3 Outlandish Steps To Craft A Better Legacy

When I interviewed Sheryl Gillett, the expert appraiser, she was talking about determining the value of things that you might want to pass down to your children. 

That got me thinking about about my own move to the beach.  In case you don’t know, my husband and I lived in the suburbs before moving to the beach.  In that house in the suburbs, we had acquired so much stuff.  

If you came into the house you wouldn’t think it look cluttered but we had grow into the space.  Empty drawers don’t exist in most homes. In our old home, things looked deceptively streamlined but the truth was we owned a whole lotta stuff. 

It was more stuff than could possibly fit in our small beach house.  You always think your kids will want all of your good stuff but I’m here to tell you THEY DON’T WANT IT!! So we ended up selling 80% of what we owned to downsize ourselves into a small beach house.

We worked with an estate sales company and they methodically organized and priced every item and  after they had put all the items on long tables for the estate sale, they asked my husband and I to stop by one last time to make sure there were no mistakes and that we wanted to sell all of those things.  

We were already living at the beach so we made the trip back to the house the night before the estate sale.  We really weren’t prepared for what we were going to see. It was a bit shocking.  To be honest, it made me cringe.

Let me set the scene. It was late at night when we arrived at our house. Everything we were taking with us had already been moved out.  Have you ever gone back to a house you’ve basically moved out of?  It doesn’t look nice to you anymore.  It looks empty and not fresh-empty.  It looks a bit stale.  On top of that, the estate sales team had brought in many long plastic folding tables for organizing the sale. 

We walked in, turned on the lights, and saw all those tables lined up in rows and they were filled with our stuff.  What stuff, you ask?  Well, there were dishes, cups, glasses, serving platters, table cloths, candle holders, books, planter pots, art supplies, clothing…. You get the idea.  

It felt like the remnants of a life. It was a bit of an out-of-body experience.  I felt like I had wasted time and money. Months and months of time and MANY thousands of dollars had been spent accumulating things that had no place in our new home. 

I had invested so much of myself into all this stuff. It made me think of how I could have spent the time differently, making more of an impact on people instead of deliberating over stuff.  

As an interior designer, shopping is part of the job description. I get sent a lot of information about large estates being auctioned off.  A whole lot of people collect a whole lot of stuff—good stuff—expensive stuff—but in the end, their families don’t want to keep it.

In the interview I did with Sheryl Gillett we talked about determining the value of your good things that you might want to pass down to your children or gift to a philanthropic organization. What we were really talking about was legacy. And while money and personal property might be part of a person’s legacy, legacy is really about something so much deeper and more significant than those things. If your kids don’t want a lot of your things, what are they clamoring for? A big inheritance might be nice but very few have it to give. So what else is there?

The first time I really thought about legacy, I had small children. My daughter was only five when my mother-in-law became ill with cancer and within a few short months she succumbed to it.  

The experience rocked my world. My mother-in-law was pretty exceptional.  She had twelve grown children, one of which was my husband. She could make a delicious meal for twenty-five people in no time and make it look easy peasy.  Throwing large parties for a hundred was no big deal.  

Yet my fondest memories of her are more personal ones.  She had this vibrant energy.  Her blue eyes sparkled when she talked. She was focused on having a great time wherever she went.  She really enjoyed a party and she steered the conversation to common interests. She’d invite you to things she thought you’d enjoy.  It might be a special lunch or a show in the city. It was never boring. Being around her was fun.

What is the greatest thing anyone can give to us? Their kindness and love? Their compassion and understanding? Their genuine interest in us? Their precious time? How about wonderful, happy memories of good times together?

For most of us, the years rush by and stuff just happens by default. Maybe the default that most of us accept for our lives is okay but why settle for that?  Don’t you want to live more intentionally?  

This is a good time to share with you that I've created a freebie tool just for you on this topic. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how to intentionally design experiences that will foster legacy. If this is something you're interested in you can get this free fun sheet by clicking here.

Things change a lot when you have grown children.  If you’re already there, you understand what I’m saying.  Distance may seriously affect your togetherness. I have a lot of friends whose children have moved to other states. Some are living in other countries.  My friends are really grappling with how to connect when there are so many miles between them.  

