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

Life Lessons From A Butterfly

butterflyWhenever I see a butterfly flitting past my window, or following me for a little ways while I’m out walking, I’m filled with a burst of incredible joy. Most of the time, I simply run with it, allowing the joyous creature to lift my spirits, soaring to the treetops along with those colorful wings, needing no reason or purpose for the euphoria.

But as the analytical side of me kicks in, I have to ask what makes the butterfly flit through the treetops above my head with such joyful abandon. Then again, wouldn’t you be filled with joy after making the miraculous transition from a caterpillar crawling on ground, plants, and trees, to a winged one limited only by how far those wings might carry you? Wouldn’t you revel in the weight you shed after emerging from your homemade shell; after going from worm, to goo, to butterfly?

In a way, the butterfly has shed excess weight and earthly constraints during its transition until what’s left is an entirely new world; an expansive new life where the sky is literally the limit. How can a mere human possibly understand the joy of releasing anything that held them back from soaring as high as they wanted? The truth is, we can shed our own constraints, but like the butterfly, it involves what may, at times feel like trauma, upheaval, and intense pain.

Transformation Isn’t Without Pain

Often, the transition is brought about by circumstances, even if, like me, you take a few years to https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4figure it out, clinging to your old ways like the lifeline they aren’t. Perhaps you become inured to life’s endless series of small traumas at a young age because your family taught you to only allow your strong exterior to show, hiding your fears, feelings, and broken parts behind masks and walls so no one could make the cracks in your foundation any larger.

One of the toughest, most painful things I ever experienced was allowing myself to turn to a puddle of goo behind those walls, and to let the walls dissolve into the goo, exposing the weak, broken creature who crouched beneath the surface. Devoid of protections decades, and even generations in the making, I lacked the courage or knowledge to be the imperfect person who was left when the walls and masks dissolved, leaving me naked, exposed, and terrified.

Yet somehow, like the butterfly, I emerged from the transformation taking tiny steps while the goo reformed and my wings dried. Old paradigms and rules no longer applied. I had to learn to love and accept myself, traumas and all. In some ways, it was like learning how to walk again after a major accident.

The first few steps hurt like hell, and I felt utterly unsupported. After awhile, I realized my raw, exposed self attracted people who were loving and compassionate, and ready to help me adjust to my new form. People who, themselves had weathered their own traumas, and transitioned into their own butterfly selves.

Taking the First Steps and Leaps Alone

solitudeLike the butterfly, I neither wanted nor needed help while I shed what no longer served me. I did, and still do need support while I learn, grow, and jettison everything I’d stashed away behind the now-dissolved walls. I may have ditched the protections in a few gigantic, and not always self-propelled leaps, but what I’d stashed behind those protections needed to be peeled away carefully, layer by layer. That process would have been impossible without the help of people who could understand, or at least empathize.

With each layer I peel away, my wings become stronger and brighter, and I soar higher. I am dragging less weight behind me so those wings don’t have to work so hard to keep me aloft. I’m learning I spent a large part of my lifetime telling myself stories built from lies, when I was meant to tell stories woven from my truths, not only to myself, but to anyone who cared to listen.

In another time, I might have been a bard, drifting from town to town weaving tales colored by my experiences, or from my observations of human nature. I’d have spent endless days unobtrusively watching and listening so I could add character and substance to my tales. Watching a butterfly might take up an entire afternoon as I tried to imagine myself making random spirals through the air, then tracing back to my stay in the chrysalis, and my tenure as a caterpillar crawling on a leaf, munching placidly with no idea what I was to become.

In my mind, I’d become one with the butterfly, perhaps weaving a tale to be told to a group of children about the wonder of growing up to spread my wings and fly. Through my words, their awe-filled faces would reflect their own imaginations whirling with possibilities as I painted a picture of freedom, and perhaps in some, a desire to be more than fate and current circumstances decreed.

Realizing Your Potential

The truth is, we are all caterpillars with the potential to become butterflies, but we have to be potentialwilling to take some gigantic leaps of faith, and more, to refuse to let faith and trauma define us. The choices I’ve made, and the transformations I’ve experienced are an option for anyone. Some may have less to shed before emerging, while others like me may have several generations worth. Quantity and depth don’t really matter. The first leap or ten are tough no matter what. It’s all about leaving your comfort zone, and most of us are hard-wired to stay there.

The ones like me who ultimately leave experience an internal struggle between the safety and sameness of the comfort zone, and the rut that sameness creates. There’s a need for change, even if, at first, it seems like it’s only for the sake of change. In reality, there’s a need to grow beyond the walls that encase you, and to explore what’s outside those walls, even knowing you’ll get knocked down a few times in the process. What’s a little pain compared to being stuck in the same boring place for eternity? To being a caterpillar who never realizes its potential to be a butterfly?

Grateful for Opportunities to Transform

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the transitions I’ve made, the people who support me, and the adventures yet to come.
  2. I’m grateful for the time I have to simply observe and reflect.
  3. I’m grateful for a world that continues to be filled with opportunities, if you know where to look, and how to sit quietly at times and watch the subtle changes.
  4. I’m grateful for an adventurous spirit that’s willing to put myself out there and take a few risks.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; vulnerability, joy, transformation, growth, adventure, calculated risk, friendship, compassion, kindness, peace, balance, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Loving Projects Old and New

Decluttering projectsI love pleasant surprises, even when they’re because I’d forgotten a task I’d completed myself. Sometimes it’s a household chore I couldn’t get off my mind despite the fact I’d knocked it off my list a day or two ago, others, it’s a blog post I forgot I wrote that’s sitting in my queue waiting to be edited, formatted, and scheduled. In part, I think it’s because I put tasks together, or see something onerous as a blessing in disguise.

Recently, increasingly bad internet service forced me to allow AT&T to send a tech into my house. Doing so meant clearing out the storage room in my garage so they could reach the box of wires located in the back of the garage, and through my ex’s amazing foresight, in the room which once housed his office. I’ve since filled it with an eclectic variety of suitcases, beach chairs, holiday decorations and wrapping, large kitchen electrics, and anything else I didn’t want cluttering the inside of the house. Unpacking the room is an adventure in and of itself.

This time, I figured I’d take the opportunity to not only rearrange the room, but try to locate old records I needed. It also meant pulling the car out of the garage to accommodate the boxes, crates, and suitcases while the tech located and fixed what turned out to be several issues, and took most of the day.

Accepting New Opportunities to Declutter

Never one to miss an opportunity to declutter nowadays, I dragged the ladder to the middle of the garage so I could finally stow the stack of boxes I’d left jumbled next to the freezer until I got around to moving the car so I could put them “upstairs”. I even got to sweep the bulk of the crap up off the floor, and scrub a couple of places which were sticky with substances I’d rather not identify.

Living, working, recreating, and even entertaining at home so often over the last 6 months has given me a lot of time to look at my surroundings and come up with new ways to arrange my space. I’ve gotten rid of a few old, tired possessions, and continue to find things to either give, or throw away as they’ve outlived their usefulness. An inveterate pack rat, it took me awhile to accept there were things I’d never use again, even if they were still working properly. But release them, I have.

That isn’t to say I haven’t acquired a few things along the way, too, necessitating further rearranging and releasing. My favorite hand-me-down is the coffee table and matching end tables a friend gave me when her daughter decided to buy new furniture in a style she preferred. Lucky me, the oak tables go perfectly with my china hutch! No more cluttered TV trays scattered around my living room, or used in place of a keyboard drawer and mouse stand for me!

Recognizing What’s Been in Plain Sight

Which brings up another “find”. While looking for the pump for my resistance ball so I could re-introduce weight work into my weekly routine, I bumped into a computer table I’d bought decades ago. Why I didn’t notice it when I temporarily moved my office to the dining room table is beyond me. I’d been using a marginally reasonable arrangement of the dining room table and 2 TV trays for months before I realized I had a better option. To date, my head and neck are thanking me for upgrading to something that puts monitors, keyboard, and mouse at a more comfortable height. While still imperfect, it’s better than the old arrangement, and for now, that’s good enough for me.

