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Committing to Yourself

An Aha Moment

While doing my second workout of the week, it hit me like a ton of bricks. For the first time, I was making a commitment to myself and accepting no excuses. The first time ever! Up to this point, I’ve been what John Assaraf would call “interested” but not “committed”. In other words, I was unwilling to do whatever it took to achieve my goals including accepting no excuses! And yet, when I speak with people who are so incredibly driven, so “on” all the time, I know that’s not me. Which makes me wonder, do we commit in different ways depending on our personality and experience? Am I less committed than someone else because I insist on making time for recreation? (and don’t confuse visits to the gym with recreation unless that truly is where you engage in social activities).

I’ll explore that further as this post progresses, but for now, let’s move on.

What Determines How and When We Commit to Ourselves?

The first question I had to ask was Why did it take me so long to make a commitment to my own well-being?

The obvious answer is I wasn’t ready. I spent many years with more commitments than I could handle just to stay solvent and reasonably healthy. As a single parent working one full-time job with a bit of work from my own business on the side, there were years when I couldn’t even find time for recreation, much less find the energy to laser focus on what I wanted to be when I grew up. Making ends meet or at least minimizing the gap between income and outflow was all I could manage.

Sure, there are people like JK Rowlings who managed to do it all and more, and I have the utmost respect for women who raised their kids alone like I did and managed to build a thriving business of some kind. I can’t even imagine the sacrifices they made in order to do so. But that was their path, and they figured it out much earlier than I have.

Determining Our Worth

The reality of the time, effort and sacrifice required to hack out your own path can be overwhelming at best. Often it’s easier to just choose the path of least resistance.

Maybe that’s why many of us find it easier simply to work for someone else all our lives, collecting a paycheck rather than building our own business. Working for someone else, we’re never fully committed, balls to the wall, all in, firing on all eight cylinders. We simply do what must to earn our paycheck (some less than others). Only on occasion are we fully committed to the job, giving it our all. Typically it’s in response to some sort of surge in the workload, a business change, or a special project. When it’s over we go back to our normal patterns, giving just as much as we need to. Often, we measure the amount of commitment we give our job by the monetary compensation we receive. In our minds, consciously or not, we determine how valuable we are and what an hour of our time is truly worth.

How often do you see co-workers who give less than an hour’s work for an hour’s pay? How often have you done so yourself? I’m willing to bet that either consciously or unconsciously, it’s the result of feeling under compensated. It doesn’t matter whether the market agrees or not. Your own perception drives your effort.

What Price, Commitment? Are We Worth the Sacrifice?

Yet the people who founded the company you work for, whether the company is large or small today had a vision. They focused their efforts to achieve that vision because they were committed to it.

I’m learning it’s a laser focused commitment which causes our dreams to manifest (with thanks to John Assaraf for the term). Until we are truly ready to focus ourselves…our entire selves on what makes our heart sing, our song will be half-hearted at best and more often than not, discordant.

Our focus really starts when we commit to seemingly unrelated things: our health and wellness, de-cluttering our space, helping others. We have to find our balance first because once we start moving towards our dreams and the momentum gets going we won’t have time to set any more habits. What’s already in place has to set a firm foundation from which we launch ourselves into the stratosphere.

Determining Our Willingness to Commit in Our Own Time and Manner

It frustrates me that it took so long to figure this out. It frustrates me even more to think I believed for so long that to get ahead you had to be a workaholic, giving up anything and everything non-business related.  As I see it now, nothing could be further from the truth! Without balance, no matter how committed you might be to your vision, you will burn out. How the burn-out manifests is unique to you, but it will happen.

I realize I’ve answered my own question. I’ve been gathering the bricks with which to build my foundation all this time. I didn’t know it any more than I knew what dream I’d pursue or how the pieces would fit together. I just needed to stay a course I didn’t know existed until now. Will it be my final direction? Probably not. Instead it will open my mind to new possibilities I might not even see until I travel a few more miles down this road.

