Born in 1943, I was a woman of my time marrying at age 20, and had three children by age 25.  After the birth of my first son I left my clerical position with the USDA Forest Service to become a stay at home mom with narrowly defined duties.  I returned to the Forest Service in 1974 when my husband's depression became incapacitating.  After his suicide in 1975 I became the sole breadwinner.  Tragedy and trauma struck again in 1989 when my youngest son died at age 21 of an overdose of alcohol and a prescription drug for depression.  A year later I transferred to Escanaba, Michigan where I worked as a Public Affairs Specialist until my early retirement in 1994.  I have come to appreciate how past traumas eventually led to transformation.

I am a direct beneficiary of the Civil Rights Act.  To comply with the law’s requirements the Forest Service implemented upward mobility training programs to advance women and minorities.  Those training opportunities and work details gained me qualifying experience to compete for professional level positions first as a Human Resource Specialist, and then a Public Affairs Specialist.  I now realize that my life would be very different today had not many men and women worked long and hard, and some who even lost their lives, to promote equal opportunity for all.  I am also painfully aware that there is still much to be done worldwide.

My opportunity to advance in the world of work had allowed me to gain and maintain my economic independence, and keep some distance from my father’s abuse as I struggled with my mother’s Alzheimer’s disease and her care.  I saw how wrong it was to live feeling controlled, dulled, and deadened.  

Through my story I hope to share how important it is to search for your own truth; be true to yourself; know that it takes courage to claim your freedom and true freedom requires forgiveness; understand life-changing endeavors require the help of others; and creating a better life for yourself creates a better planet for us all.  But above all, I want to share that being present to your pain, and the everyday messages that do come through others and the natural world, will give you strength and allow you to trust in the slow work of God.  
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