Jaclyn Humble: Hey y’all, welcome or welcome back to another episode of the Millennial Homemakers Podcast. Today we have a very exciting guest on. It’s another author. If you’ve been listening to us, you’ve seen that we’ve gotten a lot of Zondervan authors on the podcast, and we have another one today. We just love everything that they give us, and it’s been a pleasure to work with Zondervan. And, so today we have Melissa Camara Wilkins, and she wrote the book Permission Granted. And one of the most fun parts, for me personally, about working with these authors is we get advanced copies. So both Jackie and I have read this book, and we thought that it had a great message to share with our Millennial Homemakers community. Let me share a little info about Melissa and the book. Then, we’ll get to the interview. Melissa Camara Wilkins is an award-winning blogger and host of an online community that explores what it means to be who you were made to be and let go of the rest.

She and her husband have six children and live in Southern California. If that’s not something to be admired, then I don’t know what is. So you know that she has lived a lot of life and has a lot to share. So a little bit about the book itself – the title is Permission Granted: Be Who You Were Made to Be and Let Go of the Rest. You don’t have to be everything, and you actually can’t be everything. You just have to be you and live like you mean it. For everyone who feels the pressure to fit in, measure up, and get it together, this book is an invitation to soul-level simplicity. Permission Granted is a story about making life simpler by letting go of who you think you’re supposed to be and become who you really are.

Melissa Camara Wilkins gives readers permission to drop the pretenses, to trust themselves, to unmeet expectations, and to choose vulnerability. Wilkins herself chooses vulnerability, sharing her true self and offering her experiences as starting points for readers to discover the confidence and clarity that comes from allowing ourselves to be fully human – flaws and all. I enjoyed this book, and I think it’s interesting because it really takes us on a self-awareness journey, wouldn’t you say?

Jackie Alexander: I think so. And going into that, I’m going to quickly read a review, and talk about how I connected with this book.

JH: Jackie and I like to read reviews written by other people because sometimes others put it into words better than we can.

JA: This one is from Allison Fallon, who is a bestselling author and founder of Find Your Voice. And she said, “This is a book for anyone who struggles with feeling like she has to measure up, get it all together, and constantly improve herself. In sharing her story, Melissa reminds us all that you don’t have to fix yourself before you’re worthy of love and belonging.” The reason that I chose this particular review is because, and again, if you’ve been listening for a while, you know I’m an Enneagram Type 3, the Achiever. Specifically, I’m a career-oriented achiever, and I put a lot of stock in what I do for a living and what I do in my daily life. And sometimes it’s really hard to separate that from who I actually am. And when reading this book, there are so many stories that Melissa shared about her life where I thought, “Oh, I do that.” Sometimes, I think, “Okay, I did all these things today. Checkmark, I’m a good person for the day.” And that’s not really who I am. And so this book really is, like Jaclyn said, a journey of self-awareness that you are worthy of love and to find a sense of community just as you are. Even if you need to take some time and ignore the laundry for a little bit to spend time with yourself.

JH: If you’ve listened to our podcasts, then you’ve heard us talk about the Enneagram personality types. Jackie’s a three like she said, and I’m a one. Mine is Perfectionist, the Reformer, whatever name you want to give it. And, on Melissa’s website, she has a quiz that I’ll talk a little bit about with Melissa after our interview. But my quiz answer was that I was a Permission Idealist.

A lot of my decision making – because it’s all really about decision making and deciding how to spend your days and who you’re spending your day serving. You might be spending it serving yourself, serving other people, serving God – something bigger than yourself. There’s a lot of different things that you can take away from the advice that she gives. But for the Permission Idealist, it’s about living your life with a purpose and giving yourself permission to meet your own expectations and care more about that than disappointing other people. I felt like that that was interesting and that on her quiz she outlines what types of permissions you need in life based on your personality type. And something that she said in our interview is how polarizing the name of the book is and how people feel different types of ways. They, maybe like Jackie, think, “Oh, I need permission.” And then like me, I think, “I do everything with permission. So, I don’t really need permission.” And then other people think, “No one’s going to give me permission.” So different personality types will look at this book differently, and I would encourage you, no matter how that title rubs you, to give it a shot and find the advice that you can apply to your life. Maybe start living more purposeful and less people-pleasing.

