What Will Be Your Legacy?

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I didn’t consider my legacy until recently. As far as I was concerned, if I did my job well and took care of my family and friends, that was my legacy. For many people that is their legacy. There is nothing wrong with that. But now that I have time to consider it and time to add on to my legacy, why wouldn’t I?

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I was reminded of legacy by the artwork of a Sandra Brewster, a Toronto-based artist who’s work, Untitled (Blur), is exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario. It features a wall-sized photo that is adhered to the gallery wall. In her words she explains, “I am drawn to the idea of the work being everlasting. Even when the work is being removed, after it has been sanded down and painted over, it’s still there. We may not see it, but there is a lasting legacy.”

Legacy is that bit, that essence, left behind when you’re long gone. Her brilliant idea of using the gallery wall ensures that a little bit of her artwork stays at the gallery. The other artists’ work can be taken down and sold and moved but hers will be there, under a layer of paint. What bit do I want to leave behind?

Decide And Then Start*

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It is almost too simple to do. But the deciding is definitely the trickiest bit. If you don’t decide on a specific legacy, then your family and friends will decide what your legacy is after you’re gone. (They will still do that. But wouldn’t you like to have some choice?) Becoming deliberate and choosing your legacy can be a rewarding focus of retirement. 

How To Choose?

It doesn’t have to be just one thing but it should connect to a key belief that you hold dear. 

Creating Traditions.

If you have grandchildren in your life, you might consider passing traditions on to them that are important to you, such as making traditional foods together or caring for plants in your garden.** My grandmother taught me to make bread one day when I was a teen. It’s a wonderful memory that I hold dear because it comes with a skill and a story. As we kneaded the bread, she told me of how she used to make bread baps every day ready for my grandfather’s lunch when he came home from the factory. She spoke of the tremendous noise from their wooden shoes as they walked home on the cobblestone streets. This and her northern idioms were her legacy to me. When the pantry was empty her reply to “What’s for dinner?” would be, “Three jumps at the cupboard door.” Her legacy.

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Serving Others

Perhaps there is a cause that is dear to your heart such as protecting the environment, advocating for others or creating changes in an area related to your old field of work? Volunteering with an organization that means something to you is a great way to find purpose, build a legacy and make new friends. It’s a win/win.

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Do it

I’m still trying to find my legacy, but I know that it’s something that I want to do. For all of us, there is limited time. It’s important to start today. What little enduring bit do you want to leave behind?

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Click here to read more about the artwork of Sandra Brewster.

* https://tinybuddha.com/blog/you-can-make-a-difference-7-ways-to-create-a-powerful-legacy/

** For some great ideas for creating a legacy with your family, click here.  https://www.ramseysolutions.com/relationships/7-easy-ways-to-build-a-legacy-with-your-kids

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