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

Archive for the ‘alone time’ Category

Alone for a Reason

Alone Again, Naturally

I woke today after an exceptionally good night of dancing feeling strangely…icky. The lingering joy which usually greets me when I wake was replaced by a dark, writhing pit in my stomach. Thankfully, I have my normal morning routine of writing three pages of thoughts longhand. I don’t think I’ve ever needed it more than I did today.

It took me two pages to come to the realization that everyone I know has some sort of support group close by. It might be a loving and devoted spouse, or kids, or a close circle of friends; often it’s a combination of things. Meanwhile, I’m alone. If something happened to sideline me for a while, I really don’t know where I’d turn.

Life’s Challenges Come at Just the Right Time

But before you start thinking “Oh, poor Sheri”, let me get to the second part of my realization. Those people are all going through some kind of trauma or difficulty in their lives right now. It might be an aging parent, a death, the spectrum of an empty nest, issues with a child, injury, or some other disaster. But having that support group means they aren’t facing the roller coaster of emotions alone.

I, on the other hand, got my traumas and disasters over with early, while I still had at least a couple of people around to help me get through them. One child did her middle-of-the-night disappearing act over 10 years ago, setting off a chain of events which would ultimately have us leading completely separate lives. The other lived with me until shortly before her marriage. Even so, she stayed in the area another year or two. When she moved away, I may not have had a support group, but I had a life which kept me busy, and that’s nearly as good.

My parents both passed when I had work, the girls, their activities and a dozen other things to keep my mind occupied. Eventually, I even went back to my long-neglected writing. In their own way, they even inspired, and continue to inspire my writing in ways they never were able to do while alive.

Turning Bitter Fruit into a Tasty Treat

Instead of crawling into a hole and feeling sorry for what I don’t have, I see an opportunity to be more. My performance on the compassion spectrum can still use a lot of work. I still see people as strangers and tend to be territorial when it’s not necessary or even kind. I still take small snubs personally without taking into consideration the challenges my friends and acquaintances are doing their best to navigate. I see the support group and ignore the obstacles which need extra hands to clear away.

I’m reminded of the story of the coffee, the carrot, and the egg. The carrot when boiled becomes soft and flexible. The egg becomes hard and unyielding, and the coffee makes the water better. I find I want to be the coffee but am struggling in my efforts, often making the water bitter instead.

Yet it’s mornings like this when I experience my greatest revelations; my purest insight into my purpose for being in this particular lifetime. It’s the things I struggle most to learn; love, compassion, patience, supportiveness, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, I’m here to not only exhibit, but encourage in others. I may be a long way from learning what I need to know and embrace, but I’m a lot closer than I give myself credit for, especially given what I started with.

Being the Grown-up in My Relationship With Myself

My inner child continues to fight to be the center of attention. My biggest challenge is in teaching her she needs to give first. It’s her selfishness which leaves her out in the cold while others enjoy the warmth of hearth and home. It’s her unwillingness to recognize others are struggling with their own demons which has left her teased, shamed, and ostracized over and over again. And it’s the fragility she has covered over with a seemingly impermeable shell which makes it difficult for people to get to know her soft side and see how much she really has to give.

I was originally going to post a piece about fears which I wrote between dance classes yesterday, but when I woke this morning, this topic seemed to be the more important of the two. The fear piece will be waiting for the right moment, but today, compassion seemed to be more timely.

It might be in part my monthly response to the Full Moon. I do tend to react more physically and emotionally these days than I recall doing in the past. Maybe it’s because I’m post-menopausal, but I think that’s coincidental more than causal. (as I write this, I realize I started it at 11:11 on 6/11. The coincidences in my life keep pointing in the same direction. I also finished it at 1:11!). Or maybe it’s that I have time for introspection and self-reflection and am not exactly satisfied with what I see.

Where I Am and Where I Am Not

Putting aside where I am on my career path. Ignoring for a moment the many things I can point to that I don’t have. My personal development has a long way to go, which is pretty daunting when I admit how many decades I’ve had to work on it.

Even after writing several pages of self-revelation this morning, I still have the knot in the pit of my stomach. Though some of the darkness has lifted, I’m clearly not where I need to be right now. I’ve shown a marked lack of compassion in the last week or so, and I’m ashamed of myself. My inner child really needs a good shaking right now to stop feeling sorry for herself and focus on being a better person.

Thankfully, today is a new day and a new start. It’s up to me to make the most of it.

And finding a Reason to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I have a new day to make positive changes.
  2. I am grateful for the mistakes which make me see what I still need to learn.
  3. I am grateful for the friends I do have who accept my flaws even when I, myself don’t.
  4. I am grateful for the energy to dance for hours and sleep the sleep of the innocent, even if I wake feeling not-so-innocent.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: lessons, friends, energy, health, happiness, inspiration, motivation, Universal head slaps, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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!

March 17, 2015 5 Things I’ve learned from using DND on a regular basis

There are times when we deserve uninterrupted alone time.

