What is Your Legacy?

I attended a funeral recently. This may seem odd but funerals make me think. They make me sad for the loss of a special person; however, I like to look at them as a celebration of the life that person lived, especially when the person has lived a full, long life. In this instance, my great-aunt was 99 years old. She lived in her own home up until 18 months ago. In my opinion, that is something to be both thankful and grateful for.
In addition to being a great-aunt, she was also a neighbor for many years, so there was a double connection. As I lay in bed that evening thinking about my day, it dawned on me that that I had witnessed life come full circle that day. While the actual events didn’t happen literally that day, I had witnessed a brand new life coming into this world with a visit to the hospital to visit our newest great-niece, and the celebration of a life fully lived and ending of a 99 year old woman. One journey just starting and one at its completion.

The eulogy at the funeral was beautiful and it got me thinking about life and what each of us chooses to do with each day and what experiences we will choose to have. What experiences will Leah, our newest great-niece is going to have compared to Ruth who began her life almost 100 years before her. What legacy will she leave behind? What will my legacy be? During the funeral, my son made the comment, a comment that was later mentioned in the eulogy as well: “There really should be a bag of cookies in there with her.” It was part of Ruth’s legacy.

The next day a friend, who happened to attend the same elementary school, mentioned my paternal grandmother and her cooking. She was head cook at the elementary school in Randall for many years and often went in at 4 a.m. to make homemade caramel rolls for the staff and students. She also did a tremendous amount of sewing and crafts over the years but her legacy was her cooking. People years later remember and still often comment on her cooking to me. My maternal grandmother will be remembered for her love for beer and cards. You barely get in the door at her house and she is asking you if you would like a beer (there is always cold beer in the fridge, yes that is why there is always cold beer at my house too) and the cards and little bowls of snacks come out. I guess I inherited these gifts from of each of my grandmothers. All cherished, fond memories that linger in our memories for years to come after a loved one leaves this earth.

We all leave our mark in this world. What do you want do you want to be remembered for? What will your legacy to this world be?

My Very First Time

February was a momentous month for me. It marked the delivery of my first ever presentation of Breaking the Bricks in Your Life. It was the first (as well as the second and third times) that I did something that I have never done before. I presented my original material to a group. I developed (with help from a lot of people, which is one of the key points of the presentation)  practiced,  refined it, rewrote it, added, subtracted, added more, practiced more and then presented my story, sharing how I have achieved success in running a marathon, triathlon and attaining my black belt.

How did I feel? It felt right. It felt like I was definitely doing what I was supposed to be doing. I was surprisingly calm up until about an hour before the first presentation at work. This calm didn’t last for the second practice round as I was nervous and fumbled and just could not find my flow.  I really struggled with that second presentation. Finally, it was time to present to my administrative group. I had myself mentally ready for this one and while it definitely wasn’t perfect, it felt so much better than the two prior. This one felt right and the hour that I was scheduled to talk just flew by. I enjoyed that presentation with its brief moments of uncertainty. I truly enjoyed every moment of that experience.

How many times have you heard, practice, practice, practice. One thing I’ve learned from all of these experiences is that is that is really is all about the journey. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you are doing, everything changes and evolves and you need to put time into it to make it work and flow, and that really is the learning and growing part of any experience. I know when I give this presentation again, I know I will need to add or omit parts as well as practice more. There really is more to this journey….I just don’t know when or what that will be and I look forward to finding out.

Sailing and Life

I’ve discovered life has a way of guiding you in the direction you need to go. If you go the wrong way, take a detour, somehow you always get pulled back to the main road to try again.

This past summer, while driving a sailboat I quickly learned when the wind and the boat were aligned perfectly. The feeling was instantaneous. I could feel the wind hitting the sail in just the right spot and it took little effort to control the boat. While I still had to hang onto the wheel, it was easy and it was smooth. I still had to pay attention, but I wasn’t tense, or nervous or drained. Excuse the metaphor, but I was just “sailing along.”

The minute the wind changed, I felt it. I felt like I had to concentrate on controlling the boat and it was work to guide it where it needed to go. Not nearly as smooth or easy as it was when everything was aligned and heading in the right direction. Even during those “easy” times, I still had to pay attention. It may sound simple and direct but it’s easier said than done with a 42’ boat, even if you are in the middle of Lake Superior! I still had to pay attention, concentrate and guide the boat the direction it needed to go. It’s just a bigger scale than driving a car. At one point, the direction from Captain Mike was: “See those two islands there? Don’t hit anything then take a left.” Life is like that. At times we feel like we spend more time avoiding what we don’t want than being excited about going toward what we do want. That feeling of avoidance or feeling off is a sign we need to readjust our sails.

Sailing is just like really living life. We have to pay attention. We have to guide and be guided and we always have to keep adjusting our lives to find what really aligns us with what makes us happiest.  It is always changing because we are always changing. No two days, are ever exactly the same. It’s like good communication, the minute you exchange words or body language, the person you are communicating with is interpreting and responding to you and your actions. We are constantly adjusting and interpreting.

Just like each of us not only has to find our own happiness daily, none of us have the same desires or ultimate happiness. After my marathon last fall, I treated myself to a pedicure. I bought a Groupon (I have gotten some great deals, discovered some great businesses and pretty awesome people by using them).  The woman who gave me the pedicure was a young woman in her early 20’s. Kat’s pedicure was good, but her story was better. She shared with me how her mom wanted her to be a doctor or a lawyer. She stuck to her dream of wanting to help people feel good and help them feel beautiful. She LOVED rubbing my feet and legs and removing the marathon torture I had put them through. She took great care in making sure she was taking care of me. She loved her job and it showed. I thought it was awesome that she found her calling in life  early in life and was proud of it, even though it’s not considered a glamorous profession by many.

