[Author’s note: For all those who missed the mea culpa column I wrote the week after the Moving to Mississippi debacle, let me just reiterate – we are not moving, nor have any plans or aspirations to ever move to Mississippi. Thank you for your concern.]
It’s finally March, also known as Fool’s Spring, Second (Third?) Winter, March Madness, and my birthSEASON. Yes, on the Ides of March, I turn 52.
As you may know, I am a complete birthday addict. I love everything about my birthday – cake, being made much of, presents, cards, being made much of, phone calls and Facebook posts from friends, being the center of attention…you get the picture. I have never seen any reason to limit my birthday to one day when there are so many other days so stretch out the celebration of me. Not everyone understands this viewpoint, but fortunately most everyone just goes along with me and my demands.
The interesting thing is that now I’m getting to a place in my life where big things are going to start changing. My oldest will be headed to college in just over a year. My youngest is out of here in 3+ years. They already don’t need me for much more than groceries and gas. Mike and I are looking at an empty nest sooner rather than later and that’s going to be an evolution of our relationship and spare time – much of which orbits around the boys.
I’ve been the Director of the CVC for ten years in September and while I still maintain that I’m only leaving this job feet-first, eventually it will be time for someone else to take over the helm. And just to squash any potential rumors about myself that I would be inadvertently starting, no! I am not leaving my job! I have no plans, interest, or intention of leaving my job! CVC Director for life! Ok?
But thinking about my next chapter is exciting, scary, and necessary. Reflecting on leaving a legacy behind me is all those things too.
I was invited to a workshop on “becoming a wise elder by reviewing your life’s journey and harvesting the wisdom of your experiences to pass on as your legacy.” At first, I was a little stunned. Excuse me – I may now be seriously middle-aged but ‘harvesting my wisdom’? Calling me a ‘sage’? Sure, the grey stripe in my hair is natural but must we hurry down this path? Then I had more thoughts.
First, what a compliment to be included and how amazing to be given the time and space to reflect on where I am now and where I could go from here. Second, we have no idea when our last day here will be. I want to make sure I’m making the very best use of myself and my opportunities to live every day well and fully. Am I passing on my core values to my kids? When I’m gone, will they know what I stood for, what was important to me, what my impact on their lives was? How will I be remembered by them? Will they be better for having me in their lives? Will anyone?
Someone was telling me they moved to Sheridan a few years ago and attended the Keystone Awards. Listening to the impact the honorees made on their community made this couple look at each other and say, “we want to be up on that stage someday.” That’s being intentional about your legacy.
It doesn’t matter how much money you have. It doesn’t matter how much power you have. What matters is how you use your influence, and everyone has influence, whether they recognize it or not. You decide if you’re patient with the mom and her screaming toddler in line at Ridley’s. You decide if you pick up the trash on the sidewalk and put it in a nearby trash can. You decide if you cheerfully greet every person who crosses your path, no matter what. That’s influence and it makes a difference and it makes up your legacy.
So I’ll be headed into number 52 with cake and dancing and hopefully piles of presents. And I’ll hope this is just one of many birthdays I’ll be given to continue to make an impact.