Returning to Freedom.

I don’t know when it was that I lost my freedom—I know it was a collection of moments and pain all strung together that hurt and pushed me further inside of my body, as though hiding from a storm. I used to love sunshine and bathing suits and laying on blankets in the grass underneath our nectarine tree in the backyard of our Lamer Street house in Burbank, California.

I know that I lost some freedom when some people I loved died all of a sudden. I never want people to die or leave—I have this deep desire inside of me that wishes everything would just stay happy and the same. Later as I approached 5th grade I started to grow boobs and thighs and feel like something was wrong or too much about my body. I think that whole preteen thing just scared me to death. In fact, I know it did. Deodorant, bras, periods, bodies changing—ugh. I wanted nothing more than to hit rewind and cut off these curves and find my way back to long summer afternoons and watercolored paintings at the kitchen table. Childhood and womanhood seemed in opposition to each other—and I wanted the former more than the later because I wasn’t done being a kid when all that change rushed in. You see, there were several reasons I lost that daily freedom—the delightful, relaxed, not-a-care-in-the-world freedom.

I began this journey a few years ago, finding my way home. Perhaps I’ll always be on this road—I suspect that’s the truth. Not to Lamer Street where I grew up, but home in the deepest sense—the deepest parts of me.

I have struggled for so long to find freedom from the terribly mean things that were going on inside of my head. Mean things that would make me cry, and hide, and maybe even decide to starve or punish my body with extreme exercise or none at all. I have one of those voices in my head that is very cruel—especially when I’m tired or drained and haven’t taken time to restore and nap. When I get too busy pleasing and tending to everyone else—I often forget to take care of little ole me.

Truth is, I got really busy helping everyone else. I worked at church taking care of families and creating events and week long camps for them to come to. I set the tables with paint and hung streamers from the ceiling. It was pretty magical. We had so much fun together. I got to be witness to hundreds of childhoods—what pure delight. I wanted to give them the gift of whimsy and refuge—I wanted to say so deeply “You are loved! Don’t you worry about a thing!”

Perhaps I was also trying to find my way home by making space for it for someone else by expressing the very truest things I knew to be good and real in this life. I suppose that’s lovely—but it never works in the way it’s supposed to. You’re supposed to be like a cup overflowing with life and authenticity if you want to be “home”—but I was overflowing with responsibility and worry. These things are too heavy to hold.

And so this summer does feel like “home”…oh, I could cry telling you about it. It’s like a journey back to that 3rd grade girl in a bathing suit who is free to tell the truth and love her life.

I’ve been laying under trees and dreaming about my life, taking trips to the farmer’s market to buy beautiful food and trying out new recipes. I’ve cried tears as I process through this journey coming home—because there’s pain in walking the roads we’ve left behind so long ago. There is grief in realizing all you have lost and release when we let the tears come pouring out. There is grief—-but there is sweet freedom in knowing that you can feel it all. It’s all going to be okay.

This summer a woman asked me a great question. I love great questions, don’t you? She said, “What gets in the way of doing the things that bring you life?” 

My eyes felt wide with possibility as I considered what this meant—and I’m still exploring the answer. To break it down:

What is it that gives you life? (I’m making a list!)

And what is in the way?

I’m taking care of my whole self, I get to enjoy quiet mornings, finally clean out my closets and paint our bathroom, doing home projects, finding sponsors for the sweetest children in the world, planting flowers out in front, and I even have my watercolor paints out on the table…ready for some quiet time to create.

I dare you to join me, open up your “closets” and come home to you—the truest “you” that’s ever lived.

I believe we learn about that truest self when we identify the things that fill us up. What brings you life? Make your list…and I’ll make mine and let’s share them here tomorrow. 

May your summertime be a time when you step more fully into the freedom you deserve and have been made for. You are loved. We all are.

Are you hungry to return to the freedom you’ve left behind?

Photo Credit: flickr: Christine