When I was a kid my dad would call family meetings. It was just me, my brother, and my mom and dad, but these little meetings linger huge in my memory as an adult.
These were actually 'dream' sessions. My dad would give us permission to dream, to let our minds go and imagine what we wanted in life. He would give us magazines and instruct us to look for pictures that inspired us; pictures of houses that we might want to live in or countries we might want to visit. As each session of dreaming and sharing our dreams came to a close, he would say. "With God, anything is possible!"
My daddy passed away last year. He fell and was admitted to the hospital for treatment, I had no idea that our first visit to the hospital would be our last visit with my dad. I was telling him about some project I was involved in and he said, "Honey, all I know is that, if you're involved in it, it will be great!" Where did all of his positive affirmation come from?
My dad was a war hero, who survived the Bataan Death March and being held as a prisoner of war in Korea. Even when I was in high school he was off fighting the war in Viet Nam.
He returned home with severe depression and wounds from having been tortured and deprived of basic needs. I remember the evening he went into a rage, because my mother had served rice for dinner - all stemming from years of being near starvation and only having rice to eat.
But he had a heart to protect his country, his family, and me - his daughter - from evil. Evil that he had encountered face to face. Often he reminded my brother and I that there is evil in this world and that was the reason he was a soldier; he fought to protect us from that evil.
Under his bed he kept his medals: a purple heart, bronze star, and numerous other awards for courage, bravery and leadership.
He was and still is my hero. He survived three wars and the resulting years of brutal memories by filling his mind and his spirit with positive material: his bible, good books, and cassette tapes of motivational speakers.
After his death we went to his room to go though his things. There were stacks of tapes, casstte tapes by the giants of positive thinking such as Zig Ziglar. We listened to those tapes all the way home from his memorial service, a 12 hour drive.
Now I understand my dad better. He never stopped fighting, even though the war was over. He survived the Korean war, WWII and Viet Nam, but his fight continued. It was a fight for his mind, his soul, and for his family.
He wanted us to grasp how blessed we were, how fortunate we were that we did not have to face 'evil' in our own country. He wanted us to have a better life. He wanted us to dream - because he knew that dreaming was still possible, even after coming face to face with the atrocities of war.
That is why I'm compelled to encourage you. I just can't help it. It's in my bones, in my DNA. It's why I'm a fighter and I never give up. My daddy's voice still rings in my ear.
It's why I want to say to you today, with your dreams, your art, your projects: "All I know is that, if you're involved in it, it will be great!"