I used to be a slave to the telephone. I’d take it with me when I showered and leap off of the throne should it ring in the middle of my business. Not that my phone rings all that much, which may be why I mistakenly assumed that if it rang, I should drop whatever I was doing to answer it.

When I was working in an office and in the middle of a hairy project, I had no trouble hitting the “DND” button on my phone, but when at home, I simply assumed that if it rings, I answer. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My outlook was changed by an accident.

One day last year, I discovered that my cell phone wasn’t ringing, forcing me to constantly check to see if I’d missed a call or received a text. When I took it into the Apple store, the tech took one look at it and showed me I’d accidentally put it on DND (a function, up to that point, I hadn’t even known existed!), and showed me how to fix it.

It took another few months for me to have an epiphany and realize I could use that function! Now, I set it intentionally whenever I want uninterrupted me time. It might be while I’m meditating or at the gym, but I also use it when I’m in the midst of writing. Heaven knows my Muse hates interruptions.

Even when I am not using the DND function, I’ve learned that, for the most part, calls and texts can wait until I’ve finished whatever I’m doing. I can shower without the phone nearby and, except during planned power outages, my cell is never in my bedroom.

Carving out alone time should be as high a priority as feeding your kids (furry or otherwise)

It took a little while to train my daughter when I first began using DND. In the beginning, she learned why I worry when I just get her voice mail, but after I explained why I needed undisturbed time, she understood and went on her way. Of course, I also learned why she heaves huge sighs when I can’t reach her, and am less likely to assume the worst when her phone goes straight to voice mail! (funny how often the teacher becomes the student!)

From every new experience, a lesson is learned…maybe two!

I’ve learned a lot from this simple act of carving out time for myself in which interruptions are minimized, if not eliminated.

1. We all need time to ourselves, whether it’s to meditate, go to the gym, write, or just be alone.
2. Given time, the people who care about us not only respect but appreciate our need for this time when we can’t be reached.
3. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander. Once we learn to expect that our own quiet time is to be respected, we learn to be more respectful of others’ need for the same thing.
4. When someone is unreachable, it isn’t a cause for panic or for assuming the worst.
5. Giving ourselves alone time makes us calmer, more productive and ultimately, happier, thus bringing our stress levels down.

The only thing which surprises me at this point is that I didn’t make some of these connections sooner. When my daughters were young, I always had my quiet time, though back then, it occurred between about 10PM and midnight, after they’d gone to bed and finally settled down. In fact, my best writing time is still in that area, though I have been known to crank out a few thousand words in the middle of the day on occasion.

Here’s a little mantra for you: “I want and need time in my day which is only for me. I will take such time every day without guilt or recriminations because I am worth it!”

Be kind to yourself, dear readers. It sets the tone for how others will treat you.

My gratitudes are:
1. I am grateful for the plethora of epiphanies I’ve been receiving lately.
2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn and put into practice.
3. I am grateful for the clearing of old paradigms.
4. I am grateful for new opportunities and options which are coming into my life.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, harmony, peace, opportunities, writing, reading, sharing, dreaming, joy, health and prosperity.

Blessed Be

October 23, 2014 Time Zone Woes #shericonaway #blogboost

Best laid plans

I had a great idea for tonight’s blog post, but it was, at least initially, predicated on receiving permission to use someone else’s graphic and remarks. What I neglected to consider was that the person in question is in Australia, so the question I posted late this afternoon is experiencing a bit of a delay in receiving a response.

No matter. I shall proceed without the graphic and her lovely comment for the moment. Returning to a topic, minutes, hours or even days later is a trademark of the ADD/ADHD mind.

Alone time is vital to our health, but how many people struggle to find it, or just find being alone too uncomfortable to bear?

We’ve all seen those people. The ones who have to have someone around all the time. The ones who just aren’t comfortable in their own company. I find them difficult to understand as I just can’t relate. I revel in my alone time. I clutch it to my breast like a well used security blanket. I’d happily hibernate in my house, with the cats my only company, for days on end. The trouble is, too much of a good thing isn’t healthy either. Is there a magic formula? A chart into which we can enter pertinent data such as age, gender, living arrangements, location, etc. and receive a slip of paper telling us how much alone time we need to allow? How much time we should spend socializing?

Frankly, I don’t see it happening in the foreseeable future. There are far too many variables, personal individuality being the trickiest of them all. One person sleeps eight hours a night and wakes feeling refreshed, another person, given the same amount of sleep awakens feeling exhausted from too much sleep. That alone is going to skew the answers! So how do you figure out what your personal optimum levels might be?

Many might hate this answer, but the truth is, we have to do what too many people fail to: listen to your body. “I don’t see how my body is going to tell me how much socialization and how much alone time I need!” you might tell me with your arms crossed over your chest signifying that you’re not about to listen to my prattle.