A little drunk on all the amazing changes I’d made, I dove feet first into a visual I’d had for a spare bedroom that has become home to a clothes rack, a box of LP’s, one of the cats’ litter boxes, and a couple of pieces of furniture my daughter left behind when she moved out. After rearranging, I made the happy discovery that the cat’s sand-flinging antics, already limited by the addition of covered sandboxes were further constrained by the new location of the box. They may be less than thrilled, but I enjoy having less sand to sweep every day to keep from tracking it all over the house.

Making Changes Great and Small

I may not be making grand gestures, like finishing my kitchen remodel, knocking out walls, https://www.flickr.com/photos/oddsock/1074766279/in/photolist-Qq8gms-2CYsz6-9LDCMr-f2j8XG-9LDCYn-5Y9PzH-FkrgSH-nvoHbg-9mtAak-iD74WS-6mvA4s-4rrcvn-6Vw4xM-zHyznr-4LSv6x-8JNcR5-6TQeJd-7nXLkF-LciV1-5f6yL-9AuXrj-7o2EMh-69J8C8-8TorzY-5d1ns-JzytHf-26ReUcc-25BFXcJ-DmHVZK-qGRjJY-25BFVU3-25niJrT-iEZMGh-Jzyr59-6rXktd-6rXkoU-bYfvh-6jLb3F-ibKpJ7-6rXjNd-xkP6c-8jf2iK-V2pgYm-bYfvq-9LGr25-nqymWu-9Hspoj-77msAd-5V8poC-5zqHbfpulling up the last of the carpet in my bedroom, or moving large pieces of furniture, but even the small changes, like tacking pictures on the exposed wall board in my living room are making my environment and enforced isolation far more pleasant. I guess looking at the same 4 walls for months on end allows me to explore possibilities I hadn’t considered.

It may be pictures or posters I’ve stuck in drawers or closets for years that fill a blank, grey space. Perhaps it’s a piece of furniture I forgot I had. Maybe it’s simply rearranging what used to feel right, but no longer does. Or maybe it’s boredom that drives me to mix up my world a bit. Either way, I’m glad I have enough projects to keep me busy and entertained until the world flips on its axis once again.

Granted, I still have cleaning projects that have yet to be realized or checked off my list. My yard, although relatively brown now, is still overgrown and needing attention. I’ve even had the plumber out to snake out a backed up drain. Home ownership is truly a constant stream of projects; some I neglect until I can no longer do so, others I manage regularly. Most probably fall in the middle where I get to them when I can, often doing pieces and parts instead of entire projects.

Learning to Ask for and Receive Help

helpOccasionally, I’ll either ask for, or receive an offer of help which I’ve finally learned (after years of nagging from my daughter) to accept gracefully and gratefully. Many of those offers have come in the last few months, in part because like me, my friends are getting tired of their own projects and walls, and seek something different to break up the monotony.

I’m hoping now my own boredom will drive me to get a better handle on the wilting jungle I lovingly call my yard before the rain comes and it’s no longer wilting, or becoming less overwhelming. I fear I’m running out of time as days grow shorter, and cooler days occur more regularly. In truth, my honor is riding on cleaning up the yard before December. But that’s a story for another day.

Gratitude for My Un-boring Life

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for a multitude of projects, and discoveries beneath blankets, or in closets.
  2. I’m grateful for a consistent internet connection so I can keep on top of my projects.
  3. I’m grateful for happy surprises.
  4. I’m grateful for motivation to use the tools and furniture I find buried in my house and garage.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, sharing, caring, compassion, balance, motivation, dedication, creativity, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Relationships 101 Taught by My Kids

I didn’t make good choices when it came to relationships and marriage. In fact, it got so bad, I removed myself from the pool entirely over 20 years ago, and am trying to figure out how to re-open that door nowadays. As such, I gave my daughters a pretty lousy example of what a healthy relationship should look like. My son-in-law’s parents didn’t do any better. So you’d think neither of them would have a clue what a good relationship looks like, much less, how to create one for themselves.

Nothing could be further from the truth. My daughter and son-in-law have one of the most loving, extraordinary relationships I’ve ever seen. It’s not that what they have is perfect, but they don’t expect it to be. They know there are times they’ll piss each other off, and times when one or the other simply has to back down, or get out of the way while the other blows off steam. I’ve learned if I stay out of their way, and keep my well-intentioned advice and opinion to myself, they’ll work it out and get back to the strong, formidable, singularly focused unit they promised to be when they exchanged vows 8 years ago.

A Different Perspective

My generation saw an inordinate number of divorces; mine only a blip on the radar on the relationshipstatistical superhighway. Perhaps I’m seeing an unlikely cross-section, but the marriages I see from my daughter’s generation; OK, mostly her friends, are some of the most strong, resilient, unwavering I’ve seen in decades. I’d even venture to say, they’ve restored my faith in the institution.

I’m not sure why they’re doing a better job of it than I did; than my peers did. Maybe it’s simply the fact that I and my peers didn’t teach our kids the same thing our parents did. Marriage was never the be-all, end-all of their existence. In some ways, choosing marriage because it was what they wanted instead of going into it because of maternal pressure might be the key ingredient necessary to make better choices in the first place.

Though I wasn’t especially young when I married, I know I was feeling the pressure of still being single at 25. I grabbed the first proposal I got, and never learned how to be happy with myself before choosing a mate. Instead, I attached myself to someone who was as broken, and self-loathing as me, and who would ultimately feed my own self-loathing to push himself a little higher up the food chain.

Same Experiences, Different Results

That’s not to say my daughter, and likely many of her friends didn’t kiss a few frogs, and suffer a bad relationship or two first. They had the good sense to learn and walk away. It only took me 11 years of marriage, and another 10 years beyond that to realize I was better, and deserved someone who loved me without conditions or expectations. I it took me a little longer to figure out it had to start with me.

My daughter might have had self-love issues when she started dating her now-husband, but instead of feeding them for her, he starved them and allowed her to finally see what an amazing person she is, and how much she deserves to be loved and supported. He also gave her an incredible gift by allowing her to support him as well. The man I married as well as those I’ve dated didn’t understand either of those concepts, but then, my own examples didn’t either. Thankfully, my daughter learned from our mistakes instead of repeating them for yet another generation.

Watching my daughter and son-in-law, and many of their friends navigate the ups and downs of their marriages, I’m encouraged not only because I see more examples of how people can build successful lives together, but because I am confident future generations will learn from the example of these couples and parents, and form stronger, healthier relationships.

Who’s the “Me Generation” This Week?

I’ve raised my daughters, and they’re making their own choices now. They don’t need my https://www.flickr.com/photos/wjarrettc/2488063324/in/photolist-4MRYxw-36DBKU-4yjGyv-4kvZif-4ykSWp-nMsPRY-aVTWdt-79CRgH-dsBxgu-dsBx97-dsBpur-2uwWcf-dsBxus-N7dBE5-5EntRc-bt4c8c-3bjNi3-dsBxib-879Tow-4yjLf2-dsByNo-dsByuJ-dsBsig-bmrNub-dsBzhy-dwRrJT-dsBw3S-dsBpgg-4yoRPQ-4GAaun-4yq8F1-cf3JES-dsBpFp-4yoSpb-dsBs9z-dsBvjo-dsBpqZ-dsBo5R-dsBAa9-dsBn7k-dsBq5M-4yoPWS-47pe3o-dsBwSs-4yjHKv-dsBzaj-dsBxNW-4yjA4K-dsBA2j-dsBpxDapproval or blessing any more, though one still asks on occasion. Perhaps watching me struggle, and keep falling down gave them the drive to make better lives for themselves than I made for me while they were growing up. I’m awfully proud of the changes they’ve made in outlook and expectations in spite of the examples I set.

So many negative traits are attributed to Millennials, that things like this are often overlooked. If you ask me most of them are simply doing what we did at their age; learning to navigate a world that’s not always friendly or forgiving.

