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

Embracing Our Inner Bitch

You Can’t Make Everyone Happy

Sometimes, there’s no other choice but to stand our ground and not worry about what others think. After all, if we’re so busy pleasing everyone else, we’re neglecting the most important person in our own lives.

Recently, I had a conversation with a young woman about being called “bitch” both to my face and behind my back. She said for her, it was usually behind her back (which smacks of cowardice on the part of the name flingers, if you ask me). I said a had a few decades on her and a lot more practice at being firm, and even unpleasant if need be, so there were plenty who’d used the term to my face over the years, with less than the desired results.

Doing What’s Right

The funny thing is, most who use it intend it as an insult, but to me, it usually means I haven’t given them what they wanted, and above all, I have not been someone’s doormat. To me, being called a bitch affirms I’m not afraid to stand up for myself, my family, and my friends regardless of what others think.

Are there times I regret being forceful and immovable? Sure. Every once in awhile I discover I was in the wrong, and, if possible, do my best to apologize and own up to my mistake. Still, sometimes the best fix is to simply walk away. Engaging further when someone is already angry is guaranteed to escalate the situation rather than soothe it, mainly because everything you say from that point on is going to be wrong. As humans, once we’re angry, we tend to close down the listening side of our brain, replacing it with the reactive part.

Bitch is Often Another Word for Strong

There are many misconceptions about women who aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves, or just say no. We are not militant or frigid (as has often been appended to the “b” word for me). We simply believe in our own right to choose, and to defend those close to us from bullies and those who believe they have the right to shove their opinions down the throats of others.

We don’t hate men. Often, quite the contrary. We have many in our close social circle and, in many cases, a warm loving relationship too. (OK, so I’ve yet to figure that one out, but as I’m not dead yet, there’s still hope. And even some of my non-Jewish friends seem to have inherited the yenta gene of late!) I personally have a great deal of respect for the men I’ve come to know and love. But that love and respect goes both ways too.

All through history, strong, forceful women have gotten a bad rap. In the Corporate world what would be called “assertive” in a man would be “aggressive” in a woman. A man with strong leadership skills is respected and revered. A woman is “pushy”, or a “control freak”, or even a “ball buster”. The sad part is, some of the loudest complainers aren’t men, but other women. I think most of it is their own insecurities and even jealousy speaking. When they can’t be strong and assertive themselves, they’ve learned playing the weakling and tearing other women down can work to their advantage with the big, strong, menfolk.

Increasing Strength in Our Younger Generation

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bagogames/17513112228/in/photolist-WfcVG3-sFzh7Q-7N47KL-bdHWBt-bdHsh8-bdJqxB-bdJqor-bdJq9F-bdGXdv-bdJ4UB-bdHajc-bdGXmk-bdJjLV-bdJjkB-6dHmj5-hXiifV-hXigTC-6dHn9w-6MEEFYI found myself at odds with women of my generation and even many younger than myself all too often while working for corporations both large and small. I haven’t worked as much with Millennials, but what I’ve seen socially is both inspiring and comforting. More and more of the young women I meet are strong, independent types who don’t allow people to push them around.

Many are entrepreneurs who are doing far better than I am at the moment, and from whom I’m learning a few new tricks. Their confidence and lack of concern over looking or acting perfect warms my heart, especially in light of all the reports of body shaming and other heinous acts meant to objectify and embarrass young women. The ones I know and see are happier in their skin than most of my generation learned to be. And they own it! Boy, do they own it!

What Others Think of Me Is None of My Business

The one thing we share is our amusement when someone sees fit to label us a bitch for being strong and self-assured. Many have already learned what took me decades:

What other people think of me is none of my business.

I actually had a former employee challenge me on this one time. In her opinion, I should care what others think of me. My question to her was Why? She didn’t have an answer which satisfied me, and frankly, I didn’t care. It was still someone else’s opinion, and was outside my own desire to understand.

Life is About Kindness and Compassion, Not Popularity

What truly matters isn’t what people think of us. It’s that we are kind and compassionate while https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhstill upholding our values and beliefs. Because someone doesn’t agree with my values and beliefs doesn’t make them wrong. It simply makes my standards wrong for them, and that’s OK. I never asked anyone to live by mine, nor am I willing to turn myself inside out to fit theirs just so they’ll like me.

Life ain’t a popularity contest. I couldn’t care less if I’m part of the “in” crowd. To be honest, it’s a lot more fun being a rebel. What matters is I’ve found the people who love and respect me for who I am without pretenses. They know what to expect, not because I’m conforming, but because I’m honest, transparent, and vulnerable. The people I’m drawn to these days value those qualities far more than a bunch of cookie cutter friends who try to look, act, and think alike.

Making Myself a Priority

I stifled my own entrepreneurial spirit for decades, and only made myself miserable in the process. I was stressed out, angry, irritable, and cranky most of the time—except when I was on a dance floor.

It’s no coincidence I learned to drop the pretenses when my life included regular dancing and a lot of internal work to heal the old wounds and self-limiting beliefs. It’s also when I learned to live a full, complete life, and to embrace my inner bitch.

A Daily Practice of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the example so many young women are setting today.
  2. I am grateful I learned to stop caring what others think of me.
  3. I am grateful to friends who’ve helped me own my honest, transparent, vulnerable self.
  4. I am grateful for my circle of friends which includes strong, straightforward women and men who appreciate us as we are.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, inspiration, vulnerability, transparency, strength, self-confidence, love, joy, friendship, community, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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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Where Are Our Obsessions Born?

created with CanvaMany of us have something in our lives we can’t seem to get enough of, but did you ever stop to wonder why?

One of the things I find myself stockpiling is comforters. When I was young, my mom believed in bedspreads, but never comforters. I love snuggling into them on cold nights, or sleeping on top of their fluffy softness when it’s warmer. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I even had a bedspread on my bed! I seem to have passed this and a few other obsessions on to my daughter. Often, we’ll exchange comforters on Christmas (when she isn’t adding to my custom blanket collection!).

Years ago I had a friend who said his mother only let him own a couple of pairs of underwear and socks, while she spent thousands on beauty products for herself. As an adult, he had one of the largest underwear and sock collections I’ve ever seen in a man, and was always buying more.

