Legacy is a life that effects generations.
Mama, what you do today lives on for generations. That can feel like a lot of pressure…or we can shift how we look at that. What a gift. What a power. What a purpose!
Mothers change the world. We influence an entire generation by influencing our own children. Those children will then take our teachings and shape the next generation. That is how we change we world. This month we are going to step into that power, find peace with it, and start to work on aligning our actions with our values. We’re going to keep moving forward in our quest to get rid of mom guilt as we start to live our truths.
How are we going to do that? By getting deep…and also by being practical. We’re going to show up and put in the work.
This month we’re going to focus on two things:
1. Finishing our will/trust that many of us have been putting off. That is a practical part of our legacy that we need to get off our to-do list.
2. Living our legacy NOW instead of waiting until we’re gone. Our legacy is how we live our lives, it’s what we’re known for while we’re alive…and we’re alive now. We have the ultimate say in what our legacy looks like. We’ll spend some time this month aligning our actions with our values. That is the deep part.
Mothers are the gatekeepers of our family’s history, traditions, celebrations, and our everyday life. We set the tone for our homes. We model how the world works through our actions more than our words. We show our children our hopes for them with our attitude and choices.
I’ve created Legacy Month to help you (and me!) get rid of any mom guilt we might have around legacy (including the guilt about not having our wills done). So we’re just going to bite the bullet, work through the discomfort, and do it together.
I wanted to create a conversation about living legacy to help us bridge the disconnect many mamas feel. The disconnect I’m talking about is intellectual vs. actual. In our heads (intellectually), we love out kids. How do we show that? What actions do we take that communicate that message to them? What words do we use that make that thought of “I love my kids” come to life every day? Same for gratitude. We can think in our head “of course I’m grateful for my family,” but what actions do we take that show them this is true? There’s a lot of talk about gratitude but not a lot of action. We can make a list of things we are grateful for all day long, but gratitude has to move beyond a piece of paper.
How the Guided Journals Work:
“The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.” Lao Tzu
The guided journals take just a few minutes a day. I firmly believe that by working on something just a little bit each day, we can see big results. That little bit of daily work helps us shed dreaded mom guilt—it turns out you don’t have time to feel guilty about something if you’re actively working on it!
I will post a new Legacy journal prompt every day this month here on the blog—that’s my job. Your job is to show up for yourself by taking a few minutes and writing down your answers to those prompts. That’s it. It really is that simple.
“But what if I miss a day?”
That’s okay. This is not an “all or nothing” venture. You do the best you can, show up when you need to, shift as your days call for it, and just do you. Not every journal prompt will speak to you. Some will more than others. Some days you might spend 20 minutes answering the questions, others you might spend 20 seconds. You do you.
Journaling is an incredible path to self-discovery. It’s a form of self-care. It’s you showing up for yourself and honoring the fact that your thoughts are worthy of notation. Take your time. Get to know yourself better. Use that information to strengthen yourself. Strong women make strong mothers. And strong mothers change the world.
Time to change the world…let’s get started.
What are you known for? Right now, as you are…what are you known for? If you were to describe you and your living legacy, what words would you use? What values would you describe? Reflect and write down your answers.
What stories from your family’s past have lived on for generations? Are there any recent ones? What is your extended family “known” for? What are the origins of your last name? Your maiden name, other names in your family tree, etc.? Spend a few moments today writing about your family history and what stories/ideals you would consider to be part of your larger family’s legacy.
If you were to describe your family to a stranger right now, what would you say? What is your family known for? What values do you hold strongly? Take a few moments to write about it.
There is no doubt that love and kindness are worth being known for—now and when we are gone. They are the building blocks of family. They are the main ingredients in motherhood.
Who in your life is known for love and kindness? Spend a few moments writing about that person. Are you known for love and kindness? Is it an area you’d like to actively focus on more in your own life? Do you value love and kindness? If so, how do you express those values? Are they values you would like to pass on to your children?
Mothers are the memory keepers of the home. Those aren’t just photo albums or scrapbooks you’re putting together, they are your family’s history, a collection of memories that will be cherished for generations to come. The time that you put into creating them is valuable.