If I remember correctly, there was a time Boomers were called “the me generation” too. But it’s many Millenials who have actually figured out we’re better together, having each other’s backs than we are trying to stand alone against the world.

Being an Island Told My Kids what Not to Do

peaceI tried for years to be a strong, self-sufficient island. I learned the hard way there were far too many things I couldn’t do alone, and doing without wasn’t a viable option either. Islands get battered by waves, winds, and storms just like communities, but have fewer resources to not only withstand the abuse, but to rebuild after the more damaging episodes.

No generation gets it all wrong any more than they get it all right. Each one learns something from the mistakes of those which came before, correcting their own trajectory in some cases, over-correcting in others. Yet somehow, we all find our own true North eventually, even if it’s not the one that will lead to a happy, healthy, productive life for those who come after. How could it when the world changes so rapidly, and adaptation is the only real option?

Change is inevitable, and frankly, the ones who adapt to it more easily are going to create structures and methods more likely to survive the whims of both Nature and Man in the centuries to come. The wars and turmoil of the 60’s and 70’s drove too many of us into ennui and apathy. We’re seeing the results not only in the external chaos, but in all the broken marriages, and dysfunctional relationships we created along the way. Thank goodness our kids wanted to be different than we were, and to change the world in ways we couldn’t even envision.

Looking Backward and Forward With Gratitude

My gratiitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning from my kids.
  2. I’m grateful I stopped believing the examples I’d been set made sense.
  3. I’m grateful for the social consciousness our kids are more responsible for exhibiting and teaching.
  4. I’m grateful for a world where change is not only inevitable, but valuable.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, lessons, change, inspiration, community, support, self-love, opportunities, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Be Part of Upholding Truth, Or Step Aside

TruthViolence against cruelty and violence doesn’t work. Neither does passive resistance. The truth is, success lies in surprising your opponent whether it’s a football game, or a fight for justice and equality. It also depends on unity. Neither game can be won alone, and in fact, trying will only result in disaster for the one who attempts to take everyone and everything on without support.

No one possesses all the skills and abilities needed for prolonged resistance; for a slow but steady push forward. All skills, personalities, talents, and proclivities need to work together to create a synergy which makes the whole exponentially stronger than the sum of its parts. No contribution is too small; too inconsequential to make a difference. Every single one of us is strong in their own way. I believe Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez offers the encouragement and motivation we need in her YouTube video following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsberg.

Everyone has something to give. — AOC 9-19-2020

With the help of what the media deems important news these days, it would be easy to either lash out in anger, or fall into the depths of despair. Many are. But what does either do except feed the beast; fuel the engine of hate and cruelty which, throughout history has been the war horse of oppressors, and in the end, brings about their own downfall. But not without resistance; slow, steady, quiet, unobtrusive resistance.

Humans Have Always Resisted Oppression

Think about the underground railroads of the Civil War, WWII, and likely elsewhere as well. Theyhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwi weren’t about jumping out from behind a rock or tree, and bashing those in power down with the butt of a rifle. Instead, they carried information; they moved innocents out of harm’s way; they chipped away at the foundation of oppression, allowing it to self-destruct to the point where it could be taken down more easily. Why? Because it was a tactic those in power neither understood, nor expected.

Those who use intimidation, hate, and divisiveness to gather strength and power don’t understand how or why anyone would work together when there’s no clear benefit for the individual. They know little of teamwork, or shared goals, or self-sacrifice. So they don’t know how to recognize it, much less counteract its effects.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Humanity is one, gigantic, connected organism. What happens to one, happens to us all. I think that’s why so many Empaths are feeling disoriented, nauseous, headache-y and off-balance these days. Conflicting emotions on a global scale are tossing us around like flotsam in a hurricane. There are days it’s all we can do to stabilize ourselves, and get our own swirling emotions under control.

Using the Gifts You’re Given to be Part of the Solution

https://www.flickr.com/photos/47662183@N04/4564071101/in/photolist-7Xj4k4-4kvmAM-TMnQcJ-r3GViw-2hfQFC7-beCWYD-CGz9-5JNbw-9YuZj-aP3gAB-bcUdqt-K4CqQ7-25grp2D-AN7TXi-8zDAe2-3X5YC-tUzR-78uEky-bcW75M-78qJkK-4BHp7g-tG35Jq-ebDxNE-2hvX9Eg-6A2jWp-4qDR25-aSaQCF-2dXbteV-6A6td7-uFtH3V-jbntgU-xdtEmw-6A2k3k-YALSe-78qKYZ-24gWEPb-HgyCZB-4w1ReJ-PdAPhu-bzzPff-78uCTm-o1SQsA-9hrRBH-78qFVz-pg3yqE-qKuAde-78qJGt-uF355y-5xBRUT-oinua2I’ve taken that one on as one of my own purposes. I learned the hard way how to filter what I feel. It’s an imperfect science, but has given me a bit of respite in this chaos of energy and emotion. I’ve offered to help other Empaths and HSP’s learn to protect themselves whenever I can. Some accept, while others choose to figure it out themselves. I understand it’s a lesson they need to learn without outside interference.

I’ve also learned my place in this ongoing effort is my words, but more, it’s in showing up every day to use those words. (I choose not to use words that imply fighting too much as that, to me reeks of fueling the beast with negative energy.) Whether it’s inspiration, motivation, or the balm of compassion, words are the tools, and the gift I was given.

I figured out rather late in life I’m not good in crowds. The energy overwhelms me, even when it’s mostly positive (which is rare in a large group of people). My own filters and shields are only good to a certain point, after which I begin to feel exhausted and drained. However, more and more, I’m getting visions of standing before and above a crowd, using my gift to uplift and inspire; to help others recognize their own gifts, and place in this whole, crazy jumble.

Maybe I’ll see that vision enacted physically, where I’ll feel the energy of the people to whom I speak. Perhaps it’ll continue to be virtually where time, technology, and distance help me filter the energy when my own resources falter. Like all goals and dreams, I’m not making hard and fast plans aside from showing up, writing often, speaking out, and honoring my truth.

Inspire and Uplift

I’ve also learned it’s a waste of time, effort, and breath to try to educate those who are https://www.flickr.com/photos/wjarrettc/2488063324/in/photolist-4MRYxw-36DBKU-4yjGyv-4kvZif-4ykSWp-nMsPRY-aVTWdt-79CRgH-dsBxgu-dsBx97-dsBpur-2uwWcf-dsBxus-N7dBE5-5EntRc-bt4c8c-3bjNi3-dsBxib-879Tow-4yjLf2-dsByNo-dsByuJ-dsBsig-bmrNub-dsBzhy-dwRrJT-dsBw3S-dsBpgg-4yoRPQ-4GAaun-4yq8F1-cf3JES-dsBpFp-4yoSpb-dsBs9z-dsBvjo-dsBpqZ-dsBo5R-dsBAa9-dsBn7k-dsBq5M-4yoPWS-47pe3o-dsBwSs-4yjHKv-dsBzaj-dsBxNW-4yjA4K-dsBA2j-dsBpxDpassionate in their beliefs. In fact, it isn’t my job or my calling to change anyone’s mind. Instead, it’s to inspire those who are ready to take their place as part of the community of humanity; uplift and strengthen the ones who either falter, or think their gift is too small, or that they, themselves are unworthy.

I am inspired by the work, the words, the actions of so many who’ve come before me. At times, I feel unworthy myself; unable to rise to the levels they did. It’s those times when I take a few steps back, recharge my batteries, and remember my job never was, and never will be to initiate change alone. I was meant to be a cog in the wheel, not the whole wheel. Maybe I’m only a tiny screw in the smallest cog, but without me, the wheel would be less stable.

Those personal moments; those epiphanies are what put the words in my head , the compassion in my heart, and the motivation to share them with others who might be feeling small, insignificant, unworthy, or frustrated. I may not have to reach of Brene Brown, Marianne Williamson, or Lisa Nichols right now. Neither did they in the beginning. What they had was the courage to speak their truth, and continue speaking it until one person, then another listened.