Today we have an author on, and we’re going to be talking about her new book called Permission Granted. We have Melissa with us today. Thank you for being here, Melissa.

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Melissa Camara Wilkins: Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to chat.

JA: We’re so excited to have you. Let’s jump right into your book. This is your first book, right?

MCW: Yes, this is my very first book. Copies of it just arrived at my house and it’s so exciting guys. There’s like a box of books in there. They have real pages and covers and it’s just the most exciting thing.

JH: I saw you post about on Instagram. And I was like, “That would be such a cool feeling.”

JA: You’ve had copies, but now is it more real to have the actual, what’s going to be sold in your hand?

MCW: Yeah, absolutely. It’s such a funny thing. You’re writing it alone in a room for forever and ever and ever. And then suddenly it’s a real thing and it’s out there and other people can read it and it’s just a very different thing. It’s so fun.

What permission are you giving your readers?

JA: The book is called Permission Granted. And since this is your first book, why did you choose to write about this subject and what permission are you giving your readers?

MCW: This is the story of how I learned to give myself permission to be who I really am. I used to feel like I could see all the things that were expected of me. I could see all these life rules about how you’re supposed to look just right and say the right thing and not demand too much attention or energy or, you know, seem kind of low maintenance and go with the flow. And that just never worked for me. I could never do it. I couldn’t – I could see all the things, but I couldn’t do all the things. I’ve always had way too many feelings to show up as low maintenance. It just wasn’t me. And so I looked around and everybody else seemed to be able to do all these things that seemed to expected and kind of required, and I couldn’t.

So I think, “Well, everybody else can do it and I can’t do it. Everybody else is better, and I must be the worst.” That’s just math, you know? But I started to hear myself saying that over and over again. You know, even in silly things like, “I can’t find my other shoe – I’m worst of keeping track of my shoes.” Or you know, I couldn’t remember that person’s name and like, “Oh, I’m the worst at names.” But I started to notice I was really saying the same thing to myself over and over again. And I think we kind of all have this in the back of our heads. It’s maybe not the exact same words, but I think we’ve all got these stories we tell ourselves about who we are in the world.

So I was in that place of like, “I can’t get it all together. Everybody else can get it all together. I feel like I’m the worst.” I’m hearing myself say that. What do we do with all of this? Like what do you do with all that? And while I was in that space, I went to hear a girlfriend of mine speak on a stage, and she was talking about how we had to stop judging ourselves and each other. And she said, “We have to stop judging each other. We all are the way we are for a damn good reason. People are the way they are for a damn good reason.” And I thought, “She’s absolutely right. All you other people in this room, you are the way you are for a good reason.”

You are good; you are awesome how you are right now. You have to stop judging yourself. And then I realized that as she keeps talking, “Oh she thinks she means me in this group of people. That just does not sound right at all.” And I sat there, and I listened, and I listened, and I thought, “Well, okay, am I who I am for good reason? Does that all apply to me?” Because I think it applies to everybody else. It’s just, you know, it’s just me who obviously doesn’t fit this pattern. I thought, “Well, what if she’s right?” Because I was not showing up in my life as though that were true, right? I was showing up in my life as though I had to fix myself. I was spending all my energy trying to fix myself. So for me, this book is really the story of what happens if you start to believe you are the way you are for a good reason.

What happens if you give yourself permission to be that person that you really are? How does that change your relationships? How does that change how you show up in your daily life? How does that change the story you’re telling yourself about who you are and your place in the world? So that all came together for me in this book, Permission Granted. So I hope that this is a place that readers find permission to give themselves that same permission to be who they really are.

You are good. You are awesome how you are right now. Over peonies.

JH: Totally. And I just think that this is such a powerful message for women especially. Something that I was talking to a friend about the other day was that often we talk about ourselves – either in our head or out loud – we think, “I’m the worst.” And we would never say that about a friend. Just being your own friend and talking about yourself in a positive way is so important. I just liked hearing a little bit about your journey.

MCW: Oh, absolutely. Thank you. Yeah, I think that we are so hard on ourselves, and of course, we’re comparing our whole selves. We can see all the stuff going on on the inside and no matter how close we are to somebody else, we’re only seeing the outside and then what they choose to show us about the inside.

JH: So it’s the Pinterest-perfect side.