I would calmly reply, saying that your brain and mind are a part of your body. When they are feeling stressed, the smart person listens and tries to determine what to give the body and brain to lower those stress levels; to stop the stress hormones from injecting themselves into our bodies willy nilly. The obvious questions would concern diet and sleep, but what about time spent alone, even if it is simply to contemplate the lint gathering prowess of one’s navel. What about time spent with other humans which doesn’t involve work or other responsibilities?

Just as exhaustion sets in as a result of sleep deprivation (along with other nasty side effects like hallucinations), so, too, can we experience disruptions as a result of too much outside stimulus or too little fun. Now I’m going to throw the “B” word at you again.

A life well lived depends on balance. Sometimes, we have to step outside of our comfort zone to find that balance, but the truth is, if we don’t step outside of it on our own, sooner or later, we’re going to be kicked out, and at that point, the likelihood of it being an enjoyable experience is pretty low. I relate it to the room cleaning scenario when you’re a kid. Either you can clean it by the second or third time your mom asks, or you can spend the summer grounded and performing far more onerous chores than simply maintaining the cleanliness of your own room. How many teenagers have tested this theory, and suffered the consequences? Let me be the first to tell you that being forcefully ejected from your comfort zone is a great deal more unpleasant than being grounded for the summer.

So give some thought to how happy you feel in your own company. If you’re about to achieve full Hermit status, your objective should be to spend less time alone. But if you break out into a cold sweat just because you are all by yourself for a few minutes, it’s time to learn how to be alone without the requisite panic attack.

Most things are not harmful in moderation, and may even be healthy. But anything taken to excess is bound to be harmful, if not now, eventually.

We all need to clean out our emotional closet now and then. Stepping into what is uncomfortable for you right now is a great way to make that happen.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for a soft bed to lay my over used and abused muscles on.
2. I am grateful that I’m learning to temper my hermit-like tendencies with the company of others. As many of my friends are ADD/ADHD, they understand how difficult it can be for me to open up.
3. I am grateful for the exhaustion which is quickly claiming me as it means that Scrappy Doo will have a tough time keeping me awake with his shenanigans tonight.
4. I am grateful for four days of use and abuse of my body because it means that I can stay home alone tomorrow and indulge my inner Hermit to my heart’s content.
5. I am grateful for abundance: health, happiness, joy, friendship, love, harmony, peace and prosperity.


October 21, 2014 Balancing my inner Hermit. #shericonaway #blogboost

Life is all about balance. The better the balance, the easier it is to take the jumps when they arise.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Everything in life requires balance. Like a tennis player balancing on the balls of her feet while she awaits a serve, we have to be ready to move in any direction, and if we’re unbalanced, that just isn’t going to happen.

I am one of those people who is completely comfortable in her own company. I could easily go for days on end without human contact. But I also know that this isn’t a healthy place for me to be, so, in spite of my chosen profession, I know that I need to make sure I get out into the world on a regular basis. I’m finding that joining CSA which forces me to go out every Tuesday to pick up my box, combined with getting back into my regular gym routine was one of those really smart decisions I didn’t even realize I was making. At this point, I’m getting out of the house at least three times during the week and another two evenings to dance. But the benefits don’t stop at even healthier meals and a body in motion.

And speaking of healthy meals, here is today’s Harvest Box full of some old tried andHarvest box 10-21-14 trues and a couple of new things to try. (the Kabocha squash was yummy, by the way!) I supplemented this week’s goodies with some fresh green beans, bok choy and bell peppers so I can make a colorful and tasty stir fry. I’ll pick up some seafood blend at Trader Joe’s tomorrow for the protein. I’ll also be enjoying more of my wonderful salads thanks to another head of lettuce this week. (Each week it’s a different kind, so I’m not likely to get bored any time soon!

Suddenly, I’m getting more done every day!

Who would have thought that adding at least three hours of workouts plus additional trips to buy food, not to mention the extra hours of food preparation would make me more efficient. But one look at my To Do list shows that is exactly the case. I’m getting more work done on my clients, spending more time getting ready for NaNoWriMo, more time on chores around the house and more work on self-improvement and copywriting efforts.

I’m definitely not caught up to where I should be after all of these months of being home and not having a heavy workload, but I’m making progress, and that’s what counts.

The changes and improvements are a direct result of finding balance between being alone and getting out into the world. Sure, I need a reason to go out, but out is out, right?

Where do you find balance in your life? Or, where do you need to find balance? What improvements can you see happening once you find that point where you’re ready for whatever life tosses your way? I would love to hear your thoughts.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to be setting new habits.
2. I am grateful for the added balance in my life.
3. I am grateful that I seem to have forgotten how to rationalize missing a gym day.
4. I am grateful for increased energy, a decrease in the amount of sleep I need and an increased feeling of accomplishment.
5. I am grateful for abundance: happiness, healthiness, balance, self-confidence, motivation, accomplishments, harmony, love, peace, joy and prosperity.


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