Speak Your Truth, Even if No One is Listening

https://www.flickr.com/photos/142726605@N03/26477590124/in/photolist-GkJz5y-Lbjtyy-7U6aRM-fAvVrd-8xkhNA-9y8U87-9y8PZ9-hkmFEV-pFNVmn-qfvzds-4wXFCU-qwU8vr-fvtgHY-rrTvBA-qx26Jh-deDyEe-zLy9J-iyNxU-9y5Sva-zLy9G-nGtJKV-2ahmb-8GaT1p-8xhj1c-qfZurB-8xo6AA-o2vgjD-fhmvPA-i9LLEe-fhfA2Y-eyHAQ7-4wTwBV-fvthgq-4wQn2x-fvdZMM-fvuWFY-6Q1PWA-fP1Z3u-EjZqZV-daB9Am-aAFS2R-9y8RDE-fAvVAo-iSPYmR-6EKY95-4o5gjJ-6PDXe3-Kcbqcp-9aQUMa-75sAZqI’m learning to be less concerned about whether anyone is listening to me, and more concerned about making my ripples. Eventually, they’ll join with other ripples, and together we’ll make waves. It doesn’t matter if none of us ever rise up to stand out in those waves, but that we took part in forming them. Many of us are happy to be an anonymous part of the whole anyway. I know I’m not comfortable with notoriety right now, though maybe that’ll come in time. Many share that with me too.

What I do know is I believe wholeheartedly in what Jane Elliott teaches:

There is only one race. The Human Race.

We’re all in this together. In my opinion, it’s about time we all took our rightful place and acted like we belong here instead of merely taking up space and treading water until our time is done.

Grateful for Both Gifts and Purpose

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the many strong, inspiring women who have and are showing the rest of us what we’re truly capable of.
  2. I’m grateful for the gifts I’ve been given. I may never be the leader of the pack, but my part in this story is important nonetheless.
  3. I’m grateful for those who step up, sacrifice, and shout from the rooftops so those of us who are more circumspect can do what we can without too much fanfare.
  4. I’m grateful for a heart filled with love and compassion that works overtime to push out anger and hate.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love strength, compassion, inspiration, motivation, dedication, community, support, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Replacing Lost Habits for My Health

Last night, I finally pulled one of my resistance balls out of the closet, and crawled under the rolling computer desk (which I decided to move to the living room to free up my dining room table and two TV trays) to reach one of the ball pumps. While watching yet another sappy Hallmark movie, I pumped the ball up to something close to the proper level with the idea that a properly inflated ball would give me one less excuse to avoid weight work with what I keep telling myself are much too light free weights.

What I failed to consider, now that I’ve done a couple of sets with the 10-pound weights, is how much strength I’ve lost in the 6 months I have not been going to the gym—at all. My last workout day was March 13th, the same day as my last visit to BL Dancehall and Saloon before the dance floor closed indefinitely thanks to COVID. Though the gym has re-opened on a limited basis, I’ve seen too many people in the stores wearing their masks improperly to chance it at the gym where patrons are spewing who-knows-what from their mouth and nose while they pump iron or huff and puff on the cardio machines.

I’ve now moved the ball and weights to my living room to be used a little at a time until I get the pattern and routine down, not to mention my balance on the now fully inflated resistance ball. I discovered when it’s fully inflated it doesn’t work so well on bare floors but if I put it on the mat, it works fine. I also learned I need somewhere to prop my feet when I want to do weights on my tummy, and that I may have to drop down to the 8 pound weights for at least one of the exercises I want to do.

Pushing Myself to Do More Physically

That’s pretty eye-opening after the amount of weight I was using 6 months ago, but a lot of strength can wane in 6 months, I’m learning. So maybe more reps and less weight will be a good thing for the time being. It beats completely avoiding weight work for however long I deem the gym unsafe for the likes of me. In fact, I’m already envisioning adding the limited weight work I’m able to do with my existing equipment into my modified schedule. I can augment it with videos I’ve pinned on Amazon Prime to give me a decent, if not complete workout.

Suddenly, something I’ve been putting off for months is getting me excited. I’ve had what I needed right here all along, but kept telling myself it wouldn’t be good enough. Yet I’ve learned to manage with what I have in so many other areas. Why not my physical fitness too? Clearly, it was merely another excuse to procrastinate, or even avoid it completely, but 6 months in, I’m tired of being a sloth.

Some might say 90 minutes of ballet 2-3 times a week, and a couple of hours of line dancing is far from slothy, but compared to what I was used to before the pandemic hobbled me, trust me, I’ve become a sloth (no offense intended to the adorable little creature). I learned long ago that the more I do, the more I do, but the same is true of being lazy. The more I allow myself to lay around doing little to nothing, the less I end up doing. Case in point is the garage sink that’s been clogged since Saturday. There’s no logical reason I couldn’t have fixed it by the next day, but it’s now going on 3 days with no sign of improvement.

Physical Movement is Good for the Mind

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpSure, I could cut myself some slack claiming doing nothing is really rest, which is self-care and necessary due to the stress I’m feeling. But who am I kidding. The best thing to do for stress is move my body around more, and tick a few more things off my to do list. I don’t have to be Wonder Woman, nor my senior cat, Dylan who sleeps most of the day away. There’s a happy medium in there, and I intend to find it. I’ll start by putting weight work back into my weekly routine, and bringing my blog posts and memoir rewrite back up to speed, and on schedule again.

You all have your happy place, and I’m willing to bet it isn’t a life of complete leisure for any of you. Like me, you need to feel like you’ve accomplished something; if not every day, at least every week. You need to feel like you’re doing more than filling space and consuming groceries. What constitutes enough is entirely up to the individual, and should be judged only by them. If nothing else, you can’t possibly know what physical, mental, or emotional constraints anyone else is fighting.

Where I might find a mile and a half walk to be an easy stroll, the woman across the street who has emphysema would be calling for the paramedics before she got half a block from home. The four mile stroll my dance teacher is used to taking with her dog is do-able for me, but I’d be pretty darn sore the next day. It’s not that I’m incapable. I’m just out of shape right now.

Pushing the Limits

The key is to know your limitations and push them a little. Like my grand plies, in time you do dance in the presentget stronger, more limber, and have better stamina. It takes time, and it takes consistently raising the bar as things become too easy. Mostly, it takes a willingness to expand your own horizons with no other motivation than a desire for self-improvement.

I’m seeing amazing examples of people pushing their own limits in a world that’s severely limited. Some are taking college courses online. Others are doing something physical via Zoom, be it ballet, yoga, Tai Chi, or something else. They’re learning and growing, but also know when to stop and give their body and mind a rest. Me? I’m still trying to find a balance between too much rest, and too little.

Learning is Growing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvI’ve said it before. I’ll say it again. Life is a learning experience, and involves a lot of trial and error. Even with a manual, should one even exist, no one would get it right every single time. Sometimes you flub a step but don’t realize it until you get a little further in and discover something isn’t lining up right. Then you have to back up a few steps to figure out where you went wrong. I guarantee the next time you go through the process, you will make mistakes, but not in the same place because you learned what to watch out for the first time.

Don’t be afraid to try something new. Be fearless the first time around, and let yourself make mistakes in your rush for the finish line. You’ll take it slower the second time, but in the process, you’ll gain valuable insight, and recognize some of the finer points you missed in the preliminary run. Realize it’s not the destination anyway, but the journey; the people, the places, and the lessons you get to experience along the way. Most of all, there are no wrong turns, and everyone you meet is put in your path for a reason.