Feelings of Deprivation

My mother also believed the only thing a girl needed was white bras. She herself might have created with Canvahad a couple in beige and black, but my sister and I only got white ones. Like my friend the underwear fanatic, I have a drawer full of bras in a rainbow of colors, but maybe one in white and another in beige for those rare times I buy a shirt that isn’t a bright color itself.

Whether or not my friend or I were actually deprived as kids, or just believed we were is immaterial. The fact that we believed we did without to the point of overcompensating as adults is what matters to us now. I may have slowed down acquisitions in recent years since you can only use so many comforters at once, or wear so many bras in a week. But it doesn’t mean I don’t browse the Kohl’s ads when those things go on sale.

Recognizing the Resentment Behind Our Obsessions

Underlying our obsessions is more than a fair amount of resentment towards, in both examples, our mothers. In my case, it was probably a large part of why I took so long to allow myself to grieve her death. As long as I held onto the resentment, I didn’t acknowledge or accept my need or even my right to grieve. The resentment justified my initial relief that she’d no longer be nagging or making me crazy with her suggestions to improve my life.

Those nagging, hurtful, helpful comments still give me pause. Looking at myself in the mirror at the gym the other day, I noticed my face was looking dull and mucky. It brought to mind a visit to mom’s house. She looked at me and said:

“Your skin looks muddy. Go in the bathroom and wash your face.”

Although I followed her instructions, I spent the rest of the visit like so many others; resenting her interference and her unkind observation. I know now she meant to be helpful, but she didn’t seem to know how to communicate kindness to me, nor did I know how to hear it from her.

Healing To Release Both Physical and Emotional Baggage

created with CanvaAs with everything else, letting go of old hurts is a process, especially when those hurts began before you were even old enough to remember. With each chink in my armor, each bit of mortar I remove from my walls, each brick I finally break loose, I find more pieces of resentment, hurt feelings, deep-seated emotional pain, and trauma. With each new discovery, I have to restart the process of accepting, acknowledging, releasing, and forgiving which I’ve learned is  the only way to truly expunge the old baggage holding us back from achieving the dreams we imagine.

Those resentments and hurts are like sandbags on a hot air balloon. In order to lift from the ground, you either need more hot air or less sandbags. Sometimes it’s a toss-up as to which is easier to accomplish. Some of those sandbags have been part of our lives for so long, they’ve practically fossilized. In some cases, we even mistakenly believe we have to remove them intact.

Gently or Roughly; Only We Know How to Make Changes to Ourselves

Breaking our fossilized baggage into more manageable chunks is often the more practical solution. But emotions and feelings are rarely something we approach with practicality as the motivator or key guideline.

In some cases, we want to rip off the bandage or cut off the offending part as quickly as possible with no concern for the pain and upheaval removal by force will cause. In others, we prefer to remove past events with surgical precision, making sure we keep the damaged piece intact as if we plan on displaying it in our personal museum.

Neither method is right or wrong. You won’t make peace with yourself more quickly with one than the other. Most of all, it isn’t for anyone else to tell you how to get the job done, or even when it’s time to release another piece.

Learning to Look Without Reacting

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dainec/3687658810/in/photolist-bEPm7E-934mpF-6fYkU-e4uZVD-e4AAXW-e4AAV3-6BSduj-3gGWHE-qeDbXE-qeGvKg-Embmi-pXhj22-4azrtU-pwagx-7HXhbQ-z5BPMY-z5BJvW-s12vnBIt’s kind of like looking at the Kohl’s ad, then looking at the pile of comforters in my closet, reminding myself I no longer need to add to the collection. Or opening my overflowing drawer of rainbow-hued bras and realizing I don’t even wear the ones I have often enough to wear them out since I spend my working hours 10 steps from where I sleep, making them superfluous unless I’m going out.

It’s looking at a drawer full of matched and mis-matched socks, knowing it’s time to weed out some of the accumulation and make room for better things I’ll actually use, or at least allow me to see what I have that’s still useful. Sorting through our old baggage is much the same. One day, we look at the closet and realize there’s clutter. We’re finding it difficult to find what we’re looking for because we have to dig through a lot of stuff we haven’t used in ages, and no longer need.

Clear the Physical Along With the Emotional

At that point, we begin cleaning out our emotional cupboard, sorting through things which Created with Canvahave outlived their usefulness and are holding us back from the greatness we deserve. We decide which ones we’ll rip out like a loose tooth, and which we’ll untangle carefully, making sure we don’t damage any of the pieces as we work out the knots.

Sometimes, we need to clear emotions which have become entangled in those knots or woven into the fabric of our life as we go. Those are the ones which require delicacy because they’ve wrapped tendrils around things we want to keep; feelings which make us smile or feel all warm inside.

Asking for Help

Our main concern is knowing when it’s time to let things go, and doing whatever we need to. It may be talking to a friend or a coach. It might be giving yourself a retreat of some kind where you spend time alone in self-reflection. For some, it’s physical activity like hiking, dancing, cycling, or lifting weights. For others, a quiet stroll through the forest or burrowing into a pile of blankets with a good book and their pets.

Wherever you find yourself on this continuum, please, let yourself release some of the crap you’re carrying. Allow time to dig in and see what you’ve finished with and need to let go. Reach out for help if you need it, and even if you think you don’t. You don’t realize sometimes how much you’re holding yourself back until you take an honest look at why you’re standing still.

Above All, Know You Are Worth the Effort

I, myself battle with huge insecurities regarding my writing. I admitted to my coach I’ve probably written over a million words in the last 9 or 10 years, but still struggle with believing in myself as a writer. From where she sits, it’s hard to believe, but here, behind all my own demons, both exorcised and not, a few remain who don’t have to work too hard to convince me I’m unworthy. At least I’ve reached the point where I know they have to go, and can start taking the necessary steps to identify and eradicate those who are still getting in the way of me and my dreams.

How can I help you start identifying and releasing your own demons? I’ve learned a few things in the years I’ve been working on mine, and would be happy to share some of the things that worked—and a few that didn’t. Don’t hide. Leave me a comment and start getting out of your own way.

