Becoming a Little More Independent and Free

Thursday, July 04, 2013
Here it is, July 4th 2013 and since I live in the United States, there is cause for celebration. Today is the U.S. annual celebration of Independence. I enjoy history but am not super great at recalling battle names, exact dates, and have a hard time remembering which President was elected during what time period. What I do know is that parenting is harder than most history exams I’ve taken and some of the questions I’ve been asked about July 4th and Independence Day have left me reeling. My children are five and six so we didn’t really get into what was so terrible about being under British rule or the number of lives lost or anything of that nature. Instead, we grabbed the dictionary and the thesaurus and got to work trying to figure out exactly what it was we should be celebrating.

Merriam-Webster’s definition of independence was not particularly helpful as it simply states that the definition of independence is the quality or state of being independent. We kept reading and the examples were much more helpful than the definition itself. The one we like best was:

• She asserted her independence from her parents by getting her own apartment.

The thesaurus gave us words to discuss:
• Freedom
• Strength
• Self-Determination

We set both books aside and chatted for a little while about how even small children can have independence. The children gave examples of riding a bicycle without training wheels, pouring your own milk, climbing to the top of the water slide and coming down alone, reading a book alone in your room instead of depending on a grown-up to read to you. The conversation was fantastic and though I explained a bit about the lives that were lost and the fire-works to remind us of the gun and cannon fire, the conversation was pleasant. We didn’t look to blame a particular group and we stayed out of the politics that often accompany talk of war and conflict.
After the children ran out to play I had time to reflect. The antonyms were what stuck with me:

• Helplessness
• Inadequacy
• Weakness

I claim to be an independent woman, and yet I cannot tell you how often I feel inadequate. I feel most inadequate in my writing and my parenting. Those thoughts creep in as I ask myself “who would want to read about that anyway?” or “Why did you take the children to McDonalds instead of making a healthy meal?” and then I start comparing my writings or my parenting with the likes of others and we all know where that type of thinking can lead.

My challenge for myself today is to really make July 4th my individual independence day and then carry that mentality through the rest of the year. My theme should be about freedom, strength, and self-determination instead of all the ways I may fall short. I don’t just want to consider myself an independent woman, I want to live that. I want to hold my head high saying “of course people are going to read this, because it’s insightful and well written” and “I am teaching my children to make wise choices but allowing them some freedom to be kids”. And here’s one for all my author friends: “I am going to finish this book and get it published by the end of the year, because I know there are crowds of people waiting to hear what I have to say!”

Whether you are a writer, reader, or mother shouldn’t matter. It certainly doesn’t matter where you live. Today is a fabulous day to decide to take action on being independent. What can you do in your life to be free of those negative thoughts? How can you concentrate more on your strengths that on your short comings? How can you keep that momentum going and be more determined to achieve your goals?

"Everything that is really great and inspiring is created by the individual who can labor in freedom." ~Albert Einstein

Crystal J. Casavant-Otto is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, two young children (Carmen 6 and Andre 5), three dogs,two rabbits, four little piggies, and over 200 Holsteins. Crystal and her husband, Mark are expecting another son at the end of September.


Sioux Roslawski said...

Crystal--I think we all have things we need to shrug off/toss away/unchain ourselves from. Connecting it to the holiday we're celebrating today---that really hit home.

Angela Mackintosh said...

I love this post, Crystal! Just what I needed to hear today. And I admit, I'm in the same boat with you and history. I like the way you've reinvented the holiday and made it an individual challenge to take action on being independent. Kudos!

Margo Dill said...

I was thinking while reading this that I am very impressed that with your 5 and 6 year old, you got out the dictionary and looked up the meaning of the words. And then you worry about your parenting? Let's see, today my children think 4th of July is either a day you get married (it's our wedding anniversary) or a day you go to a parade and a carnival to ride rides. Why do people have red, white, and blue? Oh, it's the colors of our flag--no talking about Independence at ALL. (And then we went to McDonald's for lunch because the line at the BBQ at the fair was TOO LONG!) LOL The best thing I read as a writer was a post about the fact that if your kids watch a little extra TV or you don't have the cleanest house, that's okay .Because you have a happy writer--which makes a happy mom and wife. AMEN to that. :) Happy 4th!

Crystal Otto said...

I love you ladies - thank you for your support and encouragement!!! Margo, I have to admit when people ask my youngest "where did you get that word?" and he answers "the thesaurus" it makes me feel like the next winner of the Mom of the Year Award!!

Crystal Otto said...

Happy anniversary to you & Mr. Dill <3

LuAnn Schindler said...

You fed McD's to your kids? SMH.... :D Seriously, from one farm mom/wife to antoher, some days, it just happens! We're busy people!! (Don't let others tell you otherwise!!!!!)

When I read the list of antonyms you included, my first thought was these have to do with confidence, no independence. But if you look closer and dissect those words (and the effects of those words), it's obvious that we writers NEED to weed these words from our vocabularies and assert our independence from letting them drag us down!

Keep writing, Crystal!!Those thoughts will disappear! :)

Crystal Otto said...

LuAnn - You always make me smile with your witty comments. Thank you for your humor and encouragement! Today I skipped McDonalds but fed the children cotton candy and popcorn - there goes my shot at mother of the year!!


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