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

Archive for the ‘#authenticity’ Category

Some of Us Are the Belle of the Ball, The Rest, Wallpaper

Still Wallpaper After All These Years

Created with CanvaEven though I have several decades under my belt, some things don’t seem to change. Men buzz around one beautiful flower, and completely miss the fact that there’s an entire garden to choose from. Maybe what attracts them has morphed a little, but they all still seem to want the same thing.

What they want, though seems to continue to baffle. It’s not necessarily the most beautiful, the one with the nicest car, the cutest clothes, or the perkiest chest. There’s something less obvious; less apparent which seems to have them flocking to the same women while the rest of us watch in bewilderment as one man after another is rejected. Only one can win the prize, and only if she’s willing and equally attracted.

Don’t get me wrong. I get that men, like women would rather not settle. They want what they want (or think they want) and the rest are, to them, second-best. The sad part is, (at least from where I sit) while they’re busy chasing that one perfect bud, they might be missing out on the one who would be a better fit if they simply took the time to get to know her.

To Stand Out, You Have to Be Outgoing

The one constant I do see is the outgoing, extroverted women (or the ones Created in Canvawho know how to feign extroversion) seem to be the ones attracting all the bees. The quieter ones who open up only once they’ve developed a level of trust are left alone. I suppose we’re not worth the effort it takes to get to know us. Getting past the hard outer shell many of us have developed after years of disappointing relationships takes a willingness to be patient and keep things casual for awhile.

A friend of mine says you have to “open the door” so to speak. What she means is you have to decide within yourself you’re ready to let someone get close. She believes that’s what attracts men to you. I thought I’d opened that door, but clearly, I’m doing something wrong because I can still stand in a group of women and watch all but me get asked to dance.

Don’t get me wrong. I do get my share of dancing in. I’m not a complete wallflower these days, thank goodness. But I’m never approached by anyone who doesn’t already know me like the highly sought-after women are. Even in our social circle, I’m rarely the partner of choice with the single men who are at least close to my age.

What Makes the Belle’s Stand Out?

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdigger/2593695245/in/photolist-4Xcnex-89c1Mi-6PhxAF-8k5tGb-eZv9F8-6Q9Cip-fvznVr-oS59Fx-p9xxvo-4XcoL2-YhazSs-eckQaU-6XR6Bq-c8srGY-c8sUpj-6NQ6uW-bHaZTZ-H63a9w-6NQ51E-RtAqRc-dqX6UE-H8mpPK-6NQ9Zs-am2782-bE6WWP-apHbbx-H6Hx9k-a5UVV9-oGpJfQ-4UukVQ-8CDidz-9ejRx8-dxcYpa-6aSmuG-Bc74B6-bs3pqK-TH3XaS-9TasQW-8krUQj-76xarF-6SKwpB-6aNcgX-tnZnJ-dxd8rF-5pMmja-8mMxEt-fpF95K-o4YT5J-o56aFP-ZZev1TI hear similar laments from other women, so don’t think it’s just me. At this point, there are several factors which could be contributors, not only for me but for some of my friends:

  • Quieter
  • What we wear (comfortable vs. sexy or cute)
  • Excess weight
  • Too old (guys seem to gravitate towards younger women for the most part)
  • Shyer (Less likely to initiate a conversation or eye contact)
  • Less engaged (I, for one tend to drift off into my own head)
  • Less energy

Whether it’s a combination of these factors and others I have yet to recognize, or a single one, I’m not sure. In all fairness, I don’t see anyone I’m immediately attracted to either, though there are a couple I find attractive without knowing much about them. But it’s more of a passing thought if I see them around rather than a deep desire to get to know them better.

Committed vs. Interested

Maybe that blase attitude is really at the crux of the matter. Women who want to have a relationship simply act more interested in the process. Once eye contact is made, they have a way of making each person they talk to, male or female feel special in their own way. Though I’ve been the recipient, I’ve never mastered that particular social skill.

I’m learning a lot about building relationships from a business group I’m in, and I believe it’s helped me make headway in my social circle as well. Still and all, I’m starting from a disadvantageous position so I have a lot of catching up to do. As I draw closer to the middle of my 60’s, the options get lighter. In the end, I try to console myself by saying how accustomed I’ve grown to being alone.

But do we really? No matter how many years we chase a career, raise kids, follow a passion, or for some, live the life of a free spirit, when we close the door at night, there will always be times we wish we didn’t have to close out the entire world. I believe most, if not all of us who are single wish at some point there was someone else on our side of the door who’s looking forward to our time alone together.

Meeting the Right People in All the Wrong Places

https://www.flickr.com/photos/okfde/22290705021/in/photolist-zXKG1n-7eDmmQ-dxSTv-XJqQxC-36o7HP-ZLE8Ee-8EvfP6-b9LqR-7RWy3X-Ccanw-aQXebZ-b9ArD-HesSL-kqkjjX-4jNqxt-25Lcjuo-baU2C-7RWzFH-7RZPfJ-bEWeSi-7RZSiU-7RZMPY-kqkYsP-7RWyjv-mtriq-7RZNDd-aJcMBv-85TM3j-jgMYXB-qn2qTU-9PHTDC-v43fV-asGMVF-ohZjgx-cAtKLJ-4ieTRA-E4gQEV-dtHadk-dojJaJ-pUP9c1-7RZLRW-7RZU9j-7RZQKL-7RWEBp-7RZLdS-dnbXL-7RZSNs-7RZSRq-7RZNsU-7RZLvJI talk to one of my “Belle” friends a lot. She says I need to be more open to meeting people in off-the-wall places like elevators and jury duty; places others seem to meet. But I don’t feel I’m at my best in a crowd of people, or when I’m sweaty and wearing baggy clothes at the gym. I find it difficult to connect when I go somewhere for a purpose, or have to be somewhere I consider unpleasant. Instead, I’ll put headphones in my ear and hide out behind a book or a laptop. It’s my way of making the uncomfortable bearable.

My introverted self has compartmentalized my activities into “social” and “necessary”. Somehow, I’ve failed to build a bridge between the two. I’m not unaware the old men cranking away on the cardio machines are checking out everyone who walks by. A couple have tried to start conversations, or smiled and said hello, but that’s as far as it goes. I’m there to get my exercise in and go back home to work. And frankly, I have no delusions their friendliness is nothing more than that I’m there often enough to be a familiar face.

