Wednesday, June 1, 2016

permission slips {what I learned from COURAGEworks}

I know its been a few weeks since I posted.
Don't think though that I haven't sat down every day to write here.
Because I have.
But like most times when something is on my heart,
I have to let it sit for a while.
But I told myself I wouldn't post again until I wrote this one.
Here goes...

I shared with y'all a few months ago
that I was taking a class with Brene Brown
 called COURAGEworks.
If you're new to my blog you can 
read here about how I decided to take it
and more here for a little more backstory.
Some of you may be like
Nancy, move on PUHLEASE
but I said I'd do a little post about the class
and what I learned from it
especially in case there's someone who reads this
who may be sitting in a stalled boat
on the ocean of life,
wondering where the wind is
in order to set her sails on course again...

I'm sure I've mentioned here before
that I used to mutter
"I don't know."
to myself
on a seemingly endless loop.
Sometimes my husband would hear me,
thinking I was talking to him,
and say "what is it you don't know?"
My reply would always be "I don't know."
As in "I don't know... what I don't know."
Strange, right?
I know.
I can only describe it as
somewhere deep inside me
I knew I was searching for something.
But there was a part of me holding something back.
There was an internal struggle
 in my heart of hearts,
in the hidden recesses of my thought process,
where the secrets of your true self sit,
ones you tend not to share with others,
for fear everyone will think
you're a complete nutter.
In yet another instance of the universe
working its magic
I just stumbled upon this pin...

How apropos.
It is so true.
Because I did know it all along.
What I wanted to do
with myself
 in this stage I find myself in,
my middle.

In the very first COURAGEworks lesson
you had to do a permission slip.
A permission slip you write to yourself
for what you needed
 to get the most out of the class.
And I promise you
 this was truly part of the instructions...

"sometimes we need to give ourselves permission 
to "not stay curious and open"

Insert wide eyed emoji here.
For me it was one of those moments in life
where you just know in your soul
that you're right where you need to be.
So I wrote...

"I give myself permission
to be open to the universe
and to know its ok
not to know."

There it was on the screen in front of me,
with the click of a button,
my answer,
my words,
instantly appeared as a permission slip
on the image of a yellow sticky note.
A reminder I clicked back to it
repeatedly during the course
and wrote myself
more permission slips as needed.
As a part of the lesson I also decided
the values I wanted to live my life by.
For me, nothing felt truer than courage and gratitude.
For me those two things are non negotiables,
for myself
I'm hoping to be an example of them to my kids,
using them as lamp posts if you will
to light the life paths I choose to take.

I made a vow to myself to dream new dreams,
to lean into any fear that I may encounter
because of these new dreams,
and to be grateful for every day,
every setback,
every goal reached,
 every lesson learned.
Another permission slip granted.

I hesitate to write too much about the class
because honestly
it's not my place
and there's just too much in this class,
too much work that you have to put in
and reading about how someone else did it
isn't gonna help anyone.
I can only tell you this...
I started COURAGEworks
with zero self-compassion,
with a heart and a brain full of fear.
I was scared and I did it anyway.
Because I know sometimes you just have to jump.
So I did.
After all change only happens
when you change something.
So I did the work,
the reading,
the lessons,
the videos,
the exercises...
I did it even though it was hard,
I mean butt kicking,
dragon slaying hard,
and sometimes getting to the truth hurt
 like holy hell.
I'm not gonna sugar coat it.
Every lesson the tears fell like rain
and my soul hurt a physical hurt
that I could feel both in the pit of my stomach
and in the recesses of my heart.
I learned so much about myself,
not all of it pretty
but here's the deal...
I went in thinking I was scared
but the truth is
I'm a badass.
I'm sorry.
There's no other word.
I am.
I am courageous and brave and tough enough.
Now there's a word.
Just as I am.
Now, I'm not delusional.
I know that there are days
when I will question that,
when I do question that.
I will feel inferior or judged or what have you.
But I've learned to recognize the signs,
both physical and mental,
of when something pricks a wound in me,
even little ones.
You may cut me but man, when I get up, you better run.
Because I will get back up.
Of that there is no doubt in my mind.
I've learned my shame triggers,
what I'll do to circumvent bad feelings,
the armor I put on to deflect weapons of hurt.
COURAGEworks didn't change the world
but it changed me.
I'm now admittedly a recovering perfectionist...
that was one of the ways I tried to deal with life,
by trying to be "perfect."
Perfection doesn't exist.
I'm done pretending it does.
I've learned to celebrate what I get done in a day
rather than focusing on
what I didn't get scratched off the to-do list.
You know I love me a list.
I'm doing the best I can every day and I know it.
I know my perfectionism is what held me back
in starting my own business.
News alert...
I wanted it to be perfect before I started it.

