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

Archive for the ‘baby steps’ Category

Those Baby Steps Again!

Overcoming Adversity a Pound at a Time

In mid-2015 I started experiencing a lot of pain in my left shoulder. By early 2016 it had gotten so bad, my arm was continually numb and even a bra strap on my shoulder was more pressure than even my extraordinarily high pain tolerance could handle. After x-rays revealed issues in my neck, I consulted with an orthopedist who found a herniated disk along with spinal stenosis.

When I began the prescribed physical therapy, I was barely able to lift 1-pound weights, which was a significant decrease from my previous ability to do chest presses and flys with 15-pound free weights. But between the physical therapy and changing my diet, I slowly regained enough strength to use 5- and eventually, 10-pound weights.

Creating Our Own Brand of Consistency

Over the last couple of years, I was intermittently continuing regular workouts and gaining strength in fits and starts. My progress was directly related to the consistency of my gym visits, or lack thereof. The baby steps were happening, but the irregularity of my commitment was easily apparent in the slow and sometimes nonexistent increase in strength I observed.

That all changed in the last few months. I finally realized the only way to honor my commitment to myself was to keep track of when I went to the gym, and to schedule regular days, not only for workouts, but for specific areas being worked as well. With consistency came greater progress, and I’m now doing flys and presses with 25-pound free weights, and bench pressing 55 pounds. It might not seem like much to those who have achieved consistency over the long term, but for me, it represents more than merely the most weight I’ve ever been able to manage, but the result of finding what worked for me.

I don’t push myself as hard as a lot of the people I see at the gym for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is lack of a spotter. But I’m also at an age where I have to be more careful of the exercises I do and the amount of weight I’m using. I may not look my age on the outside, but on the inside, things are not as flexible or resilient as they once were. I’d rather err on the side of caution and continue to retain my independence.

I have noticed that lifting the 5-gallon water bottles with one hand has become far simpler lately. And clothes I had to weigh less to wear are now fitting though I’m 5 or 6 pounds heavier.

Taking Smaller Steps to Larger Goals

What I’m really trying to demonstrate with my story is that baby steps will always get you where you want to go eventually. It’s not how big the steps you take might be, but the consistency of taking those steps. Face it, a thousand 2 foot steps will get you a whole lot farther than 10 20 foot steps. And in the process, those smaller steps will build up your strength, or teach you new skills, or even gain you some help on your journey. If you want to reach your goals more quickly, you’re often better off taking more small steps instead of a few bigger ones. Each of those small steps is a brick in the foundation you’re building to support the new and improved version of yourself.

When we take a lot of small steps, we’re spending time reinforcing the changes we’re making. We also leave more space to adjust our course if something is taking us away from what we want. Or, as more often happens, our goal changes because we learn new things which open up possibilities we could neither see nor consider when we began. It’s a lot easier to adjust course if we’ve gone a foot or two off track vs. several miles. If nothing else, less distance to backtrack means we start moving forward much sooner.

Lovin’ My Baby Steps

As you may have read in other posts, I’m a big fan of baby steps for a lot of reasons.

  • Less course correction, as previously mentioned
  • More time to learn skills you’ll need as you get closer to your goals
  • Opportunities for collaboration you might miss if you’re moving too fast
  • Creation of healthier habits from commitments you make to yourself
  • A stronger foundation because you’re taking the time and care to expand on what’s working and jettison what’s not

Needless to say, I’m more the tortoise than the hare, plodding along at what might sometimes seem a snail’s pace. But don’t be fooled by my lack of visible progress. I’m likely working on something that isn’t visible to the naked eye, but is critical to the integrity of the structure I’m creating. You don’t see the re-bar in the slab beneath your house or office building, but its presence means you’re standing on much firmer ground.