Grateful for Lessons and Movement

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for all my wrong turns, and backtracks.
  2. I’m grateful for all the people who’ve been placed in my path.
  3. I’m grateful for procrastination that led me to a new destination.
  4. I’m grateful for finally getting ready to re-engage my strength training.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, energy, motivation, dedication, inspiration, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Pick Your Battles

Refusing Invitations to Verbal Battles

People can be passionate about their opinions. Disagreeing is enough to instigate a tirade of support for those beliefs, often from questionable or unverifiable sources. But their minds rgbattlee closed to other points of view or perhaps more reputable sources so why even engage? It’s unlikely they’re going to change their opinion no matter how much hard evidence you might be able to produce, and trying will only enrage them. There are times it’s best to listen politely, and bite your tongue.

I recently experienced an impassioned tirade claiming Bill Gates created a COVID vaccine before releasing a genetically modified virus out into the world. In addition, wearing a mask was worse than not wearing one, especially for people with certain conditions—and there were numerous articles by reputable virologists and epidemiologists to support this contention. Alrighty then.

There was a time when I would have engaged the speaker, producing articles of my own to disprove their statements. I knew it wouldn’t change their mind, viewpoint, or passion, but could expose me to a heartfelt and lengthy rant, so why go there? I wasn’t looking for an argument. I wasn’t trying to bring them around to my point of view. They’re entitled to their beliefs even if I don’t share them. So I bit my tongue and let it go.

Protecting My Peace

I chose not to engage for many reasons. First and foremost, I was in their space. I’ve learned it’s peacepoor form to create conflict in someone else’s home or space, thereby tainting the energy with my discordant opinion. There’s a time and place to have certain conversations, and this was neither. I knew their beliefs were drastically different from mine, and could tell from their voice and posture their mind was closed and locked on the subjects raised. I’d have lost far more than I gained by trying to share the opposing viewpoints and research.

I won’t say I didn’t stew about it a little, or spend time feeling baffled by how stories like this get started. Fortunately, my writing is my outlet for frustration, bafflement, and biting my tongue to keep the peace. I can let something like this sit for a few days, then write about it somewhat objectively—and admit there are topics I, too am passionate about, and for which I unconsciously block dissenting viewpoints. We all do it. It’s one of the many quirks inherent in the human psyche. There are times we believe what we believe, and have no desire to change our beliefs no matter how much evidence is produced to the contrary.

I’m not proud of my own blind disregard for opposing viewpoints, and am working hard to at least listen to what others have to say. I’m far from open-minded on certain subjects, and admit in some cases, I always will be. Even there, I pick my battles, though they might be with myself. There are many things I could change in myself, but without the desire, or a really valid reason for doing so, I focus my efforts elsewhere. I suspect the same is true of anyone and their strong beliefs and opinions. They hold onto them for reasons known only to them, and frankly, couldn’t care less about my opinion on the matter—unless it agrees with theirs.

To Speak, or Not to Speak

As I’ve matured, I’ve become better at sensing when a person wants to hear my opinion, and when they don’t. To be honest, I’ve learned to err on the side of caution, and share only when I’m reasonably sure I’ll be well-received, which doesn’t mean agreed with. I actually enjoy talking to people with different viewpoints. It’s where I learn and grow. I appreciate people who can share their beliefs knowing on the surface they run contrary to mine. It doesn’t make either of us wrong, nor does it make us right. It simply means our experiences lead us to see things from a different point of view.

Life is full of choices. Every day, and with every person you encounter, you get to choose whether or not to engage. One of the yardsticks I use in these anything-but-normal times is whether I believe the person wants to have a conversation, a discussion, an argument, or a rant. As you might surmise, I tend to decline invitations to the latter two. I might listen politely for as long as necessary before I’m able to extricate myself, or even on occasion, make the mistake of voicing my own thoughts on the matter, but much like “depression town”, it’s not somewhere I choose to stay for any length of time.

After decades of living on the edge of madness, I’ve learned to appreciate peace and tranquility, and seek it actively. Even when I’ve been in a crowd (though not for quite awhile now), I learned how to withdraw into myself when I began feeling overwhelmed. It might be a quick meditation either seated or on the dance floor, or I might spend a few minutes typing a 1500 word blog post into my iPhone. The key is to find my center and re-balance my energy without disrupting the ebb and flow around me. Perhaps that’s why I’m finally learning to hold my tongue, or withdraw from rants more easily. If I can withdraw in the middle of a noisy crowd, distancing myself from a single angry, passionate person should be easy.

Maintaining an Aura of Calm Under Difficult Circumstances

Unfortunately, “easy” isn’t the word I’d use. The energy flowing off someone who is angry and solitudepassionate about something is more insidious and unmanageable than the untethered emotions of someone who’s under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Passion in any form raises the level of emotions, and increases their trajectory and power. Else why would those who teach “Laws of Attraction” instruct you to put your passion behind your desires? It doesn’t matter that their emotions aren’t directed at me personally. They’re flung, and if I don’t protect myself, I’ll absorb some of them in spite of myself.

Yes, I always have the option to avoid such people, but if I did, I’d be standing alone sooner or later as everyone has something they feel especially passionate about, and most are indiscriminate about where they fling that passion once the ball gets rolling. I’d also miss the opportunity to learn from the ones who are a bit more rational, and even open-minded about what makes them see red.

Granted, I have been hiding a lot of posts lately. Many might contain valuable information, but when it’s covered in the slime of negativity and abuse, I really don’t care who or what they’re supporting, or whether or not I agree with them. Ugly is ugly, and I do my best to both avoid it, and refrain from producing more (still working on that one too).

Overall, I’m calmer, and more at peace for all the battles I’ve walked away from lately. Each time I do, I remember how good it feels to let people have their vent without helping them escalate their rage. I might walk away from them shaking my head, but I walk away rage-free, and at peace with myself and my own deeply, passionately held beliefs.

Showing Gratitude for Calmness and Peace

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the peace I’ve learned to embrace and invite into my life.
  2. I’m grateful for my little oasis of calm in the midst of a raging storm.
  3. I’m grateful for the calming effects of nature, even if it simply means sitting on my patio or porch with my outside cats.
  4. I’m grateful for an outlet when something is bouncing around in my head. Once written down, the power no longer overtakes me.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, inspiration, motivation, focus, healthy habits, consistency, joy, love, friendship, connection, passion, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Independent Women Need Help Too

intimidating or strong?I thought I was making progress learning to ask for help. But it took a combination of a friend’s broken shoulder and my own recurring herniated disk and migraines to show me I have a long way to go—starting with appreciating the small stuff. She was like a mirror as she insisted on staying home and getting by as best she could with a little help from friends and family who lived nearby, and her housekeeper. In all honesty, I’d have been unwilling to leave my own space too, and not just because I have the cats who not only require care and attention, but because they give it back to me; often in larger doses than I give them.

Still, it made me think about all the little things I do for myself which an injury would thwart. Things like:

  • Putting my hair in a ponytail or bun
  • Taking a shower
  • Washing my hair
  • Doing dishes
  • Cleaning house
  • Going grocery shopping
  • Driving
  • Filling my 5-gallon water bottles, putting them in the car, and carrying them into the house.
  • Changing out said water bottles when one was empty
  • Getting dressed
  • Giving Dylan his meds

I could keep adding to this list until it’s as long as your arm, but I think you can see it’s only the tip of the iceberg of things I take for granted as part of the independence I value highly.

Giving Our Friends a Chance to Help

My friend is showing me I have a long way to go when it comes to asking for help, and recognizing my friends need to be allowed to help me once in awhile. It became apparent when I joked about changing my own lightbulbs to my 6 foot something friend who can do it without a step stool. I ended up asking him for help with another project, not because I couldn’t do it myself, but because he needed to get out of the house and do something different.

Maintaining my independence doesn’t mean I have to struggle to do everything myself, or do without. It means, like anything else in life, picking my battles. Asking for help doesn’t mean I’m weak. It doesn’t mean I’m losing some of my independence. It means I’m allowing myself to be part of a community that’s better and stronger together.

