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

Archive for the ‘#amwriting’ Category

Best Laid Plans Work Best With Balance

Letting My Inner Child Call the Shots Occasionally

https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/6144729060/in/photolist-3sXiiN-79cUTk-6VaBVG-GUsXeK-qnCm5H-d5XpoC-5Tvsgb-7x7Jhw-amZkSu-pXsfKM-5TopvB-5MF2XZ-dnqeiB-9C31Yv-28ku7Rg-9m5Cts-omGCDC-5T4qn7-e2xNUC-mfCeZT-6RVoAh-a3P2f7-urpka-nKtZgr-8LFLux-dsSyjE-9AzNx5-W4TpQJ-xXPgS-brRoHe-9T2kCn-edcZ3H-a4dWNc-2Frv8v-sBJeM-5MGjKv-5cGQ25-gMdeqC-bzzgF5-4zDj55-4Uaf26-91q2wz-GPmaw-6uvJCp-7viqdV-7YKDTv-6T4oiL-7g2xCc-MKA7BD-gg9bcdThis has been the week that wasn’t in so many ways. Plans went awry, electronics coughed up junk, and even my body repeatedly told me, in the unique vernacular of a toddler: “I don’t wanna!”.

In the past, I’d have been ranting and raving, struggling to catch up, filling my hours with half-assed efforts, and feeling lousy about everything I did. I don’t know if it’s age, experience, or finally acquiring a modicum of patience, but I take a less frantic approach to days and weeks that seem to take on a mind of their own.

In all fairness, I’m also better prepared for them since I have at least 2, and often 3 weeks of blog posts in the queue, and am usually ahead of schedule on projects for my clients. Maybe it’s simply holdouts from my days of working in an office where interruptions were the norm, and having something new and urgent tossed in my lap was commonplace. I learned to leave space in my schedule for the unexpected, and it’s a habit I see no reason to break, especially now that I work for myself.

Self-Care is More About Allowing Than Doing

Many people these days are talking about self-care. Suggestions are offered on 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-jk3BYphow busy business owners should make time to keep their own engine primed, so to speak. The ideas cover the gamut from physical activity, to healthy eating, to taking breaks.

If you ask me, the best thing you can do is listen to your body. If it’s hungry, feed it; preferably something healthy and nutritious, but if it occasionally asks for a treat, by all means be willing to break your dietary restrictions temporarily to indulge it.

When you feel stiff or out of sorts, get up and move. I’ve recently rediscovered how much a simple, 20-minute walk in the morning can re-set your day and your metabolism. Even if you do nothing more than get up from your desk to visit the bathroom or fix a meal for the rest of the day, that 20 minutes of movement and fresh air get your day off on the right foot (pun intended).

Above all, if you feel tired, or out of sorts, don’t allow guilt to creep in and spoil the nap, meditation, or down time in front of the TV. You work hard, and you take care of yourself physically. Your mind needs breaks too.

Finding Our Level of Peak Performance

Science has proven that we are far more effective and efficient when we’re operating at the top of our game. That means sufficient rest, exercise, and nutrition. But Corporate America counters those arguments, telling us to get the job done no matter what. As a result, you have offices full of people who are functioning at 10% or less because they can’t seem to shake the latest cold or virus.

If they could stay home and get over it completely without harassment from employer and co-workers, everyone in the place would stay healthier. Think about what circulates in those office air conditioners. You wouldn’t eat food with crap like that in it. Why do you willingly breathe the air?

Yes, I’m frustrated I didn’t get as much done this week as I’d planned, nor get to the gym my usual 3 times. But I did walk every day but one, and got what must have been much-needed rest, even if I didn’t realize it at the time. As I no longer keep a lot of junk food in the house, I couldn’t eat badly if I’d tried. My idea of cheating on my diet these days is Trader Joe’s dark chocolate, Yasso 100-calorie yogurt bars, and Harvest lentil bean snacks.

Did you know it’s harder to happily binge on healthier snacks? I didn’t either until I sat with a bag of lentil snacks, ate a few, and put the bag away—because I’d satisfied the craving! The truth is, you set your mind to “healthier” and your body follows. When you overwork, eat crap, and otherwise tell your bod you don’t care, it craves love and attention in the form of things we mistakenly define as comfort food. In other words, grease, sugar, salt, and carbs.

Using Setbacks as a Reminder to Take a Step Back

Unfortunately, you get stuck in a self-perpetuating downward spiral in which https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulhami/2993662670/in/photolist-5yxiBC-8U5hPD-3edYTu-4CUgRY-3zQatC-5vmZ5c-bu1dBi-aGGHJg-aGGHaR-BrnmAC-JDHRGr-aGGG6n-anNJMT-aGGJDF-nhi5kC-URiXsy-8TU5Uu-7RHX6n-dSUfp3-8pz3GG-ax1E17-Gf1oKW-5wx88t-66XiHU-7U9YpL-7fcpGE-6C7S53-6AEtio-8YbMjQ-587zbz-MiRWFF-5htVfK-onWKYE-edRR9q-9jX3Pw-oZ6LzR-8pRD6w-9eVxUz-axUgNW-F6D6yL-dbZeKc-4cLsjY-b8ppRD-FfTkWW-7Lsz4B-66Xk3Q-2zs3Zi-7Lxsep-kyFmeu-RNnFfMyour health suffers, and you accomplish less with more effort. Tell me something. Who does that on purpose?

I’ve learned when life offers setbacks, regardless of the source, the best thing to do is take a step back, relax, and give myself permission to get nothing accomplished if that’s what it takes to let the situation pass peacefully. Recognize I truly do have things under control and that there’s no meter running on the amount of stuff I’m supposed to get done in a given amount of time.

Even if there was, my normal work habits put me ahead of the game anyway. I suspect yours do too, but you may have gotten stuck in a self-destructive loop of overachieving. It may be as simple as working smarter, not harder, a lesson that took me a long time to master.

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Here are a few things I’ve put in place in the last few years which give me down time whenever I need it:

  • For clients I bill monthly, as soon as the work is done, I create the invoice and set up the email with delayed delivery. (Most email programs can do this).
  • Give myself more time than I know I need to complete a project to allow for delays both human and electronic.
  • Use the scheduling option on my blog and website to write my copy in advance.
  • Set up sharing on my website and blog to automatically publish to social media.
  • Pre-schedule a month’s worth of posts on sites other than my own.
  • Put all projects on Trello with due dates so I know exactly when things need to be completed.
  • Check Trello daily.
  • Put all regular daily activities on Google calendar with reminders.