Finding Our Own Ways and Means

Some people learn life skills like fixing things around the house, balancing a check book, and creating a budget. They know how to read a contract and how to ask questions to be sure they’re getting exactly what they want and need. They’re also less likely to be taken in by a salesperson with questionable ethics (though not immune, to be sure!), and more likely to call someone on “facts” that don’t add up.

Others really struggle with what some of us consider elementary concepts. They’re easy targets for people who care only for the money they make from people whose welfare they believe is not their concern.

The same is true of the steps we take to reach our goals and the commitments we make to the steps required to achieve them. For some, the steps are obvious and the commitments necessary are easy. Others are faced with dilemmas with each new phase. Those dilemmas might be physical, mental, or emotional restrictions. They might also be purely moral.

Nobody Knows You Like You Do

Whatever drives you to choose one path or another is unique to you, and has very valid reasons for being necessary. It doesn’t matter if your choices make no sense to anyone else. For you, they represent steps you have to take to get to the next level. By the same token, steps someone else takes might seem obvious or elementary to you because you’re coming to the table with a different set of skills.

To move forward, it’s necessary to step outside our comfort zone, but how fast we take those steps is unique to us, and necessary. If we step too quickly for our own abilities and discomfort, we’re more likely to dive back into our shell of comfort and security than move forward. We all need to find our own “sweet spot” of discomfort where we can tolerate risk for the promise of a reward.

Several wise people have pointed out we are all at different stages in our life plan. You can’t measure yourself against someone else because you’ll be ahead of them in some areas, behind them in others, and on the same level in still others. What’s more important is to realize you are exactly where you are supposed to be right here and right now.

Grateful Every Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my increasing physical strength.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I’m learning which help me push further out of my comfort zone.
  3. I am grateful for slow, steady progress and the help I find along the way.
  4. I am grateful for momentum. The further I go, the more I achieve in less time.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; strength, health, flexibility, knowledge, help, connections, inspiration, motivation, detours, delays, aha moments, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

My Computer, My Mask

Breaking the Mask

https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsexagesima01/3612047773/in/photolist-6vbFXK-7mfHK5-82q4rd-7Ku82r-7xTufQ-7xTvNm-noV2nx-8v7yLg-7xTtxw-b5JoM-awiDbx-74ofjQ-4xTEyL-aFUvSc-2nJqV-pnUS3J-UZSY-KSCvY-q54hFw-74jkL8-57r2Za-rXWSV-RAqoKt-wCAn3-74jkCt-459Ltf-8VkKtr-jrTTpy-7Mx4vz-9gJ6Hm-q2BAZF-A1eTBs-4sLmnj-7hJteh-nDn5BQ-98W5r7-4oJBHP-FUYqD-66WsR1-aaLTe-9gF1wt-7AibaD-cof4ks-bKGrY-7pamwZ-9yY17Q-2QEkGc-qtnpn9-qUrb5H-5EB1gvI write a lot about authenticity. I even get up on Facebook Live and talk about it and myself quite openly. But after attending a conference where people got up in front of a live audience and talked about their lives and their struggles, I learned a really difficult lesson about authenticity and openness. Writing in a blog or even doing a live broadcast is just another kind of mask.

Even when I get responses from people, the dialogue is after the fact when I’m safely behind the wall. They can’t touch me or see me falter. They (or perhaps I should say you) don’t see my insecurities and vulnerabilities laid out on the table. Any tears I shed or frustrations I express are hidden from your eyes. In other words, I’m still safe.

A Prison of My Own Making

In some ways, I still believe I need that protection, that safety net, the barrier between me and thou. But in others, it has become my prison, my place of disconnection, my lonely isolation. It is real, but only to a point. When I close my door behind me, there’s no one to hold me when I hurt, celebrate with me when I triumph, or just sit quietly sharing the moment. I am, for all intents and purposes, alone.

Even in a crowd, my invisible barriers soar to the skies. with only a few do I show what’s behind the curtain.