Not All Introverts Travel Alone

I know other introverts find someone who fits them. I can’t figure out how they manage it, but clearly they do or there would be a lot more people drifting around alone. My only guess is they grew more tired of being alone than I have, and took a giant step outside their comfort zone, socially. They learned to approach men they didn’t know while being friendly and open. Maybe they used the dating sites or something to help get themselves over the hump. The discovered something I’ve been unable to figure out. Which means there’s still hope for me and the rest of the women who feel like wallpaper.

Eventually, we’ll all stand out to someone!

Can I Help You?

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? To stand out from the crowd? 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 space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Grateful for Every Kind of Friendship

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful my social circle has expanded, even if intimacy isn’t a factor right now.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who share their ups and downs. Even the ones who seem to have the best lives have their own stumbles and insecurities.
  3. I’m grateful for the strength I’ve developed while navigating my road alone. So much of that strength is in the relationships I’ve formed in the last couple of years.
  4. I’m grateful for the questions I ask. I don’t always admit I’m missing something until I take a good, hard look at the situation and how I do or don’t fit.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, dancing, joy, connections, 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

Insecurity May Lie Dormant But Never Dies

The Scared Little Girl Who Lurks Inside

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-8w9YqrAfter having a disturbing and bizarre dream, I remembered someone saying that the really bizarre and disturbing ones carry a message, but not what we’d think. The more disturbing and bizarre they are, the more they’re simply trying to get our attention. After spending 30 or 40 minutes writing out what I remembered of the dream, I found the underlying message. The message itself was uncomfortable and disturbing.

For all the work I’ve done on myself, the scared, insecure little girl is still alive and well. I still believe people don’t notice when I’m not around, and that I have no one to turn to if I’m feeling really disturbed or distressed.

Talking to a couple of girlfriends later that night, I realized I’m not alone on many levels. First, because I have people who understand and are there for me, but second, because they too feel insecure and alone a lot of the time.

Self-Protection on Overdrive

This feeling of alone-ness wasn’t the biggest revelation, however. As I looked at myself, my friends, and what we have and haven’t shared, I realized there are still large parts of me I share with no one. Whether it’s fear of being judged (something I learned I share with my friends), fear of letting more of my broken parts see the light of day, or fear of losing my ability to, at least occasionally wear a strong facade, I’m stuck in some of the same old patterns.

On a conscious level, I know until I’m willing to accept and acknowledge those parts I continue to keep hidden, I am, in some ways no closer to healing than I was 10 years ago. Sure, I’ve made progress, but there are parts of me still unwilling to let go. There are pieces of my heart still encased in bubble wrap to hold all the broken parts together.

The Long, Winding Healing Journey

Created with CanvaHealing means carefully unwrapping those parts, laying them out so I can see where the broken edges fit together, then fitting the pieces back together like an intricate jigsaw puzzle. Once the edges are matched, I need to glue them back together, not with adhesive or even gold like the Japanese kintsugi, but with love and understanding. I have to share my brokenness with the people who love me so they can help me put the broken parts back together stronger and more resilient.

I realize now I’ve opened up about some things, but most are experiences I’ve had, not my deepest, darkest feelings. Those continue to hide in the depths of my mind and heart, mired in darkness, afraid of coming into the light. They blink and squint if I so much as allow a single beam into their sacred space.

Overcoming My Own Resistance

Like my mind resisting change, those broken bits and pieces resist being put back together. 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-V4V7jqThey know the process will mean they have to grow and adapt because the reassembly won’t be the same as their original construction. In fact, I may find a way to put them together into a different structure entirely; one which utilizes parts from all.

Isn’t that really what our lives entail? We break apart and put ourselves back together, but never in the same way. New experiences become part of our new structure making it stronger, but also changing it forever. Once reassembled, there’s no going back to the old ways, because who we were no longer exists. We’ve taken life’s experiences and woven them into the fabric of our lives indelibly.

By hiding all the times I shattered into a million pieces inside myself I don’t allow the rebuilding. I don’t allow myself to be stronger for my experiences. I fail to grow and evolve.

A Reminder I Still Need to Get Out of My Own Way

https://www.flickr.com/photos/nhoulihan/4038592452/in/photolist-79SQQm-TfUffd-pgu9hJ-qfYXYE-pDVWDB-6UQgZM-KFog6C-TFYhqd-29TMHM-fP6i28-j73ZT5-atsnGd-C4HxXs-5eRdT5-YoKVff-24PBcMS-28G1ckh-AqrzL-haocsM-o1RCfj-4iigfF-6hbQxG-TCfZem-qVx4n8-U63bC7-dCTxQg-amkKyF-eiY1qF-Ct5hqm-hSGXpV-BcaCh-8c2bVB-27RWaS2-eQjYy1-cJWTgw-ehKQWJ-AJSt63-ay4RXc-cxa1zW-UFe9Vq-aC3EP1-pkL1fr-ehKSrs-qxMMJj-bvMGyV-VG1fkR-ay4Sgv-aDNaMx-aE1tNY-h7171rI might believe I’ve come a long way, and in fact, I have. But I’ve put giant boulders in the way to prevent progress in certain directions. Thus, I’m rebuilding on shaky ground once again, because I’m leaving too many crumbling parts in my foundation.

My disturbing and bizarre dream was a pointed reminder I can’t ignore all those piles of broken pieces. I need to incorporate them into the newest version of me I’m building. Leaving them out means returning to ground zero again and again until I figure out how to weave them into the fabric of my life, not as failures, but as lessons.

The voice of the frightened little girl inside me is growing louder and more insistent. Opportunities to open up, bring those pieces into the light, and join them to the pieces I’ve acquired through life lessons are here. They become more obvious and accessible every day. But until I bring those broken pieces into the light, I can’t fully avail myself of those opportunities. I can’t complete the assembly without those pieces as well.

Creating a Mosaic of My Life

Like you, I’m a mosaic; a combination of pieces accumulated over the years from each time I created with Canvabroke, but also, each time something or someone came along and offered me some of the missing pieces to help strengthen my structure. How many times did I turn away and fold further into myself, refusing the help, ignoring someone else’s need to help me grow? How many times did I fail to see my broken parts fit exactly into someone else’s?

Talking to my friends, we admit to holding back parts of ourselves we’re not ready to share. Yet do I; do they really know what those parts are any more? They’ve been buried so long, I suspect were we to pull out all of our parts and lay them on the table, we’d find we could put them together in just about any manner, taking pieces from each other and fitting them into our own mosaic. The result would not only be stronger, but more beautiful for all the different shades and facets we bring together.