Many of these might seem to you like no-brainers, but think of the stress you avoid when you don’t miss appointments; when you see what you have coming up, and how long you have to meet the deadline; when you see white space on your calendar you can use to accommodate the unexpected.

Leaving Space to Let Go

This week, I “lost” the better part of 2 days. I didn’t write any blog posts, or get work for clients done, or make progress on my marketing. Instead, I had time to take the breaks I needed, look honestly at what I’d done this week, and recognize it was more than I thought, and give some attention to my daughter when she needed to vent. All without stress or guilt!

I no longer beat myself up when plans go awry. Instead, I congratulate myself for having the space in my schedule to ride out the waves which bring production to a temporary standstill. In other words, I’ve found my balance.

Need Some Help Creating Space?

Are you feeling overwhelmed with too many things you have to do and not enough time? Did you know you don’t have to do it all? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? 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 and life space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Finding Gratitude in Everything

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the pace I set myself. It varies with energy level, mood, and circumstances, and is rarely stress-driven any more.
  2. I am grateful for my life outside the regular world.
  3. I am grateful for choices I made which, on the surface may still seem ill-advised, but which have given me a far better quality of life.
  4. I am grateful for options. Each day can be the same as the one before, but it can also be quite different. Either way, it’s my choice.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, projects, energy, choices, fresh air, sunshine, kitty love, family, peace, health, harmony, freedom, 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
 

Setting Intentions to Safely Navigate Friction

Making July’s Friction Work For Me

https://www.flickr.com/photos/timquijano/6179927895/in/photolist-aq6KfX-veVW-2Lg2M7-aMYW9P-8BKnVH-FPZVGT-8nnv7V-4DMyEY-bWhRkq-71jk86-bVRXUM-7CiMkN-ca2vyu-cdhbFo-6Lt2io-QujiYK-njx6fU-8gLyR8-dpryBo-bbP6y6-cifvwf-9oL759-2sSSx-aMYV1X-9ZF8Hi-SLA7ho-5KWLqZ-6cdm59-5DkC58-aMZ1Kx-aMYZHa-afNBbh-bbLNKX-5TkA1a-8tSKgR-ixEkTc-9oGGGj-DDsP2-sasXwh-cGGasS-bfs4it-chgL9o-nqf3gr-9qEoMi-cgRNrL-a7m5wn-s8GWqk-zretW-nEy6rc-6XCCec/According to the Power Path School, the theme for July is “Friction”. They go on to explain that rubbing two sticks together creates friction which causes sparks. The ensuing fire can either be used for good (i.e. lighting a fire under ourselves), or it can burn the entire house down leaving us to begin at ground zero.

Don’t get me wrong. There’s definitely a time and place to tear things down, especially if they’re rotting from the inside out, or have outlived their usefulness. For that reason, the Tarot card which personifies July is one of my personal favorites, The Tower (or in some decks, called “Lightening Struck Tower”). Numerologically speaking, The Tower is number 16 which, when reduced down to a single digit, is 7, or the number for July.

Coincidence? Perhaps. But I choose to believe things happen for a reason.

Sometimes What I Need is a Good Old-Fashioned Purge

At any rate, I’ve always felt The Tower in a reading is a good omen, though many The Tower from the Spiral Tarotdisagree with me. I see it as a much-needed cleansing, or purging of people and things which no longer serve our greatest good. Call it a cosmic decluttering.

It might be as simple as clearing the mind of thoughts which are holding you back, or practices like fear and procrastination that get in the way of your ultimate success.

Or it might indicate the need to clear some space in your home. In my case, I’ve put off ripping up the rest of the carpet in my bedroom because it’s in a difficult area, namely, the closet. But I feel like the time has come. I just have to work up the energy to tackle the last pieces along with the tack board that’s a bear to pull up, even with lots of room to work.

Setting Intentions to Use Friction Effectively

In order to navigate the friction successfully, I intend to do a couple of things which have yet to become automatic. The first is to set some intentions:

  • I intend to remove the carpet from the closets in my bedroom
  • I intend to get (number to be determined) chapters of my memoir re-written
  • I intend to release 10 pounds in July
  • I intend to launch my new landing page

I won’t overwhelm you with all the things I have before me. But this is a sample of where I want the month to go. As always, I’ll give myself a “gimme” or two because I know how much the small successes keep me going when I get frustrated or stymied.

Creating a Road Map or “Plan”

Once I have my intentions, I need to create a plan for each of them. For example, I need to decide how many chapters I will complete in July and put the due dates into Trello. From past experience, I’ve learned it’s better to underwhelm myself than overwhelm. If I finish more chapters or release more weight than I intended, it’s a bonus, and inspires me to reach higher with the next set of plans.

Another advantage to planning out at least part of the month is it will keep me too busy to get sucked into other friction-based activities which could work against me. A plethora of projects with aggressive timelines keeps me out of trouble. I’ve learned that the hard way more than once.

I Can’t Make People Like Me So Why Should I Try?

I’m working on being very Zen, and avoiding unnecessary arguments. By the way, all arguments are unnecessary. If nothing else, at the start of what appears to be an argument, I’m practicing saying “Yes, you’re right” and walking away.

I’ve also learned I am, at times, an acquired taste. Sure, some people like my weird-ass self from the beginning, but in most cases, they have to get used to me in their own fashion. Plenty never do. That’s not to say there aren’t a few who find me to be their cup o’ tea from the very beginning, but those few see the real me right away. Though I’ve gotten better about being both real and vulnerable, I’m still selective about who sees that side of me and when. I let my internal radar lead the way after burning my fingers a few too many times by showing too much to the wrong people.

As a friction-y month, I don’t doubt I’ll have ample opportunity to rub folks the wrong way, so practicing my argument avoidance techniques early will save me a lot of aggravation. Aggravation, for me is a guaranteed killer of forward momentum. I have a tendency to spend too much time mulling, chewing, and dissecting the event, taking too much responsibility, and wondering how I can fix it than I will following my plans and manifesting my intentions.

Sometimes the Best Strategy is Retreat

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-jk3BYpOf course, I could simply hole up in my house, working on stuff until the month is over and the worst of the friction has passed. But frankly, I get some of my best blog ideas from being out in the world, living life as it should be lived. My readers deserve better than the flat, uninspired posts that would ensue were I to go into hermit mode for 31 days.

