Uprooted from the large family-owned Wyoming cattle ranch, and finding myself uncomfortably situated in a small Utah town, fraught with cliques, bored (and predatory) teens,and the myopic self-importance common in so many rural communities, I struggled with questions about my identity. As a 10 year old, I was entering the 6th grade and was overwhelmed with how out of sync I was with the rest of my world. Kennedy was assasinated that year, my mother cried over being ostracized by the church ladies for declining the Bridge invitations, my brothers had left home, I realized that my voice would probably never develop vibrato, but hoped that my skinny tall body would eventually develop curves. I was an incredible annoyance to my older sister and I desperately wanted to fit somewhere. I began weighing the cost/benefit of fitting in.
Advice from my brother resonated with me. He told me to mark time, finish school, avoid stupid social (moral) mistakes that would hinder my future and then escape to more fertile grounds. I gave up Rodeo barrel racing and dashed my father’s dream of being the county Rodeo Queen’s Dad. My passion was centered in skiing and politics. I debated, mourned Goldwater’s humiliating loss, grew taller, was appalled by the Viet Nam war, and stayed out of my angry father’s stike zone. I made out with my friends’ boyfriends, didn’t drink, smoke or party – primarily because I wasn’t invited to parties – and noted that I was much more appreciated in eclectic cosmopolitan environments. I escaped to California.
By then, I had devoloped the long-awaited curves, had modeled professionally, married a pot-smoking womanizing skier, taken an airline job with Pacific Southwest Airlines, borne two daughters and was still searching for an identity that would define me. The year was 1975 and at age 22, I was a mother, wife, disowned daughter and sister, anti-war advocate, and women’s rights advocate. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area and cultivated friendships with people very unlike my family and girlhood friends.
Lessons learned to this point in life:
1. One can differ in opinion, lifestyle, background, appearance and personality without posing a threat.
2. God may deny us certain desired talents or blessings . . . . for our good. Had I been blessed with the beautiful singing voice of my sister, I certainly would not have wasted it on singing opera, but would have, in my imagination, been a ROCK STAR. I don’t want to consider where that might have taken me (and my little girls).
3. Living vicariously through our children – imposing our dreams onto them – is a form of child abuse.
4. At a certain age, women gain great power over men, but usually don’t have the emotional maturity to wisely handle that power. More on this later.
5. Immediate gratification is just that – immediate/fleeeting.
6. When one’s sense of worth is tied to external input, ie; the opinions of others, then one relinquishes self-determination. So, if I feel good only if someone expresses approval of me, then my happiness, my moods, my confidence and my sense of worth is tied to their moods, their willingness to communicate approval, and their opinion. I have then given them my power to decide who I am, how I feel and what I do.
7. Constant feedback is addicting. (Don’t mean to offend you Facebook or online dating site junkies.)
8. Much of the feedback we receive from others comes with an agenda . . . might be jealosy . . . could be love/concern . . or hatred . . . . maybe it’s a form of symbiosis. It should be sifted, analyzed and weighed before taking it into our hearts and souls.
9. Every human being wants to feel valued by others. Even if the approving audience is a herd of cows looking up from their grazing as a gawky teenage girl belts out the song, “Everybody is a Star” from the other side of a barbed wire fence.
10. The above photo is of our PSA uniforms and had the effect of “fishing for piranha”. The Oakland Raiders usually chartered our aircraft for their NFL travels, as did the Oakland Raider Booster Club which was comprised of mostly middle-aged men, decked out in their polyester Leisure suits with color-coordinated unbuttoned shirts – collars splayed across their shoulders – white “shinyl vinyl” shoes and matching belts, gold necklaces and Frisbee-esq toupee’s. Despite their heavy drinking, it was incumbent upon us to be polite, patient and sweetly answer the always-asked question, “So how far up do those legs go, Honey?”
These were heady years for the one-time cowgirl from Wyoming, with life lessons learned and many more to come.