“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will.” ~~ Charlotte Bronte
Lots of discussions going on right now about freedom, especially personal freedom. No one likes to be constrained. As the goldfish in this image evidences, the desire to swim free in an endless ocean is preferable, even with its risks, to spending life safe behind walls of glass.
As I think about freedom, I think about it on several levels - internal and external. Internally, expectations form personal blocks to freedom. I have expectations. I have expectations of myself. I have expectations of others. I have expectations of how society should function, and even expectations of what it means to be a spiritually aware person in a not-so-spiritual world. It's a wonder I can get out of bed in the morning, so weighted down am I by expectations!
And yet, I know that the fewer expectations I have, the better able I am to live in the moment and to live in balance. Expectations take me out of the present and into the past and future.
Into the past because many of my expectations formed in childhood in my original family and through the authority figures that influenced my perceptions and understanding of how I "should" be.
Into the future because expectations can paralyze me from moving forward if I am unsure of what it requires for me to be successful - in my creative writing, in love, in my friendships, and even in staying healthy. And it isn't just my creativity that suffers under the weight of my expectations. My authentic soul-self does as well.
I notice my expectations in the oddest of places and at the oddest of times. I'll be standing in the supermarket line and a flotilla of thoughts are running through my mind about how fast (or slow) the cashier is ringing up the items for the customer in front of me. Really? Is that a good use of my mind?
The mind, I have discovered, is a bit like one of those haunted mansions you walk through on Halloween. In this room, is the nun who told me I'd never be as smart as my sister. In that room, is my first boss, who told me that he couldn't give me the raise I deserved because I would probably be getting married and leaving to have a baby. In another room, is an ex-boyfriend, who told me I should let him win at chess because he didn't like being with a woman who was so much smarter than he was (his words). And, yes, I was smart enough to hightail it out of that relationship.
Lately, what's going on in the world has me thinking about freedom on the macro level as well. To understand the deep human desire and need for freedom, we have only to look at the courage of Ukrainian citizens determined to write the script for their own destiny and that of their country. What freedom means on the larger scale is best said, I think, by this quote from Epictetus, former slave and Greek philosopher:
"Is freedom anything else than the right to live as we wish? Nothing else."
I have to agree. The right to love as we wish. The right to worship as we wish, or not. The right to plan our families as we wish. The right to be paid for the work we do equitably. The right to affordable healthcare. The right to dream big dreams. The right to jump into the sea of infinite possibilities and find the path that is expressly ours.
I invite you to think about freedom - about expectations, about the rights you hold dear. Perhaps the most important definition of freedom is the freedom to be who you truly are and to share that with the world without fear.
With love and continuing prayers for Ukraine and all who suffer,
“Life becomes easier when you learn to accept an apology you never got.” ~~ author, Robert Brault
I get inspiration for my weekly newsletters at the oddest of times and in the oddest of places. While I was driving yesterday, I started thinking about how different the view through the windshield was from the view through the rear view mirror.
The thought occurred to me that you do need to glance in that rear view mirror frequently to make sure nothing is coming up on you that might cause harm, but you spend most of the time driving with your focus on the road ahead. As a metaphor for life, that got me thinking about whether I spend too much time staring into the rear view mirror and not enough keeping my vision on my present and future.
For me, what's in the rear view mirror are past hurts, wrongs, mistakes, failures and losses. I expect that is true for most of you. And, I know from my own experience, that it can be hard to move forward while looking backward.
So, how does one truly heal the past?
I think it's not a simple process but it's one of acknowledging the past, accepting what you cannot change and then learning from the experience. I find there is always something for me to learn, so I look at the past, however difficult, as time in the playground of life. Sometimes you fall off the swing. Sometimes the other kids don't play fair. Sometimes you have to try something again and again until you conquer it (monkey bars for me). But in each situation, you are growing and learning about yourself, about life and about how to keep your heart open. And this is the very definition of healing.
Healing is such an important part of life regardless of how your life has been. If you are growing and learning, then you are also healing and your growth and self-healing helps many others.
"True healing is the willingness to treat yourself and others better than the past ever did." ~~~Matt Kahn, TrueDivineNature.com
I love this quote. Often, we carry the past around including messages of self-criticism. But if we keep treating ourselves as that person that others felt unworthy or of little value, then we allow the past to truly define the future.
For me the essence of healing the past is the process of coming back into balance and being-ness with what there is about me that is incomparable, unique and eternal. Healing is about love - love of self, love of the Divine, love of others and love of life.
I invite you to take a break on self-improvement and settle into a love affair with you. See what happens and find out what heals when you shift into seeing what has always been true about you - that you are the pure emanation of Divine love and light.
Treat yourself better than your past ever did. I am going to do that each day and remind myself that the past might deserve that glance but it doesn't deserve the direction in which I am going.
With love and continuing prayers for Ukraine and all who suffer,