Showing posts with label encouragement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label encouragement. Show all posts

Tuesday, March 5, 2024

YOUR LIFE MATTERS, Living Your Life in the Most Awesome Way Possible CHAPTER 1







Living Your Life in the Most Awesome Way Possible




Jo Davis



“Find out who you are and live it on purpose.”

-- Dolly Parton





Your Story Matters

 Like you do. 

Once the individual sees who they really are—a divine, energetic entity full of potential and God-given ability to be greater than they ever imagined, they will be unstoppable. 

 That's you.

 It's May 1, 2023. I'm in my office looking out the window at a Pink Dogwood tree in full flower. When we moved here 6 years ago, that tree was cut down to its bare bones, a trunk, and five branches. I wondered why the previous owners had cut that tree so severely, and I had no inkling what sort of tree it was. For the last couple of years, it has branched, leafed, and revealed itself as a pink dogwood, one of my favorite trees. 

 It's an old tree; the truck is large, and its blossoms are smaller than the young trees I see about town. But it is gorgeous, alive, and flourishing. I love it. 

 That tree tells me something about age and how living creatures can bounce back and thrive again. It doesn't worry. It just keeps growing and going through its cycles.

 I curtained off an area for an office in the outbuilding beside the dogwood tree. The building was once a dance studio and still has mirrors on one wall and around a corner. We used it for storage until my daughter placed a desk there for herself and used it for a time. Now, in my curtained area, I have a comfortable little office. The heater under my desk keeps my feet warm, and my little dog, Sweetpea, sleeps in front of it. My computer is in front of a window, and my view is of the pink dogwood and the main house's backyard.

 I have decided to write while the blossoms are on the tree. I'm aiming for 50,000 words It will be a race between the flowers and me.

 When I told a friend that Natalie Goldberg (in Old Friend from Far Away) said that a memoir doesn't have to be an old person's story; it can be for those moments that take our breath away, my friend asked what such a moment that would be for me.

 "My first kiss," I said. 

 I was a tall girl and felt self-conscious about it in high school when all the cute little girls were making out with their boyfriends in the hallways, but I had a boyfriend who took me out of all that and wrote sonnets about me being five feet nine with eyes that shine. He gave me my first kiss. 

 His sister, about ten years older than him, bet he would kiss a girl before he was sixteen. He held out as long as he could, kissed me, and said, "There goes five bucks."

 We know individuals who have accomplished great things and become famous or notorious. They lived illustrious lives. Yet, as they have walked through fire, so have you. As surely as they have lived notable lives, so have you. Therefore, I am encouraging you to write about your life. Your life is important. You are important. But first read this, for you will be a different person at the end. Not that my words will have changed you, but your introspection will.

 After accumulating a life of observations, teachings, and study, those learnings shouldn't be locked up in a trunk and buried 150 feet down. They are to be shared. Imagine strips of paper upon which you have written your insights. You throw them up into the wind. Others, like children with arms outstretched, run through their first snow flurry. Instead of catching snowflakes on their tongues, catch those paper strips. If they like what's written there, they keep the scrap. If not, they throw it back into the wind to be picked up by someone else.


My strips will contain plain talk about magical things.

 I use the word magic metaphysically. I know physics is at work. I also understand that something divine is swirling around us. 

 Lynne McTaggart, in her book, The Field, says that "Science is put together piece by piece. We build on what we learned before." It was the same in writing this book. Sometimes, one of our theories needs a facelift. Sometimes, they just need fine-tuning or additional information. 

 And then there are moments of magic. Psychologist Abraham Maslow called them "Peak Experiences." 

 I felt magic the day I came to this house before we moved in. I had brought crystal glasses and delicate items to be put on glass-fronted display shelves. After I filled the cupboard, I walked into the back bedroom, and from the window, I saw a peacock sitting on the fence. Two other times, a peacock visited me at an empty house or one about to be built. And here, in a little neighborhood in Junction City, Oregon, a peacock was sitting on my fence. 

