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Archive for the ‘#amwriting’ Category

Letting Worry Slow the Flow

Ingrained Habits Unharmed by Worry

I was doing really well sticking to the schedule I’d set for myself. But health concerns pushed everything to the back burner until I got a few more answers (or maybe non-answers). When I finally sat down to write, thinking I was several posts behind, I found self-discipline had saved me. I had actually only slipped by one post with another due by midnight. No problem.

The problem isn’t so much with staying on track (and there are other projects which have indeed suffered), but with finding topics to write about which didn’t involve all the medical bullcrap I’ve been fielding for the last few months. Granted, the news so far is good in that it’s ruled out anything serious. But the search goes on and frankly, it’s frustrating!

I’m not a patient person by nature, so when each new set of tests has the current specialist throwing up his hands and sending me to yet another doctor with a 3 to 4 week lead time for appointments, followed by another 3 to 4 weeks to get in for the tests he orders, I’m losing what little patience I had. Meanwhile, the original problem persists, if not worsens, forcing me to make some lifestyle changes in order to cope with them until someone comes along who can actually answer the 64-thousand dollar question “What’s ailin’ me?”

Looking for Alternatives

Admittedly, I’ve grown more and more disenchanted with Western medicine the older I get. Someone recently said to me:

“As we get older, they see no reason to put forth the effort to keep us alive.”

I can find no reasonable argument to refute the statement.

Still, our insurance system is designed to support Western medicine, and of course, the pharmaceutical industry. I’m a lousy patient in that regard as I prefer herbs and healthier habits to the pills they try to convince me to take. I’ve had a great deal of success doing it my way too.

The latest concern seems to be confounding my doctors though, as they send me from one specialist to another only to hear “that part is working fine.” At least I don’t make this journey alone as a friend seems to be having the same issues, though he’s a decade older. In both our cases, our customary energy is being impacted, and as members of the dance community, energy loss is simply unacceptable.

Two Guinea Pigs Are Better Than One

I can only hope that between the two of us and our travels from one specialist to another, we’ll ultimately find someone who can figure this out, and solve the issue for us both. Meanwhile, I try not to piss and moan too much, eat smaller meals, and make sure I don’t eat within a couple of hours of dancing. One episode of nearly passing out was enough to make me a lot more cautious. (OK, so I could have stopped and sat down sooner, but I was having too much fun…until I wasn’t).

Some people choose to age gracefully. When they start slowing down, they take it lying down; sometimes literally. My friends and I are far less easygoing and accepting. If something slows us down, we look for ways to get around it. In my case, it’s daily walks, smaller meals, regular weight work, and when all else fails, physical therapy. As I’m still going at something close to my normal pace, I have to assume it’s working.

A friend of mine found his golf routine impaired by back pain. He added more stretching to his routine, and is back to golfing 5 or 6 days a week.

Keeping Up with the Younger Crowd

Admittedly, I’m not quite as active as those who are 10 or 15 years younger, but https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/9182552435/in/photolist-eZqYVz-bCNKVT-8waBnX-9gcXm3-5wMMcX-5styJG-5NdLft-9WfvLY-8MEH91-23XHouF-7mc1GH-py5mDy-9Lkh4X-7pd42N-EPatZ5-78st9q-6rcZxE-49Pm2N-au74m8-6jM6KS-HQymz-gVHz7s-49Kho6-5GKp9D-qSKDJ4-6wTpaT-6KMH5T-xp4AGh-38dnvK-Fkz55-a7uGEd-51eYV7-au74LM-co3BDW-e4KzTK-fPSmM-6PWBfU-eZqXRx-eZCkBd-5F7yao-PsCgD-7Rhx6c-BPHHeH-2e1ZPoa-6jvBPq-7Spp33-7RhwqR-2mKaF-78svmQ-7Spp6EI’m a lot more active than the average person who is 10 or 15 years younger, much less my age. Even my doctors are noticeably impressed at my activity level. That doesn’t mean they don’t add “for your age” to the end of any compliment, or refrain from mentioning my excess weight. Those are easy excuses inherent to practitioners of Western Medicine.

From what I’ve seen, herbalists and holistic practitioners are less inclined to bring age, or even weight into the calculation unless there’s something specifically age- or weight-related at issue. It may be an argument in and of itself to stop the merry-go-round of people who specialize in only one part of the body and consult someone who is prepared to treat the body as a whole.

Using Writing as a Sounding Board

Often when I’m writing, I’m trying to work out some kind of issue. Those are the pages, you’ll never see. Sometimes, I’ll talk myself around like I have here, and solve something that was bothering me, yet not to the point where I needed to do a brain dump to solve it. The mind is a powerful instrument, and like it or not, will point me in the direction I need to go, even if I didn’t realize I needed to go anywhere in the first place.

I’ve learned to listen to the intuition which surfaces through my writing. It usually brings something to the surface that needed to be brought up. Maybe I was spinning my wheels, or procrastinating, or in full avoidance mode. If I don’t acknowledge your presence, you’re not there.

I’ve learned I can’t hide from myself, though I spent decades trying. Eventually, the mind decides it’s had enough and says it’s time for you to acknowledge the elephant in the room, and do something about it. Today, my elephant is a health issue that no one seems to be able to figure out. Our society has made it necessary to advocate for ourselves, and to recognize when we’ve been put on a merry-go-round going nowhere.

Frankly, I prefer roller coasters to merry-go-rounds. They’re more exciting, and though the scenery might fly by at times, I get to see a great deal more of the world than if I spent my life going around in circles. I may be in for a wild, and at times, unpleasant ride, but I’m tired of all the non-answers. It’s time to leave the merry-go-round for the ones who have no place they want to go. That ain’t me.

Always Something to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I have choices even if I have to push my way through the muck to find them.
  2. I’m grateful I’ve ruled out some of the more serious health concerns, though I realize there are still some which have yet to be ruled out.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who support and understand when I’m feeling frustrated.
  4. I’m grateful for my writing which helps me get aligned with where I need to go next.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; choices, friendship, love, joy, dancing, solitude, community, opportunities, insight, inspiration, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

A Sad Anniversary Brings Perspective

Another Anniversary of Dad’s Death

When one of my posting days falls on September 11th, I’m sorely tempted to skip it, or at least move it to another day. But my innate sense of consistency won’t allow either, so at least it’s easier from a distance of 3 weeks or so which is when I’m pre-scheduling these days.

