Ruthanne Warnick advocates capturing family stories and experiences to connect generations. As a Family Legacy Guide, Ruthanne helps individuals glean the most important stories, experiences, lessons, and words of love and combine them with photos to create a lasting family treasure. She says, “If a picture is worth a thousand words, a picture plus the words is priceless.”
As some of Ruthanne’s family members passed away, she realized how many family stories died with them and how valuable the stories and words she did have would become. After becoming a certified Guided Autobiography instructor in 2012, Ruthanne founded Capture the Journey to help others take action, avoid the regret of waiting until it’s too late, and honor those already gone.
With that goal in mind, Ruthanne speaks to audiences of all sizes, conducts workshops, and shares tips and resources to provide ongoing support. creates guidebooks and other resources. She is the co-author of a recently published book, Life Boosts, Volume 4, and the author of numerous published magazine articles.
In addition to her legacy work, Ruthanne’s experience over the past 30 years has included non-profit administration and volunteer leadership in a national women’s organization. Advancing from the local to the regional level and then to the national level of leadership, Ruthanne has engaged, mentored, and trained hundreds of other women to become leaders.
I'm excited to announce a new resource I'm very proud of. This guide outlines the four daily practices I discovered on my grief journey. These techniques have helped dozens of my clients. Get it free today.
GEMS- 4 Steps To Go From Grief To Joy
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Brian Smith 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we've been buried. But what if, like a seed we've been planted and having been planted would grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes. Open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true, infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth. And I am your host, Brian Smith.
Hi there. Before we start, Brian would like to share a couple of things with you. First, did you know that Brian is a life coach, a grief guide and a mental fitness trainer? Brian would love to help you with whatever life issues are challenging you. Brian has years of experience as well as training. You can contact Brian at WWW dot grief to growth.com to learn more. Brian is the author of the best selling book grief to growth planted not buried, which you can get on Amazon or Brian's website. This is a great book if you're in grief or to give to someone you know who is dealing with grief. Lastly, Brian creates free and paid resources for your growth. Go to www dot grief to growth.com/gifts www.gr IE F to growth.com to sign up for his newsletter, choose a gift just for signing up and keep up with what Brian is offering. And now here's today's episode. Please enjoy.
Brian Smith 1:48
Hi everybody. This is Brian back with another episode of grief to growth. And today I've got with me Ruth Ann Warneke, and she's an advocate of cat capturing family stories and experiences to connect generations. She's a family legacy guide and she helps individuals glean the most important stories, experiences lessons of words of love, and combine them with photos to create a lasting family treasure. As she puts it if a picture's worth 1000 words, a picture plus the words is priceless. As some of her family members have passed away, she began to realize how many family stories died with them, and how valuable the stories of words are, and how they're valuable they would become. So after becoming a certified guided autobiography instructor in 2012, she found that capture the journey to others take action avoid and avoid the regret of waiting until it's too late, as well as honor those who are already got. So with that goal in mind, she speaks to audiences of all sizes, she conducts workshops, and she shares tips and resources to provide ongoing support. she craves guide books and other resources. She's the co author of a recently published book Life boosts volume four, and she's the author of numerous published magazine articles, in addition to her legacy works that she has experienced all of her experience over the past 30 years, including nonprofit administration, as well as volunteer leadership and national women's organization. Advancing from the local to the regional into the national level of leadership. She's engaged, mentored and trained hundreds of other women's women to become leaders themselves. So it felt like a welcome within Warneke
Ruthanne Warnick 3:21
thanks so much. It's great to be with you.
Brian Smith 3:23
Yeah, I'm really excited about having you here today. I think this is a very interesting topic. I deal with people mostly in grief. And that's usually after someone's past. And when I hear about people helping other people build a legacy. That's interesting, because I think it's something that we, when we go into grief, I think we really start to appreciate that. So the first question I want to ask you, that was what is a certified guided autobiography instructor.
Ruthanne Warnick 3:49
So kind of don't know, biography is actually a a specific method that can be modified. But it's a method of thinking of our families, or our stories as not a continuum of your life story, but using different themes to focus on what stories you want to share capture. So a theme, for instance, would be a branching point in your life, something that happened to you or something that you cause to happen, you know, because you chose to have it happen. But it's a branching point, a new direction that you took, and how was that an opportunity? Was it something you had to overcome? So that's an example of a branching point, I mean, of a theme that we use in guided autobiography. So it's helping you think about topics that you would write about as opposed to a chronology like, this is what my childhood was like, or this is what my young adult life was like and breaking it down. In time snippets. It's more about experiences and themes and topics. So yeah, so it's a very Just a method of breaking it down.
Brian Smith 5:02
And what was there a particular event that got you interested in and helping people develop longer autobiographies and capturing the journey.
