Celebrating America’s Independence Day

Celebrating America's Independence Day

Independence Day.
The 4th of July.
Grilling out, hot dogs, burgers, apple pie and fireworks.

All these things we have come to represent the celebrated American holiday we call, the 4th of July.

While pleasant, those things are most certainly not what the 4th of July is about. Consumerism has done a bang up job of perverting yet another great celebratory day (Christmas and Thanksgiving are two of the most prominent offenders) but this one deeply touches my heart, crying out for liberation from it’s trite food fest moniker.

Independence Day. What does that mean anymore to the average American? What does ‘Independence’ mean to other peoples in other countries? Really, ask yourself that very question, because I don’t think it’s contemplated enough.

What exactly does celebrating the Independence of America from Britain mean?

What it means to me is perfectly stated in our Country’s Declaration of Independence.

“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States.”

(click on photo to read the entire Declaration)

As you can see, this was no ‘willy nilly’ band of rebel rousers who just didn’t like the King. This was an assembly of thoughtful, intelligent, well-read, articulate and worldly men who understood that our basic human rights come from ‘Natures God’, and not a king, dictator, tyrant, nor any man, and that freedom is a right, not a privilege.
That is critical to understanding American freedom, which is vastly different than say…the Egyptian freedom so newly won, and quickly deteriorating.

Why has America retained it’s freedoms so long? Because we have always understood that the giver of those basic freedoms (Life, Liberty, Happiness) is a higher power, NOT a human being. It is the responsibility we have to Natures God to be a good, moral, and virtuous people that has made America exceptional in the history of humankind. It is the fact our life, our freedom and our right to pursue happiness are not to be taken by a state nor another human that makes our founding different and unique. It is the right to own the fruits of our hard labor that defines ‘American Exceptionalism’.

There is a reason why in the period of a few hundred years, America has grown from a small band of colonists to the global superpower it has become. Our fundamental way of thinking is entirely different from the rest of the world. That is not bragging, it just is. People come from all over the world to America, seeking the freedom to prosper. Yes, the freedom to prosper means the freedom to fail, but that is a critical tool to learning how to succeed. One must fail.

Today, I don’t know how many Americans under the age of 50 really understand what the Declaration really means and what the Framers intended. How many even read our Constitution and know anything beyond the 2nd Amendment? For America to remain free, these must be taught, discussed and reflected upon.

So, I encourage you to take a moment in all the festivities and ask your family and friends:
What does America’s Independence mean to you?

And if they say BBQ’s and beer, might I suggest you read the full Declaration to them.

Then light up those fireworks, and teach your children why we light them. Not only will they have fun, but there is a richness heritage to the meaning behind it. That will enrich not only them and yourself, but also our country.

Happy Independence Day America.
God Bless this Nation.


Vroom, Vroom.

Vroom, Vroom.

I swear, whoever pays the Meteorologists is a fool and wasting their money.
Once again, what was forecasted to be cruddy weather turned out to be perfect for an evening motorcycle ride, this time with our youngest. (note the red jacket instead of white)
Finishing up dinner, we seized the opportunity to take our youngest out and let her stretch her wings on the road.
What a mix of emotions, seeing my babies all grown up, learning to do grown up things. No longer riding a two wheeled bicycle, but now able to blaze the trail for us on an evening ride around the countryside.
All grown up. Sigh.

My baby girl did mighty fine.

Yes, mighty fine indeed.


BLR- A Wrap-Up

Well, I’m home. 

After a week away from my family, and my ‘at the hip’ companion Miss Mia (my loyal canine), it feels good to be home. Strange how the week flew by. To be honest, while at camp I was so busy, and so tired at the end of the day there was little time to be lonely and miss my family. I love my family, I just didn’t have time to miss them! 

There are so many great things I learned in that week, but here are a few that stand out to me and I think might be worth sharing.

1. We all eat too much. 

I was surprised and astounded at how little food we need (both men and women) to function and perform well on. Maybe I should restate that: How few CALORIES we need to fuel out bodies. We ate very well there, there was plenty of food to fill you up. However, the food was low calorie, high fiber and high quality. Yes some of the meals were bland, some unattractively presented and some which people didn’t care for. But they were nutritionally sound and filling, if you ate it. The salad bar was plentiful and if you were still hungry, you could fill up on that. Every day there was a board giving us the days approximate calories, give or take if you ate it all or had a lot of beans or egg whites with your salad. We averaged about 1,500/day. We worked out every day for a minimum of 4 hours, HARD workouts. And yet, no one collapsed, or passed out for lack of energy or nutrition. Everyone who was there wanted to drop a pound or two, and everyone did. But that was because we were exercising for the vast majority of the day. What shocked me was the calorie consumption of the trainers. It wasn’t much more than ours. The marathon specialist told us she averaged about 1,300-1,500/day. While I’m sure she carb loads for marathons, it’s not her daily intake. Yes, that was an eye opener for me, as well as re-aquatinting myself with valid portion sizes. I am not going to be one to dictate what people can or cannot eat, but people need to be honest with themselves. Most people are overweight (and/or under muscled) because they consume too many (and low quality) calories and they don’t exercise enough. 