The bricks in my storehouse are different from those other people gather. My foundation and it’s composition are unique to me. In my case, it’s a home of my own with a herd of cats. It’s a stocked freezer so I won’t need to do a lot of cooking or meal planning for awhile. It’s three unfinished novels, a children’s book, and a memoir. And it’s a driving need to learn new things. What I lacked up to now was tenacity.

One Direction or Many? It’s Up to You!

I started novels and never finished fine-tuning them. I started several courses, dozens of books, and various avenues for my business, but never let them come to term. Some died on the vine because I knew they were the wrong direction for me. Others fell by the wayside because I just wasn’t ready to put in the necessary effort. In short, I lacked that laser focus because I hadn’t figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Or more importantly, I thought I had to choose only one thing. Balderdash and poppycock! Where does it say we can only have one passion, one direction, one item in our career toy box?

You don’t eat one potato chip or one piece of popcorn. Why do only one thing? For someone like me, doing only one thing forever more is equivalent to putting me in a straight jacket and locking me in a padded room. I’d go bat-shit crazy in a matter of days. (Anyone who reads my posts on a regular basis knows I can’t even stay on a single subject, much less a single task for the space of 1000 words!) I actually crave the variety of writing for awhile, then doing something more analytical like accounting or editing. It keeps my brain sharp, and at my advanced age a sharp brain is a happy brain. (removing tongue from cheek now)

My Commitment Looks Different From Yours. So What?

In short, what looks like commitment to some people, looks completely different for me. I am not up at the crack of dawn getting my workout in so I can be all business by 7 AM. My day starts around 8:30 with visits to the gym coming anywhere from mid-morning to mid-afternoon. I do have a single day during the week when I run all of my errands and get in one of my thrice weekly workouts. I do dance at least three nights a week.

But I can also be found writing or doing client work into the wee hours of the morning because that’s when my mind functions best.

You also won’t find me doing a lot of face-to-face networking, at least not in an official capacity. Networking groups have never worked well for me. I don’t have the killer instinct so many of the members have. They are there to sell, and use all sorts of techniques to do so. I’d rather persuade gently. Here’s what I can offer. What are your pain points? I would love the chance to help you thrive by taking the things you hate to do off your plate. I simply function best by phone or Skype. Don’t ask me to get all gussied up to listen to everyone’s elevator speech. My ADD will send me screaming from the room in short order.

Does that mean I can’t laser focus on a few things I do well, or would love to learn to do well? Not at all. It means I just need to find ways to communicate and find people who need my services in ways unique to me. It’s taken me this long to figure out what I love to do and that it has to be a variety of things rather than a single skill. From here, I will commit to improving myself.

Committing to Mind, Body, Spirit, and Passion

My commitment will continue to include physical improvements like food choices, gym visits, and other physical activities. It will also include mental activities like learning more about writing, publishing, editing, and anything else writing related. But the learning won’t stop there. I’ve discovered a love for a few other areas and am compiling the resources to improve my skills there as well. Finding a few people to practice those skills on at a nominal fee will be the next focus; the next commitment.

Just putting all this down is incredibly energizing, and it even fulfills one of my commitments; to write at least three blog posts a week! That’s the easy part as ideas have been flowing so rapidly since I started going to the gym three times a week. Further proof that commitment to physical well-being supports mental commitments well.

What Do Your Commitments Look Like?

Are you fully committed to yourself? What was your turning point? What inspires you to be the very best you possible? How do you balance work, home, body, mind and spirit? I’d love to hear about what drives you, and what makes you want to scream with frustration.

It All Begins and Ends With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I found my bliss.
  2. I am grateful I finally learned my own particular version of laser focused commitment to self.
  3. I am grateful for examples of commitment even if they are different from mine.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities to practice the skills I want to excel at.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, encouragement, lessons, challenges, tenacity, free-flowing ideas, friends, balance, life, love, joy, happiness, 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!