I’d like to believe I’ve gotten better at avoiding arguments just as I’ve improved on my ability to set intentions and create plans. Though I have a long list of failures, I also have a growing list of successes to inspire me. Were it not for those failures, I’m not sure the successes would have been possible.

As such, I’m inclined to stare July in the face and say Bring on the friction. I’m locked, loaded, and ready!  I’ve always loved a challenge and a worthy opponent!

Lubricating the Friction with Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I’m grateful for the supportive community I’ve built around me.
  3. I’m grateful for the momentum I’m already feeling, and know it’s just a tiny sample of what’s to come.
  4. I’m grateful to Linda Clay for helping me see there really is a time and a place to make a plan.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, fire, inspiration, motivation, joy, release, timing, projects, relationships, beginnings, endings, 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

Attitude: The Ultimate Motivator

Analyzing My Attitude

As I recently embarked on a new version of my lifelong weight management journey (courtesy of Julia Cameron’s “Writing to Diet”), I tend to think about it more than usual. Being the analytical sort, I take it apart and put it back together in various configurations. In one scenario, I look at how others treat their less-than-perfect bodies. Let’s be honest, here. I’ve never met a woman who couldn’t find something she didn’t like about her body!

Still and all, I find those who are more successful focus more on changing one thing, and it has nothing to do with food or exercise.

Re-assessing the Messages I Send Myself

You’ve probably seen a lot of meme’s and posts lately dealing with how people https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nrespond to the messages they receive. Whether you tell a child she’s smart or dumb, she’ll more often than not meet your expectations.

Humans like you and me grow up on the outside, but there’s a part of us which will always be that child who’s easily influenced by expectations; both internal and external. When we tell ourselves things like:

You’re a mess. You need to clean up your act.

or

You’ll never lose the weight you need to. You’re a fatty who can’t control her eating.

or

You gained back 3 ounces. Might as well go scarf that gallon of ice cream. You’re a failure.

In one sense, you’re ripping away at your own self-confidence, and in another, you’re giving yourself permission to keep failing—to keep disappointing the most important person in your life—YOU!

Self-Improvement is the Ultimate Goal

One of the requirements for the new self-improvement program I’ve embarked upon (and yes, I see it as self-improvement rather than weight loss) is to take a 20-minute walk every day. As it happens, I’ve been trying to get into the habit of walking daily for months without success. Somehow, though, when Ms. Cameron wrote about it and offered examples from students who’d followed her plan successfully, I came up with my own plan to make it work.

I know myself well, so getting dressed and out the door had to be a first-thing-in-the-morning task, or it would get put off the way my gym workouts were until I created a plan. If you’ve been following me for the last year or so, you know I’ve been incredibly successful at meeting my 3-day-a-week gym goal, because I assigned myself specific days with their own specific workout. (Monday; legs, Wednesday; chest and triceps, Friday; back and biceps).

As a result, I’m stronger, leaner, and have more energy. I also know it’s not enough, because I wasn’t sticking to my healthier diet so my weight was going up and down like a yo-yo. I’d like to believe at least half of the poundage I reacquired is muscle mass, but who am I kidding? Indeed, a part of it might be, but my clothes were fitting tighter again, and contrary to popular belief, they did not shrink in the wash!

Motivation According to Plan

In order to make the daily walk work with my schedule, I had to put it after writing morning pages and feeding the cats (tasks I can’t move around any more than I already have!), and before coffee and my usual yogurt and blueberries breakfast. Trust me, when coffee is the reward for getting my sneakers on and heading out the door to walk for a mere 20 minutes, little if anything gets between me and that walk!

Now, I could tell you I motivate myself by looking at the too-high numbers on the scale or the ample figure in the mirror and berating myself, but not only would I be lying, I’d be doing you a gross disservice. The truth is, I look at the numbers on the scale and, even when they go back up a bit, I look at my excel spreadsheet and see how many pounds I’ve released over time rather than what I regained over a day or two. It reminds me how much I’m capable of, and that there will always be setbacks.

Positive Reinforcement

I also look myself in the mirror and notice the positive changes. I tell myself how proud I am of those changes, and the effort I made and continue to make. I recognize the effort and forgive the imperfections.

Sure, I’ve changed my eating habits a lot. I eat more fresh fruits and vegetables, and less sugar and flour. I try to track every bite that passes my lips, though with more success some days than others. The question remains, how was I able to turn a life of sloth and often depression into one where the weight is coming off, albeit slowly, and my energy is increasing, not so slowly.

The answer is really a single word: Attitude. Changing my attitude and appreciating my smallest wins turned everything around, and gave me the drive and desire to add new things like daily walks to my routine. Attitude makes me stand straighter and taller, suck in my belly without having to remind myself, and make better food choices.

Ask Not “What Can I Eat?” But “Am I Really Hungry Now?”

It’s taught me to ask myself when my stomach growls at 10 PM if I’m truly hungry, and if so, will a small slice of bell pepper be as effective (if not more so) in silencing the dragons than some sweet or salty snack (for the record, the answer is always yes these days).

I listen to friends complaining about the way they look, or some flaw nobody notices but them. That was once me, and while I focused on the flaws and the failures, my progress was limited if not negative. I had to learn to love myself as I am, at any given moment.

Seeing Myself Through Less Critical Eyes

That doesn’t mean I have to stay in the place I spent so much time beating myself up over. It simply means that each stage of my progress is good and praise-worthy. Wherever I find myself is better than someplace I was at some point in the past.

The changes might not be visible to anyone else, but like everyone, I have laser vision when it comes to myself. I know the frame I live in once carried 20 or 30 more pounds, and that those pounds were pure fat. I know I’m starting to see collarbones I haven’t seen in decades, and silly as it may sound, it makes me dance with joy. Does anyone else notice the faint hint of bone at my neckline? Doubtful. But what anyone else sees has nothing to do with my attitude towards myself—unless I let it.

The Only Opinion That Matters is Mine

If you ask me, the biggest mistake you can make is to allow anyone else to influence your attitude towards yourself. I did for a very long time, and am working on fixing the damage it did.

I’ve also learned no matter how much I’ve shored up my attitude, people and things can still shake it. Still, it’s up to me to remind myself of one of my favorite quotes:

What other people think of me is none of my business.

