We Can if We Want To

FreedomToday is Veteran’s Day. It is a reminder that freedom is not by any means free. It goes without saying, but I must say it anyway, those who serve our country are the unsung heroes in our world. Men and women sacrifice so much in order to ensure that those who call America home are protected and truly able to be free. In my opinion, we owe everything to the courageous people of our armed services. Their families are also to be included in the superhero category and worthy of our gratitude and appreciation also.

Men and women have died protecting my freedom. This is the truth. Think about that for a minute. How many of us are willing to die for something we believe in? Better yet, how many of us are willing to die defending the freedom of those who may not believe exactly the same thing they do? They take an oath to defend freedom and willingly choose to put their personal beliefs aside to reach that end. Our fallen soldiers have paid the ultimate price and their families suffer the ultimate loss.

As citizens, we are privileged to reside in a place where liberty is promised and an undeniable right. In a perfect world, this core belief should permeates everything we do, think or feel. In my world, this was not always the prevailing mindset. My thinking, feelings and actions were clouded by self-imposed limitations and my perception of what was lacking in me. There were many years that I did not appreciate or believe that I had the ability to choose for myself. It was what I can only imagine jail feels like.

One of my great fears is being put in jail for something that I did not do. I am talking about the chest tightening, can’t breathe, kind of fear. Prison is the ultimate loss of freedom. This fact alone keeps me honest. Though I may not have ever literally been in a prison, I felt just as confined by all of my baggage.

It was such a relief when I realized that it was up to me to decide when I would finally unlock the chains and shackles that bound my way of thinking or feeling. When I came out, I took down the bars on my windows and truly felt free. I cannot speak for everyone, but for me there is no better feeling than that of being free.

The entire process of writing my book has been both a confirmation and reminder of just how much liberty I enjoy on a daily basis. Of course, the first amendment allows me the right to say whatever I want. However, I am talking about the ability to choose to let fear or regret lead the way or to choose love and hope.

“If I wanted to, I could” is one of our favorite mantras around our house. This simple sentence motivates us to work hard and keeps us grounded to the important things in life. It is our own personal gauge of our freedom. Materialistically speaking, I would like a modern beach house one day. If I had the resources to get it right now, I honestly do not think I would. Knowing that “if I wanted to, I could” is enough for me. On a similar note, just because something is possible does not mean that you have to. Thinking this way goes a long way whether you are dealing with finances, other people, or life in general.

As silly as it sounds, the fact that I could name the book anything I wanted was very exciting to me. I could have called it Pink Socks Tree. Because I could. It makes no sense, but I was free to do so if I wanted. My middle son’s first name is the only one out of the six that I chose for my kids. The rest were decided by their father. There is a lot to be said about how important our perception of our ability to choose for ourselves can be, even in the smallest of moments.

I have mentioned in a previous blog this process is much like giving birth. Just yesterday, I sent my publisher the proof with my final approval to print. Today, I put together my press release, which is strangely similar to creating a birth announcement. Knowing that the print child, I had 100% say in naming, will soon be out in the world is surreal.

This collection of words became more than just a story about my experience of coming out. It morphed into a representation of what true freedom looks like on the most personal level possible. To think about it in that light is humbling and yet another reminder for us all to honor, respect, and appreciate what true freedom means and to be mindful of how it manifests itself in our daily lives.