I don’t need to reiterate the significance of September 11th to anyone who is even remotely aware. Not only was it a horrific day in U.S. history, but reminders start showing up a few days before the anniversary.

There’s a small handful of us who are reminded of another anniversary which occurred 2 years after the WTC bombing, but which is much closer to home. In fact, my daughter and I typically disconnect from the internet on this day to do our remembering in private. As I’ve become more efficient about pre-scheduling posts, it’s become a lot easier to do so.

Moving On vs. Getting Over

Anyone who has lost a family member to suicide knows you don’t get over the loss. Like any other death, the impact eases somewhat as years go by, but it’s always there. Little things remind me how fragile life is, and how important it is to stay connected with the ones we love. It might not prevent the inevitable, especially when a loved one is faced with a terminal illness which will be long and painful if death is allowed to come naturally.

My dad made his choice, and for the most part I respect it. Still, I look back at how I distanced myself in his final couple of years when he became difficult to be around. He never shared the worst of his health issues with me or my sister. That was typical. He didn’t want anyone worrying about him or smothering him with attention. In a lot of ways, he was a very private manfar more private than I ever realized.

Even so, I could have made more of an effort to spend more time with him, despite the turmoil my own life was in. I could have brought his granddaughters to see him more often, or made a point of seeing him every week. There are a lot of things I could have done, but being patient with his grumpiness instead of distancing myself is at the top of the list. My only excuse is I didn’t know how bad things were. It serves as a harsh reminder of how little my dad trusted me with what really mattered.

Reflection Evolves Over Time

In past years, the anniversary of dad’s death was a time for reflection and remembering good times, most of which occurred years before he died. Too many things broke what I now understand was a tenuous relationship, often held together by other people rather than our own efforts.

At one time it was my mother. Even when she and I were estranged, it was her influence which kept my dad and me in touch. Sometimes it was the dysfunctional influence of my alcoholic husband who worked for my dad for a couple of years. Whether he felt a desire to stay connected for his own sake is something I’ll never really know. I have to believe he saw someone worth knowing in his eldest child.

An Unfortunate Accident of Birth

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gastaum/14490581818/in/photolist-o5u28y-YfsirJ-k8x7MM-bxbe69-W1rTYx-arWoEp-9hSaAd-ahFY4U-dUPFnv-cbTML-9dRrhQ-nNcDz4-W1scJn-6Q5kQB-aPHuVt-dF2PfA-qsan3a-9Q3GD-7puXf-ca3kUb-8Qnh5S-7EPcJ1-9RZQ7L-2jv27s-3ytNAS-4Ax3Vm-7P6ms6-fLeJCZ-9eA4z4-dUzmHi-dJ2ajE-4s4eeJ-9ZWATV-4Ax3K3-6459Qr-r7YPq9-7ZBske-3ypqPa-7yi435-9uRzwZ-kdLtng-2c5brCn-HLfJSP-qTk7jd-oSdAwv-pNeYXi-3fqAZV-5btNtn-72Kth6-V4V7jqRevelations in the last year make me feel I was more of a disappointment, and mostly due to an accident of birth. The cards were stacked against me having a real connection with the man who helped give me life because I had the misfortune of being a girl.

I doubt he ever actually said the words out loud. Growing up, I didn’t notice his lack of interest in the things I enjoyed. Then again, I saw him through rose-colored glasses. He was the parent who loved me best, or so I thought. In truth, he was the one who minimized my accomplishments because most of the time, he didn’t understand them.

It wasn’t that I was overly feminine. I just wasn’t athletic or even coordinated except when I was dancing. In short, there was nothing he could relate to or share with me. Meanwhile, my mom fretted over all my injuries, allergies, and inherited health challenges. But I was so busy trying to please my dad, I didn’t notice how hard she tried to connect with me. At some point, we both gave it up as a lost cause.

Putting Things in Perspective

This is starting to sound like a long, self-pitying whine, but that’s not really where I want to go. I can’t honestly say I miss my dad, 16 years after he opted out of a long, painful death. I’ve simply come to terms with his choice, and don’t begrudge him for it.

But the years since have given me a chance to really look at our relationship, or if I’m honest, lack thereof. He was the first in a long line of people I tried to please by forcing myself into behaviors which weren’t me. I followed my mother’s example and tried to win his love. I’ve finally learned to accept there was nothing I could have done to change the fact he loved me as best he could, or that approval and love are two entirely different things.

I can, however look back and be grateful for what he taught me, even if the greatest lesson didn’t come through until long after he was gone. It was never my purpose to fit into someone else’s mold or vision. People will love me or not, regardless of any effort I might make to gain their approval. More importantly, I’ve learned to let my own daughters spread their wings and fly in the direction they choose.

Loving and Accepting My Daughters as They Are

They don’t need my approval, though one, at least seemed to want it a great deal more than was probably healthy. The difference between my relationship with her and the one I had with my dad is she always had my approval not matter what. I might not have liked some of the choices she made, but there was never any doubt in my mind that I love and approve of her and whatever paths she chooses.

The other rejected me as I did my mom, but I didn’t have her father around to help mend fences. In her case, I had to learn to let go and withhold judgement. Her choices are her choices, even if some of them shut me out of her life. In many ways, the distance works best for me too.

Looking Back So I Can Move Forward

Today is a day of reflection, but it’s no longer a day I mourn my dad. He’s gone, Created in Canvaand everything is as it’s supposed to be. I’m more aware of changes in mood in the people who are close to me now, and more likely to reach out. I don’t look at my dad’s death and my lack of knowledge with regret. It was put into my life to teach me a very important lessonone I would take with me into the next chapter in my life.