Whether you’re struggling with your weight, building a business, reaching a goal, or simply giving yourself permission to succeed, I’ve learned it will continue to be a struggle until you can tell yourself with complete confidence that you deserve to succeed at whatever you want to do. The rest is just logistics.

Supporting Myself With an Attitude of Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned to love myself as I am, and not some pie-in-the-sky image of perfection.
  2. I’m grateful I’ve learned to set new goals, and to find a way to achieve them instead of talking myself out of trying.
  3. I’m grateful for new adventures.
  4. I’m grateful for dreams fulfilled. It means I get to dream new dreams.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; joy, love, self-confidence, attitude, friendship, inspiration, motivation, new experiences, peace, health, 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

The Invisibility of Emotional Abandonment

Healing Abandonment Issues

Created with CanvaThe last few months have brought a series of epiphanies which, when I finally connected the dots made me realize I had abandonment issues. Yet, a thorough review of my last 60-odd years revealed no particular incident when someone abandoned me—or so I thought.

Further review of my personal time line told another story. Sure, I haven’t been physically abandoned in the literal sense. The abandonment issues in my personal history are something I hadn’t even considered. They all occurred on an emotional level. It could explain why I found them so easy to stuff down inside—to deny their existence.

My mother, who had a history of being emotionally abandoned herself, always told me I was the more difficult child. In retrospect, of course I was. I was the first child who lived (her first pregnancy ended in miscarriage), and I’m not sure she was emotionally prepared to be a mother in the first place. At 21, she’d never lived alone. She went from her mother’s house to her husband’s apartment, but only after the ring was on her finger.

History Repeats Itself if You Let It

Sure, it was a different time, but I know from experience there’s a lot to learn https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9Yqrabout living on your own, and having kids right away doesn’t make it easier. In my mom’s case, she didn’t even know how to cook, and learned on her own rather than asking for her mother’s help. Barely 2 years and one miscarriage later, she had me to deal with as well; a helpless baby who demanded more of her time than she knew how to give.

By the time my sister came along 2 1/2 years later, she’d made her share of mistakes, but learned a lot too. Of course my sister was an easier child! She was born to an experienced mother!

It didn’t help when I contracted Scarlatina which led to a penicillin allergy before I was 5. Add to that, a blindness scare at 10 before they realized I was susceptible to ocular migraines, a legacy from my dad and his mom. So if my mother shut down emotionally to protect her own shaky sanity, I can see now she did it for good reason, if not in my best interests.

Searching for the Love I Needed

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-V4V7jqLacking my mother’s love, I spent years trying to earn the love and affection from a man who, quite frankly, hadn’t been trained to give it. Until my grandmother died when I was 12, she and my grandfather were deeply immersed in each other. Their kids, my dad and his sister, got whatever was left. Affection was typically communicated with sarcasm and ridicule.

As I look back, no matter how hard I tried to measure up to my dad’s expectations so I could earn a love which should have been given simply because I was his child, he’d always set the bar a little higher than I could reach. In the end, he loved me as best he could, but for a shy, introverted, little girl with zero self-confidence, it wasn’t enough.

I grew up imitating my dad. But I wasn’t nearly as good at it as he, and made a lot of poor choices in my desperation to be loved and accepted. I vacillated between hardening my outer shell and playing chameleon for decades until the shell started breaking down and I began making drastic changes.

Learning the Difference Between Seeking and Allowing

The first was to divorce my alcoholic and emotionally abusive husband. Yes, I’m https://www.flickr.com/photos/134921587@N06/23686767022/in/photolist-C67SAS-ctvgV1-oTB61e-G23PMn-21xTKc-qJZokP-BitVnD-ctvjEb-ctv2Wo-C86UJi-5yyHup-dGchk9-ctvkoG-8smaT9-Hb9D9-bCMY61-ctvDdJ-fjCHU-DjAHuB-a7ZNLt-qGVeSr-sp457s-RLx6vm-62Xk7K-qfydfc-FFnBTk-ewnTH9-ctvqbf-pYhS7Z-agphz5-2eWFpQN-dGcfxE-bRGHjR-piX8Sk-piJE7f-ctvJCN-oh53V-bRGHxt-bRGJ5r-qfGLzR-qfEkx7-piHFu7-qyFAYh-oh4KB-oh5Y5-ctuKBf-fjDom-fjDY6-CRBBws-9aV9yxanother statistic; a woman who marries a man similar to her most damaged parent; in this case, my mom, in hopes of fixing what’s broken and earning the love she was denied. Trust me, it’s a battle that can’t be won.

What followed was a series of fits and starts. I hid inside my self-made cave, pretending I needed no one for several years. I had a couple of emotionally bankrupt relationships before giving up dating for what would ultimately last more than 20 years. Still, I knew I wasn’t meant to live without love. But experience hadn’t taught me what it really looked like, much less, how to go about finding it.

Connecting With My Spirituality and Self-Love

When I was introduced to “The Secret” I felt an almost physical shift. At first, it affected my own self-image and drove me to read more and more about fixing myself. I now have a shelf full of books ranging from “Laws of Attraction” to Kabbalah. Some have helped me more than others, but I’m not done learning.

The walls came down, the shell shattered. I’ve opened up to people and changed my social circle a time or seven. The most significant change I’ve seen is people opening up to me. Therein lies the biggest hole in my earlier years.

Breaking the Legacy and Removing My Masks

My parents, and everyone around me were a series of constantly smiling masks. No one shared their true self, and everyone was damaged in some way; some far more than others. It was a world where you either pretended your world was perfect, or faced ridicule and disgust from those around you. Broken was considered ugly. Vulnerable was weak.

By the time I figured it out, I’d seen first-hand what it cost to keep those masks in place. I’d had a few melt-downs myself, in the privacy of my own home. My mother had had the ultimate meltdown, swallowed a bunch of sleeping pills and laid her masks down for good. A few years later, my dad made a similar choice, using a gun instead of pills. He, too put down the masks and lowered the walls after a lifetime of holding them in place, sometimes out of sheer stubbornness. I have to wonder if there were times when the hold was tenuous, and his mood bordered on desperation.

Building on a Strong, Supportive Foundation At Last

Lest you think this is an excuse for a pity party, let me assure you, it’s quite the opposite. Lacking a strong emotional foundation, I had to figure out how to erect one of my own. I learned in the process it’s not something you do in a vacuum.