Have you ever wanted to create more albums or home movies for your family? Have you created some? If so, what was your favorite part about putting them together? If not, what is keeping you from spending time on that kind of project? If scrapbooks and baby books aren’t your thing, what other methods of memory keeping do you use? Would you like to make it a priority? If so, how could you make time for it?
Acts of service we do for others live on past the moment—they ripple and echo. This includes serving our own family as well as others. What do you define as “service?” Do you value service? Is it a value you’d like to pass on to your children? What actions do you take that are centered on service?
(Note: if service is a new term for you, spend some time today looking it up and talking about it with friends and family. A lot of folks are raised to think of service as something like a server in a restaurant, but it’s much more than a role or job. Service is a pillar of motherhood and worth the extra effort to understand. There is a lot of peace to be found in understanding what it means to serve others).
Are there celebrations or traditions that your family is known for? What about daily habits? Are there everyday things that you do that are part of who you are? What are your hobbies or likes that people associate with you?
This week is going to be uncomfortable for some of us. Talking about our will and who we want to take our children if we pass is super hard for many of us. I’m just going to come out and say it: this sucks.
But it has to be done. It’s part of our responsibilities as a parent. And discomfort is a call to grow and change. We can see this week as our chance to finally get this obligation off our to-do list. So let’s start out at the beginning and look at our “whys.”
Why have you been hesitant to complete your will/trust? Take a few moments to figure out your why.
Now ask yourself why you are going to move forward with it now. Take a minute to write about it.
I only recently found out that when deciding who we want our children to go to if we pass that it is encouraged for us to have a list of 4 different people/families (with our first choice as #1). This was a shocker for me. It’s hard enough coming up with one let alone 4.
Spend some time today thinking about those 4 people/families in your own heart and mind. It doesn’t have to be an outside discussion, just one that you feel comfortable with inside your own being. Write down your thoughts, feelings, and ideas about this. Write down your list of potential people. There might be some emotions to work through today, and that’s okay. Nothing is happening today other than us thinking about it in our own hearts and minds. Talk about it with a neutral party if that helps you. This is just the first step in the process. There’s nothing final about a brainstorm. It’s the beginning not the end.
Today is a practical day. Look at your calendar and map out a timeline for when you want to complete your will/trust. List research days, deadlines, etc. Mapping it out can help make it come to life.
If you’re following along with the Guided Journal timeline for this, my personal deadline is going to be by the end of May 2019, specifically May 28th. That is the day I have marked down to turn in our will/trust to our lawyer. Come up with a deadline that works for you, write it down, and make it happen.
Let’s take a moment today to write about why this is difficult for us. Acknowledging our mortality is hard enough in our culture…talking about our wishes at the time of our death is even harder. Write about the hard today. Acknowledge it. Get it out. Write about how your heart has changed since becoming a mom. Write about our connection and deep love for our children that makes this hard. Get it on paper. The simple act of writing about it and acknowledging it will help us get to a better spot so we can move forward and take action (i.e. finish our will/trust). It’s a very sensitive subject so talk it out if you need to, too. Process it in a way that works best for you.
You know which one I mean. The one where you have to talk about who your kids would live with if you die. It sucks. It’s a moment where we have to face our own mortality and it’s enough to make many of us start to panic. It’s talking about worse case scenario stuff and it frightens us. Deep breaths, mama. It’s part of the process.
For those of us who have partners, this discussion can bring up all the truths. We might not want our kids to go with say our sister-in-law’s family, but our SIL might be on our partner’s list of people they trust. Then comes all the “whys.” “Why don’t you want to choose her, why do you want to choose that person, why don’t you like my list, why don’t you like my family…”And it’s really hard to hear the truth behind hesitations and reasoning when it comes to our kids and “last wishes.” Here is where I would lovingly recommend having a third party involved (like a therapist). It can help some couples prepare for the conversation by talking about it before hand a little at a time. Remember to acknowledge over and over that this is hard, that there are some of our most extreme emotions involved, and that there are going to be disagreements and differences that will need to be worked through.
Write down your thoughts before going into the conversation. Come up with a timeline/plan for when the discussion is going to happen and then make the heart and head space for it.
Our culture doesn’t encourage taking time to process, well, anything really. It’s a culture of instant gratification and quickly moving on to the next thing. But this is one topic that needs intention. It requires our time, attention, and focus. Take some time today to process.
