Rip off the mask, tear down the walls. Show the world my beautiful, vulnerable self!

Our Flag Has Lost Its True Significance

Disrespected Flag

Photo-openDemocracy via Flikr

From my viewpoint, the grand, old flag has been saddled with implications ill-suited to her elevated position in the world. She’s become akin to the dowager who eschews all rules, to become as uncouth, disreputable, and ill-mannered as possible, without caring who she hurts, maligns, or bulldozes out of her way in the process. No longer does she stand for “liberty, and justice for all” (if she ever really did). Instead, she’s become a symbol for hatred, racism, exclusion, and justifiable homicide based on gender, race, and religion, all in the name of entitlement.

It’s used (or more accurately, abused) by wannabe rich, white men who think with their balls, and their frozen-in-time, pre-sixth-grade mindsets instead of their hearts, open minds, and inclusiveness. Most who attach it via specially made bracket to their gas-guzzling, “made in ‘merica” pickup trucks wouldn’t know how to exercise critical thinking if it pistol-whipped them with an AK-47.

What baffles me most is the women who support the concept of a male-dominated society where women are once-again relegated to the position of property rather than partners who work together to make a better world for all. I’m not sure I even want to know what kind of brainwashing they were subjected to.

A Symbol of Hate, Not Hope

Is it any wonder I now cringe at the sight of a flag being flown from a vehicle, or someone’s home? Or that I’m baffled by those who scream about the flag being disrespected, when the mere fact they fly it from a vehicle going 70 or 80 MPH down the freeway, or 24/7 from a house with no lighting at night, or protection during adverse weather are actual acts of disrespect? There are specific requirements and instructions in the American Flag Code for disposing of a damaged flag, for heaven’s sake. To whit:

According to the U.S. Flag Code, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning”.

Furthermore, the Department of Veteran’s Affairs States:

flags that display tears or appear worn down in a significant way should not be hoisted under any circumstances.

If you ask me, frayed edges, and rips between the stripes would be considered significantly worn. Displaying a flag in such a way as to incur damage every day from the elements, or the environment would be willfully destroying a flag, and NOT in a dignified way.

Agreement Isn’t Necessary for Respect

Agree to Disagree

Photo-Andreas Hierling via Flikr

I know there are plenty of people out there who still display the flag respectfully, and treat it with the dignity it deserves. Who also continue to honor human dignity, common decency, and inclusion. I doubt they’re the ones storming the Capitol, or bitching about their rights when asked to wear a mask to protect their own health and the health of others. That’s not to say they don’t quietly protest what they disagree with, but they’re not abusing other people in the process. And they’re not using the American Flag as a symbol of their not-so-silent resistance.

I struggle as much as the next person to be as kind and compassionate as I wish to be. But I am less compassionate and considerate when someone insists they’re more equal than me, or anyone else, and that they have right to decide what they can and cannot do with their body, but also to dictate what a particular group (namely women) can do with theirs.

As a suicide survivor who’s had years to process 2 suicide losses, I even believe you have the right to decide when you’re done living, as long as the ending you choose doesn’t involve taking a bunch of people out with you, thereby denying them the same choice.

Come Together, or Fall Apart

Suppression

Photo credit-AЯMEN via Flikr

In recent years, I’ve seen too many instances where the flag is used as a symbol for those who believe in all manner of gross inequities as long as they, themselves can have and do whatever they please. I’m watching and waiting for things to explode, or more likely, implode when it becomes abundantly clear that without cooperation, compassion, and compromise, no society will survive.

You can never please 100% of the people, even 10% of the time, much less 100%. Insisting one group has more rights than anyone else (and no responsibilities to boot!) is the surest way I’ve seen to kill a society from the inside out. In a world gone global, you can be sure there are plenty of vultures sitting on our borders waiting for the right moment to start picking the bones clean, and further desecrating our flag.

Fortunately, I truly believe there are more of us who honor and respect the symbolism of the flag, the concept of liberty and justice for all, regardless of ANY differences, and who are already seeking ways to detoxify our flag and all it stands for.

Still Time to Save Ourselves…I Hope

Pressure Cooker

Photo-FoodCraftLab via Flikr

It won’t happen overnight. Our flag and what it stands for have been soaking in a pit of raw sewage for longer than has been made obvious of late. We have some serious cleanup to do; to our actions, to our image, and for our citizens. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be neat, because the necessary purge will likely leave all of us wanting in some way for awhile, until we’ve torn away all the rotten wood, burned it along with those aforementioned damaged flags, and had the chance to rebuild on a stronger, kinder foundation, with cleaner, greener materials.

The rumblings have been building for a long time. If Nature herself doesn’t manage to shake, burn, freeze, blow, or drown us out of here first, those who usurped our flag for their own, nefarious purposes will ultimately find themselves buried in the rubble they necessitated, and if you ask me, it’s a good place for them as long as precautions are enacted to keep them from infecting our soil, groundwater, and air with their rotting putrescence.

Until the malodorous taint has been cleared, though, I won’t, for any reason, be flying a flag which no longer represents my beliefs, or my loyalties.

Grateful for the Right to Disagree

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the choices I still have.
  2. I’m grateful for like-minded people who are done with the usurping of our flag for evil, selfish means.
  3. I’m grateful for strong, vocal, powerful people who believe in equitable treatment for everyone.
  4. I’m grateful for dinosaurs who don’t know how to change their ways, so they ultimately go extinct.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, kindness, acceptance, equity, friendship, friendly disagreement, diversity, joy, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Safe Spaces

Your Safe Place is a Temporary Stop

Not so Safe Place

Photo-Kevin Dooley via Flikr

Whether you’re holding space for someone else, or lingering in your own, private safe place, remember, it’s not a place you’re meant to remain. Sure, it’s easy to snuggle down into those soft, comfy piles of clothes you were supposed to donate, or bury your face in last year’s winter coat, though it’s over 90 degrees outside. Easier still to leave those old emotions buried, thinking; as long as you don’t look at them, they can’t hurt you.

The trouble with those safe spaces is they give you a false sense of security. Meanwhile, they’re screwing up your world in untold ways, and worse, keeping you from living your very best life.

Those old coping mechanisms you created after each traumatic experience? They’re holding you back from finding a happy, successful relationship…or job…or life. Every time you get close to something where your mind thinks you might do something rash like maybe, trusting someone, those alarm bells go off, and it does everything in its power to pull you back from the brink of disaster into what serves as safety for you.

Coping Mechanisms Make Strange Bedfellows

Living with Coping Mechanisms

The truth is, those coping mechanism created spaces aren’t safe at all. They’re dark, deep chasms cleverly disguised as soft, comfy hidey-holes where no one, and nothing can get close enough to hurt you. They also can’t get close enough to help you, whether it’s learning to trust in baby steps instead of giant, doomed-to-failure leaps, healing from the traumas you experienced yourself, or the ones you were born with. Those things require you to shine a bright light on the things that scare you most so you can see the monsters under the bed are nothing more than dust bunnies.

If you allow your mind to guide your ship, you’ll forever live in fear of the monsters in the dark who may or may not even be there. You’ll blow up every instance where you got hurt; physically, but even worse, in the intangible world of your emotions, into something so much larger than life could possibly have made it. You’ll keep stuffing things down inside until the pressure alone is enough to drive you mad, while blaming the outside world for having made you that way.

