When we think of legacies, our first inclination is to think about what we leave behind for future generations when we die.

But a legacy is not about death. It is about life. It’s about how you are living your life right now.

Most of us would prefer not to think too much about creating a legacy. Why? Because thinking about creating a legacy makes us think about death, and that is too dark a concept to consider right now. After all, we’ll have time to think about that later. Right? Maybe, maybe not.

Don’t be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don’t have to live forever; you  just have to live.” ~ Natalie Babbitt

What is a Legacy?

Whether you think about creating a legacy or not, you’re doing it anyway. You create a legacy by simply living your life. Everything you do or did is creating your legacy.  So, the question becomes – are you living your life with intention so you will be remembered the way you want to be remembered?

Legacy. What is a legacy? It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.” ~ Lin Manual Miranda

Most of us think about a legacy as something passed on to the next generation after our death. And we may even think that legacies are built and transferred by people who have a great deal of money or influence. Great people in history may come to mind. And if that is how you think of a legacy, you’d be wrong.

We don’t have to do spectacular things or have great wealth to leave an important legacy.

A legacy can be built by simply living a life of kindness. Just showing kindness to people we love and people we meet can have rippling effects that we may not even be aware of.

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” ~ Maya Angelou

A legacy is built day by day in the little things we do and say that define who we are. A legacy is about memories – sharing memories of what you know about your parents and grandparents and the memories they passed down to you. A legacy is about creating memories with your family in the present so your children and grandchildren will know about you and previous generations, how you lived and what you lived for.

It may also include possessions, which don’t need to be possessions of great monetary value. Their value comes from the meaning they have in your life and what has been passed on to you by previous generations. It is about connections. Connections about where you came from that help to define who you are.

Why is a legacy important?

Simply put, people need to know that life matters. That they matter. That you matter.

Legacies are about hope. Hope that the future for your children and grandchildren will be even better than today. That is especially important today – right now. The world has experienced monumental change. In just the period of a few years, we have seen changes we never dreamed we would experience as the result of a global pandemic. Even the word pandemic wasn’t on our radar before we were in the midst of it. These experiences alone make us think about the fragility of life, it’s meaning, and what the future might look like.

Preserving family histories is valuable. Learning about who came before you and what they were like and what they experienced helps you know who you are. Understanding how previous generations sacrificed and paved the way for the next generation provides a sense of security.

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”  ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

How do you build a legacy?

The short answer is to live every day with intention, doing the things that matter the most to you and realizing that how you live is a model for the next generation.

People have a need to know where they came from and what that means to them. And while there are many things you can do to create your own legacy, the focus for this article is learning about the legacies of previous generations and preserving family histories.

How do you do that? How do you learn about and preserve family histories? You ask questions.

My daughter gave my mother a lasting gift one Mother’s Day – a journal to record the details of her life. And thanks to my niece, she did just that. My niece asked my mother every one of the questions in the journal and recorded her answers. When my mother passed away, I copied every page of that journal to give to my sisters so we each had a copy to keep and treasure.

My daughter also gave that same journal to my mother-in-law, her paternal grandmother. And my husband planned to ask his mother the questions and record her responses. However, she passed away before he got around to it, and he regrets missing that opportunity to know his mother a little better.

Even though I have treasured memories of my parents and grandparents, I also regret not having asked probing questions about their what their lives were like growing up. What was it like growing up through the Great Depression of the 1920’s? What were their homes like as a child? What do they remember about their parents and grandparents? And so many more questions that I will never know the answers to.

I realize that youth is not the time to ask questions about the past. Youth is a time for present reality and future dreams. The process of aging creates time for reflection and remembering and wanting to know more about past generations.

And that is why I created “My Life, My Legacy” – a journal of questions for anyone who recognizes the value of passing on their personal history before passing on. It may be something you want to complete for your children and grandchildren, who may not recognize the value of preserving oral histories of their family until it is too late for them to ask the questions. Or there may be a family member whose memories about their life you want to record.

My Legacy, My Life Journal – Teal

My Life, My Legacy

My Legacy, My Life Journal – Leather

 Just take a look at My Life, My Legacy Journal- Teal 

Or My Life, My Legacy Journal – Leather.

Tell your story now – the way you want it told.

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I’m Vicki Peel, former home economics teacher and educational administrator. If you are not receiving my emails, coupons, and freebies, look for the Subscribe block (below right) and submit your contact information. I will not share your information with anyone, and all the content you will receive as part of our community is free. I may occasionally promote someone else’s paid content, offer a product for your consideration or share an item that I think might be of use to you. However, you are under no obligation to purchase anything – ever. So, sign up now so you won’t miss anything during our October through December focus on HOME STYLE!