The Rubber Stamp of Approval is Sitting on Your Desk

Today I am posting my contribution to the Courage to Fly Blog Hop, an amazing blog hop I’ve gotten to participate in over the last 6 weeks.  Stephey hosts a dang fine blog hop — I loved her prompts!  And I have loved reading the responses to those prompts from the 37 wonderful women who have had the courage to fly on this blog hop.

Here is the question I am answering today:

What’s one thing you need now in your life that upon receiving it would allow you to take to the skies?

I usually cycle between feeling like I need more money, time, or talent to break free.  The feeling of lack in one of those areas is so ingrained that I don’t even notice it much.  It’s an easy, automatic explanation as to why someone else can do it, but I can’t.

But when I question myself and dig a little deeper, I find over and over again that the real thing that so often is holding me back is that I haven’t given myself permission — permission to go for it, permission to fail trying, permission to succeed with flying colors.

It’s a lack of permission that seems to limit the heights to which I fly.

And if I am not waiting around for the day when I will have more time, money, or talent, I am usually waiting for someone else to give me permission.  But real permission is an inside-job, and in these amazing times that we are living in, I think this is an even more important point to understand than ever before.

Let me explain a little bit.  It’s 2011.  A lot of people don’t realize it yet, but the gatekeepers are gone.*

You want to offer your art to the world?  Sell art.  Sell art to people in Europe, Australia, the East Coast, and the West Coast.  Countless online shops will have opened in the time it takes you to read this.  You don’t need a gallery owner to give you the rubber stamp of approval anymore, you just need to give it to yourself.

The game has changed  — writers are publishing and selling their own eBooks, services are offered and paid for via websites and PayPal, classes are taught to students who will never meet their teacher in person.

It’s 2011 and the gatekeepers are gone. It’s like an electric fence that is no longer charged.  It’s not obvious, and it takes a little while to figure it out, but the barriers that were once there – publishing companies, gallery owners, credential and degree requirements, brick and mortar limitations, geographic limitations, credit card processing limitations, etc., etc.,  have slowly receded.

But what I’ve noticed for myself, is that as the barriers of access to the playing field recede, the real barriers come into focus all the more clearly.

And you wanna know what two of my big, real barriers are?

Fear and resistance.

The fence is down — I can venture out there into the wilds and give it a go — I can take to the skies and fly.  But will I make it?  Will I get my ass kicked?  Will I make a mistake?  Be embarrassed or humiliated?  Have to realize I am not good enough?

Okay, now we’re talking to the real gate keeper — the one inside our head that tries to keep us safe by telling us a litany of negative things that might happen to us if we take the risk and go where only rubber-stamped people ventured forth before.  That’s the real fence, the real barrier, isn’t it?   It’s not out there and it’s certainly not more money, time, or talent that we need. 

We need to give ourselves our own rubber stamps of approval to go for it, and back ourselves up as allies on our own adventures.

Want to be an artist?  Start creating art.  A writer?  Start writing.  An online administrative assistant?  Start online administrative assistancing :)

Yes, there are other obstacles – the business ones, the marketing ones, the technical-nitty-gritty ones, but for me, I’ve found that those aren’t nearly as limiting as my own inner beliefs.

One case in point is 5 years ago when I wanted to learn how to surf.  I looked longingly at the people out there surfing.  They didn’t look like me.  For one, they could stand up on boards, but for another thing, they were younger, more fit, and mostly male.  And did I mention they could stand up on a surf board and look really cool doing it?

I was a 30 years old girl — way too old to be a beginner surfer and totally the wrong gender.  And I didn’t know anyone in town.  And I didn’t grow up by the beach.  And I probably was just physically incapable of learning such a thing.

It was the old money-time-talent barrier genie, with a few extras thrown in.

But I talked to the genie and questioned.  Are there really police in the water that arrest 30 year old women who are trying to learn how to surf?  What’s the worst that could happen?

I could get yelled at.


I could look like the biggest dork that ever tried to surf in the entire history of Santa Barbara County.


I could die.