What makes it all so much worse, is the insidious lessons taught to you as a child that dictated hiding your emotions, burying your pain, sucking it up, and acting like your life was one, perfect 1950’s sitcom. To be honest, trying to live my life like the ones depicted in “My Three Sons”, “Leave it to Beaver”, or “Ozzie and Harriet” would either have turned my brain to mush, or made me a serial killer long ago! (my money is on the serial killer). Those shows were clearly idealistic lifestyles dreamt up by men with egos the size of the Sun, and due to burn themselves out like the many black holes dotting our solar system.

Being an Active Participant in Your Life

Emerging butterfly

Photo – Julie Raccuglia via Flikr

What I’m trying to say is, living your best life means being an active participant, not a drone, lemming, or opossum. You have to take a few risks, step away from the dubious safety of your own little world, and experience everything you can in the short time you’re given the body you inhabit. Those adrenaline rushes that come from facing your fears, or simply stepping away from the protective cocoon make your heart stronger by making it work harder.

Much like a butterfly who must push its way out of the chrysalis in order to pump fluid to its wings so it can fly, you have to go through your own birth canal over and over again. Each time you do, you enter it with more strength, knowledge, wisdom, and guts than you had the time before, provided you allow yourself the luxury of escape. Do you really want to remain a caterpillar, crawling meekly through your lifetime? Wouldn’t you rather see the world from a higher vantage point? Don’t you want to consider all possibilities rather than being stuck with what’s within your shortest reach?

There was a time I huddled behind my own facade of false perfection. I put all my energy into pretending to be what I was not, leaving me nothing with which to pursue, and expand on what I was, and could be. I stagnated in crappy jobs, a lousy marriage, and a one-sided relationship or two, believing what I’d been taught, and cursing myself for failing to live up to the unattainable ideal. It took years of misery and abuse before my butterfly heart screamed out for mercy, and broke a lot of masonry on its way out.

Re-Write Your Script

Write Your Own Story

Everything I broke needed breaking. In fact, it was all long overdue. Outdated coping mechanisms, false beliefs, and most of all, the walls pretending to protect my heart, but suffocating it instead, all had to go. Until they did, I couldn’t learn to give and receive a healthy kind of love, to trust myself enough to be authentic instead of pretending to be someone I could never hope to be, or live a life without limitations.

I had to stop being an ugly caricature of myself. Until I did, I’d never fulfill the need inside to hold space for others embarking on their own journey away from the lies and constraints they’d lived with for too long themselves.

It was a bit like tossing all the things I’d built as an adult into the trash, kicking off my shoes, and running through the grass as I did when I was a child; oblivious to the many things that could cut or bruise my feet, trip me up, or toss me off the nearest cliff. I had to relearn how to recognize what and who could truly hurt me, and what were illusions meant to keep me in my place.

There’s a joke I used to tell my daughters. My mother used to tell me not to let a boy touch me there, but she never told me where “there” was. And yet, she imparted the direst of consequences on my innocent head should I disobey, again leaving those consequences to my own, fertile imagination rather than spelling it out so I could see the monsters for what they were, in all their naked glory. The worst part is, it wasn’t entirely a joke.

The Devil You Know Isn’t Always the Safest Place

Devil in Disguise

Photo-moonjazz via Flikr

Your family, and your own mind keep you in a wasteland of false safety where things might not seem terribly wrong, but you never get a chance for them to be right. It’s as if you’ve secluded yourself inside a mirrored ball where all input from other people is reflected back to them, and never touches you. At the same time, nothing you say or do touches a single, other human being. But in so doing, you block out everything; the good, the bad, the mediocre, and things that wouldn’t touch you anyway. And you deny everyone else of the gifts you have to give.

Instead, step away from what you’ve been convinced is a safe place, and recognize it for the prison it is. If your skin gets sunburned, put a little aloe on it. If your feelings get hurt, dig deep so you can understand why you feel hurt. When you start to mindlessly react, or dive back into the safety of oblivion, stop, and ask yourself why you think hiding is the right answer. If you can come up with an answer at all, you might be surprised at how lame it sounds.

You deserve to live a full, complete, messy, vulnerable, authentic life. Sure, you’ll stumble, and maybe even crash and burn a few times. But when you’re out in the world, among the living, two things will happen: you’ll learn to bounce better, and you’ll have people around to help you up, dust you off, and even patch you up if necessary, so you can go back to the business of living.

When you do, it’ll be from a happier, stronger, more legitimately safe place than you ever saw through the cracks in your soul sucking, bullshit dispensing walls.

Grateful for the Walls I’ve Destroyed

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for all the times I’ve tripped, fallen, and gotten back up again, to charge heedlessly back into life with the fearlessness of a child.
  2. I’m grateful for all the people who were there to pick me up when I learned to stop trying to be something I’ll never be.
  3. I’m grateful for the continued growth and opportunities I receive now that my walls are shattered beyond repair.
  4. I’m grateful for healing. It’s a lifelong process, but worth the effort, the fear, and the pain to get there.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, healing, friendship, community, peace, balance, harmony, freedom, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Taking Nothing for Granted

HealingWhether it’s physical, mental, emotional, or financial trauma, like everyone else, I’ve had my share. Though much of it led to unhealthy coping mechanisms I’m now working to heal, it also taught me not to take anything in my life for granted. Things like:

  • Sweeping the floor
  • Driving (especially since my cataract surgery removed the star bursting taillights)
  • Waking up able to see without putting on glasses
  • Walking as far as I want to
  • Dancing
  • Folding a comforter
  • Bending down to pet one of my cats
  • Filling and carrying my 5-gallon water bottles
  • Making the bed
  • Hugging

Sure, many items on this list seem worth taking for granted, as you’re never going to lose them, right? But if you’ve ever been in pain, whether from an injury, or just life taking it’s toll on your body, you’ll remember all too well when the pain, alone limited your movements, even if it was only temporary.

Ballet Helps Me Move More Freely

Ballet Dance

For the longest time, it was anything involving bending my knees, and as a result, I started having nearly constant back pain. It took COVID, and Zoom ballet for me tor realize it wasn’t my knees at all, or at least they weren’t the primary cause. Somehow, I’d allowed the tendons in my calves to get tight and stiff which kept my knees from bending the way they should.

Once I’d been regularly stretching those tendons with thrice-weekly plies, my knees suddenly became more bendy again, and my back has been eternally grateful. I use my knees and legs to lift the afore-mentioned water bottles, and do plies to pick things up from the ground, put down cat bowls, and scoop litter boxes. Refraining from bending from the waist means using my back muscles as they were intended, thereby protecting them from further injury.

Ballet has also allowed me to rediscover my elusive core. While I’m still unable to gracefully lift my entire torso from a supine position, I can lift more of it than I used to before having to give myself a little push with the elbows. I’m grateful for the progress, and know continued practice and use of the core, ab muscles will get me there eventually.

Seeing is Believing

vision

Photo – Derek Gavey via Flikr

The greatest positive change came with the long-awaited (and put off for a year until I got rid of Medicare Dis-Advantage) cataract surgery. Now that I’ve navigated the months of elevated light sensitivity, I’m reveling, not only in the ability to drive at night without it being an adventure, but in the intensity of colors. I had no idea how much the amber filter in my eyes was altering how I perceived my universe!

