Thursday, February 17, 2022

Love Letters to My Life #44: Nuggets of Inspiration and Wisdom

"Maggi's Spirit"
(We know the day we were born, but most of us do not know the day we will die. This love letter to my life is written on the day I've designated as my death day: the 17th of every month, and reminds me to be grateful for my joy-filled life. -- Joyce Wycoff)

In 1982, I met a woman for lunch and picked her brain about a possible project. I don’t remember her name, but she changed my life.  

While the woman warned me about the hazards of the project I was contemplating, she also gave me an unexpected gift … a quote, words that inflamed me and washed away all her cautious words. That quote was, and continues to be, a universal favorite even though it was attributed to Goethe who probably never said it. The Scottish writer W.H. Murray has been given credit for it although Goethe might have inspired his stirring words:

    "Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. 

     Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”

The project came and went, a somewhat success and a definite learning adventure, leaving behind a passion for quotes which launched me into a lifetime of collecting bits of wisdom from people, famous and unknown, living and dead. Now, forty years later, I find myself still digging through my collection, which has grown to several thousands, and frequently scouring the millions of quotes available on the Internet in search of more nuggets of inspiration and wisdom.

This collection of quotes was not done with an end result in mind, however, it finally seems to be coming into its own. My current project is a gratitude-focused, guided-life journal titled Gratitude Mojo. As I enter the final phase of development of this project, what strikes me is how much my decades of quote collection has made this project possible and joyful. While I tend to use a few quotes in all my projects, they are a central feature of this journal. Like Br’er Rabbit, I have been thrown into my briar patch home, spending delightful hours choosing just the right quote to inspire my journalers of the future. 


Maggi Butterfield-Brown

About "Maggi's Spirit": Many years ago, I had the great good fortune to meet and become friends with Maggi, another woman who changed my life. Maggi was magic and lived in a magical octagon house filled with art and treasures. She allowed me to explore her house with my camera and I wound up making a piece of art that included some personal elements not meant for anyone but her. However, when I took away those elements, I was left with "Maggi's Spirit," a piece which highlights the values she embodied: love, beauty, nature, joy, and spirit.

Maggi danced off to another world about this time six years ago, however, she will long be remembered by so many of us. This is the memorial I wrote after she left:

Yesterday, a spirit left her physical body. I’m sure there were many across the planet who did the same, each leaving holes in their small circles of friends and family. Each leaving a wake of loss and grief.

My focus today, though, is Maggi Butterfield-Brown. It’s hard to capture Maggi in words; pictures of her are so much better. Seeing Maggi meant seeing her laughing, dancing, twirling in any of the outrageously unique and beautiful outfits she put together with an artist’s eye. Maggi’s energy was a vortex that pulled people in and made them feel bigger, better, more creative, and more alive.

Without her, without knowing that I will see that smile again, I feel smaller, somehow deflated. Yet, I know that’s the last thing Maggi would want for her flock. She was a builder-upper, an encourager. She topped off our mugs of love until they overflowed. No one went unloved in Maggi’s presence.

When we talked and Maggi told me her stories, I tried to figure out where all that love and overflowing generosity came from. She didn’t have a safe, loving childhood. She didn’t have a “normal” marriage-and-children life. She was an accountant, for heaven’s sake. 

The only thing I can figure is that she brought it with her. She came swaddled in love and bright colors and her purpose was to share those things with as many people as possible. She did her job with pizazz and such incredible grace. Just watching her laughing dance was enough to make me want to climb new mountains.

I’m sure there are many of us this morning trying to figure out how to go forward without Maggi’s colorful self as part of our physical world. To say she will be missed doesn’t begin to describe our loss. However, with the grief comes an overwhelming gratitude for having been in Maggi’s presence even for a short while.

Perhaps it’s that gratitude that we have to hold onto. Also, for me, I feel a call to step deeper into my own spirit and life and try to pass along some of Maggi’s love and generosity, some of her colorful energy, some piece of that incredible gift that she gave so many of us. 

Thank you, Maggi … I hope you know how many of us love you and how wide your gift of love has spread. Dance on. 


  1. Joyce, I share your passion for quotes and have amassed my own collection over the years. It was also a treat to read about Maggi again. What a positive spirit for us all to experience through your poetic words.

    1. Thanks, Becky. I didn't know you were a quote-a-phile also. I wonder how big the club is?

  2. Thank you for sharing Maggi and her beautiful spirit with us Joyce.

    And... I can't wait for your Gratitude Mojo! woo hoo!