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Archive for the ‘accountability’ Category

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, www.shericonaway.com 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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A Grain-Free Week

Switching it Up

A month or so ago, a friend and I became accountability buddies. We checked in regularly, logged our food and exercise and kept track of the pounds. It went well for a couple of weeks, maybe more, and I did drop about 9 pounds. But lately, that’s changed and I’ve gone back to the old “up three, down two” game. My blog writing pitching took me to some paleo sites so I started looking into what changing to that kind of diet entailed. As previously mentioned, it isn’t for me.

What I did realize was that the last time I dropped a good amount of weight, over 30 pounds to be exact, I not only checked in with MyFitnessPal regularly, but I cut out most grains. For me, that’s doable in the short term or perhaps, in sprints. So for the last week and a half, that’s exactly what I did.

I’d like to say I got immediate results, but I think your body and even your eating habits have to acclimate to the change. So it took about a week before I started seeing a noticeable change; not only in weight but in energy. The protein-rich diet fills me up without bogging me down. I’m sleeping better than I was, too! In just over a week, I’ve dropped about 3 pounds, which thrills the heck out of me.

Making it Work During the Holidays

Spending Christmas with my daughter and son-in-law will be challenging. Her house is redolent with her Christmas baking frenzy this time of year, and now that she’s learned a few more tricks in her culinary arts classes, she’s become even more creative. However, she is also incredibly supportive. Didn’t she start learning how to convert recipes to gluten-free because I found the gluten was irritating my stomach after awhile? She’s already stocked up on plain yogurt so I can enjoy my usual breakfast instead of reaching for something grain laden.

Though she won’t give up grain for her or her hubby, nor would I expect them too, she has come up with alternatives for me. Heck, I may snag one of those pumpkin pancakes with Christmas breakfast, but will fill up on the eggs and fruit or whatever other non-grain alternatives there might be. And she’s making sure dinners can be eaten without pasta or rice if I so desire.

All in all, I deem this experiment a cautious success. I’m also counting on my daughter’s usual pattern in which I accumulate between 16000 and 18000 steps per day during my visit. Even if I only manage to keep the grains at a minimum while I’m there, I suspect I’ll avoid the usual bulking up which usually occurs Christmas week.

Setting up for my Next Sprint

Better still, no matter how good or bad I am this week, I’ll be ready to do another week or two sprint with no grain. If I can do about 2 weeks on and one off, I can see me setting a pattern because the two weeks I’m off of grains will get my body accustomed to doing without. If I eat a moderate amount during my week off, I’ll be able to tell just how much makes me feel sluggish and how much screws with my sleep and meditation patterns. If that amount is small, it will simply make it easier to give it up for longer periods of time.

Not Quite Paleo

Giving up grain of all kinds is a huge step for me. I’ve actually given up starches almost entirely. I’ve had potatoes a couple of times, but aside from that, it’s been protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. Snacks include yogurt dip and veggies, almonds and dried cranberries, though even those have slowed down as my body stays full from the increased protein. I don’t however, see a day when I’ll give up dairy or legumes. I love lentils in my turkey-pumpkin chili and my fat-free yogurt and honey in the morning is a quick, easy, no-brainer to get me going. Yes, I may start pre-making the egg casserole I used to take to work, but it’s not going to be a daily or even weekly change. Too many mornings, all I can stomach is that 1/2 cup of yogurt. It isn’t until after noon, and sometimes 2 or 3 before my stomach is ready for anything heavier. But at least I know myself.

Many of us realize we need to change our eating habits to something healthier, but there’s no point in changing to something which has no appeal. You just won’t stick with it unless you’re some kind of masochist who gets off on torturing yourself. When I was pregnant with my twins, I saw a nutritionist and the first thing she did was to ask me what foods I liked and which ones I didn’t. She wasn’t about to help me design a meal plan containing foods I disliked or omitting everything I liked. Nearly 30 years later, I still take her words to heart.

Living in a Land of Plenty

I am very fortunate in that I love fresh produce, and even luckier still that I live in an area Harvest box 11-18-14 view 2where it is abundantharvest box 11-4-14 12 months a year. You can bring me to tears with a nice bunch of broccoli or cauliflower, a bucket of brussels sprouts or a lovely member of the squash family. My daughter has even taught me new and different ways to enjoy these wondrous treats. That very love and abundance is what makes this new path easier to tread. No rice? No problem. I’ll just eat more of this lovely veggie with a little bit of chicken stir-fry. No bread? Let’s throw a few more veggies in the pan and scramble them into a fluffy pile of eggs. Stir fry nearly done 10-22-14

Do I feel deprived knowing I’ll have to pass on the pizza or sushi? Not really. In fact, many times there are versions of sushi which are riceless anyway. Have you ever tried a hand roll without rice? Very tasty! And if I really want pizza, I’ll just wait for my off week. If I still want it by then, so be it.

