Monday, May 30, 2011

Freedom Isn't Free, Except When It Is

Today is Memorial Day, a day to honor those who serve our country, especially those who have died.  And a few times today I heard the phrase, "freedom isn't free".  I have a complicated relationship with this sentiment.  On one hand, I hate it because I associate it with people who think the only way to secure freedom is by blowing up people "over there".  On the other hand, I agree with the sentiment.  Freedom isn't free...except when it is. 

True freedom comes from within, its in our minds.  To me, the freedom to think, free will, and freedom to explore ideas are the ultimate freedoms.  No matter our outer circumstances, we can remain free in our minds.  With this mind freedom comes the responsibility to use the freedom wisely.  This freedom should be used to secure our happiness and health, as well as the health and happiness of others.  But too often we squander this freedom with thoughts focused on what is lacking, on what we don't like, on what other people are doing/have.

This idea came to me today at the local swimming pool.  I realized that today was the first time I was not self-conscious about being in a swimsuit in public since I was 10 years old.  Without all the self-fat talk and constant comparison to other women in the area, I was free to enjoy my body and the day with my beautiful boys.  I was free of all that negativity and baggage.  I shrugged all that off once I started accepting and loving myself as I am and appreciating my body for all the things it can do.

My body isn't drastically different than it was the last time I was in a bathing suit.  But my attitude is worlds away.  Over the last year, my mindset has changed.  I don't focus on my weight or a diet.  I focus on health and wellness.  I focus on doing what feels good, makes me happy and works to keep me on track towards my goals.  Its the switch of focusing on the positive things, the things that work or can be changed to be better; rather than focusing on comparison, judgment and criticism.  It's all in your point of view.  Now I accept this body of mine that has grown two babies, ran many miles, eaten so many delicious meals, and crafted some really cool stuff.  My body is strong, healthy and perfect for me.  Sure, I could improve my fitness and health, as we all could.  I am working towards those goals, but with a realistic mind.  I realize that no matter what the scale says or what size pants I wear, I am still me. I am not defined by numbers or inches. 

And so what about that freedom?  Well, I am free.  Free to be myself.  Free to enjoy my body.  Free to be happy about my life.  Free to be grateful for all that I have and am able to share with others.  These freedoms are free and open to us all.  These freedoms must be vigilantly defended.  We must not allow the self-hate, the negativity, the critical, snarky voices to overcome us and demand our obedience. We must defend our minds and our freedoms of thought.  We must defend our freedom from self-hate and preserve our self-esteem.  We must fight this fight not only for ourselves but for our children.  It is our duty to protect them from the freedom-stealing voices that tell them they are not enough.

We are all enough.  We all contain everything we need.  It's all right there.  We just have to believe it.

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts.