04/05/2011 05:51 pm ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Legacy Writing: (R)evolution

How do we individually echo the larger changes happening today in nature (earthquakes and tsunamis) and our political worlds (revolutions throughout North Africa and the Middle East)?

Simultaneously the season is changing, replacing the deep stillness and hibernation of winter with the awakening that heralds spring. This transition returns the birds; crocuses pulse toward the sun out of the warming earth; restless, jacket-free children hit the playgrounds; lovers laugh; creativity bursts forth in us and beyond us, potential manifesting new realities. Each of us needs the courage to be awake to confront the changes happening within and beyond us.

How do we go forth? Are we seeking the opportunities or resisting the changes with clenched fists and eyes shut tight? Aren't we powerless to stop the momentum, the transition, whether it's a tsunami in Japan, a lake's ice melting, rivers flooding after a snowy winter, youth awakening, yearning for freedom and democracy? Change happens, but if we're resisting and denying, we miss the joy and the awe of the moment.

"And moments that should each last forever

Slide unconsciously by us like water."

--Kenneth Rexroth

How often have we heard that change is the only constant, that we're not in charge, that we only have control over our perspective and attitudes about what's happening to us? We can either appreciate and experience the preciousness of the moment, or we can experience the evolution and revolution in our world, with our heads in the sand, ostrich-like, holding back, mule-like. Nonetheless we flow with or are dragged forward by the momentum of change.

It's easy to write about this abstractly; the challenge to live it is another story. And to share revolution and its meaning as a legacy to those we love and those yet unborn is a gift to them and, perhaps more, a gift of clarity of purpose for ourselves.

My personal (r)evolution of this season in my life is about learning how to be openhearted, kind, trusting, truthful -- in other words, risking loving another. These are values I've long espoused, but not qualities I developed in my growing-up family, nor in a long marriage. It has been a long winter! I told myself it was my karma, that to love and be loved was neither an opportunity nor a lesson I was to have this life.

Unexpectedly, a man has come into my life, beginning with an invitation to study sacred texts together. It has developed into a sweet friendship. The movement within me is like a frozen creek melting, gurgling and flowing, slowed by twigs and moldy leaves from past seasons. Alternately I sparkle with discovery, laughter and joy, then refreeze into old patterns of fear and distrust evocative of the historic, protective cold of my personal winter, where voices warn me that I'm "not enough," that I'm "going to get hurt." Cautioned from within to defend myself from anticipated rejection, my heart closes. In this internal winter I am self-absorbed, alone, afraid and protective. I continue learning from this spiritual revolution within: to leave winter behind for the beauty of spring.

What I can leave as a legacy is my learning: about how I deal with personal (r)evolutions and stay attentive to larger revolutions in the world; about my desire to face the changes in my life with love and awe, and to record my learning as a gift to my family and loved ones -- expressing my values, my gratitude and the blessings of my life.

"A revolution resembles the death of a fading star, an exhilarating Technicolor explosion that gives way not to an ordered new galaxy but to a nebula, a formless cloud of shifting energy. And though every revolution is different ... all revolutions are local."

Suggestions For Action

1) Reflect on your personal changes (internal [R]evolutions) in this season, spring 2011, and the season you are experiencing in your life.

"Gardening is not a rational act. What matters is the immersion of the hands in the earth, that ancient ceremony.... In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt."

--Margaret Atwood

2) Journal about the challenge of change, focusing on your memories of earlier significant changes in your life, your feelings and your learning.

3) Reflect on revolution, its opportunities and its dangers. Consider what your experience with revolution has taught you and is teaching you about yourself and your life.

4) When you've exhausted the subject, journal one more entry, connecting your personal (R)evolution to the larger revolutions occurring at this moment in history throughout the world.

5) Write a letter to someone(s) to express and preserve your values, who you are and what you believe is significant about (R)evolution as a legacy you choose to preserve and communicate to the future.

6) Consider sending a copy of this letter to yourself as a gift to support your (R)evolutions, as well as to preserve the history of this time as a legacy to others yet unborn.

"May you and your loved ones,

present and future,

experience gratitude

for the growth of internal and external


--Rachael Freed


Rachael Freed has several published works, including "Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future Generations" and "Heartmates: A Guide for the Spouse and Family of the Heart Patient." She is currently working on "Harvesting the Wisdom of Our Lives: An Inter-generational Legacy Guide for Seniors and Their Families." A Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota's Center for Spirituality and Healing, Rachael is a clinical social worker, adult educator and legacy consultant.

For more information, visit and Follow Rachael on Twitter @LegacyWriting.