Direct From Jen: What Freedom Means to Me

fireworksI got the idea for this article the same way so many ideas come to me…in spin class.  This Saturday it was the morning of the 4th of July and the class’ music theme was America.  The minute we broke into a sweaty wild sprint, George Michael’s “Freedom” blasted from the speakers and the room exploded in a unified chorus of heavy breathed voices.

At that moment, it was like a hand appeared out of the air, smacked me on the side of the head and said “WAKE UP BABE…today is the day to celebrate our freedom!”  For the next few minutes, as my legs spun like mad in circles and my thighs started to ache, I contemplated what it meant to be patriotic.  To love your country.  Even more importantly, what it meant to really be free.  It’s certainly crazy that we need *a day* to remind us to acknowledge and appreciate our basic freedoms, since so many others in the world struggle daily for theirs.

What does freedom really mean to me?  I kept challenging myself, now mentally as well as physically.

Sure, we in America we can vote our conscience, or opt out of the decision making process. We can worship however we want, or be atheists.  We can work at what we love.  Or not.  We can go just about anywhere we’d like at any time.  We have the freedom to choose.   We also have the freedom to fight for and struggle for what we believe, to be vocal about our unique perspectives.  We are truly so lucky to have the opportunity to build our own businesses, launch our own organizations, pursue our own career paths, or change course completely midstream because we feel like it.  We can.

Even my own petty little problems are ultimately afforded to me as a result of choice. Instead of grumbling, I need to see the bigger picture and be grateful to have these opportunities in the first place.

If the business is particularly challenging…it’s because I choose to be an entrepreneur…I can.

If I gain a few pounds…it’s because I choose to live a more indulgent lifestyle…I can.

If I get into an argument with my spouse…it’s because I choose to speak my mind…I can.

As we even publish this blog and share our perspectives…it’s because we choose to have a voice and make it public…we can.

“We can” is why we should be so grateful.  Not just today, but every day.

Next song up…James Brown’s “Living in America”.  I don’t want to be an American idiot.  I don’t ever want to be naieve, complacent or too self absorbed to not recognize how many before us had to struggle to earn the rights we have today.  I don’t want to ever take for granted the simple freedoms we enjoy every day.  I want to make more of an effort to recognize that the things we struggle with in our daily lives – the pains, the hurts, the failures, the fights, the challenges – that we actually need to be grateful to even have the chance to experience all that we do in the first place.

Here on YSN, we’ve been lucky enough to be visited by people like you from over 190 countries, each with very different perspectives on what both success and freedom means to them.  This week, as we in the US celebrate our way of living, I want to recognize that we’re not perfect creatures by any means.  What you hear about us from our media, our politicians does not always represent who we are and what we believe.  Neither does yours. Ideally they should. That’s what democracy means to us, but it’s not a perfect system.  It’s just the best we’ve been able to come up with after centuries of fighting for freedom and independence.  As we celebrate the right to choose here at home, we hope you exercise any rights you have chose in yours.  Choose your own path.  Pursue what makes you happy.  And make a difference in the world, because you can.

This week, all of us at YSN would like to wish you – from whatever part of the world you’re from – not just success, but peace of mind and the opportunity that freedom and independent thinking permits – so you can follow your dreams and have the chance to realize your full potential.

And thank you Sherri Rosen at YAS for the Independence Day tribute…and subtle reminder of just how lucky we are to live in a great country.

Here’s to your success!

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