My Grown-up Permission Slip

By Christy Uffelman

I spent some time last Sunday afternoon at a funeral home. It certainly wasn’t what I planned to do that day. I had errands to do, things to get done. But I immediately canceled my “plans” (with zero guilt) because I wanted to be there to honor someone I care about and whom I admire.

And you know what? Some of the errands got done, and others just didn’t.

I’m happy to report that the world did not end and the sky did not fall. Because in my mind, not doing them became unimportant in comparison to what I intentionally chose to do.

This got me thinking: why don’t I ever cancel my errands and “plans” at a moment’s notice to instead do the things that make me happy? Small things like sitting on my favorite spot by my kitchen window drinking tea, catching up on my no-purpose-at-all catalogue-reading (that includes tearing out pages of things that I will never even actually buy), having a decadent brunch with great friends, watching a bad comedy with my husband… THOSE kind of things?

I think it has to do with permission.

In my (soon to be) 40 years of living with myself, here’s the interesting thing I’ve learned about myself and permission: I 99% follow it when it’s given to me, I can give it to myself when it’s to benefit others (like the funeral home – which I would not have missed), but I’m just not so good at granting it when it’s for ME.

When I was a little girl, my mom would occasionally write me permission slips on pink paper. They gave permission for me to do things like leave school early, attend an appointment, be late to class, and so on.

Today I decided I would literally write myself a grown-up permission slip on the only pink paper I could find (a random post-it-note). It says that I can spend two hours every weekend doing something that makes me feel content. Happy. Joyful. Something that isn’t on my to do list. I’m giving myself permission, during this crazy time of year where my expectations run unrealistically wild of what I “Have To Do”… what I “NEED To Do”… what I “Should Do”, to literally ask myself in the moment, “What do I WANT to do?”

And then I’m going to do it.

For accountability purposes, I took a picture of my permission slip and made it the background of my phone so I will see 89,453 times a day.

Because here’s the crazy thing: as a genuine grown-up person, I don’t need my mom to write my permission slips anymore.

I can do it all by myself.

…All I have to do now is listen.


Read more posts by Christy Uffelman