I’ve found that even if  your kids live nearby, you may not make it onto their calendars as often as you’d like. I guess it’s kind of good because it usually means they’re happy. Finding time to be together may be really tough so when you do have the chance to be together, you really want to make the most of it.

I just happen to be reading a new book by Laura Vanderkam because I’m interviewing her in a few weeks. The book’s called Off The Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done. Laura says that “when enough sameness stacks up, whole years disappear into memory sinkholes.” Isn’t that poetic!  She says  “the creation of memories is within our control when life is oriented toward adventure. Going through normal life, you might only remember half a dozen interesting events over the past two weeks. Travel somewhere exotic, and you can have half a dozen new experiences before breakfast.”  
I know most of us would love to take our families to an exotic, far-away land but that may not be practical.  The good news is that you can have a mind-set for adventure in the city you live in just by seeking out new and unique experiences over the more run-of-the-mill. 

We just had the pleasure of this kind of adventure.  We went to the Bay Area to visit with family and they took us on a wonderful exploration of new places.  We’ve been to San Francisco so many times over the years but doing all these new, unusual things created vibrant new memories intertwined with the oldest of relationships, with those we hold dearest….

So what did we do?  We went to the new Oakland Cathedral in Oakland, California.  It is absolutely beautiful with modern architecture that you could enjoy for hours.  We toured the whole building. Afterwards, we had lunch on Lake Merritt at The BoatHouse. If you ever fly into Oakland, you probably have been on the freeways going through the area but it was really wonderful to stop and spend time in a very unique way.  

Later that evening we went into San Francisco to see Beach Blanket Babylon, the oldest continuously running musical revue in the nation. My husband and I had enjoyed the show 30 years prior.  We had a vague recollection but mostly we remembered who we went with and lots of laughter.  This time it was just as much fun. A late night dinner on Washington Square finished out the perfect day. Did I mention that we bought hats in a special hat shop and took pictures to commemorate our very special weekend?  I feel confident that it will become a “hall of fame” memory for all of us.

Are you interested in taking up this challenge to create a mindset of adventure, even if you can’t hop on an airplane? I created a freebie tool to help you reflect on the most important people in your life and figure out adventurous ways to create the heartwarming memories they’ll love.

What would be an adventurous outing for your gang?  We have friends who do research into new restaurants and make a point to try one out every month.  There are classes you can sign up for to learn new things like sailing or French cooking. What would you think about taking a walking tour to explore a new area?  Within a three hour drive of where you live, is there a new place you could explore?  

Being intentional about anything takes a bit of work.  It seems to me that almost anything worth doing takes effort but I’ve always found that effort to be so worthwhile. The experience and future memories will be worth it.  

You’ll need to plan ahead. Even if you carefully schedule your time other things can creep into the picture and derail your plans if you let them. You’ll need to make sure you go through with it.  And while it’s happening, you’ll have to make sure you don’t mess it up.  
When you’re with family or even good friends, have you noticed that some subjects just aren’t worthwhile to bring up?  Some topics just cause friction so why go there? Why not focus on your common ground?  

​​​​​​​I’m convinced that every family has at least one subject that causes sparks to fly.  And while your family members may come around to your way of thinking with time and experience it’s likely that the more you insist, the more they’ll resist.  You may wander into these badlands without thinking. It happens. You have an option. You can just change your focus and move off those tender issues. 

Think about it… if it’s tender for the two of you, you’re probably too emotionally invested to be objective. Maybe you need someone a bit removed to help navigate the conversation. As parents, we always think we’re right but we can’t live other people’s lives. And that’s actually a really good thing.

So let’s review the three outlandish steps you can use to craft a better legacy.

#1   If you’re like most of us, you’ve accumulated too much stuff over the years and your kids are not going to want it. Rethink how you spend your time and money.

#2   If you take up a mindset of adventure, you can experience “hall of fame” memory making with those dearest to you.  Say no to routine.

#3   Don’t get derailed by conversations that cause friction during your adventures. Focus your attention on common ground. 


Intentionally design experiences that foster legacy with those closest to you. ~ Design Your Second Half, the podcast
Wishing you a lifestyle you love,

 ~ Nancy
To be inspired by past podcast posts, click here.