Creating a Safe Space Together

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-baRMyvPerhaps that’s the answer. Instead of trying to force ourselves to open the box where we store all our missteps, our broken dreams, our losses, and our fears, we need to open them in the safety and comfort of friendship where everyone shares pieces, and we create one giant piece of art which is better able to withstand life’s earthquakes and mudslides.

We learn different lessons as we travel through life. What I know well, someone else needs support and guidance. Where I feel weak and unable to withstand the gentlest breeze, someone else has mastered and can help me become stronger.

Years of trying to manage everything alone has certainly left its mark on me. It’s left a similar mark on many of my friends. We’ve all learned we’re stronger together, but are still learning how to maneuver the “together” part without needing to pull back into our shells, afraid of being let down or broken once again. Until I do; until we do, we’ll continue fumbling in the dark in some areas, never quite seeing that the path in front of us is smoother than we believe.

Need Help Putting it All Together?

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? 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 space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Grateful for Who I Was, Who I Am, and Who I Can Become

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who understand I’m still struggling in some ways.
  2. I am grateful for disturbing and bizarre dreams which make me take a good hard look at what I’m doing with my life.
  3. I am grateful for friends who aren’t afraid to share some of their broken parts with me.
  4. I am grateful for days alone when I can sink into introspection. They make me face the world outside with more confidence, not so much in my abilities alone, but in the knowledge that I’m not alone at all.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, imperfections, community, joy, dancing kitty love, peace, harmony, health, 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

Out of the Picture: A Retrospective

Still Taking Myself Out of the Picture

Every time we get together, we do a group picture, as if to remind us that, although our building is gone, our hearts remain connected. All too often these days, I’m not in the picture, even those times when I’m there.

Maybe I was in the bathroom, or outside trying to pull it together because I was having a rough time. Maybe I didn’t go at all because funds and circumstances didn’t permit. Even if I was fine with not being there, seeing the group pictures where I’m missing hurts.

Yet there are plenty of times I’m there, sometimes right in the middle, my red curls standing out amidst the browns, blonds, and subtler shades. I paste a smile on my face and my eyes close to small slits when the person wielding the camera says “say cheese”. When I’m overly visible, I try not to critique; to notice how much heavier I am than the women who surround me, or that my clothes aren’t as carefully pressed and attractive. I try to ignore how thrown together I look, despite the time I took fixing my hair and putting on makeup.

Trying to Fit in When It’s No Longer Necessary

As often as not, I’ll hide in the back, my face partially covered by someone’s head, my body https://www.flickr.com/photos/jeffsand/3871415191/in/photolist-pcGBET-kFToD-6qGVED-qNy62T-68V6FA-in6U7u-in73Zi-in67pq-2X39ED-in5RhJ-in62bm-6U71RM-qNCNQf-6VFXCi-p5tBS9-oZtmEp-7aBWmV-pmWp5N-in7Paa-qNys8v-in78S4-in6ZkK-in66L2-in5VK1-pcDpbn-qxEYaihidden so my natural unkemptness is less obvious. But I wonder, why don’t I take more care? Why don’t I pull out an iron or wear something more flattering? Sure, I’m dancing, and I sweat a lot. I tend to wear clothes that are lighter, cooler, and not always classy. I stopped wearing boots because they made my toes hurt, so my clunky dance sneakers at the end of long, slender legs look like Mickey Mouse feet. Is it any wonder I so often take myself out of the picture?

The pictures tell a different story than the hard fought confidence I try to exude. They deny the progress I’ve made, though the mere fact I’m in some of them is a giant stride. The 20 or so pounds I’ve managed to keep off aren’t obvious from the photographs, but when I stop being critical, I know.

What also doesn’t show is that when I’m missing these days, I’m also missed. That’s something I didn’t have until maybe the last couple of years. Until then, I’d have to be gone for weeks before my absence would be noticed, if it was noticed at all. Now, it’s often a matter of minutes, even while I’m telling myself I’ve managed to slip away without making a ripple.

Why Do We Try to Blend In?

I may still have some of the barriers up; excess weight, untidy appearance; but I’ve lowered others, allowing people to get closer and see the real me. When I’m missing from the picture or the gathering, people not only notice, but let me know I was missed. It’s crazy how good that feels to a woman who spent a large portion of her life trying to be wallpaper.

Which begs the question, why would anyone want to blend in with the walls and go unnoticed. To answer that, I’d have to go back to my childhood when I didn’t know how to embrace and love my differences. Back then, my mother nagged at me about my weight and my acne-ridden skin. The neighborhood kids found ammunition in my glasses and zits, and eventually, the steel bands forcing my teeth into a more aesthetically pleasing symmetry. Nothing was out-of-bounds for kids who were, in retrospect, trying to draw attention away from their own flaws.

Embrace Your Unique, Quirky Self

I grew up believing I needed to fit in, yet having no idea how to go about it. I didn’t know then my own personal style was all I needed, and that fitting in was, and still is highly overrated. Someone wiser than me said if we are simply ourselves, we’ll attract the people who accept and love us as we are.

But more teenage tears are shed from being excluded. More angst is formed from being marked as “different”. Many of us carry that into our adult lives where we continue trying to force ourselves into an uncomfortable, ill-fitting mold. We never quite manage to conform, but however much we do is itchy and uncomfortable, often leading to irritability and further self-abuse, because where are we going to direct that irritability but towards ourselves? We’re the ones failing to measure up, right?

Finding Myself When I Stopped Trying to Conform

In my 20’s and 30’s, I dressed the part, and tried my hardest to avoid conflict and https://www.flickr.com/photos/125303894@N06/14365669046/in/photolist-nTrNV5-2f5PCUZ-28knBCQ-bSRpwg-hSnPyx-otGuDp-azqvRQ-D2QXQh-YVh4U5-8ZJcE3-26bTzFo-eeaBEi-occovQ-9i7bQ5-23CJvTx-rhV1XQ-26LZPM6-nrsG7K-bmnvub-8rRn4C-MZDGbT-HuqYEh-27342hV-HrkwAE-ehfTPF-2734sEP-LgusiG-272GRGH-25DqddG-25Dqn1m-Y2VH7U-LXKfra-LguvaJ-25Dqnoq-25DJuL5-2f1ci9J-25DqbXL-28povan-Lm2wcx-HkMrNJ-2dYUsVs-oaeobo-ZR9qTn-rtFBMa-24ZPYXp-R78K1f-Dymseq-24W5BDs-23CJCE8-21DkYfLconfrontation, but all too often, it found me anyway. I’d come home from work,  immediately strip off the trappings of conformity, and sigh as I sank into the soft comfort of t-shirts, sweats and bare feet.