Ruthanne Warnick 5:10
So I have to say that it probably goes back to when my father passed away, which is now 28 years ago, and even at the time while I was, you know, heartbroken, I, it was still sometime later that I came to understand that with him went, so many stories of his life of his parents lives, his parents were both immigrants. What was that, like? Their their parents lives, and I realized how much was lost. And it kind of expanded from there. But he still had actually, he still has a brother who's still alive. And he's 99. And so I started to just kind of glean some stories from him. And I realized, like, how much I didn't know, and how much how much wonderful legacy there was that I had no idea about, and it just expanded from there in terms of the stories, but also the messages what we can learn and, and I really start to think about like, how, what do we learn from, from other family members? And how do we share them in the present. So an example of that would be my father wrote me a letter in his own handwriting, of course, it was probably the only way you could do it back then. But when my husband and I were getting married, so that's now over 43 years ago. So he wrote me this letter, and he was sharing with me what it takes to have a successful marriage, in terms of trust and integrity, and just different things that he was writing about. Not only had he been married, obviously, but he was a matrimonial lawyer. So he dealt with divorce and relationships quite a bit. And so he wrote this letter, which was not intended was tended to be in the moment, like I was getting married, and a few months, and it became a legacy, a legacy letter really, to me, because all these years later, I can, I can pick up that letter, and I can read it, and I can visit with him. And, you know, he was he was sharing his experience with me. So when we think of stories, we sometimes have to think a little bit bigger than a memory or an event. You know, stories can be an expression of how we feel about something also. So when I came to understand that and the impact that all of that can have with the within the family. I just, it just sort of expanded and it grew from there.
Brian Smith 8:02
Yeah. So how did you So you became a certified keyword? The term? Instructor, yeah. Certified Instructor and then you started your own company captured the journey, is that correct?
Ruthanne Warnick 8:13
I did, I started doing workshops, I was doing workshops, where each week we would focus on a different theme. And that's how the method works. I mean, you basically have a different theme each week, and you write them not during the workshop. So you write them at home on your own time. And when you come the next week, you share your story, if you so choose, you share your story with others in the group. So its impact is that you have the experience of writing. So when you think of a memory, it's like, you know, a few sentences, but when you're writing the story, you it's my ends up being much more in depth, right, because you're thinking about how you felt and what that was like and even include, look, you know, all of the senses, and then you share it with other people. So now you have the opportunity to share your experience, and they have the opportunity to learn from your experience. So that's really how that method works. I sometimes do it, not in a workshop format. Because I think that people can still benefit from the concept of using themes to write their stories, without always having to be in a workshop. But yes, then I started doing workshops, guided autobiography workshops, and then legacy later workshops and it grew from there.
Brian Smith 9:37
Okay, so I know you do guided autobiographies. Is there and is there a difference with that in the legacy work is that because I'm thinking that legacy work might be with other family members? Is that correct?
Ruthanne Warnick 9:49
So the legacy work is is it's all really the same bucket, if you will, there's different components of it. So If you think of family stories, if you think of family legacy, even if you think of legacy letters, they're, they're a combination of your stories. It's stories of past generations that either you heard, and that you want to make sure get captured and share. Or they can be your stories of experiences with other family members, like your parents, like your grandparents, and you know, in your, in your case, even with your daughter, like just being able to share those stories of, you're not really sharing her story, because only she can share her stories directly from her perspective, but But you could share them in terms of your relationship and your experience with another person. So it's all interconnected, because you can't, you know, even if you're telling your own stories, in some ways, you were influenced by what you're, you know, what your family life was what you learned from your parents or your parents stories. Again, your relationship with your children, they're also intertwined, that you can, you know, you can't really separate them, but it's really up to the individual, even in a scene, do they want to focus on paying tribute to someone else by sharing their stories that they know? Or do they want to tell their own stories or all the above? So it becomes a very individual exercise. There's no, there are no rules, so to speak, in terms of what you write, or how you, how you how you view your own family legacy?
Brian Smith 11:41
Right? Well, it was interesting, because I've talked to you, I think you're the third person I've talked to about family, family legacy things. And one was a young man who his father passed when he was young. And he wanted to really understand his father a little better. So he interviewed a lot of people in his family. And what he realized is like, people are kind of like diamonds, we have different facets. So you're your husband, to your wife, but you're the brother to your brother or sister, and you're the son to your parents. And he just found it really interesting talking to different people about different aspects of that person.
Ruthanne Warnick 12:17
Yeah, that's, that's a really interesting concept. I'm actually working on something right now. I lost my sister about nine almost 10 months ago. And I'm putting together mostly for myself, but ultimately, I think it will be something that I'll share with the family. But I'm I went back and tried to find all the photos I could find with the two of us as sisters. Some of it includes also my other siblings, but it's really this dialogue that I'm having with her in terms of capturing the sister pictures, and the memories and the stories and what it was like to lose a sister, which is different than certainly than losing a parent. I mean, we all they all represent some level of loss, right? But, but the relationships are different, right? So if I was to compile a history or a full tribute of my sister, I would get her kids perspective, her husband's perspective, my siblings perspective, you know, her her close friends perspective, like you're just saying, right? I'm keeping this one focused. And I'm just doing it from my own sister perspective. But it's an interesting exercise, because sometimes I go, I start to meander into bigger, bigger experiences. And I'm thinking, No, this is just about the sister, the sister things. So. And again, it can be whatever you want it to be if I think what I'll end up doing is sharing it with my family in a way that they can then add on, say onto it. But if they wanted to add into it for their own, for their own benefit, they could for me, it's just about my relationship with my sister, but if they want to, you know, contribute. That's, that's up to them from there. But that's their own project. That's, that's their project.