2. I am strong and I am tough. I am empowered.

In my younger days, (which honestly seems/feels like yesterday) I did Outward Bound. It is something I am very proud of. For those not aware of what it is, it is an outdoor experience encompassing many mental and physical challenges and ones endurance. It involved backpacking with a group of about a dozen in the mountains of Central Oregon for a month, with only one resupply. We did it all: rock climbing, repelling, glacier walking, sleeping on mountain tops, miles of hiking and more. It was hard, it was grueling, but it was empowering. I felt strong, both internally and externally. Then life happened: marriage, work, children, joy, sorrow, death. Somewhere in all of that, I lost that strong, independent, empowered, optimistic, life loving part of myself. In a strange way, this experience brought that all back. While I was not in the woods, the comparative physical difficulty of what we did, along with the mental change was very similar. I had become rather jaded of my fellow man. I had lost faith in humanity and mankind, to a certain extent. But being with that group of women who all were so supportive, encouraging, and were downright good people, let me see the world through a fresh lens. Driving home, feeling the rush of endorphins through my system, I felt true joy again. It’s been years since I’ve felt that way. Driving along, jamming to tunes, enjoying the blue sky, warm sun, the joy just overwhelmed me so much so that I burst into tears. I cannot remember the last time I felt like that; so full of joy that it brings one to tears. That was the mental achievement. I am empowered.

Then there was the physical achievement. When I arrived, I felt old and creaky. Creaky is the best descriptive word I have. My back and hips hurt so much that I tended to tip forward, like you see in many of the elderly. My knee has been operated on twice, and it always seemed to hurt. I’ve had frozen shoulder recently, and that always barks at me. That first day we did our first 5K, and the best I could do was power-walk it in 52 minutes. Not as slow as some, but pretty pokey in my own mind. Betty, one of our trainers (the marathoner), was running the opposite way checking on all of us as we went. As she passed me by, she asked me if I had a knee issue and I told her yes. She said “try to walk faster, keep your arms up”. I did. Still, it was 52 minutes. That was followed by AMRAPs. (as many rounds as possible, in a designated time) That was the ‘introduction’ to the week. It was all uphill from there. But, I did it. I did it, and I did it better than I thought I could, or would. On Friday, we repeated the 5K. I jogged it in 38 minutes. I shaved 14 minutes off my time just 4 days earlier, AFTER exercising the equivalent of 4 marathons! Better yet, I came in 3rd behind a 17 year old girl and a 6ft+ man who were already in shape. There is my physical achievement. I may have turned 50, but I am strong. 

3. Take each day as it comes. 

This was no ‘diet’ program. This was a lifestyle they were teaching us. Eat well, eat right, watch your portions, listen to your body, be active. Best advice of all, take each day as it comes. If you binge out on pizza one night, don’t beat yourself up over it. Simply get back on track the next day and keep marching forward. Nothing is ‘off-limits’, but everything is in moderation. There is no guilt, no denial. It is entirely about education, awareness, and real life application. This is no one night stand, this lifestyle is a marriage. This is about learning to live in this body we have and treating it with the care it deserves. I’ve heard people say (almost as an excuse) ‘You only have one life’, and that is true. But to live that life, you only have one body, so take care of it. We all know that truth deep in our souls, but many (myself included) don’t want to hear it. We want to be able to have our cake, and eat it too. This was part of the mental re-boot I desired. It was achieved. 

4. Thumbs Up

Going in, I had no concept of what I was going in to. I have never watched ‘The Biggest Loser’ TV show, and so I knew nothing about it. I had a friend who had gone to one of the resorts, and when I asked him about his experience he spoke very highly of the organization. He said it was hard to describe and put in to words the encouragement and support you get while there. I know what he means now. It is. It’s supportive, encouraging, but accountable. They expect the best you are capable of, and will push you to achieve it. And guess what? You can, and you will. 

I went there with two goals: lose weight, mental re-boot. I did lose some weight, a bit, but what I now value the most is the mental re-boot I accomplished. In the end, it is far more important to change your perspective and frame of mind than it is to lose a few pounds. 

I highly recommend this camp to anyone who needs a mental re-boot. Weight loss is a side benefit, but the meat and potatoes of the camp is the feeling of empowerment and motivation to be better than you were. I cook fairly healthy already, but I had lost sight of portions and I didn’t exercise nearly enough. I now have both, and they have given me the tools to use for the rest of my, hopefully, very long life. As women, we have a lot of influence in our households. So while this affects me directly, my family will also benefit also from my new knowledge and action.

Yes, I give this program a ‘Thumbs Up’.