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Archive for January, 2013

ORIGIN OF THE WHEEL OF LIFE

In my post titled A FULFILLING LIFE IS ONE OF BALANCE, I offered you a Wheel of Life as one of the tools for assessing your life balance. Variations of the Wheel of Life are a common tool used by life coaches. No one knows the origin of the life coaching Wheel of Life. However, the symbol and the term “Wheel of Life” originated in the Middle Ages. This was a time when, by today’s standards, life was short lived and difficult for most. Back then, the Wheel of Life was carved into the stone walls of cathedrals so that folks could find comfort in viewing them. People believed that the symbols on the wheel were instructions regarding coping with life’s cycle of unavoidable change.

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The above image is an example of the Middle Ages Wheel of Life. I will take you on a tour around the above Wheel of Life, using clock hand positions to describe the four points on the wheel.

HAPPINESS

Sitting at the 12:00 position, you will find what appears to be a queen or king (for the sake of this post, let’s say “queen”). Although it is difficult to detect a smile on our queen, I have read that this figure is usually smiling. She is sitting in the position of HAPPINESS. This represents the part of life’s cycle when things are status quo or going well.

LOSS

Moving clockwise to the 3:00 position, you will find the queen hanging upside down. It is my understanding that on some wheels you can see a distressed look on her face. She is now hanging in the position of LOSS.

SUFFERING

Moving down to the 6:00 position, you will find the queen stripped of her crown and royal clothing. Some wheels depict her stripped naked. This is a symbol of trudging through the messy, uncertain, troublesome and difficult phases of life. The time when one might feel s/he is losing, or has lost, everything s/he finds valuable. This is the position of SUFFERING.

HOPE

Moving forward to the 9:00 position, the queen is climbing up. This is the position of HOPE. The anticipation and hope that she will return to happiness fuels her climb.

A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT THE FOUR POSITIONS

Happiness

Loss

Suffering

Hope

We are always in one of these four life positions. Of course, HAPPINESS is our position of choice. Everything we do and experience seems to click when we are in this position. Our routine works perfectly. We feel comfortable and successful. Then life brings change. At this point, we usually move into the position of . . .

LOSS

Here, we are faced with letting go of our routine, comfort, and sense of normalcy. We are challenged by the desire to regain equilibrium and return to HAPPINESS as quickly as possible. Since life’s wheel does not turn counterclockwise, we sometimes get stuck in the position of LOSS. The only way to return to HAPPINESS on the wheel is to move forward to . . .

SUFFERING

This is a time of hard work and transition, where we experience life and allow its natural flow through acceptance. The only way to move forward into HOPE is to move through the SUFFERING position by fully experiencing change and the pain that sometimes comes with it.

HOPE

Moving through to hope also requires action to create a new routine that will lead to comfort. So, we work hard planning, executing the plan, and revising the plan until our plan begins to work, and HOPE emerges. As our action steps move us forward, we begin to feel capable of achieving . . .

HAPPINESS

Back to the place where we start regaining the equilibrium we so desire. Things start clicking again, we feel comfortable and successful. Yet, this new normal is different from the last time we sat at the top of life’s wheel.

LIFE’S GIFT

With each cycle and each new HAPPINESS design that life creates, we receive the gift of growth. I say it is a gift because the one constant in life is change, but we can learn from it. Learning is the gift. Growth is the gift. With growth, HOPE grows stronger and never completely fades as we travel life’s challenging journey. With growth, the trip around life’s wheel can become more comfortable. With growth, the ride becomes smoother as we learn to return more quickly to HAPPINESS.

THE WRITER’S LIFE CYCLE

A writer’s life cycle can be similar to life’s cycle. We are happy when we are writing and dreaming about success. Then something changes. Something happens that leaves us with a sense of . . .

LOSS

What causes you to lose your writing happiness?

Your writing routine?

Your writing equilibrium?

Once we lose our writing happiness and start feeling a sense of loss, the next step is . . .

SUFFERING

What is your writing suffering mode?

Self-doubt, fear, sadness, frustration?

When do you feel like life is dragging you through the messy, uncertain, troublesome and difficult phases of writing?

How do you move through and beyond your suffering?

What are some of your “SNAP OUT OF IT!” methods?

HOPE

Once we snap out of it, we begin to move into HOPE. HAPPINESS is just a hop, skip and a jump away.

How do you find hope as a writer?

HAPPINESS

Yay! We are back to status quo, writing, dreaming, and writer’s life HAPPINESS. I know from experience that with each cycle, we can grow. With this growth, we always have a glimmer of hope. The cycle becomes less painful. And the ride back to HAPPINESS is smoother and faster.

SHARING WITH OTHER WRITERS

I would love it if you would share some of your answers to the above questions. What kind of changes set you on the path around the writer’s wheel of life? What are your tricks or tips for getting through the Writer’s Life Cycle?

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If you followed my last post A FULFILLING LIFE IS ONE OF BALANCE, you have most likely come prepared with a journal. Did anyone try making a journal? If you are just joining “Writer’s Whole Life Perspective,” you will need to backtrack. This week we are going to look at your  wheel assessments a little deeper.

Start by going back to your colored wheel. Consider the various categories. Can you break any of them down into more categories?

Example 1: Wheel of Life category “Immediate Family.” Can you break it down further? Let’s say, your level of satisfaction in this category is a six. There could be one aspect of the category that is the root of this assessment. Maybe it is difficulties you are having with your spouse, perhaps you have a child that is extremely challenging, or maybe you are being kept from your grandchild.

Example 2: Wheel of Health category “Physcial Health.” Can you break it down further?   Perhaps you suffer from a chronic illness. Maybe you are overweight. Perhaps you suffer from fatigue or pain.

