The 4th of July always brings to mind cookouts with friends, family and the oohs and aahs from late night fireworks. Pull out the checked table cloths and fire up the grill. Or, does it look differently from your past or present? Will this year look different from last year? Better? New normal?

It IS a time to celebrate–a time to be grateful and applaud the efforts of the Committee of Five and Congress for their efforts in the settling of 27 “grievances” with King George II. A time to reflect on the inspiration the Declaration became to other nations that followed the path of Independence. After all, the path of independence is one of opportunity.

What are you doing to mark the 245th birthday of our nation? I hope you are celebrating life, liberty, independence, and the history we have as a country with a lens of gratitude. Some will choose a glass half-empty mindset as they use close at hand social media and current politics to “fill” their cup. I say; Choose Independence. #AND, I remind you: Perfect Days are never Perfect. Nor are governments, political landscapes and Nations, in general. Never, ever are they perfect.

Rooted in Hope

Choose independence from a half-full mindset. Then, decide to create your best American experience this 4th. Scholar John Dewey wrote, “All genuine learning comes to us one way—through experience.”

What is your mantra when it comes to independence?” Is gratitude in the mix?

I believe deep within us, there’s a desire to experience life fully and to a greater degree, that is where we find hope that lasts. A longing and a hope for new and different opportunities and experiences. We naturally want to learn and understand ourselves better. If for no other reason than knowing this will help us better understand those around us.

Living Free

As I scroll through my “a year ago” photos–it takes me to a search of all my photos of “flags” in the gazillion photos on my phone (yes, grateful!). The images take me down many memories of past 4th of Julys and other memories with our country’s beautiful flag (Betsy did us well with a timeless and classically colored flag didn’t she?). The walk down flag picture road leaves me smiling and grateful. More recently, I got to photograph Jasper John’s American Flag at the Museum of Modern Art with family, fulfilling a “bucket-lister” for our friend battling cancer.

I’m not only wrapped up in the idyllic picnic-visions of the 4th of July but will be taking moments to be grateful to be living free in this country—where 50% most likely disagree (interesting how 245 years can come and go, yet the percentage of split between “sides” is pretty consistently a 50/50 split) on how our country is handling its current list of grievances all the while battling our current 3rd World War, COVID. #AND, #7 in the world with 55% vaccination rate, no matter where you are on the topic, fresh off the abandoned, stray-dog laidened streets of shut-down Kathmandu, I know I am glad to be an American.

Having just returned from Nepal, I know experience brings a great deal of knowledge and awareness. I now have the “battle scars” left from my travels in this region of the world, and a new appreciation of living in the United States.

Experience from a “Perfect Day” standpoint tells me that experience is a teacher. The freedom we enjoy today teaches us that a great cost was paid for our rights as Americans, but freedom and independence come with a price tag.

Are You Giving Back?

This is where I find myself today as I write—full of gratitude for what others have done in the past, so I can do even more today.

I have a heart for this country and for the people who make it what it is.

With a Perfect Day mindset and a 411 attitude ask yourself: “What is my mantra when it comes to independence?” Is gratitude in the mix? It should be. Though we have been through a tough year, we are emerging with greater value.

My family at the Supreme Court in Washington, DC in 2020

Some of you remember when my girls were growing up, we had a gratitude jar on our kitchen counter. We still do. We put notes—little one-liners—that speak of the grateful moments; big or (most often) small. We pull out one or two to read to each other. These gratitude/attitude entries always speak of life experiences and our gratefulness for one another.  Recently I pulled out of the jar “Jogging unafraid in DC the distance of the Mall.”

Not every experience we relive is something we want to repeat, but we always have gratitude! #AND our hardest life experiences are our most valued assets. Every moment, every experience is a part of our journey to a better place. Being a grateful American is about the freedom to take the opportunity to leverage our most challenging life experiences; illness, hardship, divorce, business failure–fill in the BLANK–to build more Perfect Days. Big or small.

This 4th Choose Independence. Choose Gratitude, because “America is another name for Opportunity.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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