Just because I can do something myself doesn’t mean there isn’t someone I can bring in who can do it better, faster, and neater, and who needs a chance to be needed right now. In fact, not asking for help is sometimes less independent, and more selfish. It’s taken me a long time to understand I lose nothing by asking for assistance, and I gain so much more than I ever realized. I was too busy trying to prove to myself that I could make it on my own after years of having to struggle along, I lost sight of how nice it is to work on a project together.

Appreciation After the Fact

Do I enjoy the improved lighting in my kitchen any less because I assisted rather than doing it myself (and heaven knows I put up with inferior lighting for years because I lack the incentive and knowledge to fix it)? Do I miss struggling with a dishwasher that kept pulling away from the counter, or a faucet that leaked like a sieve?

I can honestly say my life is far better for having asked for help, or accepted it when offered. Every time I flip the switch in my kitchen and am greeted by a flood of bright, white light, it makes me smile and think of my friend John who gave up most of a day to remove the old, and install the new; who watched the Costco ads until the lights he recommended went on sale.

When I turn the misters on my patio on after Jesse hung them for me, and even replaced a defective nozzle, I am grateful for his help, both because of his height, and because he knew where the old hooks were as he’d pulled down the old, dysfunctional system a couple of years ago. I may not call him to replace lightbulbs for me right now, or to keep my yard in check, but I’m grateful for every small task he does for me, and for the company while he’s here. After the mister installation, we sat on my patio and discussed books for another hour which is one of my favorite topics.

Asking  for Help is a Blessing, Not a Weakness

I’m learning I have nothing to prove, even to myself. Sure, I’m capable of many things, but there are people in my community who can do a better job. There are things I’m better at, or in my friend with the broken shoulder’s case, unimpaired right now, and able to help. It isn’t doing it all myself that makes me stronger and more independent. It’s the give and take of helping each other even when the help isn’t essential, but simply makes life easier.

In fact, looking back on the years when I refused any and all help until it was no longer offered, I did without a lot of things, struggled more than I needed to, and was lonely and disconnected. In truth, I wasn’t strong or independent at all. I learned instead to settle for whatever I could manage on my own, and fell so far short of joy, it’s no wonder I so seldom found my happy place. It was all I could do to keep my head above water, and the essential tasks managed.

Sure, there are still things I could and should ask for help with, and things I put off until something bothers me enough to deal with it. But I’m miles ahead of where I was in the years I mistook independence and strength for flying solo, and pretending to be happy doing without many of the essential ingredients for a happy, fulfilled life.

Today, I enjoy being part of a community who works together to make everyone as strong as possible. Once upon a time, I valued being important to no one but myself. I’m happy I learned the error of my ways before it was too late to fix it.

Grateful for All the People Who Teach Me

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for a community that takes care of its own; even those of us who hold our independence like a security blanket.
  2. I’m grateful for the times I’ve asked for or accepted help. Sometimes, it only made my environment more pleasant, but those little things bring me joy, every time I use them.
  3. I’m grateful for opportunities to help my strong, independent friends, and learn from them where I need to stop holding so tight to my own often imagined independence.
  4. I’m grateful for the healing energy of my cats as I fumble around with the stress of enforced isolation.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, support, encouragement, opportunities, challenges, lessons, peace, harmony, health, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Shared Traits of Intimidating Women

intimidating or strong?Thinking about women I’ve met who I find intimidating, I realize they (and even we) share one major trait. What seems to make them intimidating to me is they’re unapproachable. They are in control of their space, but in reality, it’s because they let few get closer than arm’s length, and tend to be guarded about their privacy. They’re also unwilling to share any chinks in their armor, though heaven knows, there’s not a human alive who doesn’t have their share of weaknesses, traumas, and broken places.

For most of my life, I was one of those women, though it baffled me when someone told me to my face I was intimidating (usually it came from someone I considered a friend). I’m starting to recognize the traits I exhibited which would lead people to find me intimidating, though in reality, all I really did was refuse to let anyone see behind the curtain—ever. I honored my earliest teachings that dictated living behind impermeable walls, and never letting anyone see me sweat or cry; teachings I finally learned were not only invalid on many levels, but emotionally dangerous as well.

Climbing Out of the Abyss

Through navigating my own healing process, and learning to lower my walls, albeit selectively in some areas, I’ve discovered many women who are deemed “intimidating”, are, in fact, some of the most guarded, and often broken of all. The strong, impermeable exterior they allow others to see hides a little girl who’s hiding in the closet with her teddy bear while the world outside her door is falling to pieces, and there’s nothing she can do to stop it. Her past efforts to ask for help were met with rebuffs at best, and often made her life more hellish than before.

She keeps her face hidden behind the masks she learned to create to protect her from further harm, and the walls she’s built keep her from seeing she’s long since left her helplessness behind, and can afford to let down her guard a little. Even if she’s knocked down again, she’s strong enough to get back up. She’s strong enough to ask for help, and allow herself to heal. But because she’s remained hidden, showing the world a face devoid of scars and wounds, weakness and uncertainty, she lives inside the lonely world she created when it was her only hope of survival.

I saw this woman a lot when I was working in male-dominated environments; especially aerospace. Women dressed and acted like men in order to further their careers and climb the slippery, peril-filled corporate ladder. One female manager who’d clawed and scraped her way into her position, yet continued to be buffeted around by the will and agenda of the men around her counseled me to essentially keep my walls high and my masks firmly in place if I wanted to further my own career with the company. When major downsizing prior to selling the division to another aerospace giant moved me around to save one of the favorites, and ultimately cost me my job, I was actually grateful for the kick in the pants that got me out of there.

Using Upheaval to Begin Healing

The damage was already done by then. I’d learned all the wrong lessons, had done nothing to https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rheal my own wounds or exorcise my own demons, and went on to accept a long series of jobs where my gender required me to work harder and hide myself deeper just to stay afloat. Most lasted a year or less.

Once I did embark on my healing journey, the road got even rockier, though I managed to stay put for 6 years, in part because I had an office with a door, and could physically isolate most of the time. I realize now it was an opportunity denied most women with designs on the upper echelons of corporate life; of working to give someone else a healthy retirement. Far too many spend their lives playing the game, and subverting their true selves. They become so skilled at hiding the child within, it becomes as natural as breathing, though far less beneficial to their health.

The need to keep the mask of strength in place overflows into their personal lives, and they forget how to be authentic, much less vulnerable. I can tell you from my own experience, it’s a very lonely place to live because there’s only room for one person in the tiny box you create for yourself. It’s only by knocking out the walls that you make space for companionship; for friendship; for true connection. Doing so is, without a doubt one of the most terrifying things you can do, and one of the most painful as well. It is also the most freeing; the most rewarding journey you’ll ever take.

Intimidating and Lonely Often Share Space

https://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/7340397856/in/photolist-cbDsxJ-fzRXJH-fzRU3V-GFFVME-87C3ro-epfT1v-6ixEeJ-HRLxVG-58xPj2-Xp8vtU-pXs6to-QHDGiW-t6dtT-6bsVU6-9SurWh-Wdj1Qd-odAC7i-ubQRAd-apXuRr-nJMGvb-9sCtdA-51wq2C-4KXrym-dJLEXx-dfGd8s-6yz6qi-22c7xXE-4KXt7A-219zYfG-Y6ugwd-aokdtX-WXZF7J-8k4FAh-219zYkm-rqFwgT-2gqYSkX-pKNDEY-fngxkg-2rBixn-cAMBNL-6yEkh5-cAMnRj-9Axjsh-WXZF8W-HU8RCu-E72ZqC-8nkuaw-bDCtyG-22eMwC4-64vyhJToo many of those intimidating women I knew were divorced or never married. Maybe they had a close circle of friends who got together after work, but more likely, they lost themselves in a crowd somewhere in what little free time they allowed themselves. In the long run, those crowds did them more harm than good, as the people around them judged others harshly in order to make themselves feel less invisible. Many hid their own pain by hurting others, but from a safe distance so as not to have their heart strings tugged by raw emotion that erupted before walls slammed back into place.

