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Archive for the ‘acceptance’ Category

Never Take Acceptance for Granted

Unconditional Acceptance

acceptanceAfter many decades, I’ve finally found my tribe; my people; the ones who accept me in spite of my faults—or maybe even because of them. Still, I have moments when I wonder if it’s all a dream, and I’ll wake up on the outside like I was for so many years.

Granted, during those years, I was a chameleon; pretending to be what I thought others wanted to see. I didn’t have the confidence to just be me. I’d been knocked down too many times when I did. Many of the wounds were still open, and the pain came back if I so much as moved a little too far to the right or left. I learned to hide everything inside, and unknowingly made the wounds worse, and in fact, kept them from healing over and thickening my hide a bit.

I was what my parents and family called a “sensitive child”, and believe me, it was not a compliment. Sensitivity and overt emotions were frowned upon in my family. The punishment was ridicule and public humiliation. Yet hard as I tried, I always seemed to be the butt of someone’s cruel joke. What I didn’t know then, but understand better now is, I was a reminder of everything they worked so hard to keep from showing. In a way, they were probably envious I hadn’t yet learned to stuff it all down inside. That would come later. Perhaps they even believed punishing me would ease their own frustration.

Telling Myself Little White Lies to Blend In

I managed to convince myself my family accepted me, and that the ridicule was their way of showing it. I was half right anyway. My dad’s side, especially, only knew how to show they cared by teasing. The trouble was, the teasing managed to hit my pain points dead on more often than not.

Mom’s family was a bit more direct. They went right for the jugular; the things I was most sensitive about: my weight, my complexion, and my inability to measure up to the talents and skills of my sister and cousins. I grew up believing I could never get it right. I thought a was the family black sheep, when in truth, I was the one with rainbow splattered wool woven with moonbeams. In a world of subdued sepia tones doing their best to blend in, I was a beacon who stood out, threatening their safe, unremarkable world.

Over the years, I’ve learned blending in is easy as long as you are OK with losing your individuality and uniqueness. I truly tried, but there was clearly a spark inside me which refused to be dimmed, though heaven knows many tried. But that spark required self-confidence and courage to be able to un-apologetically shine. Traits I lacked for the better part of my life. At least I came to believe I did.

A Spark of Individuality That Insisted on Shining time I’d push my unique, sensitive self down, it would find a way to pop back up, sending sprouts in different directions, scouting for the ones who’d accept the crazy, colorful mosaic that was my true self. I’d whitewash the heck out of it, and stomp down all the little runners, but somehow, some of them survived. The whitewash was swept away by tears and the storms which punctuated my life, and, though milder now, occasionally still do.

There came a day when I was no longer content with isolation; no longer willing to stuff my feelings away. I broke the urn containing my colorful self, and unlocked the box containing all my unprocessed feelings. I allowed anger, fear, guilt, resentment, and all of my ugliest feelings to run out until I sat for awhile in a sea of blackness.

Then came all the joy I hadn’t allowed myself to feel over simple things; a cat’s purr, a butterfly flitting past me on a warm Spring day; a child’s happy laughter. So many things I’d allowed to be buried under the worst feeling of all: unworthiness. It was then I took the first step towards being accepted. I accepted myself as I was; the crazy colors, and the darkest hollows. I opened a door I’d kept securely bolted because I’d been taught to open it was to invite catastrophe.

A Price to High to Pay

I look back now and realize my parents paid the highest price of all for keeping their own doors self lovebolted. They were utterly alone behind those bolted doors. No one knew them well enough to understand their darkness; their need for a light to guide them out when they fell in too deeply to get out by themselves. In fact, I suspect the few times someone got close enough to see the demons lurking in the darkness, they pushed them away.

I remember my mom ending friendships over the years for reasons I couldn’t fathom. Were they people who tried to reach her in the darkness? Did fear make her repel them, and eject them from her life before they got any closer? Was the possibility she’d be accepted in her entirety too frightening to consider? Or did it not even cross her mind anyone could accept what she’d been taught to believe was a horrible, even evil part of herself?

Or was their version of acceptance simply too foreign? She’d taught me what she learned from her own family: love equals abuse. Kindness isn’t to be trusted, as it surely hides a snake ready to bite you in the butt and steal your soul.

Learning to Tease Gently my minds eye, I see my parents now as haunted souls, afraid to let even those closest to them inside their tightly guarded walls. They tried to teach me, but while I managed a semblance on the outside, my insides were churning; demanding an ultimate melt down and release. I can only be grateful my melt downs were less extreme than those of my parents or my aunt. I managed to keep functioning enough to raise my kids, hold down a job, and pay my bills. If I was socially awkward, it was because I didn’t know how to get along with people who weren’t constantly putting me down.

I still have friends who tease each other back and forth. I wasn’t going to stray completely from what I knew. The difference is, the teasing is light-hearted and silly rather than pointed and painful. We find humor in our humanness, not in our weakness. The humor isn’t one-sided, but shared by all concerned. My friends make me feel like the times I trip and fall are shared. We all stumble. We all make mistakes, and sometimes do foolish things. Picking each other up and finding humor in the situation takes away the sting instead of adding to it.

A Family Forged With Our Broken Parts

My circle; my family; my community are different these days. Everyone has been broken at one or another, but have found ways to get back up and keep going. At the heart of it all is a level of acceptance I never before experienced. Each of us is accepted because we allow our imperfections to show; because we openly admit we don’t have all the answers or get it right every time.

Each of us had struggled with parents, siblings, or children, or maybe all three. Not one of us has had a life of ease without a single trauma. Most of all, the challenges we’ve faced haven’t made us weak or less than. They’ve simply made us human. Sharing those traumas makes us relatable to the others. It’s something my birth family never figured out. They insulated themselves to the point of isolation. Somehow I knew from early childhood I needed to learn a different way, even though it meant ultimately disconnecting from my own family.

Today, I value and appreciate those who accept my imperfect self far more than I ever did those who loved me into existence. What they knew could only take me so far. The rest, I had to figure out on my own until I connected with those who could and do take me farther than I ever dreamed I’d go.

Gratitude for Learning to Accept My Differences

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve formed by allowing my imperfections to show.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunity to share what I’ve learned with a hearty dose of compassion.
  3. I am grateful for a life that’s very different from the one I imagined when I was young.
  4. I am grateful for an amazing, supportive family, very few of whom are by blood.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; joy, friendship, compassion, support, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, 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

Where Are You Getting Your News?