Brian Smith 14:22
Right? What is, as you're saying is, I can see your face light up as you talk about your sister and I can tell you know, the finished product is important, but it seems like it's more about the journey. It's more about the exploration and the memories that you're having as you're doing that.
Ruthanne Warnick 14:38
Yeah, yeah. It's been an interesting experience. And because the loss is relatively recent, you know, less than a year. I'm doing it in a way that instead of writing a bout her in our experiences, I'm doing it as a combination of care. Capturing the stories while writing to her at the same time. So I'm telling the stories as if I'm speaking to her. And I'm saying things like, remember when and, you know, to kind of writing about the experience, but in a in a more intimate way, right? Yeah, it's like I'm writing to her, even though even though in the physical she's not here anymore. So
Brian Smith 15:26
well, that's, that's such an important part of going through the grief process. Because we have to, in a way learn to let go of that relationship in the past, but doesn't mean the relationship is over, we're just forming a new relationship. And so as you as you do these memories, and as you write to her, as you're still communicating with her, you're shifting that relationship from the physical connection to the other connection that you have now.
Ruthanne Warnick 15:54
Yeah. And the other thing that I've noticed, you know, I've lost both of my parents, I've lost friends, I've lost other family members, but there's something about this sibling loss that is impacting me in such a different way. But generally, with any of the losses that I've had, I have found that the more that time goes by in some ways, it gets softer or less raw, I'll say. But, but sometimes I struggle with with that even because they think, oh, it's kind of like, drifting farther and farther away. And while you don't want to live in that real pain, I feel like I don't want to sort of have them slip away too far away, either. It's just been an interesting experience with this sister loss, which has been a little bit different for me than than others.
Brian Smith 16:49
It is, it is I haven't, I haven't lost a sibling. And I haven't even lost a parent I've lost in laws. Well, my mother in law has to mention, so she's practically gone. And my father in law did password dementia. And, you know, when you when you lose someone on your same level, let's say like a sibling, that's different than a parent, and we lose someone, you know, a generation behind you, that's an even different experience. And there is a grief is interesting, because there is a fear of forgetting them of letting go, am I gonna remember their voice, you know, I might. And as we start to heal, they can be guilt. You know, I should I should I get over this, this is such an important part of my life. So that it's a very complicated thing. And if what you're doing is allowing you to feel, you know, all of those feelings as you're going through this experience, and again, to, to reinforce the fact that your sister will always be with you by remembering these stories, I loved what you said, you're sharing them with her, you're saying, Remember when I think that's important?
Ruthanne Warnick 17:51
Yeah, it's just, I just, you know, I'm sure that some of that is just not able to let go, not that you ever let go, but you move, you move forward through your life, though. And so I just, I feel like I need to have this, this, not just connection through the process of doing it, but then I will ultimately be left with, even if I'm just putting the stories in a box, you know, I will be still left also with these things that I wrote at this moment in time. And that's another thing about writing stories is that when you're when you're capturing them or recording them, you're recording them at a moment in time, you could record that same story in 10 years, and it could you could have a different perspective about it. So the whole process of just capturing the stories is, is an interesting one.
Brian Smith 18:46
Well, you know, there's, I think there's a subtle difference between moving on and moving forward. And sometimes people were told, when you have to move, you have to move on, you know, you have to let go. And as someone that works with people in grief, especially I work with a lot of parents who have lost children, we really bristle at the idea of letting go, we're never going to let go. And that's that's not an unhealthy thing. We have to let go of the physical. And we have to that we have to acknowledge that that that is no longer here. But there's something maybe even deeper, something different that we can that we can build. And I can see how this process can really help to make that transition to again, when we're in grief, we've got to feel all those feelings that the pleasant ones, the unpleasant ones, that the guilt is going to come up with all those things. We just have to let them flow through us.
Ruthanne Warnick 19:41
And there's a there's an aspect of the stories that also in some ways allows that person to continue to live on through the future generation. So when my when my mother passed away, which is five years ago, but many years After my father passed away, I decided I needed to do some sort of tribute to them. And while it was less about the in depth stories, it was kind of a high level overview of the, you know, their parents how their, how they got to United States, not so much as a genealogy, but just a perspective, okay. And then it was meant to be a tribute to my parents of what were the highlights of their lives, whether it was through their careers, their volunteering, their having children, and I added photos to it as each spouse, each of their children married and then we had children, and now we're into the next generation after that. And I put that together as a means of making sure that all those generations continue to get passed down through the generations, because I feel like I'm gonna say this in the reverse, I don't want to feel like they lived and they they passed away, and that somehow, they'll triumphs. I don't know, I'm struggling with the right word right now. But they will somehow it's almost like, I feel like they, I need to make sure that they continue on through the generations. I don't have to know every story in every aspect of their lives. But I feel like they had to have mattered in our family. I guess that's the word. I'm trying to think that they mattered. They mattered not just to me, but their parents mattered to them. And it's just continue on. Of if I don't do that, that my kids won't know, their kids won't know. And I think that in some ways, it's robbing those future generations also of not knowing their, their seats beyond lineage, because this is so much bigger than genealogy, which I consider to be fun and interesting, but it's more like data to me, right? It's like, When were they born? And when did they die? Where did they live? And but how do they live? That's the story. You know, how do they live? And that's what I what I feel compelled essentially to, to collect?
