Freedom isn’t free..

"When you strip away everything else – love remains." ~  Diana Schwenk ~

“When you strip away everything else – love remains.” ~ Diana Schwenk ~

And the completion of Freedom Isn’t Free (a line from a song the Up With People troupe I sang with in my teens) is…

“You gotta pay a price / you gotta sacrifice / for your liberty.”

Freedom rose into my awareness this morning while visiting over at Liz’s place — Just be. Love All. Live Life. — where she’s celebrating One Word Wednesday with the word FREEDOM.

In my teens, I thought freedom meant singing songs with an American singing troupe while living in Germany (that particular one celebrated the American Revolution and the invasion of what was to become  Canada, the land of  my birth — go figure) and talking it up amongst my peers about ‘what I’m gonna be when I grow up’.

And then, the grown up years were upon me and I had no clue about what I was going to do let alone be because I was too busy figuring out who I was.

Google dictionary defines freedom as:



  1. The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
  2. Absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government.
liberty – independence – license – licence

So, here’s the challenge, when haunted by the past, when held in the grips of adaptive thinking predicated upon the lessons learned about how to be in the world at a time when how to be was all about fitting in and surviving childhood through adolescence, acting, speaking and thinking without hindrance or restraint is impossible.

We gotta’ let go of the past to be free in the present.

But, when we don’t see the connections, when we are unaware of the link between our limited thinking blocking our view of what is possible like a line of trees blocking the not so distant horizon, how do we let go of something we don’t recognize as holding us back?

This has been my life journey. To let go of looking back to free myself to see the limitless possibilities leading out to a far and distant horizon of infinite wonder.

On her post today, Liz shares a Jim Morrison quote I love — “The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can’t be any large-scale revolution until there’s a personal revolution, on an individual level. It’s got to happen inside first.”

Inside me a revolution has been waging. Inside me the masks have been falling. Inside me I’ve been committing  acts of treason against my adaptive self that would hold me down to keep me from rising up and being free.

It is no longer good enough for me to just do.

The world needs my best. It needs me to be acting out from my higher self, not my lesser beliefs in the limitations of my possibilities.

My higher good is to be my all. To live my most. To love my best.

Freedom isn’t free. It’s true. And neither is the past. It comes burdened with all kinds of adaptations that once upon a time protected me from, or helped me make sense of, a world that was too big, too scary, too much of everything scary my child’s mind couldn’t grasp it all. I had to adapt to understand the world around me.

Free today to see myself in the light of this moment, I have a choice.

To let the past control how I am in the world today, or, to be myself as I am without the past controlling me today.

I choose to be myself.

I choose to step fearlessly into the freedom of jettisoning adaptive behaviours that don’t serve me well. Behaviours that would have me hold a mask in front to protect me from unseen ghosts and boogie men (and women) who once upon a time taught me to believe that hiding out was safer than being seen, that fear was greater than love.

It just ain’t so.

The courage to be seen trumps hiding out, every day. Love is greater than fear, always.

Once upon a time, I  trapped my spirit in a glass jar believing it would keep me safe from all the pain in the world.

Today, the glass is broken.

There is no pain in the world greater than living trapped within fear of the past.

There is no joy greater than being myself when I drop the masks and let go of fearing all that I am in freedom.


I’m using an image a day (mostly taken from my iPhone) to create my Everyday Poems over at A Poetry Affair. The photo today is the genesis of today’s poem, Into the Distance.


15 thoughts on “Freedom isn’t free..

  1. (Standing up and clapping) Well said Louise and a very timely reminder for me today. It is true Freedom is not free and we always serve somebody or something, but who or what we serve is within our freedom to choose. Freedom is not free but it is so worth the effort!


  2. Thanks Diana — I’m standing up and clapping with you — I almost felt angry with myself this morning for having forgotten how important it is to live my freedom without fear! 🙂 But… getting angry with myself is a self-defeating game. If I don’t like what I’m doing, or how I’m behaving… I have the freedom to choose differently! And I am so worth the effort. Hugs


  3. You always amazing me but today more than usual. A beautiful, powerful piece of writing that I’m sure will find its way into many hands. This so captures the core of living essentially. Thanks Louise.


  4. Love your blog! Just found it and will be following. I, too, worked at a shelter — but only for a year through a grant I wrote to teach/facilitate expressive arts there. Prior to that, I volunteered. The grant year ended last year and the shelter closed. Last heard, it had re-opened. Your positivity is inspiring and something I struggle with at times amid some continuiing challenges. I’ll check out your photo-poetry page. I have a bit of that on my blog. Photography was my primary medium in art school (back when we used film and dark rooms – lol). I’ll be dropping by again.


    • Terri, it is so lovely to meet you! One of the most fulfilling things I did at the shelter (and there were many) was to start an art program. It grew into encompassing all the arts — theatre, writing, painting, poetry, performance. It was amazing.

      I’m going to check out your place too! I look forward to deepening our connection. Blessings! (And yes — I remember film and dark rooms too 🙂 )

      BTW — lvoe the name of your blog.


  5. I so get this, Louise! Right now, it’s getting free from my very recent past, my most recent mistakes and maladaptive thinking. I think part of getting free is knowing I’ll fail along the way. But I can still get up and keep moving in the right direction.


  6. thank you so much, louise, for putting words to the random thoughts going through my head as i saw those birds flying freely in the morning sky. when i snapped that picture, the word “freedom” just came to me. like it was meant to be. thanks for a beautifully written post and a reminded to always simply be free to be me. xo


    • And thank you Liz for inspiring me this morning. What a wonderful gift to see your photo and read that quote and find my words flowing out through my fingers! Blessings — and what an amazing ‘me’ you are!


  7. Hello. This is a thought provoking post and one I have thought a lot about; and it is interesting all the deep soul-searching things that you speak of (especially the past -present dilemma) but freedom is also a conflict in everyday things as well. When we were children there were many more restrictions and ‘rules’ than today regarding dress (socks, hats, gloves, hair-dos) , behaviour codes (what you could and could not do, night-time curfews throughout teenage years etc), even our eating habits! – yet we could roam the neighbourhood from a very early age, play in the park without our parents, never locked doors, knew we were safe. My children have enjoyed more ‘freedom’ (or perhaps I should say ‘liberties’), yet had to be taught about ‘stranger-danger’, theft, and protecting themselves against assault and rape as they grew into their twenties. I never had to worry about any of that….
    What price have we paid for this extra ‘freedom’?


  8. Hmmm…. That is a deep question E
    Izabeth. I like the distinction you make between freedom and liberty. The world has shifted and we have taken liberties, it sometimes seems, with our freedom we should never take.

    That thought went through my mind last might when my daughter and I haf dinner before the show. We were at an oyster bar and a waiter had a tshirt on with a slogan that while it referred to eating oysters was meant to be suggestive of a sexual act. Neither Alexis nor I liked it. She thought it was because she was ‘getting old’, I reassured her that wasn’t it.

    I thin it’s because the tshirt exemplified exactly what you write of. We need to speak of life with reverence, not bring it do win to base elements with our words and thoughts and deeds.

    Thanks Elizabeth for weighing in. Your light adds value.

    Ps – did you get the email I sent?


  9. Pingback: The Swamp and The River « A Year of Rejoicing — Welcome!

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