Let Freedom Ring

For many Americans, having a 3-day weekend is cause to celebrate.  Throw in some fireworks, food and beverages, friends and family, and a little patriotism and you have the incomparable 4th of July holiday.   In honor of Independence Day, I declared last week Independence Week and took some time off work to savor all that freedom and independence mean to me.

My freedom fantasy goes something like this.  I have the whole summer off and a beach house where I spend each day writing the next New York Times best seller.  Of course, I’d have a bicycle with a basket for loading fresh fruit and veggies sold at a local market where  I congregate with other creative types also spending their summer casually cranking out their best work.  We agree to meet each evening for captivating dinner conversations, music, and dancing as a reward for making it through a day in the company of characters we’ve only imagined.  Naturally my dogs would be with me to encourage regular stretch breaks, beach walks, and daily swims. And, since this is a fantasy, maybe someone might also show up around lunchtime to do something exquisite with the fruit and veggies.

My reality is I work four 10-hour days at a community college and have Fridays off during June and July.  If I take a strategically placed vacation I can maximize my days off and write full-time during that time period.  I live in the Midwest (nowhere near a beach) but have access to a swimming pool and a cabin, although they are not at the same location.  I can get farm fresh eggs from my friend Karen’s happy hens and fresh fruit at the farmers market and check out  the Food Network for something fabulous to do with these ingredients. 

Even though one is not so far removed from the other, either my reality or my fantasy needs tweaking.

There’s this thing that happens at midlife when we accept that this is our life.  Whether or not this is who we thought we’d be, where we imagined we’d live, what we hoped we’d be doing for a living, and who we thought we’d be doing it with, here we are now.  And though we’ve been involved in every decision that brought us this point, we may still, on occasion, ask ourselves just what happened.

The more constructive question might be, “What do I want to do about it, if anything?”

Sometimes I think I have to do something so big, so bold, so grand that I completely psych myself out and do nothing. For example, in the above fantasy, spending a whole summer at a beach house and writing a best seller are two humungous goals.  While possible, they require planning, financing, connections, talent, and ultimately luck.

Most course corrections start with one simple adjustment followed by another.  Like guiding a person to an object by telling them they are getting hotter or colder, we find out what works for us by trying out one small and slightly less scary step at a time. 

During my ten days away, I spent half the time at the cabin surrounded by trees and hawks and hummingbirds with my dogs at my feet and various people joining me in the evenings.  The other days were spent overcoming my technophobia by upgrading my phone and securing a wireless modem and laptop so I can take my writing on the road.  

Even though these felt like baby steps to me they were actually huge leaps moving me forward.  Now I am free to move about the cabin (literally) and stay connected.  No more excuses for me not to post to this blog on a regular basis.

Having the time and space to breathe deeply and pay attention to all the little ways the universe rushes in to wow anyone who’s paying attention, is what I feel freedom is all about.

Now, on with the fireworks… or fireflies.  This week I discovered they also can light up the night sky.

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