The first definition of heal is to make sound or whole. As you reflect on your legacy story and in the process of telling it, whether you’re writing, recording, or drawing, you examine the not good as well as the good. To begin your legacy story, you may do a free write, or review photos, scrapbooks, videos, and letters. The review will renew memories, some will be so strong you’ll be able to not only see, but smell, feel, and hear people and events you hadn’t thought about for years.
You’ll find the challenges you thought you’d never survive but did. And you’ll cry over the losses of people, things, and places. You may still cringe over the times you were mistreated. But now, you’ll look at them from the distance of time and more experience. You’ll understand why you’ve become who you are and what you’ve learned from these experiences. You’ll find yourself filling in spaces in your memory you’d forgotten and understanding how certain events led you to be who you are, where you are, and what you’re doing now.
Our lives are like a puzzle as we live them, time and reflection give you an eagle’s view of your life. You may be surprised with the new insights you gain. Seeing the complete picture of yourself from the puzzle pieces of your life will give you a sense of wholeness. And this knowledge allows you to see the value of your legacy story.
when was the last time you heard a politician say, “We need to work to heal our economic disparity.” How often do you hear, “Our educational system needs to heal the problems of declining reading scores.” Or what news commentator has said, “America needs to heal its relationship with sexual relations and identities.”
When you see a problem as a situation needing healing, you can approach the problem with a sense of balance. Differing opinions, opposite views can be discussed from the perspective of overcoming problems for the benefit of all. You too can do the same with your legacy story. You may have a legacy story about how you overcame a disease, or succeeded as an entrepreneur, or salvaged your marriage. Even if you don’t feel you had major problems you overcame, you’ve had smaller challenges you had to surmount.
As you think about those issues and examine them, you’ll see the lessons you learned. The wisdom you gained becomes your legacy story to serve as a lighthouse for your children or other youth. And this is one of the most important reasons to share your legacy story. Our children, the children of women of color, specifically Black and Native Americans, are now having the highest percentage of suicides and murder.
How you were able to surpass obstacles placed before you provide a light to guide these children and youth over the tumultuous storms of living in the 21st century. Know your legacy story can heal, not only yourself but millions of young people.
How many times in your life have you ended a relationship with someone you thought was a friend and later regretted the separation? To patch up a breach between friends is the third definition of heal. I take this definition and expand it to apply it to your legacy story. A breach is a break or disruption that can occur with friends, family, acquaintances, or colleagues. Patching up can take the form of examining the relationship to better understand what happened and why you responded as you did at that time.
Or now that time has passed and you’ve been looking at your life for your legacy story, you can see why that relationship was important and how it changed. In some cases, you may actually decide to heal the relationship by reconnecting with the person and sharing your new insights and understandings. What is most important is finding the lessons you’ve learned from broken relationships.
As you tell your legacy story, your lessons can serve to help others build and heal their relationships. Telling a story about how a friendship began, met a crisis, was discontinued, and later healed are transformational stories. This type of healing is a bridge you cross. Your walk begins with you who was totally focused on your needs and your story at the time of the breach.
As you reflect and examine the relationship for your legacy story you are crossing the bridge. By the time you reach the other side, you’re able to recall the good times of the relationship before the breach. You’re able to communicate the needs and feelings of the other person and how you both contributed to ending the relationship.
You may not be able to heal all of your broken relationships in your life, in person. But by telling your legacy story you’ll heal the memories and offer valuable lessons for others.
One morning as I lay in bed reflecting on my life, I realized I had a sense of joy, wonder, trust, and gratitude when I was a little girl. Immediately I understood the importance of the last definition of heal for your legacy story, to restore to original purity or integrity.
Life – experiences, people, places impact you from the moment you’re born. For a brief time, in childhood, you tasted the joyous freedom of just being. But as you travel through life you encounter the detours of judgment, expectations, and disappointments. These detours can take you away from the sweet state of just being as you surrender to meeting the rules of “growing up,” “fitting in,” and “achieving success.”
When you reflect on telling your legacy story, you find yourself walking a road that leads to the end of a rainbow. You’re able to embrace the free child you were and to see how you sometimes detours caused you to get lost, or blocked, or led to a better path. At the end of the rainbow is the pure light of who you are in all of your original splendor and pristine beauty.
To claim and share your original, pure being is your gift to your family and the world. You can write your legacy story as a book, an article, or a poem. You can record an audio or videotape. Your legacy story can be a drawing or photo collage. If you’re dramatic or musical, your legacy story can be a play, or movie, song, or musical. Considering different ways of telling your legacy story frees you up to be creative and to just begin doing an activity that brings you pleasure and encourages your creativity.
It’s never too late or too early to begin your legacy story. You may also find you have more than one legacy story to tell. You may have a legacy story about your happy marriage and another about your business success. Or you may have a legacy story of how you overcame an abusive childhood and another about your travels around the world.
What’s important is to know you have a legacy story, your family and the world needs to hear. You can receive assistance in developing your legacy story and sharing it in The Legacy Story Project.