Holding On To Outmoded Methods of Discernment

Emotions are a large part of the human psyche, but they were never meant to replace our brains. They’re a touchstone for some, internal guidance for others, but for many of us, something which makes us repeat old mistakes over and over because we’ve been programmed to avoid things we’ve long since outgrown needing to avoid. Old wounds left scars, but they didn’t take us back over what happened to arrive at a better solution. They simply put a scar in place which triggers avoidance behavior or worse any time we experience anything remotely similar to the original pain-filled experience.

It seems lately this is what people are using to pick sides in a volatile and self-serving political climate. Intentionally emotionally charged topics are at the forefront every single day, obscuring what really matters; we are all in this together, and by working together, we can make things better for all.

When News is Nothing More Than Spewing Propaganda to Incite the Masses

Which brings me to today’s topic, news sources. Maybe I’m not the best person to wax poetic on this topic as I eschewed all news agencies long ago. But then again, maybe I am. It’s no secret each one has its own political slant. People are going to listen to the ones which share their viewpoint more often than not. The problem is by doing so, everything we hear is slanted towards our beliefs, and gives us no chance to understand what drives the other side of the argument.

One night while waiting to get into our local dance hall, someone asked me whether I was still buying NIke products. Of course, a “discussion” about the right to take a knee during the National Anthem arose. I put the word in quotes because it was, except for one voice of reason (which wasn’t mine), more of a series of emotional outbursts than a discussion. It saddened me to see so many of my friends letting their emotions make their decisions, and realizing I’m not doing my part to improve the situation. Not that I’m immune, but those in power are stirring those emotions daily, and as long as we act and don’t think things through or do our own research, they have us by the proverbial short hairs.

We’re so busy in-fighting about stupid, emotionally triggered subjects that we’re letting the thieves clean out the banks, the stores, and every freedom we hold dear. It’s got to stop! We need to push our emotions back where they belong and re-engage our brains.

Opening Our Hearts and Minds

For example, when did people manage to separate the act of kneeling in church from kneeling during the National Anthem, seeing one as an act of respect and the other as tantamount to treason?

Jeremy Adam Smith  published a piece in Scientific American called “The Psychology of Taking a Knee”. In my opinion it is one of the best and most well thought out articles about both the reason for Colin Kaepernick’s misunderstood and misrepresented (for their own personal benefit) act of protest over police violence against blacks in particular. I urge you to not only read it in its entirety, but do so with an open mind and an accepting heart. It’s time we all made more than a token effort to understand beliefs which aren’t our own.

If you ask me, we’ve become a nation of lemmings, believing what we’re told by people we think we should continue to trust no matter how many reasons they give us for running the other way. It’s time to push past the walls of our own cognitive dissonance and realize a good part of our beliefs are based on either faulty or non-existent reasoning. Most of the time, instead of changing old beliefs with new facts, we take the easy road, and fall back on old beliefs, ignoring the reality that’s literally smacking us in the face.

Seeing the Light in the Media’s Darkness, I admire Nike for hiring Mr. Kaepernick to represent them despite the potentially negative on their profits. It means a lot for a person or company with a fair amount of power (or in this case, financial assets) to back an unpopular viewpoint. People may be doing stupid things like burning shoes in protest of Nike’s decision. Yet they’re talking about it, and paying attention. It’s opening up conversations and inciting people like me to look past the hype and the political machinations to what’s behind a promising athlete essentially killing his career to stand up for what he believes is right.

There will always be people whose minds are closed and who believe they have all the right answers. We can’t help them, nor catch them when they go down in flames. But I believe there are enough of us who are at least ready to hear other points of view, but need to learn to take our own emotional responses out of the mix first.

Being One of the Baby Steps to Change doesn’t happen in giant leaps most of the time. Instead, it’s tiny cracks in the impenetrable walls we build around ourselves. It’s opening our hearts just a little to something we’ve misunderstood, and trying to see something from another perspective. We can start by re-evaluating who and what we’re listening to and asking where and why they see things as they do. We can actively look for publications and sources which don’t share our perspective, looking for different interpretations of facts.

Instead of shutting down when we see something that confuses and confounds, we can open to the possibilities. Unless we’re stuck in a dark, dank rut of a comfort zone, we do so with other aspects of our lives. So why not use the skills we’ve learned to open our minds to things which we can’t immediately see as impacting us personally? In reality, we are all connected, so what impacts one, truly does impact us all. Think about that for a few moments.

Breaking Our Own Paradigms

I can only speak for myself in this, but know in the last couple of years I’ve altered my perceptions and pre-conceived notions on a wide variety of subjects. If a self-confirmed hermit like me can come out of her shell, interact more freely with people, and even do live videos, why is it such a stretch for others to make small changes, create tiny openings in beliefs that may seem hard-wired, yet can be changed with a little concerted effort?

Start small. Listen to an opposing viewpoint without immediately going on the defensive. Change news stations (if unlike me you’re still listening). Talk to friends who disagree with you and agree to hear each other out without showing disdain, raising your voice, or emotional outbursts. Or at least read the article I linked.

When you’re ready, branch out. Take one of your more emotional beliefs and the events or people linked to it. Search for articles and stories which take an opposing view and read them without criticism. Learn to accept that there is truth in every side of a story. The trick is to weed out the emotional triggers and biases so you can see the bald, unadulterated truth buried inside the rhetoric.

We’re sentient beings born with the ability to reason and discern. It’s time we rose above the apes and into that birthright again.

Gratitude for All We Have, and All the Possibilities

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for situations and circumstances that remind me to open my mind and stop being an ass.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn both from watching others, and watching myself behaving badly.
  3. I am grateful for a circle of friends with varying beliefs, even if some of it frustrates me and even makes me want to cry.
  4. I am grateful for my talent for research, and the desire to dig deep into things others are accepting on faith these days. Faith is overrated all too often, I’ve found.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, client attraction, friends, joy, kitty love, happiness, morality and ethics (even if buried deep), peace, harmony, philanthropy, health, 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 Compassion in Knee-Jerk Annoyance

Opportunities to Reinforce an Old Lesson

Today  I found myself giving serious consideration to blocking my social media posts from someone on my friends list. Why? Because I was allowing comments from this person to annoy me. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that was allowing it to annoy me. Pure and simple.

So I sat here thinking about it, and realized this was a person who has struggled to fit in, at least since high school if not before. I might feel that comments lack things like reading the whole post or avoiding attempting to shove an idea down the poster’s throat they’ve stated they already considered. But what it all boils down to is just a simple need for acceptance. Even the people who seem the most popular and together experience this feeling. In fact, I suspect many of them need that acceptance much more than the plain Janes and Joes. Their looks or other impressive talents have caused them to grow accustomed to attention, and they wilt without it, much like a flower without water.