I’ve gone through a lot of withheld anger towards my dad in the last year, but I’ve purged a lot of misconceptions which negatively impacted my own sense of self-worth. In the end, no one else’s opinion affects my destiny unless I allow it. I’ve finally learned to stop allowing it.

Finding Many Opportunities for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the challenges I’ve faced and the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I’m grateful for parents who forced me to learn to love myself without reservation or qualification because they truly didn’t know how.
  3. I’m grateful for friendships which have formed since I learned to love myself because of my imperfections instead of in spite of them.
  4. I’m grateful for a self-love that keeps me moving forward even when the tunnel ahead looks awfully dark and forbidding.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, dancing, kitties, compassion, kindness, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

Why Women Blog

I Blog to Heal—Myself and Those Who Share My Travails

It’s hard to believe I created this blog more than 9 years ago at my daughter’s urging. To be honest, I don’t even remember the original reason I created it, except as an exercise to broaden the scope of a healing journey that began 16 years later than it should have, yet at exactly the right time.

Over the last 9 plus years, I’ve used this forum for a number of things including conversations about family suicide, it’s original premise (the name I gave it then, “Surviving and Beyond”, lives on only in the URL these days). It’s evolved into so much more, for me, and hopefully for at least a few others as well.

Use Your Comments Wisely

Recently, a young woman who is going through her own challenges mentioned that a woman “over 50” gave her crap for sharing her journey via her blog. My first reaction was to want to smack that woman and tell her to shut her pie hole. As I don’t know who she is, nor does it really matter, I’m going to address the message and not the poster, as we used to say.

In the first place, a blog is someone’s own personal space. You can choose to read it or not, but be advised, if you disagree with what they post and attack them, your comment can and will be deleted. If you attack someone who is particularly outspoken and honest (like me for example), you’re liable to see your cruelty discussed at length. Believe me, you’ll recognize yourself though no names or distinguishing features will be mentioned. Unlike you, most of us write about our hardest times so others who are in similar circumstances will feel they’re not alone, or going bat shit crazy.

That’s not to say a dissenting opinion is unwelcome. There’s simply an enormous difference between voicing an opinion and attacking someone. I suspect I’m not alone in blocking a few URL’s for vitriolic comments.

Building a Bridge Instead of a Wall

https://www.flickr.com/photos/17367470@N05/34548761725/in/photolist-UCXrcB-ecCNUL-4zfgf6-dAnmf-ngJT8C-azZxsp-nqHgd-b6nZQ8-eM19w4-2cSiqbp-ax5dgA-27J7Psa-6LxpFR-2bRXjnz-pEj693-j4VCQQ-fmd2HZ-svmgQ3-2es7nPR-7AUKsG-GnaSGd-9KvniY-pzqY5Q-VkF76-25utPi9-aLKEgF-qa3JFd-7pVuMa-cMP8xf-K8vLgj-nEqYEz-JW6mY-fB5met-nqHga-aRccva-JWkte-aFcmuG-JW6n9-7Z3cY8-aLKvYc-AM33ua-5Jgt83-9hYUkR-cu1wuJ-9mTEYo-aR8L6v-28j4DAt-PBhbUU-emC61v-9yg7h6Writing for me has always been a way to hash out things I didn’t feel comfortable talking about. Until 9 years ago, most of what I wrote never saw the light of day. When I started allowing small things to slip and learned others could relate, I gained courage, opening up more and more as time went on. When people who’d clearly been holding onto a lot of crap for years began sharing pieces with me, I knew I was opening up a side of myself that needed to be cracked open for more than my own sake.

I learned what many bloggers before me had; by opening up about our own struggles, we allow others to do so as well. For some of us, our blogs become a safe place, much like a trauma support group where people who share a common trauma can talk about what they’ve experienced without fear of rebuke, attack, or shame.

These days, you can find people blogging about any number of painful subjects for which they might have been shamed or abused in the past. Some write about suicide and mental health like I do. Others write about child abuse, or rape (or both). More and more are opening up about miscarriages too. Like the young woman in my story, I’ve seen several talking about a sudden, unexpected, and decidedly unpleasant change in their marital status.

To all of them, I say “Good for you!! Keep up the good work!”

Holding Onto Our Pain Affects Everyone Near and Far

We need this openness. We need to allow people to talk about the things which Created with Canvamay have caused them to retreat into themselves, bearing a shame that’s not deserved. I know from my own experience, every time someone comments or sends me a message saying they get what I’m talking about, and that they’re glad I brought the subject up, I’m reminded of the value of my words, but more, I heal a little more myself.

I applaud everyone who has been courageous enough to admit their life isn’t perfect in a forum that’s accessible to a world of both strangers and friends. I’m incredibly grateful for those who use their experiences to help make the world a better, place. I’m humbled to be a member of their vulnerable, courageous ranks.

Not everything I share is intense or life-changing. Often I talk about minor struggles; patience, relationships, and such. Sometimes I go off on a rant, or tickle the edges of a political issue. But mostly, I write whatever comes into my head as I traipse through this world with less grace than most, yet more than some. Often, what I write is prompted by something I read or hear from someone else who’s also doing their best to navigate this unpredictable path we call Life.

Honored to Share the Blogosphere With Courageous Women

Created with CanvaThe young woman who prompted this post is going through a divorce she didn’t see coming. She’s not sharing gory details, nor is she bashing her soon-to-be ex. Instead, she’s showing an inordinate amount of class while still sharing the pain, the disillusionment, and the topsy-turvy mess she feels like her life is right now. Unlike me and many from my generation, she’s opening up from the start, asking for help from her friends, sharing her journey, and doing her best to ease her kids into what will be their new version of normal.

I know she’ll be better for her honesty and for refusal to hide her face in shame over something she didn’t cause. As I said, it took me 16 years to start dealing with my mom’s suicide, by then, my dad had been gone 6 years, also by his own hand. My path would have been smoother had I allowed people to see my cracks. Unfortunately, I had to overcome a lifetime of training.

I don’t want to see anyone else suck it up and fumble along alone as I did. If it means talking about the unmentionable stuff, I’ll do it (and have). If it means supporting someone else while they share their own struggles, I’m there, and woe be to anyone who tries to tell them to suffer in silence.

