“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex, and solitude will not be solitude, nor poverty, nor weakness. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
I love this quote by Thoreau because for years I built castles in the air and thought all was lost as I didn’t feel that I had any foundations. What I’ve learned is that it isn’t difficult at all as long as I have a strong sense of who I am and where I’m going. My Place of Freedom!
Here you will find that these steps are all intertwined – skipping one is like trying to bake a cake from scratch and leaving something out – it isn’t a cake when it comes out of the oven and you are disappointed in the results. But remember this: be gracious with yourself if something isn’t happening right away. Life is a journey, best lived when you enjoy the scenery! Each step is designed to allow you freedom to enjoy the life you are meant to live. I invite you to share your thoughts and ideas and questions with me either through our Facebook page or following our blog.
1) YOU MUST BE PRESENT TO WIN!
To start off, you want to show up and be “present”. It’s true that half of life is about just showing up but as we all know – just filling a seat doesn’t guarantee that we’ll learn anything new. You want to be present. Be conscious of your surroundings and how everything works better TOGETHER. Everything is connected and while you may fool yourself into thinking that what you’re doing at the moment has no affect on someone else – it simply isn’t true. Disconnectedness is only an illusion. In physics there is a law that states “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”.
This isn’t a theory and this law carries over into everything in life.
Remember the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” with Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey? While he felt that he would be better off dead due to a mistake made by Uncle Billy and capitalized on by Mr. Potter, as it played out George is gifted with a look at what life would be like if he had never been born. The ripple effect of this one person was far reaching in the life of his family as well as the members of his community and I believe that it goes on and on and on. Make a concerted effort to be present, to truly take an interest in the moment. It’s a choice to be wherever you are. Even if you don’t like the alternative, I guarantee you that being present will bring you closer to the freedom you are seeking.
2) HAVE FUN ON THE JOURNEY TO FREEDOM
Another factor is to participate fully and enthusiastically! Have fun! Play full out, as it were. To quote Auntie Mame, “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!”
How hungry are you? Are you waiting for someone to come and serve you? It’s all right there and if you choose not to wait – you can have as much as you can eat! Do you remember the junior high dances where it was the people on the floor dancing really have fun? You may have been in the thick of things and to you, I say congratulations! But if you’re still sitting on the sidelines waiting for someone to come and ask you to dance, it’s time to learn that you control your destiny, no one else!
In the arts we are enthralled with the performance of the individual who’s very breath is in character. They’ve given themselves over to the part they are playing. Consider giving yourself over to the part/path you are to play in life. Hold nothing back – there is no time like now to enjoy who you are! Who guaranteed you tomorrow?
3) ADD TO YOUR TOOLS DAILY
Make full use of the tools you’ve been given, whatever assets you have been blessed with – START THERE! Take inventory of what you have and add to it!
Let’s take a look at some of the things many of us take for granted:
√ Can you hear? Thank God you have the blessing to hear birds sing, crickets on a summer night and babies laugh! You can hear someone say “I love you”. You can hear and learn!
√ Can you see? Thank God you have the blessing to see the sunrise over the distant mountains, or the sunset over a lake or ocean, or see the blue of the sky on a spring morning, or the smile of delight on a child’s face when they have their first birthday cake. You know the wonders of the many colors of the universe. You can see and take in the world around you!
√ Can you walk? Thank God that you have the ability to travel unassisted from place to place. You can walk from your bed to the bathroom. You can see a friend on the street and walk to greet them.
√ Can you use your hands? Thank God you have the ability to hold someone’s hand, to touch the face of a lover, to skip rocks on a lake, to push a child on a swing. You have the gift to lend a helping hand when needed.
√ Can you speak? Then you have a voice to be heard – do not muffle it or hold back in doubt – you can ask questions and learn.
√ Can you read? Then you have access to all the history of the ages?
√ Can you feel? Then you have access to the connections that transcend time and space.
If any of these are not available to you, take stock and find how to overcome the challenges. If you cannot hear or see or walk or any of the other gifts mentioned, you do have the ability to compensate.
Use your heart and your brain to create access to the dreams in your life. Start with an attitude of gratitude for the things you DO have and add you your bounty. If you find something that isn’t working for you – don’t throw it all away and start over. Life is more like making a soup stock where you can add ingredients as you go along to improve the flavor.