When the Time Comes to Step Outside

Yet lately, it’s becoming harder and harder to keep that curtain in place, to hide the tears, the pain, the sorrow, and the fragility. My emotions are closer to the surface, reflected on my face, in my posture, and in the tears that spill despite my best efforts to contain them.

It seems I’m being kicked out from behind my walls, at least in certain cases and places. Yet I scamper back behind them to write stories like this one, or to talk to my own face while recording a video. The more I fight it, the harder it becomes to feel safe and protected. The more I try to stay behind my walls, the more uncomfortable I become. I’m feeling edgy and discontented. I want more, but it scares the shit out of me. I take baby steps outside which turn into giant steps whether I like it or not.

I’d say mysterious forces are at work to push me into another dimension of my life, but I know better. They’re the same forces which ended jobs, relationships, and other situations for me at just the right time. They are my own internal butt kickers who know when I’ve sat in one place for too long and need to move before I grow roots and try to stay where I no longer belong.

A Move is a Move, No Matter How Small

It isn’t necessarily about moving physically (I’ve lived in the same house for over 30 years). It’s about evolving, growing, expanding who I am into who I’m meant to be. Sometimes, the steps are small and manageable like the initial steps we take while learning to walk. Other times, like now, they’re huge, frightening, and meant to turn my safe, cozy world on its ear. Times like now when I’ve become blase about the little 2- and 3-point earthquakes that rattle my world and the Universe decides it’s time for an 8.7 bone rattler.

I don’t know what tomorrow is going to bring, and I’ll be honest with you. I’m terrified on several levels. But at the same time, I’m excited about what the latest upheaval will bring with it. I’ve lived through my share of them, and in all honesty, it always turns out better than I expected or imagined. This time will be no different, and will probably be even more amazing because my fear levels are off the Richter scale right now.

Easy Steps are Stepping Stones, Not a Place to Rest

I’ve discovered that opening up to people via Facebook Live is just a walk in the park for me. It was the natural progression from what my friend Lucia calls “raw Sheri” in my writing. I even broke down in front of a stranger yesterday and don’t feel completely humiliated and ashamed today. Granted, I declined when she asked if she could hug me. I wasn’t ready to go into full melt-down in front of her and a room full of strangers. But perhaps that time will come.

In the movie, The Grinch, there’s a scene where tears are falling and he says “I’m leaking.” I feel like I’m leaking too, but the salty tears are the outward manifestation of the leak, not the leak itself. I’m leaking humanity; something I’ve kept bottled up most of my life. Sure, I’ve been letting it out a little at a time for the last couple of decades, but my cracks are widening and I can no longer seal them back up as I used to. I no longer want to be on the outside looking in.

Am I ready to come out from behind the last of my walls, take off the last of my masks? Changing the name of this blog is probably my answer. I changed the name because it felt right. But I think it was that inner voice telling me it’s time to walk the talk instead of just paying it lip service.

Embracing What’s Uncomfortable

I sit here now, typing these words, feeling anxious, afraid, and close to tears (which seems to be my natural state of late). Dylan seems to sense it as he rarely leaves my side when I’m home lately. His comforting presence slows my rapidly beating heart and gives me a place to go when the fear overwhelms.

Still, I look forward to long talks and sharing my red Adirondack chairs. This is not a time for isolation. My new word is “community”. My goal is to recognize the one I already have and to build and expand on it. I’m ready to open myself up to new experiences and people, and new ways to strengthen my wilting finances. My new motto (or one of them) is “Why think outside the box? There is no box!”

“Don’t Just Do Something. Sit There.”

I heard something from one of the speakers yesterday which made me stop and think. He said “Don’t just do something. Sit there.” How often have we been told the opposite? Sometimes we really need to get off the hamster wheel and spend time simply being. We need to take time to pause and reflect; to allow all of the experiences and thoughts we’ve been having to swirl around and put themselves together in ways they won’t find if we’re busy pushing the pieces around.