If You Don’t Like What We Write, Don’t Read it!

What it all comes down to is this, what someone writes on their own blog is their https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbbusiness. If you don’t like it, don’t visit. What they write on Social Media is a little more controlled, but if they’re speaking their truth in a respectful manner, again, shut up and walk away if you can’t comment politely. You have no idea what they’re going through, so your judgement is neither wanted nor needed. In it’s worst form, it will do a lot more harm than good.

You and me, we’re in this together. We were put on this Earth to help each other; to uplift and support each other in times of trouble, and to celebrate our victories; our achievements. Life ain’t a competition. There’s enough love, light, and joy to go around. You just have to stop looking for the ugliness. You will always find what you’re looking for, so choose wisely.

Sharing Includes Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful the young women today are less inclined to hold their feelings in, at least for the most part.
  2. I’m grateful people are becoming more sensitive to each other, and more willing to stand and support, instead of bash and tear down.
  3. I’m grateful for opportunities to support others and help them along their path. So many have done it for me, once I finally learned to let them.
  4. I’m grateful for the people who love and support me in my journey. I couldn’t have gotten this far without them, and going it alone is a hollow victory anyway.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; community, love, friendship, caring, sharing, blessings, friendship, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

Clearing My Resistance to Change a Step at a Time

Change Doesn’t Eliminate Cravings

I try to keep my eating and exercise habits healthy. But every once in awhile the old, self-destructive habits rear their ugly heads and I spend the day planted in front of the TV, or want a big, gooey takeout pizza so badly it’s all I can do to keep my hand off the phone. Sometimes, it’s a craving for sugar. Recently, it was jelly beans.

I told myself I could have some if I walked up to Von’s, but it was too hot to make the trek. Finally, after fighting the urge for a couple of hours to no avail, and seeing I would get nothing done until I had some, I compromised. I drove to Costco and made myself walk the whole store before I could grab my treat and take it home like a bear packing it away for winter.

Alas, I was thwarted on several levels. First, I started to get a migraine and had to find a place to sit quietly with my eyes closed until it passed. Unfortunately, I’d parked far from the store entrance, so my only alternative was the rest room. Just my luck, some woman had gotten her child a talking toy to entertain him while she shopped, and I got to listen to several minutes of “this is how we brush our teeth!” and “this is how we tie our shoes” in one of those perky, Sesame Street style voices that made me want to fly from the cubicle, oblivious to the pants hanging down around my ankles, and smash the thing into a million pieces. (I maintained a reasonable amount of decorum, more for the sake of preventing a full-on, head-cracking migraine than out of consideration for the mother and her child). I began to wonder if, like me, she sought sanctuary in a grey-walled cubicle, if only to have something entertain her child while she decompressed.

When my vision finally returned to normal, I left my dubious sanctuary, washed my hands, and went to find help in my search. Sadly, Costco no longer carries the industrial size jars of Jelly Bellies. It was probably for the best. I ended up at Von’s anyway, coming home with 2 small bags instead of the vat full of my sugary treat. I ended up eating more than I should have from one bag and stashed the rest away for my next sugar craving that won’t be quashed by chocolate or yogurt bars. At least the next time would be less frantic and probably require a smaller fix.

Healthy Habits Most of the Time

Like many of you, I put a lot of time and effort into creating habits which will give me more energy, keep my body healthy, and most of all, keep the doctor from insisting I control things like blood pressure and sugar with medication. But I’m an imperfect being, and sometimes, those old, unhealthy habits will demand attention, much like my cats insist they haven’t had any treats in ages. Like my cats, my last tumble off the healthful wagon might have been a day before. Still, part of me is a whiny, bratty child.

Most of the time, I can actually overrule the crappy food demons. I guess I can resist certain things better than others. Easier to convince myself I don’t need a pizza than to quell the desire for sugar in its most basic form, I suppose. Either way, I know I’ll feel crappy afterwards, but memories of feeling lousy fade when I’m in the midst of a full-on sugar attack.

Thankfully, these cravings don’t hit often any more, so falling off the wagon now and then isn’t a serious hit to my overall health. Even so, I wish I could make the cravings stop forever. I’ve even wished, in a rare moment of insanity that I was allergic to chocolate so I’d never be driven to eat it. I came to my senses before my mind made it real.

We Control Our Minds…to a Point

I know power over the mind is a real thing. You can stop a craving, change a mood, and even heal yourself with enough focus. I’ve even been reading about changing your DNA by the power of the mind alone! Though an amazing possibility, I’m on the fence on this one, waiting for more definitive proof and time tested techniques before I do any rerouting within my own meat suit and neural system.

Nevertheless, forming the habits I’ve already formed, however imperfect they may be did take a certain amount of retraining. I had to somehow convince myself I’d be happier if I was healthier instead of finding solace in sugar, salt, and fat. Some of it took actual health issues or scares, and some, finally getting tired of limitations.

That’s how I quit smoking for the last time (third time was a charm). I realized it was interfering with my dancing by taking away my stamina. It was finally enough to make me drop the nasty habit entirely. Though it took a few more years, establishing a regular gym routine came about for a similar reason. My knees and shoulders were giving me pain and grief. I knew deep down strength training would solve most, if not all of my problems in those areas.

Giving Myself a Break for Imperfections

A year and a half later, I rarely miss one of my thrice-weekly gym days. I’ve also added a daily walk to the mix. I thought that one would be hard to set but apparently, once you set a couple of healthy habits, it’s far easier to convince yourself to add a few more. Or at least, that’s how it’s shaken out for me.

Even mornings when I get up and really don’t feel like suiting up and hitting the pavement, something makes me do it. I can’t justify coffee or breakfast until I’ve made my 1.3 mile circuit. The funny thing is, no matter how slow and grumpy I feel when I walk out my door, by the time I’ve finished, I feel a lot better, and more ready to face the day.

Maybe changing physical activity rewires your DNA all by itself. I can’t argue that it raises my vibration, even if it’s only from grumpy and bored, to accepting. It’s still a better place to start my day.