Brian Smith 22:35
Yeah, well, human beings, we love stories. We grow by stories, we thrive by stories where and we're some of the only species that can learn from others experiences. So stories are the important that my father got in the genealogy quite a while ago. And I frankly, find it boring. Because it's data. It's like someone's name. It's this year, dash this year. And they married this person that I don't know, I would much rather know stories about them. So I know a few stories about my, my grandparents, my great grandparents, and those people are much more interesting to me. But even more so you say no, that they mattered. They of course matter, but we don't understand how they matter. We don't understand the influence that they had on their children that they might have had on you. So for example, your children, knowing more about your mother's story tells your children more about you. Yeah, so as I was fortunate enough to live with my grandmother for a long time. And living with my grandmother, I heard stories about growing up. And I heard her mother's stories about growing up. So then I got to know my mother, like where she's coming from, which helped me understand her.
Ruthanne Warnick 23:50
Right. Yeah, it makes perfect sense. My my husband tell frequently tells a story about his father, which again, is using story to demonstrate a value. He he was about 10 years old, and his he was in the scouts. And he was there was some special scout meeting. So they're all sitting there and all the new scouts get you introduce, introduce themselves, and he had this friend who was of Japanese descent, even though so one of his parents was Japanese. And this would have been maybe the early 60s. So there were still a lot of sentiment about Japanese in this country following World War Two. So this young boy gets up to introduce himself and the Scoutmaster, the leader of this meeting made the most unbelievable comment and and I'll give a soft version of it, which basically said You know, we don't want your kind here. So but he said it in a much less Mind wave in that. And the, the room was just silent and no one spoke up. I mean, you can tie a lot of that to what goes on today. But so now on spoke up, and this boy and his father got up and left the room, they were humiliated, of course. And my, my father in law leaned over to my son who was, again, he was 10 years old and said, if they're leaving, we're going with them, and they got up and they left and they never went back, because that was just not a troop or an environment they were going to be in. And that lesson was so profound to my husband. It explains in, in a in a story, why he has the values he does, why he respects people, as individuals, not as part of, you know, some larger group, and how we've instilled that in our children. But we can use story to say, that's, that's an example of how I learned that and why I demonstrate that now myself. So just that one story can teach so much about who their grandfather was, like, when we share that with our children. Their grandfather wasn't what his character was, how my son how my husband, I mean, came to have the values that he has. And then of course, you know, they get to also understand how people just formulate these opinions of groups of people. You know, as opposed to individuals. I mean, when when my daughter was young, she used to say to me, Mom, why? Why are people so mean? Why are people like that? I mean, when she was a young child, now, I don't know if that was because of things that were going on in school. I have no idea. But I it was, it was very interesting question for a young child. But I couldn't really, you know, I couldn't give her an answer, except to say that's kind of learned behavior, just like values and good character learn behavior. The other is also learned behavior. So yeah, I guess I went off on a little bit of a tangent there. But what I'm saying is that that's the power of stories is like, Why does someone act like that? When you understand their, their stories where that came from? You get insight into who they are?
Brian Smith 27:28
Yeah. And that that goes both ways. There was a class I said many years ago was fantastic. It's called what you are, is where you were when, and the guy talks about the fact that we're all products of our environment, least to a certain extent. So I love to get to know people's backstory, because then you can, you can relate to them much better. So my father in law is a black man. He's passed away now. But as a black man, he was raised in the segregated south. And, you know, so I met him when I was pretty young, you know, 35 years ago, and he didn't really trust white people very much. And I'm like, well, that's kind of racist. That's not really good thing. But then I started hearing stories about what happened to him as a child growing up in Kentucky, in the segregated south when he was delivering groceries. And he wasn't even allowed to walk in the front door, you know, you know, things of that nature. So you understand where people are coming from. It really helps you to have more empathy for that person, as opposed to, oh, that person's just that person's just racist. You know, they're just, you know, they're a bad person. So we all we're all coming from somewhere. And I love you know, what, what you're doing this project? Again, we could find out from our families, some positive aspects, maybe, but also why there's some, maybe some negative aspects of our family some things we need to break,
Ruthanne Warnick 28:50
right. Absolutely. That's absolutely true. And yeah, there there there are many stories like that. And having just moved back to the Pacific Northwest from living, you know, 30 ish years in the South. That was an interesting experience for me, actually, because I was raised in the Northeast near New York, in a very diverse community. And of course, you know, New York is very diverse. Now. It's true. I was living outside of Atlanta, but I, when we were first moved there, the 1992, Alabama, I was really quite concerned myself talking about like, what is your story and what is your history? So, I was a female, I was a Jewish female from the north. And so that was my that was my experience. Right. And so now I was moving to Alabama, which I had All these stories in my head about what that might be like, before I got there, and interestingly, some of it played out. And some of it didn't. But, you know, it was based on my, you know, my concerns and my fears from the stories that I knew about, you know, whether it was racism, anti semitism, all those things, all those isms that that, you know, make up your story, right?