MCW: Sometimes. So it can be really hard to know this person that you are with all of this stuff going on inside, even if it feels really messy – that’s just what it is to be a person. And that is okay.

How have your traditions changed?

JH: This season on the Millennial Homemakers, we’re talking a lot about traditions. So does your family have any traditions? Have your traditions changed since you’ve given yourself permission to be who you were made to be?

MCW: I love this. When I think about traditions, I mostly think first about holidays – that’s the big place where that tends to come up. I didn’t write a lot about this in the book, but actually, that is one of the very first places that I started making changes and started experimenting with “What does it mean to really show up as the person I really am?” Because the holidays, there’s just so much coming at you. You’ve got expectations from your extended family, from your close people, from your community, your friends, maybe your neighbors. There are all these expectations about what events you’re going to go to, how you’re going to show up, what you’re going to do, how you’re going to celebrate.

For my husband and I, if we were to have kept every tradition that he grew up with and every tradition that I grew up with and every tradition that we thought might be meaningful to us, there’s just no way. There’s no way that you could fit all that in time and space. For us, for holidays, we’re celebrating for a reason, generally, right? There’s something meaningful to us about that holiday. So for me, that was one of the first places I started saying, “What really is meaningful to me and how do I want to celebrate that? What can I totally let go of?” And so we started saying to other people, “Oh, I’m so sorry we can’t attend that event.” Even though in the past, I maybe would have tried to do every single thing.

Like, I’m gonna go from here to here to here to here, and then by the end of it, I haven’t slept in three days and I’m exhausted and I’m not enjoying any of it. But we pushed through.

JA: And you have way too many cookies from cookie swaps.

MCW: Yeah, exactly. You’re going to feel miserable at the end of it – all sugared out. So yes, we really did. We started saying, “We can’t do that or that’s not going to work for us.” We started shifting around even family stuff, what we said no to, what we said yes to. And the truth is other people sometimes are disappointed. Other people do not like it when you start changing things. That was the first place I started practicing with that and seeing that it’s true that I’m going to disappoint somebody else and that feels terrible.

But the other side of it is we get to create this meaningful experience, and we get to it in a way that feels really authentic to who we are. And we get to impart that to our kids. At the end of it, we feel fulfilled. We feel like we celebrated the thing. We experienced the meaning of it. And we’re not just in that exhausted, “I need a holiday from my holiday” place at the end of all of that.

JH: Right. And then too, I feel like since you have children, it’s important that you narrowed down the traditions that you would want to be passed on too. It doesn’t get lost in just the madness, the chaos, the consumerism all things holiday. So those are the things that they’re really going to remember and carry on with their family as well.

MCW: Absolutely. Or they might choose not to. They might say, “That was part of my upbringing, and it was great for that time, but I’m not going to keep doing it.” And for me, I don’t have any investment in that. If they choose not to do things the way that I do things, that’s great because that tells me that they’re really listening to themselves and identifying what’s right for them in that season. And I think that’s fantastic. That’s the thing I really want to impart to my kids – you can be who you really are and it doesn’t have to be the same as who I am or how I show up.

JH: That’s a good point as well.

JA: Absolutely because if they see you letting go of these traditions you’ve had forever because they don’t serve a need or they don’t align with who you are, they feel more comfortable doing the same when they’re older. And they can build their own stories instead of just going off how you raised them.

JH: Starting a tradition of being nontraditional.

MCW: Or at least to be valued in our traditions, holding them loosely, and being willing to let go of what’s not really serving us anymore.

What advice to you have for anyone who realizes they’re passing the time but not filling their days with meaning?

JA: There’s a beautiful moment in your book where you talk about holding your newborn son Owen and you look at your packed calendar and realize that you’ve been passing the time but not filling your days with meaning. What advice you have to listeners who feel the same way and what changes can they make?

MCW: That was a tough transition for me because Owen is my second. So I went from having one little person to having two little people. When I had just the one, I could fill those days up on the calendar, I could strap her in the car, I would go from here to there from playgroup to the grocery store to the library to story hour to nap time to back out again. We could do all these things. And then my second baby was born and all of those things just fell right out of our days. I could not do one more thing. Like I could keep everybody alive all day long and that was it. Like that was the sum total of my capabilities at that time. So I looked at my calendar, he was about three weeks old and he was born right at the beginning of the month. So I look and there are things written in every square right up until the day he was born. And then the whole rest of the month was just empty. And I thought, “Oh, okay. So either I’ve totally lost my grip on what mattered, right? If filling up those days mattered, I’ve totally lost the plot of that or else maybe that didn’t actually matter so much in the first place.