By my 50’s, I gave up trying to fit in and accept my isolation. I was still taking jobs which fit my skill set but not my mindset. It took a few more years for me to see I didn’t fit into Corporate America at all. Still, when I finally saw it, I threw away the baby with the bath water, so to speak, and lost my work ethic and ability to manage a schedule for awhile.

Now I’m slowly climbing back up; re-engaging old skills like setting deadlines and keeping commitments, not to anyone else, but to myself. I’ve never had a problem honoring those I make to others, so my clients haven’t suffered during this period of rebirth. Instead, I’ve had to learn I’m as important (if not more so) than my clients, and to treat myself accordingly. In other words, I am responsible for keeping myself in the picture.

Pouring from a Full Vessel

https://www.flickr.com/photos/blueyeda73/462237282/in/photolist-ERQi6-4QJhoE-dze2go-72vcw-Ewfmrv-z5pHh7-yNMLkm-z7eorD-5m8ZsL-eLzyW-4zDPn4-oaHUt5-sixfS-GR63j-BQbZtq-GmyPM-AUZ1vW-AUYQqq-dEZ72-wr2n7s-djYJn3It still surprises me to see how much my clients benefit when I’m taking care of myself first. Their work gets done more quickly and with even greater attention to detail. I see things I might have missed if I was still glossing over my own needs and requirements. It really is true you can’t pour from an empty vessel. If you don’t take care of yourself, everyone suffers, even if it’s not readily apparent.

Part of doing a better job for clients is improving and expanding my own skill set. As I commit to getting up earlier, I start my work day sooner, allowing for an hour or so of self-development before I start on tasks for clients (including myself). That may mean doing some reading to tap into areas of my expertise I’ve yet to mine, or working through a course which will help me hone in on who I really want to serve. Sometimes, it’s an hour with my coach, or following up on tasks I’ve been set.

Whatever I use that extra hour for, it benefits all my clients as well, both present and future. Keeping myself in the picture instead of sneaking away or hiding in the back means I’ll be ready when opportunities arise or the scenery changes. In the past, I would have tried harder to fit in. Now, I know I was meant to stand out.

Still Trying to Fit in? I Can Help!

Where are you fitting in when you should be standing out? What masks do you shed when you’re back in the safety of your home? If you’d like help breaking free of the masks and letting your real self shine, I invite you to join my Facebook group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward.

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? 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 space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

A Gratitude a Day…

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for reminders about how far I’ve come.
  2. I am grateful for friends who don’t allow me to go missing for long.
  3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, especially when it comes to honoring commitments to myself.
  4. I am grateful for leaps of faith when I may not have landed perfectly or unscathed, but I landed exactly where I was supposed to; where I stopped trying to fit a mold that wasn’t me.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, opportunities, manifestations, inspiration, joy, dancing, health, peace, harmony, happiness, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

Abut 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

We All Matter

You Always Matter

I see a lot of posts lately about how we all matter, but I think the real question is, why would we ever think we don’t?

Somehow, we’ve come to believe life has to be a power struggle where there are winners and losers, those who matter and those who don’t. Is there a lack of mattering? Not enough to go around? Or do we just believe it’s so because someone else told us?

Everything is Energy So Tap Into Yours

I recently read a post about money, and how you have to recognize it’s nothing more than Created with Canvaenergy. Once you realize that’s all it is, you’ll understand it’s limitless and there will always be enough to go around if we know where and how to look for it, or, to be more accurate, attract it.

The same is true of finding where and how we matter. In the first place, it’s not about matter to someone or because of some special characteristic we possess. We matter simply because we are. In short, we don’t need a reason to matter any more than we need a reason to exist. The very fact that we came into this human form at this particular time is reason enough.

Sure, you can say that each of us matters to someone. But the first person we matter to isn’t someone else. It’s us! We matter, first and foremost to ourselves. Yet so many people feel they need to find something outside themselves to validate them, and until they do, don’t believe they matter to anyone.

Look For Validation Within Yourself

How often do you see women who, until they’re part of a couple seem to be drifting along in a bubble of meaninglessness? Or who, until someone notices a particular quality, feel like they’re invisible. (If you ask me, there are times when being invisible is actually a good thing. As an introvert I strive for invisibility quite often with minimal success.) They’d be surprised to know people notice them all the time, and more often than not, in a positive way. But until someone comes out and says something to them, they feel invisible and worse, unimportant.

We can certainly go around telling everyone they matter and they’re important. But too many have spent a lifetime waiting to be noticed and believing until they are, they have no value. In the meantime, those whose notice they seek recognition are likely laboring under the same misconceptions!

Looking for Self-love in All the Wrong Places

Maybe that’s why people fight so hard over the little things, and are so easily drawn into https://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwipetty battles over things like race, religion, and politics. They join with others to fight for a cause they probably don’t even understand because it means they belong somewhere; but somewhere outside their perfectly wonderful selves.

Most are losing propositions meant to distract and divide so they’ll constantly be looking for another horse to jump on, another manufactured injustice to oppose. If you ask me, it’s a wonder we don’t see more people collapsing in the streets from exhaustion. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with all the rules and expectations required to continue belonging to something as structurally sound as a wind gust.

When we find our belonging within ourselves, we don’t have to worry about the ground being pulled from beneath us. We don’t need to keep up with the latest set of rules and expectations. The only thing we need to follow is our own heart and beliefs. Those will never change at someone else’s whim.

Why Fit In? We Were Born to Stand Out.

We learn from an early age we need to fit in. As children in school, we’re subjected to bullying and teasing if we are too different from the rest. As teenagers, we’re encouraged to do things even though we know they’re wrong to avoid being ostracized. Those who walk their own path are deemed “weird”, “oddballs”, or “outsiders”. Often, they’re mistreated quite cruelly for minding their own business and refusing to join the mainstream.

