“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own backyard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with! Is that right?” ~ Dorothy Gale, The Wizard of Oz.
In my mid-40s, after decades of trying not to ignite my mother’s volatility, devoting myself to making others happy, and fashioning myself into what I thought my romantic partners wanted me to be despite how much of myself I had to ignore and sublimate, I was lost and miserable.
I had lost touch with Marci. I forgot that she is valuable and important. I forgot that she should expect to be treated well, spoken to well, and given respect just because she was herself.
I forgot that no one had the right to make her feel small and insignificant—she was special, intelligent, beautiful, and creative. I had forgotten, or maybe I never really knew, that she deserved to be loved just for being herself.
I didn’t know that it wasn’t my responsibility to fix anyone else or make them happy. I didn’t have to solve their problems to justify my existence or prove my value.
Lost in a sea of obligations, confusing feelings, and disconnected longings, my life was not what I always dreamed it would be. Trying to find happiness doing what I always did was not working. I had to change my approach, and I began to realize my only responsibility was to work on myself and figure out my dreams.
This concept of giving myself permission became pivotal to me and dominated my mental health journey, my therapy sessions, and my journal writing.
In the first article I wrote for Elephant Journal on January 1, 2015, “Choosing our People Wisely“, I wrote:
“Lost in the fog, I was an airplane endlessly circling an airport without permission to land. I wanted to be in my world, not hovering over it. How does one actually live one’s life?”
All that I was longing for in the world was really inside me all along. Realizing this was a ruby slippers moment. I had the power all along.
It was liberating to realize I had to give myself permission to claim it. I didn’t need to look to other people to give these things to me. I had the power to create them all along. Only I could give myself permission to explore the world and my inner self to build the life of my dreams.
That winter, in working with my therapist to put all the pieces of the life lessons I had been learning into practice, I realized that providing them for myself was the only way to actually receive it.
To cement this idea of adding myself to my own list of people to take care of, I tattooed the inside of my left wrist with a Celtic symbol for happiness. This would be a daily, immovable reminder that I deserved to feel safe and loved and that I had to give myself permission to create those things for myself.
Fast forward four years to the autumn of 2019. During my time as an apprentice with Elephant Academy, I began working on my first book. It was to be a memoir of my life and my healing journey from lost to found.
I had a difficult relationship with my mother. It taught me to distrust and not value myself, to unsuccessfully try to prove that I was loveable by selflessly dedicating myself to please her (and everyone else).
This toxic relationship template became the way I moved through life. Every family, friend, and romantic relationship I had was colored by this unhealthy pattern. After my mother’s death in 2013, unraveling this mess became my mental health focus, and it became my memoir, as I analyzed my life as her daughter and documented my healing journey.
Many of the lessons, wisdom, writing philosophy, principles of Buddhism and life that Waylon Lewis shared as part of Elephant Academy spoke to me deeply and helped me realize that my larger purpose in writing my book, and all the articles I wrote for Elephant Journal, was to be of benefit to other people struggling with the same emotions, sense of confusion, disconnection, and purposelessness that I had been. Waylon helped me recognize my desire to impart empathy and healing—to help others along their healing journey with the wisdom and inspiration I had acquired on my own.
The only appropriate title for this opus of mine could be Permission to Land: Searching for Love, Home & Belonging and the companion journal workbook became Permission to Land: Personal Transformation Through Writing.
This past autumn, I volunteered to be an Elephant Academy mentor and help new apprentices find their own voices, and I heard so many stories of others who felt lost and needed someone else to tell them they had the power to give themselves permission to write and tell their stories. Readers of my book started to tell me that they, too, realized that all along they had the power to change their lives as I had, if only they had given themselves permission.
This concept of giving oneself the permission to do that which we secretly desired is palpable and shared by so very many people. I knew I wanted to talk to all of them and share my story—all our stories—with them, but I struggled to figure out how. My YouTube channel wasn’t enough. I needed to share conversations and help other people tell their stories.
Through the telling of stories, empathy is born. Empathy for others, but also empathy for ourselves. And in that moment, we become connected and healing begins.
A guest speaker in my class gave a presentation titled, “The Art of the Podcast” and suddenly there were fireworks of ideas in my head. I realized that I needed to create my own podcast. I’m an avid podcast listener and knew instantly what the format should be. I committed myself to find amazing people—healers, personal and parenting coaches, psychologists, therapists, survivors, writers, doctors, spiritual leaders—who would be inspiring and informative guests whose stories I could share with listeners to help them give themselves permission to heal.
Permission to Heal is now on six podcast listening services and reaches a growing audience of listeners. The podcast is about sharing inspiring stories of healing journeys and giving ourselves permission to heal, permission to love ourselves, and build amazing lives.
Each week, I share an inspirational conversation with people who have transformed their own lives. They tell their stories and help us learn to transform our own lives. I love the process of finding guests, getting to know them as they share their stories and wisdom. Often, I share my own experiences as I try to fully understand and incorporate their ideas into my own, which enriches the whole experience for my wonderful growing community of listeners.
I know I’m doing the right thing in the right way at the right time.
We each have our own unique journeys, but they are all part of our shared human experience. Despite the different details of our lives, the feelings and emotions we have around them are all the same. By sharing our experiences and being brave enough to vulnerably share our feelings we create empathic communities of supportive and loving people who will walk through their own healing journeys alongside us.
None of us is alone.
We are all here together giving ourselves permission to love.