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My Ethical Will

An ethical will is your philosophical and spiritual essence, reflecting what you believe in, what you know to be true and what you hope will come with the passage of time.” ~Jo Kline Cebuhar

I’m expecting to live a good many years yet, but after reading Jo Kline Cebuhar’s terrific book, So Grows the Tree – Creating an Ethical Will, The Legacy of Your Values, Beliefs, Life Lessons and Hopes for the Future, I decided to give it a try. Actually, it makes a lot of sense to begin thinking about what’s been most important in your life so far at any stage. After all, you can’t truly create a life based on what’s most important to you unless you have a clear idea of what those things really are. Also, when you begin to live as if each day might be your last (and it really might be), it tends to bring things into perspective.

The book is a very enjoyable, readable and practical guide to thinking about the things in your life that have made the most impact and then recording them somehow. It’s a meaningful legacy to leave, but an ethical will could just as easily be shared with loved ones right now as a way to connect more deeply. It doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out, formal document. Quite the contrary, it can be as short, informal or creative as you wish. Jo has provided extensive examples, such as creating a scrapbook or a list of “what I’ve learned from my animals,” as well as lots of other interesting and personal ways to develop an ethical will. Near the back of the book are several pages of prompts and this is where I chose to start. I felt surprisingly moved by reading these prompts and beginning to think about my answers. There were many, many more to consider.

Whether or not you ever read this book, or ever go about the process of creating an ethical will, I highly recommend spending some time reflecting on your most important moments and considering how they continue to impact your life.

The bolded words are the prompts from So Grows the Tree and the rest is my response to them.

My Ethical Will:

  • I have come to define success as continuing to create a life for myself in which I wake up most days anticipating the day and all that it will bring.
  • The achievements I am most proud of are; raising Harrison to be a happy, healthy person and my long and happy marriage to Darryl (and all the work we’ve done together to achieve that).  Also, I am very proud of mending my relationship with my mother-in-law. We didn’t really get along that well for 15 years, but now we have genuine affection for each other.
  • The earliest memory I have as a child is playing in my grandmother’s garden. I remember all the hydrangeas and the red painted wooden chair. That garden seemed like a fairy land and the smell of lilac still grabs me and takes me back there, evoking magic all over again.
  • From the children in my life I learned that laughter diffuses most things and that it’s important to be mostly here in the present, not too caught up in the past or the future. I remember the wonder on Harrison’s face the first time he saw and heard a flock of geese fly over head and I want to cultivate that awe for the world that he still has.
  • I found the best way to overcome disappointment in life is to not be hung up on the idea that this was the only way I could be happy. Often times when I didn’t get what I thought I wanted, something much better came along. I’ve also tried to use each disappointment as a learning experience.
  • My favorite song is (Everything is) Holy Now by Peter Mayer.
  • I have to admit, I wish I had done more quiet time in nature.

Learn more about how understanding your values and beliefs can help you to have a better life by contacting me.

The Radio Spot

The next Spiritual Integration with Life Coach Laura show will air live on Friday, March 25 (and every last Friday of the month) at 11:30 am ET on internet station Blog Talk Radio.

All shows are recorded and available on demand immediately after the live airing at the same link and on iTunes.

This month I’ll be talking with author, Jo Kline Cebuhar, who wrote, “So Grows the Tree – Creating an Ethical Will: The Legacy of Your Beliefs and Values, Life Lessons and Hopes for the Future.” Jo believes that you can’t live your values if you don’t know what they are. Also, that you don’t need to be elderly to begin thinking about what you’d like others to know was important to you in your life. This can be expressed in a letter, a short video, a scrapbook, a song or any other format you can dream of.


To listen live, click here on the day of the show (Friday, March 25 at 11:30 am ET).

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