Freedom Isn’t Free

When I was a little girl, we always recognized and celebrated Memorial Day. As a child, I thought I knew what we were celebrating, even though my focus was on one event that was the most important to me. Which was the end of the school year. I hated school. I always did, which is ironic that I ended up being a life-long learner as well as earning a Master’s Degree in physical therapy just 3 months shy of my 40th birthday.

But as an adult I fully understand the incredible sacrifices that have been made by ordinary people who did extraordinary things to allow me the freedom and the ability to make some of the choices that I have made in my life. The freedom that we so often take for granted. The kind of freedom that people have fought and died for over the course of over 243 years. 

It boggles my mind to think about the tremendous amount of courage and determination that drove the founders of this great nation, the men and women, who were willing to put everything on the line for freedom. Their lives, their homes, their families. And the courage that makes the few that answer the call–the call to serve.

For me. For you. For all of us. Every Memorial Day, as we enjoy a 3-day weekend with picnics, cook-outs, beach trips and volleyball, I take a few minutes to  get down on my knees and thank God for my freedom. Then I look at the sky and say to all of those fallen heroes, “Well done. And thank you for my freedom.”

Because as we all know, freedom comes at a high price. Freedom isn’t free. And it never will be.

Seize The Day

A few days ago I woke up feeling heavy and sluggish. Gingerly I rolled over in bed, got up, and staggered toward the enticing aroma of fresh coffee brewing. Ahhhh, coffee! I followed it into the kitchen where my husband and 3 dogs greeted me with wagging tails and a cheery “Good Morning!” Easy for them to say.

Eventually the coffee worked its magic well enough for me to give everyone a pat on the head (including my husband) before going down to my girl cave to get some work done. I also had to clean the kitchen, get dinner in the crock pot, get dressed and head out the door for ballet class. I had a lot to get done, and I was in a crappy mood. I made sure I took my bad mood with me as I made my way downstairs.

But something funny happened. All of a sudden my creative juices began to flow. There I was, writing and working, working and writing. My mood began to shift and I felt lighter, and happier as I pounded away at the keys. Here’s one of my many deep, dark secrets–I can’t type. I never learned how. I’m a writer that can’t type and a physical therapist that hates exercise and thinks that chocolate is food. I giggled at the irony.

I glanced at the clock and got a shock. It was so late I would have to scramble to get dressed in time for class. Forget about cleaning the kitchen and making dinner. I was panicked about being late for class and agitated that I would lose momentum with my work. My bad mood returned.

As I ran around like a crazy person, I stopped cold. What was I doing to myself? I was exhausted, and it was obvious that my stress (as well as my bad mood), was purely self-inflicted. I went back into the kitchen, patted everyone on the head again (including my husband), and sat down to have breakfast with him. Surprised, he asked, “No barre today?” “No,” I replied. “I’m going to stay home, relax, and get some work done.” He smiled and patted me on the head.

There are a lot of life’s lessons in this story. First, we have much more control over our mood than we think we do. All it takes is self-awareness and introspection to lower our stress levels and change the course of our day. Next, it’s important to laugh at ourselves and embrace our idiosyncrasies. Also, sometimes we need to pass on the barre, no matter how tempting it is. Finally,  everyone could use a pat on the head. And a belly rub. It’s good for the soul. Besides, it makes us laugh. Most of all, remember to seize the day, and take charge of your life.

Never Stop Dreaming

The ability to dream is something each and everyone of us are born with. However, as we mature into adulthood and the responsibilities of work, home, family, and life’s challenges can get in the way of our dreams. And sometimes we even forget how to dream.

That happened to me. It was a long time ago, but it really doesn’t seem like it now. I was going through a major bump in my road of life, and simply getting out of bed in the morning was a supreme challenge for me. My focus was merely to live to survive another day. Or not.

Well, I kind of did. After all, I couldn’t imagine leaving my husband to take car of my dogs all on his own. But every moment in life was so effortful. And just in case you were wondering, I have been accused of inventing the word effortful. But think about it–if something can be effortless, then why can’t it be effortful?

The truth is that life is full of highs and lows. Good times and bad times. When we’re in the midst of one of our down times, it’s easy to get stuck in it. Especially if we stop dreaming.

So, no matter what life throws at you, remember that it will pass. And remember to keep dreaming. Because we were all meant to live life to its fullest, and living our avowed dream is our God given right. And no one can take that away from you.

As long as you don’t let them.

When Circuits Misfire

Don’t you just hate it when your circuits misfire? Maybe there is just too much going on in your head, the signals aren’t clear, or the messages are conflicting with each other and you can’t move forward. Or backward. Or at all. I believe this is called cognitive dissonance.

A few weeks ago I was driving on the interstate in rush hour traffic. I was anxious to get home so I could let the dogs out. My husband was out of town and I was feeling guilty that I was gone so long. On the other hand, I was feeling quite satisfied that I had a very productive day and feeling good about my accomplishments.

As my conflicting thoughts swirled around my mind, suddenly something felt terribly wrong. Confused, I looked down at the dash and saw that all of my indicator lights were on. My car had stalled, right in the middle of rush hour traffic!

I did what every responsible, mature, experienced driver would do. I totally freaked out. But even in my panic, somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain my mind went into autopilot. Put on the flashers, test the brakes (which weren’t working), scream like a banshee, put the car in PARK and try to restart it. The grinding noise from the engine told me that was definitely not the thing to do.

More screaming, put the car in NEUTRAL and try again. Miracle of miracles, it started. Even more miraculous was that no one hit me, nor did I plow into anyone else. I drove the rest of the way home without further incident, and I didn’t even cry until I hugged my dogs.

Our mechanic checked it out and discovered that 2 internal sensors weren’t communicating well. Each one was sending the other conflicting messages. In the words of my mechanic, since they didn’t know what to do they both freaked out and completely shut down. Huh. Cognitive dissonance.

Our mind and brain work much the same way. Sometimes the circuits get conflicting messages about what we really want in life and how we’re going to get there. It’s not that the circuits misfire. It’s just that they can’t process the information it’s receiving, and shuts down.

It was a powerful lesson for me and a reminder to slow down and proceed with caution when life gets too hectic. After all, I don’t want to overload my system. And I certainly don’t want to be rendered incapacitated in this road of life. Ever. Do you?