HOW TO LIVE FOREVER PART ONE


In a mere few weeks I am going to begin work on my third book. I suspect this book will be released sometime in 2020. The tentative title of that book is How to Live Forever It is not a lesson on increasing one’s biology beyond known workable levels. In fact, it has nothing to do with the amount of years we live at all. How can a book, owning that title, have nothing to do with living longer?
In 2017 I gave four eulogies. I lost 5 people that were close to me. In 2018 that trend continued. This is quite a lot for someone in their early 40’s. I am honored to be asked to say parting words at such an important and difficult time in a family’s lives. I struggle for just the right words to do the person they lost the greatest amount of honor I can. In every case it seemed to come back to the same word – legacy.

From the moment I had to begin to deal with death on a personal level, I developed a way that I could honor the memory of the individual while at the same time helping myself deal with the pain and loss. My way of doing both of these centered around replacing some of the light the world had lost with their passing. I believe it started with my grandmother. She was always very hospitable and made everyone feel welcome. I did my best to be better than I was in those categories. As the years, and sadly the people, continued to pass, so did my working to replace the lost light.

At the end of last year I lost two aunts in a weeks time. I began to think about what I would say and what I could do to replace the light that was lost with their passing. Then something occurred to me, we all have the same legacy. This may sound crazy and it did to me at first as well. Looking out in the crowd at my aunt Virginia’s funeral it hit me. Whether your skill was hospitality like my grandmother, or humor and caring like my aunt, what really matters is that you touched the lives of others. At every funeral you attend the reason people are there is because of one thing – the person who passed away touched their lives in some way.

This second quote is what it is all about. How we touch the lives of others is what they will remember and what will keep us alive in their hearts. It relates to the first quote as well. One might ask, “Why plant a tree that I will never be able to enjoy?” My first thought would be that person is not a parent. Most parents would love to leave the world better for their children. For those of us who are not parents, you may ask yourself what the motivation would be? This is the same motivation that leads people to sponsor a bench in a park, or leave an endowment fund for a cause they believe in. They wish to leave some good behind in the world and give part of themselves to the positive things they enjoyed.

This is why I am called to write. I wish to give of myself to a cause I believe in and some motivation and inspiration to a power that can change the world long after I am gone. What is that cause I believe in? What is the power that can change the world that I so wish to inspire and encourage. The answer to both of those questions is YOU. Those of you who reading this blog right now and in the future. I believe in you. I want you to understand inside each and every one of us lies the seeds of greatness to change the world. It is my sincerest desire to help as many people see and understand this as I can. I want to touch as many lives as I can. I do not wish to limit this geographically so I make my writing available from Greenland to Jamaica.

Why if I am so dedicated to reaching as many souls as I can would I limit it to my lifetime? For all I know you could be reading this after I have passed. These words, along with my books and YouTube videos will be here long after I am gone and I hope they will continue to encourage and inspire others the way the words of Earl Nightingale, Zig Ziglar and others who have passed continue to inspire me today.

What about you? What is it that you do to touch the lives of others? Is it your singing? Your joke telling? The way you tell a story? In this age of technology and social media their are so many ways in which you can cement your legacy. Not sure what your legacy might be? Try doing the exercise I teach in the video linked at the end of this post. With a little effort and heartfelt desire, you too can live forever.

CLICK HERE TO HELP DISCOVER YOUR LEGACY

WHAT NOW?

When I decided to be a motivational speaker I thought it would be an easy and natural progression. Taking the material in both my book and website and sharing it with people would be simple and enjoyable. What challenges could come from sharing how to live a more positive and rewarding life with others.

I have discovered being able to appreciate the beauty in others and express that beauty in the written words has bestowed upon me one of the most challenging, yet personally rewarding honors I have faced. In the past 12 months I have spoken at 5 funerals. Being asked to speak about the life of someone who everyone in attendance cared so deeply for is both a tremendous honor, and great responsibility. One that I do not take lightly. It has also taught me to learn and think a great deal about how I approach the subject of death. In doing so, I have discovered what will not only help ease the burden of grief we feel when we lose someone we love but will help them live on every day in our lives. I would like to share what I learned with all of you in hopes it may help you or someone you know who may be experiencing the grief of losing someone you love.