Hmmm, that’s pretty heavy, but, um, excuse me, but didn’t you just roll up in a large, metal contraption that lots of people die in everyday?


Okay, now we’re getting somewhere.

I decided to take a baby step and give myself the inner rubber stamp of approval I needed to take a surfing lesson.

And surprisingly, no one arrested me for being a 30 year old beginner surfer with a pink foam board who had no clue what she was doing.  And I did get yelled at — but it didn’t kill me, only caused me to shed a few tears (okay, a lot of tears, but I survived!).  And I haven’t died  — not yet — but they tell me there’s no getting out of this world alive, so I may as well learn to surf while I’m in it.

Oh yeah, and the little part about not knowing anyone in town to surf with — it’s 2011 and the gatekeepers are gone, remember?  I used the power of the group section on Craigslist to find other people who were in my same boat — female beginner surfers — and we surfed together, had a bunch of fun,  and amazingly, a ton of us learned how to surf!  (Yeah, it’s 2011, you can form your own mature-beginner-female-surf-club — it’s amazing!)

In so many ways, the gatekeepers are gone.  Except for the one in my head.  I will keep having chats with that guy from here on out, but the beautiful thing is that when I realize who it really is that I need to get permission from,  then I can also realize that I’ve got that decision maker’s direct line and go straight to the heavyweight at top.

So, to make a long story short (or to make a short answer long), the one thing that I need most to be able to take to the skies and fly is something I can give to myself if I have a mind to do so, and that’s permission.

And today I am handing you the rubber stamp of approval (and it comes with the permission-fairy at the top of this post!).  Use it to give yourself the rubber stamp of approval to do whatever it is you’ve been sitting on until you have more money, time, talent or [fill in the blank].

It’s 2011, the time is now!  It’s time to let those dreams fly!

* I first heard this sentiment articulated and expressed in this way by Marisa Haedike, an artist who exemplifies what can be done when you realize that the gatekeepers really are gone and give yourself permission! :)

** The photo used for the permission fairy was sourced from the Graphics Fairy. Thank you Graphics Fairy!

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20 responses to “The Rubber Stamp of Approval is Sitting on Your Desk”

  1. deb taylor

    this post ROCKS MY WORLD!! Fantastic…I want to drink in every word…I will re-read again and again! ~flap flap~

  2. stephey

    I just can’t express it enough, (well i can, but then i risk appearing like a dork and one who frequently indulges in love fests, but in this case, oh well) how i absolutely love your writing style and insights and how free you are in expressing your heart! Love Fest 2011: LOVE THIS POST!

    I’m sure I’ll be referring and linking to it galore! How can you not? What you’ve touched on is so universal, that inner critic, gatekeeper – whatever – that is looking for the go ahead. I often find myself checking the mail, checking email, waiting for a call, from i don’t know where but I am anticipating something, news and it’s good news, an opportunity, something compels me to stand alert and keeps me entertaining the energy of anticipation. You know what it is? It’s my spirit waiting for that inner seal of approval to go and do and fly! This post really hit home to that part of me, an inner part, seeking the go ahead, waiting for that stamp of approval. When I catch myself doing it again, which i anticipate will happen :) I’m going to take it as a prompt to check in to those inner domains and see what’s asking for the go ahead and then give it a go!

    Thank you for adding this message and your voice to our blog hop – we are soaring now!
    xox stephey

  3. *Kristen*

    deb taylor » Hey Deb – the feeling is mutual – I loved your contribution to this blog hop so much!

  4. *Kristen*

    stephey » Hey Stephey -> much much love right back at you! You created an AMAZING blog hop. Woo hooooo!!!!! So honored to be a part of it! You rock, girl! xoxoxoxo

  5. tracey

    Holy smokes-I’ve been looking everywhere for this *bleeping* stamp. I’m so glad I found it, I mean you. And your post. It’s just brilliant and inspiring and full of wonderful, wonderful things worth remembering…especially that the gatekeepers are GONE.

    Thank you a million times over for this.