Check in with yourself: how are you feeling at this point? Are you comfortable with your choices in your will/trust? Can you see that your answers aren’t set in stone and can change over time as needed? Really try to get some perspective today by writing about how you’re feeling up to this point.
Will/Trust: Take Action. Continue to take daily action to get closer to completing your will/trust. Keep moving forward. Commit to meeting your deadlines.
This week we are going to spend time identifying our values and looking at our character so that we can start to align our actions with those values. We’ll take it one day, one value at a time.
Would you describe yourself as a passionate person? Do you value passion? Is this a quality you would like to encourage in your children? What are you passionate about? What areas of your life would you like to spend more time being passionate about?
Are you a compassionate person? How do you express that compassion? Is this a quality you value? Is it one that you would like to pass on to your children? Spend a few moments thinking about the last time you had the opportunity to practice compassion.
Are you a good listener? Do you like to ask questions of others? I once heard that curiosity can be a healthy expression of love. In other words, when you ask someone questions about themselves, it’s a way to get to know them better. Asking questions shows that you are curious about what another person thinks or believes. And that can bring up a lot of positive feelings in that other person and strengthen your relationship with them, especially if you really hear them. Do you ask questions of others to get to know them better?
What does it feel like when you feel heard by someone else? Write about it. Do you feel you offer that same courtesy to others? What could you do to be a better listener? What could you do to model listening for your children?
Are you a supportive person? What does support mean to you? Do you value support? Is this something you want to pass on to your children? How can you express support for/to others? What do you find easy to support? When has it been challenging to be supportive? Spend a few moments reflecting on support in your own life, both as the supporter and the person who was being supported.
What excites you? What are you most enthusiastic about? How does that enthusiasm serve you? Do you value enthusiasm? Is it something you want to pass on to your children?
What inspires you? Who do you inspire? What do you find inspiring? Where do you drawn inspiration from? How does inspiration serve you? Do you value inspiration? Is it something you want to pass on to your children? Write about it.
To me, character is all about living your truth. Character and truth are one and the same—character is your truths come to life in your actions.
There are so many quotes about character that sum it up nicely. Choose a quote from the list below and spend some time thinking about it—then write about how you feel about it, what wisdom you gain from it, and how it applies to your life now and your personal vision for your own character.
“The truth of your character is expressed through the choice of your actions.” –Dr. Steve Maraboli
“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.” -John Wooden
“Habits change into character.” –Ovid
“Character is revealed when pressure is applied.” –Anonymous
“Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking.” –H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
Continuing last week’s discussion of values and character…are you an action taker? Are you known for taking action? Showing up and putting in the work is important. You’re proving to yourself that you can be an action taker by showing up and answering the journal prompts. Are you taking those answers one step further and making them come to life off the page? Write about what inspires you to take action, what some of your hang ups about taking action might be, and if action is a current family value.
Generosity of spirit and resources is not something reserved for when we pass, but something we practice can practice now. Are you philanthropic? Do you have an abundance mindset and share your time/money/energy/support when you can? Do you value philanthropy? Look up to philanthropists and those who help others? Is philanthropy a value you want to pass on to your children? Write about the role of philanthropy in your life and legacy.
(Note: If you feel called to dive deeper into philanthropy, November 2018’s Guided Journal is about Philanthropy. It’s an opportunity to spend an entire month on the subject! Go check it out here).
A sense of purpose is important. As mothers, our sense of purpose can feel obvious from the outside, but not as clear from the inside. Do you feel a sense of purpose? Do you have a focus in life that is driving your every day actions? How would you describe your purpose?
If this idea feels overwhelming, start with the “who” in your life. Write about who you show up for…your children, family, yourself when you focus on your health and self care, etc. Or draw from your week 3 answers about values and character.
Life mission statements are no small task. That doesn’t mean it has to feel heavy. Getting clear on our sense of purpose and what we feel called to do can bring freedom, excitement, and inspiration. It can add meaning and depth to our lives as women and mothers. If might require more than just one day of journaling. Write a bit about where you are now to create head and heart space for your purpose to unfold.
How do you define generosity? What role does generosity play in philanthropy? Do you value generosity? Are you known as a generous person? Is this a value you want to pass onto your children? Write about it.