They Went Their Own Way

By Jo Mooy

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. …. The gift is yours, it’s an amazing journey and you alone are responsible for the quality of it.”—Bob Moawad

I got an email recently from a man I helped. Without going into the particulars, he wrote that what I did for his son had “made a big difference in his life, and it helped to straighten him out.” It’s the kind of compliment that anyone would love receiving, especially when the things we consider to be little things actually turn out to be big thing in someone’s life. 

That email brought up memories from a long time ago of three individuals who Went Their Own Way. I’d tried to help or influence each of them, but their life paths took them in another direction. Though our time together was very brief, meeting each one turned out to have been a big thing in my life. Forty years later I often wonder what happened to Katy, and also Heather and the little boy with no name.

KATY: She was a 22-year-old young woman that I met while staffing a new office in Pittsburgh. The company only hired recent college graduates, and Katy didn’t have a college degree. But, she passed all the other tests in the high 90s. I went to bat for her, telling my superiors why she should be hired even though she had no degree. She didn’t disappoint.

Katy was pleasant and had an excellent work ethic. She needed minimal direction. She learned quickly and was soon a team leader on many projects. I saw her potential and wanted to mentor and sponsor her for management. Everything progressed well for about six months. Her performance reviews were stellar. Her projects were done in record time saving the company thousands of dollars. When I told her she was being recommended for a management position she was thrilled.

Twenty-four hours later she returned to work a different young woman. The sparkling Katy was gone, replaced by one who moped around the office all day. At the close of business she asked to see me. The night before, she’d gone home to tell her husband of two years about her good fortune at work. She was excited to tell him that the company would pay for her college education, and that she’d be on the “fast track” to a management position. Sadly, Katy’s husband didn’t share her excitement. He worked in the steel mill and didn’t like the idea that his wife “would make more money than him and have a more important job than his.” With tears streaming down her face, she told me her husband wanted her to quit the job and get one at Kmart. When she resigned that day, I wept too. I think of her today, knowing all the steel mills closed and Kmart declared bankruptcy.

HEATHER: She’d been hired along with 99 other young graduates for a big IT project in New Jersey. They were the cream of the crop at their respective universities, and 99 of them (except Heather it turned out) were thrilled to be hired by a leading technology company. Because so many had been hired at one time the company referred to them collectively as “The Class of 1980.”

Heather graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in IT from a well-known New England university. She was quiet and reserved. She didn’t stand out as a project leader, but her assessment rankings were at the top of the range and most managers thought she’d be a great addition to their team. She was, for about two months. Then one day the vice president of the IT project asked me to meet with Heather and “change her mind.” It seems Heather wasn’t happy in the IT environment and wanted to quit the company.

We talked for two hours. She danced around why she wanted to leave. I focused on why she was making a huge mistake, and how this company could set her up for life. Finally she broke down and told me why she really wanted to leave. When the Tall Ships sailed down the Hudson in the Bicentennial of 1976, it captured her imagination of being an officer on The U.S .Coast Guard’s Barque Eagle. Heather’s dream of sailing persisted through four years of college. I told her to resign and follow her dream to New London. She submitted her resignation that afternoon. I hope she’s still sailing the Barque Eagle on Long Island Sound.

THE LITTLE BOY WITH NO NAME: Sobbing, his face was pressed to a towering Ponderosa Pine in a California state park. He’d been placed there in punishment by his multi-generational family. All of them were eating a spread out lunch at a picnic table near the tall tree. When his sobs grew louder his mother got up and slapped him hard across the back, twisted his arm, shoved his face into the tree, and pushed him to his knees. His sobs grew even louder.

When I went to find a ranger, I came across the mother coming out of the bathroom. I confronted her about how she treated the boy. I asked her what memories she wanted this child to carry into his life—one enjoying a family vacation or the abuse he was suffering at her hands. I told her I’d contacted the ranger. She hurriedly moved to the picnic table where the entire family, having heard our conversation, was gathering up all their things to leave. Hoping they’d left the boy, I saw the grandmother gather him into her arms and kiss his tears away. The family got into several cars and left before the ranger arrived.

I wonder about that little boy often. He’d be in his twenties now. I still see him sobbing into the face of the tree. I pray that he got away and that he remained safe in the arms of his grandmother. I am ever hopeful that the cycle of abuse he suffered ended, and that he treats his own children with love and caring.

Maybe these three got away. Maybe they didn’t. In any case, I listened, and they made their own life decisions and They Went Their Own Way. When I think of them, I see them in their best life roles—Katy supporting her husband, Heather on the bridge of the Barque Eagle, and the Little Boy With No Name loving his own children without malice.

Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to or email

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