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Wild woman finds spiritual home
Author Wade describes self journey, growth in her book
0514 UNITY
Sallee Wade recently authored "The Twelve Disciples of a Wild Woman," which she credits Unity Church of Gainesville with helping her during a so-called "midlife change." - photo by BRANDEE A. THOMAS

Sallee Wade book signing

When: Before and after the 11 a.m. worship services Sunday

Where: Unity of Gainesville Church, 3361 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

More info: 770-534-0949

Sallee Wade is a wild woman. And for her, that is a good thing.

"A healthy woman is like a healthy wolf in the wild. They have good instincts, they know how to care for their young and they can recognize poisoned bait," said Wade, author of "The Twelve Disciples of a Wild Woman."

"Being a wild woman means being in touch with your own rhythms and truth. It means knowing how to veer off course when you need to."

Although her "wild" label was partially inspired by a book she read in the early 1990s, Wade says it was the church that gave her the courage to explore her own personal truths and grounded her spiritually.

To understand Wade now, you’d have to know where she’s been.

"I moved here in 1988 to take a job that looked like it was going to be the best job of my nursing career. When I got here, the job turned into a nightmare," Wade said.

"I wanted to work in the recovery field because there has been alcoholism in my family background. I thought the job that I took would’ve allowed me to do that, but it didn’t turn out that way."

Alone in a foreign part of the country — she had relocated from Illinois — Wade says she knew she had to come up with a plan B because her work situation wasn’t conducive to her well-being.

Wade recognized her spiritual growth was clashing with her job description.

"I never had anything like this happen to me before," she said.

"I had a private practice in my hometown where I was a wellness educator. I did stress management, I was a licensed massage therapist and I taught yoga."

Wade decided to cut her nursing hours back to half-time and to open a wellness education office here in Gainesville. She would eventually abandon the nursing field altogether.

But in leaving one aspect of her life, Wade soon found a more joyful one.

At the suggestion of a friend, she attended a service at Unity of Gainesville on Clarks Bridge Road.

"When I got there, they just embraced me. I loved the meditation that was part of the service and the unconditional love," Wade said. "And I loved the finding of Christ within yourself and honoring Christ in other people.

"It grew and expanded ... and I stayed with it. It felt like a warm bowl of cereal with honey and milk to my spiritual soul."

During this time, Wade began using her journal to help her through what she describes as a "midlife change."

Wade enrolled in a creative writing class that was being taught at Unity. She used her journal and the 12 steps that are most often associated with addiction recovery as a foundation for her creative writing.

"I did the fourth-step inventory. That’s when you start to look through your life and look at all of your character defects. I started looking at all of my defects and giving them names. It took me a whole year to do it," Wade said.

One of the "characters" that she came to know was her inner child.

"When stuff gets too heavy for too long, or too boring, she’ll find a way to make it fun. Her name’s ‘do it My way,’" Wade said.

"Jesus introduced her to me. He said, ‘capitalize the M because she lives close to me. She’ll want to do it her way, but I want her to do it my way.’"

Wade says she met "do it My way" during a guided meditation session at a retreat.

"She was ticked off because I had abandoned her to join the world of what she calls ‘adult-ery’ and started taking care of everyone else — which is what adult children in alcoholic families typically do," Wade said.

During this time of personal growth, Wade says a lesson at Unity really aided her spiritual development.

"I learned that the 12 disciples of Jesus are characters, too. Peter is faith, Andrew is strength, John is love, and so on," Wade said.

"When I learned that, it connected with everything I knew about psychology, and physiology and yoga. It made the Bible come to life for me."

The number of disciples — 12 — matched with the steps of recovery that she was using to organize her own life and it also matched the number of centers in the body that are balanced through yoga, Wade says.

Since Jesus’ disciples proved to be the men he could depend on, Wade was interested in finding her own support team.

"I often pray with a pen in my hand because it comes right from the heart. It opens a vein that way. I would sit with a pen and I ask him to show me my 12 disciples," Wade said.

"He said, ‘You need faith, love, trust, creativity, discernment. You need patience, humility, humor, wisdom. You need receptivity to truth, grace and you need gratitude.’"

Her character flaws, the disciples and journaling became the groundwork for her book.

"It’s probably a mix of my own spiritual autobiography and the results of a lot of journaling work," Wade said.

She has dedicated the work to Unity of Gainesville, where she will hold a book signing Sunday.

"Unity put me on the track of applying the stuff I learned from the Bible to my own spiritual growth and the world that I see," Wade said.

"This was the place that fertilized my roots and gave me wings. Unity gave me the freedom to grow."

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