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on permission slips.

Hey Sole Sister,

When was the last time you had to have a permission slip signed? Elementary school, your middle school church retreat? Yeah, me too.

One of my favorite authors of all time, Brené Brown describes her concept of “permission slips” in her newest book "Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone” and it is giving me all. the. big. feels.

In 2013, Brené had the opportunity to meet Oprah Winfrey. OPRAH WINFREY. Bless. She writes that the night before she met Oprah, she realized she was “doing that thing I do when I’m afraid. I’m floating above my life watching it and studying it, rather than living it.” She then goes on to explain that the next morning, her daughter texted her asking if Brené had signed her permission slip for a trip she was taking at school. This got her thinking, “I need a permission slip. I need a permission slip to stop being so serious and afraid. I need to give myself permission to have fun today.’”

So she did. She wrote down what she needed permission to feel and experience in those moments leading up to meeting Oprah (spoiler alert: she also met the woman who inspired much of her work that day! Go read the book, it’ll change your ever. loving. life.)

I see my reflection in this story. Do you? I have a tendency to get really caught up in calculating my life & I think this stems from a struggle I’ve had for most of my life… perfectionism. A topic for a whole other blog, trust me. What comes naturally to me is to think, process, calculate, and ensure that I don’t make the “wrong move” or say the “wrong thing” or feel the “wrong feeling.” These things are tightly sewn together with shame. Shame is that universal emotion that tells us “we are bad.” I associate mistakes with “you are bad.” So I love the concept of permission slips. For me, my emotional permission slips sound like this:

You have permission to speak your truth.

You have permission to be authentic, fearless, and brave.

You have permission to make mistakes.

You have permission to try again.

You have permission to feel happy.

You have permission to feel sad.

You have permission to feel uncertain.

You have permission to go slow.

You have permission to break your own mental molds.

You have permission to turn around and go a different direction.

You have permission to claim and use your gifts.

You have permission to live in the freedom and righteousness given to you by Jesus.

What if we gave ourselves permission, amidst our circumstances, to follow our compasses? If you have lost a loved one, can you give yourself the permission to grieve as long as you need rather than tell yourself it’s been a year and you’re supposed to be over it by now? If you have recently broken up with your significant other, can you give yourself permission to feel lonlieness, sadness, or relief? Whatever you feel, can you give yourself the permission? If you just got your dream job, accepted into your dream school, or promoted at work, can you give yourself permission to be thrilled and not let the circumstances around you nullify your experience? If you are feeling stuck in your life, can you give yourself permission to break the mold, try something different, and step out in faith rather than stay stuck because you’re not “supposed to quit a job without a job?” If you have a dream buried deep inside your soul, can you give yourself permission to water it and watch it come to life? Can you give 20 minutes a day and put pen to paper for those dreams and watch the way God whisks you away with them? If your future feels uncertain, are you able to write yourself a permission slip to sit with that feeling? You do not have to pass over uncertainty or will it away. Can you give yourself the time you need to get certain again?

Sole sisters, get out your sticky notes. Write them down. Slap it on your vanity mirror. Or use dry erase markers and write your permission slips in beautiful colors on your bathroom mirror. So when you look into it, what looks back is permission for you to be your best self no matter what. No matter what.

Love you mean it,


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