Gratitude: The Strongest Tool in Our Arsenal

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I discovered I could combine my love of writing with the road to achieving my dreams.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who’ve opened their hearts, shared their experiences, and helped me heal.
  3. I’m grateful for my coach, my daughter, and numerous friends who are continually making me see I am worthy, I am talented, and I do have expertise in an area or two.
  4. I’m grateful for the inspiration which keeps me writing 3 posts a week for myself, and helping others express their true, vulnerable, beautiful selves as well. This truly is living my dream.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, love, friendship, dancing, community, demanding furballs, persistence, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

A Year in Review: Reiterating My Purpose

For the first time in years, I spent Christmas Eve and Day alone. I won’t go into all the reasons why except to say it was by choice as well as circumstance. The time alone gave me a chance to go inside, do some soul searching and gain some perspective.

Although I don’t always give myself credit, I did meet some of my goals this year. Others were extended into 2019 while I worked on my infrastructure. Not the physical so much as the mental, emotional, and spiritual.

I started working with coach Linda Clay on a regular basis after being one of the beta testers for her new program. The month-long beta test yielded such positive results I opted to continue, and came to a mutually beneficial arrangement to make it happen.

Successes Always Outweigh Setbacks

The end of the year brought a number of setbacks which at times left me unable or unwilling to accomplish much. Even my thrice weekly gym visits suffered a bit, at times becoming only twice. I actually see that as a win, if only because if I missed, it was only once a week, where in the past, it would probably have been the entire week. Clearly, it’s one habit I’ve cemented into my life and lifestyle, which is a huge leap forward in my opinion.

I’ve also managed to stay at least a week ahead with my blog posts, and am slowly working my way back to 2 or 3. My goal right now is to finish the last 8 posts for January no later than the 12th. And, despite setbacks and delays, I still plan to honor my latest goal of finishing the current edit of Life Torn Asunder by the end of January.

What Others See Pales Beside What Lies Beneath the Surface

My goals may not sound lofty to an outsider, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg of my plans Created with Canvafor January and getting them done sooner rather than later leaves more time to take care of all the things I’m working on with my coach, and to propel myself forward according to some pretty lofty plans and goals.

I’d like to spend at least 25% of my time ghostwriting and another 25% getting my books finished, investigating publishing options, taking the necessary steps to make those options a reality, and promoting before, during, and after publication. The promotion side, especially will find me stepping even further away from the comfort zone I’m losing sight of, even as we speak.

That comfort zone was a huge part of my Christmas revelations. Each step I take nowadays is scary, more because they’re all steps into uncharted territory for me. I know I’ll trip and fall many times along the way, but I also know I have tons of support now. My support comes from places I’ve come to expect and appreciate immensely, but it’s also been coming from new, unexpected, and no less appreciated directions as well.

I think the single biggest factor in my continued forward progress is knowing support will be there for me every step of the way. I may not see it at the moment, but it hasn’t failed me in longer than I can remember.

Allowing Our Cycles to Run Their Course

Sure, there are places where the odds were against me, and I lost someone or something I loved. I have to accept it, even if I have to go off to my hermit hole and sob a few sobs, shed a lot of tears, and continue a grieving process which will run as long as it needs to. Even those days are productive, if not as much as I’d like. I’ve written my share of articles or researched options for one of the many aspects of my life during those seemingly down times. Shutting myself away doesn’t mean I sit around doing nothing.

I got hooked on the Hallmark Christmas movies before Halloween, and watched more TV than is my wont for the next couple of months. But there comes a time when I reach TV burnout. Then I pick up a book, a notebook and pen, or put my fingers on the keyboard and create. One night even saw me in front of the TV with my laptop on a TV tray creating one of my January posts.

Creating New Healthy Habits

I promised myself I’d reinstate “cafe writing Fridays” after my Friday workouts. Sometimes I’ll go somewhere for lunch, others, a snack and some green tea (I’ve given up coffee, hopefully temporarily while I get my blood pressure under control). My plan is to drag my sweaty-from-the-gym body, my pink bag full of writing materials, and Judy Reeves’ “A Writer’s Book of Days” to every coffee shop, diner, and sandwich shop in town over the next few months. Weather permitting, I’ll also start making use of the numerous parks in town for a change in scenery.

For now, my cafe writing involves a writing prompt, but even there, I’m coming up with some interesting, gut level material, some of which will find it’s way into my memoir, and some into blogs. I’m learning it’s nearly as effective as my morning pages for bringing buried treasure from the depths of my subconscious.

Helping Others to Help Myself

I’ve also started a dialogue with another writer friend, and will start having regular meetups to https://www.flickr.com/photos/58972357@N05/5680789916/in/photolist-9DZwVJ-fgdGm6-a7SYcH-j5jSC4-bGN8dZ-aJn5JF-bExNVg-mSGMdi-ZHWqmm-7LMiyj-9TwjCJ-5AtELB-og1PZ9-4tVBpH-WTy2SC-EYkqoA-9Whomq-qMuq1D-GKUFur-aGDwDa-baLAor-cigULC-dD9LSa-7LFh2P-4LQn4r-fSLy1g-28pzedw-auCkkH-RfUzXE-ap1CA8-4wLABT-9GLXQH-dSP1Wa-7SfMF9-4eBRX6-MUhNVs-7MbCEk-obXLkM-9aGddR-Ns2VHy-jrsEXB-b1D8J-gch9Kk-ouhpzq-e2HHU1-9W9F11-xGa8K-23rp1Yb-am4k5G-ahouP7write or read each others’ work. My experience with organized writers’ groups has been both helpful and frustrating, so maybe starting one-on-one will get me headed back in the right direction, and writing more, procrastinating less. (Some would say I’m too hard on myself given I’m keeping 2-3 weeks ahead on blog posts, but I have higher aspirations for myself. Doesn’t everyone?)

Even now, as much as I share large chunks of myself here, on my website, and in my books, I know when I write, I’m still writing for myself rather than an audience. Perhaps I’m short-sighted if my goal is to grow my writing business, but I’ve learned oftentimes when I write for myself, other people relate better to what I’m saying.