That was what was true for me – I was filling up those days because I was afraid of holding still and what I would hear in the stillness. I was totally afraid to be alone with myself and to listen to my own voice and to hear, “Do I like my life right now? Am I happy with what I’m doing and how I’m showing up? Am I happy with these routines and rituals and later, even traditions that I’m creating right now? Does this feel good to me?” But the thing is if you just keep running, you never have to ask those questions. If you keep busy from morning until night, you never even notice what you aren’t asking. I think I’m a slow learner, and I had to have that totally ripped out from underneath me so that I could not keep running.

And I had to slow down and hear myself and let those questions come up and see what those scary questions were. Because it’s scary to think about what is it that I’m even running from? So I think that if you suspect you might be in that same place – I would tell myself I was just doing the things because that’s just what we had to do. It just came up, there’s playgroup again this week and it better go on the calendar. But if you think you might be in that place where you’re scheduling things just to schedule them without asking, “Does this really serve me or my people? Is this really the best way for me to be showing up? Is this really what I want to be doing with my days?” If you’re in that place, I think the best thing to do is to intentionally slow down.

I would say Schedule one day a week where you put nothing on the calendar. Maybe that’s Saturday and you say no to every single thing and just let yourself be alone with yourself or with whoever’s in your immediate life without bringing in all that outside distraction and noise and activity. And see what comes up. See how that feels to you. Do you love having that open space? Do you hate having that open space? What do you start to hear in that space? For me, when I had nothing on the calendar, slowly I started to realize which of those activities I missed and which ones I totally did not miss. There were things I was like, “Oh nope, that does not need to go back on the calendar” because it wasn’t bringing me anything. It wasn’t bringing me any life.

I wasn’t showing up as my best self in that place. It’s okay to just let that go. But I think we have to step before we can start seeing those patterns of what really is the right place for me to show up? What isn’t? And what do I hear in the silence?

JA: I like the idea of just starting with one day because it’s not as terrifying as cutting everything off all at once. It lets you just have a day to yourself or to your family to figure out what’s important to you.

MCW: Yeah, absolutely. And at first, that feels terrifying. It’s like, “Where are all my crutches that I like to lean on?” But if you can press through that and let yourself really get comfortable in that space and let whatever needs to come up, come up. There’s stuff that is not able to come up when we are running all day long from one thing to the next thing to the next thing. And once we can see what that stuff is, we don’t have to be afraid of it anymore. Once we hear what those questions are inside of us, then we know. We might not like the answers, but then at least we know and we get to choose what we’re going to do.

JH: I think the hustle of being busy is very glamorized. Especially because I have my own business so I feel like that side is very glamorized. Often you can be really busy, but you’re not being productive. So giving yourself time to evaluate what’s important, what’s moving your life forward, what’s being authentically you is just really important.

MCW: There are always more things to do than time in the day, right? And they are good things. There’s always more good options than we will be able to get to. So we have to be able to decide for ourselves: here’s where I’m going to draw the line and not be able to keep going at this time.

How do you learn to listen to yourself?

JH: You said that it’s important to listen to yourself, even the small stuff. How do you learn to listen to yourself? You’ve already said being alone, but sometimes I know if I do that, I might numb out by having Netflix in the background or something like that. So how do you truly listen to yourself to hear what is your voice and what isn’t? What are things that have like been expected of you or other people’s input?

MCW: I do think intentional stillness where we don’t have any of those numbing options for ourselves. Even if you just spend five minutes a day intentionally letting go of all those things and just sitting with yourself, that gives you a little bit of space to start clearing out some of those other voices. I also like to listen for “whose voice does this sound like in my head? Does this sound like me or does this sound like my third-grade teacher or the HOA president? Whose voice am I actually hearing in my head right now?” Because sometimes you’ll notice, “Oh, that scolding that’s happening back there, that’s actually coming from somewhere. That’s a habit that I got into for a reason, for a really good reason.” But you can choose to let that stuff go. I know for me also as I start to listen to myself more, I started to notice where I was giving away that power of listening to myself. Who else’s voices was I listening to? For me, one of the really big ones was experts. Any question I had about how to live my life or what was the next thing to do, or even what I need to buy, I would turn to experts. I had researched that thing and find out all the options and the pros and the cons. And the truth is like there’s a lot of wisdom out there and that can be useful to you. But I know for me, that’s a place where I am trying to park all my anxiety about making choices. So I have a choice to make and I can either listen to myself and do what I think is the right thing to do or I can ask for a whole bunch of other opinions and figure it out by outsourcing that – either to crowdsourcing by asking all my friends or researching and finding out the best opinion.