What I’ve been doing lately isn’t working, or at least it isn’t working well. I’ve been pushing the pieces around, but the resulting patterns are simply variations on what I’ve always known. It’s time for me to allow new patterns to emerge, and to not toss them away simply because they’re unfamiliar.

I’m taking time this weekend to simply sit there and allow the ideas to form without my interference. Who knows where I’ll be next week, but life is an adventure, if we’re willing to accept the challenge.

Sitting Quietly in Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for discomfort.
  2. I am grateful for fear.
  3. I am grateful for the bloodletting that comes with lowering walls and removing masks.
  4. I am grateful for the community I’ve failed, to this point to recognize and appreciate.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; challenges, lessons, friendships, dreams, goals, spirit, love, tears, honest emotions, peace, health, harmony, prosperity, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

Achieving Our Dreams With Baby Steps

Everyone Has Dreams and Goals

Many of us have lofty goals and aspirations, but how we believe we’ll reach them can take many forms.

For some, it’s kind of an all-or-nothing deal. They expect to jump in with both feet and instantly achieve their dreams. They might believe it will be a result of putting in a superhuman amount of effort, or they might be one of those Laws of Attraction nay-sayers who expect to imagine their dream in full detail and have it drop into their lap. Either way, they’re more than likely to be disappointed.

I tend to take a more expansive and dynamic view of the process. Envisioning your dream is an important, nay, essential part of the process. If you can’t picture where you want to be in technicolor detail right down to the smell of your morning coffee, manifesting will be a tougher, though not impossible road. All is not lost, though. As the saying goes, there’s an app for that.

Tools We Use in our Manifesting Journey

Lots of people are using vision boards to help manifest their dream. In fact, you can even find virtual ones nowadays, saving you the effort of finding pictures that resemble your visions. Here’s a reviewed list of 7 vision board apps by MakeAVisionBoard.com. If you’d rather create your vision board with a PC, Mac,  or notebook, The Law of Attraction Library has reviewed 5 options for you. There are even paid versions of vision board software, presumably for those who want everything to be just perfect and require the functionality to make it so. If you ask me, any of the free versions will get you pointed in the right direction.

While vision boards are a good place to start, especially if you’re new to the concept of envisioning your dreams, there are other approaches, depending on your special talents and of course, your imagination. Some of us craft our vision with words. In other words, we tell our story as we’d like it to be. Others draw or paint their story.

Achieving Our Dreams are the Pots of Gold, the Pirate’s Booty

One that’s especially intriguing to me was presented by one of my favorite mentors, Linda Clay. She suggests creating a treasure map. The map will contain a starting point and an “X marks the spot” area where your pot of gold will be found.  A lot of the space in between will be left open because you have no way of knowing how you’re going to get from here to there at the beginning of your journey. I think I’d put in a couple of rivers and a mountain range or two simply because no journey worth traveling is flat and boring. There will be some challenges just as there will be times when the road is smooth and easy. Some of our roads will be filled with switchbacks while others will be as straight as the infamously boring Interstate 5.

The beauty of a treasure map is in it’s capacity to allow us to fill steps in as they appear. Each opportunity we acknowledge and act upon will lead us to another. Even the missed opportunities have their purpose. Sometimes, part of reaching our goal lies in choosing our opportunities wisely. Some may lead us on a detour which takes us miles out of our way causing us to stop, regroup, and possibly backtrack. Some are that anti-change device in our brain trying to take us back to where it feels safe. While I’ve often said it’s important to jump on opportunities that arise, note I’ve also urged you to look closely at those opportunities before leaping. Some are gifts you’re better off declining as close inspection will reveal they’re designed to thwart rather than advance your cause. Even so, opportunities which hinder our progress will always teach us something valuable we’ll need later in our journey. There truly are no wrong choices.

