For the last several years April has meant participating in the #AtoZchallenge. A to Z is an annual writing challenge that encourages writers and bloggers to create 26 thematically related posts over the course of a month.
Why would anyone want to do this?
Writers are odd ducks who often need a push to write. Yes, we love to write, but the discipline to write what you intend to write, need to write, and also meets a pertinent goal that moves you forward is difficult to achieve and maintain. But we need it. Little tricks help.
So last year I chose topics related to memory and got through the first week of daily posting.
Memory and legacy interlace as the how and why of what creates the meaning in and of lives. I suppose we could talk about memory without discussing legacy, but you cannot speak of legacy, any legacy, any meaning of the word, without considering how memory is a component of creating and recalling legacy.
Routines, Ruts, and Time Off
At that point I figured out a bunch of stuff I did not already know about writing a series of related posts. Then I realized I that by doing the writing on memory, though it was a topic I wanted to explore, was not really giving myself the time off from producing content that was the sabbatical I needed. I desperately needed enough space from regularly doing what I had done for around the past five years to get a handle on what I needed to do, and what I wanted to do, for the next five years or so. Routines, though incredibly important to successful writing, can also create a prison of uninspiring normalcy if inspiration is lacking.
If I had been 20 years younger and felt the way I felt a year ago, I might have felt I needed to get a divorce, or do something equally drastic, but age and time tend to develop a perspective that some people call wisdom. I realized that if I was in a marriage that has lasted 30 years, the problems I was experiencing, even if they seem rooted in relationship, probably stem from my relationship with myself.
So last year I opted to do some things to inspire me that I really, really wanted to do. Things that I hoped would free the perceived bonds that chaffed at my soul.
Doing the Things You Have Put Off
- TRAVEL and FAMILY. I vacationed in New York City with the Hubster while he attended an international meeting in central NYC but we arrived a couple days early, to enjoy the lush digs of a nice hotel and its central location, an to meet up with my step-daughter who fortuitously was sans kids and hubby that week. We got to reconnect with her, as herself, outside of all her other demanding roles.
- I obtained a NYC Public Library card and hung out doing some research about women at the turn of the 19th to 20th Century. I had always fantasized about getting to hang out in the NYC Public Library.
- we ate at amazing, inexpensive, holes in the wall – Tibetan restaurant in Queens
- we ate a leisurely dinner while overlooking the water at a Ukrainian restaurant near Brighton Beach near
- visited Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum of Art
- saw Burn This starring Adam Driver on Broadway
- drank lots of drinks at patio bars, balcony bars, cafes in parks
- ate pizza, bagels, and all that
- spent the day at The Wing in Dumbo with my step-daughter – what a wonderful co-working space!
- ORGANIZING. And perhaps, most significantly, I hired an organizer to help me deal with the overwhelming bunch of family stuff I had accumulated
- she was positive, fully engaged, and got that I had many areas of things I love as a collector.
- by the end of the month we had worked together for about 20 hours and consolidated, sorted, gave away, and sold the things that were taking up space but providing any thing of value to me.
- The kitchen, pantry, outdoor utility closet, living room (more like a parlor housing some of our best family kitsch) my office, and our guest room/craft room are logically organized, habitable, and non-stress-inducing.
Living My Legacy Now
- FAMILY. The grand-twins, age 9, visited from Brooklyn, sans their mom who was still enjoying her freedom for a bit,
- attended a real western horse camp, not a riding class, for the second year in a row, with the owner and instructor of the Montessori School where their aunt attended pre-school 25 years ago as well as the first horse camp he organized.
- It was a camp legacy that warms my heart. And since we don’t know when we will be able to travel cross country again, I am glad they had such a wonderful time visiting Arizona.
- AND MORE FAMILY. The Hubster and I also drove to our daughter and son-in-law’s home in California for the first Thanksgiving she hosted. It was wonderful, though the weather was a bit dicey.
- got to have a cup of coffee with an old friend on the way through Bakersfield
- enjoyed the views of the distant, snow covered Sierras
- put a jigsaw puzzle together over the course of a few days, just like we did when she was little
- decorated their first Christmas tree with the old ornaments passed down through my family I had brought with me for her turn to care for and add to the collection
- also saw my grand-puppies, Labrador age 13, and Dogue de Bordeaux age 11, it turns out for the last time. They were so happy to see us. They both passed away within a week of each other about a month ago.
Learning New Stuff for Enjoyment
- I also decided to register for a conference I had wanted to attend for ages, sort of a feminist seminar crossed with a history conference.
- The conference that took place early this year focused on the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution that granted the voted to women which was ratified on August 26th 1920.
- I learned a bunch about the history of the suffrage movement that goes with the sociocultural changes with which I was already familiar
Essentially, I immersed myself in family and women’s history, I relaxed and enjoyed myself. By the end of the year, that actually ran February to February, I had found that I knew how I wanted to channel my writing so as to form a business around it. I decided to sign up and work through a blogging business course, so as to revamp my website, create products, and focus on sharing what I have learned in the last decade and a half about family legacy, the knowledge I have amassed about women’s culture in the decades since I first studied anthropology, and about gaining the strength to persevere by learning to place myself and my life’s path within the rubric of women’s legacy in a way that I hope helps others along the way.
Freshly Inspired and Ready to Go
Follow along with me as I embark on a more focused set of writings about living your legacy now so that those who come after you, and me, might have a more coherent, integrated understanding of society and culture, and how men and women have created the place where they find themselves, and how to work together to progress toward a better future.
You have knowledge that should be shared. We all do.
Do whatever you need to do to find your inspiration to create your story, perhaps via a blog as I talked about not so long ago.
I’ve posted many prompts over the years that also may help to evoke seasonal memories worth writing about or sharing. Just do a search in the search box above for the word “prompts.”
You might even consider creating an A to Z of your life if you are trying to get started on writing a memoir or organizing your experience into a legacy item. It is a technique that has worked well for me.