Brian Smith 30:26
Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. And I could sit with with this, with building this legacy and understanding of deep diving deeper into our own backstory, because a lot of times, we don't want to understand our own motivations, right? We don't, things happen to us, but we don't really process them, we don't think about how they impact us. So like, we're just saying, this is not just, let's just do a timeline, let's do thematic things. Let's talk about things that changed in my life or things that either sent me in a different course, or I decided to take a different course, or why you
Ruthanne Warnick 30:59
even make decision yet, which is related to taking a course but you know, a path but just any decisions that we make are all influenced by that, you know, I You were saying something earlier that reminded me of when I was in high school, without completely dating myself, but when I was in high school in the late 60s and early 70s, there was a lot going on in this country at that time with civil rights. And my high school was very diverse. So there was a lot going in, in my going on in my high school as well. And I wonder how the different people in my high school now these many years later how all of that influenced them, either in a good way, or in a bad way. Like for me, it helped me understand not only the the challenges and struggles of racism and civil rights, it really helped me understand what that really was. Because when I was growing up, I didn't really understand all the civil rights issues. So in high school, you know, kind of was blowing up in the in the war in the country, and it was blowing up in my high school. And it I think that might have been a turning point for me in terms of understanding how you had to view every person on their own merits or their own, whatever the opposite is of merits, you know what I'm saying? They're their own bad character. And now that I'm even talking about this, at this moment, I'm thinking, yeah, that was probably a turning point for me, not in a moment, but in an experience over years to say, I can't say that, you know, all of this group, people are bad or good. Or just like, you can't say that about any group, whether, you know, for me, it's being Jewish, or, you know, whether you're, you know, Asian, it's just, it's just an interesting perspective of understanding where why people are the way they are not that you have to always get so deep about it, you know, sometimes, you know, I can just tell about my high school experiences. But what I'm doing is I'm putting it in the context of not going to high school in that community today, but what it was like during civil rights, right, so if you think of your life, if someone's really much older now, and they're, let's say, a world war two veteran, or even a Vietnam veteran, right, that was a time period in history. So if you're younger, and you're formed by the war in Iraq, or by 911, or other things going on in the world, that's going to be your, your, your lens through which you see things. Right.
Brian Smith 34:02
Right. Well, and the thing is, as I was saying that the course I took was called What you are is where you were when, but we still have a choice. And so by by doing this legacy, while we're still alive and understanding your own motivations, because a lot of times we just run on programming, we just we we play up the program in our head that are that our family might have put into us an example for me is my parents were like get a job work for a big corporation work for IBM, which is I did work for, you know, work for the utility company, retire from there, and just play it safe. owning your own business was not something people in my family did, and they thought it was a bad things. My my uncle owned the restaurant, and struggled and worked really hard. My parents looked at owning your own business as like something you don't want to do. And so I had to realize at an early age, like that's their thing. That's not my thing. And so when I started decided to start my own business, my parents were like, Are you sure that's what you want to do? You don't want to, you know, continue to work for a big company? And I'm like, no, because I've realized that was a value that they had not a value that I necessarily Hmm.
Ruthanne Warnick 35:11
So I just finished up a long term program that I was in. And in the very beginning of it, we had to identify what our point of view is, it doesn't have anything to do necessarily with your with with your business, but it could, but it doesn't have to, it's the lens through which you see the world. And you just, you just made me think of, you know, my point of view is that other people don't determine what you're capable of. Only you allow them you become influenced by what they think you're capable of. And that's where you run into trouble. Right? So there's just what you're saying right there, like, completely spoke to my point of view the lens through which I see and I think of all the decisions that I made, based on being influenced by other people, you know, saying what I could do what I should do what I, oh, you're not, you're not, you're not really capable of that. And so it's the same thing, like you're saying, with the, you know, doing your own business, you have that choice to be influenced by them or not, they don't get to determine that, we determine it. But we allow ourselves to be influenced by by the outside. So that's,
Brian Smith 36:39
yeah, and I know you work with a lot of women. And I know that speaking, stereotypically, with stereotypes, have reasons, women are not really taught how to be leaders, and we're still we've gotten better. But suddenly, women are taught, you know, kind of what I was taught, like, just go get a job and don't, don't try to step out and be a leader. So I love what you're doing helping people to break that mold. And again, I think this legacy project really helped with that to help where some of these things might have been been formed. Because people will try to put us in the box instead of it's not a bad thing. They, they think they're doing it for our protection, but they will put limits on us that we don't have to necessarily accept. Right, right.
