Flowers – and Permission Slips – for a Virtual Friend

Years before Carol and I dreamed of starting a blog, a colleague got me hooked on “French Word-A-Day,” which is a thrice-weekly blog written by an American woman who married a Frenchman who owns and runs a vineyard in Provence.

Like thousands of other readers, I quickly felt connected to the blog’s author, Kristin Espinasse, and her vignettes about life as an expatriate trying to master French language and customs.

She and I have a bit in common: We both studied French in college, spent junior year abroad and fell in love with French culture. Now married to hyper-driven men, we are both trying to work as writers while managing hectic households and raising teenagers.

Apart from those similarities, I’m a bit envious that Kristin’s dream came to fruition; the man I dated in France was not meant to be a life partner and the man who’s my life partner was not destined to live in France.

Recently, my “cyber friend” Kristin hinted that a major change would soon impact her family. Readers started submitting guesses, such as: another baby, a new dog, a book or movie deal, a move to Mexico or the sale of the vineyard (Domaine Rouge-Bleu). She told us the news would emerge in late August.

And then, last week Kristin wrote a heart-wrenching post entitled “Larme” (for teardrop), in which she noted that the upcoming change “has thrown me off course.” She wrote that it was increasingly harder to find the motivation to write her blog, and that day, when she finally sat down at the computer, tears had begun to flow.

She courageously asked her readers if she should change the frequency of the blog posts from thrice weekly to once, or perhaps even less.

What followed were hundreds of responses from Kristin’s loyal readers, most concerned about her tears and her general state of mind.

As I read through the comments, it dawned on me that the struggles women face are universal, and that Carol and my blog concept, “Permission Slips,” is truly on the mark.

In our blog (and our book proposal) we stress that women need to give themselves – and their friends – permission to give themselves breaks, to jump off the treadmill, to let some of the spinning plates drop, to follow their own guiding lights.

We all spend too much energy trying to please our partners, our kids, our employers, our communities, our friends and even our in-laws, and somewhere along the way, we forget to take care of ourselves.

While specifically written for Kristin, the “French Word-A-Day” comments provide advice we could all heed: forget about doing for others for a moment, and remember to look after you. Just “listen” to a few of them:

1. Give it a Rest
[Give] yourself permission to slow down and rest — to absorb whatever change is coming in your life as it unfolds. – Ophelia

Rest. Take it easy. Watch a few silly movies. Go for a few long walks…Let someone else nurture you for a while…and you will see the sun shine again when you are ready. – Angelique

2. Take Care of You
There are times in life when we need a sabbatical to recharge and rejuvenate our lives…lest we crash and burn… We all need to take the time to take care of ourselves if we want to remain happy and productive. – Vicki

Wander around the nature about you… Little gifts are all about you and it is now time for you ~ just you.
Give yourself a special present of going somewhere beautiful and soak it all in and rejuvenate your soul.– Millissa

3. Please Yourself
Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself to please [your readers]. – Lesley

Don’t be pressured to move at someone else’s pace. Don’t let your groove become a rut. – Amanda

I [recently] realized how much pressure I had put myself under… I wanted to be the perfect wife, mother, friend, worker. When I first retired…I spent time focusing on only me. [I realized] I had always put myself last before… Allow yourself time to breathe and enjoy some new activities too, rest, look after yourself, release some of the constant writing pressure. – Lin

4. Make Your Own Rules
Life often gives us too many rules. It’s time for you to set some for yourself. – Paulette

‘Rules’ and discipline that come from the outside…can seem oppressive. Or itch like an ill-fitting suit of clothes… You have the wisdom to choose what is best for YOU if you listen to the thrum of your heart. – Linda From New York

5. Don’t Feel Pressured for Perfection
Please, don’t feel like you have to have a masterpiece in order to post. – Leslie in Portland

6. It’s Your Party; Cry If You Want To
Whatever you are grieving… let the tears come. Tears are so healing… Allow [yourself] to feel the feelings. – Nancy in Ft. Worth

Be kind to yourself, cry when needed, get out in nature. – Dana

7. Give Yourself Permission to Be Yourself
Give yourself permission to write when you want. - Laurel

If you really want to stay in bed all day and read and eat bon-bons, then do so. Do it for you. – Joie

YOU will have to give yourself whatever permission you seek.
Think of how this would all look from 30,000 ft. “Is she in bed or doing her blog? Are the people in that house even home? What people? You see a house? I just see the hills and valleys.”
The intricacies of our lives matter so much to us, but step back and you’ll see the world rolling on, “the benign indifference of the universe”. – Martine NYC

So, dear reader, make a special effort to take care of yourself today. You deserve it.

-       Linda Williams Rorem, 27 Aug. 2012
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  1. Cami Gordon says:

    Hi! Please change my email address to:

  2. Carrie Lovsted says:

    Thanks Linda, I needed to hear “take a day off” and “take care of myself” today! Sometimes I just need permission in the midst of a crazy life with kids!! Carrie

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