Others like me have learned that the only approval we really need is from within, so who is really better off in the long run?

But back to my little dilemma. I realized it really did me no harm to field the occasional well-meaning but poorly thought out comment from this person, nor would it do me any harm to be kinder to them when the comments did appear on my post thread.

Giving My Compassion Meter a Little Nudge

As I’ve admitted in the past, my compassion meter does not go all the way to the top…yet. Reminders like this one help me make better choices when it comes to communicating with other people, and for them, I am grateful. They make me realize that the annoyance is all on me, and so is the compassion should I detach from the annoyance enough to see it. How far would a single kind word go for this person who may well have exceeded their own comfort zone to make a comment in the first place? Shame on me for overlooking that, especially when I already know they have their own personal struggles.

Resolving to be more compassionate, I’ve found, is not enough. We must also resolve to pay more attention to opportunities to be compassionate, and take the final step towards actually doing it.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction book. We learn the social rules from the people around us; the laws from our teachers and parents. But the road to being a truly decent person is fraught with perils I believe are meant to teach us to make the right choices, even when the right choice isn’t the easiest or most comfortable for us.

Both compassion and patience have long been my Achilles Heel. Annoyance has been my biggest obstacle towards achieving either. So one of my lessons is to turn off those gut-level responses and look at things from a dispassionate position with regard to myself so I can look at someone else with compassion.

I won’t say the road has been easy or direct, though I’ve spent the better part of this lifetime trying to master these self-appointed tasks. However, the rewards have, and will continue to be greater for having made the effort. My existence is far less cold and lonely when I care a little more about others and am a little less egocentric. And maybe I can serve as a little bit of an example to other people that a leopard can change her spots, if she just opens herself up a little to the amazing world around her.

With Gratitude

And so, I end this post as I usually do. With Gratitude.

  1. I am grateful for opportunities to recognize my failings.
  2. I am grateful fro friends who demonstrate traits I desire but lack.
  3. I am grateful for changes in my life which help me exercise the newly learned but still shaky traits.
  4. I am grateful for the love and compassion I receive every day.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: work, play, friendship, joy, compassion, community, love, humanity, peace, hope, philanthropy and prosperity.

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!


Photo courtesy of Ricardo Moraleida via Flickr

A Control Freak’s Guide to Stress Management

The Body Can Always be Trusted to Tell You When You’re Holding on too Tight

For the last couple of years (in fact, since I quit my job) I’ve been proudly proclaiming that I have no stress. But the last week or so has shown me the emptiness of my words.

It started on Saturday when I felt the beginnings of a migraine while attending the San Diego County Fair with my daughter. No problem, I found a bale of hay in a shady spot, closed my eyes and relaxed until my vision returned to normal. As it had been awhile since I’d experienced migraine symptoms, I didn’t think much of it.

Back home, I again experienced the vision squirreliness of an impending migraine on Wednesday and took the usual precautions. It was then I decided I really didn’t want to go through the aggravation of going dancing on Thursday as it entails getting ready and to the door of the club about 30 minutes early just to get a decent table these days. In the end, it worked out well because I enjoyed a 4 hour phone marathon with an old friend. I also got the veggies for my stir-fry chopped while we were talking and had I gone dancing, I wouldn’t have had time to cook and freeze a huge batch of stir-fry.

Personal Health is Thwarted by Complacency

I arrive at Friday feeling pretty good about the week’s accomplishments aside from writing, so I buckle down and write the draft of an article which is a bit overdue. Not long after the article is written, the telltale signs appear again and I’m back on the couch, letting myself go limp while the kitties find their favorite snuggly spots. This time, I’m not bouncing back so quickly and my daughter can hear it in my voice when she calls, though it sounds like distraction to her until I explain.

A couple of hours later, I’m feeling woozy again, and by 10:30, I have to cut a support call with AT&T short because the vision loss swoops in like a hungry raptor.

10 hours later, I’m finally convincing myself to detach from the warm cocoon of blankets and cats to start my day. I stretch and acknowledge the tension in my neck and shoulders and admit it’s not entirely due to activities over the last week or so. Yes, I carried a backpack with a camelback of water around the fair for 2 days. Yes, I made a massive vat of stir-fry which had me waking the next day with a bit of pain in my right shoulder. Admittedly, I’ve been less than diligent about exercising otherwise. But still…

Self-honesty is a Slippery Slope

In the end, I decided I need to be completely honest with myself and admit to having more than a little stress in my life. Even more important, I have to address and acknowledge the stressful situations. I don’t necessarily need to solve them immediately, but I need to at least acknowledge that they’re concerning me. So, here goes.

Stresser #1: Money (something many can relate to). I have not yet been successful in monetizing my writing to any great degree and the same is true of my accounting and virtual business consulting. I’ve also gone through a frighteningly large amount of my reserves including all of my IRA and am getting ready to contact the 401(k) administrator. I cannot even begin to admit how much this terrifies me.
Stresser #2: Considering going back into the job market. Every time I even think about this, my gut clenches. I’m so much more comfortable dealing with people when I want to rather than when I have to. Also, I know that should I choose this route, I’m very likely going to have to settle for a lot less than I’m used to making and it may be a long haul to find someone, aside from a temp job, to hire a person my age.
Stresser #3: The health and well-being of my animals and being able to take all of my cats into the vet for their annual checkups. I have put this off because of #1, and it puts me on edge not having proof that everyone is completely healthy.
Stresser #4: Finishing my 3 novels. I have been close to finished with the latest edit on Sasha’s Journey for months, and just need to get it done! A Dubious Gift hasn’t been touched since I wrote it and Hannah’s Chair isn’t even finished.
Stresser #5: Marketing. I am trying to learn how this is done, yet still get a depressingly low amount of traffic to my website and blog. Without it, publishing any of my books will result in less than stellar sales, no matter how wonderful I manage to make them.
Stresser #6: Writing for free: I have been attending a lot of events on press passes in exchange for writing articles. Although I’m enjoying the events, it’s getting harder to motivate myself to write articles which may or may not get many viewers and which yield me nothing to help support myself. In fact, events like the fair cost me money in food alone which set me back rather than forward.
Stresser #7: Getting enough exercise. I’m falling behind on what I need to do to maintain my physical health.

