The Freedom Effect

I have a confession for you all. I definitely did not have this blog topic on the schedule to do for this week. Then a few days ago my friend, Patrick Ladonis posted a #TimeChallenge on his social media and I thought, “what the heck, lemme do mine”. So I posted four pictures in a grid frame, the ones you see featured above here, and this quick little fun game turned into a right on time lesson for me.


See, the first photo is from 2019, which was a huge pivot for me. I quit my full time job that summer before COVID-19 was even a thing. That smile you see was making a comeback and I was too close to the change to really see the full picture right then. I took another huge leap of faith that year and hopped my first real international flight from Chicago to Barcelona. This was the fulfillment of a promise I made to myself way back in the sixth grade when I first started studying the Spanish language. During that trip I cooked paella in Spain, I walked the streets of Rome and Venice, I shopped and ate my way through Paris and explored the royal palaces and gardens of Versailles. I wandered alone, I met up with friends and family, I made new friends…and I cried a lot. Many of the tears were happy but many were also sad because now I was faced with the reality of how much I had put my life on pause trying to fit the expectations of others. 2019 was a significant year of transformation.

From the Rooftops of Venice, Italy

The picture from 2020 was from the start of the year near the end of my second European adventure filled with more family time, Christmas Markets and nighttime strolls holding hands and canoodling with my love. It was the first New Years’ Eve I experienced abroad in my life and it made my hungry to see, so and travel more. I felt as if I had broken tether that I didn’t even know what holding me down. I felt free to explore and redefine what it meant to live fully and be happy.

Then came lockdown, a story we are all too familiar with at this stage of the pandemic.

The Emergence

A year into the strange and unexpectedness of 2021, there is another more subtle transformation that occurred that I see much more clearly now. The world met 40+ Marta. I stepped into much more of my grown woman that year. I began to see, feel, touch and taste what I needed my life to be like for me to be truly happy. The scent of freedom announced itself to me as a full bouquet of intensely fragrant new experiences and I could finally hear myself, my voice, completely unmuddled by the noise of others.

The Here and Now

Now, I’m looking back at these past couple of years and I’m full of gratitude. I am glad I stopped trying to please others and instead focused on my wants and needs. I still seek to do good and leave the world a better place than I found it, but I now recognize that I can do that much better if I reject the Martyrdom Strategy because that’s just not how MY life is set up anymore. I’m pursuing a full life, not a piece of living. I understand what it means to me to be free.

Marta is an award winning filmmaker, writer and producer committed to sharing the rich and complex stories of America’s Heartland region.  Marta wears several hats as Chief Creative-in-Charge of MartaGwyn Productions, LLC as well as the Co-Founder and Senior Grant Writer of Youngblood and Associates, LLC and Chief Operations Officer of Marta Collier Educational Systems and Services, LLC.

Marta is also the founder and editor-in-chief of TheWRITEaddiction.  An online community of writers that publish creative and inspirational works daily at

Marta is an alumna of The Ohio State University and Tougaloo College with degrees in Sociology and English-Journalism and resides in Little Rock, Arkansas, with her husband and unconventional college sweetheart of 12 years, Terrance Youngblood.

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