If you live for 80 years, what do you want your legacy to be? You get 80 years to live, love, make mistakes, grow, stumble, influence, learn and impact. 80 years to build the life you want. Today, January 19, 2023, would have been my father’s 80th birthday. He passed away on December 23, 2022, just shy of reaching that 80th milestone in life. Today, we celebrate his first heavenly birthday and everything he accomplished in his 79 years of living.
I will forever remember various profound moments December 22 to December 30, 2022. I had the great honor of speaking on behalf of my four older siblings at my father’s memorial service on December 30, 2022. I spoke about my father’s very fulfilled life. A fulfilled life is sometimes described as being filled with purpose and satisfaction. A fulfilled life involves vision, is highly meaningful and and requires intensive alignment. My father, Dr. Bobby Lee Lovett. knew his purpose young and walked steadfast in that purpose for more than 79 years.
I will turn 35 this year and I admittedly am still working on feeling fulfilled and walking more confidently in my life’s purpose. And I think that is okay. My father spent his later birthdays meditating and fasting as he prepared for another year of life. He was grateful for each day. This afternoon, I will mediate in his honor and will do so each year on his birthday moving forward. Today, I want to share the ways in which I will keep my father’s spirit and legacy alive.
A Love of Reading
My father was the foremost historian of Tennessee state history and a leading historian of African American history. He was the former Dean of College of Arts & Sciences at Tennessee State University. Reading was not only an important part of his work, but something he truly enjoyed doing. Truthfully, I haven’t read a physical book for pleasure or education since graduate school. See the next sentence before you judge me. But I do read articles and essays regularly. I just consume digitally rather than digitally. At least once or twice a month, my father would ask me what book I was reading. I of course never had a solid answer. In 2023, I’ve committed to reading one physical book a month. A lofty goal; I know. I’m starting January with “Atomic Habits“. Obviously, I need this book to build the habit of reading one book a month. Ideally, I’ll share what I read each month on here or my social channels. For now, I’m just focusing on carving out time for going to buy and sitting to leisurely reading.
A Passion For Writing
My father was an award-winning author. He published eight books in his lifetime and was working on his ninth during his passing. My four siblings and I have committed to completing his ninth book and getting it published in his honor. This is also part of the reason I want to better support the art of writing in the physical form. My promise to myself is to do a much better job of writing on this blog, writing in my journal and writing to my loved ones. Like my father, I’ve always loved writing. I placed 1st and 3rd in a city-wide writing competition when I was younger. I need to get back to writing passionately and about things I care about. There is something beautiful about the long-form written word that just doesn’t quite translate to a social post caption.
Helping Others Prosper
When I was younger, my favorite toy was a double-sided Sesame Street dry erase/chalkboard. I loved to play class. My father was a tenured professor and taught all his life. My mother is also a former award-winning English teacher and principal. I always said I wanted to be a teacher, but my parents steered me in another direction they thought would be more freeing and lucrative. While they were right, I still have an urge to help others grow and prosper. My teaching social media and blogging is not traditional like my parents, but it’s part of my purpose. I truly love helping others realize their dreams through my company. And I’m blessed to be able to mentor young college students. While it doesn’t look like my childhood dream yet, it’s what I’m meant to do right now. I have committed to being Dr. Lovett one day soon and then plan to find myself in a more traditional classroom teaching the next generation of marketers.
Beauty in Balance
My father worked very hard all of his life. He put himself through college, graduate school and his PhD program; all while raising a family. He instilled the value of hard work and determination in all of his children along with the importance and power of education. With those things he showed us financial stability and independence was achievable. I work hard to not only ensure I remain secure, but also to see that my life is flexible and in balance. The balance I seek is constantly moving. This is because I want to feel accomplished, advance in my field while still doing the things that bring me joy with the people that make me smile.
I once told my father how deeply unhappy I was at an old company I was once at and how it made me unable to find joy in anything outside of work. My life was out of balance during that time. I had all of the money a 20-something could want, but could not enjoy it. My dad gave me great advice and I was eventually able to leave that job on my own terms for a much better position. After that, my dad would call me or ask me in-person if I was happy. I always answered as honestly as I could each time. I think keeping my life in balance is a beautiful way to honor my father. As I said, I believe balance is a moving target. As your life evolves you have to shift, recalibrate and adjust. 2023 is my year for finding balance where I work hard, but also live to enjoy.
I want someone to speak on my life and say it was very fulfilled. That is why I’m still working on walking steadfast in my purpose, finding satisfaction, having a clear vision for myself and positively impacting others and my community.
Today and everyday, I say, I love you Daddy. Thank you for helping create the privileged and amazing life I am able to live. I’ll have a great story of my very fulfilled life to tell you when I see you again. Until then, watch the highlights with a smile and come find me during the lowlights. I adore you, admire you and I am so honored to be your daughter.
Leigh F. Lovett
You can learn more about Dr. Bobby Lee Lovett, his books and his work by visiting his site. His books.
My Daddy Love.