I happen to love the number four. It encompasses the beautiful array of seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. And the elements: Water (what we’re mostly made up of), Air (the breath that keeps us alive), Fire (our spirit, our passion), and Earth (the ground beneath us, what grounds us to our true selves). And of course, there are the four circles that make up the Rewire Me logo, representing our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual states.
Since the days of my youth in the Bronx, I have always loved another important four—the Fourth of July—not just for the fireworks and picnics celebrating our nation’s independence, but for the perfect time to honor the concept of personal freedom. This month we will be using freedom as a jumping-off point for a great variety of entertaining stories. Here’s a sampling of what we have in store for you:
- freeing yourself from bad habits
- the liberating feeling of learning to be a runner
- being freed from paralyzing introversion in middle age
- picking up and moving to France for a year
- seeing things from the rooftop to get a different view
- getting “unstuck”
- learning how not to be overly dependent on others
- improving your attention span.
Something about the beginning of summer always makes me feel happy and free. If you’re like me, you define summer as that time when your kids finish school, when beach days are upon us, when the sun shines warmly on your face, the waves crash, the moonlight is reflected, the bonfires are aflame and the marshmallows toasting.
My own path to freedom wasn’t easy. As an adolescent I was tall and heavy, and I never felt comfortable in my own skin. I watched life from the sidelines, peering on while everyone else seemed to be having fun. I imprisoned myself by being an outsider, feeling that I needed to stay one step ahead to avoid everyone’s criticism. I was trapped in my own body and mind. In high school I started to exercise and eat right, and slowly I emerged from that prison. I felt confident. For the first time in my life, I felt free.
It took me a long time to figure out that life presents us with choices, though we can’t always see them at the time. We can choose the path of expectation (waiting to see what others can do for us, or defining ourselves by their yardsticks) or we can choose the path of liberation. When we choose the latter, we’re able to forgive. We forgive ourselves for the ways we have contributed to our own unhappiness, and we forgive others whom we may have blamed for that unhappiness. That forgiveness sets us free.
I hope that your choices in life and your forgiveness of yourself and others have put you on a path to your own personal freedom. This week as you celebrate Independence Day, remember to celebrate your path to freedom. It’s what we’re meant to do!