You are hereby granted permission to
It’s been 2½ years since my mom died. It was a difficult death. Hospice came suddenly and as her body declined, she suffered. She also braved it out.
In her last days, she began to look and listen with zen-like focus. I noticed she had stopped doing things to occupy her time, even her cooking shows and daily crossword puzzles. If it wasn’t deeply rewarding or absolutely required, it didn’t make the cut.
She let her loved ones visit with her, enjoyed the fresh air and birds singing outside her window, and tried to eat. When she couldn’t eat anymore, she tried to rest. I knew she was afraid and sad, with much on her mind, and her body was agitated and restless, too. She wasn’t ready. But the time had come.
That’s why I’ll always cherish the last words my mom said to me before she drifted off and passed away
“I just need to calm down.”
Whenever I think about my mom’s final days, it reminds me:
We’re bound to get anxious, afraid, frustrated, angry, blue, stressed, overwhelmed. Emotions are a part of the human condition. We just need to calm down.
When we’re calm, it’s easier to make wise choices, to accept what is and deal with change… to sense the love around us.
To know what’s:
Rewarding or Required
When time is at a premium—and is it ever not?—I don’t want to waste energy on things that are not deeply rewarding or absolutely required.
Put these realizations together, and they urge me to reassess. To choose how I spend my time, money and effort with reverence about what makes the cut. To simplify. Radically.
We’ve all heard we should live life to the fullest, because tomorrow isn’t promised. But there’s a dilemma in trying to honor our natural desire for comfort, abundance and fun. If we were to live each day like it was our last, we might never get out of our pajamas. And if the present moment is a treasure, are we allowed to use it to watch meaningless TV shows or take Facebook quizzes?
There are endless ways for each of us to live. Yet most of us feel bound by obligation or society or human frailties that undermine our abilities to be true to who we are in any circumstance. But we’re not bound. We have free will to choose our own way.
And we don’t have to wait until we’re terminally ill to pare down to our authentic selves. We have permission to clear a path and use our time with intention. Permission to ask for help. To feel insecure. To have regrets…
and that is how, within a year, I had 52 Permission Slips.
I still refer to them all the time, and as a result, I’m choosing my inspiration more mindfully now. I’m trying to minimize unpleasantness and burdens, and have less stuff to maintain, protect and store. I’m trying for less worry, less regret, less ego. Less fighting to be right, wanting to impress, or trying to explain.
I prefer taking more time for making memories with my loved ones, more energy for enjoying the fresh air, and more recognition of what nourishes me.
I think this is what’s meant by “less is more.”
It’s a radical shift, to get to the point where all I do and all I have is deeply rewarding or absolutely required. To do that, I’m taking a cue from mom, finding some zen-like focus, and seeing how I need to calm down.
I’ve distilled the essentials to come up with this list:
- Appreciate what you have
- Work for what you need
- Ask for what you want
- Care for what you love
- Give what you can
- Know what you stand for
I’m adopting these personal guidelines to manage my simplification without a lot of rigmarole. They’re working so far, and I hope they help you, too, if you need them.
In articles to follow, I’ll offer a peek into how each of these goals is playing out in daily life, starting with from possessions to politics. I hope you’ll put these simple treasures to work their magic in your own life, too.
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