Yes, I was once that lonely, shuttered face in the crowd hurt more by unkindness or exclusion than I’d ever have admitted. Often, I kept going back because it was better than being alone with my own thoughts, and because, for a couple of minutes at a time, I could lose myself in the music and the freedom I felt only while dancing. I suspect I was one of the lucky ones to have an outlet for the innocent, carefree part of me I believed I had to keep hidden in order to survive.

Becoming More Sensitive to Others

Having lived a large part of my life as one of those “intimidating women”, I’d like to say I’m https://www.flickr.com/photos/125303894@N06/14365669046/in/photolist-nTrNV5-2f5PCUZ-28knBCQ-bSRpwg-hSnPyx-otGuDp-azqvRQ-D2QXQh-YVh4U5-8ZJcE3-26bTzFo-eeaBEi-occovQ-9i7bQ5-23CJvTx-rhV1XQ-26LZPM6-nrsG7K-bmnvub-8rRn4C-MZDGbT-HuqYEh-27342hV-HrkwAE-ehfTPF-2734sEP-LgusiG-272GRGH-25DqddG-25Dqn1m-Y2VH7U-LXKfra-LguvaJ-25Dqnoq-25DJuL5-2f1ci9J-25DqbXL-28povan-Lm2wcx-HkMrNJ-2dYUsVs-oaeobo-ZR9qTn-rtFBMa-24ZPYXp-R78K1f-Dymseq-24W5BDs-23CJCE8-21DkYfLmore sensitive to the ones who still live there. Sometimes I am, but there are plenty of times when I simply feel pushed away, and accept their nonacceptance. I may step back and recognize the reason behind the walls. I may even try to hang around and earn their trust. Most of the time, I’m ashamed to admit, I walk away, accepting the rebuff without question; without recognizing it as a cry for help.

Looking back, I realize my upbringing made me more comfortable around men who hid their feelings and didn’t expect honest emotions. I didn’t have any real girlfriends until I was in my 40’s, and to be honest, I’m still learning how to be one. The hardest lesson for me to learn is when to push past the walls, when to stand by and allow them to come down slowly, or when to walk away because they’re not ready yet. I doubt I’ll always get it right, no matter how much practice I get, but at least now I’m willing to keep trying, even if I get knocked down more often than not.

I believe most people I meet are worth the effort, even if it becomes clear I’m not the right person for them. I have to believe if people like me keep trying to help, eventually someone will come along that makes every intimidating woman feel safe enough to accept help and begin to heal.

Gratitude Helps Smooth the Road

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the pain I’ve experienced, and the healing that came out of the pain.
  2. I’m grateful for the women in my life who are teaching me to be open, compassionate, and accepted for who I am, not who I pretend to be.
  3. I’m grateful for experiences that have taught me to recognize similar pain and trauma in others even when they’re doing an exemplary job of hiding it.
  4. I’m grateful for opportunities to help others who’ve lived a life of lonely self-containment for too long.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, opportunities, challenges, lessons, compassion, health, peace, balance, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Narcissists Play a Circular Game

https://www.flickr.com/photos/101561334@N08/10197031243/in/photolist-gx5s8v-jFvehZ-ceYKvY-gx4Gcf-Qv32MQ-gx58Ji-aavAwk-k15Tk9-gcokN-jYnA9p-pts3CH-KErQUu-fMFuKi-5gvfXp-gx5zqD-594W8Y-gx5GPp-gx4EMG-S7Jpw1-P5f7sP-VMMRHL-oiRYiu-7pPH6E-2bXKRhj-2cLerFQ-oxWTqS-psDwB2-ceXTFN-amxUkM-2bsd6t6-N7Lj5T-cbSXFd-YtbGJE-bNJ5H-RNvZP3-kiboPh-WmzxPu-7UzoSM-24eKtUM-cjgru7-n3pBeq-7PK4bp-ajX4J8-nk5bJN-88HFFJ-W18WBb-jBnrh2-ciDDMd-TzUwZm-8wqYSTI get constant status updates about my physical and mental state via my gut, my head, and my body. The ones best addressed as soon as the reminders arrive are those which involve absorbing other people’s energy and problems. When I fail to acknowledge and act on the first, more subtle reminders, the voices and physical effects become worse until I have no choice. I prefer to avoid having them reach such levels, but occasionally, I get so self-absorbed or otherwise focused I forget what will come from my lack of appropriate attention.

When things are relatively quiet; I have no pressing commitments, no deadlines crawling up my back, and no one other than my cats requiring immediate attention, it’s easy to become complacent. It’s also the perfect time for my mind to dredge up old, unmanaged trauma, small slights I failed to release, or recent exposure, both in person and virtually, to someone who needs an energetic house cleaning of their own. Often, the effects of such exposure hung around long after the person left my presence. Some weren’t even recognized until my environment cleared and I felt the residual oiliness of their cloying energies.

As an Empath, I’m not immune to the games and ploys of Narcissists. As many red flags and warning signs as I’ve stored in my memory banks, there will always be one who comes along with new tricks up their sleeve. I admit being impressed by the extent of their creativity, while making sure I add the new games and their defenses to my own arsenal. I suspect the level of creativity is inherent to the breed, else they’d run out of potential victims too quickly.

Seeing Everyone as Innocent Until They Show Their True Colors

While unintentionally studying the works and wiles of Narcissists, I’ve learned subtlety and https://www.flickr.com/photos/52525615@N03/6290019994/in/photolist-azPZNA-pMAvoj-bZW7f7-ktt3qX-dmM9Nh-aiuvHt-9AZqjo-HroDJ-bgmHTc-6Yn6Gt-8qW4rV-7XtBPD-UgoaDG-8yA6ab-a9ECbd-PgYniP-6TiGs4-8CVWab-5Mco6D-uKKR-uULGS-GP7UJ-nGUuJn-b3sekX-4qJbEz-dWpWLD-a7FnDL-8KN6uk-nsnjLD-bf5xHt-9jrFVg-7ECRTt-9ccXQo-82Nw2x-JFdpdF-6PvtZ6-521MKn-eKJDMz-e59eoW-bDfUkn-ah3Q37-5UGd5P-8qZu27-ayTKRa-9xHr9N-hS5exi-9J3jPt-4Stp5J-8S5NwV-LAmruYinsidiousness are the core of their tool chests. Like a poisonous gas, they seep in beneath the defenses, and often choose Empaths whose compassion and natural willingness to help lend themselves to a Narcissists insatiable need for attention, adoration, and fulfillment.

There was a time when being at the beck and call of a Narcissist was a life sentence for many Empaths who lost their will and identity to someone who could only take, and never give. Thankfully, as people become more open about their feelings, and concerned about how others treat them, information becomes available on breaking those ties and seeking healthier attachments. I suspect it’s also caused Narcissists to up their game by becoming even more creative. Else Empaths like me wouldn’t get caught in their snares even for a minute.

I’m not ashamed to admit I still get sucked in at times. The trouble is, I still go through a bit of self chastising afterwards because I think I should have seen it coming. To be honest, I’m not sure what stresses me out more; getting sucked in, or giving myself hell afterwards. I know the latter tends to last longer.

Their Success at Manipulating Is No Reflection On Me

Created with CanvaEventually, I take a good, hard look in the mirror and admit the person was remarkably skillful, but, as the song goes, I won’t get fooled again. It’s as if they left their mark in my guest book, and once they left, the ink started to simmer and boil. I realize in trusting them, I failed to engage my filters and shields, and have absorbed some of their discordant energy into my own field. Once I’ve finished beating myself up over allowing it in the first place, it’s time to engage my cleanup crew to remove the rotting, toxic carcass and allow my own energy to flow clean and clear once again.

Learning to see past the well-crafted facade of a Narcissist is a constantly evolving skill. No two people are alike, and though Narcissists share traits, the way they employ both traits and skills is different every time. Those who’ve been wielding their tools successfully for many years are typically the most difficult to detect as they’ve learned to hone in on their target and weave their web with preternatural skill.

