Blogging is your legacy

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by SandyMc · 17 comments

If you’re not past midlife yet, one day you will be. Then this scenario will be common to you. If you’re decades off, then this is about your parents. Either way it remains relevant.

This is the first Word Carnival post for 2014 based on one of our Carnies becoming a new parent in January. No matter what age you are, parent or grandparent or no, Parentpreneurs: What Being a Parent Can Teach You About Business, will provide an abundance of relevant advice you can apply to your business today.

How many boxes does this tick for you?
You’re past midlife. Although in your mind’s eye, you’re probably still a vibrant twenty-something. Unless you look in a mirror or if you’re a woman, are foisted with a magazine filled with impossibly thin young things dressed in doll’s clothes.

Your children may now be parents, even if some of them have only just left home in their third decade. That means you are fortunate enough to have grandchildren.

Life has probably dished you up with a cocktail of tribulations and triumphs which you’ve doubtless weathered, although likely not without residual grief and a deal of stress.

You wear this resilience in the lines on your face and your ability to rise to the occasion.

You may have been in employment, but now you’re either thrown on your own resources to supplement your post employment income or looking for work. Or you were always an entrepreneur who has reinvented what you have to offer several times over.

Either way, when first world governments indicate that people will have to work until they’re past seventy before receiving any retirement income, you fall into that category. In other words you haven’t got sufficient funds yet to stop working. Nor do you want to.

Your legacy
Over your lifetime, you’ve gathered an encyclopaedia of knowledge, experience and expertise. This is your legacy. There’re so many ways you can collate and distribute it – writing a book, a blog or creating a film, but perhaps you don’t quite know where to start, or how to do it well.

Much of this has great potential as a revenue model. It just needs clarity of purpose to fire it up and get it going.

You’ve probably harboured an interest in making a difference somewhere, somehow. You’d like to start or leverage what you are already doing within your community. Community matters to you.

The sandwich
You are one of the sandwich generation. Those compelled to work still while looking out for your ageing parents or helping with the grandchildren or both. It’s a very busy life. It’s seems busier than when you were younger.

Care for yourself, mentally and physically can be sacrificed. Then you might feel overwhelmed or be made depressed by what feels remorseless.

There are occasions when younger folk ignore you, not out of disrespect but because they think they are in the thick of things, and often they are. It doesn’t mean you’re not, or that you can’t bring to bear your experience to compensate.

You still have so much to contribute, so much wisdom to dispense and you are far from redundancy.

For decades to come you can still be a vibrant, energetic changemaker within your family and the communities you belong to or wish to create. You can grow new neural pathways, learn more than you learned in the last several decades and increase your legacy manifold.

You can bring your decades of parenting skills to the table. You can be ‘the best you’ in the latter years of your life.

What can you do to call on those skills and enrich your sandwich years?
That’s a tall order to answer in a blog. But if I could, I’d suggest just these three.

1. Like a child, keep asking why.
Do you remember how hard it was sometimes to extract from your children what they REALLY wanted. It was bound to end in tears when they couldn’t articulate it. Perhaps that was just them testing out their clarity muscles.

Getting crystal clear on what you must achieve and what you want to achieve and why, means you can work out how you’ll do it and in what order.

Do you also remember how our children would ask ‘why’ and ‘why’ and ‘why’ about everything that crossed their paths? It was how we taught them and how they learned. It’s not a bad habit to adopt later on in life. Continuously asking yourself why is not half so annoying! Like children, the more we ask, the more we discover, the clearer we get.

Everything follows logically from clarity. Work it through with someone else – a business or life coach, a mentoring group, a trusted advisor or a combination of all three.

That advise goes for any age group (or parent), but it’s just a lot more critical in our later years, so that every day counts and isn’t clouded with indecision, or worse regret.

2. Be thankful. It’s a practised art.
When we first arrived in Australia, 30 years ago, our two girls were the paragon of politeness. It was how we were taught and so we taught them the same. Just a few weeks after our arrival, I was admonished by another mother for instructing my four year old to say thank you. She said, ‘she has the rest of her life to learn her social graces.’ As a newly arrived immigrant I was flummoxed. Now I know she was misguided. What I was teaching my child was to be thankful, to be grateful, to appreciate what was done for her.

I’ve been reading Brene Brown‘s two books, The Gift of Imperfection and Daring Greatly. In both, she pays attention to there being ‘enough’ in our lives and being grateful for it. When we strive for perfection in any aspect of our lives including work and parenting, we cheat ourselves of joy. Being thankful for who and what we are is as Brene indicates, a signal of our self worth.