I tell this story in the book, but there was a time that my husband and I went to Ikea. We needed new pillows for our bed. Well, a bunch of other things, too. I mean, how can you get out of Ikea without a million things, but one thing in particular we needed was pillows for the bed. And I thought I knew what I wanted. I knew what size we wanted. I knew we wanted the down pillows, not the down alternative. So I go to the pillow section and I go to grab the pillow and there are three options. They had back sleeper, side sleeper, and stomach sleeper pillows. And I’m like, what do I do? Like what’s the difference between a back sleeper and a side sleeper and a stomach sleeper? Like does one of them have more feathers? Does one of them have more down? Is there an objectively right choice between these three pillows? And I’m stuck there looking at them. I’m like, “I guess I’ll have to Google the difference and find out what does this mean and which one do we really want? Which one is actually the best pillow?”

And my husband says, “Well I’m going to buy the side sleeper because I sleep on my side.” I was like, “You can do that? I can just buy what works for me? I can just do that instead of finding out which one is the objectively best pillow forever?” And you can, you actually can.

JH: I liked that story. It reminded me a lot of Jackie.

JA: It resonated with me so much. I tend to turn to experts or to my friends because it kind of takes some of the responsibility off me. So if I end up choosing the wrong thing, it’s more “Oh, well, I didn’t really choose that.” So it takes some of the pressure off.

MCW: Yeah, it really does. And I think the more I can remember that it’s actually okay to make wrong choices sometimes. Even if I bought a pillow and decided I hate this pillow, I could maybe replace the pillow and that might be okay. Not every decision has life or death consequences. It’s okay to learn stuff about myself by doing what I think is best and then discovering oops, that was maybe not the right choice. And then make another choice. And that’s okay too. And it doesn’t mean anything about me. That’s what’s so hard for me is I make it mean I’m terrible at making decisions. I don’t know how to make the right decisions. But that’s not true. It just means this thing didn’t work out and that’s okay.

JA: And I think that’s how we grow too. By learning what works for us when we’re making our own decisions instead of listening to other people’s opinions.

JH: And trusting yourself that you can make a decision and that, like Melissa said, it’s okay to be wrong sometimes. You can return a pillow.

How can we stop comparing ourselves to others on social media?

JA: You touched on this a little bit earlier, but as women, it seems like we’re always worried that someone else is judging us on our clothes, our shopping habits or even our yoga breathing.

JH: I so feel judged in yoga class, so like I get it.

JA: Do you think social media has affected the way we see ourselves and compare ourselves to others? And are there any steps that we can take as individuals to remove some of those comparisons?

MCW: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, social media is a whole new beast that we have to contend with. And yeah, I mean, even in yoga breathing. I don’t do yoga in public generally. I do yoga at home quietly in my room. But I have a girlfriend who used to teach yoga classes just for our friends. She leads these classes and I knew I wanted to go. And I knew I didn’t know how to do it. How does the class work? What are the rituals? What are the steps? And so I went and I felt like everybody else knew what they were doing and I didn’t know what I was doing. And she said at the beginning of the class, “At any time if you need to just lay down and practice your yoga breathing, that’s fine. If you need a break, just lay down.” And so we started the class and I basically immediately laid right down and realized I don’t know how to do yoga breathing. Everybody around me knows how to do this and I don’t even know how to do this.

Maybe I should have researched breathing before I showed up at yoga class. But the truth is nobody’s paying as much attention as we’re afraid that they might be. And on social media, in particular, this is so tricky because it’s all, I think it’s so much all in our heads, right? There’s a lot of internal work we can choose to do about whether we choose to compare ourselves or not. For me, the more I give myself permission to be who I really am, the easier it is for me to see that I want everybody to give themselves permission to be who they really are. I want them to be showing up as the best version of themselves. I want them to show up as their healthiest or most expansive or most authentic selves. And so when I see them on social media, I don’t want to be them.

