How To Be Free

Free is my favorite word. Short but potent, it carries a positive and inspiring vibe and covers a lot of ground. It’s versatile enough to be applied to space, thought and time. When I look back through my life, I see that I have always craved open spaces, variety and the roominess of possibility. I’ve needed to chase the wind or wild ideas, and every seemingly fruitless effort led somewhere better. I’ve needed to write the outlines after finished pieces because that is the code of a free spirit. Wander, live, and then document. So, here’s my belated freedom formula.

  1. Be the Drummer. Straight through your life, direct it. If it’s not infinitely clear to you by now, a lot of things are out of your control, but you can manage your own body, mind and spirit. You can think your own thoughts and chart your own path without a committee signing off or coaching you through. Dream up a life that excites you and follow that drumbeat.
  2. Authenticity is a staple of the free. As my favorite singer India. Arie croons, just do you. No special instructions for this, just a bit of self-discovery and attention to what really feels right and what doesn’t. If you are regularly feeling like an impostor, pull over. Start spending an hour or more every week thinking about your authentic self and once you’ve figured out the basics, let her out to play.
  3. Create your own reality. Do you find yourself overconsuming the news, influencer’s opinions and social media lives? Imagination is freedom, so don’t go limp and plagiarize a stranger’s story or let the monster waves of the world suck the meat out of your dreams. Imagine your future, design your days. Believe what you want to believe and go somewhere with that.
  4. Minimize like a spy. Seriously. You don’t need all of the things. Simplicity is a path to freedom.  I am not (nor have I ever been) a spy, but I was a fangirl of the early 2000s action-thriller TV series Alias. Secret identities, espionage and the ability to easily grab a go-bag and transport wherever the adventure is still fascinates me. Not going after bonafide minimalism, but life with less and less stuff feels freer. Sexy and mysterious too.
  5. Practice extreme self-care. You are unique, so your self-care prescription should be too. Whatever makes you feel comforted, strong and happy probably also makes you feel safe enough to fly freer. For me, it’s the sauna, candlelit bubble baths, yoga, walking barefoot on grass or sand, and leisurely cooking healthy gourmet meals. For one of my friends, it’s crafting on her deck and then having a cocktail. For another, it’s homemade facials and spraying her bedsheets with lavender mist and letting them dry on the clothesline. What nourishes you?
  6. Live below your means. Consumerism and debt are not cute. If anything, the pandemic has taught us what “essential” looks like and identified money leaks and goals. I’m thrifty and have clamped down even more except for groceries and home goods. What am I saving for? Options. The freedom to travel, landscape, buy my next home, and do a lot of what I want without money anxiety. Plus, I’d rather tip the gardener a little more for helping me create another yard feature, bury my nose in a book, fall into a Spotify rabbit hole, make my own Moroccan dinner or port money into my 401K than buy new “stuff” I don’t need.
  7. Do not follow anyone who isn’t going somewhere you want to go, doing something you want to do, or being what you want to be. This applies to extreme sporters, criminals, narcissists, racists, anti-maskers, etc. Keep your own council, good heart and common sense. Enough said.
  8. Follow joy. Do things you love. Do things that energize you. Do things that make you feel powerful. Have fun. Hang out with children and high-vibration people who are also free, even it’s over Zoom for now. Laugh until your sides hurt at least once a day.
  9. Watch animals. They are limber and at ease with themselves and know how to move naturally. Many yoga postures have an animal to thank. Cat, cow, dog, dolphin. Strike a stationary pose or spontaneously imitate your favorite animal in motion.
  10. Run. Walk. Dance. Move your body in ways that feel good to you and be open to trying new forms of exercise too. Jump rope, belly dance, hopscotch, twerk – it’s all fair game if it liberates you, and remember, you can do any and everything in the privacy of your own home (or back yard) as long as you’re not hurting anyone (or yourself).

Photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash

11 thoughts on “How To Be Free

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