I think maybe I jumped too far ahead...
let me rewind a little.
A couple of weeks into the class
I had to declare my "life arena"...
where in my life
did I want to show up,
be seen,
and live brave?
Here's what I said
about what my arena looked like....

my arena is starting a new business,
about something i'm passionate about,
i'm always sourcing items for myself and my friends
and think about design related stuff constantly
except when real life happens like my kids needs me :)
so after lesson three I just went for it.
I've been plotting and planning and searching,
bought the .com,
bought a blog template,
and hit publish.
i cried when i did
because it felt so brave.
i was brave.
and proud as a peacock.
then shame started talking
what have you done?
you didn't go to school for design,
you got a chemistry degree,
what the hell are you thinking?
trash talk like that.
but i did it,
i took the step,
i made the jump,
and i'm not backing down.
everybody starts as a beginner.
no one comes out of the womb walking and talking,
everyone is a student at some point.
i'm 45 and starting over in a career.
how exciting is that!!!!!!!
I'm scared but I'm fearless.

Which brings me to something else
I learned in this class.
I had zero self-compassion.
As in none.
I know this for a fact Jack
because we had to take a self-assessment test
on self compassion and empathy.
Major fail here on that report card.
I can be as encouraging as the day is long to friends, heck, even strangers.
But towards myself?
Not so much.
I'm learning.
I promise.
I gave myself permission
to accept my perfectly imperfect self.

Truly a gift of the class
was learning that my own opinion counts
more than anyone else's ever should,
especially those who aren't trying
in their own lives to be brave and true...

Every day you have a choice in life.
I wake up every day and choose to enter the arena.
My arena.
I'm learning something new every day.
I confided in people I trust that will be honest with me.
I've reached out for advice to some pretty terrific people...


my friend Holly of Holly Mathis Interiors

Peppering them with question after question because
I want to know what I don't know
and I'm willing to work hard to figure it out.
I've bombarded my local friends to give opinions
on all kinds of business papers and website stuff.
Thanks to all my peeps,
far and wide,
who've supported me,
believed in me,
dreamed with me.
Some of you I've never even met in person.
I love you all to pieces.
I hope you know that.
I've asked in spite of feeling vulnerable in doing so.
I'd rather feel something, even if its uncomfortable
than risk doing nothing.

You only get by doing, right?
Well, I'm doing it. 
I give myself permission to feel the fear and do things in spite of it.

