Receipts and Old Journal Findings
by Laurie Beth Jones
As I sort though 8 boxes of storage from my past, I am surprised to find how meticulously I kept receipts, old lease agreements, and pay stubs. “Perhaps because Mom was a bookkeeper for 36 years” I mused to myself as I pulled out another one.
This one was dated January 6, 1975 and was for $68.20. It was for the bicycle I bought after my divorce. Because I did not want a court battle my husband kept the pick up truck, our only asset. The rest of what we owned had been destroyed in a forest fire that also took our cabin in the Sacramento mountains. He controlled our bank account, and cleared it out before I left, perhaps thinking if I had no money I would have to stay. I hitched a ride to the airport, and my parents flew me home.
My parents gave me $500 from an emergency fund they had, and that was my seed money to begin a new life in Dallas. So, $64.83 of that went for securing transportation. I found an apartment next to a library in a good location, and signed a $175 a month lease. With the deposit required plus first months rent, that left me with $2.83 per day to live on for the next 30 days. I bought a jar of peanut butter, a loaf of bread, and a jar of Tang to see me through. I got a job at a temp agency, and found my first pay stub from that. I made $22 a day, working 8 hours at an hourly wage of $4.30 per hour. I was shocked that they kept out some of my earnings for Social Security. “Who needs that?” I remember thinking as my 22 year old self.
I found a letter I wrote home, telling Mom and Dad I had secured a great job as an assistant to a secretary for Elkins Communications. “I get to talk to people in the entertainment industry every day!” I exulted. “Even the drummer from Sly and the Family Stone!” I did not tell them about getting hit by a car on my bike, as there were no real injuries to speak of, other than a rising awareness that cars and bikes don’t always read traffic signals the same way.
I found musings in my journal, dated 1977. I asked myself the hypothetical question: “What would I do if I had $100,000?” (Back then, that was the equivalent of a million dollars.) I wrote in small, controlled cursive writing “I would fill books.” Then a prayer right beside it. “Lord, help me find a way.” Right beside this wish I drew a big blank book, symbolizing the many I hoped to fill one day. I found a speech I had given on “Assertiveness Training” for the Junior League in El Paso. In it I had a line “I have found that what everyone really needs to succeed is Self Mastery, Action, and Relationship skills.” This later became the framework for my first published book “Jesus, CEO.”
I found a workbook I had designed called “I Am Able,” which became a workshop I presented to the Catholic Diocese. In it I had listed the self doubts of many Biblical heroes, and how they overcame them. That became the framework for the book I wrote 26 years later called “The Path.” Another note from a journal dated 1980 said “My boss, Catherine, says she thinks I should make people my career.” I was a social worker at the YWCA at the time. I found a skills test I had taken that said my highest scores showed that I would do best as a “Christian educator, author, or social worker.”
Right on. I found copies of letters I had written to Hallmark Cards, Reader’s Digest, Zondervan Publishing, asking them to consider my manuscript “Riding Rainbows and Other Winged Things.” All of them turned me down.
I found the client list from my first advertising agency, called Jesse Jones Promotions. Art’s Photography. Miguel’s Meat Shop. Foutz Gomez Moore Architects. Each one paying me $250 a month to do PR. I mused about my advertising agency in 1985 that “I hope I am not turning to commercial endeavors at the expense of my artistic soul.”
What I learned from these journal notes and handfuls of receipts was that apparently it was in my DNA to want to be an author, no matter what, no matter how.
Like a flower struggling upward through cracks in the pavement, there is something in us that seeks the sun, and will find it, if we just keep unfurling, one centimeter at a time. * * *