With tomorrow being Independence Day, and July 1st, having been my fiftieth birthday, I can’t help but reflect how fortunate I am to live in a country where I get to participate in and enjoy the freedoms given to me as a citizen of said country. Not only am I fortunate, I am privileged to have many options as well by living in this country: I enjoy the privileges of owning and driving my own car, spending time with my family and my friends, being able to get up in the morning and exercise, being able to read any kind of material I want to, going to a water park all day and laughing and giggling the whole time, and doing all of these things without fear of retribution from my government. Even in the midst of all of the government intrusions, we are still fortunate and privileged to live in this country.
I also feel very privileged to live the life I live: one where I am able to care for myself independently and one where I am free to be an independent thinker. Joel Osteen said in his book, Every Day a Friday: How to Be Happier 7 Days a Week, that your “emotions will be either controlled by your circumstances or by your character.” This is a very powerful and very true statement. I fully believe we create our own happinesses in life; we are what we think. If we think miserable thoughts, we will be miserable. If we think positive and happy thoughts, we will be positive and happy (Teaching a Positive Attitude). While we cannot always control what happens to us, we can always control how we will react to what happens to us. We are in charge of ourselves!! During the months while Ron was dying, I had some very important decisions to make. Some of those decisions were related to his medical situation, some to his financial situation, and some to his and my emotional situations. I decided early on that I would do my best to maintain a positive attitude and make every day count for us. I had to decide: do I sit back and play the victim, or can I be proactive and figure out how to be happy (at times faking it) in a fatal situation? Because I so strongly believe that I am in charge of me, I chose to be happy. For me, life is about the good times. Thinking for ourselves and not letting the thoughts of others infiltrate our minds is powerful and can set us on the path of emotional freedom.
I recently started dating my high school sweetheart from 34 years ago. Having been widowed almost two years ago, I didn’t know if love was going to be able to happen again. However, knowing that I am in control of myself, being open emotionally to what may be out there, and sending out positive energy has honored me with an amazing man. We recently went on a backpacking trip in the High Uintah Mountains in Utah at 10700 feet elevation (the last time I went on a backpacking trip, I was 17, and the elevation wasn’t nearly that high). This trip, I carried a pack of thirty pounds (I only weigh 113 pounds), fell four times while bush-whacking our way through a non-trail, banged, bruised, and bloodied up my legs, got altitude sickness for about fifteen hours, and had a blast (see the inserted photos-first picture is of me at 10700 feet elevation touching snow, and the second picture is of me during the hike)!! We were in a beautiful part of the country, with no one else around for about fifteen miles, and we had each other. During the day, we relaxed and visited; the temperature was about 80 degrees, and I read while he fished. At night, we sat around the campfire and talked with no interruptions. The moon was full, bright, and beautiful. By morning, it got down to around 36-40 degrees. Some people would have been miserable, but I understand we create our own happiness. Eventually, bruises and altitude sickness go away…but, those memories will stay with me for the rest of my life, providing me with great stories to tell.
Not only are we fortunate to live in this beautiful country (even though at times we forget it), we are also privileged to live in it. We are not only fortunate to have our own minds in which to think on our own, but it is our privilege to use our minds. We show honor to ourselves when we think for ourselves. How will you show honor to your own independence? Will you let your circumstances influence your emotions, or will you choose your character?
Be kinder than necessary, be grateful, and have a peace-filled Independence Day,
P.S. I’ll write again on August 7th.