On May 8th our family experienced a great loss in the mother of my lovely lady, Margie. Shortly after her mom’s passing, Margie asked if I would like to speak at the funeral. I must confess to having cringed a little. Being that my love and respect for both of those ladies was quite high, it was an honor, but it would be an emotional challenge to deliver. Certainly, when asked to perform such an important honor, it is hard to say no. As I began to think about what I would say, a new challenge presented itself. I was about to compose words about the woman the lady in my life was lucky enough to call her mom. Nothing but the best would do. The words came to me at 3 o’clock one morning. I grabbed my laptop to capture them.

In all my writing I try to give the reader something they can use to reduce the stress, or in this case grief in their life and add some joy or positivity. Fortunately for me, Margie’s mother, Ruthanne, led life that provided most of what I needed to say.

Most eulogies include memories of the person they honor. I wanted to do something a little different. I wanted to answer the question that all of us, in some form or fashion, have in our hearts and minds when we lose someone we love – now what? What do we do now that we have lost a great parent, grandparent, spouse or even dear friend? How do we keep them alive both in our hearts and the world around us? How can we help their legacy live on?

I am going to share what works for me in hopes that it may help you. I have found although honoring someone with a memorial or candle-light vigil is thoughtful, the event is over in a day. For me, the best way to keep someone alive in our hearts and in our daily life is to replace some of the light the world has lost with their passing. I would like to explain this further by using the life of Ruthanne as an example. I must add Ruthanne gave more light in her 79 years than most people could do if given 179 years. Her life could best be summed up by recalling her last few days with us here on earth.

When Ruthanne was told her time on earth was ending, she voiced two desires. It wasn’t a fancy car or an exotic vacation. She wanted to go to the casino and karaoke one more time. She wanted to die as she lived, feeling the joy in her life, surrounded by the people she loved. Ruthanne understood that joy and peace are more important than status or wealth.

When it became clear she was not going to leave the hospital we asked her if she would like us to bring her anything. Her answer spoke volumes. She said quite firmly, “I don’t need things. I need people.” Ruthanne understood the material gifts we are given we cannot take with us, but the lives we touch and the memories we create is what will live on long after we are gone. She knew the most valuable gift we can give someone is our time and our love. That is what she wanted from us.

It was not receiving that gift that most concerned Ruthanne. Every person who visited her in the hospital asked her the same question, “How are you doing?” You might think she would lament the conditions that plagued her or the time she had left. Not once did I hear this. Instead, she asked people how they were doing. She did not do this just for conversation, but with the genuine sincerity of someone who truly cares. She asked to see pictures of babies and how their jobs were going. Ruthanne understood how important it is to let someone know they are loved and significant.

If you attended Ruthanne’s funeral or visited her in the hospital you would notice the people she surrounded herself with came from every race, culture and creed. Ruthanne may joke with you about your look some days, but she would never let how someone looked stop her from loving them. Although a Christian, she would not let believing in a different faith stop her from loving you. Ruthanne gave us the gift of acceptance.

Sometimes, those she loved let her down. They may have been in trouble with the law, developed habits or addictions they shouldn’t have, or even hurt her or the ones she loved. I think at some point all of us that knew her failed to live up to our own standard. What did she do when this happened? She loved us anyway. Ruthanne gave us the gift of forgiveness.

With all the gifts mentioned above that she gave us, it is easy to see why at the 79th birthday party Margie threw her over 100 people showed up. If I were to guess almost three times that many either visited or sent well-wishes when she was in the hospital. With that much love and popularity you could not blame Ruthanne if she would boast with the rest of them. When she was told people had to leave her room because more were waiting to visit her she would tell us, “I don’t know why people love me so much. I am just me.” Ruthanne gave us the gift of humility.