Though my near vision isn’t as sharp and clear as it was right after surgery, reading is still easier when there’s a smaller disparity between my eyes. When I pack to visit my grandkids, or go on a cruise, there are several items now missing from my luggage, and one less thing to do morning and night. It may seem like a small thing, but after 50 years of putting on my glasses to see the clock, or making sure I had enough contact lenses in case a trip got extended, or I messed one up, or ordering lenses and solution before I ran out, it’s simplified my life immensely.

Changing to Better Habits

First perilous steps

Photo-InAweofGod’sCreation via Flikr

Sure, I had to make some kind of change in my life in order to appreciate every, single item on the list. The beautiful truth is each one led to better habits, and, more importantly, less coping mechanisms. It all began with a conscious decision to allow myself to heal.

Granted, when I first began my healing journey, I had no idea what lay ahead, nor how painful some of the moments could be. Imagine ripping off a bandage that had partially adhered to a large, painful scab. In some cases, a wound was ripped back open because I needed to allow old emotions to drain off for awhile before I could face them head-on, and allow myself to feel the pain again from a more neutral position.

That journey also had its share of fits and starts. I’d open myself up to the wrong people, in the wrong places, get battered, and scuttle back into the safety of my cracked, and brittle shell. It wasn’t until I discovered I could jump-start the process by using the computer screen as a buffer that I began making real progress.

Find Your Own Healing Path

Choose your own pathThere are times when immediate feedback is useful, and helpful. I’ll tell you from my own experience, learning to be vulnerable, and authentic isn’t necessarily that time, unless you already have someone, or a few someones to hold space for you while you navigate the first, rock strewn, snake-infested waters.

My deeply ingrained practice of living detached from humanity precluded that option for me. It eventually gave me the empathy and compassion to listen more, and talk less. In short, to be for others what I once needed and lacked myself.

Which brings me to the last item on my list. Hugging with your whole heart, either giving, or receiving, is impossible while your heart is encased in cement or steel. Only by cracking open decades- and sometimes, generations-old walls and containers, can you get to that life-giving place where you discover your strength is in your vulnerability, and freedom to be your authentic self, rather than in showing the world an impermeable, false front.

Connection and Community Expand Your World

Community

It isn’t simply the relief of not having to put all your effort into shoring up a crumbling, ineffective structure, but in connecting with a community where the sum of the parts is infinitely stronger than the whole.

Those warm, heartfelt hugs are proof you’ve navigated enough of your internal storms to find the support and strength you’ll need to dig deeper, into the more firmly entrenched wounds which, despite how far you’ve come, will still hurt like the dickens when you rip away their protective covering.

Yet only when you do, will you discover how much they’ve held you back; how much they prevent you reaching your highest heights, and living the life you not only dream about, but deserve. If you ask me, that, alone makes it worth the pain and effort. But if that’s not enough, the hugs should convince you. Nothing compares to hugging heart to heart!

Grateful for the Journey, and the Bumps Along the Way

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for everything that led me to where I am today.
  2. I’m grateful for learning there’s value in receiving as well as giving.
  3. I’m grateful for the lessening of pain, physically, mentally, emotionally, and energetically.
  4. I’m grateful for the people in my life who allow me to exercise everything I’ve learned, and become better at it all.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, compassion, healing, vulnerability, authenticity, community, friendship, sharing, caring, helping, healing, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Wounded Healers

Healing the Wounded to Heal Yourself

HealingWe’re all wounded and healing; each at our own level and pace. It may be ancestral wounds, past traumas, or simply lessons we’ve had to learn that came with a certain amount of pain in order to drive the lesson home. For most, it’s a combination of all three.

At different stages in the healing process, you attract different kinds of people. Some may help the process, others may hinder, and the best are simply there to sit with you while you do the work yourself. But all too often, you sit alone with your thoughts, your open wounds, and your old coping mechanisms trying to decide whether to get up and change the channel, or slide slowly into the darkness of your mind.

If you’re reading this now, I’m guessing you’ve chosen on more than one occasion to change the channel; or that before you slid completely below the surface, someone came along to help you climb out of the abyss. You’ve been to hell and back, and not only lived to tell the tale, but grew stronger, braver, and tougher in the process.

Build Your Community When You’re Ready

community

If you’re one of the more fortunate, you’ve also built a community which is there to prop you up when your own strength is failing, and who allows you to do the same for others. In other words, you’ve found the balance necessary to let you continue honing your strength, sharing your journey, and most important, move forward on your healing journey.

The healing journey has many facets. You have to open old wounds, allow them to drain, and release the pain, fear, and coping mechanisms that got trapped inside. The lesson buried in the feelings must be acknowledged, and internalized. I’ve learned the most important part of the healing process is sharing.

When you open up, and talk about what you’ve been through; when you acknowledge your wounds, and allow the world to see, not a smooth, unbroken surface, but one spider-webbed with cracks, grooves, and even a few chasms, you show others they’re not alone. Better still, they, too, can safely show their truest selves knowing there are others who will understand and love them more for the flaws than they ever could love the feigned perfection many of us are taught to show.

The First Steps Are the Scariest

First perilous steps

Photo-InAweofGod’sCreation via Flikr

There was a point in my healing process I regretted all the years I followed my parents’ teachings and pretended my world was a verdant garden of perfection. Further along in my journey, I realized I had to experience every gut-ripping, heart wrenching ounce of pain, rejection, and isolation following those teachings led me to in order to find the strength, understanding, and self-love to cast them off.

I was tired of being on the outside looking in. I was terrified of being entirely alone when my oldest daughter moved out. I didn’t know how to fix it at the time, but I knew I needed a drastic change—so I started sharing my thoughts and feelings about my parents’ suicides from the safety of my desk and computer.

In the beginning, I only dipped a toe into that murky emotional swamp, letting my words float along the surface before sinking down to become part of the muck and sludge barely hidden beneath the dark, forbidding water. As each entry failed to elicit the fearful monster I’d been taught to believe would be the price of exposure, I expanded on my story, admitting to deeper, darker, scarier feelings.

Share Your Story

Story telling

Instead of recriminations or abuse, I started hearing from other wounded people who, emboldened by my admissions of imperfection began sharing their own stories; first of family suicide, but later, of experiences I, in my own humble experiences considered more terrifying; things like child abuse, and cult life.

I’m learning wounded ones who choose to heal; who choose authenticity and vulnerability over walls and masks are the ones most likely to hold safe spaces for others on a healing journey. As I neither judge, nor try to fix others, nor expect either, so, too, do those who’ve chosen to heal from within.

One of the biggest deterrents to talking about things like family suicide, child abuse, or rape is the fear of being judged. There are too many societal precedents that blame the victim for their abuse or rape, or the survivors for the choice someone else made to end their life. Rarely, if ever, do they look to the broken human being who committed the act in the first place.

Freedom From Guilt

Ancestral Wounds

Photo-Spiral Tarot

The biggest milestone for anyone on a healing journey is to release any guilt they carry from the traumatic experiences in their life, while letting go of the idea they’re meant to be a victim. Perhaps that’s why I have little patience with those who adopt a victim mentality. It was a quality I exhibited for too many years; believing I deserved to be abandoned, or subjected to unhealthy, painful, and often abusive versions of love.