Sadly, most of us are guilty at one time or another of expecting others to be like us. Yet we resent being treated the same way, even if we’re too scared to admit it, much less, speak up. I’ve judged people unkindly and unfairly more often than I’d like, though in most cases I’ve come to regret it in some way. Once I remind myself they matter because they’re as unique and special as I am, I recognize I’m neither qualified nor justified in judging them in any way.

Withhold Judgement—Always

Each time we judge someone else and find fault, we’re reinforcing a false expectation which prevents them from feeling they matter. Some are able to rise above the opinions and expectations of others. Some of us learn to face our detractors and say: If you don’t like the way I look, don’t look!

But too many turn themselves inside out trying to get even a single positive word. I did it for too many years. Worse still, I watched my mother do it with her own family, never realizing the rules changed when she showed any possibility of getting close. She died believing she wasn’t good enough, and that’s a tragedy I don’t wish to see visited on a single other human being.

I Wish Everyone to Know They Matter

My wish is that every human being who walks this earth now or in the future knows their https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/4860839266/in/photolist-n8CFnR-o5uD96-22RQjNp-eCZ3Kq-WYUGZj-DLmHDZ-KKjkM7-8px5ayperfectly imperfect self is important and needs no improvements or changes. They don’t need to follow someone else’s rules or twist themselves into uncomfortable shapes in order to belong.

It starts with me though. I have to catch myself when I start judging or comparing. I have to recognize the wonderful qualities each person brings to the table. I need to look past qualities that don’t fit my own myopic vision and see the amazing and inspiring person waiting to be noticed and accepted as they are.

I can’t control what other people see or do. Those who still believe they need outside validation can learn by the example the rest of us set to accept and validate themselves as they are. They don’t need to be restructured or remodeled unless they want to make changes to suit themselves. In other words, there is nothing wrong with them, and everything about them is right. But if all they feel is judgement, they’ll continue to reach for the impossible. I believe we’re all better than that, and it’s time we treated ourselves and all humanity with more kindness, compassion, and unconditional acceptance.

Setting a Standard for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had which taught me to see I matter.
  2. I am grateful for reminders I need to treat others like they, too matter without conditions or expectations.
  3. I am grateful for friends I’ve attracted now that I accept myself as I am, making only the improvements I believe I need to make.
  4. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others learn they are important because they are unique.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, compassion, friendship, uniqueness, belonging, sharing, peace, health, 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

Obsessions Born in Childhood

Where Are Our Obsessions Born?

created with CanvaMany of us have something in our lives we can’t seem to get enough of, but did you ever stop to wonder why?

One of the things I find myself stockpiling is comforters. When I was young, my mom believed in bedspreads, but never comforters. I love snuggling into them on cold nights, or sleeping on top of their fluffy softness when it’s warmer. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I even had a bedspread on my bed! I seem to have passed this and a few other obsessions on to my daughter. Often, we’ll exchange comforters on Christmas (when she isn’t adding to my custom blanket collection!).

Years ago I had a friend who said his mother only let him own a couple of pairs of underwear and socks, while she spent thousands on beauty products for herself. As an adult, he had one of the largest underwear and sock collections I’ve ever seen in a man, and was always buying more.

Feelings of Deprivation

My mother also believed the only thing a girl needed was white bras. She herself might have created with Canvahad a couple in beige and black, but my sister and I only got white ones. Like my friend the underwear fanatic, I have a drawer full of bras in a rainbow of colors, but maybe one in white and another in beige for those rare times I buy a shirt that isn’t a bright color itself.

Whether or not my friend or I were actually deprived as kids, or just believed we were is immaterial. The fact that we believed we did without to the point of overcompensating as adults is what matters to us now. I may have slowed down acquisitions in recent years since you can only use so many comforters at once, or wear so many bras in a week. But it doesn’t mean I don’t browse the Kohl’s ads when those things go on sale.

Recognizing the Resentment Behind Our Obsessions

Underlying our obsessions is more than a fair amount of resentment towards, in both examples, our mothers. In my case, it was probably a large part of why I took so long to allow myself to grieve her death. As long as I held onto the resentment, I didn’t acknowledge or accept my need or even my right to grieve. The resentment justified my initial relief that she’d no longer be nagging or making me crazy with her suggestions to improve my life.

Those nagging, hurtful, helpful comments still give me pause. Looking at myself in the mirror at the gym the other day, I noticed my face was looking dull and mucky. It brought to mind a visit to mom’s house. She looked at me and said:

“Your skin looks muddy. Go in the bathroom and wash your face.”

Although I followed her instructions, I spent the rest of the visit like so many others; resenting her interference and her unkind observation. I know now she meant to be helpful, but she didn’t seem to know how to communicate kindness to me, nor did I know how to hear it from her.

Healing To Release Both Physical and Emotional Baggage

created with CanvaAs with everything else, letting go of old hurts is a process, especially when those hurts began before you were even old enough to remember. With each chink in my armor, each bit of mortar I remove from my walls, each brick I finally break loose, I find more pieces of resentment, hurt feelings, deep-seated emotional pain, and trauma. With each new discovery, I have to restart the process of accepting, acknowledging, releasing, and forgiving which I’ve learned is  the only way to truly expunge the old baggage holding us back from achieving the dreams we imagine.

Those resentments and hurts are like sandbags on a hot air balloon. In order to lift from the ground, you either need more hot air or less sandbags. Sometimes it’s a toss-up as to which is easier to accomplish. Some of those sandbags have been part of our lives for so long, they’ve practically fossilized. In some cases, we even mistakenly believe we have to remove them intact.

Gently or Roughly; Only We Know How to Make Changes to Ourselves

Breaking our fossilized baggage into more manageable chunks is often the more practical solution. But emotions and feelings are rarely something we approach with practicality as the motivator or key guideline.

In some cases, we want to rip off the bandage or cut off the offending part as quickly as possible with no concern for the pain and upheaval removal by force will cause. In others, we prefer to remove past events with surgical precision, making sure we keep the damaged piece intact as if we plan on displaying it in our personal museum.

Neither method is right or wrong. You won’t make peace with yourself more quickly with one than the other. Most of all, it isn’t for anyone else to tell you how to get the job done, or even when it’s time to release another piece.

