It was the first Fourth of July as an adult that I can recall genuinely feeling FREE! At the age of 45, I twirled in my pale pink swivel chair, thinking, “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” I was certainly free. This was my new home, and getting to this moment required me to be brave.
I had just exited a double-income, no-kids marriage because I wanted a family, and it was becoming clear that my partner did not. It also became clear that I could continue in a relationship that made for a gorgeous magazine cover, or I could hit a reset button. I searched for a new way forward instead of settling for something that felt only partially right.
Now, I must admit that while most people think of divorce as a messy, painful, grieving event, I did not. I saw it as doing my spiritual homework to live the life I knew (and still know) I was meant to live. A life with no boundaries, limitless with the possibility of serving others, being my true self, and being grounded in the values that determine the legacy I leave behind.
By the grace of God and guides all around me, I ended on the other side of things with a clear — VERY clear — picture of who I am, where I want to go, and how I want to live MY life.
The journey to my new sense of freedom put a pep in my step, made my shoulders lighter, and returned a glow to my face.
But how did I get there? I’m unsure I’ll genuinely be able to recall the magic formula, but it certainly did begin with what I call The Great Me-Set™️. This provided a framework when I needed a “TV timeout” or simply a moment to breathe.
It took me decades to understand that while a therapist, spiritual advisor, or even my mom can give great advice or call out the things I might not see, it is my intuition that indeed leads me. Once I turned inward, the answers were clear. For me, that meant I needed to endure the journey alone — no wine nights with girlfriends to share the news, no announcements at work. Heck, it even took me a while to tell my wedding party. If I’m being transparent, I might have told my brother after it was finalized. Ha! (Thanks for being supportive, BPB). For some of you, let this serve as your notice to update your Christmas card address list. And for others, this news won’t be on the menu at upcoming holiday meals. So don’t even bring it up 🙂
Why is that? I have learned that when we share changes in our lives, we might have healed and moved on, but others have not walked in our shoes. So, they will begin the journey of change, loss, or grieving. But I was certain about one thing: I was not carrying the burden of holding space for someone else’s emotion around this life change. I also refused to tell the story repeatedly — each time ripping a bandage off a nearly healed scab.
Boundaries, Gratitude, Joy
Once I set boundaries for myself and those around me, I set out to celebrate. I found joy in selecting each new pillow for my crisp white sofa or obsessing over finding angel’s wings to hang over my bed.
I also began a practice of gratitude, thanking God and the universe for everything around me. Gratitude for living, seeing sunlight out my window when I woke each morning, having enough light for my plants to flourish, or simply being able to dance while making dinner. Many days, I say a prayer of gratitude for my former partner. For more than a decade, he was a good husband, providing a home where I always felt cared for and protected. Without that stability, I would not be the person I am today.
What happened is my spirit began to live outside just as my spirit lived inside. I still struggle with the words to describe it, but to put it plainly, I lived with ✨JOY✨. Placing joy above everything else and asking myself how each decision impacted my joy (and only my joy) has transformed my life. It gave me freedom on the Fourth of July.
I hope that by turning inward, setting boundaries, and practicing gratitude each day, you will do the same. I often say, “Leaders turn moments into movements.” Along the way of unleashing social movements for good, I began to understand the greatest movement that I will create is the one within me. I plan to write more about how The Great Me-Set™️ helped me find joy, as well as my personal movement to find joy each day. Even as I write this, somehow, tears flowed. For months, I was stuck with writer’s block and could not focus. I also knew that I needed to write, and I wanted to write about this major life change. Yet, I could not find the energy to strike my keyboard. What a conundrum, right?
Just one day before sitting to write this note to all of you, I had a session with my spiritual adviser. I told her I wanted to remove this energy blocker — whatever it was, it needed to go. After that session, I meditated, paused, and looked inward. I ended the day by writing in my gratitude journal. I noticed a Maya Angelou quote at the top of the page, “Ask for what you want, and be prepared to get it.” And less than twelve hours later, here we are. Yes, actual tears did flow when I realized that I was writing again. Prepared and received. ✨
This might not resonate with you today, and you might not be into meditating. Try this hack: Place your feet on the floor, roll your shoulders back, place your hand over your heart, and say, “Today, I choose joy. Today, I choose me.” This will allow you to begin to see little joyful moments all around you.
I also want to learn from you and celebrate with you. If you had a major shift in your life that you joyfully celebrate, I want to hear about it. Send a note to info@TerriBWilliams.com. ✨
Let’s cultivate the movements within. They will transform not only us but the world around us. Yes, we all know the Mahatma Gandhi quote, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” I plan to do it one joyful moment at a time. ✨
More Fuel For #Firestarters
- My website is your first stop for learning more about The Great Me-Set™️.
- After that, check out my TEDx Talk.
And then keep your momentum going with my Great Me-Set™️ series on YouTube.
Copyright (c) 2023 Movement Maker. All rights reserved.
Want personal notes from me to you? Sign up for my newsletter, Friday Fuel a newsletter for #Firestarters who are building movements for social good and within themselves. Join the #MovementMakerTribe and sign up for this monthly inspirational letter today. And you can follow Terri on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.