May 20, 2024

People have power to shape their reality

Keynote speaker at Illinois Agri-Women meeting

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — What people choose to focus on becomes their reality.

“When we tell our brains what to focus on, we actively create, seek and find more of that thing,” said Emily Reuschel, the keynote speaker during the annual meeting of Illinois Agri-Women.

“When we focus on blessings we find more blessings and when we work on gratitude we find more things to be grateful for,” said Reuschel, a former elementary school teacher turned entrepreneur. “When we focus on negativity we find more reasons to complain and we concentrate on the ways we think we are not enough.”

Everyone has the power to shape their own realities, said Reuschel during the Feb. 18 virtual meeting.

“We also choose the women that surround ourselves,” she said.

Those groups can include people who tear each other down or women can seek people who commit to helping each other learn and grow.

“When we choose women that help us get out of our own way, focus on growth and understand our unique lifestyle, magic happens,” Reuschel said. “We have the power to be forces of good for agriculture, for each other and most importantly ourselves.”

Living on a farm has a lot of special nuances.

“I consistently have the filthiest car in the parking lot at the grocery store, I always have a line of gravel dust on my jeans that forms when I unload my groceries and anyone within a 10-mile radius is my neighbor,” Reuschel said.

“We are made to come together for a common good and raise each other up,” she said. “We may live miles apart, but we are never alone and I believe together we have the power.”

Reuschel said she is good at putting things off to the last minute.

“I might be the president of procrastination nation,” she said. “I’ve come to realize it’s a defense mechanism for the fear of failure because it is easier to push off the hard things to the last minute than facing the hard thing itself.”

More often that not, Reuschel said, the biggest hurdles are ourselves.

“But one thing I learned recently is we are not alone, everyone is grappling with some level of something in her own way,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how successful her business is, how confident they look on the outside our how much money they’ve made, everyone is dealing with something.”

Improvement won’t happen overnight.

“Things don’t suddenly get better because we wish they would,” Reuschel said. “But we can start doing things now to make it better.”

A few years ago, Reuschel was six months postpartum with her daughter and she realized that she didn’t recognize herself.

“During my 20s, I’d been running myself ragged, doing everything for everyone and treating my body like trash,” she said. “I was tired all the time, I was borderline depressed and I wasn’t showing up as a mom.”

One day Reuschel woke up and decided something had to change.

“I knew it was going to take time, but if I didn’t start somewhere, I would never get to that dream version of myself,” she said.

As a result, Reuschel decided to make some changes, but this time it was different.

“Throughout my teens and 20s, I had been through cycles of diet and exercise all from a place of punishment or shame,” she said. “I didn’t want a new body to fit into a certain size of pants. I wanted to feel better and feeling healthy and strong can come at any size.”

For the first time Reuschel learned to focus on her mindset.

“It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly I made small changes, I shed my need for perfection and I started to move into the person I wanted to be,” Reuschel said.

“I incorporated movement in a way that made me feel joyful and strong and I set and crushed physical goals I never dreamed possible,” she said. “Most importantly I did it all from a truly loving place to take care of myself.”

Leading The Way

During the annual meeting, IAW members elected Kelsey Vance Neville as president. In addition, Elizabeth Mitsdarffer was chosen as the first vice president for education and Anjie Erbsen as treasurer.

Rod Weinzierl, executive director of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, provided an update to the Illinois Agri-Women about the upcoming referendum that proposes to raise the corn checkoff rate from 5/8 of a cent to 7/8 of a cent per bushel. The vote on the referendum will be March 29 at local University of Illinois Extension offices.

“Our current rate is about as small as any of the states around us,” Weinzierl said. “We’re asking people who grow and sell corn in Illinois to support an increase of one-quarter of a cent.”

Increasing funds is important for the ICMB, Weinzierl said, to assist with projects such as the improvement of locks on the Illinois and Mississippi rivers.

“We were able to secure funding on Lock 25 which is one of seven locks we’ve been advocating to expand to 1,200-foot chambers,” Weinzierl said.

“This is a big deal because if we have a lock go down, we’re talking $1 billion of impact within a few months of increased transportation costs and potential loss of exports,” he said. “In Illinois, exports are a big deal because nearly half of our corn is exported.”

Hopefully the next several locks on the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers will be done in 10 to 20 years, Weinzierl said.

“That will position Illinois farmers to be competitive in the market for the next two and a half generations,” he said. “The locks last over 50 years so your children and grandchildren will benefit from the competitiveness of the U.S.”

The ICMB has partnered with the Waterways Council to advance the lock improvement projects.

“We’ve done some very large education campaign programs in the Beltway trying to get this done,” Weinzierl said. “There’s been a lot of others involved because getting things done takes money.”

For more information about Illinois Agri-Women, go to

Martha Blum

Martha Blum

Field Editor