You know, I want to be me. And so I want to be able to celebrate them for who they’re being. So I don’t necessarily follow everybody I know on social media. I don’t think you need to. I think that we sometimes have the idea that there’s a social expectation about how we use social media, but there really isn’t. We’re all making it up every day. And if you don’t want to follow people that you know in real life, that’s fine. You know them in real life. And you’ll see them in real life and that’s fine. I do follow people that I’m learning from, whether I know them or I don’t know them. So that social media is really nourishing me. That I’m getting something out of it and I’m learning from how other people are doing things or how they’re showing up or what they’re actually teaching me.

And I love to use it as a place to go and celebrate them. So I love it when I can pop on and say, “This is amazing what you’re doing. Great job. I love that new thing you’re up to. Congratulations on whatever it is.” If we can just go on and bring our own best, most secure self into it and then celebrate each other. I think that’s an amazing way to use social media where we’re not going on there for the purpose of comparing and seeing, “Do I measure up? How do I measure up?” But we’re there to try to express ourselves as best we can and to celebrate everybody else that’s doing that, too.

JH: I think you really just put into words how I feel about social media. You said that beautifully because I so feel that same way. I want people to be having a good time. So, you know, celebrate their wins. I think that’s awesome.

JA: And that’s part of the reason why we decided to do a podcast instead of like a social media account or a blog because we do a lot with hostessing and decorating, which are typically visual things. But we also understand that as people spend more time on social media, it can be hard not to compare yourself if you’re not going in with that mindset that you’re going to be celebrating instead of comparing. And so it strips that back so that way we can just have real conversations and start to, you know, let people know it’s okay if your house doesn’t look like mine because that’s you. That’s not me.

MCW: Oh that’s fantastic. And that is so wise to be so in touch with what it is you want to bring into the world and then to think about, “Okay, how best can I bring that?” Because it’s not the thing you want to bring isn’t your personal house that you want everyone else to admire and copy, but you want to bring that conversation into the world. And just what a neat thing to be able to say, “This is what I’m really doing and here’s how best I’m going to do it.”

JH: We also talk about that the picture that I posted on Instagram isn’t actually what my house looks like most of the time. That’s after I just spent an hour cleaning it or longer sometimes. So I think we just like having a conversation about these topics.

MCW: Oh, I love that.

How do your expectations of yourself differ from the world’s expectations?

JH: In the book, you said that when we’re working towards meeting someone else’s expectations instead of our own, that’s when things get complicated. So how do your expectations of yourself differ from the world’s expectations? I know that I struggled a lot with this when picking a career and I think this is an important question.

MCW: That’s a great point. When you’re picking your career, or really any life decision, I think there are so many expectations coming at us from all directions. A huge chunk of our economy in this culture is built on telling you you’re not quite enough, but here we’ll sell you a solution to make you better. So we’re getting it from media, we’re getting it from ads, we’re getting it from entertainment. Then there’s also just like social norms like here’s how it’s usually done.

Those are expectations that we absorb that no one is specifically telling you you have to do it this way. But there are like obvious paths, this is what people usually do. So there’s that kind of expectation. There are expectations of your family system that you grew up in or your community, your friends, your workplace probably has some kind of expectations. Even if you work for yourself, there’s, you know, the expectations of people you’re working with or your audience or whoever it is for you. All these people have expectations for how you’re going to show up and what choices you’re going to make and how you’re going to make life easier for them by not upsetting their expectations. Not upsetting the boat at all. So there’s all of that and you get to choose – are you going to spend your time and energy trying to meet all those expectations? The secret of that is it’s not possible. You’ll never actually be able to meet everybody’s expectations because there is an infinite number of them and there’s only one of you. And people’s expectations can change and they don’t even have to tell you, right? Lots of those expectations are unwritten and unspoken, so we don’t even know when they’re changing. So it’s not actually possible to meet everybody else’s expectations. You can try, you have that option, you totally do. Or you can choose to hear those things and say, “Thank you world for letting me know what you think. Thank you, person, for letting me know what you think by your actions or your words or whatever.” And some of those things might work for me and some of them don’t. And I get to choose how I’m going to show up. For me, when I’m noticing those expectations coming at me, I like to notice which of those things feels super draining to me. And which of those things are nourishing, which ff those things bring me life and help me show up as more fully myself because those are the things that I want to pursue. And that’s really all that I expect of myself is that I do my best to be who I really am, to listen to my inner voice, to listen to what I connect to and what helps me show up best. And then to choose to step back from the other stuff that’s just not quite right for me, that’s not the right fit for me or that drains my energy or prevents me from really being who I am in the world.