I will always believe kicking that old belief system to the curb, and deciding I deserved better was the greatest act of courage and self-love I ever performed. It taught me to recognize, and celebrate it in others. I know first-hand how long that road is, and how hard it is to traverse during the months and years you have to travel alone before you’re ready to attract those companions who can, if only by their company, make the journey a little less daunting. I also know it’s desperately lonely, and must be traveled alone for the first few thousand miles. It isn’t until you cross the bridge into self-acceptance when you’re ready to take on an empathetic traveling companion or two.

Scars Are Medals of Honor and Achievement

Beauty in the Scars

Many old wounds are now scarred over; the pain, fear, and impacted emotions, a part of my past. I know they’re only part of the journey, and there’s much healing to do before I lay down my head for the last time in this human lifetime. I have, however, left behind the need to travel alone, and am honored to be one of the wounded healers who is learning, step by step, to, at the very least, hold space for others who are at different points in their own healing journey.

The world needs more wounded healers to not only help others as they emerge from self-imposed isolation, but to help heal a society that’s taken far too many wrong turns throughout the ages, and created a plethora of ancestral wounds which need to be brought out into the healing light of day.

Grateful for Being A Wounded Healer

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the steps I’ve taken on my healing journey.
  2. I’m grateful for all the wounded healers who’ve helped me over some of the tougher spots.
  3. I’m grateful for those who allow me to offer support on their own healing journeys.
  4. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the choices I’ve made, and the pain of experienced, and later released.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, opportunities, healing, community, friendship, happiness, harmony, balance, peace, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

What Hurts My Heart

Learning to Live From the Heart

healing heart

Photo-Felipe Tofani via Flikr

When I was younger, though not so very much younger, I believed wholeheartedly I needed to fit in, even if it meant turning myself inside out to do so. It’s a legacy of my mother who spent her life searching for the magic combination. At times, I think she unwittingly stumbled upon it a few times, but unable to recognize it for what it was, failed to hang onto it long enough to feel safe, included, and loved. Like her, I spent many decades getting kicked, abused, and humiliated, but never loved for myself. Also like her, it broke my heart.

Eventually, I stuffed everything deep down inside myself, and developed a “screw them all” attitude. I pasted a false smile on my face, and was, or at least so I believed, the truest version of myself. Yet, with the best parts of me stuffed behind walls, masks, and doors, I was still little more than a facade, and a thin, brittle one at that.

It took the suicides of both my parents, and reaching the breaking point from trying to contain the uncontainable to force me out from behind the walls and masks, where I grabbed a sledgehammer to ensure they would never rise again. Over the years, I’ve spilled my guts, and shed a fair amount of dead, and still bleeding skin, but finally figured out what many of you learned at a much younger age. The only person I need to fit in with is me.

It Hurts to Watch Others Struggle

Struggle to fit in

People sense phoniness and desperation like a wolf senses fear. It smells bad. It feels bad. And it’s repellent. As I watch some of the young women where I dance repeating the same routine, my heart hurts. I see my younger self in them, and want to wrap my arms around them and say: “Just be your beautiful, perfectly imperfect self. The right people will find you.”

There’s one young woman in particular who seems to take her cue from others struggling to fit in, instead of the ones who are brave enough to be real, and vulnerable. She varies her outfits, going from trashy, to sweet and adorable at what seems like a whim (though lately, she seems to have settled somewhere in the middle). She does unusual things to try to attract attention, and bounces from group to group trying to become a part, but rarely hanging around long enough to find out. Like raindrops on a corrugated roof, she bounces off in random directions, with no apparent idea of where she’s headed, or who she wants to be.

For awhile, I found myself getting annoyed when she decided to dance near me, because she’s more like an exuberant puppy who wants to be in the midst of the crowd than someone interested in learning the dances. Yet, over time, she has gotten better, if I take a step back, and am honest. The real annoyance lies, not in how she interacts, albeit distantly with me, but in how much she reminds me of my younger self.

Finding the Beautiful Uniqueness Inside

Love yourselfIn my heart, I know there’s a sweet, lovable young woman inside, but she’s spackled over her trying to match what she thinks she sees as the “cool kids”. Like the younger me, she seems to think her differences are bad things, instead of beautiful, lovable qualities others would find attractive and desirable if she let her own light shine instead of pasting all the filters she thinks she needs. If she only knew those filters are dimming her beautiful, unique light instead of giving her the illusive “in” she seems to be seeking.

We all have our insecurities, and always will. It’s not about how, or why those insecurities seem to remain, but how we live our lives in spite of them. Whether you feel conspicuous because you’re taller, shorter, wider, narrower, have curls, or straight hair, are graceful, or somewhat clumsy doesn’t matter. What does is learning to accept yourself as you are, and to be the most authentic self you can be. The most important lesson I’ve learned about living my authentic self, is to do it unapologetically, and in full Dolby, surround sound, Technicolor.

I realize it’s a lesson each person must learn for themself, and the learning process is what creates the confidence to live out loud, and proud. It doesn’t make it any easier to watch young women struggle as I did, knowing how much pain lies ahead until they figure it out. I know more than one of them spends nights at home, hugging her pillow, and letting the tears flow, wondering what she’s doing wrong.

Each Person to Their Own Journey

Solo Journey

Photo – Chiew Loo via Flikr

I wish I could hug each one of them close, and tell them the only thing they’re doing wrong is hiding their true self, trying to emulate someone else, and live by rules they neither understand, nor, if they’re honest with themselves, really want to. I’d like to stand them in front of a mirror, and point out all the beautiful qualities until the flaws they think they see are no longer visible.

Sadly, I couldn’t do it for my own daughters, much less someone else’s. Mine didn’t believe me when I told them they were perfect the way they were. Though recently, one told me I’d made derogatory remarks about her clothing choices I honestly don’t remember, but don’t doubt she’s right. The trouble is, until I learned to accept myself as I am, and stop trying to be the blurry image I thought I needed to, I was angry, bitter, and inclined to be unkind. I’m afraid my daughters bore the brunt of it, which also breaks my heart.

Perhaps, like my daughters and me, some of these young women had mothers who, themselves, were broken and struggling, inclined to say unkind things that came from their own pain and frustration. Though I wish I could take back every single unkind thing I said, not only to my daughters, but to anyone, I know it was part of my own learning process, and is part of theirs as well. From my example, they learned what NOT to do, just as I learned a lot of nots from my own mom.

Learning to Stand Out

DifferencesThe truth is, no one can take away another’s pain, especially when that pain is part of learning to accept yourself as you are, without filters, facades, or masks. You have to struggle, stumble, and fall down a gazillion times so you can learn for yourself what works, and what doesn’t.

In some ways, you even need to develop a “F-You” attitude for awhile. For me, it gave me the courage to stop trying to fit in, and start recognizing all my beautiful qualities instead of zoning in on what society, my upbringing, and my imagined view of perfection said were flaws.

The truth is, you have no flaws. Every part of you that’s different is like a beauty mark, separating you from the pack, and giving you a special something which, if you learn to own it, simply adds to the unique, special, amazing person you are. The path to accepting, and owning your differences is a rocky one, but in the immortal words of Dr. Seuss:

Why fit in, when you were meant to stand out?

