As a creative director, my husband has an eye for details and when things are out of place, he gets a bit fanatical.

He knows if a font is incorrect or if Jay-Z has sampled a blues song from the 50’s or if you added Marmite to the chili recipe. Details are his thing (except for the mundane things in the house that he claims I move just so he will have to ask me where they are now – P.S. I DON’T move things, I just put them in their proper place).

And at the top of his ‘I’m so annoyed they got that wrong’ list is when a logo is altered. I probably couldn’t spot the mistake with high-strength readers but he sees them like he just recovered from Lasik with perfect vision. Please don’t shrink, stretch, or adjust the color to fit your t-shirt/banner/car decal. Please don’t. You are shaving years off his life. The sacrilege.

Of major concern recently is the misalignment of the Tennessee state stars. There is a proper placement of the three stars from the state flag representing the three distinct regions of Tennessee and many folks are taking liberties with their car decals and t-shirt designs (die-hard flag enthusiasts are quite disappointed in the Nashville Predators and the NFL’s Titans for their mishandling of the precious stars as well – it’s rampant, people). There’s even a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram to make examples of the offenders – #tristartrouble.

While my untrained eye certainly couldn’t spot these atrocities without my hubby’s indignant rants and occasional photos via text, I do understand the desire to follow tradition and what is deemed ‘correct’. As two first-born children, rules are important to both of us. If we are told to follow a certain guideline or plan, we comply. We are card-carrying rule followers. Comply and stay in your lane at all costs.

But as I have gotten older I have learned to think more about intentions rather than results.

If you place a sticker on your car or wear a homemade t-shirt that has the TN stars upside down, are you doing it wrong? Are your stars actually saying you don’t love Tennessee? Should we send the cavalry to revoke your state membership? Likely not, although my husband would probably lead the charge.

I feel pretty certain that all these folks are proud of Tennessee and they are trying to convey their support for a state that is known for Dolly Parton and Elvis, for the Smokey Mountains and Smokey the Vol dog, for Moon Pies and hot chicken.

Before I knew the ‘right way’, I was probably sitting behind you in Nashville traffic thinking that stars stacked with one resting above the other two was just fine… it looked alright to me. So if you love this long rectangular landmass that touches eight other states and takes most of the available daylight hours to cross from East to West, you should give yourself permission to get it wrong. Turn those stars anyway you like.

Permission is a tricky thing.

We think others will be the ones to dole it out, especially those we see as authority figures or whom we hold in high regard but as long as you know your intentions then you get to assign the permission levels.

It’s a hard lesson to learn and an even harder one to put into practice. For me, it is the one thing that kept me from being vulnerable and telling others that I wasn’t living my life the way I envisioned it. I couldn’t give myself the permission to even say it out loud. It felt selfish.

But over time the voice in my head got so demanding that I am pretty sure some savage gave her a megaphone and I begged for mercy – ‘please pipe down for just a bit so I can hear myself think’. The thoughts could no longer be contained so I set out in search of permission.

First up – husband.

I treaded slowly into the permission conversation. What if the thing I thought was right now felt wrong and I wanted to make a change but unlike every other instance in our adult life and marriage, I didn’t have a confident answer. I tried to devise a plan for what would be next – the perfect solution – but I wasn’t assured any of them would actually work.

Dear Husband, do I have permission to possibly (likely) screw up our future because I don’t want to get on a plane every week?

Husband answers ‘YES, I support your decision’. I am unsure if that is really permission. Maybe its just love. I don’t think I have permission to possibly (likely) screw up our lives.

Move on.

Dear Mama, Remember when you told me it would go by so fast and to savor every moment with the kids? Remember when you built your business and I told you I wanted to be a strong woman just like you? How do I balance the two sides of my life? If I think I am getting it wrong, should I make a change?

Mama answers ‘YES make a change’. I am unsure if that is really permission. She has always thought I could do anything. She’s probably biased and can’t see the cavern I will possibly (likely) fall into if I am reckless.

Move on.

Dear Friend, If you were in my shoes and you had this really loud, nagging voice telling you to put on your big girl panties and give your life an adjustment, would you do it?

Friend answers ‘YES, the waist band has your name stitched in it’. That doesn’t quite sound like permission. Maybe my friend’s just being supportive so she can go back to her own life. We are all busy and my problems are possibly (likely) a burden she doesn’t need to take on.

So I waited for permission from someone, anyone, the universe possibly.  

The internal megaphone voice remained the entire time until one day I could no longer ignore it. Relentlessly, I was called to the carpet and I had to face my voice and myself. I was the only one that could give the permission I sought and I was reluctant to hand it over.

In the end, the permission slip came in the form of ‘YES, you will possibly (likely) get it wrong but you will be leading and not following. You will be loved and supported and held up by your people and you will be fine – possibly even fantastic. You have permission to move. Take a step in a new direction and enjoy the journey.’

When you know that you need to be in your nest, with your people, in your state, you can handle any Tristar Trouble. You have permission to align your stars anyway that aligns with your intentions and not worry about the results.

Permission has been granted.

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