Picking the Tool That’s Right for You

Whether you choose a vision board, a story board, a drawing, or a treasure map, they all share a common requirement. Set the dream or goal and let go so steps and opportunities you’re not aware of can show up for you. Holding rigid expectations of the steps required to reach your goal will prevent it from manifesting as it’s supposed to, rather than inside your limited vision. Embrace the unexpected as it can bring us closer to an even better version of our dreams without the effort we believed it would take to get there.

Opportunities, too come in many forms. It might be an object, a job offer, a chance to visit a place, or it might be a person. Pay special attention to chance meetings, immediate connections, and people who appear in response to a thought. People come into our lives for a reason. Often they’re there to  teach us something we need to know to achieve our dreams. The reason for a particular person’s presence may not be apparent right away but if your intuition says to nurture the relationship, you can be certain it’s part of your journey.

People Are the Best Part of Our Journey

Some people teach us by their example. My friend Kari has helped me step out of my comfort zone in at least a dozen ways in the short time we’ve known each other. It’s nothing she says, and everything she does. She is positively fearless about going into new situations, whether it’s a trailer in the middle of North Dakota or simply meeting new people. She takes it all in stride. She is strong, independent, and resourceful, while also being one of the most giving, nurturing individuals I’ve ever met.

What Happens by Chance Might Really Be Design

One of the best lessons I’ve learned lately is to get out of my own way. All too often, we feel we need to call the shots and direct our own progress. All too often, it’s a curse rather than a blessing. Too much control makes us overlook things. When we see our direction through tunnel vision, we miss a lot of possibilities which could well be far more appealing. We lock in on the one true way and cheat ourselves out of others that will bring us far more than our puny imagination let us believe we deserve. Let yourself deserve everything you can imagine and more. Then allow things to unfold with the wonder of a child instead of the often irrational fears of an adult.

Be in the moment. The past is over, the future is yet to come. You can only be in and enjoy a single moment. Try not to control. Allow, observe.

I learned this lesson well when my daughter and I ended up on PCH after a series of wrong turns. Had I pulled up a map instead of relying on my memory, or been annoyed at the extra time it would take to get home, I’d have not only missed something stunningly beautiful, but something I couldn’t have gotten back; time in a place we both loved with my daughter. The color of the water,  the rhythm of the waves, and the potential to see whales, dolphins, and seals were just the break we both needed from lives filled with activity, anxiety, and stress. That detour also led to her spending a few more days with me turning my living room into a relaxing sanctuary, and my front porch into a place to welcome friends.

Keep Your Eyes Open for the Baby Steps.

Part of the joy of reaching our goals; achieving our dreams isn’t manifesting the dream at all, but the journey. That journey is made of thousands of steps. The smallest of them can be the most impactful. Sometimes slow is better because it allows us to savor that journey and enjoy the sights along the way. In the meantime, we can take time to build a solid foundation which will support not only the dreams we already have, but those yet to be dreamed. Building that foundation can’t be rushed if it is to sustain what you achieve. In other words, savor those baby steps!

Shout Your Gratitude to the Mountain Tops

As with every other manifestation, we attract more when we appreciate what we already have. So don’t be shy about expressing your gratitude.

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who continue to come into and influence my life.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to take a less traveled path.
  3. I am grateful for my sea green walls and my red Adirondack chairs.
  4. I am grateful for Toby’s continuing improvement.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, opportunities, epiphanies, inspiration, time to just be, motivation, exercise, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

The associated Facebook Live can be found here.

 

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

Rainy Day Thoughts

Looking out my window at the rain-drenched street, the late-afternoon sun casts a glow making the neighborhood appear almost magical. Though the drenching we’ve received in the last two days will make but a small dent in our drought-ravaged state, the parched earth, nonetheless, offers it’s own words of gratitude to the dark, looming clouds.

