A whole life…the best life
“Did you ever in your whole life, think you would have a whole life?”
I was talking with someone close to me yesterday about my recent vacation. As she listened to me reflect on the experience, she said she was reminded of a saying that was displayed on a banner at an Alcoholics Anonymous event. It read: “Did you ever in your whole life, think you would have a whole life?”
I was struck by this observation. Ironically, for the first time in my whole life, I am indeed living a whole life. A whole life vs. a full life. My best life. And for that I am incredibly grateful.
There is a part of me that says, “Wow, this is so cool. I am so lucky. And happy!” And, there’s another part that says, “Holy shit this is a lot of work.”
A couple of weeks ago I blogged with enthusiasm about my impending winter vacation to ditch frigid Minnesota and the winter blues, celebrate my 51st birthday, and embark on a host of “Lori Firsts.” You can read that blog “Living your best life,” here.
Well, I just got home from that glorious 10-day vacation in Florida. And not only was the weather about 100 degrees warmer than Minnesota, but I saw alligators in the Everglades, went tandem kayaking in the ocean with my sweetie, walked sand beaches, watched as many sunrises and sunsets as possible, and saw 1084 miles of Florida coastline from the back of a Harley. (Yep, me on a motorcycle — not something I ever could have predicted; certainly not at 381 pounds!)
It was indeed the vacation of my lifetime thus far (though I predict many more). Among the milestones: I celebrated my 51st birthday and Valentine’s Day with someone I love. I was able to check out of work completely, relaxing into and enjoying each moment and each day. And, although I couldn’t do everything I wanted to do each day, I was able to settle in and appreciate all of the things I did do and see…and who I was with. I am in love with my life. And that’s what makes it truly great.
A full life vs. a whole life
This made me think about the difference between living a full and busy life where we pack in absolutely as much as we can — trying to do everything, be everything and see everything. Verses being in the moment and enjoying that activity, person, or thing we’re with in the moment for all it brings to our lives. Appreciating it wholly and fully, no matter how big or monumental, small or seemingly insignificant.
This is something I truly have to work at. And, pre-transformation, I simply did not have it mastered. I spent most of my days trying to do everything, be everything, and achieve what I thought was expected of me. I was like a hamster on the spinning wheel, focused on going faster and doing more to get to the prize. This is how I proved my worth — to myself and others. I filled myself up, but not necessarily with the right things or in the right way.
I’m smart and successful, so my life was full and from the outside looked good. But, the focus was not on me. If fact, I was unintentionally or unconsciously diverting attention and focus away from me — away from my health and weight issues and my real unhappiness — almost to the point where I had myself convinced this was all there is. But deep inside, I knew there was more. I simply was stuck, unaware and had not pursued my full potential out of fear.
It sounds crazy, but the hamster wheel became my daily routine and the norm. I completely lost sight of me. It wasn’t until I had the courage to quiet down, stop long enough to look deep inside my heart and become aware of the truth, that I could really change things. I had to be honest that I wasn’t happy and recognize that not only was I NOT in my equation, but I was living a full life and not a whole life. I wasn’t happy and, in fact, was on a path to self destruction.
Today, I see and appreciate the significance of full vs. whole. Busy vs. directed on meaningful things…like my physical and emotional health and well being, falling in love, making a difference in the world through my work, and, ultimately, my internal happiness. But for so long, I inadvertently kept filling myself up with food and activities, including work…filling my time to keep the focus off me. To stay invisible.
How often do we do this to ourselves? Keep ourselves busy and distracted so that the attention diverts from us to other things. We think we are doing what matters, but we lose sight of what really matters and sometimes we lose sight of ourselves.
It’s amazing how different life looks from the back of a Harley! Yes, a 2014 Electra Glide Ultra Classic Harley Davidson to be precise. My incredible vacation provided the opportunity to let the new me burst open and to do so with another person. I took risks, tried new things and it felt awesome. Almost like I was in bloom! I had a lot of time on the back of that Harley traveling 1084 miles to appreciate where I am in my life today — the good and the challenging, and to realize the transformation both inside and out. What a gift.
For the first time ever, I can now say that I am living a whole life with all the parts and pieces that matter to me — including opening myself up to the intense joy, excitement and connection that comes from being close to another. I am still helping others, running a good business, and being a great community member and citizen, but at the same time I am living the life I want to live with me smack dab in the center. It still feels a little strange. But, strangely great! And it’s liberating too.
You can have it all but not at the same time
Living a whole life to me simply means being in the center of my equation. Being aware of how my personal life, love life, career life, family life, and community life connect to complete the whole. And it means appreciating how they ebb and flow. They might not always be perfectly balanced, and I likely can’t have everything I want all at once, but all the pieces of the pie must be there at any given time with me smack dab in the center.
I still want to do big things to evolve my meaningful work and career. I have so much more to see, do and explore. But for now, I am for the first time ever feeling squarely in my equation, and living whole. And, for that I am forever grateful.
What about that Harley – how was it?
For those of you asking about my vacation and chronicle of “Lori firsts.” Here’s a quick recap. I loved seeing Florida from the back of the Harley. It was awesome. I had the safest most careful driver. And I only got clocked in the forehead by a bug twice! (gross.)
We saw 1084 miles of Florida coastline on both coasts (Gulf and Atlantic)! We journeyed from Tampa to Naples and Marco Island, across the amazing Tamiami Trail through the Everglades to the keys with stops in Key Largo, Islamorada and Key West. And then ventured up the east Atlantic coast past Miami to Ft. Lauderdale and then the long trek home across Alligator Alley and back into Tampa.
We saw alligators, and tropical birds of every kind in the Everglades, palm tree farms and the heart of agricultural Florida, miles and miles of beaches, miles and miles and miles of teal blue water, sea creatures (some), and land creatures in Key West (lots). We spent time with each other, and friends and family. We walked beaches and experienced sunrises and sunsets. And we checked out of regular life and our work and learned to live in the moment — nothing more and nothing less. It was awesome. It was whole. And I am forever grateful to my travel mate (RS) for the journey.
Here’s a photo gallery for those who have asked me to share. 🙂
I wish for each of you the discovery of a whole vs. full life. Cheers!