Ruthanne gave me those gifts and I must add giving birth to the most beautiful woman I share my life with. Sadly, she will no longer be here to teach me these gifts in person. It falls upon me and those she knew, in her honor and memory, to share these gifts with those lives we touch. Every time I am accepting, forgiving, every time I make someone laugh or remind them how important and loved they are, I will think of and thank Ruthanne for being a living example of these virtues and many more.

When we lose someone we truly love, let us all work together to replace the light the world has lost with their passing. It will not only help ease our grief, it will keep them with us every day we share the gifts that they gave us.

WHERE DID IT ALL COME FROM?

These last few days have been filled with sadness as we have been mourning the loss of Margie’s mother Ruthanne. I have always been someone who searches for the light in the darkness. There is no more difficult time to do this than when we lose somebody who means so much. If there is anything my faith has taught me is that there is always something to be grateful for.

Of course we would all very much like to have Ruthanne back to hear her sing one more song, laugh one more time with us or even just to put things in perspective the way only she could do. Thankfully we have lots of videos, pictures and memories where those moments will live on. In addition to the great lessons in life that she has left behind, there is another gift I have discovered in the midst of this somber time.

While making arrangements for the celebration of life planned for Ruthanne, there were generations worth of pictures to sift through. I am a big fan of history to begin with, but being able to see first hand the family history of the woman I love is something truly special. Of course we would love to have Margie’s mom present to go through these photos with us, especially to enlighten us as to who some of the less familiar faces may be. Yet, it is through her passing that the gift of discovery and in some cases revelation of many family facts and stories.

On a more personal note, I could not be more grateful and excited to learn more about where the love of my life came from and the people, places and events that help shape her into the amazing woman she is today. Plus, adorable baby pictures like the one above are hard to pass up. I was honored to get to know her mother and see how Margie learned a lot of the traits that make her the woman I love. I am also humbled to be the man she chose to have by her side as she goes through with what is the most difficult time of her life. It is my sincere hope that the knowledge I am gaining by listening to the stories (and Storys) and looking at the pictures will help provide me with more and better ways to help provide her the love she needs as her heart makes the long journey towards healing.

WRITE YOUR OWN EULOGY 

I promised you a powerful activity and here it is. A while back i recorded a very powerful video you can watch by clicking the link at the end of this post. Today we are going to revisit the principles discussed in that video. 

If you have spent a fair amount of time on this planet you have no doubt heard a eulogy. Maybe you have even had to write and deliver one yourself? One fact of life is this, when it comes to the end whether you are Bill Gates or a man who lives under a bridge, when you die someone will say something about you. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, black, white or any other color of the rainbow. It doesn’t matter what faith you follow. When you pass on words will be said to describe your life. 

Now this may come across as a dark or morbid thought to many of you. To me, it is just a fact. If you were to leave this planet tonight what would they say about you? What would you, and your life, be known for? Is it what you would want to be known for? Have you done what you wanted to with your life? 

If we are honest, most of us, to some extent would have to answer ‘no’ to some degree. There is always more we would like to do and accomplish. There are lives we would like to touch and things we would like to be remembered for. What would you like your legacy to be? This is a question we don’t spend a good deal pondering. Death is a subject rarely discussed and just as rarely thought of except at funerals. 

As uncomfortable as the thought of our own mortality is, it can serve as a great motivator. There is a Native American saying that goes “today is a good day to die.” Meaning we should live life so that if we should pass away today our soul would be at peace.

A great way to accomplish all of this is to write our own eulogy. When my day comes and people are gathered around remembering Neil, what would I like them to be saying? Sit down and think about that. Write down what you would like to hear about you and your life. Chances are you will not have done, or even be that kind of person yet. Knowing what you want to be remembered for will certainly help you gain clarity and motivation to get there. 

Doing this exercise will change your life. I encourage you to do it and feel free to share what you discovered and how it impacted you. 

CLICK HERE TO WATCH THE VIDEO