How to Be Free (Really) - Christine Kane

I remember my first taste of real-life personal freedom.

It was about a year after I quit my cubicle job. I was ruthlessly determined to live life on my own terms – so I had done some radical things to earn this delicious moment.

I had sold my car (the one with the monthly payment) and bought an old beat-up car for cash.

I had found the most perfect low-rent apartment on the outskirts of town, near the railroad tracks and fully equipped with both a bedroom AND a studio.  (Ideal for the scrappy start-up mode I was in.)

I was 100% self-employed, and doing exactly what I wanted to be doing with my time.

I’ve since roamed in and out of deeper levels of what it means to be personally free.  I’ve Upleveled my life and business many times.

I now own a building space in my city – affectionately known as Uplevel World Headquarters.  I lead a team. I coach and teach clients and students. Freedom now expands to contain new elements and actions – but it remains steadfast, provided I take time to realign and reconnect with my vision.

Some would say I am blessed to live at a time and in a country where my choices are virtually limitless.  This is true.

And yet – many people with the same luxuries and options aren’t free at all.  Especially on this day, many people talk freedom, boast about Americans being free, but many of these very people feel trapped. Or they complain that they have no options.

So what’s it take to be free?  I mean REALLY free. Not bullshit free. Not “just another word for nothing left to lose” free.

But really soulfully, entrepreneurially, and deliciously free.

Well, this is definitely something we could talk about til the wee hours of the dawn. (And someday, we might just do that!)

But for now, here are five words that had (and have) a major impact on my own sense of personal freedom.

1 – Define

Everything starts with your clear intention and definition.

What does freedom look like for you?   Define it.

And remember that intention requires faith. You need to believe that it is possible, and let yourself be fully alive and awake in your definition of freedom.

2 – Assess

Once you have defined personal freedom – then take stock of what holds you back or ties you down.

Do you hold on to limiting beliefs?  Do you make choices based in fear?  Does your current lifestyle weigh you down – fully equipped with too much overhead, too much stuff and not enough space?

Write it all down. Don’t criticize yourself. Just know that this is the stuff that’s in the way!

3 – Release

Big changes start with little steps.  Start by releasing some of the excess that holds you back. You’d be amazed at how much freedom this will deliver.

A few ideas:  draining friends, time commitments, clutter, lackluster employees, non-ideal clients.  Sometimes, one simple change can bring about a dramatic sense of freedom. It just takes the decision to release!

4 – Discipline

If you’re anything like me, you just cringed a little at the word “discipline.”  It still comes fully equipped with a ruler, a habit and a name like Sister John Mary.

So look at discipline this way:

Discipline paves the path to freedom.

Discipline means you take action based on your definition of true freedom. Your actions become “disciples” of your intentions.

Most people aren’t free because they take action based on their emotional reaction in the moment. Discipline means that you begin to create your life, rather than react it.  This leads to a deeper relationship with true freedom.

5 – Engage

“Screw it. I just want to sit around on a beach while hot men in shorts serve me umbrella drinks. That’s freedom.”

Does this sound like you?

Well, I’ll grant you the space to make such a claim. But we both know better.

Eventually, the beach will get boring.  You will realize that the hot men haven’t read a book in their entire 23 years, and that umbrella drinks can only repress your desires for so long.

Right now, here’s the problem.

You associate freedom with disengagement.

That usually happens when someone has been engaging with too much that drains her:  non-ideal clients, negative relationships, sporadic income.

It also happens when we’ve checked out of our lives so much that we can’t create the solutions for the items that drain us.  We already ARE disengaged.

Freedom requires engagement and presence.  It is not about checking out.  It is about stepping up.  In many ways, freedom brings with it a higher level of responsibility.


So, what about you?  What does freedom look like for you?  Do you feel free? REALLY free?  And what would you tell the other readers in our Uplevel community about how to experience freedom?

