I am in Montana, helping with grandchildren, working on house projects, and reflecting on many thoughts and ideas. As a woman in my late 60's, I have struggled with 'retirement' but, thankfully, found an encore work of helping others write legacy life stories/legacy books. I was unsure how I would use this newly found passion, floundering a bit as I went through the motions of starting up a small business for personal legacy writing. In recent months I have gained more clarity for my 'niche', or more likely, my 'niche' has found me.


My legacy writing began with my genealogy research and writing historical fiction narratives about my ancestors, collected in a photo memory book. Following this book, a dear friend, who suffered from a terminal neurological disease, asked if I would assist her in writing a legacy book for her grandchildren. We met weekly, me with an audio recorder, her with her remarkable life stories, then I transcribed them for her book. We then added corresponding photographs, completing her legacy book shortly after her death. It was a sacred, holy ground time for us, and her stories have deeply embedded in my heart.


I then completed another heartfelt project by helping a close friend compile childhood memories, writing them into children's stories for a legacy book for her children and family. We added illustrations drawn by her sister, mother, and daughter, along with many photographs. Again, the only way to describe this project was sacred and from the heart.


I am completing a legacy book for an elderly woman whose father raised her and her sisters in a rustic mountain cabin in Montana without water or electricity. This lovely woman has mild cognitive impairment and was desperate to get her personal stories written and compiled in a book with photos to pass on to her daughters, grandchildren, and even great-grands.


I now see my legacy story writing niche as helping women in life transitions, particularly end-of-life journeys, who want to write and tell their sacred stories to compile in a book for their family and friends. While writing and gathering the personal stories of these three courageous women, I have reflected on my journey and this phase of life I am in. I have seen the need for larger margins in life that accompany aging. We begin to have beloved friends and family members become ill and need our caregiving and comfort. Caregiving made me retire to be a care partner with my husband as his mother declined with dementia. Adult children begin their caregiving journey for their aging parents but also in supporting their friends who are walking that arduous journey themselves.


I see a correlation between margins in a book and our life. I want to share these observations with you:


Book Margins

  • Aesthetics: Margins provide visual breathing space, making the text easier to read
  • Legibility: Ample margins prevent the text from running too close to the edge of the page to be clear and readable
  • Annotations and notes: Readers can use margins to jot down notes and highlight important passages (this is huge for me-I can't read a book without making notes in the margins)
  • Balance on each page: Margins create structural balance to be pleasant and readable

Margins in Our Lives

  • Aesthetics of life: Just like margins in a book provide visual breathing space, creating margins allows us to find balance and reduce stress.
  • Clarity and focus: Margins in life provide mental and emotional space, preventing us from getting overwhelmed and allowing us to focus on what truly matters.
  • Room for growth: Margins in our schedules allow us to pursue personal development, hobbies, and new experiences.
  • Time for reflection: having margins in life lets us reflect on our thoughts, feelings, and actions
  • Emotional resilience: building margins enable us to handle challenges and setbacks
  • Meaningful connections: creating margins allows us to invest time in building meaningful relationships and connections with others. Connections are essential as we age; to make authentic, vulnerable connections with others takes intention and time.
  • Creative expression: Having margins allows us to explore new ideas and express ourselves. Guided autobiography, legacy story writing is one such creative endeavor.


And so, friends, I encourage you to reflect on your life. Are you so busy that you do not have time to connect with close friends? If someone was sick and needed your care, would you have the flexibility to be there for them? Are you so busy that you do not have time for solitude and reflection?  If you lack healthy margins to share your gifts and talents with those around you, I encourage you to build some so that you live with your 'cup running over, drinking from the saucer of life!'