Ruthanne Warnick 37:22
That's right. So yeah, I speaking of you know, women and how being a woman can influence you, I just finished writing an article for on purpose Woman Magazine, and my particular this particular article was called motherhood, mentors and me. And the gist of the article was, what that was like when I became a first time mother. So this is an example of a story. And that's why I say at the end of this article, this is an example of a story that I can share with my own daughter and my son to but in a different way, but share with my own daughter to say, these are things that you will want to think about. If you're thinking of having a career as she's envisioning her career now, and you want to have children and a family is not for me to say what how you should choose or make this decision about how you're going to work all that out. But here's some things to think about based on my experience, and when I became a first time Mother, now my daughter is 36. So this was, you know, if you think about is going back, basically to the mid 1980s. And when I became a mother, I had the biggest struggle over do I continue my career? Do I? Do I put it on hold? Do I? I allow the outside world to somehow belittle motherhood, you know, to say, Oh, well, if I don't, if I don't continue with my career, then I'll just be a mother. And I was like, Oh, my God, the word just like do not use the word just right. And so it was a huge struggle for me. Now, it's, I don't know if it's a bigger struggle now or less, because I think maybe now women are expected to have some some career so maybe it's even a worse struggle now for women to say, I'm just a mom, or I'm going to take these eight or 10 years off and then go back to my career and, and what happens to a woman if she breaks in that career, there is no going back like you can't pick up where you left off, you know. And so it's a very complicated thing. But that's a story that I tell because I say, Look, I'm not saying Give up your career and have kids I'm not saying have kids. I'm not saying don't have kids. I'm just saying if you're trying aim to manage all of that. Here are the things that I learned. And then I'm going to just at least say think think about them in your decision making. I didn't have someone helped me think all that through. So for me, it was like, I don't know what to do here. I don't know what to die, I didn't have any path to help me navigate it.
Brian Smith 40:21
Yeah, that's part of that living legacy, I think that we leave. And it's funny, I just had this conversation with my daughter, three or four weeks ago, we were we did a three hour drive back from a wedding that we had attended, and this topic came up. And, you know, she's very, she's 26. And she's just starting her career just got her Master's. And I think it's tougher for women now than it was my wife was funny, because when we got married, we didn't even talk about having children, we had the child and she said, Well, if we ever have children, I'm not going to stay home. But when she looked at my daughter, she worked. You went to work? Part time for three weeks, three months, maybe? And then that was it. And we homeschool both of our kids and she, she gave up her career, you know, air quotes, right? And I was telling my daughter, I said, there's no right or wrong answer. I mean, having a child and being a mother is a huge blessing, you know, and it's, it's not just being a mother, it's like the most important thing you can do. But women, you know, and with marriage the way it is, now, a lot of marriages don't last. So women don't want to depend on their husbands. And I'm like, as you were saying, all we could do is like, here's our experience, you know, this is what this is what your mother did, we're really happy with the decision that she made, you have to make your own decision. Here are the pros and the cons and the trade offs. And it's tough.
Ruthanne Warnick 41:47
But that's the beauty of of writing the stories and creating, you know, legacy, it's so much more than just memories, and certainly much more than genealogy and all of that. So, you know, if I, if I could ask my mother now. You know, if it's almost like, you can't even say if you had to do it all over again, would you do it the same way? Because that's thinking in 2022. Right, as opposed to thinking in 1949, when she had her first child, so life was very different. So you have to put it in the perspective of time, also, which is what I wrote about in this article, but as I was just saying it to you, I'm thinking, you know, there was, while we had the choice to have a career, whatever back then there was not really an expectation that you would or you wouldn't, it was just kind of, you know, you just did what worked for you. Whereas now I think there is an expectation, like, there's so much the other way that women are expected to achieve and succeed or where, however you define that. And so then what if you what if that's not for you, right?
Brian Smith 42:57
Well, I was saying that hearts that you know, in the scope of history, and this is why it's important to know, history, women weren't really in the workforce until the 1940s, when they needed to go into the workforce, because the men were all off at war, right? Before that. There were traditional roles, which people Buck against now, but it was I call it division of labor. So one person took care of the household and the other person went out and made made the money, paychecks. So now with both people trying to make the paycheck, and less the husband is going to pitch in and take care of the house. But this is where I say to my daughter, then it's a double burden on women. I mean, imagine trying to work eight hours a day, and then pick up the kids from daycare, and then come home and make dinner and help them with their homework and take them to soccer practice. That sounds impossible to me.
Ruthanne Warnick 43:41
Yeah, I did that for a short time while I was in that phase, you know, deciding and I was like, No, that is not going to work for me think of, I think of like, for instance, with my own mother, like all the volunteer work that she did, I mean, magnificent thing she did for no pay, we'll call it, but the payoff, the payoff was was really much greater than if she had gone to some job, you know? Absolutely. So there's that the lesson also, there are different ways to contribute to your family and your community without, without there being a paycheck. So there's lots of, there's lots of lessons, lots of stories, lots of you know, some of it is family history, which is also important, but they're all in the story. So my, on my father's side of both his parents were immigrants, you know, my mother was already second generation, my husband's family. When came to the west came to Oregon in the, you know, 1870s 1880 Something like that. I'm thinking now there, you know, those are stories to like, why would you do that? How did you do that? How did you get here? What was that like? And, you know, that's 100 and whatever, years ago now 104 Mm hmm. 40 or 50 years? Yeah. And then my grandmother just at 16, you know, she got on a boat, you didn't just like, fly over to the US and say, Yeah, I don't like it. So I'll fly back. I mean, it was really a big deal, right? And then you had to cross the ocean, and then you had to find a job. He didn't speak English. All those things. I'm like, that's, that's also part of who we are. You know, I just don't have the I only have the data. I don't have the stories.
