In the U.S. today, everyone is celebrating our Independence Day–the day that we declared our independence from Great Britain and declared our sovereignty as a nation. All over people are cooking food on the grill and gathering to watch the fireworks. It makes me wonder if anyone truly thinks about what Independence Day means, or is this just another day to have off of work and eat a lot of food? I know I think about it, but Independence Day has become something even more special to me than the historical notions. Independence Day has become a day where I too declare my freedom from something that has been “holding me captive”. On Independence Day I think about all the things I have cried over, wrestled about, thought about, wished I could have changed, messed up, etc, and I declare that I am free from all of those things. There are so many things that we allow ourselves to be bound by–and we begin to place ourselves in a proverbial box. Before long, we look around us and we see that we are surrounded by seemingly insurmountable walls–keeping others out but mostly keeping ourselves in. We have allowed ourselves to be held hostage by others’ emotional baggage, by our own desires to fit in and be loved, by our mistakes, and by our limited perspectives. Because of this we cannot be free. Until we make the choice that enough is enough, and we decide that we will not allow others to keep us bound, nor will we keep ourselves locked up, we will remain in a narrow place–unable to see our way out or acknowledge when others want to reach in. So on this Independence Day, I had so much I needed to emancipate myself from. I had to renounce those things that were holding me back and make some personal declarations. Come in for a second and follow me as I declare my freedom. I am free from emotional strongholds. I am free from others’ emotional baggage. I am free from doubt and fear. I am free from low self-esteem and self-consciousness. I am free from distrust and past hurt. I am free from rejection and judgment. I am free to be all that I am placed on this earth to be. I will not give up. I will not quit. My past rejections and mistakes do not change who I am–instead they add to all that I shall be. The only one able to hold me in a box is myself. I am who I am. I do not need to try to be like anyone else because who I am is necessary. Now you try it…with your own declarations. Write them down, and sign at the end declaring that you have placed your name on your declaration of freedom. Independence Day is actually what I call Freedom Day. It’s a good day to make a stand in your own life, but any day will do. We just have to get to a point where we are bold enough to look those things in the face that threaten us, and tell them what we will not stand for. Each of us is an amazing gift to the world. Others need us to show them just how special they are. Once you’ve declared your freedom, help someone else to find theirs. This is one snowball effect you will not regret.