It Ain’t Over ’til You Let it Go

I had to stop writing at this point because I got another migraine warning. I used the time to innercise and meditate with the help of Dylan and Munchkin’s snuggles. Afterwards, realizing I hadn’t eaten in at least 14 hours, I made a quick protein shake (hunger is non-existent at the moment). The break helped me realize I need to look at these stressers rather than continuing to add to the list, without judging or emotionalizing. I need to thank each one for the opportunities and lessons it gives me, then let them go. I’m the first one to talk about trusting both the Universe, and my own inner guides and guidance to find a solution, yet, clearly I’ve been trying to control things instead.

We of the controlling personalities have a difficult time letting go of outcomes and allowing the things we’ve put in place to germinate before showing measurable results. It’s only when something happens to force us to release our stranglehold that we begin to allow the flow to proceed unrestricted.

For some, that release occurs when all of their well-intentioned plans fall apart or break into little, tiny, unrecoverable pieces. For me, a series of migraines usually alerts me to the fact ad2d5-thetowerthat I’m holding on too tightly: to outcome, to control, even to outdated ideas. I usually take it to mean I just need a break or something but this time, I feel the problem has been too many breaks and too little productivity. Still, some time in nature could be well worth the time spent or in the words of one of my favorite country singers, Brad Paisley, it’s “time well wasted”.

Recognizing Opportunities When They Present Themselves aka Synchronicity

An opportunity was presented to me today, and I don’t think the timing was a coincidence. One of my fellow freelancers started a group for beta reading each others’ work including articles and blog posts. My plan right now is to clean up my latest article and submit it to them for critique. I can always use another set of eyes.

Funny, just typing those words, admitting I can ask for help relaxed some of the tension in my shoulders and neck. Clearly, what I need right now and am asking for in a couple of different ways is simply the help of other humans; the connection, the camaraderie, the humanness I usually avoid. In fact, the one thing which has me reluctant to go dancing at my usual place. Although I understand the owner’s abrupt change from appreciation for his patrons to pursuit of money, I can’t help feeling a bit resentful of the sudden change. It has affected my actions and my previous love for the place, but worse, it seems to have isolated me from the rest of the people there. All too often, I occupy a table alone and am rejected when I invite others to join me. Whether I want to or not, I’m exuding vibes which are uncomfortable to happy, positive people who are relaxing from their daily work life. Perhaps part of it is that I don’t share that day-to-day grind from which I need to escape.

In the end, I have two choices, and this goes for everything in this article: either I change my attitude or I make some sweeping changes in my lifestyle, behavior and direction. What those choices will be remains to be seen but for now, the one change I’m making is to stop trying to force myself and my life into a self-defined, compartmentalized direction. Not an easy task for a control freak like me!

There Will Always Be Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for the reminders I get, even when they’re painful and even debilitating.
2. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned about removing judgement and emotion from my feelings.
3. I am grateful to at least acknowledge that I need to release negative money stories, even if the means is not yet clear.
4. I am grateful for the online communities of which I’m a part, but also for knowing that I need a more personal connection with people as well.
5. I am grateful for abundance: support, vision, awareness, intelligence, wisdom, creativity, friendship, change, guidance, motivation, inspiration, honesty, clarity, love, peace, harmony, friendship, health, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

You Say “Chaos” Like it’s a Bad Thing

Isn’t it Time We Got Back to Kindness?

Lately, I’m finding all sorts of reasons to hide posts from friends on Facebook. Between the usual (and this year, sometimes unusual) BS inherent to election years, the transgender issue and a score of other things people find to be passionate about, my drama-free zone is in jeopardy. I’m forced to exercise regular diligence to keep my news feed fun, friendly and inspirational.

In the last couple of days, I’ve seen a new villain appear; the anti-change proponent. These people are so set in keeping their own personal idea of the status quo that they’re trying to turn what to me seems obviously necessary change into a demon they call “Chaos”. But I ask you, if it weren’t for chaos, how would we be able to understand order? If it weren’t for chaos, how would we evoke massive change in a society which has become overly complacent and willing to be led like sheep to the slaughter?

“Chaos”: A Word Coined by Those Who Will Be Usurped by Change

Let’s face it, in order to make significant changes to ourselves, our surroundings, and most of all, widespread hatred, we have to shake things up a bit (ok, maybe more than a bit). For many, this is a terrifying concept. They want to know that one day will follow the next, predictable and ordinary. They’re the first ones to jump on the bandwagon like a bunch of lemmings when someone sounds sufficiently authoritative about how something new will turn their lives upside down.

But do they even look at the issue? Do they look at the authoritative body and check their facts? (Blackfish and Obama Care come to mind here). Do they take the time to understand what the change, the innovation really means to them, to their families? Or do they take the word of someone they don’t even know,  accept that it’s bad and start beating their chests and re-posting scathing reports which, if investigated would be found to have no basis in fact at all?

Let’s face it. Nothing really significant has ever happened without upsetting several factions. There is no way to please everyone, so why not look at the greater good? If you exclude one group, you open the doors to bullying. Then, how do you teach our children not to bully when the message they get is “don’t bully except…gays, transgenders, Democrats, Republicans, Muslims and homeless people”?

If you ask me, we need a lot more chaos right now. We need to shake people right out of their boots. We need to show them in full technicolor what their outdated viewpoints ;have created and are perpetuating.

Chaos Brings People Together

After the Northridge earthquake in 1994 there was a lot of chaos. Freeways were closed, neighborhoods were without power and water. And you know what happened? Neighbors who’d never even met were out helping each other. We were forced to think beyond the confines of our own, small worlds and actually care about someone besides ourselves.

After 9/11, the whole country and even people from other countries came out to help people who were complete strangers, often who they’d never see again. Out of Chaos came a sense of community, a sense of pride and concern for people in need, no matter who they were.

Well, here we are again. Hating people and making scapegoats of them, Putting up smokescreens to hide the real issues. Putting the fear of some nebulous, human-created god into people who won’t take the time to check the facts themselves, but instead, take the word of strangers that change is bad, no matter what that change might be.

Scapegoating: An Unsuccessful and Costly Tactic

As a Jew, I know what it’s like to be shunned or treated like our only path to salvation is accepting one of our own as the one son of god and savior (he was a rabbi for chrissakes; a teacher!). Otherwise, we’re not good enough to share space with those who’ve “seen the light”. And if you think the end of anti-semitism was after WWII, you’re living in a fairy tale. It’s simply become more covert. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I was told I wasn’t a whole person because I didn’t accept an ancient rabbi as my end-all and be-all. And because of my lapse, I wasn’t fit to be part of the lives of a bunch of judgemental, myopic idiots. (Thank you for that, by the way. In retrospect, you all did me a favor by kicking me out of your lives!) This week, the Muslims are the ones-to-be-most-hated. And for what? Different beliefs and a few fanatics. Open your eyes now as you could be next!

