1. In 1998 I began talking with people around the world at a nursing site. I became aware of the different views people expressed about America, our culture, and our history. In the year 2000, several people on the site ridiculed me for being a Christian "conservative." I had told someone I would pray for them. I hate to admit it, but I had to look up the definition of conservative. I concluded that the understanding of both labels was a matter of perception. Both terms were being used to stereotype others with preconceived ideas. I believe today; stereotyping is choking the country.
2. 9/11/2001 was a particularly eye-opening event for me. Visiting with people from around the world lead me to understand the freedoms we have in America. There were so many things I had always taken for granted. There was so much that I did not know—my thirst for our history and where our country is headed is never quenched.
3. The last 20 years have been an exciting adventure. My faith, my family, and my love for my country have all grown. I have enjoyed my career in nursing. Photography, writing, and flower gardening are my passions. The study of history through my heritage has taken a front seat in my time. It has been eye-opening viewing the history of our nation through this lens.
4. As my life evolves, I have found the phrase "free to be just me" is a journey, not a destination. I believe it is the essence of life in America. It is freedom worthy of standing for. Finding the beauty of individual thought and personal beliefs in others and for myself is so very freeing. Understanding I only speak for myself, express only my thoughts helps me learn from others. It frees me to see them as an individual doing the same.
Stepping off the primrose path to a journey guided by the wisdom of yesterday, the fearless vigor and faith today, with hope and confidence in America's character and virtue of tomorrow. Free to be just me, an individual woman in America.
Today it is challenging to express ourselves as individuals without being stereotyped into a group or belief system. Even in today's political world, identity politics are at the forefront. These stereotypes can lead us down a very unpleasant rabbit hole. How does it affect my confidence and relationships with others? Does it lead to frustrations and anger? Where will it take American women? In the "free to be just me" adventure, how can I view myself and others without preconceived thoughts? Do I know who I am? How do I take care of myself? How do I continue to see others as the beautifully and wonderfully made women, they each are? Do I express my views confidently? It is the start of a great adventure! Mind and spirit create who I am and want to be. Challenge and growth daily can promote a dream. I will be bold and stand firm, tempered with reminding myself, always stay humble.
Be brave and fierce but may I always remain humble.
Christy Dobrovolny (nan*)