Re-Wiring Myself for Better Habits

https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/27861478565/in/photolist-36R456-TVEoV3-7Wybvd-4WUnY9-5fFekL-UxPtrE-JXsDow-JXsDFW-5xxC-i6g81S-pj2KGy-RqtEwb-3bW8wG-aiBE4-21HP7o-7WuXxi-a87gs-v23FG1-e5Ta5U-8hAaU2-7CJgqt-4RTmW-6VGoa4-21HP7G-bKycpP-bwDtbf-rBr5w5-Js2mU6-4RTmT-bKycvn-6nNpdg-dtid4-5hSULN-8qeqEZ-vi6Sx1-vi6iuY-v2adQn-vi6nRJ-vi5UuQ-v23BpL-umARN9-v23yrQ-umAZaJ-wkdd7E-daLc3v-bwDtvf-aLErhv-a3Giyp-9oXUVB-7S9ue4There’s a saying: “A body in motion stays in motion”. I have to wonder if it applies to change as well. Once you start making changes to your life, your mindset, or your environment, it seems to be easier to make additional changes. It’s as if the hard-wiring we all have making us resistant to change weakens as we keep making small changes. You fool it by keeping the changes small at first. When it starts accepting the small changes, you throw in a couple of larger ones.

Eventually, the change-resistant hard-wiring gets so confused, it can’t differentiate between mutability and stasis. In essence, you alter your DNA via the wiring in your brain because you’ve eliminated a natural resistance. If nothing else, I’ve discovered I’m less averse to change these days in areas I once held fast with dogged determination.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring other change-resistant areas in my psyche. I’ll share with you my findings, and where I’m still resistant, my efforts to break that resistance and form healthier habits for my mind and spirit as well as my body. Care to join me on this journey?

Could You Use Some Support to Make a Few Changes?

Do you want to make changes to your life or routine, but can’t find the time or motivation? Are you still trying to do it all instead of asking for help? Would taking a task or two off your plate give you time to be kinder to you? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

 
Gratitude is Great Fuel for Staying on Track

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the changes I’ve made in my life.
  2. I’m grateful for an increased willingness to try things I’d have run from not so long ago.
  3. I’m grateful for small changes which become huge improvements.
  4. I’m grateful for an outlook that gets better and more positive every day.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, stamina, energy, strength, flexibility, love, joy, dancing, hugs, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

Inspired by Morning Walks

Oh the Things You Can See When You Walk

I don’t know any of my neighbors well. I’ve lived in this house for almost 40 years, but am, for the most part only passingly acquainted with the ones who’ve been here longer than me. The rest, not at all.

It surprised me to learn the ones I have gotten to know in passing are aware of my latest new habit of taking morning walks. I ran into one walking with her friend around the small park at the end of our street. She commented that she’d seen me go by her house every day, and congratulated me for my efforts (she’s in her 70’s to my 60’s).

I’m a little more friendly with my next door neighbors, a lovely couple in their 80’s who bought their house when it was new back in 1961 (I suspect they were newlyweds at the time, and the 8- or 10-thousand dollar price tag was huge!). They’ve become fond of my outdoor cats because of their propensity to decimate the rodent population. They too have noticed my morning forays, and as daily walkers themselves, offered their own words of encouragement.

Lost in the 60’s Can be a Good Thing

This is kind of an interesting neighborhood. Because it was built so long ago and in fact, wasn’t even connected to the city sewer system until the 70’s, we don’t have any common areas other than the small city-owned park I mentioned. We also don’t have HOA’s which thrills me as I don’t have a lot of good things to say about those organizations. My own experiences with my parents’ condo as well as a business adventure leave me less than enamored with the way they’re run or the people who see fit to govern them.

We also have a lot of families who are either renting or managed to buy by moving several families into these 1100 to 1200 square foot homes. Quick research on current rents showed me the newer renters are paying somewhere around 3 times my house payment including taxes. But newer homeowners also paid 4 or 5 times what I did, and a good many more times what the few original residents paid. (and much to my dismay, their tax bases and bills are less than half what mine are. I shudder to think what the newbies are paying in property taxes!)

I’m a Homebody at Heart

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpOn more than one occasion, I’ve been asked why I don’t get tired of living in the same house. The reason is similar to why I keep a car for over 10 years. If I stay in the same house, my monthly payments are predictable and manageable. If I keep a car for 10 years or more, I have no payments for at least 5 or 6 of those years. It’s simple economics. I also don’t need a bigger house, though my dream is to have one in a more remote place (kind of weird to think of as I’m finally starting to get to know my neighbors better) where my nearest neighbor is neither visible nor audible.

I have friends these days who can’t afford to buy a house at today’s inflated prices (an $8000 house in 1961 sells for upwards of $500,000 today), so they’re renting. The last time I paid rent was in 1992 when I was divorcing my ex-husband. A two-bedroom apartment in one of the nicer parts of town cost me $800 a month. The same apartment now rents for upwards of $1800. Meanwhile, my friends living in nearby areas are reeling under rent increases which mean they have to pay as much as $2500 a month for a smaller 2-bedroom apartment!

Appreciating What’s Been There All Along

My daily walks are giving me something I hadn’t found in the last 30-some odd years; an appreciation for the neighborhood. Because it’s been here awhile, the trees are tall and the bushes are thick, providing a haven for a vast assortment of birds, butterflies, and June bugs. The cheerful chirping and exuberant soaring from place to place lifts my heart. While chatting with my next-door neighbor, a stunning orange and black Monarch swooped down and gave her stamp of approval to our conversation.

It’s not just the butterflies, lizards, and birds that bring me joy. Neighbors I’ve never even talked to are recognizing me from my morning walks. We smile and exchange pleasantries when I pass. Sometimes I even stop to talk. I’m meeting a lot of the local canines too. Most are friendly, though one named Tammy nipped my leg as I passed by, as cantankerous as her elderly owner. (thankfully, he wasn’t the nipping sort!)