Brian Smith 45:28
Yeah, well, I think the stories are really important. It's great that you know, we are at a point now where we have the technology to capture some of this stuff, and keep passing it along to future generations. And, again, because things have accelerated so quickly, the way the world has changed, at least giving them a little bit of wisdom that we have from when we were coming along. And, and decisions that we make can give them another data point to make their decisions. As they go forward and help people understand like you said, that value, the value of like my grandmother living with with us when I was a child was so huge. She lived with us for like 13 years. And getting to hear her stories firsthand. And watching the way that she cooked and hearing about the way she grew up was a really big part of who I am today, you know, when she passed away 40 years ago.
Ruthanne Warnick 46:20
Well, hopefully you're capturing some of those stories and getting those down in writing to the stories you remember with from your grandmother.
Brian Smith 46:26
Yeah, yeah. Well, that's, that's a big, what I'm doing right now is part of that, you know, I the reason, when Shayna passed away a week later, I started a blog. And I blog pretty much every day for the first four years, because I still blog a couple of times a week, you know, and I'm like, in case Kayla ever wants to see this in case she ever has children. You know, that they want to say that my, my grandfather was he was a pastor. And he was he wrote a lot. So I do have some things for my grandfather. And I'm like, I want to leave that. And I love what you're doing, helping other people to formalize that process. So tell me a little bit about the process. How does the process work?
Ruthanne Warnick 47:07
So there's different aspects to it. One of the things I have a free download on my website, it's basically you brought up technology. So I say to people, Look, don't worry about the finished product right now don't live the goal is the two of them. One. One is to actually, you know, capture them so that you can share them. And the other is the experience of doing it and gathering them and capturing them is an experience in and of itself. So I talked about, you know, seven, no tech, low tech ways to capture family stories. And you mentioned technology. So you know, you have your phone, and you have zoom and email. I mean, there's so many ways now to get the stories, if you have older generations who are still living, they are like a goldmine for you. So when you're done listening to this podcast, you should call them or email them right away. Or is that you can, while you can, because regret is a big, big piece of it. So I say, okay, focus on getting the stories you could have in your phone, you know, typed up or in a box, that's, that's the focus right now, then you can be more creative about what you're going to do with them. And don't, don't focus on it. But there are other, there are other ways that people can be more deliberate and intentional as well. For example, when my mother turned 90, we decided that we should create actually a tangible gift for her. So we did have the end in mind on this one. And we had all of the children and our spouses and all of our children, so her nine grandchildren, and we all submitted to me, everybody could submit three photos that represented that either had Grandma, you know, the her in it, or was something about her special memory. And we all wrote about something special that we learned from her or that was meaningful to us about having her in our lives in some way. And we gather all of those, and we made those into a book to present to her in the, you know, in the present, so she had the opportunity to see it herself rather than write about her later, which would be something she would never see. Right, we took the opportunity to say, look at someone's alive today, you know, share it with them now. And that's why I focus on these legacy letters because one of the things I like to talk about is that if someone passed away, or Wednesday, I should say when someone passes away, right, and you're asked to deliver the eulogy for that person, right, we have all these accolades and how wonderful they were and what uh, you know, whether they were a friend or whatever they were and it makes me think is that the one person who really should hear all those things is the one person right who's not here. So it's an exercise that I do in my legacy letters workshop is to say, if you're writing a letter, whether, you know your, we call them letters and quotes, and it can be as simple letter, and it can be much more creative, but I say, Okay, think about it this way, if you're passing some message on to your children, or you want to write to your your parents about lessons learned, if you were delivering their eulogy right now, like, what would you say to them? What would you say about them? So that can be part of what you want to pass on? You know, like, what, what is? How would you affirm this person in the present, versus, you know, saying it is a past tense, you know, they were this. So. So in terms of the ways I work with people, I can I work one on one with people, if asked if they have a special project, like I was mentioning, the one that we did for my mother, so there can be special projects, or a special person that they want to honor like, maybe one grandmother, you know, that that's up to them, whatever, that that's a very individual conversation that I have with them about what they are hoping to accomplish. I do workshops. And I'm actually just about to launch my guide book on writing legacy letters. And it's called the important things, what I want you to know. And it's really a step by step guide book of how to figure out what to write, what if you're going to include photos, what photos to include, you know, what it is that you want to say, and who you even want to write to. So I do workshops around that. And, you know, as I said, and then this guidebook and I have other resources as well. So I can do it both both ways, in a group setting or in a one on one situation. And again, with today's technology, all that can be done, you know, virtually, I can do a workshop with, you know, people from anywhere in the world, essentially, or even doing the, the one on one, you know, it can all be done with with scanning and with Zoom and all of that interviewing. And so that's how that's how I like to work with people is really to get, I'm not doing it. For them. I'm guiding them because I don't know their stories, I can't I can't do it for them, I can't write it for that. I can give them all of the pieces, all of the guidance. And if they need it, I can give them all of the handhold if they need that, too. If their goal. So if they're committed to the project. In other words, even if it's a group workshop, right? If they're making it a priority, and they're committed to the process, and its completion, then I I'm happy to help however I can.