I’ve learned to gather around me strong, supportive friends who are able to share their own times of need, and reach out to me. The foundation I’ve built is not just my own strengths shoring up internal weaknesses. It’s built on what I’ve been able to offer my friends, but more important; what they’ve been able to offer me.

We are stronger for the people we’re able to give to and accept from. None of us have everything we need to build our foundation, any more than we have every skill, or all the knowledge we need to live a successful, fulfilled life. My parents never figured that out, nor did theirs. I was given the opportunity to change the pattern. I was also given a daughter who, like me, wanted to see it change.

We’ve each made changes in our own ways, but have also built our own communities, both together and separate. It may have begun with unrecognized emotional abandonment, but if you ask me, what it’s grown into was (almost) worth the tough lessons I had to learn alone.

Making Gratitude a Daily Practice

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the life I was given; all the hills and valleys, smooth roads, and potholes. I’ve learned and I’ve grown from the challenges.
  2. I’m grateful for the friends who even now are patient with me when I knee-jerk and crawl back into my hole. They know when to push and when to let me be to figure it out.
  3. I’m grateful for dancing which, in it’s own way, forces me to get out of my shell and out from behind the walls.
  4. I’m grateful for the writing which has allowed me to safely express things until I was ready to share more openly. And for the people it’s brought to me for the sharing.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, sharing, vulnerability, joy, dancing, motivation, inspiration, support, community, 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
 

Clearing the Cobwebs of Painful Memories

Time To Do Some Clearing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/archer10/7849876896/in/photolist-cXEEV7-fPr3hz-ovy3Y-2TKGKr-RJSecz-81bjFu-o4c5Cv-5GdaKc-8D2F6U-22tfUjT-4DQbJU-5s2mHR-6En1bs-8n1pCV-dLvZgq-4Xbv3C-8n4xvC-nfdexu-cdNTt7-dRsadY-9gsEyT-8f7e7g-7JsrvP-6En2bL-8f7ibz-6EhUbV-fKGp59-5rR2oc-8f7fvF-8f7gWv-6En4DN-E8n3sk-dU6FTL-2ezHFm2-7H8SZN-2fyEitz-nrTHmV-21ULG68-gd3BS-5rVnWy-5rR3zM-cMbd8N-kzXmM-5rVneJ-5rR1VH-7hY577-oiDSem-DYf7cJ-ArNMhD-A6zcJMI’ve been suffering from a nasty case of ennui. I haven’t felt like doing much of anything, work-wise. I start writing only to push it aside as uninspired and dull. I do something less creative, and stop working on it when it will require creativity to complete.

I’m not really sure what I have stuck in my craw, but it’s also setting off migraines, or at least the beginnings of them with increasing frequency. This is not a good sign.

Meanwhile, I seem to be more engaged with taking care of myself; eating healthy meals, getting more exercise, and sleeping more than usual. But I’m frustrated with my lack of progress on the projects awaiting my attention. I’m annoyed by the things I’m not getting done, and the forward momentum which has come to a screeching, grinding halt.

Engaging My Tools to Free Creativity Held Captive

Venting my frustrations and irritation in this post is one of the ways I’ve found https://www.flickr.com/photos/eelundgaard/6843281107/in/photolist-bqHB4i-4nTQzD-7q252U-pbHQ71-7PAFYM-2em7Gkp-e44j5p-oBWaHi-4nSSHx-ZFC7EN-oAUXNJ-VBDg4S-XzbE8f-ghWwir-9DKTNV-5CrSjc-AGyeY-9kGdwf-eBVzrE-VnQuFb-8UQoiG-UfEVmU-Td5M2F-eauQmZ-dzQbgm-owmBAC-WSoCkm-c5MZNj-ebYA1j-9ijap5-5MLfF-9qug71-KAUJeL-jnr1Vx-ZFCdUG-6Nr9Fh-ZFCeYq-WewmJY-4MPtFk-TPDJ-VdcBDb-8pv5j-WqU5HJ-CDSsNh-CDSpbh-fNacTS-8XgrBS-g2iZgE-h3EJz8-4nGFiScan break up the logjam in my head and heart. But at the moment, the words I need to write seem to be stuck inside too. Hours before I usually retire, I’m ready to take out my contacts, brush my teeth, and go to bed. I toss and turn or fall victim to the cacophony in my head. I’m avoiding something with a vengeance, and that avoidance is leaking into everything I want or need to get to.

It’s as if the me who gets on a roll, knocking out articles and book chapters is being stuffed into a box with a rag in her mouth to keep her from screaming and disturbing the other inmates. She fights frantically but only succeeds in tightening the bonds restraining her and preventing her fingers from typing or scribbling.

The words pile up around her, filling what little space is left in the box until her efforts become more feeble, and ultimately she gives up, defeated, to lie whimpering at the bottom of the box, unable to help herself, with no one around to help, even if they could hear her or recognize her distress.

Fortunately, I’ve been here before, and managed to escape the box and spit out the rag. It might be a cafe writing session, or camping out for a few hours in the red Adirondack chairs on what I jokingly call my veranda, listening to the sounds of the neighborhood; birds chirping, a baby crying, a train tooting to warn cars at the intersections of it’s impending arrival. Occasionally, a fire engine’s wail intrudes as it rushes to another emergency.

Forging a New Path

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-6v9LjqThis time I choose the chairs and my porch. I pull out a spiral binder and my pack of multi-colored V5 pens, date the page, and bring up the next writing prompt from “A Writer’s Book of Days”. Propped up on the two-sided UCLA-USC pillows my evil daughter made me, I write a few words, digging into my subconscious for inspiration. My 3 garage cats, Max, Cinders, and Hailey come running as I settle in to assure me they’ve been neglected for days; maybe even weeks.

After awhile, the words start to flow and the dregs of my subconscious hit the page, drifting further and further from the actual prompt. It doesn’t really matter what I write. This exercise has one purpose; to get me writing and spilling my guts.

Revisiting Previous Epiphanies

One such exercise yielded the realization that I harbored a great deal of anger https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9Yqrtowards my dad, not because he took his life, but because of all the years, time,  and effort I spent trying to earn his approval. What I got instead was abuse and disdain. It also made me see the underlying cause of my inability to form a strong, loving relationship. What I’d been taught to believe was love was light years away from a relationship based on kindness, compassion, and respect.

