Project Athena - Day 167 (Freedom)

Who Holds the Key?

One of my favorite experiences of freedom is that profound instant when I recognize that I hold the key to my own prison doors. I have had this occurrence many times over the last few years as I inquire deeply about certain beliefs I hold or labels that I have identified with. Limiting beliefs and disempowering labels may serve their purpose but when their time is up, they become extremely suffocating and make me feel as though I am trapped behind steel bars. Luckily, I have some great tools for deep self-inquiry that allow me to remember that I am always at choice and the prison doors, like in this photo, are never holding me inside. In fact, what I usually discover is that the perceived containment is an illusion at best.

Smiling to be free.

Project Athena - Day 166 (Freedom)

Land of the Free?

Let me start by saying this, I love the country I live in and the planet I live on. I just want to be clear about that part because for those of you who know me, you also know I am very cognizant and critical of our political systems (world corporations) and our so called leaders. Even as I write this, there is a part of me that wants to reframe it all and make it "not so bad" and avoid any possible conflict. But I can't. I made a commitment this week to speak the truth of what is showing up for me.

I may step on some toes when I say that not only America, but most of human kind, has lost its way in the search for freedom. The major issues in this world such as war waging, destroying the environment, discrimination, subjugating others, poverty, violence, irreparable political systems, gross violations of basic human rights and dangerously corrupt leaders stem directly from corporate and individual greed, the dissemination of fear in an effort to control, radical religious craziness and the addiction to power.

I know....the U.S. is truly one of the better places to live on the planet in terms of basic needs and comforts. I get that and I give thanks on my knees everyday for the abundant and the relatively peaceful life I lead. I also understand that these "freedoms" have come at a HUGE cost over the course of our history. Maybe there will never be peace on this planet or a day when everyone has enough. Still, I pray for the day when we fly NO flags to claim our freedom but simply recognize that we are all in this together, no matter where we live on the planet. We, the human race, must decide what that coexistence looks like and know in our heart of hearts we are already free simply because we have the ability to choose.

American Flag

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 200mm • F/5.6 • 1/320s • ISO 800

Project Athena - Day 165 (Freedom)

Setting Suns & Freedom

As this day unwinds and I witness the beauty and stillness of a Colorado winter's sunset, I am reminded that there is freedom in completion. At the end of the day, when all has been said and done, there is some energy at work that is so much more vast than my mind can even conceive. All that is left is surrendering into this unknown. That to me is freedom.

Colorado Sunset
Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 18mm • F/10 • 1/800s • ISO 200

Project Athena - Day 164 (Freedom)

No Freedom in Potted Wisdom

Today, I have been thinking about how I have become reliant on, even addicted to, "potted wisdom" to get myself through the day. It's as though I have accepted platitudes in place of truth and I use them like a band aid whenever I want to avoid making a difficult decision or I want to cover up some ugliness I've seen in the world. I don't know exactly how I got to this place but I do recognize that I somehow came to fear fear itself. It's as though I have come to believe that the emotion we call "terror" could be the end of me...that if I allow that emotion to surface and truly be felt, I will be undone.

My mind tries to protect me from this fate by reframing any situation, thought or experience that triggers this fear, particularly existential fear. Sadly, the flowery, embellished stories that may allow me to artificially feel better also rob me (and you) of the richness of life, real freedom and the true emotional depth that is part of the human experience. Even with this blog, I have cited quotes from others to make the blog more shiny and attractive rather than just trusting that my experience, when shared in openness and authenticity, is perfect and what is really needed in the moment. more potted wisdom. I choose freedom.

Today marks a change in the message. I have nothing to teach, no clever quotes to share, no attachment to the outcome of what is shared. I only have a willingness to stop each day and tell the truth of what I experience. And like potted wisdom, experiences come and go. A beautiful flower blooming in all its glory one day offers its sweet nectar and radiant colors to the world. But when its time is done, it wilts and dries up, composting its organic matter back into the earth and providing energy for another plant to grow.

May we all be free of anything that keeps us from living life fully. May we find the courage to face our deepest fears and to know that emotions, without a story, are simply energy passing through the body.

I want to thank my dear friend, Kevin Billett (, for being willing to show up so authentically in life. Your Enneagram Master Class is rocking my world in the best possible way and I feel freedom is finding me.

It's Time Has Come and Gone

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 18-55mm lens • 24mm • F/5.6 • 1/200s • ISO 400


Project Athena - Day 162 (Freedom)

Hat's Off to Me

So...I am not really sure that the week's theme is actually "freedom" because I honestly don't know how to shoot this conceptually. I feel like in my life, freedom has become more than a concept or even a state of being like happiness. And when I begin to describe what freedom means to me, I recognize that there may not actually be a language for it. It goes beyond liberation or independence or even self-determination.

Several months ago, as a way of exploring this word and concept, I sat alone in my office and began saying out loud "I want freedom!" At first, it felt like I was politely ordering something from a menu like "I'll have the apple pie a la mode, please." Then, I noticed the volume of my voice gradually increasing and soon I was shouting my demand, "I WANT FREEDOM!". After yelling it about 50 times with some intense shakti behind the locution, the word "freedom" began to sound like a foreign a notion rather than a thing I could demand to have and possess. Eventually, the words "I" and "want" also began to disintegrate into something frivolous. I noticed certain people popping into my awareness as though I was demanding that they give me this thing I wanted called freedom. They left as quickly as they came. I kept shouting until no one else appeared and the words truly had no meaning, relevance, context or story associated with them.

Then I just stopped. I stopped suddenly like a blender being shut off from high speed. All thoughts settled instantly and I was left in stillness. I felt like I had escaped a vicious hurricaine that was still raging somewhere outside of my being and stepped into a peaceful, quiet sanctuary. I sat in the stillness for awhile noticing only effortless breath. In that place, only one word revealed itself. Creator.

Since then, I feel like I have stopped chasing freedom and instead, recognize freedom as everything.

Hat's Off

Nikon D3200 • Nikon 55-200mm lens • 55mm • F/6.3 • 1/100s • ISO 100