I’ve learned glamour, prestige and money mean nothing if we are not truly happy. How many of us have spent so much of our life searching for our ultimate happiness and are yet to find it? How many times do we catch ourselves saying I’ll be happy when I have this or if I can do that? Happiness is truly living in the moment you are in right now. Those moments may not always be perfect, but if you keep adjusting your sails, even just a little you discover that those material things hold less and less value. Real value and happiness are found when your life has value. Doing what you love that gives joy and happiness to others, like Kat, who gave me the pedicure.

Life is a state of flux. If you haven’t found your happiness  yet, it’s not too late. Readjust your sails and seek to find it!

Quit Peeing in the Pool

When a friend said these words to me, I started laughing…then continued to laugh. His initial comment taken verbatim was funny; however, as he elaborated on his metaphor for me not challenging myself, I have not been able to stop thinking about it. Timing is everything and I close the door on 2012 and look through the window to 2013, I can’t help but wonder what I am going to do to get out of the pool.

His comments got me thinking about adventure and feeling alive. This particular friend has taught me that it’s OK to take a risk. He has taught me to not be afraid to try. It’s OK to make a mistake; that striving to make it work or to walk away if it doesn’t is still considered a success. In either situation at least you lived and experienced it. If it doesn’t work out and you have to try another route or option, again, at least you tried. He’s taught me that living on the edge every once in a while is really the key to feeling alive and vibrant.

He caught me commenting on feeling safe, secure and comfortable, which I now realize is another way of saying I’ve lost my passion. His comment along the line of “…if the only reason you are staying in the pool is because it’s warm, then you need to quit peeing in the pool and get out…” his words hit me like the metaphorical safety net they are. In my comfort zone, I had become complacent and content. Content in my world doesn’t make me feel alive.

So as 2012 comes to a close and 2013 begins to reveal itself to each of us, I am wondering in what ways are you going to stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and quit peeing in the pool? Perhaps this is the year you start to exercise. Perhaps you start running or increase your mileage from 5 to 10. Maybe it means you try biking, swimming or yoga. Maybe it’s signing up for a painting class or register for a college class. Maybe you’ve been thinking about starting a blog or writing a book. Perhaps it means changing careers or starting a business or expanding your business. It might be contacting that long-lost friend or new neighbor that you’ve been meaning to catch up with or say hi to. The options are only limited by the restrictions we give them.

For me, I’m committing myself to my college classes, my blog (which will ultimately lead to a book) and to stretching myself by developing and presenting a motivational talk about breaking through mental barriers. I’m presenting it in February 19th, in Brainerd to my administrative professionals group if you are interested in hearing it. Also, if you belong to an organization that needs presenters, I’m looking for practice. Send me a message at sharifruechte@gmail.com and I would love to talk to you about presenting to your organization.

Ask…And Be Clear

I learned something this past Thanksgiving. Something I wish I would have learned much earlier in my life.

I learned to be clear. To be very, very clear in stating what I want and what I would appreciate in the actions of another person. That person always has the right to tell you no, or to modify your request, however, I learned that you won’t know until you ask, clearly.

As I was preparing for Thanksgiving this year, I thought back to the previous year and how draining and stressful it was. We have hosted Thanksgiving for 13 years and I always look forward to it and it has quickly become my favorite holiday. I love cooking and preparing the different foods. Rare Thanksgiving treats. I love the smell of freshly baked buns, the skin, and golden brown on the turkey, crisp and hot as it emerges from the oven. It warms the house and smells like love to me. I enjoy the bustle our home has as family and friends eat, enjoy and then relax, rare moments in most of our lives today. So, I found it odd and a bit confusing to feel apprehensive about hosting Thanksgiving this year.

As I thought about what made the event so difficult, I realized that I was simply overwhelmed. It was just too much for one person. It was then, that I realized that I needed help. I needed to ask someone to assist me in the preparation. I needed help cleaning. I needed help peeling the potatoes and just help in the preparation in general.

In my ever non-confrontational style, I alluded to my husband that perhaps we should forgo hosting this year. After 25 years together, he immediately picked up on my insinuations and asked why as well as countered my hesitations with a few comments that I don’t recall. A few days later, I brought it up again. As we discussed it, it became even clearer that he enjoys hosting just as much as I do, so I could sense his disappointment.
Reluctantly, I agreed to host again. I also decided that very moment that I needed to be very clear that I needed help. I stated that I would unequivocally need his help this year, his help. I needed help in preparing the house as well as with food preparation. And I needed his full attention the day before. He agreed. It was that simple. I asked, he responded with a yes.

We spent the day peeling potatoes, baking pies, roasting the turkey, chicken and ham. Our house was a flurry of different foods being prepared. It was a full, demanding day for both of us, but we both enjoyed every minute and it culminated with an immense sense of accomplishment as we retired exhausted and prepared for the next day.
Thanksgiving 2012 is a wonderful memory. The day flowed as smoothly as good gravy. We enjoyed a beautiful day with family as we celebrated both Thanksgiving as well as my husband’s 50th birthday.

Thanksgiving of 2012 will remain in my memory as one of my favorites as I recall it as the year I made the decision to be clear. To be clear in what I needed for myself as well as from others. It was that simple; all I had to do was ask.