It was easy today to read or study or meditate; a cat or two always nearby. The rain beat a staccato rhythm on my roof, punctuated periodically by thunderclaps, resounding like tympani, emphasizing the downbeat. Yet the almost non-stop downpour elevates my mood. Not because we so desperately need it but because I’ve always found the sound of rain soothing. It’s a sound we humans cannot duplicate via faucet or fountain; its arrhythmic rhythm following its own beat; playing its surreal tune.

Can you hear the music in the raindrops? Can you feel the beat as they bounce off the sidewalk or tap on your window? Do you heed their call when they tap out “Come out and play!”? Or are you more focused on getting the kids to school relatively dry or making what you know will be a challenging commute? Are you too busy, too stressed to stop and just listen to the rhythm of the rain?

One of the many things I gained when I slowed my life down was the luxury of listening to the rain and even heeding its call. Even a downpour while I’m loading groceries into my car just makes me laugh. I turn my face upwards, lapping up a drop or two, then stomp purposefully in the puddles just because I can.

I believe growing old, at least mentally, is a choice. It happens when we choose to let go of our childlike enjoyment of the little things because we feel the need to be responsible. Yet in reality, we can be selectively responsible and still retain that childlike enjoyment.

Maybe that’s why cat and dog videos are so popular these days. You can, for the few moments the video plays, revel in that devil-may-care attitude. But why not take it a step further? Embrace it. Be it. Dance in the rain or sing a happy song. Cut loose and realize what others might think of your behavior is really not your concern. They’re going to react as they do regardless of your behavior. So you might as well make yourself happy, right?

Back when I did have to commute, I taught myself to embrace the delays. They gave me a few more minutes of alone time when I could sip my coffee and smile at my fellow commuters. For those few extra minutes, I was disconnected from phones and computers and people who needed something from me. Those were moments of pure bliss. But those were also days when I worked in a job that was sucking my soul so periods of disconnectedness were golden.

Though I’m rarely stuck in traffic these days, on the rare occasions when I do find myself crawling along the Southern California freeways, I use the time to imagine or create or just sing along with the radio or CD. I’m still learning to release the things I can’t control, but for the most part, traffic jams are no longer a cause for stress. But then again, I can choose to stay home when the roads are a mess.

Someone asked me recently if I could continue to survive financially if it took me a little longer to get a few writing or VA gigs. I was pleasantly surprised to admit that the simplifications I’ve made in my life in the last couple of years along with some fortuitous reductions in outflow mean I’d actually be OK for quite some time.

As I felt some of the pressure flow out of my system, I felt confidence flow in. Thanks to an ever-increasing network of positive, supportive people, I’m gaining much-needed skills for promoting not only the work I’m doing now, but the books I will be publishing over the next couple of years. These things took time to build. Relationships have been a process. This isn’t something I could have accomplished in less time than it’s taken. There’s a lot to be said for being a work in progress.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people I’ve met, the challenges I’ve taken, and the growth I’ve enjoyed.
2. I am grateful that I’ve simplified and downsized my life. It’s a much better fit now; like a comfy pair of well-washed jeans or loose-fitting sweats.
3. I am grateful for each and every opportunity I’m being given to learn, grow and give back.
4. I am grateful for my own personal forums on which to share my thoughts, lessons and ideas, and for the people who read them and offer feedback.
5. I am grateful for abundance; friends, fellow travelers, lessons, challenges, successes and failures, laughter and tears, dancing, love, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity (and that piece of property overlooking the beach where I’ll live, love, thrive and offer other artists a place to retreat and follow their own passion.)

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

October 18, 2014 What a difference the music makes! #shericonaway #blogboost

Dance like nobody’s watching, sing like you don’t need the money.

Words to live by, although, in my case, it might be amended to “sing like nobody’s listening”. My poor cats have been subjected to my off-key but exuberant renditions of my favorite songs as they poured forth from my computer speakers the last couple of days. And yet, when I start to sing, instead of heading for cover, they all come into the room to join me. I guess Joy is attractive, no matter how pitchy it sounds!

