True Freedom

I know but one freedom and that is the freedom of the mind.”  

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Last week, we celebrated the Fourth of July or “Independence Day” here in the States. As the summer worshipper that I am, this has always been a favorite holiday, featuring beaches, barbeques, family, friends, fireworks and all things summer.

With all due respect to those who celebrate it for the “right” reasons, there is a lot more to freedom than what was awarded by our forefathers. I greatly appreciate the freedoms I have, living in a county where I can say, do and be what I want. But we can never be truly free as long as we are imprisoned by the fear, judgment, blame and worry that are so habitual to our small minds.  

With all the external freedoms many of us take for granted in the United States, so few of us have learned what it means to be internally free. True freedom is living in the moment, with no regret for any moment past or concern for one yet to come. It is the understanding that all beings are free to choose what they say and do, and the choice not to take any of it personally. Freedom is the ability to be happy and serene regardless of what anyone else is doing or feeling. It involves understanding that everything is occurring for our highest good, even when it doesn’t seem to be, and reaching for gratitude in all situations.

None of us are free as long as we are under rule of our egos. Not only doesn’t that feel good, it also blocks greater good from flowing into our lives. From a prosperity standpoint, this understanding is paramount. We are not a match to what we want when we are vehemently focused on and condemning what we don’t.

Two years ago, I was sharing a long-term sober companion job with someone I worked effortlessly with. We were a natural team, always there to support one another, one of us always able to cover a shift the other couldn’t work. After several months, we both began to burn out and a third was brought onto the scene. Without going into unnecessary details, the first coach and I were soon told by the company which referred the client that we were no longer needed on this job, which had two weeks left on the contract.

At the time, I was livid. I knew this woman was not doing things in a professional manner, and that she had no allegiance to us, the company that referred the client or the client herself.  A short time later, the company figured this out, but that is neither here nor there to anyone but my ego, who wanted to scream, “I told you so!!!”

When we were replaced, I went directly into scarcity thinking. I could not see that life had a better plan for me, so I festered in my fear and the perceived unfairness of it all. I was frustrated with this woman I was able to see through so quickly, the company she eventually blindsided and even the client. It took time for me to rebound energetically, and I was not a match to any other work during that stretch.  

Fast forward two years. I was working with another client in Manhattan, a job I shared with one other coach. We’d been working with this client for a month and I was starting to put in more time than I wanted to, since the other coach was going through a personal challenge. I don’t mind long-term jobs most of the year, but I prefer short ones in the summer, with time in between to relax and enjoy life. And while I have always found Manhattan quite magical in small doses, it wears on me when the days pile up, especially this time of year. Summers are for beaches! I wanted to inhale more salty sea air, less car fumes and cigarette smoke. I wanted to hear the lullaby of the ocean, less horns and sirens.

This job was through a company I don’t usually work with, and I was racking up expenses they are not accustomed to. Unlike my private work, or the company I am used to dealing with, they do not charge the clients for most expenses. Unbeknownst to me at the time, whenever I stayed at a hotel or went out to dinner, they took a hit on their profits. This company operates out of a part of the country where things are done differently, and the man who runs it sometimes takes on clients with no profit at all for himself in trying to help as many people as possible. Very respectable…and not at all what I’m used to in this industry.

The company asked if I minded sitting out a week so they could introduce someone from Philadelphia, who was being brought in as a “back-up” in case the woman I’d been sharing the job with needed to take more time off.  

Instead of reacting egoically as I had two years ago, I trusted that this would work out for the highest good of all involved. I welcomed the break. The next day, instead of trekking back into the city, I spent a gorgeous summer night outdoors at an amazing Beach Boys show. My mailman moved us up to incredible seats and it was such a delight to watch my mom and aunt dancing and singing all night. I laughed to realize this group was the reason I became so obsessed with summer, the beach and surfing; I’d been forcefed a steady dose of Endless Summer at the very impressionable age of four. If their songs had been about Manhattan, I’d probably live there.

The following day, I learned my brother was taking his twin seven-year-old boys to a hockey clinic taught by an old friend and mentor Adam Graves. My soul smiled at the prospect of seeing Adam for the first time since we’d both retired from the NHL, him as a player, me as a writer. I couldn’t wait to watch him instructing the boys.

I smiled at how  perfectly timed this break with the client was, and while I suspected it could turn into a permanent one, I knew that my potential ousting would only be due to the higher rate and expenses I command. I also realized this is not a bad thing. I’m of service enough in my personal life to feel good about charging high fees in my professional one, something I used to find next to impossible to do.

Monetarily, I trusted any income “lost” that week would be “found” elsewhere. As long as I remained in the spirit of trust and prosperity, this was guaranteed by universal law. So I went to the show and the hockey clinic and enjoyed every second of both events. It was at the latter that I received a call, informing me a former client relapsed after a year and a half of sobriety, asking me to work with her for a few days while she regained her footing.

Had the first company not asked me to sit out, I would not have been available for a job that suited me so much better on every level. I knew I was exactly where I was meant to be, working with someone who wanted my help, always a big plus in this line of work. 

At night, as I sat in the family’s expansive backyard, inhaling the fresh air and summer aromas, watching lighting bugs dance through the sky, I realized what a difference my attitude had made.

Anytime we fight the “what is” in life, we cut off our freedom.  But when we trust that everything is truly working for our highest good, we allow that to be so.

Admittedly, I felt a short pang of doubt when I learned the job with the city client was being handed over to the third coach.  I explored my thoughts and feelings, reframed them, and arrived back at trust within the same hour, something which had taken weeks to do two years ago. I knew life had another opportunity in store for me.

Even I was amazed to learn what it was. As I was completing this story, I got a call from the very client from two summers ago! She asked me to work with her privately once a week for coaching, meditation, yoga and exploring spiritual and creative outlets. Helping someone create a balanced mind-body-spirit approach to healing is my very favorite type of work, and this is a client I already adore, who has a much stronger base of sobriety than she did two years ago.  

I’m heading into that magical in small doses city to see her now.