Ann G. Kramer, EdS LPC
Counseling, Coaching, Creating Wholeness
1127 Kildaire Farm Rd., Cary, NC 27511 (part of Long Life Wellness Center) 919 518 3717
Wholeness is an ongoing, growing journey that supports you for a lifetime. The Life Puzzle is framework for creating a whole life and provides the foundation for working with Ann. For an appointment, please call 919.518.3717
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As a counselor, I think one of the greatest things I can do for my clients is to bust the myth of Happily-ever-after. We grow up hearing this story over and over again and it looks so good at the end of a fairy tale. But we should teach our kids there’s a reason its called a fairy tale. There is no real place called “happily ever after”. Yet, many of us travel out of childhood and into adulthood on a Holy Grail search for it only to feel constantly frustrated in finding it.
I don’t want my clients to search for it. Instead, I introduce them to wholeness and show them the Life Puzzle model. I want them to see their lives as an on-going growing journey that honors their physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual SELF. The framework of the Life Puzzle includes 16 core areas, 5 edges that create the SELF and in putting those pieces together over one’s life journey, wholeness emerges. And happiness? It’s in there too—through the healthy foods we eat, the relationships we engage in, through the family we create, the community we connect with, the environment we care for etc. Happiness is also found is managing the special challenges that come into our lives that force us to grow through tough times.
A recent NY Times article exposing the harsh work environment at Amazon ignited intense discussion about the “culture” of Amazon and its expectations of long work hours at the expense of work-life balance.
As I read it (and clearly, Amazon isn’t the only tech company taking advantage of its employees through long work hours), I thought—“Wow, how 0-5 on the Wholeness Continuum” (see below). Clearly this high tech company of the 21st century is still attached to the old, reactive, status quo world where the awareness of Wholeness is basically absent. The belief by CEO Jeff Bezos—and then supported by staff—that in order to be successful we must allow only the work piece of our life to thrive—even at the expense of our health, our relationships, family, and community reflects the rat-race of the 20th century being perpetuated in the 21st.
Dear Amazon—that is so yesterday. Could we introduce you to the 6-10 side of the Wholeness Continuum? This is where real success can be found on personal, family, community, and business levels. It starts with individuals who use wholeness as a framework for designing their lives. No longer will they give up their health, relationship/family, and community connections to concentrate their energy in only one area—work. They want to live and work using a proactive, conscious framework where work fits into their life, not their life fits into what’s leftover after work.
The much smarter move? Wholeness. When you have an employee base focused on wholeness, it enables the creation of a Triple Bottom-line business—people, planets and profit resulting in a better business and a better world. And that’s a truly successful company.
It’s not too late Amazon—you can transform from 0-5 to 6-10. Wholeness is the future.
The WHOLENESS CONTINUUM
As another school year begins…….
High school graduates are soon heading off to college and college graduates have entered the real world. Both of these transitions represent two of the most intense times of our lives. We are leaving a comfort zone of friends, family and the known while heading into the unknown. We may be excited as can be about it all–but nonetheless, it is a very unsettling time requiring tremendous learning, new choices, establishing new patterns and social contacts.
Did you know that 40% of freshman drop out of college? (and never go back!) Did you know that depression rates skyrocket after college graduation. What’s going on here?
As a counselor I have worked extensively with the 18-24 age bracket. It is very important to show them that they are still working to form their SELF. Boundaries are not fully developed and the SELF is unsure of so many pieces of their Life Puzzle. In this overwhelming state, with lots of choices to be made, many in this age bracket shut down and feel defeated. I love working with them and showing them how to turn defeat into an adventure of living instead.
NOT DONE @ 21 !!!!
One of the chief complaints I heard from so many of these young adults was their belief/feeling that they were “behind”. That somehow by 21 they needed to have figured it all out and that was not happening! As I mulled on this more and more, I felt compelled to make this issue more visible and talked about. With several clients, I had “dialogues” about this issue. I turned those dialogues into a short booklet I’ve put together called “Not done @ 21—building wholeness in a 100 year life”. Continue reading
As we form a SELF by building the 5 edges–physical, emotional, thinking, sexual and spiritual–we set the foundation for owning our lives and creating Wholeness. The Spiritual edge is the last piece in the formation of a true and loving SELF. We say it is complete when you can operate your life from this perception: “I am greater than no one, no one is greater than me. In everyone shines love and as I see love in me, I can see love in thee.”
When I share this criteria for completing the Spiritual edge–most folks shake their head and say “I live the exact opposite! I think some or most people are better than me and occasionally I”m better than another.” And I acknowledge–this is how most everyone runs their life–and exactly what we’re challenging by bringing forth wholeness and breaking out of the reactive/status quo.
And it needs to be challenged because it is harming us all. Recently I heard Jim Grimsley, author of “How I shed my skin” describe the Southern hierarchy of place. I was blown away as he so succinctly described how we all learn to know our place and accept as natural that some should be deemed “greater than or less than”. Here’s what he wrote–
The primary mission at Triangle Whole, Well and Good is to make “Wholeness” a visible framework that people can use to build vibrant and dynamic lives.