July 29, 2015 ADD and Me: Every Day is an Adventure

A New Day Dawns and With it Comes Epiphany

For the last few days, I’ve been making real progress editing/revising my first novel, tentatively titled Sasha’s Journey. There have been highs and there have been lows: days when I knew just where I was going and allowed the story to take me there, and days when it was a struggle to put or copy and paste words on the page. But when all was said and done, I sent the requisite four chapters to my butt kicker and prepared to move on to number 5.

For years, I’ve known that my brain leads two separate lives. The analytical side wanders easily and must be pacified with music in the background, preferably something recognizable and with words so the part of my brain which is easily distracted has something to play with while the rest of it works. Conversely, when I am in that creative zone, I need silence, or as silent as this place gets with fans spinning to keep me from sweltering and cats doing the kitty 500 up and down the halls or snuffle-snoring on my desk. But it wasn’t until today’s very productive editing session that I finally realized my analytical side is multi-faceted as well.

After months of using Pandora for the gym or meditation, I wanted some music last night and turned on my Loggins and Messina station. It is, to say the least, nostalgic, bringing back the comparatively carefree high school days long past. Without thinking about it, I clicked Pandora’s ‘play’ button again when I sat down at my computer this afternoon.

After the requisite scan of email (mostly junk) and visits to Facebook and LinkedIn, I closed Facebook and began working on Chapter 4, music still playing in the background. A couple of hours later, not only had I reassembled pieces from two of the previous chapters but added quite a few words not previously seen in the first two iterations of the novel. I’d also gone through the previous 3 chapters, deleting extra spaces, adding or deleting words and correcting a few glaring errors.

Lovin’ My AHA Moments

It wasn’t until I was emailing those chapters that it finally hit me. My struggle with the editing process was so simple. It is a combination of analytical and creative efforts, and as such, my ADD brain needs to rewrite the rules. This hybrid state of mind is easily distracted because of the analytical effort required to rework the creative brain dump into something which moves at a reasonable pace, maintains some sort of continuity and holds my attention (if it doesn’t hold mine, no reader will be drawn in either). At the same time, I have to rewrite some of the chapters and determine the order it should really follow, and not the convoluted, creative meandering that came out of the initial writing and the first revision. In order to stay on track and really feel what should come next, there has to be a balance. My creative side must not be allowed to overrule the analytical, practical side. But neither can the analytical side ignore the prompts from the creative side.

No wonder the very idea of editing even a single chapter gave me the cold sweats! Until I figured out how to make the various aspects of my brain cooperate, I was destined to wallow in a cesspool of fears, discarded ideas and self-doubt. Even now, trying to write this post, I have the music playing and still, my mind wanders to Chapter 5. I know what scene I will use, but am fiddling with various ways to introduce it and move it along. I’d like to think I’ve gained enough experience over the last couple of years to know when I need to just let my brain rest and the ideas percolate. By the time I sit at my keyboard tomorrow, creative me will have a very good idea of where the chapter will start and the direction it will take. It will be up to analytical/creative me (that newly recognized hybrid) to put the pieces together in an interesting, cohesive, grammatically sensitive manner. (as the story involves teenagers, the dialogue can’t be too grammatically correct or it won’t work).

Days like this when both the story flows and I learn something new are somewhat rare, but I have a feeling these epiphanies will be flowing more freely in the days, weeks and months to come…and so will with words and the stories they’ll tell.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to have finished the first 4 chapters, and know where chapter 5 is headed.
2. I am grateful for the support, love and understanding from all of the sunflowers in my life.
3. I am grateful for the company of my cats who ensure that I take breaks and don’t sit too long at the keyboard.
4. I am grateful that I can now truly see the completion of my first novel, as well as short stories both started and swirling in my brain waiting their turn to gush from my fingertips, my second novel, and of course, Frederick the Gentlemouse.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, productivity, work, play, dancing, writing, reading, learning, teaching, growing, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at and . 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!