The trouble is, once I recognized the anger, my mind wanted to clutch it close like the childhood teddy bear my cat Snowy had licked clean of its fur. Unfortunately, my anger wasn’t soft and benign like that bear. It was intrusive and destructive. Like the bear, it was dull and dingy, and needed to be tossed out.

Old habits die hard though. I’d just converted the love and devotion I’d carried for decades without reciprocation  to anger and hurt. The space it filled in my heart and mind wasn’t ready to be empty, if only until I could fill it with happier memories and emotions.

Allowing Myself to Enjoy the Empty Space

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oddsock/1074766279/in/photolist-Qq8gms-2CYsz6-9LDCMr-f2j8XG-9LDCYn-5Y9PzH-FkrgSH-nvoHbg-9mtAak-iD74WS-6mvA4s-4rrcvn-6Vw4xM-zHyznr-4LSv6x-8JNcR5-6TQeJd-7nXLkF-LciV1-5f6yL-9AuXrj-7o2EMh-69J8C8-8TorzY-5d1ns-JzytHf-26ReUcc-25BFXcJ-DmHVZK-qGRjJY-25BFVU3-25niJrT-iEZMGh-Jzyr59-6rXktd-6rXkoU-bYfvh-6jLb3F-ibKpJ7-6rXjNd-xkP6c-8jf2iK-V2pgYm-bYfvq-9LGr25-nqymWu-9Hspoj-77msAd-5V8poC-5zqHbfSuch is the challenge of replacing old hurts with something better. I have to be willing to endure an empty hollowness for a little while until the space has been swept clean of all the old cobwebs and can comfortably house something more pleasant. I’ve spent too many years filling spaces with anything just to avoid the emptiness.

But I’m learning. I no longer clutter up my personal space with stuff. I’ve discovered I love a clear desk, a clean kitchen, a dresser I can set something down on and not lose it amidst the junk piled on top. A made-up bed and an empty director’s chair make me feel happy and free rather than anxious these days.

I see the space I’ve filled with unrequited love, and more recently, anger as I view my desktop; more useful when it’s cleared off than when it’s piled with papers, knick knacks, and dust bunnies.  I see myself standing in the middle of a room where those negative, destructive feelings have lived and festered, feeling refreshed and vindicated as I vacuum up the cobwebs, stuff all the accumulated junk in a giant trash bag, scrub the walls and apply clean, fresh paint. I scrub and scrape until the floor is as clean and welcoming as the newly painted walls.

Another Painful Memory Purged

I stand in the doorway feeling lighter; freer; at peace. It’s going to be OK. The room can remain empty for now. I have new memories to make, new love; real love to fill it with. The emptiness isn’t fearful at all. It’s possibilities.

Gazing at the room, empty and waiting to be filled with light and love, I feel my ennui slipping away again. I know it will come back as it always does. It is my mind and soul’s way of telling me it’s time to clean out another room, or clear some weeds from my garden. The rooms have filled and the garden became overgrown over my lifetime. The changes and clearing need to take place over time too. If I listen to my heart, I’ll know when the time comes again.

Moving Forward With a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the reminders that it’s time to do some more clearing. They may be frustrating, but they serve a purpose.
  2. I am grateful for the new memories I’m forming to replace the old, sad, angry ones.
  3. I am grateful for the tools I’ve developed to help me let go of things and move on.
  4. I am grateful for signs that tell me I’m on the right track, even when I’m feeling stuck.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, light, friendship, joy, health, harmony, peace, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Creating New Habits One Baby Step at a Time

Setting New Habits Realistically

New habits sometimes take a little while to set in. Take my new, daily 20-minute walk. In the first week, it’s been more of a semi-daily walk, as something has come up every other day. Do I beat myself up for not sticking to the program?

Are you kidding me? I just added walking before breakfast or coffee for crying out loud! That’s epic! If I “only” manage every other day, that’s still 3 days out of 6 I’m up and moving right after my morning pages and cat feeding. Up to now, I was doing well to make it to the garage to feed the outside cats, and the kitchen to feed me and the indoor cats before about 10AM. Now I’m walking more than a mile every other day!

The point I’m trying to make is setting new habits is hard. Sometimes I have to practically blast myself out of my old tried-and-true in order to add something new. And believe me, exercising before coffee is one of those times.

Opening a Window to New Experiences

And yet, as I’m putting on my clothes, tying my sneakers, and getting ready to Created with Canvahead out the door, I’m actually excited. I know. That sounds pretty odd. But in a few every-other-days, I’ve discovered how much a short morning walk can do for the entire day.

Some days I’m all eyes and ears, taking in everything in my path. Others, I’m focusing on walking as briskly as possible to get the blood moving and my brain activated. Then there are the days when it’s essentially a walking meditation where I let my thoughts wander and give only the necessary amount of attention to my surroundings (meaning I don’t cross streets without looking for cars, and I don’t run over people I might encounter on my walk).

There are no rules for this walk other than to just do it. Like my thrice weekly gym habit, it doesn’t take long to feel better for it. I’ve even noticed a decrease in appetite, and a greater tendency to grab something healthy. My weight dropped 3 pounds in the first week, which, in and of itself is a HUGE inspiration as I’ve been stagnating or going up for months!

Blood Feeds the Brain

Getting my blood moving early has other advantages as well. I’m more likely to sit down and knock out a project when I come home. I’m actually less hungry, if you can believe it. Each evening when I look back at my day, I can see very definite accomplishments. It might be personal stuff like laundry, housework, or bill paying. But quite often it’s effort I put into my writing or business.

Hours I used to spend spinning my wheels are now spent turning those wheels towards my goals and dreams. Somehow, my brain has decided that since I push the start of my day out by 20 or 30 minutes, I have to make up for it by being more dedicated to my craft and projects. Who knew it was possible to trick the brain like that?

Old Habits and New

I use Trello to keep track of all my projects, but there’s also a mental calendar which, though prone to losing things, carries a basic framework of my life and goals. It’s starting to get more insistent about speeding up what I’m doing, or having more productive hours in a day. Something I had put aside when I left my corporate job has suddenly returned, for better or worse. I’m eating lunch at my desk while working.

On one hand, it’s probably unwise to shove food down my throat while working, but on the other, the bites are infrequent enough that my brain has time to register satiation before I overeat. In essence, working while I’m eating has slowed me down so again, I eat less.

