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I don't know about you, but I'm already weary of the 'New Millennium' hype in all its forms. When I saw the theme for this month's issue of Moondance, my first reaction was 'Oh no, not another essay extolling the dawning of a new age filled with endless opportunities for personal and global peace.' I think you get the idea. Okay, I exaggerated a bit, but I did feel a cold, steel coil of irritation in the pit of my stomach. I had to ask myself why I reacted with such trepidation.

Writing about your Spirit -- with a capital S -- should be easy, right? I mean it's all about what's going on in your own mind and heart isn't it? If you should know anything, it should be about yourself, right? So why was I staring at a blank screen with sweat beads forming over my big baby blues? After serious reflection I had to admit several things to myself.

First, I needed an attitude change. To me, attention to the spirit was a waste of my limited time; something intangible and lofty and made for the likes of Oprah and Iyanla. I was too busy and too involved with the tangible duties and responsibilities of day to day existence to spend precious time dwelling on the whimsical notion of an intangible spiritual life. Wasn't my spirit at work every day? Weren't my mind and heart totally involved with serving family, friends, neighbors, and employer? I prided myself on my tireless efforts to be selfless and responsible and supportive. What could be more spiritual than that? When I discovered I had made no mention of nurturing myself, I began to realize my attitude about the importance of my outer and inner self had to change.

Second, I had to admit that my definition of spirit was inadequate. While I have a strong religious spirituality, I wrongly assumed that a belief in God meant a lack of belief in myself. I think my fear of cheating my Creator of credit for my gifts, abilities, and talents, caused me to short-change my own potential and creativity. In an effort to live up to my own deficient definition of humility and gratitude, I kept myself from exploring possibilities that might lead to success and a sense of pride. As I reflected on the differences and similarities of the two spirits - God's and mine - I began to formulate the notion that they are not incompatible or mutually exclusive. Could it be that I was being negligent in dismissing my inner being? Was I unknowingly refusing the peace and contentment, the self-fulfillment and self-realization that was created by Him in the first place?

I began to understand it was possible, perhaps even required, to satisfy the needs of my spirit in order to comply with the desires of His spirit.

Third, I needed to evaluate my understanding of peace, self-fulfillment, and self-realization. What exactly is self-fulfillment and self-realization anyway? Have I been confusing the egocentric goal of self-gratification with the healthy desire for accomplishment and achievement? Could I be misinterpreting my motives for wanting to know myself better? Am I afraid of knowing myself better? And, as important, have I even given myself the permission to explore these desires in the first place, no matter what the motive? I had to admit that I have not.

I began to understand that focusing on myself for the purposes of developing my inner being need not be a selfish undertaking, but just the opposite. For my spirit to be healthy and whole, I need to know what I want and desire, and the reasons why. As I learn what those things are, I will be better able to delve into my motives and discard those that would be harmful to me or others. I will learn how to nurture myself while still caring for others and perhaps, in that way I can guard myself against hidden or growing resentments. I've decided that developing, understanding, and nurturing my spirit is not a waste of time. It's the opportunity for personal challenge and growth.

I know it's going to be a gradual process; not a millennial goal, New Year's resolution, or an item on a To Do list. But I'm looking forward expectantly to getting to know myself, to throwing away the strictures of my past, to becoming the woman I am meant to be: whole, happy, confident, secure, with a positive outlook for the future. And those are tangibles I can live with.

Gail Woods Thompson is an aspiring Renaissance Woman. Being the daughter of one, then wife to another career military man, Gail has enjoyed the opportunity to see all parts of this country.

"After 30 moves, I am looking forward to finally settling down in front of my computer screen to write about all the interesting places and intriguing people I have discovered along the way."

This freelance writer has been published in e-zine magazines, print publications and print anthology collections. She spends her free time reading, singing with community choruses, volunteering in her community, and perfecting gourmet recipes that even her family will eat. When not in front of the keyboard or stove, she studies writing with the LongRidge Writers Group.

E-mail Gail at:

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