Perfect daughter, wife, expatriate, hostess, and travel guide . . . but who was Margaret Davis Ghielmetti without those titles? A memoir of a journey.
The first rule of The Davis Family Handbook was: Repeat, “How lucky am I?”
The last was: “Above all, just do it.” And she did, all her life.
Margaret Davis Ghielmetti was a perfectionist. She lived, brilliantly, by the unwritten code she was taught: discipline, kindness, obedience, stoicism, service, efficiency . . .
But her story, imperfectly, really began in the middle – at age forty – when she left the career and life she had known to follow her husband overseas. As the trailing spouse of an international luxury hotel executive, Margaret packed her passport and that unwritten code – The Family Handbook – for a journey that would take her to nearly fifty countries, living on four continents, for fifteen years.
In France, Egypt, Thailand, India, Singapore, Switzerland, she was the perfect spouse, expatriate, hostess, and travel guide to visiting friends and relatives. Repeat, “How lucky am I?” Against the backdrop of distant, exotic landscapes, Margaret – unmoored and adrift – discovered that she did not know how to live for herself instead of others.
She knew she had always wanted to write – she wrote her first book as a child about a girl who ran away from home to tame wild horses – in Wisconsin! So she’s never without a journal for the novel she is determined to write . . . but does not.
She always knew she wanted to travel. But traveling along with her is the person she must let go of the rules to become – herself.
Once upon a time, a brave(ish) traveler went on a journey . . . inward.
It took those fifteen years, fifty countries, and four continents for her to write that second book: her memoir, Brave(ish.) It took learning to ask for help and learning to let go; both acts of great bravery. It took circling the world, back to where she had started: to her dying mother’s bedside, to stillness, and to herself.
“It’s never too late to reconnect with our authentic selves—if we dare to put our own lives first at last.”
Margaret Davis Ghielmetti is not perfect and no longer aspires to be. She is a writer, performer, and artist. She is a Live Lit Storyteller and her stories are about connecting – so that listeners know they’re not alone in their imperfect humanity. Her solo show, Fierce, is about re-discovering her creative expression. Her photos are about showcasing the beauty of the world.
She still travels voraciously and – now – in her suitcase:
“My turquoise-blue journal – so I can always be writing and creating.”
Scarves – “I am insanely devoted to scarf-wearing!”
Comfortable walking shoes – “Walking is heaven to me.”
A swimsuit – “You never know when a beautiful lake will beckon!”
And a book. Of course.
In Brave(ish), Margaret recounts a pivotal moment in which she is considering a motto for the new year. Her husband suggests “Me, First” (for her.) She chose that – and chooses that – and it changes everything.
Now, The Margaret Handbook of Rules states:
“Never hide your light: that doesn’t serve anyone.
Be kind and be fierce: fiercely committed to your values, your relationships, and your own life.
Have fun! Try something new!
Tell your story to the world. We need your story.”
Life is too precious not to live fully, authentically, by your own rules.