Learning to Look Without Reacting

https://www.flickr.com/photos/dainec/3687658810/in/photolist-bEPm7E-934mpF-6fYkU-e4uZVD-e4AAXW-e4AAV3-6BSduj-3gGWHE-qeDbXE-qeGvKg-Embmi-pXhj22-4azrtU-pwagx-7HXhbQ-z5BPMY-z5BJvW-s12vnBIt’s kind of like looking at the Kohl’s ad, then looking at the pile of comforters in my closet, reminding myself I no longer need to add to the collection. Or opening my overflowing drawer of rainbow-hued bras and realizing I don’t even wear the ones I have often enough to wear them out since I spend my working hours 10 steps from where I sleep, making them superfluous unless I’m going out.

It’s looking at a drawer full of matched and mis-matched socks, knowing it’s time to weed out some of the accumulation and make room for better things I’ll actually use, or at least allow me to see what I have that’s still useful. Sorting through our old baggage is much the same. One day, we look at the closet and realize there’s clutter. We’re finding it difficult to find what we’re looking for because we have to dig through a lot of stuff we haven’t used in ages, and no longer need.

Clear the Physical Along With the Emotional

At that point, we begin cleaning out our emotional cupboard, sorting through things which Created with Canvahave outlived their usefulness and are holding us back from the greatness we deserve. We decide which ones we’ll rip out like a loose tooth, and which we’ll untangle carefully, making sure we don’t damage any of the pieces as we work out the knots.

Sometimes, we need to clear emotions which have become entangled in those knots or woven into the fabric of our life as we go. Those are the ones which require delicacy because they’ve wrapped tendrils around things we want to keep; feelings which make us smile or feel all warm inside.

Asking for Help

Our main concern is knowing when it’s time to let things go, and doing whatever we need to. It may be talking to a friend or a coach. It might be giving yourself a retreat of some kind where you spend time alone in self-reflection. For some, it’s physical activity like hiking, dancing, cycling, or lifting weights. For others, a quiet stroll through the forest or burrowing into a pile of blankets with a good book and their pets.

Wherever you find yourself on this continuum, please, let yourself release some of the crap you’re carrying. Allow time to dig in and see what you’ve finished with and need to let go. Reach out for help if you need it, and even if you think you don’t. You don’t realize sometimes how much you’re holding yourself back until you take an honest look at why you’re standing still.

Above All, Know You Are Worth the Effort

I, myself battle with huge insecurities regarding my writing. I admitted to my coach I’ve probably written over a million words in the last 9 or 10 years, but still struggle with believing in myself as a writer. From where she sits, it’s hard to believe, but here, behind all my own demons, both exorcised and not, a few remain who don’t have to work too hard to convince me I’m unworthy. At least I’ve reached the point where I know they have to go, and can start taking the necessary steps to identify and eradicate those who are still getting in the way of me and my dreams.

How can I help you start identifying and releasing your own demons? I’ve learned a few things in the years I’ve been working on mine, and would be happy to share some of the things that worked—and a few that didn’t. Don’t hide. Leave me a comment and start getting out of your own way.

Gratitude: The Strongest Tool in Our Arsenal

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I discovered I could combine my love of writing with the road to achieving my dreams.
  2. I’m grateful for friends who’ve opened their hearts, shared their experiences, and helped me heal.
  3. I’m grateful for my coach, my daughter, and numerous friends who are continually making me see I am worthy, I am talented, and I do have expertise in an area or two.
  4. I’m grateful for the inspiration which keeps me writing 3 posts a week for myself, and helping others express their true, vulnerable, beautiful selves as well. This truly is living my dream.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, love, friendship, dancing, community, demanding furballs, persistence, 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

Comfort Found in Daily Routines

Daily Routines Keep Us Grounded Amidst the Chaos

2018 has taken some uncomfortable, and even downright painful turns in the last couple of months of the year. Although we managed to have a wonderful after-Thanksgiving feast in November, and some love-filled dance nights in December, I’ve joined the many who are going to be happy to say good-bye to 2018. Too much was lost, some temporarily, and some devastatingly permanent.

Through it all, I’ve taken comfort in daily routines which, no matter what else is happening, are a manageable and controllable part of my days. Like everything else in life, we can do no more than take it one step, one minute at a time. Falling back on the familiar helps me get through some of the minutes which are harder than others.

Morning Pages: Routine for a Lifetime

My now 2+ year practice of writing morning pages has become more than just a routine. It is a lifeline inScrappy Doo a life which has, more often than not in recent days, been chaotic and outside any control I might want or need to exercise. Whether I rise with the alarm at 8 or let myself sleep in until 9 or 10, my first stop every morning is my desk where I pick up pen and paper and write for about 30 minutes.

Part of the routine is Dylan sitting beside me purring or flicking his tail across the page to let me know he needs attention. Sometimes Scrappy joins me, especially if I put a Ricola in my mouth; he seems to find menthol as addicting as catnip. The challenge is to write with a cat rubbing himself against my face in inebriated bliss. Regardless of the disruptions and interruptions, I finish those three pages daily (with the rare miss) without fail.

Doing What I Must So I Can Do As I Please

The rest of the non-negotiable morning duties include making the bed, feeding the cats, and putting in my contacts. After that, the day is mine to do with as scheduled, or occasionally, as I please.

The “as I please” part has been my practice for the last couple of weeks, leaving many of the scheduled tasks on my Trello boards undone. In years past, I’d be beating myself up over what I’ve left undone, fretting over making deadlines and meeting goals. But these days, I know my time is more flexible, and my ability to put in a few long days to make up for days I devoted to self-care has always been there when I needed to tap into the energy and focus.

Even when I worked for others, no matter what they threw at me, I met or beat my deadlines. For a long time, I failed to meet deadlines which only affected myself and my business. One day I realized I’m my most important client and, as such deserve to have my deadlines met or beaten as well.

Allowing for Flexibility

That isn’t to say life’s challenges don’t cause slippages, but as my mentor, Linda Clay tells me repeatedly, I can re-set the deadlines and forge ahead. Spending time beating myself up over those missed or extended deadlines serves no one, and keeps me from making and executing new plans.

Nearly a year ago, I planned to finish and publish “Life Torn Asunder”. Today, I’m looking at about 15 more chapters to re-write, and know it won’t be my final re-write. I also need to work on a synopsis and the rest of the information I need to pitch it to a publisher or agent. I know they won’t happen until they become a card on my Trello board.

For years, I had a written or Excel-based To-Do list. I’ve found it worked great for things like gym visits I was trying to establish as routines, but not so great for long-term projects like book re-writes and regular blog postings. I also learned having an event pop up on my phone reminding me to check the Trello boards daily helped keep me focused on the tasks I’ve committed to.