 I was ecstatic. I yelled for Sweetpea. "Sweetpea!" "Come look, a Peacock! I can't believe it. There's a peacock on our fence!" 

 She ran around trying to figure out why I was so excited and probably questioning my sanity. (More about peacocks later on.)

 Before we move on, I need to ask this: "Why are so many folks disenchanted and depressed while my parents' generation lived through the horrific Second World War and came out relatively sane and happy?"

 We were victorious, and that helped. However, something carried the people through those horrific years. 

 My father enlisted when he knew the draft was coming, for he wanted to choose the Navy as his branch of service. However, the Navy discovered he was color blind and rejected him. So, he had no choice. He was in the Army. Color must have been necessary to those Navy fellows who lived so much of their lives on the blue. I suppose they needed to see colors for signal flags. I don't know.

 This morning, I awakened thinking about my father and how it must have been knowing there was a war in Europe and he was required to be in it. Talk about stress. I wish I knew how he handled it. What was going on in his belly and heart? My father was an artist. He wanted to go to art school. 

 He was married to a young girl and had a baby. 

 Maybe those men pushed aside those feelings of fear and went out as warriors, ready to defend the home front. Often, it's the women who feel the fear and hurt because of it, so I may be projecting, but I can't imagine a man going to war without fear. 

About the civilians left on the home front—they had HOPE. They believed that goodness would prevail and that evil would be vanquished.

Do we believe that today?

Without hope, if we feel that the future will not be better than the present and might even be worse, we spiritually die.

 We have it backward. The opposite of happiness is not sadness. It's hopelessness.

 Hopelessness is the root of anxiety, mental illness, and depression. So, why not shoot up a school, sleep with your boss's wife, take illicit drugs, or load up on pharmaceuticals by the bucketfuls?

 If the civilians at home could watch their brothers, husbands, and sons go off to a foreign land, not knowing if they would ever see them again, if they were willing to offer their pots and pans to supply metal for war materials, if they could have necessary items, like shoes and foodstuffs rationed, purchase war bonds to help fund the war and still maintain HOPE for a liberated future, we can persevere through the challenges we see today.  


On that day so long ago, when murmurings at the kitchen table were not understandable to little ears, I knew something was brewing. I learned of my father's colorblindness and how that surprised him. Maybe that was why he sketched in pencil or charcoal, a.k.a. black and white. I learned that during the war, he drew portraits for the soldiers, and I remember he said, "You can't put too many lines on a face."

 Once, he wrote, "You thought I would only be gone for a short time, didn't you?" I don't remember ever knowing he was going to be gone. If there were any goodbyes, I don't remember them. If there were any tears, I didn't see any. He was just gone. He must have slipped out when I was sleeping.

 He survived the war, but not his marriage or his fatherhood with me. 

 I don't think the war had much to do with the divorce, except that it took my father away from the family for 3 years. We could blame it on the fact that my mother was 16 when she had me. I figure Mom didn't want to get married in the first place, but it was shameful to be pregnant and not married, so she made sure she was married. 

 Mother kept the secret of her unmarried pregnancy from me her whole life. She couldn't hide that she was young, though. When I was 7 or 8, on Mother's Day, we went to a protestant church for the first time, and she got the prize for the youngest mother. That made her only 23 or 24. She received a plant potted in a ceramic baby shoe as a prize, and there I was, a big kid standing beside her. I knew she was pregnant before she married my father, but I didn't say anything because I knew I wasn't supposed to know. 

 My father came to see me after the war—once. We went to the Carnival, where he bribed a hawker for a little horse statue I wanted. I was 6 years old, and it was the last time I saw him until 38 years later.

 I'm sure he didn't mean for me to see the bribe, but I knew. And I love him for it. 

 While growing up, I thought that the divorce hadn't affected me much and that I didn't need a father. (I had a stepdad.) During the war, my mother went to Texas, where she met my father on furlough and came home divorced. That was it. 

 On the first Christmas after the war, Dad sent a box camera to me as a gift. After that, nothing. 

 For 38 years, I wondered if he cared about me. Why wasn't he in my life? Why didn't he contact me? Why had he never visited me? 

