Give Yourself a Permission Slip
One of the first posts I ever made here on Mental Mosaic was called something like, Give Yourself a Permission Slip. I would link to it, but when I revamped my blog in 2009, all my earlier posts were lost, so here’s a little recap instead:
Remember the permission slips your teacher would send home when you were a kid? You needed them for permission to take school field trips and other fun activities.
A few years ago, my dear friend, Alix, and I realized that adults need permission slips, too. Why? Because many of us are just too darn hard on ourselves. I sure can be. Even though I constantly try to be productive and use my time wisely, I never feel like I do enough. This is a good trait up to a point, but when out of balance it turns into the old, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” scenario. (I can’t write that without picturing Jack Nicholson’s character in “The Shining,” but I’m not homicidal, merely perfectionistic!)
Nicole Cloutier’s ROW80 check-in reminded me of the importance of playtime. She wrote that she recently added drawing to her schedule, saying, “This is my fun creative activity. I’m not that great, but I enjoy it, so I should make time for it!” I liked that not only was she giving herself permission to play, but she was making it part of her schedule.
It reminded me of how Alix sometimes interrupts my lengthy to-do list litanies by saying, “Tui, I’m giving you a permission slip to do something fun today.” It always makes me laugh and realize that if I don’t take my nose off the proverbial grindstone from time to time, I may not have any nose left.
Meanwhile, I give Alix permission slips, too. If I catch her downplaying a tough situation she experienced, I say, “Alix, I’m giving you a permission slip to rant and rave. Quit being so polite about it.” Sure, being politically correct has its place (that’s another conversation for another day) but there are times when a verbal temper tantrum can be very therapeutic.
My Challenge to You
Alix and I even toyed with the idea of printing up permission slips and handing them out in the course of our daily lives. We never did, but I still think it’s a fun idea. So, if you’re reading this, I challenge you to start handing out permission slips to people around you who are being overly hard on themselves… including, of course, YOU!
My ROW80 Check-In
For those of you who read Sunday’s ROW80 check-in, I was feeling stuck on my book, freaked out over starting a full-time office job after five years of working from home, and scared that I won’t be able to get my book done in time for the DFW Writers Conference in May. It’s now Wednesday, and I hate to admit it, but I’ve done very little on my book this week (although I wrote several travel articles – yea!) As Scarlet O’Hara once said, tomorrow is another day, and I plan to work on it then.
In the meantime, I realized that I left two things out of Sunday’s lament: fatigue and brain fog. I’ve been sorting through health issues for the past couple years, and while I’ve made a lot of progress, I struggle with fatigue and brain fog on a continuing basis. I rarely talk about it because, first off, most people don’t understand and secondly, I’m embarrassed.
Most people – even doctors – don’t understand that fatigue is different than being tired. When I have a fatigued day, it feels way different than sleepiness. Normal sleepiness actually feels kinda nice, even cozy. It’s relaxing. Fatigue is not nice, cozy or remotely relaxing. In fact, it’s often tinged with anxiety and spaciness. I hate it!
My weak days used to be few and far between. I’d only be hit with annoying fatigue two or three times a year, and when I did mention it to doctors, they had no clue, either, so I chose to ignore it. A few years ago, though, the fatigue escalated to the point where that’s how I felt every single day. Plus, I was getting other symptoms such as heart palpitations, and my hair was falling out.
Long story short: bloodwork showed severe anemia and a bunch of other vitamin and mineral deficits. So for the past two years, I’ve been popping supplements religiously and am slowly climbing back to normal. I also avoid refined white flour and rarely eat sugar. I still get fatigue days, but it’s down to a couple times a month instead of every day. (And, speak of the devil, I’m having a fatigue/brain foggy day today!)
I am making progress. We bought groceries the other day and I had energy to spare afterwards. This time last year, a simple trip to the grocery store would still wipe me out. I was too weak to put our food in the car afterwards. Considering that I used to tote around 80 pound bags of chicken feed, struggling to lift a half gallon of milk was a real blow to my manhood. (Yes, I’m a chick, but you know what I mean!)
One thing this fatigue has taught me is to value my good energy. When I was younger, I had an abundance of energy and often spent it foolishly. Like a trust-fund baby blowing their fortune on cars and cocaine, I spent so much energy on other people’s projects that I short-changed my own. As my fatigue grew worse, I came up with an energy budget to compensate. It doesn’t work quite the same way as money, though, because you can’t save energy up. You have to spend it when you have it, but spend it wisely. For me, this has meant doing the bulk of my article writing around lunchtime, when my brain is freshest.
So taking a full-time office job has me quaking in my boots. (All right, full disclosure, I’m actually wearing a pair of Mary Janes, but the quaking part is true.) I’m worried that the job will get the best of me – literally – and that I will have nothing left to spend outside that job.
My Permission Slip
But you know what? I’ve decided to write myself a permission slip, like I was talking about above. This slip gives me permission to be unorganized, even downright unproductive in all other aspects of my life, for the first two weeks of my new job. During this two week period, I am going to reserve judgment and simply see what new patterns emerge. After that, I will make a new energy budget for myself and take it from there. This is such a relief! What about you? Do you have an energy budget?
The ROW80 Linky List
To see what other ROW80 writers are up to this fine Wednesday, check out the linky list below: