july 4th. independence day. freedom. the american flag. beach weekend. party at lisa and billy’s. and summer is in full swing.
i have walked the same route many times. but i am now. and life is a journey. and this year freedom has a new meaning. and independence. and flags.
for my birthday, LN gave me some buddhist prayer flags. the flags are loosely woven fabric and have tibetan prayers printed on them. the idea is that when you hang them and let them blow in the breeze, little pieces of string fly off into the wind and carry the prayers with them. i hung some a few years ago on a day when the beach was enveloped in a cloud. i hung them with walt and maria and the girls and janice and pedro. my interpretation was to make a wish or say a prayer to accompany the buddhist words. let those prayers and wishes also fly string by string into the ocean breeze. and those flags have since been shredded. the prayers and wishes of that day carried in the wind. and LN gave me some more. bright and fresh with prayers and beautiful endless possibility. birthday wishes from my friend.
on the 4th, we decided to hang those flags. faith looks different for everyone. belief. prayer. dreams. there is comfort in saying a prayer. making a wish. dreaming big. and as we hung them, i read the story that came with the flags. how these flags are found all over tibet. on remote mountain passes and holy places alike. we each said a prayer or made a wish. my son aiden deep in thought for a long time with his private wishes. and we hung them from the deck. used the string of the other flags to hold these new ones in place. and i am a beach bum. and the ocean is my sanctuary. and the flags are flying free.
freedom is a word that can have so many meanings. has had so many for me over the years. time on my own. away from the sometimes crushing responsibility of my reality. perhaps an escape. independence as a woman and not just a mother, a wife. i got married really young. had three kids right in a row. either pregnant or nursing for 6 years straight. and over the years there have been times i wondered if i needed to be free. independent. on my own.
life is not always lived in a straight line. and each step of the way has gotten me to where i am now. i’m not perfect. that’s not the goal. i don’t judge my choices too harshly. or anyone’s choices. good bad or ugly, each one of us is figuring it out as we go. but i do have a new perspective. i am now. and it is so simple. i am deciding who i want to be now and trying to be that. learning big lessons as i go. i don’t text and drive any more. i have learned to forgive.
this summer i have been purging and organizing like crazy. when i have the chemo treatment i am on steroids for 6 days and they make me a little speedy. manic. great time for cleaning out closets. purging. i have another treatment on friday and then this weekend lesley is teaching me how to make a glass mosaic. a perfect project while the steroids are in my system. the steroids helping my body rejuvinate after the treatment. helping while i build my white blood cell count back up. and during one of my early purges here in the city i found some scraps of paper i kept. some sayings. they used to be in piles and drawers amidst the clutter of my desk. now they are kept together where i can look to them clearly. dozens of little mantras. here are a few.
– be who you desire your children to become.
– now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
– i shine when you shine.
– mantras you shouldn’t say: i don’t know; i’m not ready; i can’t do it.
– music is medicine. cardio is life.
– to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.
freedom for me has a new meaning this year. freedom is in the forgiveness of the past. the steps we have each taken. freedom is not judging others to harshly. not putting others down and avoiding looking at our own choices. whether it is a public figure or our own life partners. our friends and neighbors. it is leaving weiner alone. do we really care that he sent a text of his boxer shorts? that gossipy judgment of others and their life steps is not what i choose. it is so easy to hide behind the criticism of others when really all we can do is decide who we want to be and try to be that. i actually can imagine a society where we just live our life and let others do the same. don’t expect perfection. find freedom in forgiveness. find freedom in choosing the hard steps. find freedom in learning and doing better once we know better. deep down we are all the same. all navigating our own path. i am now. and freedom is being present in my life. and life is good. and i am blessed. and i am washing my karma. and i am saying prayers. making wishes. dreaming big.
and i found my freedom when i shaved my head. and i can still have flare with some amazing wigs. i love wigs. i love the beach. i love my crew. i love my job. and this week i found some freedom clipped into the pedals at soulcycle. i rode my bike last night in union square at 5:30. first time i rode a whole class since i started the chemo on memorial day weekend. and i rode again today on the west side. and soulcycle is more than a gym class. and i found my footing and my rhythm and my cardio. my freedom.