And by the way, for those Christians who were recently arguing that Messianic Jews practice Judaism, here’s a quote from Wikipedia. Note the part I’ve italicized.

Salvation in Messianic Judaism is achieved only through acceptance of Jesus as one’s savior,[8][13][14][15][16][17] and Jewish laws or customs which are followed do not contribute to salvation.[16][17] Indeed, belief in the messiahship, power to save, and divinity of Jesus, which Messianic Judaism professes, is the defining distinction between Christianity and Judaism.[18][19][20][21][22][23] Other Christian groups usually accept Messianic Judaism as a form of Christianity.[24]

So I say, bring on the Chaos. It’s long overdue. Force people to see past the pretty, well-coiffed lies to the ugly truth beneath.

Why Not Put as Much Effort into Embracing as We do Into Rejecting?

My point is, you’re not going to eliminate the differences, the uniqueness of various cultures and points of view by ostracizing, condemning or fooling yourself into believing they must be like you and can be like you. Even a man like Hitler, infamous in his insanity tried and failed to wipe out an entire culture with a little help from his friends. Yet that culture still thrives and, in fact produces far more than their fair share of scholars, Nobel laureates and and highly successful business people and philanthropists.

Why any rational person believes they can stop the progress of other cultures like the Muslims or gender identification that isn’t heterosexual is beyond my comprehension.

For a Real Laugh, Listen to the Original Pedophiles

And speaking of the gender issue, I nearly peed my pants laughing when I read someone’s post about how co-ed restrooms would encourage pedophilia. Good grief! Is that the best they can do? The most rampant place for pedophilia is the Catholic Church and has been for longer than we probably realize. Is there a more unnatural state than a man who has to remain celibate to keep his job? And yet, these same men are supposed to counsel couples who are getting married? Seriously? What is the basis for their knowledge? What do they know about the challenges of raising a child? They’ve taken their natural carnal instincts and stuffed them into a cardboard box, then left the box sitting out in the rain!

Winding Down and Getting to the Point

I make no apologies for this seemingly disjointed rant. In the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing some of the hated ones first-hand, and know they are not the fanatics the propagandists want us to believe. In fact, they are better people than most of us, and are living beneath the shadow of the actions of a relatively small group of extremists.

I have friends and family who are homosexual or transgender, and for the most part, they are the most forgiving, accepting people I know. Once again, we could all stand to learn compassion and respect from them. Many of them face challenges we in our insular lives cannot even imagine, but they don’t judge.

Change is inevitable, folks, and if to you that means Chaos, then I would suggest you buckle in and get ready for a very bumpy ride. As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing some old social and political structures razed to make room for something new and better. We probably won’t get it exactly right the first time, and it will take time for the dust to settle and the benefits to become apparent, but I’m hoping we’ve learned from our mistakes and will be open-minded to the lessons we can learn from people who have suffered at our hands, yet never even considered laying blame. They’ve taken the moral high ground and learned that it’s our differences rather than our samenesses which make this a better, kinder, more compassionate and more progressive world.

I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure I’ve offended a lot of people with this rant, but as I’m a proponent of this change you call chaos, it was inevitable. If you choose to comment, please follow the common courtesy of posting which goes back a number of years: “Attack the post, not the poster”.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for a world where we have the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of people.
2. I am grateful for the ability to check facts and sources, if we only take the time and make a little effort to do so.
3. I am grateful for places where differences are valued and celebrated.
4. I am grateful for the ability to hide hatefulness, ugliness and ignorance.
5. I am grateful for abundance; kindness, compassion, change, lessons, multi-cultural exchanges, gender acceptance, enlightenment, love, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Corralling the Monkey Mind

Cheetah on My Mind

Lately, my mind has been performing a constant series of mental gymnastics. It makes it especially difficult to sit down and put words to page as they flit by so rapidly, even my speedy typing can’t keep up. It took me three days to settle it down enough to produce a 1000 word post about the last event I attended with my photographer friend. Was it my best quality work? Maybe, and maybe not, but at least it got writ.

On several occasions, it crossed my mind to add a post to my blog as well, but the very idea of sitting down and typing actual words sent the monkey into a screaming hissy fit of hysterical screeching and flinging of poo. (not a pretty sight, I assure you!)

I’m not really sure what allowed the furry fellow to settle down enough to let me work, but I got a good 3 hours worth in today and now, here I sit, putting more words to screen. Perhaps it’s the daily meditations. I actually completed 12 weeks of listening and have re-started at Level 1 of WTGOM. Meanwhile, I’ve reached Level 4 of WTGOWL and am slowly but surely releasing fat, thanks in part to a healthier diet, but aided and abetted by NEAT (a concept which says I must get up and move every hour more than just my regular bathroom visits), increasing time spent moving with the music and encouragement of my Wii Fit and of course, the incredibly supportive Neurogym Weight Loss community. With their help, I’m learning to stay on track, cheer my victories and accept the now very minor setbacks with an honest look at the behavior that caused them. No guilt and no blame makes it much easier to get back on track and discourages the binge eating which accompanies self-flagellation.

We and We Alone Are the Creators of Stress

As I sit here, monkey mind is still dashing off in many directions, further complicating my ability to hold a thought long enough to transfer it from brain to fingers. I’m thinking about the interview I’ve yet to turn into an article and questions I need to prepare for the next one. Then there’s my daughter’s graduation, a commitment I’ve made to a local wild animal rescue and the list goes on.

I was reading an e-book about recharging and how we cope with stress today. As I read, I saw how many things I’ve released over the last couple of years which should have brought my stress level down to nothing. But, in some ways, I guess I’m a modified version of a Type A personality as I seem to bog myself down with things I need to do, should do, want to do…and so on. In reality, there isn’t that much, but I’m finding even article writing isn’t simply a matter of looking at my notes and letting words fly. I tend to find, as I write, that I’ll find something I need to check on the net in order to make the article as perfect as I can. Then my mindfulness clock goes off and I know I really should get up and do squats or something.

If that wasn’t enough to rekindle a fire under my stress responses, I’ll suddenly remember something I forgot to do which means jumping up and doing it before I forget it again. Now, I’m further behind on all of my shoulda, coulda, wouldas.

