A freedom journey

Nearly five years ago, I chose a lifestyle of freedom that was brought on by a desire to, as Wayne Dyer put it, “travel light”. I discovered along the way, though, that traveling light involved more than ridding myself of possessions: of getting rid of those three closets of shoes; the five closets and drawer upon drawer of clothes; the shelves and cases of CDs and DVDs; all of the gadgets, doodads, and knickknacks I’d packed away decades earlier; and most difficult of all, my library of hundreds and hundreds of books.

I discovered that I also needed to rid myself of attitudes and beliefs that no longer served me; of emotional voids that dictated a search outside myself to be filled; a deep-rooted fear that didn’t allow me to see the possibility of anything beyond what I was capable of doing myself; and the anger and sadness that revealed themselves in ways I was unaware. I NEEDED TO BE FREE!

So, after two years of gradually getting rid of stuff and wrestling with the fear of living without a steady income, I gave up my job of almost fifteen years; a job that was challenging, rewarding, and had terrific benefits. The problem, though, was that I’d begun to feel as though it were sapping my life blood; I only had energy enough every evening to eat and sleep. So yes, it was definitely time for a change.

Sure, I could’ve looked for a different job, but there was something deeper at work than the call to freedom and minimalism, and it was my need to trust God in a way I never had before. So, I heeded the call and began what I’ve recently begun referring to as my freedom journey.

For the most part, the journey has been one of revelation and adventure. A review yesterday of just a few of the thousands of pictures I’ve made along the way reminded me of just how blessed I am. I’ve explored parks, rivers, oceans, streams, mountains, canyons, flatlands, and badlands in towns and cities from the east to the west coasts of the United States.

I spent a month recently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) marveling over its deserts, sand dunes, camels, and mountains; the food, coffee, and tea; the Persian Gulf; the Sheikh’s palace and mosques (both regular and Grand); as well as the country’s reverence for God as evidenced by the calls to prayer that go out five times a day everyday.

Those are the fun times…the times when I feel the most free and the most blessed.

Other times, however, I’m required to look within for the reasons why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. The past several days was one such time.

First of all, my car was stolen and recovered right before I left for the UAE. As I processed through the emotions of that violation, I moved from shock to disbelief to anger to grief then back to anger again. But when I boarded that plane for the fourteen-hour flight to Dubai that Sunday evening, I resolved to leave it all behind. No, that violation would not be interfering with this trip of a lifetime, and it didn’t.

Back on US soil a month later, however, I was confronted with my car situation as well as the jet lag from the nine-hour time difference, and it was not a pretty picture. As I made call after call to resolve repair of my car, my emotions were all over the place. I was so frazzled that I finally decided to just rest and allow my body clock to sync.

More than a week later, I started the process again, and again my emotions were all over the place. Thus began my journey to get to the bottom of what was really going on.

I had to acknowledge first that I was dealing with the shame of not having full coverage insurance on my vehicle. Why I’d be ashamed of that, I don’t know…well, yes, I do know. It’s not uncommon to carry only liability coverage on older vehicles and since my car was sixteen years old, I’d cancelled the comprehensive part of my coverage. But the Lydia who always made sure her ducks were in a row in the past now found herself needing to repair a vehicle and not having the funds necessary to do it. That, too, would’ve been unheard of for the Lydia whose life was planned out and lived in the fear of “what ifs”; that Lydia made sure she was prepared to handle every “what if”.

I decided a few days later, though, that it wouldn’t be prudent to repair the car; the repairs would cost more than the car was actually worth and beyond that, I couldn’t be certain the repairs would resolve all of its issues.

“What to do now?” I asked. I can’t afford to repair the car, and I’m certainly in no position to buy a new one. My journal entry that day reads, “My question then is what will I do without a car?” As I wrote that entry, I heard, “What are you doing without it now?” I chuckled because I was, in fact, doing ok without it and even had access to my sister’s car for the next several days while she was in Los Angeles.

Yes, I knew that God would provide what I needed–He’d proven that many times already–so I didn’t go into panic mode as would have been my first stop a couple of years ago. That’s progress!

As I type this today, I’m also “recovering” from the further realization that I still had shame attached to my lifestyle choice. I discovered in the process that my old voice–the voice that’s strong, loud, critical, and condemning–is very much alive and that we’ll have to battle from time to time.

Yes, hers is the voice of fear, shame, and condemnation and while I may be unable to silence her completely–and may even fall victim to her sometimes–I know that I’m equipped to overcome her jabs.

I’m in good hands–the BEST hands; the evidence is all around me: in the family and friends who’ve supported and blessed me in ways too numerous to mention; in my sisters who assure me that the judgment I sometimes feel isn’t from them; in the fact that I always have what I need; in the many places I’ve visited and the photos I’ve made since embarking upon this journey; and in the fact that I live a lifestyle of freedom in not only a state of belief and trust, but in complete knowing that everything’s gonna be ok. The evidence, too, is in God who made all of this possible.

A friend said to me the other day that, “I have no desire to step out on faith like you did.” I totally understand that. I don’t know exactly why I was called to do it but what I do know is that it gives my life purpose; it gives me the opportunity to inspire others in ways I would’ve been unable to otherwise; and it gives me the opportunity to relive–or live for the first time–the times I missed because of fear and adult responsibilities as a child. 

Another thing my freedom journey has taught me is that it is never too late to live my dreams and for that, I’m immensely grateful.

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My last day in Abu Dhabi

Sis and I headed out that Saturday morning to tour an organic farm she’d heard about. As fate would have it, we missed our turn and ended up roaming around Al Ain instead. I’m a farm girl, yes, but I was more interested in seeing more of Al Ain that day than a farm. Talk about excitement! I was like a kid in a candy store as we encountered scene after scene of wonderfulness. A friend suggested earlier today that I was probably wishing I had three sets of eyes, and I had to agree. The road ahead and the scenes to my right were covered, but I dare not think of all I probably missed on my left as we road along. I captured all I could, but there’s nothing like experiencing the beauty and uniqueness of this country in person. I was filled with joy as I bore witness, and I hope you’re able to feel some of it as you view these pictures.