I write a lot about living your dreams but don’t talk a lot about death.
I lost a friend and colleague yesterday. Dick Wagner was a true and valued leader in the financial planning industry. He was a visionary who lived and breathed integrity, compassion, intelligence, and humor. He was a loving husband and father and a kind of father-figure at our financial planning conferences.
I first met Dick over 20 years ago. Already at that time, he was considered a thought leader as, in addition to his many other accomplishments, he and fellow Certified Financial Planner® professional, George Kinder, co-founded the think tank, The Nazrudin Project, of which I’ve been a proud member for almost 20 years. Both Dick and the other members of The Nazrudin Project have contributed greatly to the financial planner I am today. I owe him a great debt of gratitude for his leadership and vision.
Dick died unexpectedly so it’s a shock to hear of his passing. I’m very proud to say he was a reader of my Mindful Money Minutes and am humbled to say I recently received an email from him asking me why I was quoting other authors when I had so much important wisdom of my own to share. Needless to say, I was touched deeply by that email. I will treasure those words forever.
Of course, when someone dies unexpectedly, it causes you to think of your own mortality, of the people you love, and the things that remain on your bucket list.
I believe that life is meant to be lived. Not tolerated. Not survived. But lived!
Thanks to The Nazrudin Project, I learned years ago how to explore my life in a deeper way. I discovered what was truly important to me. I learned what I valued and what truly made me happy. I started my bucket list and began checking things off, and, most importantly, I learned how to help others discover and act on these same things for themselves.
Death, for me, is always a reminder of life. It reminds me to give more, love more, laugh more, live more, and never go through a day without chocolate. That’s right. Chocolate.
As I sat at my desk this afternoon thinking about Dick and his family (his son Jake is also in our industry), I was reminded of some of my favorite times with my own family. Christmas. Birthdays. And right there I got derailed. Birthdays. My mom always baked each one of us our favorite cake for our birthdays. Mine was this glorious chocolate cake that, lucky me, was also my dad’s favorite, so we got it twice a year.
My mom is a great baker. She makes the best apple pie on the planet. And this chocolate cake she made was to die for. Now that I’m in New Mexico and she’s in Wisconsin it’s been over a year since I’ve had this cake.
Well, life is short. I think it’s time I break out the beaters and bake this cake myself. In honor of Dick, and my mom and dad, and all the fun family gatherings where I learned to give more, love more and laugh more. And about chocolate!
P.S. Life is short — what’s your “chocolate”?