Right now, only about 15% of the population has an awareness of wholeness as a guiding principle for the way they live. Mostly this is because it has only been possible in the last 30 years or so to understand Wholeness as a framework. That means the grand majority of people have yet to be exposed to the concept of Wholeness let alone know how to use it in their lives.
Universal model: Wholeness works for everyone.
The beauty of Wholeness is that it is a “Universal model”. The 16 core areas and 5 edges that create the SELF are a potential within every human on the planet. Wholeness acts as a guide for what’s necessary in order to create a life that is full and satisfying.
What if the entire world of 7 billion people understood and used wholeness as a framework for building their lives?
This may seem pie in the sky, but really stop and think about this. If every person you encountered understood wholeness and used it to guide their life, wouldn’t we have a different world than we do now when only 15% are aware? Yes, we would and that’s the big hoary audacious goal of Triangle Whole, Well and Good–move from 15% to 100%! Continue reading
In a recent parent/teen workshop, one of the parents expressed the challenge of using wholeness as a framework for the family. A schedule that starts at 7 am with the family heading out the door to school and work and not ending until 7 pm makes it hard to even try to exercise and eat well let alone explore some of the other pieces of wholeness. Others piped in that they too are pushing schedules that leave everyone exhausted. Weekends were busy catching up on chores, getting kids to soccer matches or other extra-curricular activities.
Parents were also concerned that their kids be ‘well-rounded’ with lots of activities that will show up on college applications and increase their kid’s chance at success in a world that has become hyper-competitive. The fear and anxiety were palpable, as these concerned parents felt obligated to run a rat-race lifestyle for themselves and their kids even though deep down inside they wanted off the merry-go-round of this hyperactive lifestyle.
I agreed it is a challenge but it is also a choice to become proactive and break out of the reactive patterns in which most of us feel trapped. As we looked at the Wholeness continuum—it is clear that 85% of people live on the 0-5 reactive side. And the parents in this workshop could see they were too. But they also learned there is another option. Continue reading
The following article was written by Christa Gala, a columnist for the News and Observer. It talks about the Parent/Teen workshop held in spring 2015.
Ann Kramer, a licensed professional counselor in Cary, started her college career studying social work, but soon changed her mind.
“Halfway through I was raising my hand saying, ‘Everything you teach me is how to fix people after they break,’” she says. “‘Why don’t you teach me how to help people not get broken in the first place?’”
Her professors all had the same answer: We don’t do that.
But that’s what Kramer had set her heart on doing, so she switched majors to study psychology and, later, received dual master’s degrees in counseling and early childhood development.
For the past 20 years, she’s been working with teens and their parents to help them learn the framework of what she calls “The Life Puzzle.”
“The Life Puzzle model I created over time working with clients,” she says. “What I found is we don’t really have a framework for what it means to put together a really whole life.” Continue reading
Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, Women, Work and the Will to Lead created quite a stir as it looked at the ways women are held back and even hold our selves back in the corporate world. As a result, women achieve much lower success in the top ranks of corporations and this is a loss for everyone.
Her three points of encouragement—1)Sit at the table—have the courage to see yourself in the top ranks, 2)Make your partner a real partner—create gender equality in home care so that both partners have equal capacity for success in the work place and 3) Don’t leave before you leave—meaning stay fully engaged in growing your career until the very last moment, even though you may leave the workforce eventually to do other things are all sage advice.
Yet as I watched her Ted Talk of 2010, my thoughts kept coming back to wholeness. Continue reading
I was at the gym this morning and a man walked up to me and said “I think you have the happiest face of anyone in this gym. You are always smiling when you work out!”
I laughed and said, “Thanks and that yes, I’m probably one of the few people in the gym who really likes working out. I decided long ago that if I’m going to be here on a regular basis, I may as well enjoy it and I do!” He nodded and said he did too and then walked off.
Then I started reflecting and realized–here it is the middle of December which means in just a little over three weeks the gym will be flooded with people who, once again, are going to try to get in shape, lose weight and live up to their New Year’s resolution. Continue reading
“The Only Security in Life is Insecurity–learn to love it!” This may seem like an oxymoron, but in truth, when you live your life accepting that everything is always changing it is actually an easier way to live! Then, when life does throw you a curve ball–it is not all that unexpected and you can respond with acceptance.
Unfortunately most of us spend our lives trying to figure out the exact opposite–how to get everything secure and safe all the time. We expend an enormous amount of time and energy trying to get control over the world and keep it from upsetting our secure life. But try as you might, the world just keeps on coming! What I’m suggesting is that you let go of trying to get everything perfect and instead, live life as it comes. When you do, you’ll find you have more time to live life in the present moment and the capacity to handle what comes your way. That’s what Life Puzzle making is all about!