Though it’s been years since I’ve gone back to school (or prepped for a kiddo to go back to school), the Back to School tradition I grew up with remains rooted within me, and I still see September as a magical month full of growth and change.
When I was young, Back to School was something I looked forward to because it meant a new fall wardrobe (even if it was still too hot to wear much of what we bought), packages of new underwear and socks, and brand new pair of Keds. It also meant new school supplies: a binder full of blank lined pages begging to be filled, folders that had yet to be marked or creased, and a fresh box of crayons (that delicious, waxy scent brings back so many memories).
As well, going back to school was something I looked forward to because it always meant gaining new knowledge about the future and the past.
It meant that I was going to have the opportunity to grow and learn new ways of interacting with the world. It meant that I was going to be mentally challenged and stimulated, something I crave. It meant celebrating “what I did this summer,” and anticipating the renewal of old friendships as well as the cultivation of new ones.
Sometimes, Back to School was even an opportunity to reinvent myself.
When we leave school and grow up, we often lose that quest for knowledge and the experience of old-yet-new. We get stuck in ruts, do the same old thing day after day, even if we aren’t happy. We tolerate sameness and things that don’t nourish us.
We know that others get to grow and change and love their lives, but we don’t believe we have permission to do this.
Now, truth be told, I believe that we can choose any day to start fresh. To wipe our slates clean. To outfit ourselves in new clothes to indicate a new beginning. To open a fresh notebook and treat ourselves to a new box of crayons to color our lives.
But so many times, we don’t do this.
Instead, we tell ourselves that maybe we don’t deserve to have a fresh start until our next birthday. And we admonish ourselves for desiring a clean slate or new beginnings before January 1st rolls around.
We also tell ourselves that we need to make-do with what we have, and deep down believe that we don’t deserve new clothes and certainly don’t need a new box of crayons. We convince ourselves that an old box of crayons (or scuffed shoes, or an out of style blouse) are enough, even when our favorite colors are worn down and no longer have that sharp point.
Now, kitten, I believe that you can begin fresh whenever you want. I also believe that “whenever you want” can be “right now.” I believe that you are worthy of being loved and accepted, as you are. That you deserve to wipe the slate clean and move towards something new.
Maybe it’s why I love September. Because, it’s like the very air is giving us this giant permission slip that says: it’s time to transition! It’s time to shed old ways and start fresh.
Though I am a grown-ass woman, sometimes I have to remind myself that I can grant myself this permission.
I don’t need someone else to tell me it’s okay to leave behind things that don’t work for me any longer. I don’t need an engraved invitation to dig down into my own mind and figure out what I’ve simply been tolerating, or to celebrate what I’ve accomplished. No one must write me a note to remind myself that I deserve to treat myself like an old friend, to stop tolerating things that don’t feed me, to forgive myself.
Yet, sometimes, I simply don’t. So, I talk to a good friend and get some encouragement. I ask for JB’s opinion and hear him say “Treat yourself, sweetheart. If you love it, get it.” Or I write in my journal that it’s OK.
Kitten, it’s easy for me to tell you that YOU don’t need anyone else’s permission, either.
But even though we can grant ourselves permission, sometimes we just need someone else to chime in and help remind us that we deserve to be treated kindly. That we are worthy of fresh crayons and new notebooks. That we can pursue new knowledge and let go of what isn’t working.
I’ve done that for you today. I’ve written a permission slip for you. You can download it and fill in the blanks.
Print it and linger upon it. Read it out loud. Gaze upon the words daily. Let me be the kind voice that reminds you that you are worthy. Let me help remind you that you have permission to treat today like a new beginning.
You can think of it as a new beginning, and mark today as the first day of the next phase of your life, or you can think of it as your own, personal Back to School ritual, except that the school in question is the life you want, and deserve, to live.
You can give one to your best friend, to remind her that she has permission, too.
Even better, you can print out multiple copies, to be used whenever you need a field trip (another old-school tradition), or another reminder to treat yourself kindly. You can create a new set of permissions each month, as you move forward and shed what doesn’t work and lean into what you long for.
And if you want to give yourself permission to buy a new box of crayons? Go right ahead, darling.
Today is the day you choose to create a life you love. Begin it by granting yourself permission to let go of what’s not working and move towards what your heart desires.
PS – You will need to “Save As” for the Digital Version of the Permission Slip to allow you to fill in the blanks electronically.
PSS – I’ve even included some ideas to help you fill in the blanks – and would love to hear from you other ideas for those magical spaces.