The Year of the Permission Slip and a New Year’s gift
2014 on Laundry Line Divine
Today feels like a bonus day.
Both my kids are around.
There are still cookies in the pantry.
In yoga class this morning we worked on Side Crow. It gives me something to look forward to in 2015. Doing it, that is.
I have started and stopped this post about 75 times in the last three days.
I usually write early in the morning and especially on Mondays.
But these holidays, aren’t they wonderful everyone home, hungry and around the house? Oh, I have taken hours and days of not being in my studio, which is very well and good for socializing, but I begin to behave like a dog that has to pee, wanging my tail against the door, sniffing around quiet spaces and circling my studio.
Let’s see. Today I found my long-lost brown wool jumper that required several phone calls to different dry cleaners, one trip to town and a renovation of my closet. I am the one with no closet in our family, so I had to haul everything out of the unheated eave, no lights, out on to a rack where, there, was the brown warm dress that I have been thinking about for days. Do you ever loose things in plain (ish) sight?
I’ve had my yearly check-up and all is well, thank you for asking. I lost five pounds somewhere and my low blood pressure is still low. Today I walked over to the hospital to have blood drawn and the technician went through 5 people ahead of me in line in under ten minutes. I studied his moves. Kind, but no fluff. I aspire to that.
I’ve baked, but there is more butter on the counter for another set of guests and gifts. The holiday card is going to be a New Year’s card because I have not gotten the four of us to sit down in one place and have someone else take a picture of us. I do have a sweet #TBT photo that seems like the last time we were all in one place and that is from seven years ago. It still counts, doesn’t it?
I have been keeping up with the Quest 2015 prompts about “What is your most valuable personality trait and how can I bring it forward in my best work in 2015?” and also “How can I be of Highest Service?” Here are the collages I made in response to those. Sometimes doing visual work is easier for me. I need more quiet to write. Like right now. No one home. Windows thawed from the morning freeze, light in the west. Oh-oh. As I write this one child has just returned.
As I contemplated my personality traits and my highest service, I reflected on this past year. It is all the rage this week, right, highlights from 2014?
I am calling 2014 the Year of the Permission Slip.
I wrote all kinds of them this year, made photo posts and we used them in my Powder Keg Sessions. I created an mixed media installation for an art show at the PRESS gallery in North Adams and over 200 people wrote themselves permission slips. I have been asking who and how and when we grant permission for ourselves, who we have looked to for permission, when we feel permission to be our fullest selves. This topic is a dense rainforest of wonder.
There is a wide well of agency that comes from granting your self permission.
Just think for one small minute. Read these questions and then close your eyes.
What would you do today, for one full hour, if you had full permission to do it?
What if you could grant that permission to yourself?
The Permission Slip I created for the PRESS gallery show Paper Dresses revealed so much longing. Take a look at these images.
It was Tara Mohr of Playing Big who asked about highest service. Sally Hogshead prompted me about my most valuable personality trait. Pondering the prompts, I realized that I have a diverse personality. There are many ways you could describe me. But one of my most valuable personality traits is that of Catalyst. I love to be at the heart of creating. Here is the dictionary meaning.
Chemistry. A substance that causes or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected.
Something that causes activity between two or more persons or forces without itself being affected.
A person or thing that precipitates an event or change:
A person whose talk, enthusiasm, or energy causes others to be more friendly, enthusiastic, or energetic.
I like to spur change in others and myself.
I am very enthusiastic, even with my family. (Though none of my enthusiasm is urging my offspring to help around the house this week…. hotel-ish is how I am feeling.)
I love to facilitate discussions that prompt deeper thought and instigate ownership and experience of momentum. I am going to include myself in this definition:
Suzi Banks Baum is a catalyst of creative expression, for herself and others.
I really like the idea of engaging my catalyst self this coming year.
I give myself permission to be that catalyst.
I wrangled with the highest service idea because in my role as mother, facilitator of two conscious human beings, a household, supporter of my partner and the work we both do, I feel I am in my highest service. Not very glamorous, but it is true. Being my fullest self while doing this is what makes the difference from a dull day when I feel like a cog in a very old wheel to feeling that I am affecting change, improving the world in a small but important way and just being my fine self, loving this world just as I find it, bumps and all.
But is this my highest service? If I move this inhabitation of motherhood towards expression, which is the flame that burns steadily within me, then I come to “being immersed in and illuminating real life.” Every single time I share from the place of being a woman who is a mother, who is deeply connected to the whorls and wonder of real life, I speak with authority and grace. I am not making it up. I am not trying to be a smarter someone else with better credentials. When I fuel my devotion with my natural enthusiasm (catalyzing, right?) I find myself doing work that feels like it is mine.
This is what I am devoted to:
I am devoted to unmasking the fertility of women through story.
Doesn’t it sound really good strung all together like this?
I am a catalyst devoted to unmasking the fertility of women through story. I immerse myself in and illuminate real life.
Which brings me to my gift to you for this New Year.
All year long I have made space for myself to do work that feels soul full to me. I have written, made art, traveled, collaborated, taught, and raised my family thinking about permission- who gives it, grants it, needs it, wants it, struggles with it and how I can be part of permission being fully available for others. My writing groups are spaces where the participants feel fully supported with permission to write, speak and work from their deep selves.
So here is my proposition to you. On New Year’s Eve, or in the early mornings of the next days, candle lit and quiet, just by yourself, sit with your journal and ask,
- “What do I need permission to do?”
- “What have I been waiting to do?”
- “What is stopping me?”
- “What could I grant myself permission for in 2015?”
Then take your pen or embroidery needle to your permission slip and stitch yourself a go-ahead.
Or how about this? Are you going to be with a group of people on New Year’s Eve, one that includes sitting around a table talking for hours? Print off enough permission slips and let this be part of how you share. Ask the group to take turns talking about their dreams and desires for 2015. Then, have everyone write a permission slips for each other. The quality of listening and friendship is so enhanced when we carry the wealth of what is possible along for the other.
Right now I hear my daughter calling all of us to hike. She is my own little catalyst.
I am going to join her.
Please enjoy your New Year’s Eve. Thank you for reading me all this year.
Please print out this page of Permission Slips and use them for yourself or someone you know who needs an endorsement to step boldly, dare greatly, and live their fullest selves.
See you in 2015!
PS In the time that we hiked, my son opened a cookbook and is making dinner as I type. Is this permission in action? When I allow myself to be acted upon by the catalyzing enthusiasm of another, do the people around me begin to take action for themselves? All this and more in 2015. Together. I will be sending out a newsletter for the New Year with my teaching schedule and event calendar. I’d love to see you in person this year!
PPS If you are intrigued by Sally Hogshead’s Fascinate Assessment, please leave me a comment here and I will share with you her offer through Quest 2015 for free access to her Fascinate Assessment tool.