Keeping Things the Same on the Outside

I know people who are either moving or remodeling every few years. Though I’d love to upgrade my kitchen and maybe add a little more space, my friends’ woes with contractors as well as my own fiasco lead me to believe at this point that the remodel will happen when I find someone patient enough to help me do it myself, and who’s willing to teach me in my own slow, fumbling way.

For now, I’ve heard no complaints about the accommodations at our annual post-Thanksgiving gathering. The kids and I have developed a routine to manage the cooking and the furniture re-arranging quite nicely. Some of my friends stick around to help put the house back to rights afterwards too.

Keeping the Dream Alive While Appreciating the Now

I may have grand dreams of a solitary piece of property overlooking the beach, https://www.flickr.com/photos/philipglevy/9462509263/in/photolist-fqaQkr-6B62hk-9jZwX5-4FH1En-54uCWa-a3Ns41-6BanmN-6DM4U9-5u49NP-6v9Puu-6DGTwD-4FMcCG-doJVpC-3ervgn-4FMcmC-pb1bmR-6v9McG-6DM5Wm-a71Zuu-5i6sb2-6B9Lkj-4FH1v4-gQpcex-jZKZ5o-6v9NNf-6B5zw6-89YYg5-6v9Xbb-6MPVRc-6v9Wow-6v5Gyk-aPQjfH-6v9QjU-6v5PF8-6v9VcG-cu2a4-DUvgxx-6v9YGJ-5oAaDQ-8ipJ7z-5VgzB9-6B9AVJ-5KTyGH-5Vce46-Uwsk9p-6vNzky-6v5FCV-6B5rgp-6v9UFb-6v9Ljqbut for now, where I am suits my lifestyle and budget. It’s more than enough to manage by myself, and my kitties have plenty of places, both low and high to rest their weary bones after stalking flies and spiders who’ve managed to sneak into the house. Friends drop by occasionally, and my red Adirondack chairs are a welcoming sight on the front porch. Like Happy Face Hill, seeing those chairs gives me a feeling of home.

My needs are simple, and I have no airs to put on or people to impress. The ones in my life now like me for a lot more than how I look or what I own, as I do them. After many years of working to have better stuff, I’ve learned it isn’t worth it if you haven’t learned to enjoy whatever you have and wherever you are. When you do that, you’re happy almost anywhere!

How about you? What is your dream abode like? Draw a picture with words, crayons, paints, or whatever moves you. Put in all the special touches you believe will make it perfect. Are you there now? If not, what do you need to do to get there. But more importantly, are you happy where you are now, even if it’s not perfect?

Gratitude Wherever I Turn

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for my furry roommates who remind me what’s truly important.
  2. I’m grateful for my daily walks which are teaching me a greater appreciation of my neighbors and neighborhood.
  3. I’m grateful for things that stay the same, holding space for things that are changing.
  4. I’m grateful for butterflies. I see at least a couple every day now and just seeing one brings me joy.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; energy, love, joy, exercise, strength, opportunities, inspiration, encouragement, chats, life, imperfections, friendship, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

Giving Relationships a Fighting Chance

How Does a Successful Relationship Begin?

Created with CanvaWhen I was in my 20’s there was a belief many of us shared that said living together before marriage was the best way to determine whether you could survive the perils and pitfalls of life with someone else sharing your space. Like any other belief, it worked for some people and not for others. I’ve seen as many relationships fail after a period of living together (including my own) as I have when there wasn’t. The long and short of it is, there aren’t any guarantees, no matter how you approach merging your life with someone else’s.

Today, I have friends who’ve been married more than 30 years, as well as some who’ve been married multiple times. Some of us pretty much gave up after 1 failure, and others have opted for a committed relationship without the piece of paper. Looking around, I’ve noticed a few things.

  • Commitment is a mindset
  • Making a relationship work takes effort from both parties
  • Desperation does not yield the best of choices
  • Sometimes, alone is better
  • “Want” and “need” are two very different animals
  • Compromise doesn’t mean giving in all the time
  • Without self-love, you can’t have a healthy, long-lasting relationship

People Pleasing Doesn’t Build Self-Esteem

Contrary to popular belief, people who allow themselves to be doormats are Created with Canvaseldom happy. I have several friends who turned themselves inside out to please someone and keep a relationship going, only to see it fall apart anyway. Today, they’re stronger for it, and unwilling to repeat past mistakes. They realize how unhappy and unfulfilled they were while trying to be what they thought someone else wanted them to be. In her song “Miss Me More”, Kelsea Ballerini sings “I thought I’d miss you, but I miss me more”. I think this epitomizes the concept of being true to yourself as well as anything I’ve seen or heard.

Living together could help uncover some potential problems a couple might encounter, but unless the masks come off, all aspects of the living situation are shared, and decisions are made jointly, I’m not convinced it will guarantee success. In some ways, you’d remain in “honeymoon status” because one or both of you are trying to keep the other happy. In truth, neither of you will be happy in the long run because, quite frankly, maintaining that blissful, carefree state is exhausting.

Life gets in the way. Trying to be perpetually cheerful, happy, and willing to please your partner eventually becomes a chore. You want and need “me” time, or to be the one who’s pampered and catered to. Even in a relationship where there’s a lot of give and take, there will be times when one or the other is used up emotionally by job, finances, family, and a host of other issues, and has nothing left to give. Those moments and how you manage them together will only show up if you’re honest and open.

Easy In = Easy Out

Sometimes they are the show-stoppers in a living together arrangement. Since you’ve made no real commitment, it’s easier to decide you’re unwilling to make the effort and walk away. Or to use another old saying “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” though in this case, it isn’t necessarily a good thing. Sure, marriages end too, but I’d like to think most people who’ve made a commitment to each other give breaking the commitment a lot more thought than those who, to use the vernacular, are just “shacking up”.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against living together, or even being in a relationship and maintaining separate homes. I’ve seen that work well too. My point is you have to avoid falling into “honeymoon mode” if you make such a choice. Successful long-term relationships can begin in a multitude of ways, but only last when they’re based on honesty, mutual respect, and a healthy balance of give and take. One person can’t put all their time and energy into trying to make the other happy.

