working and earning, i.e., retirement.  In a way, we’re “spending” by saving for retirement.  We’re using that income to buy something that we get to enjoy until later in life.  This money may fund travel in our golden years, cover our stay in a nursing home or simply purchase life insurance.  None of us knows for sure what our later years will bring but the WHOLE person has a vision of what she’d like those years to be and what financial steps she should take to achieve it.

 The Final Component:  Career

This section should probably be called Career and Learning.  The WHOLE person has so much more than a “job” in their life.   The WHOLE person has a career that they love and that is fulfilling. 

1.      Formal Education

 In 2013, a bachelor’s degree is the equivalent of a high school diploma 50 years ago.    Many entry level construction and manufacturing jobs now require a basic college degree or some other trade or specialized education.  The WHOLE person recognizes the value of formal education in life. 

 2.      Continuing Education

But the WHOLE person doesn’t stop with the formal education required for her career.  The WHOLE person continues to pursue knowledge. She is continually learning new things – languages, skills, etc., that will stimulate her mind and keep her at the top of her game professionally. 

3.      Career

 It’s no accident that career is the last item discussed here.  Some say it’s the least important element of a WHOLE life.  I’m  not sure.  Some in our society value others based on their career and the amount of income they generate from it.  The WHOLE person evaluates her career by how much she enjoys it, by how much pleasure it brings to her and others and by whether it serves the needs of her family and community. 

 

Over the next installments, I’ll share my thoughts on each component individually – discuss my triumphs and struggles and offer suggestions to help you get WHOLE.   I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts….please use the links below to respond and share feedback.

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Welcome to my blog.  I’ve been thinking about blogging for years but didn’t want to be one of those people who felt compelled to vomit every detail of their personal life all over social media.  You know the people I’m talking about – the ones who post every meal on Facebook and give us hourly updates as to their whereabouts.  But I find myself in an unusual position:  I’m starting my life all over again at the age of 51.  Since 2008, I walked away from a high paying job because of principle only to find and lose my dream job to layoff.  I lost my precious black lab to cancer, got left at the altar by my fiancé, duped in a real estate deal, survived two cancer scares, lost my older brother to illness and moved two thousand miles to care for my sister and her disabled husband after she suffered a series of strokes.  I’m overeducated and grossly underemployed, pretty much broke financially and overwhelmed emotionally.  I could be bitter – and to tell the truth, sometimes I am – but instead, I choose to view it as simply BEGINNING AGAIN.  As we start 2014, I’ve got a plan in place that will get me on the road to becoming a WHOLE person again and serve as the foundation for the scholarship and empowerment organization I intend to build.

What does it mean to be “WHOLE?”  I’ll share more details in the next installment.  Basically, a WHOLE life is one in which your health, finances, career and relationships are all in alignment and working together for your greatest good.  When you are WHOLE, nothing is too big for you to achieve.

So why am I writing this?  Because in the past five years I’ve had dozens of people tell me I should share my story.   I now know that my WHOLE life involves using my education and experiences as an attorney, teacher, counselor, musician, coach, writer, realtor, speaker, etc. to help others define and achieve their own WHOLE lives.  As one of my favorite authors, SARK, says, “when someone asks what you do, tell them ‘I am a creative spirit.  I just came here to help.’”  I’ve been helping in a multitude of professional, personal and volunteer capacities for years.  I realized in 2013 that everything I’ve done has been driven by my desire to help.  That’s why I’m writing this – to share my story and document my journey back to being WHOLE and, hopefully, in the process help you become WHOLE, too.

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