Brian Smith 53:07
Okay, great. So you said the guidebook that you're that's not quite out yet, or is that coming soon? Yeah,
Ruthanne Warnick 53:13
it'll be. It'll be by the end of October. So it's really coming. Yeah, that's really coming soon. And it'll be digital. And I will have a fabulous launch opportunity. So I hope people will take advantage of that. It is a you know, it's a do it on your own because some people you know that the days of the workshop don't work out, or they're more of a do it yourself. What I say to people is that, if, if you're not going to do it, though, then then please, you know, either reach out to me, or or make some sort of commitment to do it. Because the it's not that people can't do this another way. What I say is you can but will you. So in other words, if you don't have the structure of the workshop, or the structure of the guidebook, or the you know, or even a one on one situation. It's like many things in life, it just time kind of has this way of right, just wandering, wandering around. Yeah,
Brian Smith 54:21
we all have so much to do. And so many times the urgent crowds out the important. So we spend all of our lives chasing things that are urgent, and we don't get around to the things that are important until it's too late. And we have we all have limited time here. And we don't know if it's going to be asked, we assume that our parents are going to go before we do but we don't know that. So we have to work on our own legacies as well as capturing the legacies of those people that we really want to have that in a while while they're still here. So having an intentional way of doing this is a very important thing.
Ruthanne Warnick 54:57
Yeah, I work best with deadlines I think most people do if I know, you know, I have to get something done by a certain time. And of course, something like, you know, talking about, you know, Legacy capturing and story capturing. There's never really a deadline unless you self imposed one, you know, because you're committing to getting it done. So in the case of my mother, yes, it was her 90th birthday. So we had a very clear deadline. But if you don't want something like that, you have to create a deadline, which just means you're committing to getting it to getting it done. And it's only only the individual can determine how important it is to them. But what I can share with you is the the number one thing that people say to me when I share what I do, the number one thing people say is I regret. That's like the first thing that comes to that I regret that I didn't either say it, write it, capture it, share it, you know, I just didn't get around to it like, yes, someday, someday I'd like to do that. And I think there is no such thing as Sunday. You know, I mean, there is but it never comes. Let's put it that way. Sunday is not a deadline, because something never comes right. So are almost never come. So it's a matter of having a deadline, just like anything else. If you have something due, if you have something, you know, no matter what it is, whether you're an entrepreneur, whether you're not in the in the working world at all anymore, whether you're an employee, right, if you have a deadline, you have to get it done. And this is this is just a deadline you have to impose on yourself.
Brian Smith 56:50
Well, thing is we all have a deadline, we just don't know what it is. So it's that's why it's important to I, as a coach, I would completely 100% agree with you said, what you said set a deadline, whether it's a workshop date, or its end, even if it's say six months out, but make it a date, put it on the calendar and say I want to have as at least started by then and have a plan. And like you said, Yeah, I love what you're doing. I think that everybody should do it. But even if this is grabbing your phone and going grabbing someone old, you know, an older person in your family, and just start capturing the data just so you have something to work with.
Ruthanne Warnick 57:27
agree completely. And it's it's a process. So whatever you have is more than you had before. Right? So I mean, I just have so many people say Oh, I wish I knew more. I wish I had taken time. And like you said we never it's a deadline that you don't but you don't know when it's coming. Right. Exactly. So. So, you know, look, I have to impose my own deadlines on myself or say, Okay, we have a family event coming up in the middle of November, I am getting my my sisters even though I said my sister's project was really for me. I'm like, No, I'm going to make sure that is done by the middle of November when I'm going to see these people whether I decided to share it with them or not is. So I made a deadline. Like I actually made a deadline on the calendar. So yeah, and that clock is ticking. So
Brian Smith 58:20
awesome. Awesome. Well with that it's been a pleasure. Meeting you it's been a pleasure sharing what you're doing this is capturing your legacy. I think it is such an important work. Let people know where they can reach you.
Ruthanne Warnick 58:33
Capture the journey.com is the easiest way to reach me because if you want to, you'll see my email address there. You'll know if I have any upcoming workshops. You'll know when that guy book is released. You'll be able to download my seven no tech, low tech ways to capture stories so it's all on the website. So the easiest thing I can say is capture the journey.com and I would love it if you would download my my seven no tech low tech ways because then you'll automatically know when other things are coming up and also any resources tips, anything that I share, you'll you'll automatically get so you'll be in the know.
Brian Smith 59:14
Great, thanks a lot. It's great to see you I enjoy the rest of your evening.
Ruthanne Warnick 59:18
Thanks Thanks so much. I really appreciate this time and I appreciate hearing your stories as well so thanks so much
Brian Smith 59:47
don't forget to like hit that big red subscribe button and click the notify Bell. Thanks for being here.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai