Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Life of a Free Spirit

I admit it.  I’m a free spirit.  Have been most of my adult life.  Once in awhile in conversations with someone and telling them some of the things I’ve done in my life, they’ll comment, “Boy!  You sure have done a lot in your life!”  That statement would always catch me off guard and cause me to think, “Have I really done so much?”  Then I would wonder if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. 

Mainstream society would label it as a bad thing.  They would say that those who have done so much don’t know what they want out of life and are basically goofballs.  They expect everyone to get married, settle down, have children, and stay at the same job for years.  I don’t know how many times it has been suggested to me to get married and settle down.  Settle down to what?  Settle down to a life that isn’t or wasn’t meant for me?  Crush my spirit and force me to conform to society’s standards?  I’m definitely not putting down marriage or holding a long term job so please don’t misunderstand!  Those are perfectly fine!  Sometimes I think I would love to be married and share the rest of my life with someone.  Right now, I’m okay being single.  I have married friends who envy my being single!  As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side of the septic tank! 

What are some of the things I’ve done and/or accomplished?  I lived on an Indian Reservation in British Columbia.  Went to both a Bible college and a horse management college.  Worked for Wayne Newton on one of his horse ranches outside of Las Vegas.  Was a nurse’s aide in a hospital.  Lived in Hollywood, California, and Nashville, TN, pursuing my dream of an acting and dancing career; was in movies, TV shows, commercials, and music videos.  Studied martial arts and was awarded a black belt.  Achieved an Associates’ degree in Natural Health and Nutrition.  Went on two cruises to the Caribbean with health guru Richard Simmons.  Belonged to Toastmasters (speaking club).  Write for the Religion Section of the Herald Citizen, Putnam County Visions Magazine, and other magazines.  Was secretary and later president on the board of my church, and am currently a Chaplain.  Volunteered as a Chaplain at the hospital.  Became a substitute teacher.  Achieved my Bachelors and Masters as a minister, and then a Doctorate as a Doctor of Holistic Ministry.  During these times I had a few full time jobs (good and bad) and many temporary jobs with temp agencies.  But I always paid my own way and paid my own bills.  Oh, yes, and came close to getting married a couple of times. 

Can we say, “Whew?”  Now some people may look at all of my experiences and wonder what the heck was wrong with me that I couldn’t stay at one particular thing.  My answer to that question is, “Why?”  Looking back on my experiences, they have all been blessings.  No, not all of them were totally fun-filled adventures, as I’ve also faced my share of challenges.  I’ve had many experiences along the way with some not-so-nice people who treated me horribly, and I had a breakdown that completely took me off the grid causing me to give up my dreams of a career in the entertainment business.  But in hindsight, I wouldn’t change any of these experiences because they have all taught me so much. 

Living on the Indian Reservation introduced me to an extraordinary culture and some really amazing people.  I also gained some treasured friendships that I still have to this day.  They became my family and I theirs.

The Bible College was very stringent and I couldn’t do a lot of the things I enjoyed because of their beliefs, so I quit.  I learned on my own that I could have my beliefs without being so strict and judgmental towards others.  I could still dance, go to movies, and enjoy life without a religion using guilt and fear to try to control me. 

Working at a hospital taught me to count my blessings because I saw so many who were so much worse off than me.  I learned how to treat people with compassion and kindness.

Living in Hollywood and Nashville pursuing a career in the entertainment business was a fabulous adventure as I met and got to know some really famous and not so famous people.  Before I moved to Hollywood, I was told by several, including my minister at the time, that if I moved out there and became an actress, I would go straight to hell because all Hollywood people were evil.  But I met some of the most wonderful, loving, and caring people!  I learned that those in the entertainment business were just like any of us, but doing a different kind of job.  I also learned that you find what you’re looking for and I found so much good!

I loved working for Wayne Newton!  He was always kind to me, though I can’t say that for everyone who worked on his ranch.  I learned some insights into what it is to be a famous entertainer.  

Studying the martial arts gave me more confidence and I learned to defend myself if I needed to.

Achieving my degrees in nutrition, as a minister, and as a Doctor of Holistic Ministry has been a wonderful journey in learning.  The wisdom and knowledge I’ve gained will last me a lifetime.

Everything I have experienced in my life has made me a better and stronger person and has made me who I am today.  I like who I am, though I may not always like who I’m not.  There is still so much more that I want to do and accomplish.  I want to travel the world!  Write a book!  Become a successful speaker!  Do what I can to help make the world a better place!

The reason I write this article is not to boast, “Hey!  Look at all I’ve done!”  The point is that there may be many of you, or even your children, who are also free spirits.  You may be frustrated because you feel that you have to conform to your family’s or society’s demands to be who or what they think you should be.  Or maybe you’re doing this to your children; trying to force them to live your unfulfilled dreams for you.  Trying to make them be, do, or have everything according to your wishes for them.  I know that most parents only want what’s best for their children, but we really should want what they think is best for them as long as they harm no one, including themselves.  Let them make their own decisions as to what they want to do with their future.  Let them learn from their own mistakes.  They, and only they, are the ones who have to live and answer for their lives, and that’s also true for us. 

How many of us grow up looking back and regretting not so much the things we did, but the things we didn’t do just because someone else said no, or our dreams were belittled or made fun of, so we gave up?  Whatever we’re doing now, maybe we’re happy or maybe we’re not.  If we’re not, we stay anyway because we think that’s what’s expected of us.  So we learn to be happy being miserable.  Many turn to addictions to try to numb the pain and fill that void of not being able to fulfill our life’s purpose.

My motto is you never know unless you try.  There are countless people who had others try to quash their dreams, but they persevered and became very successful in spite of whatever obstacles were put in their way.  Maybe they won’t fulfill that particular dream, but that dream lead into something else more fantastic and exciting!  My dream of an entertainment career got side-tracked into a speaking career.  I say that I’m still entertaining, but now I’m entertaining with a message!

Even though you may still have dreams you’d like to pursue, it’s not too late.  The important thing is to not regret the past.  Everything we’ve experienced has brought us to where we are today.  But we don’t have to be defined by our past!  We can change our future!  Everything we’ve experienced, on a soul level, was meant to be experienced.  Wherever we are right now is okay.  A beloved minister and friend of mine used to always say “You’re in the right place, at the right time, right now.” 

We have choices even if we think we don’t have a choice (even that is a choice).  We can choose to be a victim of our past, or a hero of our future.  Never give up on your dreams!  They may need to be adapted, though, because you have a family or other life obligations.  When it comes to your children, they may not want to do or be what you want them to do or be, but let them try to find their own way.  Give them a chance to live their dreams.  Remember how it felt not to be able to live your own?  Encourage them, support them, and help them if you can.  It’s their experiences, and they have to live their own lives.  Please don’t contribute to their looking back and regretting things they haven’t done just because you told them no.  But know, too, that’s it perfectly okay to expect them to pay their own way.

Our biggest dream in life should be to be happy!  Do and be what makes you happy!  Follow your bliss and everything else will fall into place!

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”  Walt Disney stated, “All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.”  Harriet Tubman exclaimed, “ Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.”  And Henry David Thoreau said, “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. 

Do you have a dream?  Do your children have their dreams?  It’s okay to be a free spirit!  Just remember….  You’ll never know unless you try! 


Published in the Putnam County Visions Magazine, October 2014 issue.

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