A handful of years ago I decided to abandon the traditional New Year’s resolutions in favor of one simple word. Instead of making a list of goals I never seemed to achieve, I wanted to focus on a single word that encompassed the overall tone I wanted for the year ahead based on everything that was going on in my life, in my head and in my heart at that point in time.

My one-word resolutions began in 2017 with Balance. In 2018 my word was Wellness, and my 2019 word was Grounded. These words came to me for a specific reason, chosen through a list-making process of elimination. Last year I had such a long list that it took me weeks to land on the one that felt right.

But my word for 2020 hit me one day in November and stuck. I made no lists of alternatives. There was no process of elimination. This word appeared to me, and I knew it was mine.

That word is:

When my parents came to visit back in September, my mother gave me a copy of Magnolia Journal, Joanna Gaines’ quarterly lifestyle magazine. But life is busy, and the magazine sat on the end table in my family room for two months before I finally got around to opening it. And I just happened to start reading it the same day I started contemplating what my word of 2020 would be.

The entire Fall 2019 issue of Magnolia Journal is called Wholeness. In her letter from the editor, Gaines writes about discussing the word Wholeness with her team and how many people associate wholeness with perfection (a word I try to stay far away from).

“But it’s actually through the lens of wholeness that I think we can glean the clarity necessary to see ourselves as we already are,” Gaines writes. “To me, there’s a grace woven into the very fabric of wholeness that invites us to live in the abundance of our story. That every piece of our identity — the broken, the sad, the hard, just as much as the fulfilled,the good, the happy — is stitched together to make us complete.”

In an essay a few pages later, Gaines compares the assembly of a puzzle to our pursuit of wholeness, how “our lives are made up of a bunch of pieces that fit together to make us who we are.”

So I started thinking about the puzzle pieces of my life and how they all fit together. I’m a mom, a girlfriend, an employee. I go to Orangetheory Fitness, I practice yoga and meditation, I read novels. I eat a piece of dark chocolate every day, I’m asleep by 9:00 every week night, I love the beach and sunsets. All of these are pieces of me.

I also get headaches every day. I’ve lost count of the doctors I’ve seen, the money I’ve spent on co-payments, physical therapy, massages, medications, essential oils, ice packs and heating pads and fancy pillows, as well as the number of times I’ve been told to manage my stress better. My perpetual health issues and corresponding quest to find answers and pain relief have unfortunately also become pieces of me.

I envisioned these pieces that make me who I am while I thought about the meaning behind the words on the cover of that Magnolia Journal: IN PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS WHOLENESS. LEANING INTO EVERY CHAPTER OF YOUR STORY.

Wholeness has various definitions:

  • The condition of being sound in body
  • The quality or state of being without restriction, exception, or qualification
  • The state of being entirely whole

And there are the various meanings of the word whole:

  • Containing all components; complete
  • Not divided or disjoined; in one unit
  • Constituting the full amount, extent or duration
  • Having been restored; healed
  • An entity or system made up of interrelated parts

That last definition is the one that grabbed me. Those puzzle pieces I listed are the interrelated parts that make up the entity or system that is Heather. Each part affects all the other parts. And I’ve been feeling lately that my pieces aren’t all fitting together as seamlessly as they should, that the headaches piece of my puzzle has grown so large that it’s overcrowding and overshadowing all the other interrelated parts of my life.

I don’t want to tell my daughter I can’t take her to the batting cage because I have a headache. I don’t want to work at my desk with an ice pack wrapped around my head. I don’t want to hopscotch from doctor to doctor.

I don’t want my headaches to affect every aspect of my life.

So I want to focus on Wholeness, taking a closer look at each part of my life and how I can fit my puzzle pieces together in a better way. Maybe this means bringing more meditation back into my daily routine. Maybe this means focusing more on yoga than my weekly running mileage. Maybe this means saying no more or eating more vegetables or spending less time on freelance writing or working at a Starbucks twice a week or going for more walks on the beach. Or maybe I’ll be able to shrink my headache piece by creating an entirely new piece that I didn’t know existed.

In my last yoga practice of 2019 on New Year’s Eve, the instructor reminded us that everything we accomplished this year, everything that challenged us, all the good, the bad, the ugly, it’s all a part of who we are, it all happened to prepare us for what comes next in the new year. She didn’t use the word wholeness, but I believe that’s what she was referring to. And I took it as another sign that it’s the right word for my year ahead.

So cheers to a new year with a new word and a new focus. I’m ready for Wholeness, 2020!

Editor’s note: In case you were wondering why I choose “wholeness” over “whole,” I could have gone with either one. But I prefer two syllable words because when I meditate I can silently inhale the first syllable and exhale the second. Plus, I’m a big believer in signs, and if the cover of that magazine wasn’t a clear sign, I’m not sure what is.

2 Comments on Wholeness: My One-Word Resolution for 2020

  1. Hello friend. Have been AWOL for a bit, busy and that is all I’ll say. Loved your reasons for wholeness. As I was beginning to down size a few months ago I realized that my hubby of 54 years was not exactly getting into the mode with me. I told a long time doctor friend of mine and he said that our life becomes a quilt of many pieces, love, marriage, children, jobs, etc. Now I want to either sell or give away things that we have collected and its like ripping that quilt of our life to pieces. So go slow and be sensitive about doing it. Good advice Mike.

    Also want to send you my most recent Haiku
    The night is so dark
    But daylight brings us all hope
    A new beginning

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