Land of the Free

The last few weeks have been cataclysmic in our country. The struggles of black people throughout this country’s history and the sharp edge of law enforcement and authority pressing their might against those who are most vulnerable. It’s left me feeling exasperated, frustrated, angry, and action-oriented.

This month it’s been 30 years since I arrived in the US, so I’ve been thinking alot about my own journey to this country that expresses itself as, “land of the free, home of the brave.” Land of the free has different context for different people depending on where they came from, how they arrived here, and if it was by choice or by force. As an immigrant, I thought of the United States as a land full of possibilities. I didn’t flee my country, nor did I leave it for a better life in the US, but a different one, one full of possibilities.

There is also the lack of freedom we have now because of Covid-19. With shelter-in-place orders, masks, social-distancing, etc. our freedom can feel…not so free, but there are ways to free ourselves even when personal or external burdens might be holding us down.

  1. First, Free Your Mind. Do you remember the song from the early 90s by En Vogue “Free your mind, and the rest will follow…” It’s really true! Get into a quiet place and focus on your breath. Just an inhale and exhale. Feel your breath filling your belly. Remembering that you are ok in this moment no matter what else is going on around you is very important. One “OK” moment leads to the next, and the next…
  2. Focus on where you have a choice. While easier said than done, remembering that there is a choice even when it feels like you have none is a powerful exercise. I’m choosing to take time and be still right now…I’m choosing to meditate on what I do have instead of what I don’t…I’m choosing to practice gratitude instead of worrying thoughts…I’m choosing to move my body instead of remaining seated at my desk…We forget that we make thousands of choices every single day. While we don’t usually think of those choices as freedom, they absolutely are.
  3. Instead of looking at the limitations, look at the possibilities. Every day is ripe with possibilities. They may not be the possibilities you want on the surface (i.e. winning the lottery so I don’t have to worry about rent anymore) but when you dig a little deeper you can really find some gems. Is it possible to take myself to a park or the beach for some sun, or a walk in the woods? Is there a friend I haven’t talked to in a while who really makes me laugh that I could call? Are there ingredients in the house for me to prepare a delicious meal for myself? What project or activity have I been looking forward to starting (or completing)? If you answer no to any of the questions you ask yourself, what else is possible?

Possibility gives us hope and freedom. Freedom to do more with our lives, freedom of choice, freedom to be happy and pursue our dreams.

So how do you define Freedom? Once you answer that question, pull out your En Vogue and George Michael. Freedom can also be a dance party 🙂


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