Although I’m still tearing down some of the walls I spent 6 decades building, I believe I’ve sufficiently eradicated the masks and costuming I wore for nearly as long. I no longer feel the need to hide anything of myself. Others are free to accept or reject; agree or disagree; love or hate what I’m saying. I’m learning not to take it personally. Their reactions are as much their own as my writing is mine. Often, I learn from those responses anyway, and am driven to dig deeper to try to understand myself and some of the deep-seated feelings better.

Start With New Goals and Solidify Them With Gratitude

My Christmas musings were a start. They yielded, not a full conversation or set of goals, but launched the conversation I expect to continue throughout 2019, until I take another few days to look within, and to recognize what I’ve accomplished, the lessons I’ve learned, and the challenges I’ve overcome. Each day, each week, each month, each year, is a new opportunity to learn, grow, and achieve something great. Let’s make each and every moment count, because the future is not promised to any of us.

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people in my life who keep me moving forward, keep me humble, and keep me from diving back into my comfort zone.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who have been there to comfort and keep me company through the tough times, the crazy times, and the celebratory times as well.
  3. I am grateful for my butt kickers, Heather, Linda, and Candy especially, who may not always see what’s going on, but force me to look and create things I’m proud of.
  4. I am grateful for the excitement in my heart and bones for the upcoming year, the projects I’ve begun, and the ones I’ve yet to start.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, motivation, friendship, joy, health, prosperity, harmony, peace, challenges, lessons, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Author’s Note: I wrote this in that often dark time between Christmas and New Year’s when so many people suffer from depression, and feel lost and alone. I wrote it for myself to help me start climbing out of my funk, but also for anyone who also experiences sadness and loneliness, not only at this time of year, but any other time too. We all have someone who cares, even if we don’t think we do, and we need to reach out to them when we’re feeling down. They want to help, but don’t always know we need it, or will even accept it. I urge you to let your friends and family see when you’re hurting instead of feeling like you have to hide it. You’ll be glad you did.

Nothing to Be Happy About

I’ve lost my happy. As I mope around the house, sometimes for days on end, I’m disinclined to even change out of my pajamas unless I’m going to the gym or to a relocated dance night. Even then, I often have to argue with myself before I get dressed and moving. I haven’t used the word “fantastic” or even “great” when someone asked me how I am in what seems like ages. The best people get out of me these days is “OK”, and it’s because I’m anything but. I see no reason to drag anyone down by telling them the truth. For those who know me, “OK” says it all anyway, as they keep checking in on me.

I know it started the night we lost 12 beautiful souls at the hands of a troubled young man; the night we lost more than just 12 innocents who were known for making this world better for many. We lost the place where we gather, where we unwind, where we de-stress, and where we knew we’d give and receive many warm, heartfelt hugs twice a week without fail. We lost our home.

The owner of the club is still talking about re-opening, some way, some how. But when, or even where is still a huge question; our own elephant in the room.

Insidious, Unseen Happiness Thieves

If this single event was the thief of my happiness, I might have found it by now; in the strengthening bonds, the shared hope, the resilience of our family, and the extraordinary heart and spirit of the families who lost children, brothers, husbands, sons, daughters. But it goes so much deeper for me right now.

My world is turned upside down by many things. I lost my sweet girl, Munchkin in December. I increased my debt significantly, but my income is still falling far behind. The 25th anniversary of the day my mom’s unhappiness got the best of her; the day she got tired enough of being unhappy and left us forever, came and went without a single thought until days later. A quarter of a century without my mom. Most of the dissension we shared is long forgotten, or at least the reasons we were so at odds. I don’t exactly miss her. I miss having a mom though. The mom I didn’t really have.

Empathic Cats Offer Comfort Wherever They Can

Even seemingly stupid stuff is getting to me now. I curled up on the guest room bed because I felt lousy and didn’t feel like doing any of my usual things. I didn’t have the energy to clean or the focus to read or even watch TV.

Pyewacket and Tiana

As I pulled the soft blanket Heather got me for Christmas up over my shoulders, I felt tears prickling the back of my eyes. The last time I did that, Munchkin came bounding in, her little bell jingling, knowing there was snuggling ahead. A little over a year ago, she’d have been joined by Toby stomping all over me until he found a good position laying across my body, and Dylan who’d walk across my pillow and lick my cheek. Now, only Dylan is left of the older cats, and he’s doing his best to comfort me when I’m not really ready to let go and be comforted.

Mulan and Dylan

Fortunately, the cats understand better than I realize. Pyewacket joined us, crawling under the blanket and snuggling for a little while. Mulan came in too and even refrained from stomping all over me, demanding attention. She simply curled up beside me, offering comfort. Even shy, skittish Tiana who I often mistook for Munchkin until I got a closer look has found a jingle ball and plays with it in the middle of the night, as if to remind me Munchkin’s love lives on in my heart and home. I love and appreciate those who are still here, but I miss the two who brought so much love into my life, and died way too soon. I can’t help missing them, any more than I can stop the tears from flowing whenever something reminds me of all they gave, and all I’ve lost.

I know Dylan feels the losses as much as I do. He hardly leaves my side any more, and seems distressed when I leave the house, even for an hour or two. We spend a lot of time sitting together, comforting each other, and grieving.

Healthy Routines Aren’t Always Enough

If that wasn’t enough to make me struggle to regain my former happy, cheerful self, I learned my blood pressure is now in the unhealthy range. I informed my doctor’s PA I would, under no circumstances take medication to reduce it, so I’ve had to make some significant changes to my eating habits instead. The hardest has been giving up my morning coffee. I’m hoping it’s only temporary. Green tea is OK, but it doesn’t have the strength of a good cup of coffee.

Scrappy Doo

Scrappy Doo

More exercise would help too, but getting myself out of the house for anything but my pre-set routines is nearly impossible. Lately, my laundry consists of workout clothes, pajamas, and the shorts I wore on the few nights I did dance. And cat purrs. Lots and lots of cat purrs.

Dimming My Light

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQMy bright colored blouses hang on the rack collecting dust. When I do go out, I’m either wearing a black t-shirt commemorating the fateful night, or something else that lets me blend into the crowd. Wearing bright colors doesn’t feel good right now.

