Independence Day Shine

by Sara Marchessault

Independence Day, how it came to be and the reason we celebrate it, is a pretty cool story. There are some things that I truly love about what Independence Day represents.

The courage of a people to rise up against an oppressor. Fourth of July stars

The sense of adventure that an individual spirit must have had when he or she learned the news that the Colonies were these United States of America.

The intense fear that was likely felt at knowing that well-trained soldiers were coming to force acquiescence to the will of the monarch.

Taking risks for loss of life and property. (Although, research shows risk taking is much more normal under the age of 25, before the human brain has completely developed its capacity for judgment. I wonder what the average age was for settlers in the 1770s?)

Courage. Adventure. Overcoming fear and taking risks. These are qualities I admire in almost any situation. These are the reasons we have so many stories of discovery and change the world over. Because someone, somewhere was willing to take a chance and in the case of the history of the USA, that chance lead to a country being founded on freedom.

The freedom our country was based on was the first step on a path to where we are today. As an American woman there are many ways I get to practice my independence.

I get to go to school to study what I want, when I want, and where I want (or at least to apply wherever I want!). I even have a government that supports my going to school so much that they will either give me grants or offer me loans to support my cost of living while I’m in school.

I get to vote.

I get to marry who I want. While some cultures that are present in America may practice arranged marriages, it is not a law here that all marriages must have parental approval. Although they say parental approval does help with in-law relationships.

I can pursue any career path I choose. I can change careers at any point in my life. I have the right to buy a home, a car, a boat.

There are countries in the world where women don’t have some or all of these rights.

I get to shine however I want to shine. I can be a butcher, a baker, or candlestick maker.

So can you.

And the coolest part is that when we own our special gifts and make our individual choices, we make the world brighter. We shine together.

When Thomas Jefferson penned the Declaration of Independence I don’t think he imagined a world with airplanes and smartphones. But I think he did imagine a society where all citizens are given the right to live the life they chose to lead and to work together using their unique talents and gifts toward the common good.

Getting here was not a path with a clean slate. Our history has dark spots. The near elimination of Native Americans. Slavery.

What’s important now is that we tell the stories, the shiny ones and the dark ones, learn something from them, and grow.

When you pick up your pen and write in your journal, you’re capturing your own story, the shiny and the dark, learning something, and growing.

My wish for you this holiday is that in the midst of celebrating Independence Day with family and friends that you have a chance to spend some time in your journal to reflect on what makes you shine. Leave a story of what being independent means to  you. Here are some prompts to get you started:

  • What are the ways that you exert your independence?
  • How are you courageous?
  • What adventures are you currently in or getting ready for?
  • What fears do you want to overcome?
  • What risks will you take before the end of the year?

Like this article? Please feel free to use it on your own blog or newsletter. I simply ask that you please include this blurb:
Sara Marchessault is a coach, writer, teacher, and mom who helps busy women use journaling to create more space in their life for being productive without feeling overwhelmed. To learn more about Sara and her work in the world, please visit or

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