Bringing back the music has brought on an incredibly productive period. Laundry is done, cat boxes cleaned, floors vacuumed and scrubbed (and re-swept since certain felines are incapable of using the sandbox without throwing the sand all over the bathroom), client work completed for one client. I even had time to change my dancing look tonight, which received very positive responses from my friends. It’s amazing that two days ago, I went dancing in what I’d worn all day, not really caring what I looked like. Today, it was a 180 degree turn. My hair was braided (which I never do unless Heather is here to do it for me), I wore a skirt instead of shorts, and a sparkly shirt. I forgot how much fun it is to line dance in a skirt! It spins and twirls and you can play with it, flicking it around…ok, so I’m like a kid with a new toy, even if it was a very old skirt!

Even more disturbing, is that I’m excited about going to the gym tomorrow! If a little bit of music can induce such dramatic changes in only a couple of days, what might we expect after a week???

The tiniest of changes can change your whole world

I’ve heard it said that a small change can have an enormous impact, but I’d never thought much of it…until now. Such a simple thing has changed my entire outlook. There is no limit to what a person can accomplish if they start by improving their outlook. Esther and Jerry Hicks talked about a continuum of emotions, with the deepest, darkest despair at the bottom, and complete and utter joy at the top. Each small step up or down that continuum has the power to impact our entire life. Though it is possible to stay at the very bottom indefinitely without concerted effort, it is difficult if not impossible to remain at the top 100% of the time. Life interferes and our joy slips. For each of us, it has to slip to a different point before we stop and say “Now wait a minute! What’s going on here? What did you do with my Joy?”

It’s at that point where we aren’t feeling as good as we’d like to that we start making those small changes which will put us back at the top of the continuum, one baby step at a time. I’m not at the peak of joyousness right now, but I’m several steps up from where I was two days ago. Isn’t that what’s called “progress”? I don’t know about you, but I’ll take that progress any day!

If my own baby steps weren’t enough, taking a little extra effort with my appearance drew so many compliments that I moved a couple more steps up the continuum with no additional effort on my part! How’s that for bonus points? I don’t think there’s a human alive who doesn’t respond to compliments. Yes, many of us do, or have at some point told ourselves that we didn’t deserve the compliments, but hopefully, by now, we’ve stopped trash talking ourselves enough to accept the compliments gracefully and enjoy the rush of positive energy, truly believing that we deserve it.

That really is the key to moving up that continuum. We have to begin by being kinder to ourselves, loving ourselves and seeing our own beauty. It doesn’t matter if we don’t meet society’s size standards, or if our features aren’t perfectly symmetrical. True beauty doesn’t lie in our outer packaging anyway. The most beautiful people I know are kind, caring individuals, both to others and to themselves.

As I sit here typing, thinking and reworking, the song “You’ve Got a Friend” is playing. “Ain’t it good to know that you’ve got a friend? When people can be so cold, they’ll hurt you and dessert you. They’ll take your soul if you let them, but don’t you let them.” I think that says it all. That is where our true beauty lies: in being a friend, to others, to ourselves, to our animals, and to our planet.

Stepping off the soap box now to give you tonight’s gratitudes:
1. I am grateful for my friends who can be counted on to lift my spirits, even when they’ve dropped lower than normal.
2. I am grateful for my cats who love me (and my less than perfect singing voice) no matter what, and show me in little ways every day.
3. I am grateful for the lessons I began learning more than 15 years ago which allow me to recognize negative thoughts and behavior and turn them around before they can damage my life, or let me slide into a depressive state.
4. I am grateful for examples which show me where I don’t want to go, even more than those which show me where I do want to go. They inspire me to move towards the shinier, happier places.
5. I am grateful for wonderful nights of dancing, chatting with friends, sharing stories and most of all, the joy of just moving our bodies to music we love.
6. I am grateful for abundance: love, joy, music, friendship, caring, kindness, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.

Namaste

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