Example 3: Writing Wheel category “Writing Support from Others” Maybe you have zero support. Perhaps the support you have is not working. Maybe you need additional support.

Once you come up with further categories for each area, rate each new category on a scale from zero to ten to indicate the influence it might have had on your overall rating of the original wheel category. Zero indicates it had no influence at all, and ten means it was a key reason for your overall rating. The goal here is to see if you can get a clearer picture of the impact certain aspects of individual categories have on your level of satisfaction. This will help you find the true obstacle(s) to achieving a higher level of satisfaction in each area.

Now it is time to look even deeper. List each original wheel category in your journal. For each category listed, enter two or three bullet points giving the key reasons for your rating in this area. What are your obstacles to a higher level of satisfaction in this area? Try to be specific.

Example 1: Going back to the example of  “Immediate Family” with a rating of six. What were the top reasons for the rating of six?

  • Between work and kids, not enough alone time with my spouse. List consequences of this problem.
  • Work and responsibilities wear me out, and I have no time, energy, or patience for my children.
  • Jason is mouthy all the time, he won’t clean his room, he refuses to do his homework.

Example 2: Using the area of “Writing Support from Others”

  • I have no one in my life that understands what it takes to be an author.
  • My husband tries to support me, but he usually won’t read any of my work. The few times he does, he is negative and insulting.
  • My critique group members don’t seem as serious as I am about our commitments.

I understand that this is a lot of work, so I will not offer the next exercise for several weeks. However, if you want to get ahead of the game, after you’ve done the above work, start brainstorming in your journal about what it might take to bring each wheel category up to a ten. Don’t get overwhelmed. In the long run, you will learn that this is about small steps and choice. You are just setting the foundation, not building the whole apartment complex. I promise.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Also, I would love it if you would comment about your experience with Writer’s Whole Life so far.

Next week, instead of a post that requires work on your part, I will be posting, THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.

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Life is made up of many facets, and they are all equally important.  A fulfilling life is one of balance. Even though, this blog is for supporting writers, I would like to encourage you to view your life beyond writing. Some of the areas I will suggest you look at are as follows.

  1. Significant other, romance, love and sex
  2. Immediate Family (spouse, children, and grandchildren)
  3. Extended Family (parents, siblings, grandparents)
  4. Friends
  5. Home/physical environment
  6. Fun and Recreation
  7. Work/career
  8. Finances (money and possessions)
  9. Physical health
  10. Emotional health
  11. Mental health
  12. Honoring your values
  13. Self-care
  14. Relaxation
  15. Fulfilling personal needs
  16. Spiritual growth
  17. Personal growth
  18. Availability of writing time
  19. Writing space
  20. Writing knowledge
  21. Writing support from others
  22. Writing ideas
  23. Writing organization
  24. Writing submissions
  25. Writing ability

By looking at these areas, you will gain awareness of what might be missing in your life, or what might be needed in your life. Why is balance so important? Here is an example: Let’s say, like many people, you are focusing 75 – 80% of your energy on one area of your life, if something happens to change that one area, you won’t feel like you have much of a life left. Maybe you put most of your energy into your job or a relationship. If you were to lose your job or that relationship were to end, you would be knocked so off balance that it would most likely feel as if your life has ended. Using these examples alone, can you imagine how something like the above might impact your writing?

Where is your life out of balance?

Where do you focus the majority of your attention?

What life areas are most satisfying? What areas are least satisfying?

Have you been putting parts of your life on pause? If you are like most people, self-care is one of the most common things to be neglected. Things such as fun, time with loved ones, and your health are often put off until a tomorrow that seldom comes.

WRITER’S WHOLE LIFE PERSPECTIVE “LIFE BALANCE” HOMEWORK

At the end of this post, you will find a “Wheel of Life for Creating Balance,” a “Health Wheel for Creating Balance,” and a “Writing Wheel for Creating Balance.” If you want to explore the facets of your life, duplicate these wheels and complete them as follows: Each section of the wheel represents an area in your life. With the center of the wheel rated as zero and the outer edge rated as ten, rank your level of satisfaction with each area of your life by coloring in the appropriate space (see the example below). Zero should be used to indicate that you are not satisfied at all, and 10 means that you are 100% satisfied.

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Copyright Alayne Kay Christian 2013

Once you have colored your wheels, look at the outer edges. Are they smooth and even? Or are they uneven? Imagine these wheels are on the car you are driving through life. How easily would the wheels turn? How bumpy would your ride be? Now, imagine that you have a deadline for a personal or professional writing commitment, but you must be traveling in this car. You have paper and pen in the car, and someone is driving for you. How many words do you think you would be able to write down during this crazy, bouncy ride? How good do you think the story would be? Do you think you would be able to make your deadline?

Keep your colored wheels for your visual representation when you come back for my next post.

Also, in preparation for my next post, please buy or make a journal. Any notebook will do. However, there is something to be said about having a “special” journal for exploring your “Writer’s Whole Life Perspective.” I had promised we would be doing some goal setting next, but I am honoring my right to change my mind. Besides, I suspect most of you have already satisfied your goal setting needs with the new year coming in. There are a few more steps in the process before it will be goal-setting time. Next, we will be looking deeper at the colored in wheels.

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I created a “Health” wheel separate from the “Wheel of Life” because I feel our wellbeing is the foundation for a balanced life. I also believe it is the part that often gets neglected the most.

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Copyright Alayne Kay Christian 2013

Your writing needs “for balance” might be different than the categories on my writing wheel. Feel free to create your own wheel based on what you believe is essential to your writing life.

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