Yesterday was a holiday, and I did, for the most part, take an actual day off. After getting my youngest son up and around and off to a dance convention and workshop…at 5:30 a.m., no less…I settled myself back down on the sofa with a steaming cup of coffee in my hands, the early news on the television, and the promise of a peaceful morning on my mind. Just as a thought I might close my eyes and steal a few more moments of sleep before the rest of the house came to life, I remembered exactly what day it was. It was the Fourth of July. America’s birthday. Independence Day.
My mind immediately wandered back to precious memories of past July 4th celebrations. When I was very young, we would start the day by walking up to the fireworks table at the corner gas station just a few blocks from home. My brother and two sisters and I would have about $5.00 each and we could spend it on whatever combination of cap guns and snake bombs and sparklers we wanted. We’d go home and play with our Independence Day treasures; and Dad would set off this little table top cannon that he had, to the delight of all the neighborhood kids! The we would head over to my Grandma and Grandpa Hessert’s house for a picnic where there was always potato salad, cake and homemade ice cream! After dinner, my Mom would take our hands and a blanket, and my Dad would grab some lawn chairs, and we would start the 10-minute walk to the Market Street Bridge, where we would find the perfect spot to watch the fireworks over the Susquehanna River. Except for one of my younger sisters. She would always say she didn’t like the smell of the fireworks, but we always knew she was afraid of the loud noise. And every year, my Grandpa would say he really didn’t like the smell either, and was kind of tired, so maybe she could keep him company on the front porch so he wouldn’t have to be alone. The older I get, the sweeter that gesture seems to me.
As we got a little older, we would travel to Harrisburg to spend the 4th with my Nanny Moore, and my Aunt, Uncle and cousins. Red, white and blue sundresses, burgers and dogs, punk sticks, popsicles and sparklers. And if the weather was good, we would pile in the station wagon and drive downtown to sit along the banks of the river once again, and watch the capital city’s fireworks extravaganza.
Before I knew it, I was grabbing the hands of my own children and watching the party in the sky through their big-wide eyes. In the days before the kids outnumbered the parents, we would spend the day at Point State Park in Pittsburgh, still the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen, right there where the three rivers meet. As the kid count grew, we opted for less crowded venues–the 2nd floor deck of our neighbors gave a great view of the fireworks at Kennywood Park, or perhaps the parking lot of a local strip mall where sleeping babies could stay in carseats while older siblings could sit on the hood of the car. And sometimes we’d travel to Longs Park in Lancaster, where Grammy and Aunts and Uncles could all pitch in to help wrangle our kids and their cousins.
And then I started thinking about our time here in Maplewood, NJ. By a stroke of luck, we managed to buy a home across the street from Town Hall and Memorial Park, where all the Fourth of July festivities happen. The first few years, we would walk over to the park for the circus and camel rides, ice cream and music. Now, they are older and the days are full of the things teenage boys do ~ but at the end of the day, they still come across the street with us, sit on the blanket and look up at the celebration in the night sky. As we sat there last night, with the fireworks exploding in the patch of sky between a beautiful tree and the American flag waving in the breeze from the top of the flagpole on the lawn, it struck me. Not only was this day an Independence Day celebration for our country, but it was an Independence Day celebration for me. You see, on July 3rd, I said farewell to a full-time job that I have held for the last 7 years. With tears in my eyes for all that I had learned, and for all that I had grown, and for all of the wonderful people that had become so much more than just coworkers to me, I turned in my key and I stepped out the door. And in that moment, I not only stepped away from the security and the dependence of that job, but all the jobs that I’ve held in the past. And even though I’ve been working at my own business for the last three years, it has been secondary. I have nurtured it and tended to it and poured my heart and soul into into it, but from the sidelines…on my own time, I had an obligation to the company I was representing, and a responsibility to give them my full attention and my best work. And I believe that I did just that. But more and more, my heart was screaming out to reach higher, dream bigger, and embrace my own dream. So on July 4th, 2013, I celebrated my first Independence Day ~ my first day of being a full-time, self-employed, small business owner ~ in a land where dreams like mine can still come true, I don’t know what’s in store for me or my Cowgirl in the Sand boutique, and I know that I can’t take this opportunity lightly. With the freedom to start my own business, there is also a responsibility to make the very most of the chance I’ve been given.
And to my friends who have supported me and to my family that believes in me, I want to say thank you. Your faith in me gives me the courage to embrace my dreams and reach for the stars. And I hope you will stick around for awhile, because I think this whole adventure is going to be a beautiful, beautiful ride!