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Monday, June 20, 2016


A woman who volunteers at my work is taking a class called Your Personal Legacy, and yesterday, I asked her how it was going.  “It makes you ask yourself hard questions,” she said.  Curious, I asked her what kind.  “Well, for example, it asks you to list your favorite things to do.”

Not so hard, right? But here’s the thing.  Ten years ago, I would have had trouble with that answer, too.  I would have analyzed my responses.  I would have tried to decide what sounded better, and I would have struggled, really, to identify what made me happy.  At that point, I was slogging through full-time employment, full-time motherhood, and full-time disappointment in myself.

Notwithstanding marrying my husband and my raising our daughter, the two most important things, I hadn’t accomplished anything that mattered to me. I didn't love the job I'd been at for twenty-three years, but those golden-type handcuffs had me stuck.  When weekends arrived, I resented anyone who took hours away from my home and family.  I wasn’t writing regularly and had buried the desire to do so, so deep I didn't understand it would save me. That changed all because, alone at home, eighteen hours after a sudden layoff, I had no idea what to do, so I plopped myself in front of the computer to document my feelings. Then, with zero forethought, I cut and pasted them into a blog. The first time I pressed “publish" defined me and altered everything.

Over the seven years since, I’ve written perhaps millions of words.  The poems help with current hurts and the novels have given me confidence that I can set goals and achieve them.  But best of all, the personal essays that have appeared here have healed me and taught me about myself.   All the words that have spilled out since the morning I wrote that first post have eliminated brain clutter and helped to clarify the thoughts within.  Sometimes lately, I think I’ve done it, that I’ve cleaned out all the detritus that resides in me.  But then, a churning begins again and I end up in front of the computer, focused in a way most pure, in a zone where I am totally in tune with myself, writing, writing, writing.  I’ve poured so much out here, when someone asked me a question about myself, instead of having to sift through all the junk in my proverbial attic,  I identify my feelings and unpack them rather quickly, as it were.

For the record, I rattled off my favorite things to do without hesitating during that recent conversation.  My answer went like this: Writing, reading, and going out with my husband.
But my personal legacy?  That one’s easy.  I don’t have to take a class for that one.  My legacy is Middle Passages.  It’s this.

What's your personal legacy?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm all inspired now!
You found yourself through writing and this blog.
My legacy? Besides what I do for God, I want the IWSG to be mine.

Joanne said...

very thought provoking. I think I'm still seeking a personal legacy. Maybe I'm still not satisfied with myself. Hmm Must reflect on this, but should get back to my soul sucking job. Good post!

Bish Denham said...

Sweet! Although writing is something I definitely enjoy, my legacy is the emotionally abused and neglected kids who have told me personally I helped change their lives. That is what I will always be most humbled and honored by. They are my legacy.

Connie said...

I remember several years ago, my sister-in-law asked me what I did for fun. At the time I was busy working and raising kids and rarely had any time left over for anything fun that I wanted to do. I was at a loss as to how to answer her question. I think that was kind of a turning point for me, and I started allowing myself to have some down time to do things that I wanted to do. I'm not sure what my personal legacy is, although I suppose it is my poetry and other writings. Writing can be both fun and work for me depending on what it is. The best kind of writing is the one you describe. I have that too when I am so focused on it that I kind of forget everything else around me.

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Like most people, I have times when I get down on myself. "What have I done other than what has been expected" often haunts me. Recently, I had a birthday, and people I know and some I work with (volunteer job) wrote me lovely notes rather than bought cards and told me that I mattered. Sometimes, in my blog, somebody is kind enough to speak well of me. I touched a few people and they appreciated me. I have given and received and because of Blogger, have met wonderful people from around the world that has enhanced my life. My legacy, well, I am still writing that story.

jabblog said...

If I thought anyone in my family would read it then I suppose jabblog (my blog) would be my legacy. I copied into a journal all the verse and worse that I've written over the years - who knows if it will ever see the light of day 'after I'm gone' (breaks into song . . . )

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That was really wonderful. I might smile the rest of the morning.

Pixel Peeper said...

Lucky is the person who knows what she enjoys and knows how to go after it!

I have a few hobbies and I jealously guard the little time I've carved out for them. I know that my batteries won't recharge if I don't have time devoted to a little photography or some walking.

Legacy? Hm...still working on that.

Anne Gallagher said...

My personal legacy is the work I've published. It might not be great, or a best-seller, but it's mine and will live on long after I'm gone. The writing and of course, the Monster. Without her, I'd be just another cog on the great machine of life.