She was married, had two daughters and was bent on being the perfect wife.
Through a series of incidents, McNally realized she was living in a self-made prison and her true self was dying to live her own life.
That's what her book "Unbridled: A Memoir" is about. It documents McNally's journey to self-awareness after her marriage fell apart more than five years ago.
McNally will be at Dolly's Bookstore, 510 Main St., on Friday, July 25, from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. to sign her book. In addition, all the money raised from "Unbridled" sales will benefit Peace House, a nonprofit organization that aims to eliminate domestic violence in Summit and Wasatch Counties.
McNally said helping Peace House is something that came naturally.
"I have my own philanthropy where I host Wives of Wounded Warriors retreat twice a year, to help women who are the caretakers of our servicemen who were wounded overseas, get the support they need," McNally said during a call to The Park Record from the Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana. "I also have a foundation, called Mother, Lover, Fighter, Sage, that empowers women. All proceeds of my book, 'Unbridled,' go to different nonprofit organizations, and since Peace House works to help women, I thought it would be a great organization to work with when I was in Park City."
"Unbridled," which was published last year, started off as a journal.
"I had what people call a midlife crisis, but I call an existential crisis," McNally said. "I had made some mistakes in my life and I wanted to get to know myself, so I began journaling. After a while, I found that I wanted to publish my story."
Once she made that decision, McNally realized that everyone would read about her vulnerabilities and imperfections.
So, she used her two daughters as editors.
"They were my main audience and I didn't want to say anything that would damage our relationship," McNally said.
Still, the book contains many revealing experiences.
"I did have extra-marital affairs, which they knew about, and did go through a divorce," McNally said. "I also share an erotic encounter in an ancient castle in Ireland."
The purpose of including these details wasn't to be exploitative, but to help women with own their sexuality, and live it out in honest and positive ways, McNally said.
"Also, the book wasn't just about me, but also my interactions with my mother," she said. "Most women, if we're honest, have little issues and conflicts with our parents and that was resolved at the end."
The book also tells of McNally's resolution with her ex-husband.
"I say we had a successful marriage that didn't last a lifetime, because the death of our marriage helped us get new lives," McNally said. "The book is really about moving on and restoring relationships, and readers have resonated with my struggles to be true to myself, to find my independence and contribute to the world."
One of the stories McNally relays in the book is a trip to Jamaica she took five years ago.
"I went as a prude to explore my hedonistic side on a nude beach and coincidentally, my taxi broke down in front of an orphanage one day when I was leaving the resort," she said. "I ended up working at the orphanage for some time and worked with many disempowered girls."
McNally considers the experience an epiphany.
"When I returned to the United States, I realized that I was a prisoner in my own life and I had the key to my own freedom," she said. "I wanted to help women free themselves, but it was hard to keep going back to Jamaica, so I decided to help women in my own backyard in the United States."
Around that same time, McNally established the Mother, Lover, Fighter. Sage foundation.
It was McNally's grandmother that introduced her to the four archetypes.
"She said mother was the nurturing side and lover was the passionate side of us women," McNally said. "Fighter is an Irish term for being strong and we use the word warrior in America.
"For the last one, my grandmother used the word saint, but I decided to use the word sage, because saint is such a religious term," McNally said. "Sage is where we turn to our inner selves and learn wisdom."
During a trip to Ireland, McNally was able to identify how she wanted to live these archetypes.
"I want other women to live out their colors in different ways," she said. "It's not about perfect balance, or having it all. We have to pick which path to go down, but by knowing ourselves, we can be the co-authors of our own lives.
"We often say, most people live quiet lives of desperation and I think after they read the book, they may want to go on an adventure all their own," McNally said. "I've always loved writing and journaling and didn't want to die with the music still inside of me. So I thought by writing my story, I might inspire others to live out their colors so they won't die with the music still inside of them, either."
Dolly's Bookstore, 510 Main St., will welcome author Barbara McNally on Friday, July 25, from 6:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. For more information about the event, visit www.dollysbookstore.com . For more information about Barbara McNally or to read her blogs, visit www.unbridledfreedom.com .