Leaving Behind a Life of Constrictions

Two years ago, I left behind a life of waking with an alarm to go do a job which built up someone else’s nest egg. I left a world of someone else’s rules and rush hour and being around people even when I didn’t want to be. I’ve made a lot of changes over the least two years, some good, some not so good. I’ve established some healthy habits which have fallen by the wayside, perhaps to be picked up again in the future…and perhaps not.

But I have learned that if I make changes to my life that don’t make me happy, I’ll find a way to undermine those changes or just wander off in search of something new. And yes, I’ve done both. But eating is really easy. I love to eat, I enjoy cooking and find more of the healthy foods appealing than not. Realizing that I need a specific time frame to go off track was the missing link, though. If I lock myself into a week or a couple of days or whatever, I’m more likely to say during the weeks I’m supposed to be diligent “Nope, that has grain. You can’t have it this week, but give it a few more days and you can indulge if you even want to by then.” And for now, that’s enough.

How do you keep yourself on track with those healthy habits you form? Are you just one of those whose internal motivation is enough, or do you have to make deals with yourself so you’ll do what you know is best anyway? Do you hold the results up like a mirror so you can easily see how following those habits has improved your life? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Tonight’s gratitudes are:
1. I am grateful for fresh produce year-round.
2. I am grateful for small successes.
3. I am grateful for the things which motivate me.
4. I am grateful for new opportunities and ideas which help me make necessary changes to my path.
5. I am grateful for abundance: success, motivation, inspiration, support groups, cheerleaders, friends, family, joy, love, dancing, bliss, peace, harmony, health, happiness, 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, www.shericonaway.com 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!

10 Reasons Why I Can’t Go Full Paleo

With Better Understanding Comes Enlightenment

Yesterday I made the rash proclamation I was going to give the Paleo diet a try. However, today I did some research and with the help of The Ultimate Paleo Guide, I realized that my tastes alone, much less my propensity towards cooking and freezing large quantities just wouldn’t accommodate such a strict regime. Instead, I realize I just need to cut out the grains, if not entirely, by limiting consumption to infrequent occurrences. So without further ado, here are the 10 reasons I can’t eat like a cave (wo)man:

  1. Cheese – I admit it. I love cheese in so many shapes and styles. I love it sprinkled on vegetables, garnishing my turkey-pumpkin chili and too many other places to mention. When I’m starving but have no time to eat, a piece of cheese will keep me going for another couple of hours.
  2. Yogurt – It has allowed me to always eat the most important meal of the day; breakfast. Half a cup of non-fat greek plain with bee pollen and blueberries or honey is just what my newly awakened tummy can, well, stomach.
  3. Lentils – This lovely little legume has replaced beans of all sorts in my cooking. It is protein- and fiber- filled; in short, a nutritional kick start to whatever I decide to put it in.
  4. Squash – I have recently discovered a love of all things squash; be it pumpkin, butternut,spaghetti, acorn or kabocha. My harvest boxes boast squashes of all kinds, shapes and colors and far be it for me to turn my back on such bounty!
  5. Beets – how could I ever give up these lovely red and orange bulbs which grace my salads and smoothies with their smooth, rich flavor?
  6. Steel Cut Oatmeal – While I look for the gluten-free variety, when the mornings are freezing, I will forego my yogurt but only if I can have my oatmeal. This is non-negotiable and probably dates back to my childhood when a bowl of hot cereal was often the start of my day.
  7. Butter – I rarely eat toast so it’s not that I’d miss this spread on it. However, I do enjoy a bit of it on my potatoes (see more on that later) or veggies. Olive oil just doesn’t always cut it so I will use butter on occasion. And don’t even suggest making mashed potatoes without it.
  8. Potatoes – This isn’t something I eat every day or even every week, but I do enjoy them now and again. And if my potassium levels drop which they do on occasion, a baked potato with broccoli and cheese will often set me to rights.
  9. Almond and Coconut Milk – As these are recent developments and involve processing, I’m going to assume they’re not allowed. I use them in my smoothies and sometimes coffee. Again, not something I consume frequently, but enough that I can’t see giving them up.
    And last but not least
  10. Coffee – I am not fit for human interaction without my morning cup of coffee. Period. End of discussion. Fini. Don’t even ask me to enter a world where coffee isn’t on the menu, ok?
Making Adjustments that Fit My Lifestyle