Loving Myself, Warts and All

Ultimately I remember to just stop, breathe and give my little inner monkey time go gather his toys and his blanket and settle down for a nap. Because we really are in charge of that crazy, erratic, seemingly intractable mind running relay races in our head. We can stop our own insanity without shouting ourselves hoarse. All we have to do is stop, relax, take a few deep breaths and allow ourselves a moment or two to just be without accomplishing anything or making lists or berating ourselves for our shortcomings. In those few quiet moments, we can also add a couple of “I love you just the way you are”s. Because in those moments we give ourselves several times a day (or should be if we aren’t already), there is no judgement, no recrimination, no blame and no guilt.

Those moments of pure self-love calm the mental monkey because he feeds on our sense of uber responsibility. Giving ourselves permission to be less than perfect; to only accomplish as much as we reasonably can in any 24 hour period, to eat one small wheat and preservative filled cracker; to be what we really are, and that’s an imperfect but perfectly lovely human being.

Who Knew Letting Go Was the Real Solution?

Funny, when I stopped fighting the mental gymnastics, the words began to flow. When I stopped trying to figure out why a particular article was stressing me out, the answer came like a flashbulb going off. When I stopped worrying about what to write in this blog post, 800+ words found their way from my fingers to the screen. When I let go, everything began to flow smoothly again. Why do we make something so simple seem to difficult?

For those of you (and you know who you are) who are fighting with your own monkey minds as you push to get just one more thing done before you drop into bed at 2 or 3 or 4 AM, I challenge you to do three things: 1. Breathe 2. Let go 3. Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Because you know what? You’re much more beautiful when you’re just you.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for learning to love myself as I am and not like some heavily retouched picture of perfect womanhood.
2. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve been learning and the conclusions I’ve reached while meditating to the WTGOM and WTGOWL audios.
3. I am grateful for the books and articles I’m reading that are written by people who, like me aren’t perfect.
4. I am grateful that I finally finished something I started and, in fact, started over with a new plan in place.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, self-love, joy, productivity, creativity, motivation, words, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Fear: A Mountain or a Mole Hill?

To Write or Not to Write: Is There Really a Question?

Lately, I’ve found it difficult to convince myself to sit down and write. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one of the 3 articles about the events I’ve attended in the last week, a blog post or one of my many literary projects, I’ve been finding any and every excuse to do anything but write. Knowing it’s simply a matter of discipline doesn’t help. It’s as if I’m suddenly afraid of putting fingers to keyboard for any creative endeavor.

This morning, I took my recalcitrant self in hand and vowed to break the pattern, and hopefully, break it permanently. I found myself looking in the mirror as I put in my contacts, asking What is it you really fear? I nearly fell into the litter box when the answer came back immediately. The only thing you fear is yourself.

Really? I fear meek and mild little me? Is that all? Surely it has to be something larger-than-life which throws me back into old, tired patterns at the slightest provocation. So I asked again. What is it you really fear? The voice came back again, sounding a touch annoyed. The only thing you truly fear is your idiot self! Now go do something about it instead of asking stupid questions!

F.E.A.R. Face Everything and Rise

My inner voice sure has an attitude. But maybe that’s the point. If I want to get past my blocks, both writing and otherwise, I need to take a page out of my inner voice’s book and stop taking crap from myself. In a recent weight loss challenge I’ve been participating in, there’s a particular quote which resonates with me: “No shame, no blame, no guilt.” I could add to that, “and no excuses”.

What I’m getting from this is I have a deeply ingrained fear of putting myself out there, whether it’s socially, in print or anything else. That fear has prevented my success on any number of levels. Just as I’ve built several layers of protective insulation around my body and spend a good deal of time tucked away in my house, I’ve held back on sharing my writing. I’ve gotten too good at starting things and not finishing, procrastinating, or just, plain avoiding.

But recognizing the problem is half the battle. I’ve beaten the one which had me sleeping away the day and not rising until 10 or 11. In fact, even the last couple of nights when I was up past 2 AM, my body still woke at about 8 or 8:30 singing Rise and shine! There are things to be done and stories to be written! I crossed the first hurdle; getting up. Now, this is me, leaping the harder, higher one; writing those stories.

A Lesson in Every Sentence

In the months and years I’ve had the luxury of writing as many hours a day as I like, I have, indeed, typed many a word. I’ve also learned some valuable lessons, the most important of which is to just get the words down and edit afterwards. I used to very diligently insert the HTML code into every paragraph as I typed, but discovered it not only slowed me down, but arrested the flow of thoughts clamoring to reach the page. Now, I just type away, letting the thoughts hit the page in whatever scrambled and only partially sane fashion they might wish. There’s plenty of time afterwards to review what I’ve written and put it into what, for me, is a semblance of sense.

I just heaved a huge sigh of relief, much like the one you let out when you reach the end of a bout of constipation. In my case, my brain was feeling very stuffed, very congested for lack of word flow. Other writers may understand how the mind fills with things to be said and unless those thoughts are released in the only way we know how, writing them down, they’ll just back up the works until the brain shuts down. I was perilously close to complete shut-down when I awoke this morning.

Creatively Mind Dumping

Blogging, I’ve found, is the simplest means for releasing my dammed up words. I don’t have a particular story I’m trying to tell or facts I need to include. It is simply the thoughts and lessons I experience daily. Maybe it’s also those thoughts and lessons which need to come out on the regular basis I used to follow, but have fallen away from lately. In a lot of ways, this is the brain dump I used to use when I couldn’t sleep for the thoughts, plans, lists and frustrations flying around in my head. I have, in fact, been denying myself my own personal mode of therapy, and it’s taken it’s toll.

Putting these words on the page feels very cathartic but the proof is in the pudding. I still have those articles to write, books to edit and complete and more to come. The event schedule I share with my photographer friend is continuing to fill up which means more articles to write. She gives me 2 weeks, but I keep saying that’s too long. Yet I still procrastinate about writing them. My goal is to finish all 3 articles no later than Sunday, but sooner would be better.

I have one last task to complete which will ensure my compliance, and that is to build another healthy salad so meal prep is minimal mid-day. It’s on the agenda for this afternoon, after I return from Physical Therapy (which may not go on much longer as I’ve suddenly taken a huge turn, gaining strength almost daily and leaving most of the pain behind).

As I spend more time out in the real world, I have more material with which to regale and challenge my readers. Hiding out in my hovel with my cats is all well and fine, satisfying my inner hermit, but there’s nothing like a little human contact to augment the material I write about; even if it’s just my own inept efforts to interact like a normal person.