Which leads me to something I've been thinking about for a while now.
I'm doing this my way.
Not because I know what I'm doing,
but because I refuse to compare my beginning to anyone else's middle.
I saw something the other day about flowers blooming...
how flowers grow where they are
and they don't worry or think about the flower growing right beside them.
There's plenty of space for all of us to grow.
I'm just cultivating my little plot of happy right here.
If you ever need help in your garden I'm there for you.
but I'm not interested in comparing or judging crops or yields.
Comparison is the thief of joy.
Like looking at a swimsuit model and plotting to do everything they do,
hoping to become a size zero
when I know for sure that ain't ever gonna happen.
Fo' shizzle y'all. 
I say this because sometimes
when I'm on social media
for a brief minute
I'll shake my head and wonder
 if I'm doing it all wrong.
Then I snap back and I know I'm not.
I still doubt.
I may not have huge numbers
or a big number of "likes" on IG
or what have you
but I'm thankful for the kind readers I do have.
I hope y'all know that.
I can't chase people or readers.
Its not who I am.
Plus I'm old y'all.
and technically challenged
{but learning ;)}
Instead I operate under that baseball movie quote...
build it and they will come...
Field of Dreams?
Is that the movie?
Either way...I figure I just write here and if you stumble by,
well, I hope you'll stay a while.
It's amazing how technology brings people together these days.
I don't know how many people
signed up for the first COURAGEworks,
that doesn't really matter...
what was so awesome was the people in this class 
could interact with each other on discussion boards,
people like me,
just trying their best to figure out life,
with all the curveballs that are thrown at you.
I learned was how big my tribe is.
Even a sweet friend that I've never met
but who through divine intervention
and the world wide web
reads this blog,
reached out to me to say she was taking it too.
You know who you are :)
Just goes to show that  
when you think you're alone
I guarandamntee you that you are not.
We all hurt.
We all get hurt.
We all fall.
What I learned, most importantly, is how to dust myself off,
how to deal with the fall, and
how to rise strong.
This is hard to see but if you click through on the link below it
you can see it better and even download a copy...
you can even hear Brene read it here on this page
and if you're like me you'll cry when you hear it...

and because I am committed to showing up and daring greatly
I'm going to share my personal manifesto
that I made for class...

copyrighted 2016

We were allowed to download this so that we could share it as a thank you
to people who have helped us in our journey to daring greatly
and I can't think of a better way to close that this...

Thanks for reading,
for listening,
for sticking around with my random postings as of late,
for your comments and your emails,
for hanging with me on this journey.
I appreciate it more than you'll ever know.
Mwah...that's a big ol' virtual kiss.
PS...I'm happy to report that I officially have four clients as of now.
Courage works y'all.


  1. Oh Nancy! This is so inspiring and BRAVE of you to put out into the world. It just kept getting better and better as I scrolled down. Not "comparing your beginning to anyone else's middle" resonated so deeply with me. I get it. I too am in that middle stage of life, and so often think about the two degrees I don't use as I stay at home and raise my boys, and about how I have no expertise in the arena of what it is my heart longs for me do. And you absolutely had me at the flower analogy. I need to get growing and blooming into who I am supposed to be. Your openness on this blog is such an INSPIRATION! Thank you for being YOU.

    1. Wow! Thanks for your kind words. Seriously. I thought maybe y'all would think I lost it ;) putting it all out there but after reading your words I know it was ok to put it out there. You're my tribe :) Get Brene's book Daring Greatly. Start there. Send me an email if you want to chat. I believe in YOU!!!!!

  2. Well, I was in to art as a young woman but discouraged to pursue it and because I was goo as science Nursing was my first career until it because too much with 2 little children and crazy hours, so I went back to my art roots which then lead me to design. Which now has me discouraged because it is an over saturated business and with the internet people can look up design and not hire. So now at 50 I am back to square one trying to figure out where I go from here... Sometimes I think return to a simple non social media life away for egos and competition mainly because I dont feel I can compete. So this post was a great one for me at this time and I am so glad you have the courage to move forward and pursue what you dream of I wish you great joy in that endeavor.

    1. First of all I have to say you don't look 50. Girl, send me your beauty routine! I hear ya on quitting social media. I'm barely on it and it drives me nuts bc of all the smoke and mirrors on some sites. And you CAN compete even if you're not playing "their" same do what you do best, what's in your heart and soul, and don't worry about anyone else. Its not between you and them anyway :) I just hope you keep blogging no matter what passion you continue to follow whether it be art or design or what have you. Thanks for reading and for commenting :)


  3. I was sort of getting teary I often have reading your posts...and I was thinking "but, Nancy IS brave" and then I saw my name. So sweet. You have success written all over you. I am going to push myself out more and take chances. Thanks for the gentle shove :)


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