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A dear, dear friend of mine, brilliant woman that she is, carries around permission slips in her pocketbook.
While she is, in fact, the (truly phenomenal) parent of a school-aged kiddo, this isn't that kind of permission slip. Rather, these permission slips are gracefully pulled out of her purse when she sees an opportunity for freedom.
With the slips, she reminds friends and fellow firestarters to grant themselves the freedom and the permission to be great, or to be messy, or to be human. To grant themselves the permission to respect their needs as valid and allow themselves to be held and revealed and transformed, whether that means saying “no” when they really mean it or finally saying “yes” to themselves and their long-awaited dreams.
As a recovering perfectionist, these permission slips sneak through my heavy armor and hit straight to my heart. Through them, there is unleashed a soft acceptance and tender freedom, along with tears or shouts of joy or whatever it is that you, in your moment of liberation, release out into the world.
For many of us, our ideas of who we "should be" create a boundary around who we could be, if we only gave ourselves the permission to be wholly, incredibly, and vulnerably authentic.
Within this boundary, we temper our emotions, we limit our dreams. We leave words unspoken, needs unexpressed. We buy into the box we've created for our lives, we slog through obligations, and we say no to scary, new desires, never allowing ourselves the freedom of exploring what it might look like if it were... different.
Liberation is, for many of us, an unexpectedly scary experience. There is fear in the face of freedom. The boundaries we've set for ourselves - emotionally, creatively, physically - they're familiar and known. Working within this framework is comfortable. Maybe a little squished, as the truth of who we are expands, straining to be revealed, but it's a well-known confinement. Freedom is new, uncharted territory. Liberation is life-changing, and we're all a little scared of change.
It's scary, yes, but it's so damn good.
As a sometimes stubbornly independent woman, I get to learn this lesson repeatedly - usually with a healthy dose of tear-soaked tissues nearby. Just today, in the midst of perfectionistic nitpicking and the overwhelm of trying to do all of the things for all of the people (whether they asked for it or not), I re-learned it.
Reaching out to my honey, the sweetest of sweethearts, I grew silent and asked, softly... "Am I just a mess?"
He spoke. Not to fix or solve my bleary-eyed meltdown. Only to say what I truly needed to hear: "You're human. You're allowed to be a mess." Mmmm, permission granted.
I tell myself that I need to go it alone. But there’s no freedom found in my stubborn solitude. Today, I give myself permission to delegate or depend, to lean in and be loved.
I tell myself that it needs more work, more polish. But there’s no beauty found in a flawless facade. Today, I give myself the freedom to push send or publish or release my work to the world.
I tell myself that I will never succeed, that I never have before. But there’s no truth found in the whispers of not-enoughness. Today, I give myself the permission to be great, or good, or good enough for now, to see victory in a breath or a step or a choice.
I tell myself that the client or gig or opportunity is not what I imagined for myself. But there’s no expansion found in the expected. Today, I give myself the freedom to do what feels free, to let ease and joy be a part of the picture, whatever it looks like.
I place myself in a well-known box. Today, I give myself permission to bust the hell out of it.
So, love... what's the permission slip that you need to write yourself? Where do you need to bust out of the box, lean into freedom, or allow yourself to say yes to yourself and your spirit?
I've made something just for you.
Download and print your own permission slip below, and keep it somewhere close by.
To remind yourself that you can grant yourself the permission to be less-than-perfect and entirely human. To remind yourself that you can grant yourself the permission to say "no" to what breaks you down and "yes" to everything that makes you feel brave and bold and wholly authentic. Because you can.
P.S. If you know of a kindred spirit who just might need some inspiration (or at least be reminded that they, too, can write their own permission slip), I'd love for you to forward this to them! It might be just what they need!