  • Tracy

    Hi Christine
    Just read your post about Freedom and it really resonated with me.
    I’m working towards Freedom in my life. My idea of this is to be able to earn money from any location in the planet, so I’m learning business skills online in order to do that.
    My issue is around financial scarcity – something that I’ve subconsciously carried from childhood.
    I’m not a worrier overall – the only thing I worry about is not having enough money to pay the bills and keep a roof over my head.
    This drives me on in a job that I feel demotivated in and would love to have the courage to quit and start doing something else.
    I’m also aware that time is of the essence – I’m 55 now and thinking if the next 20 years go as fast as the last then I’d better pull my finger out!

    But having said that if my circumstances were right I could gladly rent my house out, go and live in my Motorhome, pay my debts off and live a more freeing life of spending time doing things I WANT to do rather than what i HAVE to do.

    My 85 year old mum is in a care home behind my house and I want to be around for her on a daily basis – so can’t make any drastic changes yet.

    How do you stop that cautious voice in you from over ruling the ‘I want to Run to the Horizon And keep on running’ voice’?

  • Patricia Meek

    I can read all text, Neat.. and got me think oh yes got all in my mind about get people to your page.. have i all the crazy up in my head ha.. ha.. ha.. i am going find out make sure i have post somewhere one of 12 different Mini Class, ha.. good one thank you Chrisine, Wink!

    “Go Creator, Bingo!” &
    “Sunshine World of Opportunity”

  • Tracey

    The last four sentences of this post really hit the bullseye in my brain. This is probably my most favorite post EVER. Thank you!

  • Leisel

    Freedom is been able to be you and who God created you to be in a space where you are not judged but loved and appreciated because you are fulfilling your purpose in this life and that makes you just happy and free and that is the biggest pay off and freedom any human being can have .

  • Kathryn Cole

    Freedom. Never really thought about it. I looked up the word – “An absence of undue restrictions and an opportunity to exercise one’s rights and powers”. I had always seen Freedom in relations to my country – Being free to live and believe as I want. I have always said that I would rather die then to give up the freedoms afforded to me by this great country. Patriotic? Just a bit. But Freedom as you have stated in your article…I need time to think about that. Thanks for stirring the pot.

  • Makeda J Hewitt

    Hi Christine
    thank you for sharing this with us. I am truly looking at Freedom in a different way, I was between the two scenarios, being engaged in now and hot waiters on the beach, however, I have now learnt that total freedom means you make your choices and plan your life around what works for you and makes you happy, taking time to examine for hold backs and hold downs! the hot men on the beach, oh well, a girl can dream lol but seriously, the holidays and retreats and all the goodies we desire are a by product of allowing our minds to be free and intentions clear.
    Stay blessed

  • Helen Watts

    I love these insights Christine 😊. Freedom for me means decluttering my space, material stuff and mental stuff giving room to expand and grow. Focusing on one project that’s important and enjoyable stops me feeling bogged down and overwhelmed, with time to just be 🌸
    I’ll reflect on your words. Thank you and much love. Helen

  • Roxanne

    Thanks, Christine. I believe you are reading my mind. I have the freedom I want. I’m very happy personally, business wise less so; that’s ok, it will get better…but it’s driving certain folks around me crazy. Lately there’s a storm of hostility directed at me, so much so that I’ve decided to seriously limit my contact and in some cases, cut it out all together. It’s very hard to do especially where family is concerned. Yes, I’ve decided to move on past other people’s drama and manipulation…leaving them all to play with their own poop. It’s a major step for me.

    • Christine Kane

      Roxanne – So the question I would consider here is: is this hostility and challenge a layer that you are moving through on your way to a new level? (I don’t know the details so I can’t offer much in the way of insights here – but asking good questions can often move us through the emotional wounds of things and into the clarity.) The next question might be: Based on the intentions I’ve set, who am I being called to become here?

      • Roxanne

        Yes, Christine, I believe it is. l’ve been pondering this a great deal & came to the conclusion it’s a kind of test. As you say, “Who am I being called to become?” I have a good idea in this regard, but will confess sometimes it scares me a little. Thanks for your reply, it’s given me lots to think about.

