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Whoa! That wasn’t much fun. I’m sure nobody ever likes to go back and look at their shortcomings. But I needed to really take a look to see just how I got to feel so lowly in my adult life. (And I am positive none of this was programmed into me by my parents. Nor did my husband “do” this to me. I allowed many things to happen because I was not strong enough to stop them.) I’m pretty sure if any of the people who knew me in my early adult years would say that I was very confident. I hid my insecurities well. Somewhere in my psyche was the courage to jump into the void and put myself in situations that scared me or made me feel uncomfortable, like volunteering to be chairwoman of a committee or pulling together the ladies in Ilo into a functioning group. But I felt as if I was doing life blindfolded. I didn’t know where I was going or what I would do when I got there. But I was determined to stick with it and so just did each day.

Now, I’m not saying I was miserable and not having any fun. Good grief, I was having a blast. We had a wonderful group of close friends and were doing lots of fun activities. My girls were happy and Russell loved his job. We had so much social life that there was not time to ponder the deeper meaning of life. The six years in Ilo flew by. And because Russell was so busy with his job, he didn’t have time to deal with many things. I began to have the freedom to grow up a little. I’m forever grateful that he didn’t have time to listen to my woes and told me to take care of them myself and he would back me up. So I did and it was hard. I had never needed to fire someone but I found the strength. It was my job to make sure the women were happy and I took it seriously. I grew up so much in those six years.

About this time, I picked up the book “Out On A Limb” by Shirley Maclaine. She had always intrigued me and I loved all of her movies. The book seemed like it would be interesting as it was about her adventures in Peru. What I’m going to say next will sound very dramatic, but it’s the absolute truth. Her book changed my life. I felt as if she had written it to me. She described thoughts and feelings I had been having for many years and suddenly I felt liberated. I wasn’t alone. I now knew where I was going, even if I still didn’t know what I was going to do when I got there. She spoke of God and spirituality and oneness with the Universe. All of these words went straight to my heart and felt true and honest and real. I won’t wax too poetic as I think you get the message. I had found my path toward God.

Now, you might read this book and wonder what I had been smoking! I’m certainly not recommending that everyone read this book to find their path. You will find something, a book, movie, poem, person, etc., which will be the key to unlock whatever you need opened. Ms Maclaine’s book just happened to be my key.

As in most books written about spirituality (or any other subject, I suppose), she referenced many other books on the subject. I began to buy books from a variety of authors and began to glimpse this strange new world of “New Age”. I was a sponge absorbing all this liberating information.

And it truly was liberating. I loved the whole concept of being totally responsible for my life and my connection to God. It severed any lingering connection to organized religion and showed me what was available to replace it. Not a religion, but a way of living through God, the idea that I was made in the image of God and therefore had a spark of divinity through that image. I didn’t need anyone else to negotiate for me—didn’t have to go through anyone else to get to God. I loved it. I had always told my girls that God was in their hearts and would tell them when they were doing right or wrong. Now I really felt the truth of that concept.

And another wonderful thing happened for me during these years: I began to understand the importance of having women friends. I always had friends, but enjoyed talking to men more. I felt that most of my friends couldn’t or wouldn’t talk about anything other than woman things. I loved being at social gatherings and talking with the men. And, of course, the other side of that tarnished coin was my need to be “paid attention to”. Russell wouldn’t engage in any serious conversation with me so I had this need to get that attention from other guys. I had opinions about things outside the home and had no venue to express them. And my tape was constantly telling me that women had no real value. Anyway, I gradually realized my need for other women and how important we really were. I attribute this change in perception to Ms. Maclaine’s book as well. She talked about the concept of power and its constant shift from women to men and now slowly back to women. I saw that we had given away our power and needed to get it back and needed to do it together.

Mind you, I still had a very long way to go to sorting out the whole religion/spirituality thing, but at least I finally had direction.

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