June 24, 2015 Feelin’ Alright

Sometimes, You Just Need a Helping Hand

I will be the first to admit that I am the Queen of Independence. I have to be in a really tight spot before I’ll ask for help. Admittedly, I’ve grown smarter with age, and ask a lot sooner than I used to but it is still one of my faults.

After two weeks of suffering severe pain in my right shoulder and arm and intermittent numbness in my left arm, the time came when I got off my independent high horse and made an appointment with the chiropractor as the homeopathics and essential oils were only somewhat effective. As it turns out, I had, as I suspected, ribs out of place, but it wasn’t the ones I thought. To me, it felt like it was on my right side in my abdomen, but the real culprits were in my chest.

I’d like to say I’m 100% better now, but that would be far too miraculous (though not unwelcome). I’m still using the homeopathics and essential oils, but I’m able to actually do a few things now, including working out at the gym. I’ve also discovered that I can do nearly anything, but in small doses. I’ve found that varying my activity at least every couple of hours helps as well. (some may say ‘duh’ as that is probably basic ergonomics, but still, it had to be said).

Sitting at the Computer for 8 Hours a Day: A Thing of the Past

It had to happen eventually. I had to realize that variety truly is the spice of life, and the protector of the body as well. I finally figured it out myself today. I have to get up and move around frequently. There’s no other option. I can’t spend 3 or 4 hours typing away on my computer because my shoulders, back and arms will rebel. But I also can’t sit on my butt and read for that same 3 or 4 hours straight.

This is all good news for my trusty To Do list, though, because, by changing tasks every couple of hours, more things get checked off. Today, for instance, I did two 20-30 minute sessions with the videos for my Holly Lisle writing course. I did my daily Tarot reading and I went to the chiropractor and the gym. I even got in a nap after my meditation since sleeping has not been very restful the last few days. I’m hoping tonight will see a change in that not-so-pleasant pattern.

When the sun started to dip into the western skies, I cooked a little dinner, put away the rest of the veggies, cleaned the kitchen and started doing laundry. When I sat down to watch some of the shows I’d recorded, I limited myself to two before going outside to enjoy the balmy evening and give some attention to my garage cats, one of whom has taken to climbing in my lap and doing some serious cuddling now that I have a chair on the porch for her snuggling sessions. The snuggling session was delayed temporarily when a crash from the vicinity of the kitchen followed by two very guilty looking orange furballs fleeing the scene led to another time out for Mr. Scrappy Doo, aka Mr. No Manners. It seems the open window in the kitchen was just too much of a temptation, but his natural lack of grace was his undoing. He apparently slipped off the window sill knocking the dish drainer into the sink and scaring the bejeebers out of him and Toby (who probably had his nose in the food bowl) when everything clattered into the sink.

It actually feels pretty good to get a little bit of a lot of things done instead of a lot of one or two things. My ADD brain is liking the variety and I suspect it will show in the quality of my work as the days progress.

Coming Up in the World

On a completely different topic (as if any of my posts ever stay on just one. I’m the writing version of Lay’s potato chips!), I was doing Google searches for a post I’m writing for a BlogMutt client and happened to find that for both “Gratitude” and “Leaps of Faith” I have not one but two posts on the first page of the search. I was really excited at first but the bloom on the rose is already fading when I realized that my Google search is probably geared towards me. Anyone else doing those searches would probably have different results. But it feels good anyway, even if I’m the only one who sees the Google world as a friendly place for my posts!

All good things must come to an and, I’m afraid, and my typing time is drawing to a close, at least for now. I leave you, then, with my gratitudes, and hope you have a few of your own on this lovely summer evening.
1. I am grateful that my back problems are improving.
2. I am grateful that I finally asked for help.
3. I am grateful for a decent gym workout.
4. I am grateful to be back on my regular blogging schedule.
5. I am grateful to be back on a proactive track with my writing.
6. I am grateful for abundance: love, health, movement, results, progress, lessons, challenges, writing, learning, friendship, happiness, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking a moment to visit my Facebook pages at and . 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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