  • Lucy Mugwere

    Hi Christine!
    Thanks for all the info you have provided me over time .I really do admire you I admire how you started quite at the bottom yet are not afraid to tell others your story and uplift others. I like the way you define your freedom as a woman and are not afraid to own it and say this is really what i like.I admire the way you have lifted your business,I hope to lift mine too using some of your ideas.I am a trainer too with a small start up company holding seminars and workshops in Kenya.I hope to grow like you.Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Christine Kane

      Thank you right back, Lucy! What a beautiful thing to read today!

  • Lucie Bland

    I have been thinking a lot about freedom lately, too. I’m in this incredible mood where I want to declutter and downsize again. I’m a compuslive declutterer, because every time I get rid of things I don’t use, I also get rid of the guilt (and get freedom!). I apply that to material objects but also responsibilities and relationships. There is always some weeding to be done in life.
    I’m always in search for more freedom but I tend to not see it even when it’s in front of my face! I have a pretty free life : )

    • Christine Kane

      Well that’s very cool, Lucie. Something to be grateful for!

  • Carolyn V Hamilton

    Well-written and thought-provoking. Thank you for the reality check.

  • Marsha

    Read this article by chance. I am in a place where I am no longer a caretaker for parents, daughter, grandson…
    Kind of lost as to who I am now and where I go, how to navigate life now.
    I found your words very timely and helpful. Thank you!

    • Christine Kane

      Sometimes in circumstances you describe here, freedom is found in the willingness to be in “i don’t know.” Allowing the empty to just be there. We get trapped or bound when we tell ourselves we SHOULD know.

  • Ronnie

    Whoah…love this article!

    Funny, last evening I was waiting in the car while my husband filled the gas tank (yay, Jim!) and noticed the lottery sign in the window. One of them was up to something like 77 million and my first thought was…”ooh, if I won, think how much more time I could paint!”

    So that’s freedom—and I’m already doing it (just shy of the 77 mil)! Expressing emotions through color and movement with the intention for my collector to feel joy and excitement each time they walk by it in their home.

  • Paula

    Thank you for this piece, Christine. Every time I read your words or hear your messages I literally feel my breathing relax. It just feels like all is going to be alright and everything is going to go well when I see your messages. Thank you for creating a relaxed space to breathe.

    I would say for me freedom is just that, being engaged but at a breathable pace. Honestly being able to move at a relaxed pace allows for better engagement, in my opinion.

    • Christine Kane

      True that, Paula! Relaxed pace and time to “moodle.” Very important for me as well.

  • Diane

    One aspect of freedom, to me, is honoring my boundaries and to what I say “yes” and “no”. Freedom is tapping into and thoroughly enjoying my creativity in all areas of my life. It’s following the schedule and structure that I set for my business and personal life. Freedom is setting Big, Audacious Goals, determining how to reach them and then following through until the goals are met. Freedom is taking time daily for self-care. Choosing our own freedoms is the best freedom of all.

    Thank you, Christine, for asking us how we see freedom. Until I needed to think about what the word means to me, I took those individual freedoms for granted. Never take your precious freedoms for granted.

  • Janet Feld

    Freedom for me means:
    1. I am free to disengage from toxic relationships and no longer feel responsible for fixing another person’s issues.

    2. I am free to show up for the people I serve because I take good care of myself (like they say on the airplane, put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others).

    Thanks for this article. You rock! xo

  • Kathryn Gruhn

    Hi Christine
    I took you program many years ago while I lived in Charlotte. I have now developed a business, My Baby Compass, that is going digital and world wide. I have built a team that will help me get my product evidenced based and encrypted so that it can apply for medical and educational uses. I still appreciate your emails. This one really hit home. My husband died a year ago and at first I was scared. Now I am so free!!! I love my life. I didn’t realize I would love the freedom of being single. I am writing another book, “Drug Tested for Being Happy”…which actually happened to me as a Speech Pathologist….that has 40 stories..mostly funny that helped me be able to laugh and yet, remember the fun times I had with my husband. So…just thought I would say “hi” and keep up the good work. Sometimes we don’t hear from people we have helped…and I just wanted you to know you helped me and thank you. My writing coach, Maureen Ryan Griffin, also worked with you. Have a great “free” day yourself. Kathy Gruhn

    • Christine Kane

      What a great thing to read today, Kathy! Thank you – and congratulations to both you AND Maureen for all the progress and upleveling you’ve experienced and created. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband – and I know you are healing – but just know that you are in my thoughts as I know there are always ups and downs with grief and forward motion.