Grateful for All My Own Heart Hurting Lessons

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the hard knocks I’ve taken.
  2. I’m grateful for learning it’s OK to watch someone making the mistakes I did, and hurt for them, but it’s not OK to get in the way of their own learning journey.
  3. I’m grateful for learning to recognize when someone annoys me, it’s time to look within and see what in me relates to the annoyance.
  4. I’m grateful for the opportunity to meet, observe, and get to know people who are on their own, convoluted journeys.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, compassion, kindness, community, friendship, challenges, lessons, opportunities, health, harmony, peace, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Questions to Ponder

ContradictionsOur world is full of contradictions. Typically, I don’t give them much thought, as I figure people are allowed to believe what fits into their own conglomeration of history, culture, indoctrination, and whatever knowledge they’ve picked up along the way. There are a few things I simply cannot wrap my head around, and right, wrong, or indiffferent, probably never will.

Here are a few, and please, whichever side of the fence you’re on, know this isn’t meant to attack, or judge anyone. I’m simply confused, and thought perhaps there were others out there as confused as me who might join the conversation with their own examples.

What Puzzles Me About Some Peoples’ Beliefs

puzzles

Puzzle number 1: If you don’t eat meat, why would you buy something made of oil that’s supposed to taste like something you don’t like. And if you don’t eat meat, how would you know whether or not it tasted like meat in the first place?

Puzzle number 2: If you refuse to wear a mask, or get vaccinated because you don’t want someone telling you what you can or cannot do with your body, why do you think it’s OK to tell a woman you’ve never met, and never will what she can or cannot do with her body? And in having your point of view enforced, why is it OK  to deny her basic heal

th care?

Puzzle number 3: With all the talk these days about gender identity, how is it anyone’s business but your own how you identify? Does anyone actually believe it’s possible to control things like genetic makeup, body and brain chemistry, and attraction? Or worse, to believe someone can be reconditioned?

Forced Conformity Isn’t the Answer

Cofnormity Isn't an Asset

Photo-Carleton Thomas Anderson via Flikr

Clearly, trying to tell people they MUST conform to one of the two “accepted” genders hasn’t worked so well, now has it? In a study by the NIMH involving college students, where suicide risk factors were assessed, their study showed:

…that gender minority students had significantly higher rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts relative to cisgender students, though there were no differences in rates of these risk factors within gender minority subgroups (e.g., transgender relative to genderqueer). Students in any of the sexual minority subgroups were substantially more likely to have two or more suicide risk factors relative to heterosexual students. However, within sexual minority subgroups, those identifying as pansexual, bisexual, queer, or mostly gay/lesbian were more likely to have two or more suicide risk factors relative to students identifying as mostly heterosexual, gay/lesbian, asexual, or “other sexual minority.” Notably, students identifying as pansexual had 33% greater odds of having two or more suicide risk factors relative to students identifying as bisexual.

Now, to some people, it might be OK for people who don’t fit the norm to self-eliminate through suicide, but I have to wonder whether their feelings would change if the one attempting or completing suicide because of the additional stress involved in not fitting into one of society’s very specific and confining boxes was their child, parent, spouse, aunt, uncle, close friend, or cousin?

Embrace the Differences, Be Unique

DifferencesAs always, I have an underlying point to this post. I don’t believe you’re meant to live your life according to someone else’s script. You were meant to be a unique, extraordinary individual in your own right. It’s up to you whether you paint in grey, or sepia tones, or every flamboyant color nature dumps into your palette.

You might spend your life in the shadows, more of an observer than a participant. But let it be because you like the shadows, and not because you’re forced there by a judgemental, unforgiving society.

If it were truly safe to pose questions like the ones I’ve posed above without fear of attack, or judgement, or abuse, it wouldn’t be necessary for the different ones, or the ones whose demons are louder and more vicious to hide their pain, wear masks, and eventually grow exhausted with the effort of trying to be normal. We wouldn’t lose the Robin Williams’, Kate Spades, or Anthony Bourdains of the world, much less the millions of fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and more we lose every, single year.

Trying to Be Normal is its Own Insanity

Unique

I’d even venture to guess that some who are abusing their power today were forced into a box at a young age, and their misbehavior is directly tied to the pressure of pretending to be normal, and, even more difficult to fake, sane. The entire world pays when one of those individuals manages to reach a point where they create a world for themselves in which the only rules are the ones they set themselves,  and where compassion died for lack of use.

One of the lessons you learn from acceptance, and from allowing for a wide range of viewpoints, lifestyles, and ideas is how similar humans truly are. Beliefs, and how you choose to live your life are not your heart and soul. They’re simply outward manifestations. If you force the heart and soul of a person into unnatural positions, it would be like shoving your body into a box that was far too small.

Something has to give. Your body would cramp, and eventually, muscles would start to deteriorate, and bones would weaken. A heart, soul, and mind forced into unnatural positions will ultimately find ways to cope. If I’ve learned nothing else from my own experiences it’s that coping mechanisms are never the healthy option. They always have negative repercussions.

Face Your Fears to Heal

Face your fears

Photo-Ail Lee via Flikr

A healthy human must be able to address their coping mechanisms, fears, and pain, and to let them go when they no longer serve their intended purpose. In essence, by judging someone as abnormal, and treating them like a pariah, you’re denying them the space to enjoy the normal, natural healing process which is an integral part of the Human psyche.

I believe part of that healing process is being able to ask the troublesome questions, and get honest answers with no ulterior motives or intentions. What a wonderful world it would be if you and I believed whatever we did, but had minds open to other viewpoints, not to change anyone, but to understand, and be more compassionate about how others believed, and lived.

I, for one, have a long way to go before I legitimately accept all people regardless of their beliefs and viewpoints.

Grateful to Be My Imperfect, Learning, Growing Self

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for finally accepting who I am, oddities and all.
  2. I’m grateful for learning to ask questions, and actually listen to the answers, even if I don’t agree with them.
  3. I’m grateful for diversity as life would be dreadfully boring if everyone thought, acted, and looked the same.
  4. I’m grateful for opportunities to learn, grow, and become more accepting and compassionate.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, compassion, kindness, acceptance, understanding, learning, challenges, growth, peace, harmony, health, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Comparison is a Buzz Kill

ComparisonEveryone does it from time to time; some more than others, to their detriment. You indulge in comparison. It doesn’t matter if it’s favorable or unfavorable. Comparing yourself to someone…to anyone else is a waste of time and effort. Worse, it is the quickest way to demotivate  and demoralize yourself.

Whether it’s your looks, behavior, possessions, job, or anything else. there’s no fair comparison with anyone else because, like your genetic makeup, you don’t have the same life makeup as anyone else. There are factors that may line up slightly, but for the most part, you are a unique individual with your own unique combination of qualities, knowledge, challenges, and experiences. Comparing yourself to anyone else would be about as reasonable as comparing an orange to an orangutan.

Sure, you are a human, so you’d think you’d have something in common with another human. You do, but nothing that would make sense if you’re looking for a comparison.

You are Unique

weight loss

Recently, I found myself comparing eating habits with a couple of friends. When I realized the ludicrousness of my thought train, I took about a thousand steps back and reassessed. In the first place:

  • They’re maintaining their current weight and body composition while I’m working on reducing mine.
  • What I see in one meal doesn’t mean it’s their steady diet.
  • Their normal level of activity differs from mine.

But most of all, they are not me! And if you come right down to it, I’m not them either!

Trust Yourself to Make Your Own Choices

UniqueIf you’re an intelligent human being, the decisions and choices you make are based on your own knowledge, research, and circumstances. You wouldn’t choose a job based on someone else’s skill set, or a spouse based on someone else’s compatibility. Yet if you’re completely honest, you’ve relied on someone else’s opinion, beliefs, or lifestyle to make more than one important decision in your life…and probably came to regret it.