Face it. The only person you can make happy is yourself. If someone isn’t committed to their own happiness, no amount of love and attention from outside is going to bring them happiness. It’s truly an inside job.

Throwing Trust Into the Mix

In my own life, the single factor which has caused every single unsuccessful https://www.flickr.com/photos/philleara/7246573430/in/photolist-c3mzPd-djJiUe-oajKtQ-djJjmv-djJjLR-oapGkZ-djJjb9-djJj5F-cntb2u-7Y2xWm-cntayf-c3mLB3-n329S-7XYhYD-cntbhs-TCrSUz-gg7DZE-gg7XMV-6Ak5ks-9a2C7g-djJjz6-cntb85-rCKS6-cntag1-azBhou-3oXQYc-cnta8q-cntaL7-ocbPjv-oa7hn8-fJm576-baRPgp-7Y2xp7-8ommnm-bA1QHR-cnt9j1-dmywKj-7Y2x7b-4vwAew-aAPJwq-oa7iJB-cnt9xu-2FtNgi-gunWiW-hLgWLK-e4kv6P-2FtPvB-9GPQLh-4vsuDF-baRMyvrelationship to fail, be it employer-employee, co-workers, friends, or lovers has been lack of trust. It took me a long time to recognize the red flags, but after many painful situations and outright failures, I’ve learned to run when I see the signs:

  • Requiring me to prove myself in order to “earn” their trust
  • A tendency to talk more and listen less
  • Disrespect in any form
  • Mention of prior relationships in which their trust was abused
  • Failure to answer direct questions honestly. This may include diversion, humor, or flat out refusal.
  • Narcissism
  • Inattention such as taking a call in the middle of an interview, flirting with the waitress during a date, or any other behavior which implies I’m an afterthought

https://www.flickr.com/photos/svensson/4829867389/in/photolist-6XCAQH-WgXmBb-byu3Nn-6XCCec-F2ovRt-Gn7Ut6-7xLAFR-6XCBk8-8mNkiF-6XGAK9-p3qjVr-24BFZCb-24BG1Vb-poheFW-p8PQeo-F2orHZ-66bJw1-667u2F-F2okjr-GxKsrU-5kBreE-4tZPNF-66bL5y-667tVr-pqhycN-F2owK2-8mRw1h-24E9hKg-23jj36V-f7TE62-24BFXBY-5NnPFa-24BG3po-22t2Y6M-F2ojVR-4pHCNQ-F2osaR-23jj3vH-66bL2U-66bHY9-23AG54S-5dGrPJ-64i5Dg-4zorW-24BFZ1u-4MCNfE-6i2AXJ-5kBpHY-3rLwcC-3rFJXKNeedless to say, I’ve been burned by every one of these, and quite a few more as well. I suspect I’m not alone either. Everyone has a horror story or two to tell about a job, a friendship gone wrong, or a relationship that tanked. Each of us also has perfect hindsight. You know why it went wrong…now. But you allowed it to unfold for longer than it should have even with all your alarm bells clanging and red flags waving.

Knowing How to Lay a Firm Foundation

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyWhen all is said and done, I don’t think how you begin a relationship, be it personal, work, or anything else determines success or failure. It’s about whether the parties to the arrangement are willing to put the effort into making it work. It’s about mindset and owning responsibility for your own happiness. Most of all, you have to decide from the onset whether it’s a passing fling or something you want to last a lifetime.

There are no guarantees. Things happen. People change. Lives end. The world interferes. But you can’t weather the storms if you’re not willing to get soaked now and then.

Gratitude: The Strongest Brick in Your Structure

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned by failing.
  2. I’m grateful for the people who’ve taught me what I deserve, and the ones who’ve taught me what I don’t.
  3. I’m grateful for peaceful afternoons spent creating. I truly am living the life of my dreams in a lot of ways.
  4. I’m grateful for flexibility; schedules, tasks, friendships. Life throws us curveballs and being able to step out of the way rather than face them all head on means a more peaceful, stress-free life.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, laughter, love, friendship, creativity, inspiration, motivation, opportunities, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

 

A Matter of Perspective

We See Family From Our Own Perspective

I ran into a fellow member of the dance community at our local county fair one night. We were reminiscing about the “good old days”. He told me the thing he misses most is the feeling of family that existed in the early 2000’s when there were parties and gatherings outside of just the dance venue. I listened but didn’t have much to contribute because I wasn’t part of the “family” he remembered during that period of time.

The truth is, I feel more of that family connection now, and have for the last 3 or 4 years, maybe a couple more. Before that, I didn’t have more than a couple of phone numbers, or connections on social media. I didn’t see any of my dance “friends” outside of our regular Thursdays and Saturday nights. I could probably count the people I called “friend” as opposed to “acquaintance” on one hand and have fingers left over.

I used to envy those who clearly had a connection that went beyond dancing. I saw people making plans, or coming in after having dinner together; sharing lives, holidays, vacations, and bonds I didn’t understand. From my perspective at the time, no one wanted to have that kind of connection with me.

I’ve since learned, to quote an old and tired relationship-ending phrase out of context, it wasn’t them, it was me. Many of those people were probably reaching out to me, but my rough, defensive, knee-jerk responses told them I was neither approachable nor amenable to sharing more of my life with them. After awhile, they moved on, leaving me oblivious to their efforts to include me.

You Have to First Open the Door

It wasn’t until I lowered my walls and offered up a bit of myself that things began https://www.flickr.com/photos/64738468@N00/25973076/in/photolist-3i7TE-fyVNaB-9aLW9G-4JgeJF-EUixt-pdT2Ek-63AteW-8vwter-bxo88F-cdcTPS-bVQBQg-5aG3Rc-6ktqzm-bxouRx-9NP8jK-drK3ho-cdcUgU-cdcX7q-cdcVCE-cdZyKj-BJPNDq-bxovfz-6knRQ4-fLRddW-9aHGR4-dKZQqf-bxo2tZ-cPQ6Sh-34jbLJ-pJefAw-6kt26u-8w3FD3-fLRas7-4RuNgv-cfEDAb-6XGTXx-adqDCb-RgBASk-fpsHxH-7eqpS1-ahPuom-269ugzb-cW79tG-6pwS4o-YrjQ9b-bo6Gr6-fq9GQm-fp2skU-6guFM-br7V4kto change. I let people see that much of my unconscious defensiveness was my way of hiding the pain I’d been taught never to let anyone see. The false set of beliefs I’d been given from birth said no one wanted to know I struggled with anything unless they were going to use it to take advantage of me. In short, my early education was as riddled with holes as Swiss cheese.