  • Khadija

    My definition of freedom is to be able to make any choice i want based on my intuition plus my own assessment without the influence of other peoples agendas

  • Suzan

    Christine! Great thoughts so applicable for our Freedom Day…. and everyday!

  • Roberta Miller

    Freedom to me means being happy with simple pleasures and being in touch with my emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual health! Also being able to laugh every day even in the midst of hardship or despair. Hard work and being creative are important to me. Thank you Christine!

  • Eileen

    With freedom does come responsibility, but that word need not feel heavy if one is engaged in doing what one loves to do. Not as easy as it sounds to get to do that, and depending on how strong one’s current/past habits are that prevent those steps forward into the new!

  • Carrie

    Freedom for me means doing what I want, when I want. It sounds spoiled but the ability to choose my life is my goal.

    • Christine Kane

      Not spoiled at all Carrie! (put your own oxygen mask on first before you put it on others, right?)

  • Ellen

    Fantastic article especially for July 4th. You are absolutely right. It does take discipline and faith to move mountains. You must not only talk the talk but walk the walk. It is SO easy to get side-tracked and discouraged. I was feeling a little like that this week. Just now, I got an email from a business that uplifted my spirits and then I saw your email. It just reinforced what I already knew and have been working toward. I left a job in March 2017 after 9 years to go back and pursue my business that I started in 1985. It has been a tough but very rewarding experience thus far. Sometimes it just easier to think, “I’ll just go back and get a job or a part-time job”. But then I reconnect with what drove me to my decision in the first place. Always keep your eyes on the prize – Freedom as you see it.

  • Sujata

    For me, freedom comes with peace of mind. Am I aligned? Am I in integrity? Do I make enough money? Do I love and appreciate myself for who I am? Am I using my gifts for the good of me and others? Do I have faith in the future?… I have to admit, it’s a journey. I am in and out of that space regularly. My kids are my gage. If I am present to them, then I’m good. If not, I need to realign quick cause it’s not who I want to be. If I had had to pick 5 words to define freedom, they would have been really close to yours Christine. Thank you!

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Sujata! And faith is a big one. I have found you don’t have to have faith “in the future.” In my experience, I do best when I simply live in faith but not IN anything. It’s a fun little shift in perspective 🙂

  • Tracy M

    Enjoyed reading this as I am in the corporate type environment in my job and had at one time run my own gardening business…and know that having the freedom from corporate jobs is a higher level of responsibility that requires self-discipline and focus.

    • Christine Kane

      Holding the space for you to exit corporate and go full time with your gardening biz! (I love gardening businesses too!)

  • Sheri Keen

    Thank you Christine, for simple, unadulterated truth! This was just what I needed to read this morning. My mind gets so bogged down in the “mush” of life and all the what-ifs and what-if-nots…Argh!
    But your words on Freedom today have “snapped” me out of my useless trance and refreshes VISION back to the forefront!
    Thank You!! You speak my language.

  • Raj

    Hey Christine, i still have to experience Freedom in its true sense…agree to say so i need to be sure or i need to define Freedom. I feel freedom is a fantasy and one could only wish to have it or define it only theoretically.
    I yet have to meet someone who have experienced freedom in its true sense. How much ever spiritual, materialistic growth a person would have achieved yet he / she cannot say that they are 100% free.

    So yes its a fantasy and wish all of us get to experience this someday and moreover pray that it remains with us forever…

    Thanks Christine for bringing in such a wonderful concept for discussion …god bless…!!

