Justin Ricklefs


Thoughts on Leaving a Legacy and How Taylor Swift is Helping me Shake it Off

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to have a piece featured on HuffPost Parents. This happened around the same time we were moving into a 150 year old house near our hometown.


I’ll come back to the house.

I’m grateful the article resonated with people around the globe. It was translated to German, French, Italian and Spanish. I’ve received dozens of emails from many of you telling me specific ways it has impacted you.

Divorced guys navigating single fatherhood. Dads working 80+ hours a week, realizing that their provision for their family doesn’t buy their presence.

Dads that went on their first daddy / daughter date.  Women reminded of special times with own dads.

Real stuff.  Hard.  Humbling.  Important.

By and large, the piece was received with fantastic feedback. But for all the positive reactions, there was a decent amount of criticism as well.

I was called expletive filled names. People told me that my parenting advice was like a little-leaguer giving hitting instructions to a major-leaguer. Older guys told me that I’ll regret what I wrote when I have teenagers. And one guy instructed people to never trust a guy who likes Taylor Swift. He probably has a point.

It’s not easy, especially for an approval seeking addict like myself, but my friend Taylor’s advice to “Shake it Off” has been helpful these past few weeks.

Some of the negative talk has been tremendously helpful, but some of it simply has to be ignored.

Because this is a topic that matters. Helping dads reclaim the stuff that is meaningful matters. Reminding people that the good stuff is worth fighting for matters. Thinking about leaving a meaningful legacy matters.

And it’s that legacy word that keeps haunting me.  It hits me when I’m watching my kids play in the yard.  It’s one of the first things on my mind when I wake up.

Our old home is teaching me about legacies. Although we’ve only been in it a couple weeks, I’m aware that these old bricks have stood here for 150 years. And they’ll almost certainly stand here for another 150, long after I’m gone.

Brooke has made this home feel new again. Beautiful again. Reclaimed for its original intent after sitting dormant and vacant for a decade.

Aren’t our lives like that? We’ve let stuff sit dormant. We’ve abandoned dreams. We’ve allowed fear to call the shots.

As I trimmed up the overgrown trees on our lot, I knew right then that I want to be in the legacy building business. And from the emails and tweets I received from you all these last few weeks, you want to do the same.

A legacy of engagement. Intention. Meaning. Purpose. Ambition.

Reclaiming the old, dusty parts for good. And leaving behind deep, strong roots.


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