3. Embrace blogging.
Our children are story-sponges. From fables to fantasies, anecdotes to awe, all their lives we tell them stories. We engage their synapses with our stories so that they benefit from the moral, wisdom, humour and emotion contained within them. These stories teach them to untangle complexity, accept light and dark and grieve and celebrate humanity. We use story telling to guide our children toward the best lives we wish them to live, from the weeniest babies to adults parenting themselves.

Don’t take this enormous repository of wisdom into your dotage or the grave unsung. It is your legacy. You have within you these many stories that can change the lives not just of your children and grandchildren but of multiple others too, personally and in business.

A blog post doesn’t gather dust on a book shelf. It’s there for as long as we have a world that provides the energy to power the internet. Let’s hope that is way past our great grandchildren and theirs and theirs. For centuries hence, your accumulated wisdom can be making a difference.

So here’s to the most exciting ride of your life.

PS. I LOVE blogging, so it would be my privilege to be your blogging guide if you want a hand. Contact me here.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Tea Silvestre
Twitter:
January 29, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Mr. Perfect and I are about to have our children come live with us (long story), so this post really hit home for me. I promise to be grateful and to keep sharing the stories. I think that’s absolutely the best advice!
Tea Silvestre recently posted…My Big Why: On Motives, Mentors, and Defining MomentsMy Profile

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SandyMc January 30, 2014 at 7:00 am

Thank you Tea. I love that you will keep sharing your stories (of which you have many!). How interesting to have your adult children return. Ours did that more than once and it was always wonderful, well not always that might be a bit of white lie, but mostly always!
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Nicole Fende
Twitter:
January 29, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Can I just say flummoxed is an awesome word? And I too would have been flummoxed to be told not to teach my daughter please and thank you. What the what?

In fact in our home we try to thank each other for even regular chores. Yes you’ve shoveled snow for the past few months. It doesn’t mean you didn’t do it again today and should be appreciated for it. Yes I’ve cooked most dinners in the course of my 10 year marriage, it doesn’t mean I don’t still like to hear “Tastes great!”

This also should translate to your customers and your service providers. Let your customers know you appreciate them. Have great people who provide you products and services? Share their info.

I lost all my grandparents before I even graduated college. I *wish* blogging had existed back then because I would love to know more about their life experiences.
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SandyMc January 30, 2014 at 6:58 am

Divine word. A bit like discombobulation! I know, it was a seismic shift for me. Thankfully too ingrained to alter my behaviour, but I have never forgotten it. Like the fact that you are taught to be thankful on a daily basis Nicole. I lost my Dad 20 years ago Nicole. He was a Lancaster pilot in the war and flew planes for 42 years from a canvas winged single engine aircraft to a four jet engine. I so wish that he had lived in today’s world and could have made that lost knowledge and understanding of the world as it was then available to us now. Thanks for dropping by.
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Annie Sisk
Twitter:
January 29, 2014 at 10:29 pm

I love the idea of blogging as a legacy-maker, Sandy. I’m also a big fan of gratitude in general – even if you don’t buy into the whole woo-woo “Law of Attraction” thing, it just makes logical sense that, being emotional creatures, changing our default emotional state to gratitude instead of fear makes for a MUCH more pleasing, fulfilling existence.
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SandyMc January 30, 2014 at 7:14 am

Annie, you make me laugh! I was ‘forced’ to watch The Secret years ago and ever since have struggled with that stuff, certainly as it is promulgated (another word for you Nicole!) by the Internet Marketing set. Those white MacMansions populated my nightmares for years.

But feeling thankful as a way of being does a great deal to offset fear and for beginning to learn that I am thankful!
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Sharon Hurley Hall
Twitter:
January 30, 2014 at 12:18 am

Loved this, Sandy, and it made me think about the irony that I spend a lot of time blogging for business, but very little blogging about the stories of my life (where blogging originally started). That’s one to ponder.

I’m also with you on the issue of gratitude – something we can practice daily and show our children so they feel it too. Every evening my daughter (she’s 11) and I discuss what has happened to us that’s been good and what we have appreciated in other people. It’s one of my favorite things to do with her. :)
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SandyMc January 30, 2014 at 7:08 am

Your daughter will be so grateful she learned gratitude Sharon. It sounds as if everyone would naturally do that, but I don’t believe they do, more is the pity. So hope you might be inspired to write a bit about all that experience stored up in your head Sharon, I’ll look forward to reading them when you do.
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Molly McCowan
Twitter:
January 30, 2014 at 12:35 am

“Do you also remember how our children would ask ‘why’ and ‘why’ and ‘why’ about everything that crossed their paths? It was how we taught them and how they learned. It’s not a bad habit to adopt later on in life. Continuously asking yourself why is not half so annoying! Like them the more we ask, the more we discover, the clearer we get.”