    • Christine Kane

      Truth Raj! I honestly can say when it comes to true spiritual freedom – I have light years to go. But that’s not how I’m trying to define it here. I can only say that I am freer now than before. 🙂 But ultimately, most of us don’t experience the true true freedom of which you are speaking here.

  • Rowena

    Happy 4th of July!!
    This day and your letter puts me in the mode of independence and freedom for myself. I am a work in progress and starting to dream and believe in me. I am coming out of emotionally draining relationships and getting ride of toxic people in my life. Thanks for you inspirational message.

  • Lesli Rose

    You’re right, when life gets too hard I just want to disengage but I am truly happiest when I am in the zone, working away, eating properly with a tidy house and spare time for my projects, family and friends. I must work on the discipline part, keep the ball rolling a little bit more every single day, thanks Christine, happy Independence Day, xo

  • Paul

    Posted on a day when the script tells us freedom comes from without, from government, and from the blood of soldiers, it’s great to see a reflection on how freedom comes from within. Without inner freedom, the rest can quickly become somewhat meaningless. Thanks!

  • Imogen Caterer | Miracle Catalyst

    More and more I suspect the key to freedom for me is to stop thinking that I am broken. I’ve invested lots trying to “repair” myself, and I see now that watching my faults has often stopped me growing into what I really could be.

    Much later on I came across a man who said.”This isn’t about healing yourself – you’re perfect. It’s about healing your life.” It took a long time and several other people before I really got that meaning.

    One person pointed out our underlying self is perfect. It’s our personality that has issues, but personalities are by definition neurotic. That is how they are supposed to me. It’s a subtly different way of saying the same thing.

    So that’s how I try to live now. I develop and evolve but I’m not failure. I’m not broken. There’s still a medical diagnosis out on me! But the real me is far more than that.

    • Sheri Keen

      Great post Imogene!! I resonate with you, Sister! Thank you for sharing.

    • Marya

      Love that and I agree! I think that about my body — I’m not my body; I have a body. ; )

  • Anna

    I have a hard time feeling ‘free’ when there are many draining people around me; including family. It is something I need to figure out how to deal with. Thank you for the post =)

    • Tracy M

      Enjoyed reading this as I am in the corporate type environment in my job and had at one time run my own gardening business…and know that having the freedom from corporate jobs is a higher level of responsibility that requires self-discipline and focus.

    • Tracy M

      That last post was not meant as a reply…but i wanted to say, you will hear negativity from family and friends. What i do is tell my brain that what they said is not helpful and I don’t want my brain to remember it and to erase it from my memory and i actually picture a big eraser scratching over their bad comment. Then tell yourself an encouraging comment. The other day I told my mom that i need positive comments from her and not negative comments because the negative gets logged in my brain and repeats over and over to discourage me. And she understood and appologized.

  • Stacey Pruim

    This is such a great post, Christine! I feel more free right now that I even knew was possible 😉 Most of that sensation has to do with the awareness that has come my way around what lights me up. Feeding that, and starving what doesn’t. And paying attention… to the choices that are placed before us, and ‘choosing’. Being aware of motivation behind decisions and clearly intending. And then putting some sort of action behind those choices… Not settling, and not passively letting life pass by 😉 I guess it boils down to not allowing myself to be victim. Victims just plain and simple… aren’t free.

  • Ramona King

    Thanks for the Fourth of July message Kristine! Totally cool. I have to admit. Disengaging is such an easy thing to do. My favorite is looking through e-mails or writing up an intense schedule that put me into procrastination mode. It’s like doing Zombie time…dead while working…busy with no life blood…all for the sake of avoiding what is energizing and meaningful. Presently I’m working on freeing up my e-mail space and paper clutter. My daughter is home for the year so she and I are negotiating a contract for her services to eliminate and discard e-mails, paper and book clutter. Freedom for me is about living my calling fully and authentically while connecting with my ideal client. I have one client in particular, I love working with. She is becoming the model for who I look to develop relationships with. Thanks for the reminder of what it is to be free and independent. Isn’t it ironic though, part of independence requires letting go of task drainers to get help? Love your articles.

