Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. ~Romans 12:2 (ESV)
For me, there is something transforming about fall. Not just the physical changes of the earth–the leaves, the colors, the wind–but something within me…a shift, an awareness, a beckoning.
Since entering my 40s, I have been more cognizant of this. My ears have become more attuned to the wind chimes. The fall winds blow and gently awaken that which stirs my soul, and I can hear the whispers of my inner self. It’s the calling. The older I become, the louder it gets, and there is no denying its presence.
5 days ago, I celebrated my 42nd birthday. I am a fall baby, a child of change. Perhaps that has a bit to do with why fall has the ability to shake up my settledness. Perhaps not. But one thing is certain. Since then, I have felt the shift–the calling–stronger than ever before. And with each passing day, the wind chimes have been growing louder and louder, and the whispers of my inner self are becoming shouts.
If you are a follower of my work, then you may have seen me refer to my forties as my Decade of Enlightenment. This is the beginning of my third year in this decade and it has lived up to its description.
40 was My Year of Possibilities. There they were…all stretched out before me.
41, My Year of Positioning. I needed to settle in, position and ready myself to apply all that I am to the tasks ahead.
And, now this year…42, My Year of Permission. This is the year of being my own hero despite perceived weaknesses…Relaxing into my strength despite the resistance…Taking unique action despite the rules…Being brave despite the fear…Hearing the wind chimes despite the noise.
These first five days of my 42nd year have been eye opening and significant in that they have served as perfectly illustrated instructions. Each day has revealed itself as a step towards permission.
And so here you have it, 5 Steps for Granting Yourself Permission
Day 1/Step 1: Cry It Out
This was my birthday. I spent most of the morning in tears. I felt let down, disappointed and discouraged. But my tears and my emotions were not bad. They were necessary. Just as the trees are beginning to shed and rid themselves of dead leaves, I, too, must go through a cleansing. On this day, I experienced a purging…a purging that is necessary if you are to move forward in self-reliance. Letting go of the imprisonment of completely relying upon others to rescue you and provide happiness is the first step in granting yourself permission. It also requires the shedding of things that are unnecessary despite the compulsion to hold onto them. In order to do this, a certain degree of acceptance must be present. Acceptance of the limitations and flaws of others…Acceptance as not only the author of your own story, but as the heroine, as well. And on this day, with each tear that fell, I felt my leaves shedding. I welcomed the opportunity to completely depend upon myself, and it was refreshing.
Day 2/Step 2: Don’t Grip The Mat
The next day, I enjoyed a private yoga session on the beach. It was my first experience with yoga. I’ve always wanted to take a class. I was fully expecting to feel my muscles locked and engaged while maintaining poses designed to strengthen my body. What I was not expecting was to feel so connected, so rooted, so awakened and aware. As the instructor guided me through my practice, she repeated calming and reassuring phrases reminding me of my strength, reminding me that my worries do not serve me, reminding me to relax and be fully present in the moment. She assisted me with each pose, encouraged me to be strong but reminded me to relax into the pose. “Don’t grip the mat,” she said. And I felt my toes loosen and I settled a little deeper into my pose without tension. I was amazed by the connection between relaxation and strength. I felt myself opening up…really opening up. I was aware of everything, yet aware of nothing at all. I was aware of the waves, the birds, the passersby, the heat from the sun, the smell in the air, the sand beneath my feet. And I became completely unaware of the stress, the problems, the things to do, the chaos with which I always busy myself. I was in the realm of connectedness. It was in that moment that I realized that this was more than just a yoga skill, this was a life lesson. When we learn to relax into our strength and release the mat, we build trust…trust in ourselves and our capabilities. Where there is trust, there is permission.
Day 3/Step 3: Break All The Rules
My life, much like anyone else’s, is filled with rules. Do this; do that; be here; be there; be on time; eat more this; eat less that. The rules are never ending. Some are necessary. However, some serve only one purpose…to paralyze us, robbing us of the opportunity to move forward. On this day, I broke the the rules. I skipped out on working and opted to spend time with great friends. I immersed myself in the freshness of my newly found freedom and declared that the only rules I must abide by are the ones I write for myself, and even those are occasionally open for interpretation. I gave voice to my desires and encouraged the women around me to do the same. Giving yourself permission oftentimes means bucking against standards that we have allowed to be placed upon us.
Day 4/Step 4: Take Action
When we take action, we move forward in our strength with calmness and deliberation. In doing so, we gain clarity and resolve. On this day, I took steps towards finalizing an incomplete project that means a great deal to me. With each action taken, the next step became clearer and a successful plan was devised. There was no doubt in my mind that I had done the right thing. Permission cannot exist if there is no action to be taken.
Day 5/Step 5: Answer the Call
On this day, I made the firm and comfortable decision to be my own hero, to answer the call. The beckoning that I had been hearing…it wasn’t anything new. I was very familiar with it…I had heard and ignored it many times before. But this shift within me was undeniable. A change was needed. And the only way to make this change was for me to decide to rescue myself. I received confirmation of this decision while watching Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, shared this exact message. The confirmation that came from this interview was startling. I couldn’t believe my ears. Elizabeth Gilbert was speaking my thoughts, and verbatim. “Answer the call.” “Be your own hero.” “Write your own story.” It was all the endorsement I needed. And so I answered my call, and in doing so, I was liberated, and I received full permission.
What has held you back from granting yourself permission? What steps have you taken towards granting yourself permission? Please share in the comments below.
And if you don’t believe me, perhaps you’ll listen to Oprah and Elizabeth Gilbert!