 Finally, I wrote my feelings on a page. I was furious. He abandoned me. He didn't care. I put positives and negatives on the page. I let er rip with complaining. 

 My Father lived in Chicago, Illinois, and we lived in San Diego, California. I had often said that if I was ever in Chicago, I would look him up. Within a couple of months after writing that complaining page—I didn't see this coming—my husband was sent from San Diego to Chicago to show an instrument at an Optics show. I decided to go along, and I did find my father, and we remained in touch until the end.

 That taught me that, hey, "This stuff works."

 What "stuff?"

 The writing exercise I used to clear out the mind junk. After I wrote it, I put my ranting aside and almost forgot about it. 

 You know how the cycling mind works. It just keeps repeating its problems, concerns, and irritations. It's easy to repeat oneself when thinking or speaking, and it's easy for the mind to do its endless cycling. However, it is NOT EASY to write the same story repeatedly.

 So, complain, whine, and write out your fears. Don't worry about positive thinking; this is for your eyes only, and your heart needs to express it. "I'm worried about paying my bills; I need to pay the rent; I hate Tom for standing me up. He's a bastard and a pain in the ass. My mom spent her life depressed, and my daddy was a drunk. I had a lousy childhood."

Write it, then put a period at the end of that last sentence. 

 Other people, teachers, and mentors can be facilitators and guides along our journey. Don't discount them. Neither discount the self-help avenues you venture into, for no matter what book you read, course you take, seminar, or workshop you attend, you will invariably find something of value in it. Be reasonable, though, question, and be a discerning person. Use input as motivation, not as gospel. 

 Here is one of my favorite quotes:

 "They say that motivation doesn't last. Neither does bathing, that's why we do it daily."—Zig Zigler.


 Before meeting my father, I carried with me remembrances of him. I remembered his "Can House," a workshop he built in our backyard. The cans weren't little soup cans. They were drums with a gallon or two capacities he had carried home from the shoe factory where he worked. He filled them with cement, so if anyone wanted to remove that house, he might have to blow it up.

We lived in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, with my grandmother—my mother, my father, my little dog Tiny, and me. Besides liking to draw, my dad was an amateur taxidermist; thus, he needed a workshop. Luckily, I didn't have to build my office out of cans.

 I only saw stuffed squirrels and birds in his workshop, and Mom wasn't happy to see animal parts in the refrigerator. 

The only time I know of that my dad captured a live animal was when he tried to chloroform a little owl. I don't know how he got it. He put the owl in a coffee can with a cotton ball filled with chloroform and closed the lid. A few minutes later, he opened the lid. The owl poked his head out, looking a little hung over. My father tried again with a fresh cotton ball and closed the lid.

Upon opening the lid, the owl looked as perky as ever, so Dad released the owl, who then went home reeking of chloroform and with his wife berating him. "What in the world have you been up to?"

 Mom, Dad, and I went to a circus where I dropped peanuts into an elephant's awaiting trunk. I thought the elephant ate them with her trunk. I ate peanuts, too, and awakened at night, yelling, "Momma, there's something in my bed!" I had thrown up in the night. 

 Dad bought me a Tweety bird at the circus. It was a Paper Mache bird on a string attached to a stick. When I whirled the stick, the bird flew and tweeted. Dad wanted to know what made the bird tweet, so he performed abdominal surgery and took out its Twitter. He put the bird back together, but it never tweeted again.

 One time, Mom was so mad at Dad that she threw whatever was handy—a precious item, my Bambi comic book. Bambi was the first movie I saw, and I loved the characters—the fawn Bambi, Thumper the bunny, and Flower, the skunk. ("You can call me Flower if you want to.”) However, killing Bambi's mother and watching that little fawn Bambi wandering around calling M-O-T-H-E-R impacted me such that if I see the beginning credits of that movie, I start to cry.

 Dad put the comic book back together then, on stiff paper, drew Bambi as a grown-up stag and his mother a little dewy-eyed doe. He colored them and cut them out like paper dolls with little tabs at their feet so they would stand up. I wish I had them. 