One thing I’ve learned about routines, be they daily, weekly, or monthly, is you need to allow for some flexibility. Like friendship, routines fall into three categories; a season, a reason, or a lifetime. There are only a few which fall into my “lifetime” category these days, though many only started within the last five years, and some just this year.

Routines for a Lifetime, a Reason, or a Season

Those include daily writing, making my bed, going to the gym three times a week, and writing regular blog posts. Even the last one keeps evolving. First it was once a week, then twice, now thrice. My goal is to add a similar routine for at least five clients a month so they can put their effort into building their business instead of creating content to attract clients for them to talk to. Again, this is where Linda comes in. We have weekly calls where she helps me find focus, kicks my butt, or helps me add items to my To-Do list. I also get to do some writing for her, and she’s someone I greatly admire both personally and professionally. Writing for her is the cherry on my hot fudge sundae.

My “reason” category includes things like the components for my book pitch, a long-delayed will, preparations for our after-Thanksgiving feast—the list goes on, and changes as my life expands.

“Season” is a little tougher as I enter tasks I expect to be ongoing, or perhaps, short-term, and their nature changes. Yet this is where a lot of my lessons are learned and experience gained. It might be a one-off client who needs documentation for a divorce, or someone who responded to one of my specials, and didn’t ask for anything beyond the initial tasks. Or maybe they did and became a long-term client. Either way, I’ve learned I don’t usually know whether a season task will become more, or will die on the vine until the task is completed. Sometimes they disappear for months, only to reappear when I least expect it.

Sowing Seeds to Grow New Routines

Through it all, I, like everyone else, sow seeds. Some I’ll nurture and help them grow into something to feed my soul, and hopefully a few others. Some will thrive in spite of any attention or neglect I pay them. Others will surprise me either with the fruit they bear, their tenacity, or their ability to entwine themselves into my life, creating new and exciting challenges and routines. A few will either die out or fail to sprout at all.

All of the scenarios are perfect in my mind. Not all the seeds we plant are meant to feed or inspire us. Some will even lie dormant for a long time, leading us to believe they’ve died out when in truth, they were simply waiting for their time in the sun. Those seeds are smarter than we are in that they know when it’s their time, and when it’s not.

I’m guilty of shiny object syndrome a great deal of the time (if you haven’t already figured that out while reading a post that meanders from topic to topic with no recognizable point) so I’m prone to tossing a lot of seeds into the ground just to see what they’ll do. For many, I’m less concerned about the outcome and more about the experiment I’m running. I’ll sit and watch people for the same reason. There’s a lot to be gained by watching and waiting, so long as you don’t spend your life solely in that mode.

Honoring Our Need for Times of Rest

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jfolsom/5931303869/in/photolist-a38tZP-dmn34H-a7FwQm-antZ2h-bwzwuR-5stPPH-6EsqoX-T4qUgL-4hmxbh-8MJPmb-fEFoSF-kCt71i-2ikr4t-8MF532-WNwMjy-8tMnKX-fEFoGg-fEXXd7-afuD1a-8MEuUF-95Mr5j-dySrRf-bfNhFR-9oSxoh-5WgF4Q-8MHZfC-7VroTL-9PiLGB-oaW3YQ-K4CQFx-8YSrLp-mSLwB-7VqeAh-5hfnTx-KfhXca-e3u44f-99b5UG-7BeZaD-8MHAVw-kAEoL3-6qZ9C6-5thpD3-ai9p7Z-9gCot5-o8bKtB-5W8sPu-85jA66-6PCR9M-bJ7tue-97oqD4Sue Monk Kidd wrote about the value of watching and waiting in her book “When the Heart Waits”. She compared herself to a caterpillar who has spun a cocoon. There’s no rushing the process of evolving from a caterpillar to a butterfly. Sometimes, we have to sit back and wait for things to line up properly, or rest after a long, concentrated push. Those waiting periods are as important, or more so than the periods of frenetic activity which often precedes them.

I realized this week I’d neglected my reading for quite some time. Not just books to expand my skills or knowledge, but those by writers whose story-telling skills I admire. After spending a day reading one of the Mercedes Lackey books I found at the $5 book store while seeking my daughter’s and son-in-law’s annual Christmas books, I realized I need to add reading time to my daily schedule. For me, reading for an hour is on the same level of importance as daily meditation. That too has fallen by the wayside a bit in recent weeks.

Routines Should Never Become Straight Jackets

I think the most important thing I’ve learned about regular routines we create and set is we must allow Created with Canvafor flexibility. We can’t beat ourselves up when our schedule goes sideways for a little while. Sometimes we have to step back and deal with what life is throwing at us, even if it means missing a few meditations, gym days, or even writing time. When we do, it gives us a chance to take a hard look at what we’ve deemed important to make sure it still is. It also gives us a chance to look at what we’ve forgotten about, and what needs to be added back into our life.

Most of all, it’s important to remember we are evolving beings. When we step back and look at our routines, we’ll find some are still valuable while others have outlived their usefulness. We’ve gained the lesson and need to let go to make space for something else. Those are the seeds which lay dormant for awhile until we were ready to let go of something, harvest the crop, and turn the soil again.

The short days and long nights of winter when the leaves have left the trees and the ground is resting is a good time to review our routines, turn our soil, and rest. It’s also a good time to go within and just listen without judgement, plan, or goal. You might be surprised by what comes up when you quiet your mind.

Gratitude: A Routine for a Lifetime

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the things I’m learning about myself from my friends.
  2. I am grateful for the time to quiet my mind, listen to my heart and gut, and find new directions.
  3. I am grateful for the variety in my days; some are quiet and introspective, some are productive, some, even chaotic. But overall, it’s balanced.
  4. I am grateful for balance, and the ability to recognize when I need more of one thing and less of another.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, connection, joy, vulnerability, authenticity, deep conversations, new connections, lessons, challenges, peace, harmony, health, 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

It Takes Strength to be Vulnerable. What???

Shifting the Paradigm for Vulnerable

For many years, no, decades, I thought of my mom as weak and pitiful because, sometimes despite her best efforts, she let her feelings show. She laughed (seldom), cried (often), raged (even more often), and allowed some of the pain she carried inside to show.