Granted, you needed to make the choice, as it ultimately led you to learn something new, or perhaps gave you more reasons to trust yourself first and foremost. Wherever the seemingly misguided choice led, it took you where you needed to go.

Learning to trust yourself; to trust your gut rather than the cacophony of voices working overtime to drown yours out is a tough lesson for most of us. You have to go through the process of second-guessing yourself, or asking advice from a less-than-impeccable source a few times so you’ll fall on your butt, and start seeing how much further you’d have gotten if you’d listened to yourself instead.

Step Away from Past Conditioning

Walk away

Photo – Chiew Loo via Flikr

Sure, you might not recognize it right away. It might not be readily apparent that your own instincts were right in the first place. You may even be unwilling to admit you could actually have been right…for yourself. If nothing else, all the conditioning you received at a tender age telling you to fit in, and be like everyone else gets in the way of any choice that bucks the system, even if it’s the best one you have.

You might still be suffering from one of the many misconceptions drilled into innocent heads like:

  • Others know better than you
  • Making a choice without considering the wants, needs, and beliefs of others is selfish
  • You owe it to someone to follow their advice

All of these are dangerous, and self-limiting beliefs. None will allow you to grow into the amazing person you’re meant to be. The truth is, you have to make your own mistakes so you can learn how to make better choices. When all you’re doing is following the advice of others, you might eventually learn whose advice you shouldn’t trust, but you’ll never learn the only person who always has your best interests at heart is you. Worse yet, you won’t learn how wise your truly are.

Your Success Depends on You

SuccessThat’s not to say there aren’t many who want you to succeed. But everyone is blinded by their own beliefs, experiences, and knowledge. They cannot possibly know you intimately enough to understand everything that makes you tick, and where a choice might be disastrous for you based on things like your personality, and fears. Sometimes, you don’t even know until you make a choice that triggers a fear, or an old, buried emotion.

There’s also the possibility you need to make a decision in order to trigger old wounds so you can start to heal them, and remove blockages preventing you from making better choices. The absolute worst thing you can do at that point is indulge in comparison. What works for someone else won’t necessarily work for you, based on a million, tiny, and not-so-tiny factors. Yet I’d be willing to bet you’ve beaten yourself up more than once for failing at something another made look easy.

Both physical and intellectual success depends on a wide range of factors. Determination and persistence will certainly help, but one person might be a natural athlete, and another will be a natural math-lete. It doesn’t make one better than the other. It simply makes you different. Both can certainly improve the opposing skills, but they’ll have to work a lot harder to be as good as the one with natural abilities.

Maximize Your Skills by Following Your Passions

WriterYou also don’t have a single set of skills, but a wide range, at varying levels. How you assemble those skills, or strengthen certain ones comes down to what fuels your passion, as well as where you allow yourself to go because of, or in spite of all the outside influences seeking to impact your course.

I watched a movie one night about a boy who loved to read, and as such, to write. He was an excellent writer, but he also loved his mother deeply. She was dead set on him becoming a lawyer, and was overjoyed when he was accepted to Yale, and ecstatic when he graduated.

He really tried to follow a path that would make his mother happy, though it wasn’t even close to making him happy. Fortunately, he had an uncle who gave him sage advice, and told him what his mother really wanted was for him to be happy. He ultimately heeded his uncle’s advice, and pursued his writing career, even though he’d had some setbacks and disappointments along the way.

Those setbacks and disappointments were based on his own decisions, and as such, strengthened his resolve. Had he been following his mother’s dreams, I’m convinced similar disappointments and setbacks would have fueled the belief he wasn’t good enough, and who knows where he’d have ended up?

So follow your own dreams. Kill any tendency towards comparison. Learn about yourself; your strengths, your weaknesses, your challenges, and most of all, your passions. Those will guide you better than any self-professed expert, or anyone who claims to have your best interests at heart, even if their intentions are pure.

Grateful for Lessons Learned

My gratitudes today are;

  1. I’m grateful for learning to listen to my own gut, instead of that of anyone else’s.
  2. I’m grateful for the many times I landed on my butt, and had to figure out what went wrong, so I could do better the next time.
  3. I’m grateful for learning comparison is never my friend.
  4. I’m grateful for the people who support me, but don’t try to guide my train.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; lesson, challenges, opportunities, successes, passion, determination, motivation, strength, peace, health, harmony, balance, love, friendship, community, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Share if You Care

To Share is to EmpowerNo matter how alone you might feel at any point along your journey, there’s always someone, somewhere who not only feels something similar as they try to navigate their own challenges, but who could really use knowing someone understands. That’s why I share (and some might say “overshare”) in this blog, and occasionally, on Facebook. I know because of feedback I’ve received over the years, what I’m sharing does resonate somewhere.

I also know there have been innumerable occasions when someone out there said, or shared something I really needed to see, or hear at the time. Maybe it was as simple as an encouraging meme, or as personal as a warm, heartfelt hug. There are even times when it’s someone saying “thanks, I needed to see/hear that” in response to something I shared.

Encouragement and support come in many sizes and flavors. Not only are they never one-size-fits-all, they’re also not one-spark-fits-everything. Everyone you know has moments when they’re doing fine on their own until one more challenge gets added to their load, or one more thing slips out of place, or one, tiny gust of wind sends their house of cards scattering in complete disarray.

Share Selectively

Faces behind the masks

Granted, not everyone is a single gentle breeze away from complete collapse. Neither is everyone 100% in control at any given time. You’re at different levels at different points in your life…often at different points in your day.

I’m not saying share every little hiccup in your life. In the first place, you’d never get past them if you spent entire your life sharing your moods, minute-by-minute. In the second, be your own editor. Recognize what:

  • Could be shared
  • Should be shared
  • You are ready to share
  • Needs to be kept to yourself, maybe now, maybe forever

For years, I didn’t know the difference, so I erred on the side of caution and a lifetime of indoctrination, and shared nothing. Instead, I had files, and files of brain dumps where I dropped all my woes, all my challenges, all my anger, fear, and assorted other messy emotions onto a computer screen for no one’s eyes but my own. In hindsight, I realize the worst thing I ever kept to myself was my feelings about my parents’ suicides, and all the convoluted, jumbled feelings that coalesced as a result.

Suppression is a Dangerous Game

Suppression

Photo credit-AЯMEN via Flikr

By the time my mom took her last steps on this earthly plane, I was already an emotional cesspool, trying desperately to adhere to the teachings of family and society, and feeling like I didn’t fit anywhere. I dutifully held all of my emotions inside: the good, the bad, and the hideous.

By my late 30’s, mid-divorce, with the latest in a serious of jobs that gnawed at my soul like a wolf inside my coat; barely keeping a roof over my head, clothes on my kids backs, and food on the table, I’d given up trying to master the rules.

It seemed whether I expressed an emotion, a thought, or an opinion or not, I was still wrong, so I listened to the coping mechanisms that guided me deeper inside the bottomless pit of my own soul. I distracted myself either by leaving my kids in someone else’s care to enter the oblivion of a dance floor, aided by a couple of bottled beverages, or by chatting online with disembodied, voiceless beings lurking inside a box full of electronic components to rip, claw, and suck at what bits of humanity remained in me, as they tried desperately, and fruitlessly to replace what they lacked. There was a point they could have had what little was left, if it meant I could stop the misery of a joyless existence.