I developed a version of “normal” which was about as far removed from reality as that of anyone who’s grown up in a dysfunctional family. Granted, we all have at least a bit of dysfunctionality in our lives, but I’m talking about extremes.

For example, I grew up believing that having a few drinks every evening, and drinking to excess at social gatherings was normal. I didn’t share the desire exhibited by my parents and their peers, so I thought there was something wrong with me. It wasn’t until decades later I learned I wasn’t the one who had a problem. It was one of many reasons I didn’t fit in with my own family, and I’d learned to accept it as part of my reality.

Making Connections is a Learned Talent

Created with CanvaNot making real, deep connections was another part of my reality I believed was normal. My parents certainly had people I’d call close friends, but in hindsight, I think that closeness was simply a product of similar outlooks, and a common belief in self-medicating to escape a harsh reality. I don’t think they shared their vulnerability with each other, and frankly, they’d have been horrified at the suggestion. They wouldn’t have been comfortable on the giving or receiving end of something so deeply personal and honest. In their minds any raw emotions they shared while under the influence could be explained away by the alcohol.

The point of this post wasn’t to wander down memory lane and wake up the ghosts. It was to recognize how differently two people can see the same time and place. Borderline is probably medium-sized when it comes to bars; not a tiny, dark, hole-in-the-wall, but not a giant venue where thousands can gather on a busy night either. To be honest, for those of us who frequented it regularly, it was just right. (OK, so maybe we’d have liked a bigger dance floor, but for socializing purposes, it was perfect).

How each person views an event or situation is largely dependent on their own history. How you’re raised is, of course, a huge factor. You’re also influenced by painful, if not traumatic events. How you navigated those events, and the person you became once you’d healed (assuming you did), or established coping mechanisms affects not only how you see things, but how you interact with others.

Do You Build Walls or Bridges?

I know I’m not alone in building enormous walls, and creating coping https://www.flickr.com/photos/17367470@N05/34548761725/in/photolist-UCXrcB-ecCNUL-4zfgf6-dAnmf-ngJT8C-azZxsp-nqHgd-b6nZQ8-eM19w4-2cSiqbp-ax5dgA-27J7Psa-6LxpFR-2bRXjnz-pEj693-j4VCQQ-fmd2HZ-svmgQ3-2es7nPR-7AUKsG-GnaSGd-9KvniY-pzqY5Q-VkF76-25utPi9-aLKEgF-qa3JFd-7pVuMa-cMP8xf-K8vLgj-nEqYEz-JW6mY-fB5met-nqHga-aRccva-JWkte-aFcmuG-JW6n9-7Z3cY8-aLKvYc-AM33ua-5Jgt83-9hYUkR-cu1wuJ-9mTEYo-aR8L6v-28j4DAt-PBhbUU-emC61v-9yg7h6mechanisms which shield me, not only from the cruelties of life, but also from the things which bring joy, delight, and pleasure. The trouble is, while living in that seemingly pain-free place, you miss out on how a gathering place can take on the feel of a loving, accepting, non-judgemental family; something many of us weren’t fortunate enough to know.

Granted, I’ve met a few people in the last few years whose early lives make mine look look like summer camp. I’ve also learned it’s not about comparisons, but how you come through your own personal storms. Some learn to live better than they were taught. Others spend their lives huddled in a turtle shell, poking their heads out a little at a time until a painful moment sends them scurrying back inside where it’s safe—albeit desperately lonely.

Reaching Out to Those Who Instinctively Hide

Part of my purpose in writing posts like this is to hopefully reach some of those who believe as I once did that hiding away is the only solution. That avoiding pain at all costs is their only choice. I learned the hard way that you can’t hide from pain. You might avoid a lot of what could be inflicted by others, but you wall yourself away with your own demons. Often, that’s far worse than anything the outside world might inflict.

There’s a level of joy and comfort in human interaction that can’t be felt inside your own walls; inside your turtle shell. Sure, if you’ve never experienced it, you might say you won’t miss it. But I’m here to tell you, you do.

You miss it every time you see other people connecting, and know you’re not part of that connection. Your heart breaks a little more as you watch your friendly acquaintances plan get-togethers without you. The more you’re left out of opportunities to connect and bond, the darker your world behind those walls becomes.

Sometimes the Reward is Worth the Initial Pain

I won’t lie and tell you it was easy to break down those walls, nor that I’m Photo: David Derong/Iowa State Dailyanywhere close to finishing the job. It was, however, the best gift I ever gave myself. Coming out from behind those walls and becoming a true part of my community has brought me immeasurable joy. Just having people like a security guard at the fair remember me for my friendliness, even 2 years and hundreds of thousands of people later makes the pain of demolishing those walls worth it.

In conclusion, you don’t know how many lives you touch when you’re closed off from the world, much less, when you allow yourself to become an active participant. You leave an impression regardless. It’s up to you whether it will be one people remember fondly, and that brings a smile to their face and warmth to their heart, or one they remember as cold and off-putting.

Between you and me, I love knowing an encounter with me was pleasant enough for someone to remember years later, and that the memory brings a smile to their face.

Grateful for Every Little Thing Every Single Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I chose a little pain so I could experience a lot of pleasure.
  2. I’m grateful for the positive impressions I’ve left on people in recent years.
  3. I’m grateful for the sense of family I enjoy with my community.
  4. I’m grateful for the opportunity to share the good, the bad, and the ugly of my own life, in hopes someone will relate and see they have choices.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, community, music, solitude, insight, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, 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

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