JH: Great point. I love that. You really can’t meet everybody’s expectations.

How do you balance time for yourself and time for the things that need to be done?

JA: Like you said, when you try to, you get pulled in so many different directions that you’re going to disappoint somebody, but as long as you’re not disappointing yourself, that’s the big thing. So this next question, this is something that I’m struggling with right now, so it really resonates with me. But how do you balance resting and taking the time that you need for yourself with the fact that you still need to do laundry, your kids still need to be fed and life still has to happen?

MCW: So super practically, my answer is that I do less. I go through our house regularly and get rid of stuff, anything we aren’t using, we don’t need. Anything that’s in my house I have to take care of. So the fewer things there are for me to take care of, the more energy I can give to things I really want to take care of. So I do everything a little bit less. I remember one time my sister came over to visit and walked past our laundry room and then doubled back and pulled out her phone and took a picture of the laundry waiting to be washed and sent to her friends because it was this giant, giant mountain. I mean it was maybe as tall as she was, like just towels and stuff. But you know what, we all still had clean underwear to wear, so it was fine. Like that’s okay, that can just wait. Nobody died because we hadn’t washed the towels in two weeks.

You really can do things less. I think so much of what we do is routine. And we think, “I have to get to this every single day or I have to do this thing every single week.” If we step back and skip it or decide to do everything a little bit less frequently, most of those things will be okay. Even if you do them less often or less thoroughly sometimes. Sometimes that’s okay. Sometimes you don’t have to get to inbox zero that day and everything’s going to be all right. So that’s the big thing for me is I just do less. I say “no” more than I say “yes.” I keep things off my calendar. I have less stuff in my house. I do the chores less than maybe other people would do them.

And the other thing is making sure that you are sharing whatever can be shared. I think sometimes we think, “Well, I can do this task better than anybody else in my life, so I just better do it.” But that means you’re not giving the other people in your life a chance to grow in that area. Even if that area is making the bed or whatever. If you’re always doing it, nobody else gets to learn to do it, which is an important life skill. And it also restores some of your sanity. The less that you have to keep track of all those areas. In my family, there’s me, there’s my husband, there are our six kids. So there’s a lot that’s delegated.

My kids can get their own breakfast and lunches. My teenagers can help make dinner one night a week, each of them. And my husband and I are, not constantly but very regularly, revisiting like who does what, who is in charge of what stuff, what needs to be in my brain space and what totally doesn’t need to be in my head and can be in his head or one of the kids’ heads or who’s in charge of that area for thinking about it and figuring out how to make that place work. I think that we can invest our identity in being the person who’s in charge of all the stuff and who keeps it all running smoothly. But that’s not really who you are. You are a person totally separate from your household and totally separate from your work and totally separate from how things run in your life.

And if something falls apart a little bit while you’re trying to figure it out – if I don’t do my laundry and it makes a giant mountain – that doesn’t mean anything about who you are underneath all of that stuff, who you are inside does not change. You cannot be loved any less because you didn’t do laundry for a week. It just doesn’t change. So I think honestly letting go of some of that stuff and experimenting is really, really healthy because it means we have to disassociate our identity from our productivity and all those places.

JA: We start every year in the podcast with our new year’s resolutions and one of mine this year was to be present. And one of the ways I was going to do that is to purge because it’s so easy to accumulate all that stuff. And like you said, the more stuff you have, the more you have to take care of and then you feel like you have to take care of it instead of just being there with the people around you.

MCW: Yeah, absolutely.

What advice do you have for anyone ready to give themselves permission to be themselves?

JH: So now that we know how to listen to our inner voice, give up expectations, do all of these things in your book, what advice do you have for people listening who are ready to give themselves permission to be themselves? And obviously I would say number one: buy this book. Jackie and I both really enjoyed it. We got our advanced copies. We were so thrilled when they came in the mail. Every single time, I feel like I have a secret like Zondervan is telling me a secret and now we get to share it with everybody.

