I don’t know about you, but holidays have taken on a new, more personal, meaning for me as I’ve aged. I noticed I’m re-focusing from partying to personal growth.

Take the Fourth of July.

Traditionally, July 4th has been an easy holiday for me. With my eyes closed, I can reach out to friends, plan festivities with the best food and drink and provide an atmosphere of fellowship and fun.

Why I’ve decided to do things differently this Fourth.

Last week, I sat down, turned off my monkey mind and settled into an open and receptive stillness. Then I let my mind re-live past July 4th celebrations and the activities associated with them.

I was surprised to see a pattern unfold.

The common theme that wove its way through almost all past July 4ths was the lack of any sense of what the holiday truly represented for me. It seems I’ve spent more time partying and less time on the significance of freedom in my life.

This realization led me to break with the tradition of hosting or attending a BBQ or other get-together this year. Instead, I’m going to re-connect with July 4th in an introspective, more personal way.

What does this mean? I’m going to personalize this July 4th by identifying and celebrating ALL the freedoms available to me, not by just acknowledging our nation’s breaking away from the motherland — with food and drink in my hand.

In fact, by spending time consciously appreciating all the personal freedoms that our founding fathers fought so hard for, I am not only filled with gratitude for my life, I feel I am paying proper homage to them for their monumental sacrifice.

I will be celebrating the rich blessings of freedom in my life.

On a more intimate level, here’s what I came up with for a truer meaning of freedom in my life:

          –Freedom of Mind – Our minds belong to us. We are 
               free to think and believe whatever whenever. No
               one can take away our thoughts.

          –Freedom of our Heart – We are free to love whomever
               we wish. I can be embarrassingly bonkers over my
               cat, Kali, and feel an indescribable passion for books
               and gingko leaves, as well as madly love my husband
               and my friends.

          –Freedom of Movement – We are free to go wherever 
               we want in this glorious land. We can wander the 
               wilderness in search of solitude and spiritual 
               enlightenment without anyone blocking our travel.

          –Freedom of Friendship – While we can’t choose our 
               family, we can choose our friends. We can’t be 
               forced to spend time with anyone. We get to decide.
               There are people around the world who don’t have this 

          –Freedom of Religion – You know how powerful and 
               important this freedom is.

As a senior, I appreciate the freedom of time. I can learn a new language, write a book, play Words With Friends, cook a meal, or relax and do nothing. I can stay in my jammies all day luxuriating over a delicious novel. I am blessed with the freedom afforded by retirement.

What about you? Where will you be?

If you spend this upcoming Fourth in the traditional hotdogs and hamburger, corn on the cob and apple pie sort of way, that’s fine. I wish you the most fun and relaxation possible.

If you’re like me and don’t have plans and might even be feeling a little lonely or left out this holiday, take heart. Spend a moment getting quiet. Then think about and celebrate all the personal freedoms you have that make your life a rich existence every day.

Our personal freedoms really have nothing to do with the government or politicians or naysayers. They belong to us, and no one can take them away or ruin their importance.

Celebrate that!

“Freedom means you are unobstructed in living your life as you choose.
Anything less is a form of slavery.”
Wayne Dyer

Contact Antonia at Antonia@TheJoyofAgingGratefully.com