I’m not one to set myself up for failure, though I will push to achieve things which seem impossible like, say, 50,000 words in a month. Knowing which foods I can comfortably live without is one of those things. But that doesn’t mean I can’t modify my diet and cut out some things I can openly admit I’ve been over-consuming of late. I’m not quite on track for the 20 pound loss by April, so I do realize change is necessary, but let’s be realistic, shall we? A small scoop of ice cream or a single piece of chocolate every so often isn’t going to blow my diet or cancel my resolve. I just have to renegotiate the meaning of “infrequent” with myself is all.

I may still look for paleo companies to pitch because, after all, I can write about something even if I don’t practice it myself, can’t I? Anyone can research a topic and write on it intelligently if they try. And so many of my healthy eating type posts will translate into Paleo, even if some will require a slight tweaking to fit the mold.

Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit

Overall, I believe it’s important to feed the entire body Human. That means, for me, daily meditations, exercise, good food, pursuing my passion, and above all, always striving to improve in each of these areas. I do well for awhile, then slip if I don’t monitor what I’m doing. Then comes a period of adjustment and getting back on track. The cycle ebbs and flows, repeating itself, but never quite the same, and overall, I feel better for it, so some of it must be working!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the power of Google. I can learn new things with a few keystrokes.
2. I am grateful for the ability to understand myself; my strengths, my weaknesses and my limitations. But also to understand where I can make changes which will maximize the strengths and minimize the weaknesses. It’s an on-going project but I’m worth the effort.
3. I am grateful for new lessons learned and new confidence gained.
4. I am grateful for the love and good health of my furry family. Even when one is faltering, everyone joins forces to help them move back towards a state of healthiness.
5. I am grateful for abundance: confidence, initiative, motivation, inspiration, health, love, joy, peace, harmony, friendship, intelligence, 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, www.shericonaway.com 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!

10 Things I’ve Learned by Meditating

There’s More to a Meditation than Meets the Eye

I’ve included meditation in my daily routine for several years now. I try to do an hour a day, sitting quietly in my living room, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes, I meditate on the dance floor. Others, I meditate while doing my morning stretches. I have even been known to meditate while grocery shopping.

It doesn’t really matter where you meditate or what you’re doing. The trick is to just quiet your mind and allow. Of course, when people hear “quiet your mind” they think you mean turn your brain off. We all know that’s impossible. What it means is to let the thoughts flow without analyzing or judging. In short, you just allow.

I get a lot of ideas from my meditations including both the title and main idea for my latest NaNoWriMo. But I realized today it’s much more than that, So without further ado, here are the 10 things (or should I say 10 of the things) I’ve learned by meditating.

  1. It’s the perfect place to work on forgiving yourself.
  2.  There is no wrong way to meditate.
  3.  A To Do list isn’t just to keep track of tasks I need to do. It’s also a way to show myself how much I actually accomplish even on days I consider lazy.
  4.  You can never have too many accountability partners.
  5.  If you don’t understand a message you receive while meditating, it will come again in a different way and will continue to do so until you get the message and act on it.
  6.  You can change your entire attitude by meditating.
  7.  For cats, meditation is a group sport.
  8.  No matter how frustrating your day might be, meditation will help put things back in perspective.
  9.  You can’t beat yourself up while meditating.
  10.  If you receive a message during meditation which shows you rearranging furniture, don’t ignore it. You won’t be able to settle down, sleep or even enjoy a movie until you do.
Meditation for your Health

Even if I’m pressed for time, I’ve learned to take as little as five minutes out and just breathe. The overall reduction in stress is huge, and even more so if performed with a purring cat on your lap. Reducing stress in any way you can improves your physical, mental, emotional and energetic health. I’m heartily in agreement with those who say it should be taught in our schools. Maybe someday it will be.


My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the message I received today to swap my sofa and love seat and move the cat tree.
2. I am grateful for a week which, while not as productive as I’d like, saw me getting back on track with my To Do list, MyFitnessPal and my accountability buddy. It also saw me becoming part of a mastermind group who enjoy writing about Alternative health and just plain healthy eating.
3. I am grateful that Patches is being good about taking her meds though I try not to let myself think about how lousy she must be feeling to be so calm.
4. I am grateful for a full and interesting life where new ideas and challenges come up often. I’m reinventing myself almost every week and someday I’ll even know who I am.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, health, well-being, peace, harmony, calm in the midst of a storm, inspiration, motivation, hope, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

With a Little Help from my Friends

Sometimes We Need a Reminder We’re Never Completely Alone

I lead a fairly solitary life. Sometimes by choice and sometimes because the hours I keep just don’t mesh with normal humans. I don’t say this as a complaint, but rather as a simple statement of fact. In truth, for the most part I love my solitude. I do the things that make me happy; write, cook, read, snuggle with my cats, research new things. Even now, I love to learn. I don’t necessarily enjoy studying or taking tests, but I love learning whether it’s something big and life-changing or just a bunch of random facts on a subject that interests me. My brain is happy when it is being filled with new thoughts and ideas.

