"Freedom: In humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints." --Brittanica Online
In America, we equate the celebration of freedom with July, the month of the signing of the Declaration of Independence from King George. After the Civil War, all Americans born on our soil experienced freedom as their birthright. Our founding fathers no longer wanted us to experience freedom FROM something, rather the freedom TO choose one's own way. Our great nation deliberately abdicated rule over the people and instead invited its citizens to exercise free will. With freedom comes great personal responsibility of making the right choices given lengthy aisles filled with many flavorful options. As we look at the significance of several designated days in February, we remember that although freedom is a condition of our environment, it begins within the flame of independence burning in each of us.
National Freedom Day
Each February 1st, we acknowledge America's representation of freedom. This day, established in 1948, celebrates our elimination of involuntary servitude. With the signing of the 13th Amendment into law outlawing slavery, our country took a stand to honor the freedom granted to us by our Creator.
In what ways does your essential nature require liberation? Quite often we place limits on our abilities or our dreams, and never dare to pursue our happiness. With no outside force limiting or restricting our potential, the only barrier to our free expression lies within. Take a few minutes this day and all year long to unlock the greatness of your being and open the door to your greatest desire. You alone hold the key to your spiritual freedom.
The feast of St. Valentine stands as a traditional day to express love to one another. From the innocent paper cards we passed out to our classmates, to roses and dinner out, love's conquest of the heart rings out to us each year. It's often said that we don't choose with whom we fall in love. If that's indeed the case, love then becomes an overbearing force to which we succumb sometimes unwisely or unwittingly. It's almost as though we are love's victim - falling helpless to the selection of that most precious emotion as to our beloved.
From "puppy love" to multiple relationships, every one of us experienced partnerships which didn't work out for one reason or another. We must also acknowledge that love sometimes knocks on the door of our heart and we fail to answer the call because the appearance or expectation of our ego casts a veil of denial over the possibility of authentic connection. When we unburden ourselves from the restrictions our prescribed conditions and qualities impose, we free ourselves to look at love through the peephole of acceptance and willingly explore one of nature's finest experiences! Lincoln's birthday Before the workplace standardized holidays took force, February 12th recognized the birth of Abraham Lincoln. After myriad failures in his private and public life, this man endured hardships that fortified him to take the office of Presidency in our nation's darkest hours. After almost 100 years of independence, America's hypocrisy exhibited in the institution of slavery denied this group of people their God-given right to live for their own sake. While the war between the states argued for power other than oppression, it remains a turning point in our country's history and a shining light of freeing a people not only from bondage but from thousands of years of man's dominance over others.
Lincoln's no-win situation brought about costly changes, forfeiting several founding principles set forth in the Constitution. He made the best decision he could given the circumstances. When we face matters in our own lives which appear devastating no matter the choice, we must focus on the end result - what supports our freedom as individuals, as free spirits? We want to be free in our lives to prosper and thrive, yet the only slave master we cower to is our own self-worth. When we release the self-inflicted tentacles of fear, we free our minds and ideals to reach for the stars.
One of our bravest generals and reluctant leaders, George Washington stood tall the saddle and in the history books. Wise and strong, Washington led groups of men into battle and overpowered one of the world's strongest armies. He freed himself from defeatist notions and hence, liberated a country. As president, he led with humility and honor, treasuring always to sustain the freedom he fought so hard to attain.
When our personal resources appear dour, we realign with our core principles. Gathering our strength from our desire to achieve and grow, we move against the formidable foes life puts in our path, all the while sure that our goal awaits us. Moving from self-limitation, doubt and fear, the freedom to try and try again brings about the purest expression of our true spirit and sets the stage for a life well-lived.
February 29 - leap year
Once every four years, the calendar adjusts to allow for the differentiation between solar cycles and recorded time. In a sense, February 29th is a "freebie" day - a gift of an additional 24 hour period. While we live in a free country and are free to pursue our dreams and happiness, we never escape the mantle of time. As we succumb to either shortened hours sleep or less private moments, our busy lives find us crying out for a few more hours in a day to accomplish our to-do list. The gift of an additional day nonetheless appears "business as usual" to our hectic schedule and rarely do we take a deep breath to appreciate this timely gift.
As February speeds by each of us, take a moment to ponder your freedom. Count your blessings your nation honors your liberty from the moment of your birth, and that you will never be subjected to servitude for another person's gain, against your will. Think of the anguish which befell Lincoln as he navigated the country through the war, and the courage of Washington as he faced a seemingly undefeatable enemy. And, every four years, enjoy your extra day. Most of all, relieve yourself of all self-doubt and questionable capability. Know that your only restriction lies within you and you hold the key to unlock the shackles of your own limitation. Set your spirit free!