On my birthday, I exhaled into a new word: Freedom. For nearly three weeks of my new age of 43, I've been letting this word show me what it means.
So far, Freedom means giving away the shoes that hurt my feet. I have long heard women older than me say things like, "I am too old to wear shoes like that anymore. My feet can't handle it." And in the narcissism of my youth, I felt sorry for them to graduate into the flatter, wider, orthopedic versions. I now know the very real differences between head shoes and feet shoes: shoes to wear for your head and shoes you wear for your feet - shoes you wear for confidence and shoes you wear for comfort. I understand now that these women were not necessarily sad, and that likely were not looking at my pinched feet with longing. They were free.
Freedom meant walking out of the theater during intermission this week. The empath in me felt sorry for the actors, but my brother shut that down. He said, "Don't feel sorry for them. They are being paid. And the lights are so bright that they can't see if the seats are empty or filled." And it was a terrible show. Freedom meant jammies and ice cream.
Freedom meant getting two puppies this summer, not just one. And they are our great joy, these two creatures who have stolen our hearts and ruined us forever. This just in, as of this very morning: a handful of green beans from the freezer is like a visit from the ice cream truck on an August afternoon. They love their green bean popsicles.
Freedom has also allowed me to lean into this season that has become Driver's License Season. Could I grieve the loss of so many hours in the car on the way to practices, rehearsals, and late-night shifts at Chick-fil-A? I could, sure. But has that ever really been my scene? Instead, I could celebrate the addition of an unpaid Uber driver at our house. And I could delegate the errand running to someone who's waiting eagerly for the chance to break free and blast the tunes to his liking. I'm choosing to make lists and send him to the store.
Freedom meant choosing to no longer make any efforts to make my body smaller. This is the size I am, how much space I take up on the couch, in the bed, on the highway, on the planet. And I have decided that it's okay, even good. I've considered the ratio of input and output, and I'm calling it good. This, right here, is an efficient use of person. She doesn't have to tread water to stay in the pool. She can float as needed. She can be here, and she can have what she needs.
Also, Freedom has meant setting others free in every way I'm able, with every use of my influence. I'm waiting to see what that looks like, how I can be a vessel and a voice of freedom.
Give away the shoes.
Let the young man drive the car.
Buy the comfortable pants.
Let the people have ice cream for dinner.
Let the puppies have green beans from the freezer.
Freedom. It's the new me, at forty-three.