There’s Always Joy in the Darkness

Find Joy in the Darkness

Except my existence never was joyless, thanks to the two bright spots left from my ill-fated marriage; my twin daughters. Were it not for them, and especially my eldest, I’d surely have allowed the denizens of the dark to feed on the putrid remains left from a lifetime of being strong; being safe; being unbroken; living a big, fat, dangerous lie.

At the deepest, darkest, lowest point in my life, when I’d failed repeatedly at surviving while self-employed, and when my daughter was considering moving into her own place, she reminded me of something I’d not so much forgotten, as given up on. She knew I had stories inside me begging to come out into the open; into the light of day instead of being cooped up, either inside my head and heart, or the cold, unfeeling guts of a computer.

Slowly, at first, with the help of a Tarot deck, I started sharing readings and interpretations. It helped me get out of my head, and start trusting myself to share small glimpses of what lay behind the walls around my bruised, broken, and abused heart.

Share Slowly Until You Hit Your Stride

Around the TableWhen I didn’t immediately burst into flames, I grew braver, creeping out from behind the wall to share another bit. Eventually, I outgrew the Notes function on Facebook, and, with my daughter’s help, started this blog (can you believe it’s been 13 years this month?). I uploaded all the Notes I’d written into a couple of posts, and began doing my brain dumps here, instead of into a deep, dark hole.

13 years later, I don’t have thousands of followers, but I have my loyal ones who occasionally let me know they’re there, and still reading what I write. Sometimes it resonates, and sometimes it doesn’t. But they’ve gotten to see the evolution from closed off, miserable, lonely woman, to one who waves her vulnerability around, sometimes rather heedlessly, but bravely, and unapologetically too.

The writing was, and is cathartic, but it also gives me constant proof I’m not, and frankly, never have been alone. I’d simply chosen the wrong people on the rare occasions I let someone see behind the walls. Writing, and connecting, not only with others, but with my true self, helped me correct that part of my problem.

Find, and Embrace the Honestly Flawed

Flawed is beautiful

Photo-geekphysical Flikr

There are people who are ready and willing to admit they have flaws, scars, and even open wounds. There are others who will guard those parts of themselves with every means available, and usually, it means lashing out, drawing first blood, and closing their hearts to the pain of others, except as they let it believe it’s less than their own. The more I write; the more I speak to like-hearted people in real life, the more discerning I become

I don’t exactly cast those who seek to harm first, and ask questions later aside. Instead, I send them compassion, but from a safe distance. I no longer feel the need to engage with everyone, nor allow everyone to see as much of me as those I know are part of my tribe.

The lessons society teaches are black and white, but life, love, and especially your heart, is a kaleidoscope of color. For some, your kaleidoscope will be too bright for their vision, so you filter it. For some, all they can take is black and white. Like a moth to a flame, the more you release yourself to see, think, feel, share, and believe, the more you’ll be able to leave the filtering to those who aren’t ready to see, and allow yourself to shine as brightly as you want to.

Grateful for Lessons in Sharing

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my daughter who showed me the way to learn how to live a full, technicolor life.
  2. I’m grateful for all the wheels that fell into place to pull me back from the brink of that long, dark abyss.
  3. I’m grateful for the people in my life today who are authentic, vulnerable, and honest.
  4. I’m grateful for those who’ve come before me to light the path of authenticity and vulnerability.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, freedom, light, color, joy, friendship, authenticity, vulnerability, sharing, caring, peace, harmony, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Give Yourself the Gift of Variety

Variety of MealsHuman beings are creatures of habit, and letting go of old habits, especially the ones that we’ve settled into like a well-worn pair of jeans, is tough. Yet even the healthiest of habits can, and will outlive its usefulness, because, unlike the protagonist in “Groundhog Day”, you are not stuck in a time warp. Like him, you need to change your ways in order to keep improving, and progressing. Variety is an integral part of a full, complete, joyful life.

It’s easy to fall into ruts. In fact, it’s much easier than trying to climb out of one, or forge a new path. The road less traveled can be a frightening thing, filled with uncertainty, new challenges, and occasionally, rodents of unusual size. You have to be able to trust yourself and your abilities before wandering off the beaten path.

The problem is, you don’t learn to trust yourself without taking a few chances, and believing, without tangible proof, you’ll get through whatever’s thrown at you somehow; some way. The first time you step off a virtual cliff can be the scariest thing in your life. It can also yield the biggest rewards.

Drag Yourself Out of the Rut

Get out of the Rut

In truth, you learn little by sitting in your easy chair beside a warm hearth, faithful pet beside you, and the TV blaring some mindless entertainment into your face. What’s equally true is you have no idea what perils, pitfalls, and E-ticket rides you’ll face by simply stepping out your front door to go to work, shop, or visit with friends.

Life can seem like a crap shoot at times, but it’s more than likely to be that way when you cling to the sameness, and resist a little variety. Following a set pattern is all well and fine…for awhile. There comes a time when the routine you’ve been following has outlived its usefulness.

Maybe it was eating the same breakfast every day to establish a healthier start to your day. Perhaps, it was going to the gym on the same days every week, and using each day to follow the same segment of a 3-part workout routine.

Change is an Integral Part of Life

changeThings change. Life changes. You change. As your strength, knowledge, and resilience adapt to a routine, you have to change things up, or you get stuck, and no longer make progress. When that happens, life is sure to kick your butt around the block a few times, just to get your attention. Let me tell you from experience, cowering in a corner like a beaten puppy isn’t going to improve your situation.

You’re only going to make things better if you mix things up; add variety to your routine. In short, you need to ditch part of the routine, and replace it with something else. What else, you ask? That’s not for me to say, and, in fact, you may have to play scientist, and use a little trial and error to figure out what’s next.

Make a Change, Even if it’s Just Breakfast

Change your breakfast

Photo – Chris Bloom via Flikr

Perhaps you’ll replace your yogurt-and-blueberries breakfast with waffles, or cereal, only to return to the yogurt-and-blueberries because you feel better and more motivated with a lighter, more protein-rich breakfast. You might meander around the kitchen for a few more weeks before trying something new; maybe a vegetable scramble.

You nix that one too because it takes too long to fix, and you like to get moving quickly in the morning. Then it hits you. You could put a breakfast quiche together one night, knowing it will give you multiple servings. The first morning, you have to pop it into the oven while you go through the morning routine, and maybe clean a bathroom while it’s cooking. But after that, you’ll have several days when breakfast is as easy as popping a serving into the microwave.

Now, you have a choice every morning. You can eat another piece of quiche, or fix your tried-and-true yogurt and blueberries. In short, you’ve introduced a little variety into your life first thing in the morning.

Clutter is Variety Avoidance

De-Clutter

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Maybe there was a time in your life when you thought digging through piles of stuff to locate what you needed was your option of choice. It took years before you realized you didn’t live amidst the clutter because you liked it, but because it was your way of rebelling against an OCD mother whose approval you’d given up gaining, so you decided to do everything exactly opposite.

You didn’t wake up one day and say “I’m shooting myself in the foot by letting chaos reign. I’m going to fix this now!” Instead, you slowly began to dig yourself out from under the clutter, and form new habits, inch by painstaking inch until one day, you looked around and realized you liked having clear, open spaces throughout your house, your laundry folded and put away as soon as it was dry, and a kitchen you could walk into any time of day, and start cooking, or creating at will.

