Live Well

Give Yourself Permission To Be

November and December are a season of giving and receiving. A season surrounded by a flurry of activities and busy-ness. Portico invites you to give yourself permission to be — to know that whether you have it all together or are barely hanging on, you are beloved and held in God’s hands.

Like all habits, it takes time to let go and identify new steps toward living well. Over four weeks, these Small Steps from Deacon Tammy Devine guide you through the following practices — Noticing, Intention, Presence, Peace — to help you “NIPP” the holiday stress and let your light shine.

Week One: Noticing

In the rush from one thing to another, rarely do we pause and notice. This week, begin a silence practice. Consider when and where you will practice. Set a peaceful alarm to remind you when it’s time to begin. For one minute, sit in a quiet place and simply be. Allow your thoughts to come and go, acknowledge them as they come, and gently release them. This practice encourages you to be in touch with your inner self, which is a practice that goes by the wayside when we’re busy in our daily exchange of giving and doing. Tip: For a longer practice, try this 9-minute Quieting Your Body guided meditation.

Ask yourself or journal:

  • After my minute of silence, what did I hear, see, smell, taste?
  • What emotions did I feel?


Week Two: Intention

Building on your noticing, this week set an intention. Consider what prevents you from being your best self. In what area do you desire change? For example, maybe you desire to slow your pace, or start your day with prayer. Reflect on what gets in the way of that desire. It may be a thought process, a habit, or a family belief. Design your intention with clear small steps.

Ask yourself or journal:

  • My path forward is…
  • The steps I will take to get there are…
  • I might need to let go of…
  • What obstacles might I encounter?
  • Who will support me?

Give Yourself Permission to Be Presence

Week Three: Presence

Take note of when you feel focused and most mindful or self-compassionate. Attend to those times that are more challenging. Offer yourself grace. Stop and notice, practice a minute of silence. Remind yourself of your intention and allow thoughts that draw you into the past or future to float away. The present is a gift. Practice being present.

Ask yourself or journal:

  • When I stopped, what did I notice?
  • What surprised me in my noticing was…
  • I felt gratitude in _______ part of my body.


Week Four: Peace

This is a season that too often finds us out of breath, stressed, and robbed of peace. Over the past three weeks you have been invited to notice, set an intention, and practice being present. Giving yourself permission to be requires ongoing commitment. Continue to deepen your practices this week, so you can experience greater peace within, around, and flowing through you.

Ask yourself or journal:

  • What helps me find peace within?
  • Thoughts of ______________ hold me hostage, preventing me from finding peace within.
  • How will I share peace with those around me?
  • Where in my body do I feel peace?

Deacon Tammy L. Devine

Deacon Tammy L. Devine

Tammy shares her passion for health, healing, and wholeness through consulting, coaching, and retreat facilitation. As an ELCA deacon, registered nurse, parish nurse/coordinator, and ICF certified coach, she collaborates with faith and thought leaders to facilitate personal and communal growth toward living and leading well. Contact her to learn more.

Motivated to do more?

Use a mantra to center yourself:

  • A mantra is a repeated word, phrase, or piece of scripture that helps you keep your attention focused.
  • Examples: “Inhale goodness, exhale anxiety;” “Beloved be, rest in me;” “Be still and know that I am God.”

Practice self-compassion to help “NIPP” the holiday stress:

  • Go for a walk outdoors
  • Smile in the mirror
  • Hug yourself
  • Hum a favorite seasonal song
  • Give your whole body a shake to reset and relax — think “hokey pokey”
  • Breathe in for seven counts, hold your breath for seven counts, and exhale over the course of seven counts
  • Eat a mindful meal
  • Laugh — even when it’s not funny, your body benefits

Weave the “NIPP” practices into Advent worship:

  • Noticing: Read Matthew 7:3. Sing “Come, Bring Your Burdens to God (Woza nomthwalo wakho)” (All Creation Sings 1009). As you spend this week noticing, attend to those times when you may be critical of others. Pause and remember how little we know of others’ circumstances. We can only change ourselves and our reactions to others.
  • Intention: Read Isaiah 46:8-11. Sing “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” (ELW 254). This week’s invitation is to listen deeply. Consider where and when you will pause, reflect, and listen. After a period of listening — name your intention.
  • Presence: Read 1 Timothy 4:11-16. Sing “Spirit, Open My Heart” (All Creation Sings 1043). Consider how practicing presence supports your life of witness to God’s love. Who longs for you to be present? How might you be present for that person?
  • Peace: Read Isaiah 55:1-9. Sing “In the Peace of God, Find Rest” (All Creation Sings 1029). Slow down, listen to yourself, one another, and God. Let go of all that distracts you from knowing deep within you God’s abundant love. Be at peace.
  • Pray Joyce Rupp’s “A Prayer for Openness”, from “Open the Door.”

This information should not be considered or used as a substitute for professional health care advice. By providing this information, Portico Benefit Services is not providing any medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Each individual is responsible for his or her own health and medical treatment decisions. You should talk with your doctor to determine the lifestyle changes and health care treatment options appropriate for you.