I will never forget that morning in the spring of 2016. It was around 5:30am and the sun was just beginning to cast bright beautiful rays through my window. As I got out of bed, I happened to glance at my pillow and noticed more than just a few stray strands of hair on my pillow. “That’s weird,” I thought. While I was used to my hair shedding in different seasons, there was more hair than I would have expected on my pillowcase. A short while later, as I rinsed out the conditioner at the end of my shower, my hands started to shake as I realized that sudsy water wasn’t the only thing seeping through my fingers and running down my back. As I stared at the pile of brown wispy locks building on the drain I gasped and knew that something different was going on with my body.
By this time in my life, I already was aware of the importance of self-care. Prior to that life-changing spring morning, my husband and I had experienced several miscarriages in just over five years. While I had tried to numb the pain of losing the pregnancies initially through eating, I learned quickly that the only things that I gained from emotionally eating were unhealthy pounds and even more frustration.
Healthier Ways to Manage Grief
With guidance from specialists in western medicine and complementary modalities, I discovered new and healthier ways to manage grief, lose weight, and gain renewed hope. Through changes in diet, exercise, and activities as varied as acupuncture, meditation, mindfulness, drawing, writing, yoga, prayer, and (silent) retreats, I came to appreciate the dynamic and integrated nature of health. I learned first-hand that when it comes to health there are dimensions that we can control and there are elements that we cannot control or fully understand. I experienced the life-altering power that exists through self-care; I came to appreciate self-care as continuous connection with our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual being.
As my new health condition in 2016 progressed rapidly, I quickly lost all my hair and was diagnosed with alopecia areata universalis. Thanks to the love of family and the self-care that had become second nature to me, I had the capacity to navigate this dramatic life change in authentic and relatively healthy ways. While some people with alopecia areata universalis choose to be bald in public, I aspired to create a look similar to my appearance before the condition set in fully. Thanks to the tip from a dear friend, I connected with a great wig shop and started sporting a slightly new hairdo. I spent hours researching makeup, watching online instructional videos, and learning how to apply fake eyelashes and draw on fake eyebrows. Over time, as I refined the art of literally putting on my face every day, I offered prayers of gratefulness. While I could not articulate exactly what was happening, I knew that something was changing. While on the outside I looked almost the same; I worked for the same company, and I was involved with many of the same activities, on the inside I was going through a very real and raw process of reckoning and rebirth.
Giving Birth to a New Life
And now years later I am privileged to offer you this reflection. The multiple unforeseen experiences of loss beginning in 2010 gave birth to new life. When life did not happen according to any plan that my husband and I (unconsciously) had for our little family, through self-care we as a team let go of previously held expectations and aspirations that no longer resonated. And through letting go, I gained a renewed sense of personal purpose and professional direction.
Ongoing self-care activities enabled me to acknowledge where I was on life’s journey. When I was at my lowest lows, I realized that I had choices: I could choose to stay there, or I could choose to stand up. I chose to stand up. Each day as I chose to stand up, I affirmed (again) what was important to me. Each day as I affirmed (again) what was important to me I acknowledged with greater conviction what I could control and what I could not control. And, ultimately, over time, I accepted what I could not control and chose to own the aspects of life that I could influence.
One thing that became clear for me through this extensive introspection, discovery, and discernment process was that I craved not only positively influencing my own future, but also using the gifts that I had been given to support others in owning their own life circumstances, making informed choices, and realizing their dreams.
Transitioning to My Dream Career
What could I, a seasoned global financial services professional who loved to be trusted by others to solve problems, do with this desire to positively influence both my own future as well as those around me? Beginning in early 2014, I started researching different career paths. Through deliberate financial decisions and job changes over several years, I transitioned from global corporate executive at a major financial services company to my dream career as a Certified Financial PlannerTM and Private Wealth Advisor.
In 2017, shortly after I joined a small, independent team of professionals that I trust to offer financial planning, financial advisory, and investment management services, I used my own personal health experiences as professional inspiration. I expanded my definition of “self-care” to include financial health.
In my opinion and experience, I define financial health as:
- clarity around what you are doing with your finances,
- comfort around why you are doing it, and,
- control on the pieces of your financial picture that you can directly influence.
Just like being thin may not necessarily mean that you are physically healthy, having a high income is not the same as being financially healthy. For instance, you can have a high income and be very financially unhealthy if you are living beyond your means, building up debt that you cannot afford to pay off.
How Does One Become More Financially Healthy?
As with all self-care, it’s a process that begins with you. Your particular path to greater clarity, comfort, and control with your personal finances depends on where you uniquely are today with your finances, what you aspire your financial life to look like in the future, and how willing you are to own the financial decisions and new behaviors necessary along the way to enhance your financial wellness.
Before clients and I begin working with each other, I offer a complimentary financial consult. The value this initial conversation offers to prospective clients is two-fold: I provide a safe space to discuss confidentially their financial pain points, and I volunteer independent initial perspective on what I think is the best course of treatment to improve the prospective client’s financial health. Sometimes the treatment includes working with my team and me and sometimes the intervention I recommend does not involve working with us. It all comes down to what is best for the individual.
Once clients and I decide to work together to optimize their financial health, I guide them through a flexible process that I have developed through the course of delivering hundreds of financial plans for clients. We systematically prioritize their financial pain points, address them over time, analyze our effectiveness resolving their ailments, and continuously strive to take their financial health to the next level of clarity, comfort, and control.
If you aspire to enhance your self-care, if you are ready to optimize your financial health, and if you want to work with a fiduciary who gets the critical importance of an integrated and holistic approach to physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and financial wellness, know that I am right here. It would be a pleasure and a privilege to offer you a complimentary financial consult.
Caroline Wetzel is one of Natural Nutmeg’s 2019 and 2018 10Best Winners for Business/Life Coach. Caroline is a Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFP®) and Vice President, Private Wealth Advisor with Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC. Procyon Private Wealth Partners, LLC and Procyon Institutional Partners, LLC (collectively “Procyon Partners”) are registered investment advisors with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). This article is provided for informational purposes only and for the intended recipient[s] only. This article may also include opinions and forward-looking statements which may not come to pass. Information is at a point in time and subject to change. Procyon Partners does not provide tax or legal advice.