  • Karen

    thanks for the awesome reminders and great inspiration! Happy 4th, Christine! 😉

  • Nneka, Working Mystic

    When I started owning my life, I started to feel free. I did all of the things that you mentioned above. I too wanted to sit at a beach all day and soak up the rays with a good book indefinitely.

    The moment I allowed myself to dream again and take action in alignment with those dreams, I started to feel like the world is mine and I really CAN do whatever I want, whenever, and however I want. But first, I needed to know what that was, and I need to take action!

  • Monique Lusse

    thanks, christine, for the inspiration. what i love about discipline is what it means down at the root; from disciple, discipline – Disciple comes from a Latin word meaning “learner” and discipline comes from one meaning “instruction, knowledge.”
    (can you tell i’m long on the Kolbe A researcher/fact finder?!?) And for this reason, it is clear to me that it is in form that one gains freedom. so one form for me looks like: get up in the morning and before getting busy i do a little yoga and meditate for 20 minutes. it’s just “what i do” in the am. and in that form, i find freedom.

  • Anna

    Hi there! This post is one of your awesomest (I am free to make words up)! A lot of my becoming free has been releasing all the “shoulds” I’ve weighed myself down with. It’s been a big job. I have a VERY clear picture now of what my free life looks like and how it feels. At this point, it’s now about creating new things that completely align with this vision. It’s no longer scary…it’s FUN!

  • Lilly

    Ironically, it’s only on those days that I have taken deliberate action that I’ve felt the most ALIVE and rewarded. It was/is a personal fallacy to believe that lounging or taking “me time” was freedom. It was just another form of distraction from my goals. Also, for me, disengagement involved dating. So I gave that up, and with all the extra time and energy I wasn’t spending on my looks, shopping for outfits, dining out, and searching for a “rescuer”, I have been able to start up a new business that I’m going to thoroughly rock and enjoy. I’m in the final stages, getting licensed, and already the community welcome has been emotional. I’m meeting dynamic women who are leaders, business owners, organizers and encouragers who have been such inspiration and joy to me. This is where and who I want to be!

    Christine, your articles and personal journey were my initial push. Thank you!

  • Andrea

    I feel free about a lot of things and I think it is easy to start doing this today, you can feel free about how you want to look, what you want to wear, how much you want to say and share, many ways to “exercise” it.
    But what I also want you to know Christine: the picture from the 4th of July you have used in your e-zine: I just love it! That is the same dog we used to have! They are wonderful!
    See you soon! Andrea

  • Eryn

    I am free. But the realization of this journey started with lots of release. I let go of draining “friends,” clutter, draining clients, a relationship, the feeling of responsibility that wasn’t mine to have. All of this release has begun moving me in the direction of the freedom I intend and desire.

    Now freedom is aligning myself with positive friends who uplift and encourage me. Freedom is spending a night reading with a cup of tea instead of going out, because I want to take time to nurture my spirit. I have started to say yes only to things that are an absolute yes! But of course, this is a journey. I don’t get it perfect ever and some days are better than others, but if you’re looking to move toward freedom, get out your pen and follow through with the journaling Christine suggested above. You’ll start to see a path forward.

    This post is inspirational, Christine, because it lays out the process in an easy to understand manner, and provides direction for anyone who is looking to begin living in true freedom. Thanks for always being willing to share from your valuable experiences.

  • Jack Kinley

    Wow, Christine. Perfect timing! My partner and I walked around Jekyll Island last night discussing this very topic.

  • Tanya McGill Freeman

    Fantastic! Thanks, Christine. And the section on Engagement really hit home with me; I’d never thought about it that particular way. I’m really looking forward to seeing you in Atlanta at the end of the month…YAY! All the best to you. Thanks again and here’s to being truly FREE!

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Tanya! Yeah, i’m getting really excited for Uplevel Your Business LIVE! We’re going to have a blast!

  • Maria

    I feel free when I give myself the time and space for the things that make me happy, without letting guilt get in the way: e.g. a day of from work to go hiking!

  • Lisa Larter

    Love this! Thanks for the early morning inspiration.