When I do go dancing and talk turns to next year’s line dance cruise, I feel even more alone and left out. My current finances won’t allow an expenditure like that, or another much-needed writer’s conference, for that matter.

That’s not to say things aren’t improving a bit, but it seems like for every windfall, I’ve had extra expenses as well. And when I have a large expenditure like Munchkin’s vet bills, there’s no offsetting gain.

I know a lot of it is my mindset. Although I’m starting to attract more notice and more interest from my target audience (read, people who could use my particular type of writing skills and can afford to pay for them), the process is slow since I am still learning the marketing ropes. Again, I know I’m improving with a lot of help from my coach. But the holidays and Munchkin created a hiatus of nearly a month so I’m going to have to recapture some of the momentum. Still, the negative voices, imposter syndrome, and sheer ennui keep getting in the way. I stumble over my own feet too often.

Temporary Down Turns and Lights in the Darkness

I’m grateful I recognize this unhappiness as not only temporary, but uncharacteristic. I know I can fix it, and that I don’t have to fix it alone. Right now, I feel adrift, alone in a storm mostly of my own making, But I also know I won’t remain here, if for no other reason than I won’t allow it.

I see the lack of appetite as an asset as it’s helping me lose some of the weight I’ve put on because I’m not dancing as much. The high blood pressure keeps me from eating the salty snacks I was eating while mindlessly glued to the television. Without them, I rarely eat after dinner even if my stomach starts to growl. I’ve had to find a recipe for the amazing lentil soup I was buying from Trader Joe’s, but which has too much sodium for my new lifestyle. I’m looking forward to adding to my freezer stock soon. In spite of myself, I’m developing healthier habits again, and I know I can re-balance my system without artificial and potentially harmful means.

Being Sad Without Guilt

Right now, I’m allowing myself to be sad. I’m establishing new relationships with the younger cats as they do their best to fill the enormous holes Munchkin and Toby left. I also realize the best way to help myself is to help others, and am looking for ways to do that.

I know the pain, the hurt, and the loneliness I’m feeling right now will ultimately fade and I’ll find my happy again. I’ve learned it might take time, and it can’t be rushed. Times of pain and sadness are part of our process; part of our evolution. We have to walk through the storm in order to find and appreciate the sunshine. I guess I’ve yet to tire of the storm enough to move towards the sunshine. But I will. I always do.

Gratitude: One of the Best Healers

  1. I am grateful for friends who understand that “OK” isn’t a good place for me.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who demand little and give so much.
  3. I am grateful for my writing as it gives me an outlet for my deepest, darkest places so they don’t fester and become toxic.
  4. I am grateful for all of the people who are finding ways to keep us together and dancing.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, laughter, friendship, vulnerability, caring, sharing, giving, receiving, introspection, opportunities, challenges, inspiration, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Finding New Ways Out of Old Ruts

https://www.flickr.com/photos/35632217@N05/11141220045/in/photolist-hYvEyM-f3q2XF-WN7cAa-WC2tgo-VvU28y-VVCUnp-VZPPpx-X4hSbx-Xgdvnt-Xa18aU-X5F6Ba-WCiedS-VX3ngd-VZNKfH-XdNen3-X4eCyZ-WMPNM6-W32Dnn-W3cPuB-WYbJQU-VSPUyU-WcLFXu-WYe2r5-X65BN1-VVBR3a-WcJ347-Wy5z6h-WN6NEv-WwVjBd-VWVfpw-WXUkAj-WXTMcm-W36zBD-X27vox-VWWtgb-WC1Dp1-Wy6zs7-Wcye5A-WEfsVW-WDZxtd-VyyhgF-VZJ8T9-Xa1kuJ-WA8NKV-WcJi1w-psKV9t-XdCj1a-X66ds1-VywuMB-WigauPTonight I’m typing on my laptop in front of the TV where I’ve been binge-watching Hallmark Christmas movies while others celebrate Christmas with their families. It’s not that I lacked invitations, but I wanted to be alone, even as I wanted some company. I didn’t realize how much until I burst into tears when the last line of one of the movies talked about how the best family is the one we create with our friends.

It took me a long time to figure that one out, mostly because I spent too many years trying to be what others expected instead of myself. But that’s hovering dangerously in territory I covered a couple of days ago. ADD taking over my brain once again.

What I really want to talk about today is how changing our routine can open doors we didn’t realize were closed. My life and work depends on new ideas; plentiful and frequent. It’s difficult to maintain the momentum sitting in the same place at the same time every day. Sometimes, I need a change of scenery.

Making Dates With Ourselves And Our Creativity

For a while, I was trying to do some cafe writing at least once a week, typically on Fridays. But with the holidays and a bunch of other challenges, the practice has fallen by the wayside, much to the detriment of my idea generation.

Sometimes, a change of scenery is as simple as getting off the desktop and either firing up the laptop or picking up pencil and paper and moving to another room, even in a house as small as mine. This isn’t the first time I moved to my laptop on a TV tray in front of the television to get the creative juices going, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

That isn’t to say I won’t soon be reviving my cafe writing practice as it yielded some interesting results in the past. Some, in fact, will likely find their way into what I’m starting to see as the memoir from hell, as I work on it in fits and starts these days, throwing roadblocks in my path with every opportunity. I’ve re-set the timeline for completion three times so far, and I’m already a few days behind on the newest one. But at least I’ve learned not to beat myself up about missing deadlines, nor to give up on myself. More than likely, I’ll get into another kind of binging; one which involves writing instead of dividing my attention between the one-eyed monster and games on my phone.

Picking Our Battles With Ourselves

For now, I’m focusing on the immediate which means, getting a couple of weeks ahead on blog posts (I’m currently only a week ahead and that makes me anxious), and researching alternatives to blood pressure medication. My latest two doctor’s visits were disconcerting at best, especially for someone who has always run a little on the low side.

I know part of the problem is the weight I’ve gained since my dance schedule has been disrupted, part is the amount of time I’ve spent sitting lately (also due to the challenge of finding places to dance), and part is clearly a level of stress I don’t typically see, but which has been exacerbated by a dozen different factors this holiday season. As I look back on this paragraph, I realize the temporary loss of my usual dance venue is having a huge impact on my overall health.