Yes, yes, and yes! This is something that is so valuable if we can just remember to keep doing it. I find myself asking “why” the most when I am approached by someone who wants me to take on a project that doesn’t move my business forward, or doesn’t interest me on a personal level.

Why should I take it on? The money? Well, I do need it, but what will this project really do for me? Will it take up valuable time that I could spend on other things that propel my business forward and lead to projects that have more value for me? Why do I get the gut feeling that I should pass on it altogether?

I think that the question “why?” is absolutely essential for all business owners to have in the back of their minds. Great advice!
Molly McCowan recently posted…How My Dog Makes Me a Better EditorMy Profile

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SandyMc January 30, 2014 at 7:06 am

Lovely to have you here Molly. It is a habit isn’t it, asking why. Too often, we just do stuff and too often there are consequences we hadn’t foreseen because we hadn’t thought to stop and reflect. Asking why is such a good exercise for reflection. Your example is a classic. Taking on work for the wrong reasons and discovering afterwards the 80/20 rule. Mostly when we do take on business for the wrong reasons it is 80 percent effort for 20 percent reward and you would have to ask yourself what if you had applied that 80 percent of energy to something you did want to do. Thanks for reminding us of that!
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Nick Armstrong
Twitter:
January 30, 2014 at 5:19 am

Boy Sandy…

This really needs to be turned into a book and disseminated to every Baby Boomer and early Gen-X’er everywhere. Empty-nesters can sometimes get into a huge rut, and it’s something only a really good purpose-driven project can turn around.

The best folks I know have totally re-invented themselves at a certain point in life (usually after their kids leave) and rock their new purpose with regular frequency. But it’s only because they didn’t give up on themselves that they could get to a point where creativity and courage and ballsy business moves weren’t a thing of their past.

I so want to see this as a book! :-) Great post.
Nick Armstrong recently posted…Baby Blues and Buyers Remorse: Expectations are EverythingMy Profile

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SandyMc January 30, 2014 at 7:03 am

Why thank you Nick, you have sort of pushed a trigger there. I have been toying with another blog, but perhaps the book comes first. There are a few Baby Boomers/Gen Xers around and not all of them have got their head around the mountain of value that is walking around in their brains, essentially unavailable to the rest of us. Many of them will have to reinvent themselves on an as needs basis. Things just aren’t what they were in the days when folk retired at 60 with a gold watch are they. I know a few folk who managed something similar, but they are in the minority. Imagine with what’s gone down in the USA, that might be the case over there too. Thank you for the encouragement Nick :)
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Blaze Lazarony
Twitter:
January 30, 2014 at 11:21 pm

Why, Why, and Why…not asking like a broken record, more like a sweet invitation to know, hear and understand that which is possible. I think WHY is one of the most powerful questions we can ever ask of ourselves and others.

Thanks for the reminder Sandy!

xoxo, Blaze
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SandyMc February 2, 2014 at 6:10 am

Hello Blaze and thanks for coming by. Amazing really to not have had front and centre all our adult lives childens’ insatiable curiosity, all based on constantly asking why. It is a powerful question. As an adult not always easy to make it habitual, but worth the work to try, same as being thankful. x
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Carol Lynn January 31, 2014 at 10:03 pm

Do I have to tell you yet again how I love the way you weave your stories? These are such great lessons, Sandy, and not just for sandwichers or people with kids but for anyone living life! There are lots of things we can take from kids (and what we remember from BEING kids) – the unafraid creativity, the whys, the joy, the storytelling… all those things we “grow out of” and then need to relearn later when someone offers us advice on how to live a better life or run a better business.

I can see some of this in my parents, who are old enough to retire… but can’t, so they have to basically keep reinventing expectations and what they are doing. They’ve cared for parents and children at the same time and for me it’s an inspiration. It’s a lesson in perseverance, sometimes endurance and always finding gratitude where you can.

As always I enjoyed reading your words!
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SandyMc February 2, 2014 at 6:05 am

Carol Lynn, the expression reinventing expectations is the title of a book I think. And it’s wonderful that your parents have managed it while being inspirational and teaching perseverance and endurance as they go. I find that inspiring too. As I reinvent expectations, I’m genuinely encouraged by your appreciation of these posts, thank you. A new passion is burning to help people realise their legacy of wisdom through blogging, and story-telling is the path I feel certain.
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