My Declaration of Independence

For quite a while now, I’ve needed to find a release for these thoughts welling up in my soul, and so tonight I make my


  1. Being a meek soul who never, until recently, took a risk to try anything new, in the words of my dear friend Brian White, I declare my right to dare to suck. I declare my right to try something new every day, something I love, something I’ve always wanted to do but was too afraid to try due to my fear.
  2. Tonight I declare my right as an individual to speak truth, to search for honesty, to say what I mean, but to say it in a way that is gentle and kind without coming across as blunt or insensitive.
  3. I declare my right to be myself, to love what I love, to love whom I love, and to be loved.
  4. I declare my right to make my own mistakes without someone else stepping into my life to control me so that I can’t learn how to make my own choices. I want to learn to make good choices even if I have to first pay the consequences of bad choices.
  5. I declare my right to open myself up to you, to believe you when you say that you will listen and that you will be my friend, even as you volunteer to hear the same story dozens of times. Remember I am learning. It takes time for me to process the lesson that will eventually sink into my own heart and mind and soul.
  6. I also declare my right to close the gate to my inner me if you betray me. Cordial we shall be but close nevermore. That ship will have sailed.
  7. I declare my right to maintain my vulnerable, childlike soul. I declare my right to believe you when you say I can tell you anything, and I trust you to maintain confidentiality when you give me your word.
  8. I have the right to walk away from you if you say one thing to my face and say another thing behind my back.
  9. I declare my right to sing, good or bad, as I make my joyful noise.
  10. I declare my right to find the good in all souls but to protect myself from the bad that hides itself in those dark areas.
  11. I declare my right to be a writer, even if I am not published.
  12. I declare my right to be a musician, even if I can’t play all the notes.
  13. I declare my ability to communicate with animals because they speak a language of love.
  14. I declare myself to be your friend who will never betray you.
  15. I declare myself the right to make mistakes, and I don’t need you to point them out.
  16. I declare my right to seek God without outside interference.
  17. I declare my right to fight for the underdog, even if I am the underdog.
  18. I declare the right to call you on your lies and to turn away when you won’t take responsibility for them. I refuse to accept your negativity or blame.
  19. I declare the right to turn away from violence.
  20. I declare my right to take the high road, a lesson I learned through a song written by one of those souls who is a gift from God and a rare treasure.

Free spirit

Who would have thought students could earn a scholarship for being a free spirit?

I’ve always felt like a free spirit waiting for her wings, but I’ve been too shy to admit it. I guess I thought the term “free spirit” implied something negative—irresponsibility or lack of focus.

Not so, not according to the Journalism Education Association, the Freedom Forum, and the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference program. Their motto is “Dream. Dare. Do.” Okay. Nice start. Nothing irresponsible or flighty about that.

A couple of my free-spirited journalism students asked me to write letters of recommendation for them to attend the conference, and the challenge inspired me to do a little research to find out what makes a free spirit.

The online Merriam-Webster defines a free spirit as a nonconformist. Like Thoreau maybe, who urged all to march to the beat of their own drummer.

Tina, a stay-at-home, work-from-home, homeschooling blogger from Central Valley, California, found her  definition of a free spirit through Wikipedia:

“Free spirits are inclined to explore life and taste new experiences that hold true to the deepest parts of themselves vs. being influenced by what the masses around them are doing. They are often people who think freely and have the courage to hear their own voice and follow their own integrity.”

I am a writer. I strive for the courage to hear my own voice and to follow my own integrity. What the masses say doesn’t mean it’s right. Sometimes I have to go my own way, do my own thing, risk ridicule. I have to be true to me–the way God made me–so I can do what I am called to do, not what someone else thinks I’m supposed to do. Hey, John the Baptist, could be called a free spirit with his camel-hair fashion statement and locust and wild honey diet.

My quest to find information for my students’ letters of recommendation sent me chasing rabbits. One website led to another, and I found myself enthralled by the vast info out there on the subject of free spirits.

Now I know why I often—not always, but often—click with some of my more unconventional students. Without consciously realizing it, we understand each other on a deeper level. The last thing I want to do is to cage their free spirits. I don’t want to change who they are. I know how miserable I am when someone tries to change me.

It’s not heavy reading, but a certain wikiHow site offers some valuable insight into the mind of a free spirit. Judge for yourself the accuracy of this information, but if most of these characteristics fit you, then maybe you’re a free spirit.

  • Free spirits are “fiercely independent” and love “everything out of the ordinary.”
  • Free spirits are creative and follow their whims.
  • Free spirits guard their inner selves.
  • Free spirits are selective about whom they trust; therefore, when they don’t feel trusted, they lose their sense of peace.
  • Free spirits wither when they are confined or controlled.
  • Free spirits challenge ultimatums.
  • Free spirits enjoy being around other free spirits.
  • Free spirits want to be accepted as they are, unconditionally.
  • Free spirits need alone time to think their own thoughts and to immerse themselves in their own creative projects.

If I had to sum myself up, I’d have to say I’m really like nothing of this world. I don’t have a desire to conform to it. Very few things can stop me from following my convictions, even if it means going against the grain and defying tradition.

I guess I’m pretty happy just being me.