Eating Slowly and Mindfully

In the general scheme of things, eating less helps decrease weight. Eating https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrishuggins/4675505957/in/photolist-88ac2F-8LnEVQ-r3ZSnA-rkryn2-dEHqQa-buZGL5-9NXU2Q-uQd4Gi-8HtvkK-brtvSa-mc16EB-zKaXu-mayYKi-LpBQx-24Q2uC3-5fjkkg-eJzqz-di4zr7-di4Cts-9d5Zj3-9SKTfn-FCdjdz-f5wwhN-XjXzMf-9P5vA2-kVMXd9-47aeuC-zNAvV-dZ5cLv-5P5kRq-5z3cp5-7fRw8n-Ad6nP2-fjj4VF-nPSwLg-GUXa92-ERVZat-YW3tj5-sgc13A-xYkggi-SwjMJA-K74gKR-qod9ho-evhnbP-5mpBv5-v38BL4-26QXWnW-nCnBUo-JSkWR-88acaPhealthier foods also helps decrease weight. Adding exercise—you guessed it, helps decrease weight. Put them all together, and health improves, stamina increases, and energy skyrockets.

All this has an interesting and especially pleasant side effect. I’m finding my mood is also elevated. I smile at people I pass on my walk; call sales clerks by name after requesting assistance with a smile, and am generally more patient (never one of my strong suits!).

Vocalizing My New-Found Joy

created with CanvaI find myself humming   “On a Wonderful Day Like Today” from “The Roar of the Greasepaint-The Smell of the Crowd” or the Carpenters’ “Top of the World” with gay abandon, loud and off-key without concern for who might see, or whose ears might be battered. I’m less irritated by the irritating, and more accepting of life’s detours and delays.

I have to wonder if the change begun last year when I got my gym habit going is being expanded by the addition of the walk. Suddenly, the idea of being out among people several nights a week, at the gym, and more often overall is actually appealing! To an introvert like me who has, for years reveled in her own company, this is truly world-shaking. I’m wondering what other changes will manifest in the months to come, and how much further from my shell I’ll crawl?

Success Leads to a Brighter Outlook

Even to myself, a lot of this sounds like I’ve gone bat-shit crazy. But frankly, if this is crazy, why choose sanity? Other people see the numbers on the scale increasing, or look in the mirror to see clothes getting tighter, and get angry with themselves. Soon, the anger translates into how they interact with other people, and often, their anger takes them on a downward spiral into depression.

I’ve been there, and let me tell you, it wasn’t pleasant for me or anyone who had to interact with me. I decided long ago it was a town I wouldn’t revisit, but have, at times, passed through, if only for a moment. I’m learning, years later than most that one of the keys to avoiding that dark, gloomy place is to keep moving, both figuratively and literally.

Endorphins Bring Happiness Bubbling to the Surface

https://www.facebook.com/cmhagbI’ve always known on a conscious level that exercise releases endorphins which are basically the body’s happy pill. I’ve attributed my happiness, not so much to getting up and moving, but to dancing because dancing has always been my happy place. The truth is, how and where I move is irrelevant. Dancing may raise me higher because the energy is shared, and as I share it, I vibrate even higher.

Still, the act of getting out and walking, lifting weights at the gym, going on a hike—any time I move for even a few minutes raises my vibration and elevates my mood. Maybe that’s why it’s so much harder when I’ve been especially down. By staying still I stay where I am. If I move, I have to experience change, even if it’s only a slight mood elevation.

But once I’m moving and my mood is elevated, continuing to move is not only easier, it’s impossible to ignore. Music plays and I tap your feet, or maybe sing along. A sunny day beckons me outdoors to move through and become a part of it. A hiking trail, a wooded path, a park, even an outdoor mall are all places to explore and experience.

Moving Through Life Elevated

I’m so glad I’ve learned to get up and put one foot in front of the other; to experience the joy of movement of many kinds. Sure, there are days when my back will ache or my knees will complain. As it’s rarely debilitating, I’ve learned to push through it. There was a time I’d use the pain as an excuse to sit more, then wonder why the pain intensified over time until it was constant instead of intermittent.

My new motto/mantra is “Movement is Life, and Life is Movement”.

 

Ready to Raise Your Vibration?

Is the business you’re building leaving little time for self-care? Do you feel like you’re wallowing in quicksand? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate so you can take a daily walk, or just a night off? 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 Attracts More

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve learned the benefits of movement, and have shied away from an overabundance of sloth.
  2. I’m grateful for active friends who draw me into their joy and their movement.
  3. I’m grateful for my friend Lorna who gave me a book which has gotten me moving even more, and able to finally see a healthy, fit, slimmer me.
  4. I’m grateful for painless days when everything is functioning better because it isn’t being forced to lay dormant.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; health, energy, positivity, joy, improvement, inspiration, motivation, productivity, friendship, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Finally Putting Myself First

Who’s Looking Out For Me?

For most of my life, I was convinced it was my responsibility to please other people. Whether it was parents and teachers when I was younger, bosses and boyfriends as I moved into my 20’s, children, friends, and co-workers as my 30’s and 40’s slipped by—not once during those decades did I pause for a moment to ask:

Who’s looking out for me?

The harsh reality was, no one. Everyone had expectations, and I suppose they all assumed I took care of my own. And yet, I didn’t. I ate poorly, slept badly, gave up dancing to schlep my daughters to practices and events while they were in high school, worked long hours for thankless, self-serving bosses. The only things I got out of it were a marginally decent paycheck, and a lot of extra pounds.

Don’t get me wrong. The time and effort I spent on my daughters was a labor of love. It wasn’t their job to take care of me, though as they grew older, Heather, at least made an effort at times, when her own life wasn’t overwhelming her. And she was definitely the driving force behind me getting back to doing one thing I’ve always loved; writing.

Forgetting to Put My Own Health and Welfare First

But I always put things like healthy eating, regular exercise, and me time on hold until I had less on my plate. Of course the day didn’t come until long after Heather moved out. I didn’t give myself permission to put myself first until all other responsibilities; kids, job, friends; were no longer a factor.

That’s when I started paying more attention to what I needed. I put myself on a gym schedule, increased the number of blog posts I wrote, finished the first draft of my memoir, and so much more.

I discovered the more I gained control of my own wants and needs, the more able I was to organize something else. My house grew less cluttered. My health improved, and when I was faced with revisiting my diet or taking blood pressure medication, the answer was obvious. I increased my weekly blog posting to three and my pre-scheduling to at least two weeks. And I added thrice-weekly posts to Medium.com as well.