Because I love those new facts and ideas, I also love to talk (strange, I know, coming from an introvert), but I’m picky about my conversation partners. I prefer people with open minds who are not inclined to fall back on someone else’s tired dogma; people whose minds are open to new ideas or are constantly chewing over the old ones to see if they’re still relevant. And I love the ideas that are filled with positive energy.

The people I most appreciate are those who make me stand up and listen; who make me re-think my own tired, outmoded ideas in favor of those which are less confining, less restrictive and above all, more likely to attract positive results.

Accountability Buddies

Nearly a month ago, I got fed up with seeing the numbers on my scale increasing and decided to take action. I started using MyFitnessPal again to track food and exercise. The first couple of weeks were great as I dropped about 5 pounds. Since then, I’ve only dropped a couple, but I have to keep telling myself Progress is progress. Truth be told, I do have more energy and more motivation. I’ve made progress on the revision of Sasha’s Journey and begun refilling my freezer with healthy, single serving meals.

There are times like last night while I was putting together a pot of Turkey Pumpkin Chili when I enjoy the silence and the solitude. But sometimes, I just need a couple of attaboys to help me see I’m on the right track (or, as in this morning, a figurative head slap to remind me I’m going down the wrong one). My healthy eating accountability buddy and I burn up the phone with text messages every day, encouraging each other and helping avoid temptation. Trader Joe’s has been especially bad this year with chocolate covered pumpkin-y goodness, but I’ve found things which don’t blow my daily calorie count out the door while satisfying my need for sweet, pumpkin-y goodness.

Today, an accountability buddy I had not even acknowledged gave me one of those head slaps. I made a comment in a thread about men being intimidated by intelligent women. In it, I remarked, quite innocently, I thought, that I’ve been drawn to intelligent people more and more lately, and especially those who eschew the dogma of someone else’s teaching to think for themselves, be it spiritually, politically or socially. More importantly, they are people who don’t mind if others disagree with them as long as it is done respectfully.

What my friend made me realize is that I’m still holding negative thoughts about attracting the attention of the male of the species in a mutually beneficial manner. Once she got my attention, my brain started chewing on the thought and I came to the realization it is all intertwined.

I’m displeased with myself for allowing my weight to creep up and for getting away from my regular gym routine so I’ve somehow managed to send that displeasure down an old, well-worn path. If I’m displeased with my behavior, then I’m not worthy enough to attract someone who can appreciate me, challenge my brain and just be someone I’d enjoy spending time with. To quote a line from the movie ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 days’, “Bulls**t!” What you believe-Buddha

It does make me realize I still have much work to do on my self-image. I need to permanently annihilate the idea that only young, slim women find someone who can love and appreciate them, be supportive but not smothering and even be a balance for the areas where I’m not as strong as I’d like people to believe. At times, I still believe the old Pam Tillis classic ‘All the Good Ones are Gone’ Pam Tillis-All the Good Ones are Gone

Thankfully, my accountability buddy slapped some sense into me, reminding me that they’re only gone if I believe they are. In fact, she gave me a not-so-subtle reminder when she posted this: She’s obviously learned I’m not much for subtlety.

Remembering to Appreciate Those Accountability Buddies

This post is a shout out to everyone who helps me be good to myself, be true to the image I want to present and to remove self trash talk from my vocabulary. I love you all and appreciate you more than you know, though I often forget to acknowledge all you are to me.

I ask you to take a few moments and think about the people in your life who help you stay on track. They’re there even if you aren’t conscious of their presence or the contributions they make in your path to building a better you.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my accountability buddies.
2. I am grateful for the progress I’ve made and the progress still to come.
3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made, the broken roads I’ve traveled and the people I’ve met along the way.
4. I’m grateful for the ability to look honestly at what I’m doing or saying and, sometimes with a little help, realize where I need to make changes.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, lessons, positive examples, kindness, compassion, community, solitude, motivation, inspiration, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com 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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