My Irish connections made this study possible, and so very enjoyable to carry out. My most profound debt is to the one hundred Northern Irish women who graciously gave an hour or more of their time to tell me, in exquisite detail and with characteristically wondrous humor and insight, about unsung, yet always significant in impact, decision-making throughout their life courses. Each one told a whole life story, unique yet similar and very familiar. I am in awe of their accomplishments, their strength, their wisdom, and their humanity. They humbled me by telling me over and over again something I should have known well as a woman: We suffer "theory" about us very lightly; life we live rather well despite it.
I am also appreciative that these wonderful women confirmed for me my former simply gut reaction as a woman, namely, that ordinary women in the ordinary contexts of families, friends, school, work, and life in general make extraordinarily sound and strong decisions, by weighing all the facts and feelings at their disposal. That this actual way of making decisions is contrary to most existing theory about how women are supposed to make decisions is an exceedingly important additive to the understanding of women's development.
For reasons of promised confidentiality I cannot mention the one hundred participants by name, although I would love to accord them the recognition they so deserve. Despite my attempts to generalize the experiences of my Northern Irish participants, then, each will always remain a friend for me. I would also like to thank the eleven women from Boston and Cape Cod, Massachusetts, for agreeing to be interviewed. They