4) TAKE SOME BREATHING TIME
Sometimes things get hectic – there seems to be a convergence of activities, demands on your time and the ability to focus. There is a tendency to feel like the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and when that happens – give yourself a “time out” and breath. Take time to balance your life and “stop and smell the roses”.
Consider the story in the TV Show “Kung Fu” with David Carradine when he asked Master Po how long it would take him to learn the art of Kung Fu. He wanted it now and as he continued to query and suggested spending more time practicing and working on the craft he was told the longer it was going to take. When he asked why he was told that there needed to be balance.
We are even told – To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven. Even the seasons have a balance and an order to them. Sometimes it is as simple stopping to take two or three deep breaths or maybe it would be beneficial to go for a walk around the block or through the park.
Other times you’ll find it best to really get away. When was the last time you had a vacation?
Look for the flow in your life. When the flow is obstructed – take the time to breath.
5) START ON THE INSIDE
Life mirrors back what is inside of you. The mirrors are seen in the people you meet and the events you encounter on a daily basis. The mirrors are a result of your beliefs, your thoughts and your actions. You see in others who you are. If you want to change the world you have to start inside of yourself. To loosely quote Gandhi ~ YOU must be the change you want to see.
It is particularly challenging to help others if you are in pain, in loss, in debt.
Consider the instructions when flying on a plane – when traveling with the elderly or small children, in the event of emergency, and the oxygen masks are released – put your own on before putting them on the person who cannot help themselves.
If you can’t breathe you will die before you can do anything further.
The more freedom you bring out in yourself, the more freedom you will begin to notice around you. Do not wait for someone else to initiate the change, to find something that “they” need to do.
And start today.
6) FIND YOUR PATH
There are many paths up the mountain and your experiences will help you find the path that serves you best. Be open for new ideas and ways to keep passion alive – to feed your drive in moving forward. “The” path up the mountain may be a convergence of philosophies, teachings, truths and understandings that you acquire so in traveling from “A” at the base of the mountain to “Z” at the top you may find that the path takes unexpected turns.
Your path may not resemble the person before you OR the person who comes after you; even though they may seem to start at the same point. Remember, one size does not fit all!
If you’ve ever been to an amusement park that is full of roller coaster rides you know there are many different kinds. Some are rickety and appear old and unstable, others give you the feeling that you’re flying like Superman, while others just roll gently along going up and down a little at a time. You may enjoy one or all of these OR you may simply enjoy walking through the park to absorb the excitement. It all makes for a great day.
In the end find out what is it that makes you tick. One reason to keep the passion alive is to be able to use it to keep you going, to keep you motivated and inspired. Trust that you are on the perfect ride.
7) WHO IS ON YOUR TEAM?
Finally, how big is your team? Are you trying to do this alone? Doesn’t work! If you can prove me wrong, please let me know!! You came into this world as a miracle of creation and it took a man and a woman to get you here. You were educated by one or more teachers that shared their experiences and knowledge with you. You played with other children, animals, or objects/toys as you grew up. No matter what the big picture is – it’s not happening alone.
Even though I sit here and write this article – there were thousands of people that created and support the technology to do so. It hasn’t been since the days of writing on rocks with colored berries that anyone could even begin to claim that they did it by without help from anyone.
Use your team to help you stay focused on the big picture! Consider the following list that may be there for you:
- Fellow coworkers
- “Strangers” on the street
Any of these individuals can be there to help you on your road to freedom, they may do so on an ongoing basis or they may be like the lighthouse that guided the ships in days of old – one flash of light told the captain if he was on the right course or if there was danger ahead. Take some time to know who is supporting you.
To recap remember, you must “show up”, being present is where it all starts. Then have fun. If the “goal” is the only thing worth remembering, your life will be very empty. Constantly be open to new ideas and ways of growing as you add to your bag of tools. Look within, your world reflects who you are and what you believe. Get on your PATH, find the choices that work best for you. And finally, know who is on your team. We did not come in without some help and we won’t get the most out of our time here without having others along side of us.
Thank you for allowing us to be part of your journey.