  6. Alexis Yael

    WOOOHOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!! This piece rocks my socks right off! The external gatekeeper really is gone… but that internal one is still standing, for some (all?) of us. We internalize the gatekeeper because of fear, but we do not have to let that fear stand in our way! I think baby steps are a wonderful way to start. <3

    And whoa, synchronicity: I have always wanted to surf, but I grew up in Northern California, and the water is freezing! I HATE the cold! (I have Reynaud's, so my hands feel awful when they're exposed to it. A wetsuit would help my body, but not my hands. And I didn't know about neoprene gloves.) Now I live in New Jersey, I'm not sure if the Atlantic gets warm enough for me to surf/ swim in… because the only time I've been was at the end of last summer (too cold!) but I will look into it (and into the gloves)! I actually put a bunch of surf memoirs on my amazon wishlist two weeks ago!

  7. Dawn

    WOW! Kristin your post is so moving and really truly INSPIRING! I’m so thankful that Deb led me here.


    Thank you very much for sharing this.

  8. Brandi

    Beautiful, absolutely beautiful! Rock on!

  9. Deanna

    Are you inside my head?

    I was just talking last night with a friend about what I have been putting off. I have good stuff in my head and I have no particular reason for putting them off … except for good ‘ole Fear and Resistance.

    I need to rethink the rest of my week and the upcoming weekend.

    So so close to home, *thank you*

  10. terri st. cloud

    just loved this! the whole permission theme is a nice new twist for me.
    gonna play with it for sure!
    thanks so much……

  11. sonya

    awesome post … reminds me of this awesome guy!

  12. Stacie

    Kristen, amazing and right on target. You hit the nail on the head with the permission stamp! Thanks so much for giving to me :)

  13. Amanda Davis

    Kristeeeeen ( I was singing that)… this was such an amazing pooooooooost!

    I totally agree that we sometimes hold ourselves back as a means of what? Self preservation? I think that is is ABSOAMAZING that you joined a womens group for surfing, all on your own, and prob made some great friends in the process…

    WOOT WOOT, I am not going to be afraid to do something that I want to do based on something silly like dying! (ie my dream of skydiving!)… thanks for the push out of the plane Kristen!

  14. Katie

    Wow a truely inspiring post. I’ve never really thought of all the different ways it is so much easier to be an artist, crafter etc & it is so true, we live in an amazing era- just have to make the most of it.
    Thanks for sharing your very motivating thoughts and good on you for taking up surfing.
    xo Katie of Sweet Rustic

  15. bonitarose

    thank you for this, I loved reading this.. we all need to believe in ourselves more! xo hugs

  16. *Kristen*

    Alexis Yael » Oh girl – you gotta take a surfing lesson! :) A wetsuit will help a lot, and gloves will definitely help, too. Even if you just take one lesson in your life, you gotta do it if you’ve always wanted to surf. If you can vacation at a warm water place that offers surf lessons, that would be great, too. You never know what it might lead to. I started with learning to snowboard, and then the snow melted and I needed something else to do, so I tried surfing. Who knows, maybe your surfing lesson will lead to snowboarding :) You can do it!


  17. Laura

    Awesome share! Thanks for encouraging us to “dive in” to our dreams!

  18. Marisa and Creative Thursday

    omg Kristen! this is a fantastic article. One of the best I’ve ever read on this subject! You’ve re-inspired, and reminded me of what I shared with you AND I want to come learn to surf with you :)

  19. Andi Schroeder

    Wow Kristen! FAntastic blog. Love the analogy to a gatekeeper. I can so relate. Whose permission are we waiting for? All we need is our own. Good stuff. Thanks for sharing.

  20. *Kristen*

    Marisa and Creative Thursday » Awww, thanks so much Marisa, and I’d love to surf with you any time :) Actually, in year 5 of surfing I am battling some comparing, not good enough, never will be good enough demons that I am trying to work through. A friend recommended the Inner Game of Skiing which I am reading and LOVING!!! So much there can be applied to the crud faced while one is working their way of the learning curve of surfing. I am looking forward to applying it to surfing and other areas of my life :)