Some of it I can mitigate. I’ve increased the amounts of Hawthorne and Potassium I take daily. I’ve revised my shopping list to include foods high in potassium and low in sodium. I’ve reviewed the DASH diet to see what I should and should not be eating, and will be even more crazy about reading labels from here on out. And speaking of out, eating there will be severely curtailed because it’s so much harder to control what’s in my food if someone else makes it.

Life Is About Reviewing What Works, And Changing What Doesn’t

Sure, it means changing my lifestyle even more, but all for the better. I’ve gotten sloppy about my eating habits the last couple of months, and it’s reflected in the numbers on my scale. I’ve missed a few gym days too,. and that’s not helping. Using alternative dance venues means less 10,000 plus step days too. Again, the one habit I’ve broken in this area is beating myself up over my lack of diligence.

What’s done is done. We can’t change the past. We can change what we do now, and try, moment by moment, to do things differently as the future unfolds. Changing up how and where we do our regular tasks is one of the things which can have nothing but positive effects. One of the things I look forward to as 2019 unfolds is embracing more changes in my life.

One Person’s Distraction Is Another’s Focus

Typically, I write either in silence or with music in the background, but tonight as I pound away on my laptop keys in front of yet another cookie cutter Hallmark movie, I’m finding it’s as good at keeping my internal editor in her proper place as music. I’ve seen the movie before so it doesn’t require much of my attention. What it grabs is the part of me who would, if given the chance, pick away at my word choices, my spelling errors, and even the topic I’ve chosen for this post.

It doesn’t hurt that tonight’s selection is about a writer. I find I key into those in particular, despite the fact that Hallmark’s version of a writer is probably romanticized and unrealistic. Yet watching a story about another writer in a strange way inspires me to write. I can’t really explain why, but as it’s gotten me to drag out my laptop and start working on another blog post, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. In truth, anything that gets me writing is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Using What Works Without Dissecting Why

It could simply be the power of suggestion. I’m watching a movie about a writer and, oh yeah. I’m a writer so why am I not writing? Since I don’t have a good answer to that question, I pull out the necessary accoutrements and let the words flow.

Sure the downside to working in a cafe, in front of the TV, or anywhere distractions can wind their way into my attention is that either some of what’s distracting me gets into my writing, or I stop altogether to give my attention to the distraction.

For the first, that’s why I edit what I write. For the second, the diversion is only temporary. I pull my attention back to the project at hand in a reasonable amount of time, thus finishing what I started, (I’ve learned I hate leaving an incomplete blog post. Now to transfer that lack of tolerance to the books I have yet to finish, as my daughter so delicately reminded me recently).

Goals Plus Gratitude Equals Success

Though I don’t make New Year’s resolutions since it’s far less effective than creating To Do lists and cards on my Trello board, I’m setting myself a goal for this year. I will seek and embrace more change in my life; look for opportunities to do things differently; take on challenges without nay-saying them for days or weeks before admitting it’s worth a try. My coach will give me ample opportunity to test this goal, and I hope to rise to the occasion. I do love a challenge!

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for a willingness to recognize how often I get in my own way rather than making necessary and interesting changes,
  2. I am grateful for the friends who have become my family, and who support me without question.
  3. I am grateful for opportunities to do things differently.
  4. I am grateful for a new year, and the chaos it will likely bring to my life. That chaos is overdue and a shakeup with the way I do things is a challenge I know I’m up to undertaking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; change, challenges, opportunities, new dietary opportunities hidden as restrictions, cats to love, friends to share with, writing to expand upon, clients, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

 

Love and Light.

About the Writer

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Making My Holiday Memories

Like a lot of people, the holidays are a tough time for me. Sure, my losses were long ago, at least the human ones. I tend to miss my furry ones more, especially Munchkin who passed in December and Toby who passed a little over a year ago. Stupid cancer!

But I also reflect on the good times and the funny, quirky things they did. Munchkin’s tendency to run up my chest, stick her nose in my ear, and purr like crazy; Scooby dragging the bag of powdered sugar all over the house, letting it make a trail with the hole he chewed first, or dragging a bag of catnip off the closet shelf, ripping it open, and rolling in it, stoned out of his mind, and in a state of complete bliss; Toby pushing his ample self between me and whatever I was doing, demanding attention, and filling my face with his super-soft, extra-fine fur, or the bedtime routine I still miss. Sometimes I still lie on my back waiting in vain for someone to drape themselves across my belly and purr.

Those cuddles and antics are what I miss most at the holidays, mainly because I spend a lot of time alone. Before you start making sympathetic noises, I do so by choice. These days, I don’t lack for invitations. My friends are the most loving, caring (and sometimes insistent) people in the world.

Alone But Not Lonely

I normally spend Christmas at my daughter’s, but this year, it worked out better for both of us for me to stay home. I get to write in peace while everyone is cooking or going to church, or filling their homes with family and gift wrap.

For many, it sounds like a lonely existence. For me, the quiet time in the midst of the chaos is not only pure bliss, but essential to my sanity. I need that time more than normal right now. The year ended on some pretty low notes; the Borderline shooting, fires and evacuations, Munchkin’s cancer diagnosis and death, financial struggles. All in all, being alone to write, plan, contemplate, and watch Hallmark movies is precisely what the doctor ordered.

Sure, I spare a few thoughts about my parents, but they’ve been gone so long now, and holidays were such tense affairs anyway, I really don’t miss them at all. My relationships with both my sister and my youngest daughter, also tenuous at best have been non-existent for years. Again, I miss neither the tension, nor the expectations they put on me with their presence.

The Gift of Self Care

Gatherings with friends continue regularly, if not at our usual place. We all keep the momentum going with dance nights in various places, parties, and meals nearly every day. Having a couple of days to rest and recharge were Christmas gifts I gave myself. Just because they’re gifts I both give and receive as often as possible doesn’t make them any less special on Christmas Eve and Day. In fact, they’re all the more special because I could have chosen to join a gathering, but did what I needed most instead.

