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Excerpted from Living in the Light by Shakti Gawain. Copyright © 1986 by Shakti Gawain. Excerpted by permission of New World Library.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"When I was fourteen years old I went through an enormous emotional crisis."

Shakti Gawain, Living in the Light, Part 2

My mother developed a successful career as a city planner in the days when there were few women in that field. She dealt with the usual challenges of single parenting - trying to balance the needs of her child with the demands of her work. Being the only child of a working mother, I developed a strong sense of responsibility and self-sufficiency quite early.

My mother is a very adventurous person. She loves to try new things, and for me, she was a great role model of fearlessness and pioneer spirit. She had been one of the first educated American women in her generation to have natural childbirth. I was the first baby her doctor had ever delivered without an anesthetic. I was blessed with a very fortunate birth. (On September 30, 1948, at 9:10 p.m. in Trenton, New Jersey, for all you astrologers!)

My mother loves to explore new places and we traveled a lot when I was a child - all over the United States, to the West Indies, Mexico, Hawaii, Europe. We also moved frequently whenever my mother changed jobs. Until I was about fifteen, I had never lived in one place longer than two or three years.

My mother's family had been Quakers and we stiff used the "plain language" when speaking to my grandmother (saying "thee" rather than "you" for the Quakers is an acknowledgement of the god within each person). So, on a deep level, I absorbed the profound respect for spirit and concern for humanity that is woven into the fabric of the Quaker religion, which I feel had a strong influence on me later in my life.

When I was fourteen years old I went through an enormous emotional crisis. Triggered initially by the collapse of my first romance (with an "older" man of nineteen - I was sure no one would ever compare), it snowballed into a deep and long-lasting existential despair. I took a long hard look at life and recognized that there was really no point or meaning to it. I could see that all the things that were supposed to provide significance in life - education, success, relationships, money - were in themselves ephemeral, meaningless, and empty. There didnít seem to be any thing else to fill the void. I was deeply disillusioned and depressed and basically remained in that state for several years.

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