Falling into Old Habits

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrStill, it wasn’t long before I began doing things for other people, even when it conflicted with my own needs. Nothing major really, but enough to bring my migraines back more frequently. It took me awhile to realize where my problem lay, but when I did, I took a giant step back.

I looked at how little I’d been getting done aside from what I’d already put in place. Nothing new had been added in months, and I was spending too much time either parked in front of the TV or playing computer games. I was wasting my best writing time, late nights, on mindlessness. And it had to stop!

I looked around myself at all the projects I wanted done but couldn’t bring myself to start. I tried to ignore the preparations I’d made to re-write my memoir after getting the editor’s notes. I cringed at my failed attempts to write regular articles for Elephant Journal.

Re-Committing to Me

It all came down to one monkey I thought I’d gotten off my back. Once again, I 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-jk3BYpwas failing myself. I was blowing off all the commitments I’d made to move my life and business forward. I’d allowed myself to become discouraged by a combination of other peoples’ opinions and my own lack of progress.

So many times in the last few years I’ve recognized a need to take a few steps back and take stock. To look at where I am now, where I’ve been, and where I still want to go. Part of the solution is to re-set intentions. Part is to use my time more wisely. But most of it is to rekindle the flame inside me that burns away feelings of unworthiness, inability, fear, and ineptitude. In recent months, I’d allowed that flame to burn low, if not go out.

I’ve filled my weeks with more dance nights. But my alone time has been an endless chain of ennui. I’ve convinced myself I’m doing well to stick to the schedule I’ve made for writing blog posts, but have written nothing for others in the last month. I’ve made no effort to work on any of my larger projects, or even set myself a schedule for completing them.

Filling My Time With Uselessness

When I sit down at my computer at night, I open a game or social media instead of a document. Even my passion for reading has gone unfulfilled.

Sure, I write my morning pages every day, but most days, they’re filled with comments about the cats or other meaningless drivel. I’ve lost sight of their true purpose; to dredge up my innermost thoughts and drag out what’s truly bothering me and keeping me from moving forward. I’ve even seen only an occasional blog idea rather than the many I used to get from a single day’s writing. My dreams are vivid, but by the time I hit snooze a few times, they and whatever message they might have held disappears and never makes it to my morning pages.

But the real problem still comes down to one thing. I’ve stopped honoring commitments to myself. I haven’t really replaced them with anything substantial. Occasionally, I’m an ear for a friend, but even that’s become infrequent of late. Mostly, I’m simply avoiding.

Recognizing My Avoidance Behavior

https://www.flickr.com/photos/158790927@N08/25811269728/in/photolist-FjRveS-9bdN4K-dKT3m8-anLPS8-G2jGGP-666Dfo-9m3HTB-2ybGf6-9iiWLY-25XfULY-7a6uQa-U9eETw-7DiPVT-p9S65F-e2GNW6-vQhq-4X1zBQ-21j28Rw-aThcrK-RtCD8e-JQymgD-4tNbf5-pHEbRM-6Spn3F-q6BKxR-dFUcvG-pRv5H1-a83xB-3BDEC4-51zVdg-qDXFZQ-ZxzHMW-5QUcWa-sRkDaA-nwfiJe-D2A2dy-6mzNAb-51EaCE-dH2iC3-51zW7R-qy8Bsg-2fiQNc-4rnFvK-cGPQZG-jKU2zx-rpgXY4-oUjEqW-6AiPdn-8GTCLG-9VrnVKAvoiding what, you ask? First and foremost, finishing my memoir and figuring out how and where I’ll publish it. After that, it’s doing things to improve my physical environment like sanding the walls in the bathroom and applying the paint I bought months ago, or digging up weeds in the yard I thought about doing while we had rain and the ground was soft. Now it’s summer and the days are hotter, giving me more excuses to put that project on hold yet again.

I’m also avoiding working through a course which will help me create a client funnel, and thus, more business. I’m making excuses, most of which are pure garbage. I tell myself I don’t know where to find people who need a ghostwriter or even an accountant. But have I put forth the effort to learn where they hang out? Barely.

I’ve also talked about trading more blog posts for coaching sessions, but have yet to offer up a schedule I promised a couple of weeks ago.

Taking Positive Steps

Now I could keep beating myself up for letting myself down, but frankly, that would simply extend this already interminably dull and unproductive cycle. Instead, I write about it here, taking credit and responsibility for what I’ve done and where I am so I can come to terms with it and move on.

The funny thing is, if someone let me down like this, I’d address the issue and try to find a solution. I wouldn’t let it drag on forever. I’d send a follow up email or text and open a dialogue. It’s really no different with myself except the dialogue is done with pen and paper, or fingers and keyboard instead of voices or emails.

In a way, I’ve already done most of the work by writing this post. I’ve pulled out the issues, and if I don’t fully understand the causes behind my latest round of self-sabotage, I’ve at least acknowledged it’s happening, and that I’m aware of it. Like any kind of obsession or addiction, the first step is admitting it’s a problem. In the coming weeks and months, I can work on the solution. I can acknowledge all the things I do to avoid the commitments to myself, and I can offer convincing arguments against any value in avoidance.

Using My Writing to Set Myself Right

The solutions are always in my writing even when writing is the problem. In fact, when writing is the problem, sitting down and writing are my best direction out of the pit I’ve likely crawled into while avoiding writing. Funny how that works.

Some might say I set my personal expectations high, but in reality, they’re fairly low. Write my morning pages every day. Easy. Write at least a few words or a blog post daily. A little tougher, but not outlandish. Keep my personal space clean. A bit harder with my piglets of cats who simply cannot be trained to clean up after themselves, but still do-able.

As for the bigger projects like the bathroom and the yard, I’m confident when I clear the blocks around my writing and business building, those projects will be my reward for a job well done.

Above all, I think I need a reminder for those times when I forget my most important commitment is me.

Identifying the Many Things I Have to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for little things that remind me to take better care of myself and my own needs.
  2. I am grateful for the gift of writing which always gets me back on track provided I remember to use it.
  3. I am grateful for my daughter Heather who single-handedly got me back to writing regularly, even if sometimes it was kicking and screaming.
  4. I am grateful for all the people who continue to read, support, and encourage my writing.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, writing, friendship, inspiration, motivation, ladders out of the abyss, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

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