I vaguely remember sitting at the kitchen table drawing with him. 

 I had a Whooping Cough. I don't remember being sick, but I would cough until I threw up. So, when I began coughing, I would fly across the room—carried by some adult—and placed in front of a container. Once, not getting there fast enough, my dad caught the vomit in his hands. I marveled that he would do that and considered it a loving gesture.

 Grandmother made a cough syrup for me that helped the whooping. First, she soaked a raw egg in vinegar overnight. In the morning, the shell had dissolved into the vinegar, leaving behind a round egg encased in its membrane. She added honey to the concoction, and it tasted good—it was a little scratchy going down through.

Around Halloween, I excitedly ran to greet my dad, who was coming in the front door. However, he was wearing a mask they had given him at the grocery store. I screamed bloody murder, and to this day, I do not like masks. I don't scream bloody murder when I see one, though. And then at Christmas time, a store Santa Claus wore a mask. We called them false faces, so I knew that man was not the real Santa.

 I heard that when I was a baby, my father would come home from work and wash my face with a washcloth, for he wanted me to be awake when he was home.

 Often, I heard stories of the mentally challenged boy next door who liked my dad and loved it when Mom and Dad had a water fight. On hot summer days, they would throw a bucket into our open well, collect the water, and toss it on whoever they could catch. I do remember Mom squealing and running and Dad chasing her. The boy would egg Dad on, "Glenn, I'll draw the water, I'll draw the water." 

One day, after we had been gone for the afternoon, we came home to find that the boy had drained the well.

 My dad was thin and had stomach problems, so he got a nanny goat because he had heard that goat's milk was good for what ailed him. He would fashion a chain on the goat's collar and lock the chain to a stake. That way, he could move the goat around the neighborhood to graze.

 However, no matter how strongly he drove in the stake, that kid could pull it up and drive the goat. She got so nervous that Dad gave her to someone who could give her some peace.

 In Chicago, I called every Glenn Metcalf I could find in the phone book on Saturday and Sunday with no connection. On Sunday morning, I visited Johnny Colman's church. Coleman was a minister I had heard at Terry Cole Whittiker's Science of the Mind Church in San Diego. Coleman was a powerful speaker, booming out, "If you go into work one day and the boss says, 'You're fired!' You say,' Okay Great Master, you have something better in store for me.'"

 "God gave you the first kidney, if you need a new one, say, 'Okay Great Master, I need a new kidney.'" As a young woman, Coleman had been cured of some disease said to be incurable and emerged a firm believer in the power of healing.

Monday morning, My father answered the phone. 

"Hi, this is Joyce. I used to call you Daddy a long time ago."

 "Where are you?!" he exclaimed and invited Neil and me to his house. He greeted me with a big hug, and his wife, Vi, was most gracious. 

Upon entering his house, I was shocked to see a little stack of photos of me of various ages on his mantel. How did he get them? When he pulled out a picture of my young mother, I was doubly shocked, "Wasn't she beautiful." he said.

 For 3 days, we spent the evenings at Dad's and Vi's house. We would bring in takeouts, fish, and chips, and such. I took Dad to the Conference Center to show Neil's Optical instrument. At lunch, I learned that he couldn't taste. He had had a head injury where he worked that took away his taste for most foods. He could taste beer, so he would have a little glass of beer in the evenings and slowly sip it. 

The Conference Center had a photo booth in its lobby. I reminded him that we had a picture of us taken in one of those booths 38 years ago, so we climbed in and had our photo taken together again.

 I wrote to him, and he didn't respond at first until I sent him a letter with checkboxes: 

  • I died.
  • I don't remember this one. 
  • I'm an ornery old cuss.

 He checked that last one, and we continued our communications—sometimes he attached money—until I didn't hear from him and learned that he had passed away.

 After I wrote this chapter, I was tempted to go back and clean up the typos I invariably made, the wrong words I invariably used, and the missing poetry because I stink at it. Instead, I looked into the pink dogwood and typed as I was taught in high school.


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