avatar

by Brooke McAlary

Brooke is a writer, gardener, inappropriate laugher, and big-time siesta advocate. She lives with her husband and two kids in the Blue Mountains of Australia and is on a mission to help you slow. right. down...... even just for a minute. Sound good?

Tell Your Story, Then Live It. The power of writing your own obituary.

Tell your story, then live it.

One of my favourite things to do on holiday is visit bookshops. I almost always buy a new book while away and have purchased countless Moleskins (unlined – all the better to doodle in!) before boarding a plane.

Last Christmas, while on holiday in Banff, I bought myself two game-changers. One was Amy Poehler’s ‘Yes, Please’ and the other was a squat little book called ‘642 Tiny Things to Write About’.

One of the first Tiny Things was to write the opening sentence of my own obituary.

It sounds a little macabre, a little morose, but it was truly one of the most inspiring and instructive things I’ve done.

Being a chronic over-writer, I couldn’t keep the exercise to just one sentence. Instead, I wrote four that summed up what I want to see, and more importantly, what I want others to see, when looking back.

Those four sentences have had a huge impact on my life. They’ve made me reframe what is important, what is worth risking and what is central to my core. They’ve clarified my goals, my dreams and what I hope to see as my legacy. They’ve helped me hone in on what is important for me, but even moreso, for my family.

If we take a moment to imagine ourselves standing at the end of life, looking back at the journey we’ve taken, we get the beautiful benefit of hindsight and the incredible opportunity to act upon it. That never happens.

So often we lament, “Hindsight is 20/20,” and accept, rightly so, that we simply don’t know what we don’t know. And while we still can’t know what the future holds for us, we can imagine – in brilliant detail, no less – what we hope to see as we look back.

Having that benefit of hindsight and the opportunity to act upon it is like rewriting a history that hasn’t happened yet. And it gets to be the history you want.

I’m not talking about manifesting yourself a life of wealth, power and fame. But the things that matter – family, friends, love, compassion – can exist regardless of the circumstances of the life you live. And I’d wager that these feature heavily when looking back at a life fully lived.

Not the car we drove. Or the school we went to. Or the brand of jeans we bought.

Adventure. Willingness to try. Joy. Spirit. Compassion. Heart. Sense of humour. Fair-mindedness. Ambition. Tenacity. Unconditional love. 

Take a moment to ask yourself: what will I see when I look back?

Oh, and for what it’s worth, I hope my obituary will be delivered by my two children and given to a room full of friends and family. I hope the service is followed by one heck of a shindig in my honour, and I hope my remains are buried and turned into something beautiful, like a tree.

“Quick to laugh, creative, compassionate, with a wicked sense of humour, Mum was never without a new plan or adventure on the horizon. She was spontaneous, loyal, introspective and a little moody, and she made one hell of an Old Fashioned. Mum, we will miss you always. Thank you for our roots, but thank you even more for our wings.”

Join the Conversation
Engage the core to find balance

Engage the core.

Last year, my husband and kids bought me a slackline for Mother’s Day. Basically, it’s a 2-inch wide tightrope strung between two trees. You can balance on it, walk along it, perform tricks, or even practice yoga on it. When I first set the line up in our backyard, I couldn’t even stand up on (read more…)

Join the Conversation
Be yourself - everyone else is taken.

On being you

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson Recently I attended a conference where I met someone whom I can only describe as “my people”. For me, a relatively introverted, insecure woman, it’s always a revelation when you meet someone you (read more…)

Join the Conversation
Don't save your stickers

Stop saving your stickers

I was a pretty cautious kid. I didn’t want to make mistakes, disappoint anyone or regret a decision. I prided myself on being the “good girl” and remember the sting of doing the wrong thing at school or with my friends. I distinctly remember crying at night for at least a week because I decided I (read more…)

Join the Conversation
Tree from the ground, looking up.

How is your other half?

In our backyard stands a beautiful tree. A liquid ambar that is at least 20 meters tall. She makes a heap of colorful mess for three months of the year, but bathes the back deck in gorgeous, dappled shade for seven more. So we forgive her. Not long before we moved here, the previous owner (read more…)

Join the Conversation