Keeping the Gratitude Flowing

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful that the word famine has ended.
2. I am grateful for the realization that my fears are so easily managed.
3. I am grateful for support groups and people who face much greater challenges than me.
4. I am grateful for the creativity which lies inside me if I just get out of my own way.
5. I am grateful for abundance: creativity, support, inspiration, motivation, commitment, joy, love, health, peace, harmoney, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Evolution: The Person, The Blog

A Time to Restore Order

I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction (or lack thereof) of this blog lately. I’ve come to the conclusion that in some ways, it’s time to return to the original, underlying premise when I began writing publicly and believe that is truly where my heart is.

What this means is in the coming weeks, I’ll return to my focus on personal challenges, growth, positivity and inspiration. The topics may not be Google search-worthy, but the truth is, I love sharing what I’ve learned (even the painful parts) and inspiring others, if only by assuring them they’re not alone.

I’ve also learned that inspiration is a two-way street. The people I inspire invariably inspire me as well. You could say we create a mutual inspiration society, and my most heartfelt desire is that the inspiration and supportiveness continue to spread. We’re all in this together, folks, and not one of us is getting out alive!

Knowing Which Trees to Shake

One of the best ways to get past a traumatic event is to talk about it, but it’s not always that simple. Upbringing, societal standards and embarrassment are exacerbated by our very real fear of being judged. As open as I’ve been here, there are things even I am not ready to discuss openly; things I’ve experienced, choices I’ve made which would rain too much havoc on my head to broach right now. And that’s a choice in and of itself.

We all make choices every day and one we choose most often, I believe, is to hold our tongues. Just as we wouldn’t come out and bluntly tell a friend “You look fat in that dress”, there are many times when things are better left unsaid. It might be to spare someone’s feelings or simply to avoid someone’s hot buttons to prevent unnecessary arguments. Either way, as adults we have learned to be tactful and not just blurt out whatever comes into our heads (there are, of course, exceptions to this and the results of their absence of tact is the basis for some rather interesting drama).

The most obvious topics are religion and politics. I’ve learned through some painful experiences to be extremely cautious about the first. People can be quite dogmatic about their beliefs and contrary to my own viewpoint, think what they believe is the one, true way. Rather than screaming “Bullshit!” in their faces, I’ve learned to bite down very hard on my tongue, smile and walk away. Such people will never, ever admit that we all have a right to our own beliefs and that ours is just as valid and meaningful as theirs. What astonishes me most is that some religious circles still hold fast to, and continue to propagate such an egocentric concept. But it explains a lot about the continued existence of religious persecution.

Politics, on the other hand, is such an unholy conglomeration of social, moral, religious agitation-inducing nonsense fueled by a desire to distract everyone from the real problems…the elephant in the room, if you will that to attempt to debate any of the issues is, to me, about as satisfying as trying to find the end of a tightly wound ball of string without the slightest opportunity for a successful outcome.

Taking the High Road and Keeping the Peace

So for now, I will continue to share the inspirational and the painful, the cheering and the sobering while carefully avoiding anything which would give way to heated, emotion-based discussions where nobody wins.

As always, I’m grateful to those of you who continue to visit and even, on occasion, share your own thoughts and experiences. Without you, I might have stopped writing this blog years ago. But here I am, 7 years later, still writing somewhat regularly, and it’s all because of you.

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful to be regaining my focus.
  2. I am grateful for friends, old and new.
  3. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned, lessons I struggle with and lessons yet to arrive.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities the Universe gives me to help others. They’re beginning to appear in unexpected ways, and make me glad I asked.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, sharing, caring, kindness, compassion, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Not My Usual Upbeat Post

Warning! Steep Downhill Ahead.

It’s been awhile since I’ve needed to post a warning at the beginning of a post, but, having decided to put this out in public instead of taking it off-line, I feel I owe it to my readers to warn them of impending doom.

Depression Sucks

There, I’ve said it. Depression is the worst place to reside, even for a brief span of time. To someone who is depressed, I don’t think there really is a brief span of time. Every moment seems endless and excruciatingly painful. Though I only have my own perspective, I think it’s even worse when the cause of your depression is your own thoughtless actions.

I didn’t expect to gain additional perspective into my mother’s life and actions this late in the game, but it seems the Universe decided I needed some. Mix together months of physical pain, the inability to sleep more than an hour or two at a stretch, financial worries, a shit load of fears, a feeling of being alone and disconnected from everyone and the unconscious lowering of shields necessary to an empath’s sanity and you have a cocktail for disaster. The other night, not only did I partake indiscriminately of that cocktail, I wallowed in it like a pig in mud.

Now, I’m left feeling embarrassed, mortified and even more isolated than ever before… and filled with even more compassion for my mom. I can’t know how physically isolated she felt despite what appeared on the surface to be a decent marriage and a large circle of friends, nor how much pain her arthritis and other physical ailments were causing her. But I am reasonably certain that, unlike me, she hadn’t found a way to crawl out of the emotional hole she was in. Her foundation was a lot less stable than mine in the first place, despite the clear messages she gave me about how much I disappointed her. I, unlike her, was able to reach a point where I knew the only approval I needed was from myself, and I worked very hard to give myself that approval…until this week.

My only saving grace right now is that the circle of friends I moved into while making a more positive, compassionate world for myself is more supportive and understanding than the me I am right now believes I deserve. My heart swells with gratitude over how blessed I am to have these people in my life. As I sit in front of my computer with tears flowing down my face, wiping off my reading glasses every few minutes so I can see the computer screen or a text on my phone, I realize the messages they send are a true testament to the changes I made. Although on one hand, it comforts me, on the other, it reminds me of how tenuous a hold I have on both the positivity and the friends I’ve been able to attract by working to become a better person.

Friends, Indeed

Yes, I admit I’m being overly dramatic in thinking that friends of this nature would be so quick to turn their backs on me. The truth is, though I’ve learned a lot, I haven’t learned to believe I deserve loving, compassionate, understanding friends who realize even the best of us have bad days. Sure, my bad day this time took on what to me appears to be epic proportions. One friend even pointed out in an incredibly kind manner that I seemed to have regressed back to the angry, negative person I’ve worked so hard to leave behind. Talk about a reality check!

When I think of my mom living every day in this dark, lonely, desolate place, reliving every word she said to someone and tearing herself apart, I want to cry anew for the lonely, disconnected, unhappy woman who saw no other choice but to end that life. And it scares the living daylights out of me.