Unlike a “real” job, I realized in the last year or so that getting to write is a privilege and a joy. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to do what I love every day, even if I don’t always take advantage of it beyond writing my morning pages as soon as I get up. That was a major mind shift for me, going from having to do something and even dreading it, to getting to do it, and looking forward to it.

Embracing Shifts in Mindset

I think the shift began when I ramped up to 3 blog posts a week, and then to scheduling them 2-3 weeks in advance. When I got to the point where I wasn’t scrambling to get a post up on the day it was due, but instead, writing when I wanted to knock out a post or two. I get to hang out at home with my cats, in pajamas or sweats and do one of the things I love most; put words on a page.

Granted, they don’t always follow a topic in what normal people consider proper flow. A group of us talking until the wee hours of the morning at a Christmas party laughed about how we were all ADD in our own way (or in at least one case, ADHD), and how it added to our brilliance. More, how trying to hold a conversation with someone who’s mind worked in a linear fashion was enough to drive us bat-shit crazy. Sure, we probably do the same to them, and perhaps that’s why some conversations are brief and to the point while others go on for hours.

When We Stop Trying to Fit In, The Magic Happens

Years ago, someone called me an acquired taste. Until I found my true family, I guess I was. I know I felt like an outsider with my blood family, and didn’t really miss them in the 20 or so years they weren’t a part of my life. I didn’t fit in any more than my mom did. Unlike her, I didn’t try to hold onto something that didn’t make me feel warm and welcome.

To me, that’s really what holidays should be about, in spite of losses and tragedies. We should all be in a place where we feel warm and welcome, and where we don’t need to put in an effort to fit in because we already belong just as we are.

Sometimes that place is home alone with my cats. Sometimes it’s on a dance floor with my friends or at a gathering in someone’s home. It’s always where I can be my quirky, awkward, authentic self now. I’ve stopped trying to fit my multi-faceted self into a square hole. I realize now not only did I make myself uncomfortable, but made others uncomfortable as well. I have to ask myself from the perspective of hindsight: What was the point?

Doing What Makes Us Happy All The Time

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-jk3BYpToo many people do what they ought and go where they’re expected when it makes them feel crappy. No wonder there’s so much depression around the holidays, and we sigh with relief when we get through New Year’s Eve with at least a scrap of our sanity intact.

We all deserve to be happy, even if it means giving a little less of ourselves than others expect or even demand. That doesn’t mean we’re less kind or compassionate. In fact, if you ask me, it means we’re more so because we give when we want to give instead of when we have to. Giving genuinely and generously is much more valuable than giving because it’s expected. How can you give from the heart under those circumstances?

How many times have you given someone a gift and in thanking you, they said: “You didn’t have to”? More than once, I’ve replied: “If I had to, I wouldn’t have. I did it because I wanted to”. I’ve learned in the last couple of years there’s nothing I really have to do other than pay my bills and obey a law here and there. Other than that, everything I do is because it’s something I want to do.

Giving With Our Whole Heart

I write because I want to. I reach out to friends because I want to. I dance, sleep, read, watch movies, work with my coach—all because, in the end, everything I do makes me happy. While this might sound hedonistic, it means when I give, I do so with my whole heart, without reservation or limitation. In a way, that’s how I came up with the name for my Facebook Group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward. I finally learned how to do that without getting kicked in the teeth as I had so many times.

It started with being my weird, authentic, unapologetic self. When I stopped pretending, the square pegs drifted away, and the multifaceted ones drew near like moths to a flame. So many times, I wish I’d learned sooner that the key to happiness is being true to yourself instead of trying to fit in. That we fit in when we’re real and attract others who are already like us in all the important ways.

My holidays were happy, whether I spent time alone or with others because, no matter what, I was exactly where I was supposed to be!

Keeping a Grateful Heart, Holiday or No

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve come to love and respect my weird, quirky, unapologetic self.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who are as weird, quirky and unapologetic as me.
  3. I’m grateful for the writing routines I’ve established, and look forward to doing more writing in 2019, and to publishing more of what I write.
  4. I’m grateful for all the butt kickers who keep me moving forward even if they don’t see the progress I’m making; to Heather Hewes, Candy Illing, and Linda Clay especially, as each in their own way keeps me moving forward.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, silliness, joy, laughter, good food, great company, dancing, connection, getting to work at what I love, attraction, family, kitty love, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Daily Routines Keep Us Grounded Amidst the Chaos

2018 has taken some uncomfortable, and even downright painful turns in the last couple of months of the year. Although we managed to have a wonderful after-Thanksgiving feast in November, and some love-filled dance nights in December, I’ve joined the many who are going to be happy to say good-bye to 2018. Too much was lost, some temporarily, and some devastatingly permanent.

Through it all, I’ve taken comfort in daily routines which, no matter what else is happening, are a manageable and controllable part of my days. Like everything else in life, we can do no more than take it one step, one minute at a time. Falling back on the familiar helps me get through some of the minutes which are harder than others.

Morning Pages: Routine for a Lifetime

My now 2+ year practice of writing morning pages has become more than just a routine. It is a lifeline inScrappy Doo a life which has, more often than not in recent days, been chaotic and outside any control I might want or need to exercise. Whether I rise with the alarm at 8 or let myself sleep in until 9 or 10, my first stop every morning is my desk where I pick up pen and paper and write for about 30 minutes.

Part of the routine is Dylan sitting beside me purring or flicking his tail across the page to let me know he needs attention. Sometimes Scrappy joins me, especially if I put a Ricola in my mouth; he seems to find menthol as addicting as catnip. The challenge is to write with a cat rubbing himself against my face in inebriated bliss. Regardless of the disruptions and interruptions, I finish those three pages daily (with the rare miss) without fail.

Doing What I Must So I Can Do As I Please

The rest of the non-negotiable morning duties include making the bed, feeding the cats, and putting in my contacts. After that, the day is mine to do with as scheduled, or occasionally, as I please.

The “as I please” part has been my practice for the last couple of weeks, leaving many of the scheduled tasks on my Trello boards undone. In years past, I’d be beating myself up over what I’ve left undone, fretting over making deadlines and meeting goals. But these days, I know my time is more flexible, and my ability to put in a few long days to make up for days I devoted to self-care has always been there when I needed to tap into the energy and focus.

