Another Voice: Freedom by Sallie Watson Williams

Note from Me: I love it when people want to guest blog. For one thing, it gives my readers a break from my listening to me… variety is good, right? But what I truly get excited about is the risk they are taking. I know that they are putting themselves out there in a way that I have found life-changing.

The other day my friend Sallie sent me an email with the below blog asking if she could guest blog on my account! “Are you kidding?,” I replied. “I’d be honored.” I recently met Sallie, and we are beginning a new friendship. We have lots in common. She actually worked with Daddy at the newspaper for many years, so we have many common friends. They were actually Daddy’s friends at one time, but I’m meeting them now in social situations, and they are becoming my friends. We also do the Jeff Galloway run/walk method and have been running together – although the heat is starting to give me pause a bit. We’ll have to work that out. And we both love yoga and hiking!

So, now you get to meet Sallie, too. Please give her a warm welcome to the blogging world by leaving her a comment! I’ll be sure to pass it on. 🙂

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Freedom

by Sallie Watson Williams

The past two years have brought unprecedented change in my life to include deaths of both parents, divorce from my spouse of 38 years, a new romance and remarriage, moving from Georgia to Louisiana, and leaving the company where I had worked for 28 years.   

I discovered yoga last summer during a transitional time living in Athens, GA with my 24-year-old daughter.  She had bought herself a condo to live in while she goes to law school at the University of Georgia and, in a role reversal, she became my landlady and I her tenant.  The yoga studio I joined was a 5-minute walk from the condo and going to classes became a highlight of my day.  On moving to Baton Rouge earlier this year, I became a student at Yoga Bliss on Highland Road and have continued my journey of yoga practice and healing. 

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Shannon, one of my teachers at Yoga Bliss has a custom of asking each student to choose a small rock from a bowl at the beginning of class.  Each rock has a word written on it that may be taken as an intention for the day’s yoga practice, and I’ve marveled at how the rock I choose so often has a message that represents what I need to focus on in a given moment.  In a class a few weeks ago, I chose a rock that said ‘forgiveness’ when that was a message I needed, another time, my rock said nourishment when I needed to work on replenishing my body with good food and rest, and on the day after running a half-marathon, followed by a drive home of several hundred miles, my rock suggested ‘gentleness’ which I interpreted as a nudge to go easy on myself in that day’s practice.

Today at yoga, the rock I chose said ‘freedom.’  I was tempted to put it back and draw another.  What could the word “freedom” mean to me?  Of all of the thoughts I’d been thinking and emotions I’d been feeling, freedom or a lack of it had not figured into the scheme of things.

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But I kept the rock and during class reflected on what this message might mean.  I am now free from a marriage that hadn’t worked for many years, but I’m not free from the lack of closure with my ex husband —  someone with whom I shared a life for more than 38 years and with whom I have three grown children, nor am I free from feeling defensive around those who don’t understand why I left or those who judge me for leaving, or from judging myself.

I am free from a job that was difficult and often required long hours of work and travel, even though I sometimes miss it.  I am not free from an inner voice that asks me what I am going to do with my life now that am no longer defined by my job.  What is my next path?  Working in the same field?  Or in a new area?  Volunteering?  Becoming an entrepreneur? 

And what about money, another important resource in life.  I am fortunate to be free from pressing financial needs, having saved regularly over the course of my working life, and yet, without a regular paycheck arriving every two weeks, it’s now up to me to try to figure out how I to manage what I have to provide for my own future.

Several years ago I read a book called “The Paradox of Choice.”  The main message of the book is that we live in a world in which overabundance of choice creates paralysis and, ultimately, can lead to inaction or a shutting down.  Our brains are simply not wired to evaluate too many choices at once.  Here is one of the most famous examples from the book:

When researchers set up [in a gourmet food store] a display featuring a line of exotic, high-quality jams, customers who came by could taste samples, and they were given a coupon for a dollar off if they bought a jar. In one condition of the study, 6 varieties of the jam were available for tasting. In another, 24 varieties were available. In either case, the entire set of 24 varieties was available for purchase. The large array of jams attracted more people to the table than the small array, though in both cases people tasted about the same number of jams on average. When it came to buying, however, a huge difference became evident. Thirty percent of the people exposed to the small array of jams actually bought a jar; only 3 percent of those exposed to the large array of jams did so.

I can’t say that there is a solution to my dilemma right now —  freedom creating too many choices on so many fronts.  I have a few short term goals and activities – a friend from my old neighborhood coming to visit in a couple of weeks, plans to go on a bike ride across Georgia with my youngest son and a cousin, and some travel plans with my husband.  I understand that my challenge now is to remain open to seeking a new path while being discerning and thoughtful about moving into the next phase and resisting the temptation to commit to something new before I’m ready.  Maybe the rock I draw next time in Shannon’s yoga class will have the word “patience” written on it.

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One thought on “Another Voice: Freedom by Sallie Watson Williams

  1. Loved this! I’ve collected rocks over the years from places I’ve traveled. I love the idea of the words on them and choosing one.

    Best of luck on your travels!

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