Is it any wonder that the cats, and Dylan in particular have been especially attentive for the last month or two? They saw me going down that long, dark spiral and have been doing their best to make me feel loved, appreciated and needed. They recognized when it reached its peak last night. Dylan has been glued to my side ever since. He curled up with his head on my lap while I watched TV and slept with me on the couch until my shoulder relaxed enough to move to my bed. In hindsight, he helped me sleep longer than I have in quite a few nights (a whopping 4 solid hours!). When I moved to my bed around 5 AM, he followed and curled up around my head where he stayed until I got up about 9. Now he’s just sticking by me wherever I go.

Taking Control

Even during my worst years, I used to tell myself I’d allow no more than 24 hours to be depressed before dragging myself out of that hole and getting on with my life. Whether I really did or not is irrelevant now. Suffice it to say, it made me wallow far less than I might have. And it was pretty good advice.

Writing has always been my sanity, even when what came out sounded somewhat less than sane. It is my therapist and a place where I can pour out hopes and dreams as well as fear and misery, knowing that putting the words on the page are tantamount to pulling the plug in the bathtub and letting the water flow out. The words and thoughts are no longer crammed into my brain, fighting for space and clamoring for release. They’re out there and given voice.

In the years I’ve been meditating, I often make use of a phrase to still my monkey-mind: “Accept, Acknowledge, Release”. I believe that the writing is a physical manifestation of those words. When I write down the thoughts churning in my brain, I am indeed, accepting and acknowledging them. When I finish the document or post, I’m giving myself permission to release them and move one. Small wonder so many of us find writing therapeutic. Not only can we give voice to those dark, twisty thoughts, but we can acknowledge and accept ourselves, realizing those thoughts are not necessarily the person we are. There’s always the other advantage and that is to help us understand those dark emotions and make the characters in our books more three-dimensional.

Yes, this week has been a wake-up call for me. Though I’ve worked hard to be positive, allowing the challenges in my life to grow unchecked still has the power to undermine years of hard work. I’m just grateful that where my efforts to be positive have excelled is in attracting incredible examples of natural positivity into my life. When the reflection in my mirror becomes displeasing to my eyes, I need only look towards those I now consider friends to remember that the person I want to be really is still in there. I just need to re-focus my effort and re-adjust my perspective.

Depression might suck but even as it is necessary to remind me how fortunate I am to have amazing, loving, beautiful people in my life.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for lessons which help me put things back in perspective.
2. I am grateful for the lessons which repeat when I forget to be kind, compassionate and positive. They remind me that I am still a work in progress, and that’s OK.
3. I am grateful for friends who don’t abandon me when I get ugly, but also don’t sugar coat things. There is a time and a place when I just need to be told I’m acting like an ass.
4. I am grateful for reminders that, no matter what, I need to accept and forgive. What my mind might magnify into a major slight might just be someone else’s bad day.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, compassion, kindness, lessons, challenges, perspective, joy, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Rainy Day Thoughts

Looking out my window at the rain-drenched street, the late-afternoon sun casts a glow making the neighborhood appear almost magical. Though the drenching we’ve received in the last two days will make but a small dent in our drought-ravaged state, the parched earth, nonetheless, offers it’s own words of gratitude to the dark, looming clouds.

It was easy today to read or study or meditate; a cat or two always nearby. The rain beat a staccato rhythm on my roof, punctuated periodically by thunderclaps, resounding like tympani, emphasizing the downbeat. Yet the almost non-stop downpour elevates my mood. Not because we so desperately need it but because I’ve always found the sound of rain soothing. It’s a sound we humans cannot duplicate via faucet or fountain; its arrhythmic rhythm following its own beat; playing its surreal tune.

Can you hear the music in the raindrops? Can you feel the beat as they bounce off the sidewalk or tap on your window? Do you heed their call when they tap out “Come out and play!”? Or are you more focused on getting the kids to school relatively dry or making what you know will be a challenging commute? Are you too busy, too stressed to stop and just listen to the rhythm of the rain?

One of the many things I gained when I slowed my life down was the luxury of listening to the rain and even heeding its call. Even a downpour while I’m loading groceries into my car just makes me laugh. I turn my face upwards, lapping up a drop or two, then stomp purposefully in the puddles just because I can.

I believe growing old, at least mentally, is a choice. It happens when we choose to let go of our childlike enjoyment of the little things because we feel the need to be responsible. Yet in reality, we can be selectively responsible and still retain that childlike enjoyment.

Maybe that’s why cat and dog videos are so popular these days. You can, for the few moments the video plays, revel in that devil-may-care attitude. But why not take it a step further? Embrace it. Be it. Dance in the rain or sing a happy song. Cut loose and realize what others might think of your behavior is really not your concern. They’re going to react as they do regardless of your behavior. So you might as well make yourself happy, right?

Back when I did have to commute, I taught myself to embrace the delays. They gave me a few more minutes of alone time when I could sip my coffee and smile at my fellow commuters. For those few extra minutes, I was disconnected from phones and computers and people who needed something from me. Those were moments of pure bliss. But those were also days when I worked in a job that was sucking my soul so periods of disconnectedness were golden.

Though I’m rarely stuck in traffic these days, on the rare occasions when I do find myself crawling along the Southern California freeways, I use the time to imagine or create or just sing along with the radio or CD. I’m still learning to release the things I can’t control, but for the most part, traffic jams are no longer a cause for stress. But then again, I can choose to stay home when the roads are a mess.

Someone asked me recently if I could continue to survive financially if it took me a little longer to get a few writing or VA gigs. I was pleasantly surprised to admit that the simplifications I’ve made in my life in the last couple of years along with some fortuitous reductions in outflow mean I’d actually be OK for quite some time.

As I felt some of the pressure flow out of my system, I felt confidence flow in. Thanks to an ever-increasing network of positive, supportive people, I’m gaining much-needed skills for promoting not only the work I’m doing now, but the books I will be publishing over the next couple of years. These things took time to build. Relationships have been a process. This isn’t something I could have accomplished in less time than it’s taken. There’s a lot to be said for being a work in progress.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people I’ve met, the challenges I’ve taken, and the growth I’ve enjoyed.
2. I am grateful that I’ve simplified and downsized my life. It’s a much better fit now; like a comfy pair of well-washed jeans or loose-fitting sweats.
3. I am grateful for each and every opportunity I’m being given to learn, grow and give back.
4. I am grateful for my own personal forums on which to share my thoughts, lessons and ideas, and for the people who read them and offer feedback.
5. I am grateful for abundance; friends, fellow travelers, lessons, challenges, successes and failures, laughter and tears, dancing, love, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity (and that piece of property overlooking the beach where I’ll live, love, thrive and offer other artists a place to retreat and follow their own passion.)

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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