Variety isn’t about turning your life upside down. It’s about the small changes that add spice to your world. Little things which, when you finally start to notice them, make you sigh with relief, and wonder why it took you so long to figure it out. If that sounds familiar, be sure to remind yourself you figured it out at exactly the right time.

Clear Your Emotional Clutter

Unclutter Youir Mind

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Like me, and everyone else you’ll ever meet, you have to work through old wounds, both personal and familial before you can change certain aspects of your life; of your being.

In my case, I had to get over trying to be my mother’s diametric opposite by releasing the fear I’d turn out like she did; making everyone around her crazy with her nagging, criticism, and mercurial mood swings until finally choosing to end her life rather than face, and eradicate her demons and fears.

You have to learn running away from who you are is a losing proposition. Worse, it’s a waste of time and effort if for no other reason, you aren’t your mother, your father, or anyone else. You are your own person, as long as you get out of your own way, and allow yourself to evolve. You have to learn to believe you are worthy, despite what you might have been told from early childhood.

Highlight Your Qualities

Beauty WithinThe first step in my own evolution was to change the dialogue I was having with myself. Instead of looking in the mirror and pointing out the flaws, I started seeing at least one unique quality. Sure, it started slowly at first, but in time, I added more variety, and a hearty dose of humor to those morning dialogues.

The beauty of changing the way you look at, and speak to yourself is it changes your entire belief system and outlook, and helps you embrace the new habits you’ll start creating once you believe you deserve to be your unique, different, growing, evolving self. When that happens, change stops being so scary, and becomes the adventure it was meant to be. Best of all, you embrace the concept of variety, and apply it to your life liberally instead of sparingly.

Grateful for Variety

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for learning to love and appreciate myself for who I am, and who I’m meant to be.
  2. I’m grateful for learning I’m not my mother, and don’t have to self-destruct in order to prove that to myself.
  3. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned from my parents’ brokenness, and that I know now I can’t fix them, but I can fix the matching broken parts in me.
  4. I’m grateful for learning to embrace change, and variety even when they’re scaring the living daylights out of me.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, opportunities, change, variety, evolution, friendship, community, compassion, inspiration, motivation, dedication, peace, harmony, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Your Table Isn’t for Everyone

Around the TableMany people have, or will pass through your life. Some you like, some you love, and some you simply tolerate. There are also those you dislike in varying degrees, from mild to total abhorrence. The one thing I have learned is, rarely will people move up your ladder of acceptance, but many, over time will move down, and most of those will ultimately be jettisoned.

Even the kindest among you can’t conceal your preferences, though I know you do your best. It shows in the way you greet people, the level of fondness in your voice, how tightly you hug them, but most of all, by who you invite, both literally, and figuratively, to your table.

Not everyone will notice the difference any more than you do. Yet, you do feel the difference, which is why it shows to someone who either knows how to look, or, like me, can’t help it. I spent too many years trying vainly to be invited to one table or another, including those of my family before learning to feel where I fit instead of desperately trying to go where I didn’t.

You Won’t Be Everyone’s Cup of TeaCup of Tea

As such, I feel especially strongly those places where I know I don’t quite fit, and where trying hard actually makes things worse instead of better. It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes forget the futility, and try; that there aren’t places I think I should fit in, but somehow don’t.

People can’t help what they feel. There will always those with whom you feel completely at ease, and a whole lot more with whom you don’t. So changing your behavior, or demeanor isn’t going to change that feeling. The only thing it will get you is frustrated, lonely, and depressed. Though I’ve done it far too many times myself, I have to ask: Why do we do that to ourselves, knowing how the story ends?

If you think about it, the story always ends the same way, with the occasional addition of making a complete fool of yourself as well, adding embarrassment or humiliation to the untidy mess.

Are You a Planet or a Moon?

It occurs to me there are people who are planets, and who invite others to circle them like moons, dependent on their gravity to avoid being flung out into the chaos of outer space where they’ll face almost certain annihilation. They’re content to circle a single orb, going where it goes, without any desire to follow their own path. Or they align themselves so there’s at least one part of their lives without chaos.

Those of us who are planets choose our own, spiral path. Ever evolving, ever changing, sometimes crossing over a place we’ve been before to settle old business. It explains why trying to be invited to the table of another planet is a waste of time and energy. We can’t possibly fit ourselves into someone else’s orbit when we have one of our own to follow, and our own chaos to manage.

We may or may not have moons of our own, dependent on our energy; our gravity to stay their course. Perhaps we orbit alone because we can’t, or won’t tie others to the road we need to follow. Yet, though it may take awhile to figure it out, we were born to be planets rather than moons. Until we recognize it, and start living our lives as independent beings, we’re destined to keep trying to be something we’re not, and in so doing crash and burn over and over again, exhuming, and revisiting feelings of loneliness and rejection.

Find Your True Place in the Galaxy

Galaxy

Photo-kristian fagerströmvia Flikr

Eventually, though, we look more closely at that map of the galaxies, and realize our trajectory takes us in a different direction, away from the planets we’ve been trying so hard to align with. The light dawns. The pattern is revealed. Finally, we pick ourselves up, stop trying to fit in, and assume our right and proper place in the Universe.

I don’t know why we have to go through so much pain and rejection before we figure it out. Perhaps it’s because we need to develop the strength and tenacity to lead rather than follow; to proceed alone when necessary instead of needing a crowd to blend into.

Even when we start to see what the road is supposed to be, we return to old patterns every so often. Again, I ask myself why the need to belong can short-circuit a destiny that seems to relegate belonging to a lower level in the general scheme of things. We seem to fight our own destiny over, and over, and over again.

We walk for a few miles along our own road. Then something happens. Maybe we get knocked down. Maybe there’s an obstacle which challenges our own resources. Instead of simply asking for help, we slide back into old habits, and try to ride along with someone else, even if they’re not going the way we need to go.

Erasing Old, Outdated Habits

Table for One

Photo-anoldent via Flikr

Once again, we face frustration, sadness, and even depression until we disengage ourselves from a conveyance going in the wrong direction, and figure out how to successfully navigate the obstacle with our own resources and helpers instead of trying to use those belonging to someone else, with a counter-productive destination.

I’ve reached a point in my travels where I need to stop worrying about the tables to which I’ve not been invited, and start focusing on my own road; my own destiny; my own obstacles to conquer. If it’s help I need, I’ll seek it from people who aren’t committed to another’s path, and who are free, even if only for a little while, to walk alongside me, and help me clear the road ahead so I can get my journey back on track.

There’s a time to backtrack, a time to take a side road, and a time to get back to the business at hand. Sometimes, being excluded is simply the Universe’s way of reminding you it’s time to stop avoiding what might be a more difficult road, but is sure to have bigger, better, more meaningful rewards along the way.

Grateful for Being Excluded

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the tables to which I’ve not been invited.
  2. I’m grateful for obstacles the require me to seek help.
  3. I’m grateful for recognizing I don’t always have to fit in, and sometimes, it’s better that I don’t.
  4. I’m grateful for learning I’m meant to be a planet with moons orbiting me, rather than a moon orbiting another planet.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, opportunity, destiny, passion, persistence, tenacity, stubbornness, loneliness when necessary, peace, harmony, balance, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Namaste

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income.

If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook as Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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