If there’s anything I truly hate, it’s being manipulated. Even more, I hate being so easily read that someone can get past my guard to engage my compassion when they neither need, nor deserve it. Hard as I may try, I’ll stew about it for days, trying to figure out how they managed to fool me, even for a minute.

OJT for Narcissist Avoidance

The trouble is, I don’t know how to think like a Narcissist, and frankly, I’m not interested in self lovelearning. Nonetheless, each new experience; each new game I fall for teaches me how to avoid another kind of trap. In the meantime, I’ve learned to recognize the traps sooner than I used to, and I can tell when there’s a game being played whose rules are unfamiliar to me.

Though I may familiarize myself with those rules, it’s purely for avoidance purposes as it isn’t a game I choose to play. In the first place, it would never be a level playing field, and in the second, it’s a game that sets off every alarm bell I have. With everything I’ve learned in the last couple of decades, and the appreciation gained for my own gifts, I am physically unable to play the part required of me in a Narcissistic game any longer.

In my personal evolution as an Empath, I’ve discovered there’s no education like on the job training (OJT). The process is decidedly unpleasant and, for a long time, I chose avoidance over the painful lessons I needed. No one wants the lessons imparted by a Narcissist even if they don’t realize it. But the fact is, you can’t learn to both recognize the signs and protect yourself if you don’t know what to look for, or how much damage they can do if not parried.

In the end, I have only gratitude for those who plied their skills in my direction so I could learn how to be strong, discerning, independent, and protected. Their manipulations and machinations taught me how to see through facades when I encountered others of their ilk, and helped me recognize the only one who truly has power over my energy and emotions is me. I have to be willing to stand up for myself, and to take the painful lessons they left to strengthen my skills, and more importantly, my power of observation. Most of all, I’ve learned to trust my initial feelings…most of the time.

Grateful for Being My Innocent, Gullible Self

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the reminders when I let my guard slip.
  2. I’m grateful for true friends who give me the best examples of what I deserve.
  3. I’m grateful for the ability to recover more quickly from the gifts left by a Narcissist.
  4. I’m grateful for knowing where I belong, and who with.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, compassion, support, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, dedication, peace, health, harmony, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Rifts for a Reason

solitudeMy family has always been a hornet’s nest of rifts, and landmines of drama. From my grandmother’s stories of the people who’d wronged her, and were expunged from her life forever, to the ones I’ve had with my mother, sister, and daughter, I’ve managed to keep the tradition going, but for vastly different reasons. In truth, I’ve had little contact with my mother’s side of the family in more than 20 years, and mention it on occasion. I say that with no little irony.

If I’m being honest, I’ve had even less contact with my dad’s side, though in their case, I think it was circumstance more than anything else. Mom was the driving force over which side of the family we saw more of, so dad’s got short shrift. When my grandfather died in 1987, I lost contact with that side of the family aside from brief interchanges through my dad. I remember them, for the most part as a fun-loving, driven bunch; a family who emigrated from Russia in the late 1800’s and went on to yield business owners, and educated, successful progeny, but put little time or effort into emotional ties.

Things were always more volatile in mom’s family, and often, not in a good way. The infighting I didn’t understand as a child became more noticeable, and uncomfortable as I grew older. With mom gone, I guess I saw no reason to keep trying, and neither did any of the cousins. We went our separate ways without so much as a backward glance. 20 years later, a few reconnected, but when it became abundantly clear I’d grown away from the family’s prescribed modes of behavior, I’m convinced both sides of the equation agreed we’d made the right decision when we first became estranged. At the risk of sounding cliche, the sleeping dogs were better off being allowed to lie.

Remembering the Old, Honoring the New

A lot of people have come and gone through my life these 60-odd years. Looking back, I’m surprised to see how many considering the number of years I lived an almost hermit-like existence. It seems I emerged often enough to touch and be touched by more lives than I realized. A few have remained for decades, but other than immediate family, most came and went within a single decade—the majority of them, far less.

Looking back, as I do with decreasing frequency, I recognize the ones who hung around longer, but more, those who’ve done so by choice rather than family obligation. I also admit the rifts, whether initiated by me, someone else, or both of us were necessary, and aren’t meant to be reversed. On more than one occasion, I’ve tried to re-engage. It never ended well. In hindsight, I’d have been better served leaving the past in the past, but those attempts gave me the information I needed to learn the lesson well enough to recognize it wasn’t worth repeating in most cases.

As with anything, there are a couple of exceptions which brought people back into my life in a completely different capacity. I treasure those friendships for the rule breakers they are, and the gifts they brought into my life the second time around. I’m also grateful my rules hadn’t become hard and fast before they returned, or I might have rejected their overtures to my own detriment.

Looking Back and Letting Go

https://www.flickr.com/photos/basykes/7340397856/in/photolist-cbDsxJ-fzRXJH-fzRU3V-GFFVME-87C3ro-epfT1v-6ixEeJ-HRLxVG-58xPj2-Xp8vtU-pXs6to-QHDGiW-t6dtT-6bsVU6-9SurWh-Wdj1Qd-odAC7i-ubQRAd-apXuRr-nJMGvb-9sCtdA-51wq2C-4KXrym-dJLEXx-dfGd8s-6yz6qi-22c7xXE-4KXt7A-219zYfG-Y6ugwd-aokdtX-WXZF7J-8k4FAh-219zYkm-rqFwgT-2gqYSkX-pKNDEY-fngxkg-2rBixn-cAMBNL-6yEkh5-cAMnRj-9Axjsh-WXZF8W-HU8RCu-E72ZqC-8nkuaw-bDCtyG-22eMwC4-64vyhJMy family, on the other hand, are strangers now. I don’t know their kids, or relate to any of the journeys they’ve taken in their lives. There’s no common ground with which to even start a conversation. Though it’s sad, I don’t believe any of us are really lacking for each others’ absence. It’s simply become what is, and ultimately, what it was meant to be.

I look at it now and think if the rifts were meant to be mended, we’d have found a way to do so before they became the uncrossable chasms they are now. Any bridges we might have had, or common ground we might have shared have been lost to the years in-between; my own personal Dark Ages, to no one’s disappointment. I doubt there’s a single person willing to put forth the effort to rebuild a single bridge or reconnect a broken tie. If there’s anything to gain by making the effort, I can no longer see it.

I know this sounds abominably sad, but the truth is, we all filled the space the others left in our lives with new family members via marriages and births, and an extended family of friends who share our values and beliefs. I choose to believe it was meant to be this way, and my mom’s untimely death launched a chain of events leading to now that was anything but arbitrary.

A Launching Pad and Nothing More

I never felt I fit in with my family in the first place, nor did my mom. At this stage in my life, I realize they were simply the vehicle through which I came back into the world, and were never meant to partner me through the entire journey. I was meant to break away and find my own path—a path far different than what they knew or understood. Perhaps I even saw it coming as a teenager, but wasn’t yet ready to set off on my own without the safety net of family, even if mine was fraught with holes and strife.

In a lot of ways, I can see now the rift was built into my life from birth, but widened as I grew older, and chafed under the unspoken set of rules I was expected to follow (and rarely understood). A part of me knew I had to find a way to break away from those constricting, yet familiar rules and mores. Fear of being alone was probably the single biggest factor in making me hold on for longer than I should have. Mom’s suicide was definitely the kick in the pants I needed to finally let go of what no longer worked—what in all honesty never worked, nor was it meant to.

I understand now I had to leave the nest, the known, in order to find my authentic self, and learn to be true to her. Nothing and no one was, or ever will be more important than living for myself first and foremost.

Gratitude is My Comfort and My Friend

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’m on a journey to find and embrace my authentic self.
  2. I’m grateful for all the friends and family, both present and past who have helped my on my journey.
  3. I’m grateful for all the kicks in the pants, and Universal head slaps that have knocked me clean out of my comfort zone.
  4. I’m grateful for the family that brought me into this world, then launched me out on my own.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, authenticity, vulnerability, joy, sorry, challenges, frustrations, lessons, character, independence, support, community, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

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 Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

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