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MCW: That’s so fun. Okay, so I’m gonna second that. Yes, definitely. First, get the book and come visit me on the internet, too – melissacamarawilkins.com. I have all kinds of tools and resources for exactly that, for giving yourself permission to be who you are. But assuming you’re going to do those things because you know, we assume you are. What could you do other than that right now, today for yourself? I think the first step really is to start listening to yourself. And I mean two different things by that. First I mean, I want you to start listening for what’s going on inside you. What are those questions that you’ve been avoiding with all the busy-ness or by meeting everyone else’s expectations? What are the things that come up for you when you get quiet and can hear yourself again?

But then I also mean listen to yourself by actually acting on what you’re hearing. The more that you do what you are telling yourself to do, the more you get to trust yourself. So if somebody says, “This is what I need from you, like I need you to show up at this event,” and my gut is saying “That’s not for me.” That is not the right thing for me to do and my anxiety is coming up, and I’m like this is not a good fit. This is not right for me. If I do it anyway, I’m telling myself that I don’t listen to myself. I’m telling that inner voice, “You’re going to be ignored,” and it gets quieter. If instead, I say, “You know what, thank you so much for that invitation. I’m not going to be able to do that.”

I’m honoring what I’m hearing from myself rather than what I’m hearing from that outside source. And I’m telling myself, I trust that inner voice and I’m telling that inner voice, “I can be trusted to listen to you.” And that voice then tends to get a little bit stronger. So I think there’s both making space to hear yourself at all, but then there’s also choosing to follow through and act on what you’re hearing and cut back where you need to cut back or step into new places that feel a little bit scary or a little bit adventurous to step into because they’re new to you, but they feel right to you. And I think that doing those two things together is a great way to start practicing giving yourself permission to be who you really are in the world.

JH: You have a quiz that I took. I’m trying to find my results, but I think I have to take it again. Will the permission personality quiz stay up?

MCW: Yes, it’s on the website. If you go to permissiongrantedbook.com, you can find it from there too.

JH: That was a really good quiz. It really spoke to me. Jackie, you need to take it. I don’t know if I texted you that I took it earlier.

JA: I don’t think so. I’ll probably take it as soon as we get off.

How can people connect with you off the air?

JH: Melissa, can you tell our listeners how to get your book. Is it available everywhere and also where to find you off the air?

MCW: Visit me at melissacamarawilkins.com. That’s my website and home of all the things and there are links to all the social media there. Or permissiongrantedbook.com is maybe a little easier to spell. And so that will also take you right to the same stuff. Instagram is where I hang out the most often and it’s where you can find links to any of the websites. But it’s @alsomelissa because there’s all this stuff in my life, but then there’s also me. So that’s, that’s where I am. And the permission personality quiz is so fun because as I was putting the book together and doing some research on personality types, which is just super interesting to me, I discovered that different personality types interact with the concept of permission in totally different ways.

As I was starting to talk about the book and say to people, “Oh, it’s called Permission Granted. It’s about giving yourself permission to be who you really are.” There were some very distinct reactions that I got where some people were like, “That’s so hard for me. I can’t do that.” And other people were like, “I totally give myself permission.” There are about four different reactions. And so we put together this personality quiz to help you figure out what is your reaction to permission? How do you interact with it? Do you give yourself permission to be who you really are? Where do you get stuck? And how can I help you to get past some of those little stuck points? Because we do tend to get stuck in really predictable places depending on our personality. So that was super fun to put together. And that’s available on the website too.

JH: I really enjoyed it and it totally nailed me.

JA: I’m definitely going to have to take this.

JH: Yea, you need to take it, so we can exchange notes. Jackie and I have different personalities – same name, different personalities. Melissa, thank you so much. We appreciate you coming on and good luck with the rest of the launch.

MCW: Thanks for having me. This has been so fun.

JA: Oh, thank you so much. We greatly enjoyed it.

JH: You can follow us @themillennialhomemakers if you want to stay in touch with us. Or you can follow me individually @jaclynhumble. You can follow Jackie @jvalexander. We love Instagram – we basically live there online. We would also love for you to join our Facebook group, The Millennial Homemakers. Hope that y’all have a great week, and we will talk to you later.