Dad on the other hand was my rock, though I’ve since realized my trust was misplaced. He laughed often, many times at my expense. I only remember him crying once in my life before mom’s death, and it scared the crap out of me. When he got angry, it was usually the quiet, simmering kind except for his increasingly frequent yelling matches with my mother. Most of the time, they were about money and mom’s propensity to spend when she was unhappy. After she died, we found clothes with the tags still on she’d never worn, and mountains of sundries like baby powder, toothpaste, mouth wash, and toilet paper.

Because of my misplaced affections, I learned to view vulnerability and emotions as weakness. My dad frowned upon such outward displays. I thought he did it from a place of strength. Therefore, whatever my mom did was weak, right?

The Many Faces of Alcohol Addiction

Both of my parents were very social and their frequent parties were well-attended. Of course, their circles of friends also required excessive amounts of alcohol before they’d let loose and act like fools. At the time I thought that was normal. I’ve since learned better. But it took an 11-year marriage to another alcoholic, and living the dysfunction of having to be the only responsible adult in the household for me to recognize how abnormal my home life was.

Sure, dad was a business owner from the time I was about 12. Mom dabbled in Real Estate, but I think her heart was in the charity work she did. In hindsight, she’d have done well working for a non-profit. In many ways, I suppose they were functioning alcoholics, as were many of their friends who were also business owners. All had achieved at least a reasonable amount of success; enough to move to the newly built suburban area west of the San Fernando Valley in what was, at the time an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County. But years of heavy drinking took its toll on most of them. For some it was health, others, their businesses, and for many, it was both.

Where Do We Draw the Line Between Weakness and Strength?

I’ve learned a lot from my experiences up to the time I moved out of my parents’ home for good. For a while, the lesson was primarily related to alcohol consumption. Never one to feel comfortable being drunk and out of control (though I’ve only recently figured out why), my ventures into that world were relatively mild and short-lived. One particularly nasty hangover in my early 30’s was enough to quench the desire to ever drink excessively again. It also put me off Mexican coffee forever! Essentially being more parent than wife to an alcoholic cured me of any lingering desire to drink to excess, even occasionally.

In a roundabout way, it all leads to the topic of this post. I could oversimplify and say the alcohol abuse was a sign of weakness in everyone concerned. But that would be naive and inaccurate. People drink for their own reasons. Certainly, weakness and inability to deal with their day-to-day problems is one of them, but if you ask me, it’s hardly the most common.

In fact, some of the strongest people I’ve ever known abused alcohol or drugs at some point in their lives, not to run away from their lives, but from something far more insidious; voices in their heads they didn’t realize weren’t their own, but belonged to the people around them.

Finding Our Strength By Being Vulnerable

Which brings me back to vulnerability. Admitting you’re hearing and feeling things that don’t feel like your own, or talking about the abundance of inexplicable feelings you’re experiencing aren’t exactly table talk. Many of us were taught to keep things to ourselves and basically deal with our own shit. It would never occur to us to share something we were struggling with, especially if it reeked of mental imbalance. Yet the strongest among us have figured out the flaw in this line of thinking. We are stronger together, and how better to move closer together than to admit we don’t have all the answers?

People who try to fix everything themselves are like a house that’s been wired for electricity, but doesn’t have any outlets to plug things in. Sure, internally everything needed is there, but there’s no way to access it. Sure, deep down inside ourselves, we have what we need to solve nearly anything that comes our way, but some of it is buried so deep in our memories and history, we couldn’t access it if we tried.

It might be something simple like fixing a toilet or installing a new breaker. We would eventually figure it out, but what would we destroy in the process, and how would our sanity fare? More importantly, what pressing tasks would go undone while we spun our wheels trying to figure it out? It could be a legal issue, or a problem with one of our kids. Why not admit we’re imperfect and open the door for someone with the necessary skills and experience to come in and help us do it right the first time? Or at least avoid some of the pitfalls we’d surely encounter without talking to someone who’d already had to go through them before finding the best answer.

Ask For Help, Be Part of a Community

In opening up and admitting we need help, we learn something from the person or people who come to our aid. We also learn opening ourselves up like that takes a lot more strength and courage than trying to tough it out alone. Needing other people is hard! Especially if you’ve been taken advantage of, or had your heart stomped into a bloody puddle of mush a few times, or worse, humiliated. Being willing to go there again despite what you’ve been through is tantamount to stepping barefoot into a scorpion’s nest. You know the likelihood of a painful outcome will always be there, so you want to at least put on a heavy boot to protect your delicate skin.

If you’ve already done some reaching out and created a community, you no longer expose your imperfectness unprotected. My mom knew that and had friends who saw her at her most exposed. Dad on the other hand didn’t. After mom died, he lived alone with his cat, letting his girlfriend stay on certain nights, but spending the nights alone others; including the night before he took his life. He shared his health issues with a select few. His daughters weren’t among them. Even so, I doubt he shared the severity with anyone. He wasn’t one to handle pity or even concern well. He gathered around him men who supported him by drinking with him; each doing his best to mask his own pain.

And he went out alone. Unwilling, right up to the end to reach out and ask for help navigating the latest in a long series of perils and pitfalls.

Learning to Ask for Help Can Be a Rewarding Experience

I may not have the concept of reaching out for help down yet. I’m definitely in the fledgling stage. But I have come to understand and appreciate the advantages even if I’m reluctant at times to take advantage of them. Perhaps I still spend more time alone than others might deem healthy.

Each of us must find our own balance between going our own way and traveling in company. One of the groups I follow on Facebook has been using the mantra “test, adjust, test. repeat.” I think we can apply this to life in general, though the group refers to business-related activities. It starts when we’re infants, learning to roll over, then crawl, and ultimately walk.

Sometimes, part of the test is tuning into our internal monitor and adjusting our tolerance to things outside our comfort zone. The adjustments push us out of our self-imposed nest and, for some of us, further into a community where we learn there truly can be safety in numbers.

Being Grateful for Everything, Both Large and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friends who’ve been patient with me as I learn to walk as part of a community instead of as a solo act.
  2. I am grateful for the teachers who have been appearing in my life as the student becomes ready.
  3. I am grateful for some of the less-than-gentle drop kicks I’ve received to leave my nest behind and test my perfectly formed wings out in the real world.
  4. I am grateful for my writing which has played a huge part in changing my hermit-y ways, and for all the people who read and comment. Their inspiration and insight are invaluable to my personal growth.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, connections, community, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, earlier mornings, dreams, answers, questions, peace, health, 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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