Even when I worked for others, no matter what they threw at me, I met or beat my deadlines. For a long time, I failed to meet deadlines which only affected myself and my business. One day I realized I’m my most important client and, as such deserve to have my deadlines met or beaten as well.

Allowing for Flexibility

That isn’t to say life’s challenges don’t cause slippages, but as my mentor, Linda Clay tells me repeatedly, I can re-set the deadlines and forge ahead. Spending time beating myself up over those missed or extended deadlines serves no one, and keeps me from making and executing new plans.

Nearly a year ago, I planned to finish and publish “Life Torn Asunder”. Today, I’m looking at about 15 more chapters to re-write, and know it won’t be my final re-write. I also need to work on a synopsis and the rest of the information I need to pitch it to a publisher or agent. I know they won’t happen until they become a card on my Trello board.

For years, I had a written or Excel-based To-Do list. I’ve found it worked great for things like gym visits I was trying to establish as routines, but not so great for long-term projects like book re-writes and regular blog postings. I also learned having an event pop up on my phone reminding me to check the Trello boards daily helped keep me focused on the tasks I’ve committed to.

One thing I’ve learned about routines, be they daily, weekly, or monthly, is you need to allow for some flexibility. Like friendship, routines fall into three categories; a season, a reason, or a lifetime. There are only a few which fall into my “lifetime” category these days, though many only started within the last five years, and some just this year.

Routines for a Lifetime, a Reason, or a Season

Those include daily writing, making my bed, going to the gym three times a week, and writing regular blog posts. Even the last one keeps evolving. First it was once a week, then twice, now thrice. My goal is to add a similar routine for at least five clients a month so they can put their effort into building their business instead of creating content to attract clients for them to talk to. Again, this is where Linda comes in. We have weekly calls where she helps me find focus, kicks my butt, or helps me add items to my To-Do list. I also get to do some writing for her, and she’s someone I greatly admire both personally and professionally. Writing for her is the cherry on my hot fudge sundae.

My “reason” category includes things like the components for my book pitch, a long-delayed will, preparations for our after-Thanksgiving feast—the list goes on, and changes as my life expands.

“Season” is a little tougher as I enter tasks I expect to be ongoing, or perhaps, short-term, and their nature changes. Yet this is where a lot of my lessons are learned and experience gained. It might be a one-off client who needs documentation for a divorce, or someone who responded to one of my specials, and didn’t ask for anything beyond the initial tasks. Or maybe they did and became a long-term client. Either way, I’ve learned I don’t usually know whether a season task will become more, or will die on the vine until the task is completed. Sometimes they disappear for months, only to reappear when I least expect it.

Sowing Seeds to Grow New Routines

Through it all, I, like everyone else, sow seeds. Some I’ll nurture and help them grow into something to feed my soul, and hopefully a few others. Some will thrive in spite of any attention or neglect I pay them. Others will surprise me either with the fruit they bear, their tenacity, or their ability to entwine themselves into my life, creating new and exciting challenges and routines. A few will either die out or fail to sprout at all.

All of the scenarios are perfect in my mind. Not all the seeds we plant are meant to feed or inspire us. Some will even lie dormant for a long time, leading us to believe they’ve died out when in truth, they were simply waiting for their time in the sun. Those seeds are smarter than we are in that they know when it’s their time, and when it’s not.

I’m guilty of shiny object syndrome a great deal of the time (if you haven’t already figured that out while reading a post that meanders from topic to topic with no recognizable point) so I’m prone to tossing a lot of seeds into the ground just to see what they’ll do. For many, I’m less concerned about the outcome and more about the experiment I’m running. I’ll sit and watch people for the same reason. There’s a lot to be gained by watching and waiting, so long as you don’t spend your life solely in that mode.

Honoring Our Need for Times of Rest

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-97oqD4Sue Monk Kidd wrote about the value of watching and waiting in her book “When the Heart Waits”. She compared herself to a caterpillar who has spun a cocoon. There’s no rushing the process of evolving from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Sometimes, we have to sit back and wait for things to line up properly, or rest after a long, concentrated push. Those waiting periods are as important, or more so than the periods of frenetic activity which often precedes them.

I realized this week I’d neglected my reading for quite some time. Not just books to expand my skills or knowledge, but those by writers whose story-telling skills I admire. After spending a day reading one of the Mercedes Lackey books I found at the $5 book store while seeking my daughter’s and son-in-law’s annual Christmas books, I realized I need to add reading time to my daily schedule. For me, reading for an hour is on the same level of importance as daily meditation. That too has fallen by the wayside a bit in recent weeks.

Routines Should Never Become Straight Jackets

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about regular routines we create and set is we must allow Created with Canvafor flexibility. We can’t beat ourselves up when our schedule goes sideways for a little while. Sometimes we have to step back and deal with what life is throwing at us, even if it means missing a few meditations, gym days, or even writing time. When we do, it gives us a chance to take a hard look at what we’ve deemed important to make sure it still is. It also gives us a chance to look at what we’ve forgotten about, and what needs to be added back into our life.

Most of all, it’s important to remember we are evolving beings. When we step back and look at our routines, we’ll find some are still valuable while others have outlived their usefulness. We’ve gained the lesson and need to let go to make space for something else. Those are the seeds which lay dormant for awhile until we were ready to let go of something, harvest the crop, and turn the soil again.

The short days and long nights of winter when the leaves have left the trees and the ground is resting is a good time to review our routines, turn our soil, and rest. It’s also a good time to go within and just listen without judgement, plan, or goal. You might be surprised by what comes up when you quiet your mind.

Gratitude: A Routine for a Lifetime

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the things I’m learning about myself from my friends.
  2. I am grateful for the time to quiet my mind, listen to my heart and gut, and find new directions.
  3. I am grateful for the variety in my days; some are quiet and introspective, some are productive, some, even chaotic. But overall, it’s balanced.
  4. I am grateful for balance, and the ability to recognize when I need more of one thing and less of another.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, connection, joy, vulnerability, authenticity, deep conversations, new connections, lessons, challenges, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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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