Today is the fourth of July, a day that celebrates freedom & independence. It has always been one of my favorite holidays. Growing up, my whole family would gather at our beach house in southern Maine. We’d grill burgers, husk corn, watch the fireworks over the ocean and walk along the beach after getting ice cream. It was pretty perfect.

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Not surprisingly, I didn’t think too much about freedom or independence. I just enjoyed my family, food, and the beach we grew up on.

As I got older, I began to appreciate freedom more, primarily because I didn’t feel like I had any. Sure, I live in America. That’s an incredible priviledge. But I felt like a prisoner in my own body. I was obese. I had huge dreams and goals but they didn’t feel achieveable. I was making choices that kept me stuck in a place where I didn’t feel free at all.

I felt chained to my past patterns. I felt like food had more control over my life than I did. My habits felt too strong to overcome.

I felt hopeless and powerless.

When I first read the Rumi quote, “Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?” I began to realize that this life of struggle wasn’t something that was happening to me, it was something I was creating with my choices.

Slowly, I began to create change. The changes were small and I think that’s what made me feel capable of them. Overtime, those small changes created big results and I gradually began to feel more free and less trapped.

I have a totally new appreciation of freedom.

I am free, in every and any moment, to create change in my life. I am free to grow. I am free to choose joy. I am free to stop complaining. I am free to think positive. I am free to serve myself and others. I am free to move beyond the choices that have bound me to my past.

You have the same freedoms.

You have the same independence.

Choose it. Start small. Never stop. Never settle.