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1,000 Blessings

My Readers Are My Biggest Blessings

In the years I’ve written this blog (and I’m closing in on 8, for those who are wondering), I’ve received my share of feedback, both positive and negative. Thankfully, the negative has been small. The positive, on the other hand has been beyond my wildest expectations and occurs in many forms.

While a few actually leave comments here (and thank you so much for doing so!), more often, I get comments and shares in my social media accounts. But the best of all is when someone walks up to me and says something like “I’ve been reading your blog and it really touched me.”

To understand why this kind of feedback means so much to me, I need to take you back a few years to a time when I had about 20,000 words of Forgotten Victims drafted and, in fact, when the working title was Life After Suicide: Healing and Forgiving.

Inspiration Comes in Many Forms

I’d reached a point where the words had stopped flowing and frustration had set in. I’d been writing regular posts in the Notes area of Facebook, but my propensity for long posts had me running out of room time and time again.

My daughter Heather (one of my two biggest champions, cheerleaders and butt kickers) suggested I start a blog, and, in fact, sat down with me at my computer and helped me set it up. After copying all of the Notes into a post, my journey began.

Now, nearly 8 years later, 3 blogging platforms, and well over 1,000 posts, I find encouragement and inspiration every day to keep writing what comes to mind from living my life with an open heart and a curious mind.

A Need for Purpose

The one thing I told myself back then was that if I touched a single life, gave one person a reason to think and to know they weren’t alone, I’d fulfilled my purpose which I did by baring my soul and sharing difficult experiences.

You, my readers, continue to ensure that I’ll keep writing, sharing, and baring with your constant reminders that I am, indeed bringing useful and needed information to you. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude for the gifts you’ve given me.

Some might call this a need for validation, but to be honest, without the feedback, I’d still find a reason to write. Your comments are to me, more of a confirmation of my purpose; a reminder that despite the side trips, the worries and concerns, the uncertainty about my destination, I am going in the right direction.

Taking that Leap of Faith

The road we travel through life is never a straight shot. There are always detours along the way. In some cases, it’s merely sight-seeing,  in others, a time for us to learn something which will be useful further down the road.

Too often, we’re afraid to follow the unbroken path because it isn’t a sure bet. There are no guarantees it will bring us happiness and prosperity. We’re afraid to deviate from the “shoulds”.

That was me for many years. I went from one dead-end job to another, learning new skills along the way and exposing myself to situations which, all too often, were painful or uncomfortable. Even so, they were necessary. If nothing else, I learned that following a path drenched in responsibility was all well and fine when I was raising my daughters, but continuing to follow it once they were grown was killing me slowly from the inside out.

I knew I was meant for more, but was afraid to take the leap until the ladies in my healing class made me think long and hard about what I really wanted to be doing.

Following the Twisty, Turny Path to Personal Fulfillment

In the three years since I left the rat race, have I achieved the level of success I’d hoped for? No. Can I honestly say I’ve completed anything towards that dream? Again, I have to answer no, though I have several works in progress. But am I happier for it? Have I found success in the lives I’m touching, the purpose I’m fulfilling and the lessons I’m learning? Absolutely.

These days, nearly every day is a lesson. I’m watching and listening more and talking less. I’m studying whatever interests me or is affecting my life so I can both make positive changes in my life and share what I learn. I’ve been part of a critique group with many amazing people and writers who have taught me so much about writing in general and mine in particular.

Heart Lessons 101

Best of all, I’ve learned to let down my hair, both literally and figuratively. I’ve accepted that some people will dislike me on sight for reasons known only to themselves. Or they may come to dislike me after a few interactions. But I no longer let it bother me because I’ve learned it isn’t about me at all.

I myself may feel put off by someone on sight, and more often than not, it has something to do with an experience from my past. I’m having to learn to look carefully at why I’m put off by someone to see whether it’s them or me or a very real red flag I need to heed.

Life isn’t a popularity contest. She with the most “likes” doesn’t necessarily win (though I’m told it does help when you’re trying to establish yourself as an author). I believe we all have the capacity to do something meaningful, and frankly, size does not matter. Whether what you bring to the world is large or small, the important thing is that you bring it.

Helping Each Other Fulfill Our True Purposes

You’ve shown me I’m bringing something meaningful to at least a few people. You can do the same. What are you passionate about? What makes your heart sing? How can you use that to make a difference somehow? It could be art, science, technology, or simple human kindness. They’re all important. They’ll all foster positive changes.

Let me help you find your purpose as you’ve helped me find mine.

Gratitude Smooths the Way

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my readers and those who’ve taken the time to let me know who they are.
  2. I am grateful for the leap of faith I took 3 years ago, even if the results are not yet what I’d hoped for.
  3. I am grateful for the people who have encouraged me along the way; some with kindness and others with a boot to my stubborn butt. Whatever works!
  4. I am grateful for cold, rainy days. They turn the grass green and make the air smell sweet.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; readers, inspiration, motivation, aggravation, cheerleaders, butt kickers, random thoughts which become blog posts, love, friendship, people who love me, people who hate me, people who are ambivalent, sharing, caring, compassion, kindness, examples set by others, dreams, hopes, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

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!

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Wallowing in a Pit of Despair? Try Gratitude.

Finding My Way Back Home

For the last 15 years or so, I have made immense progress in turning my life around. I am no longer the angry, defensive creature I had become through long years of tragedies, disappointments and, what I considered at the time to be poor life choices. I’ve learned that everything I’ve done and everywhere I’ve been had a purpose and came together in making me the person I am today.

But sometimes, pieces of my former self rise insidiously to the surface and if left unchecked, threaten to undo all of the work I’ve done. The trick is recognizing it before it sets me back years.

This morning when I woke with the prospect of cooking a huge pot of chili and spending the afternoon with anywhere from 50 to 100 people, the negative thoughts and the desire to crawl back into my hole and pull it in after me became almost overwhelming. Thankfully, years of training myself to do otherwise proved stronger, and I realized I had all the tools I needed to turn this around.

I looked back over the last couple of weeks and realized I’d become angry over stupid things, reactionary, and downright hateful. And truth to be told, I couldn’t dig a hole deep enough to escape the real problem anyway, so fixing it is a much wiser choice. It would also go a long way towards alleviating the constant, if relatively manageable pain I’ve been in since December, helping lower what has clearly become an upwardly spiraling stress level (thankfully, the every-other-day migraines have eased off!), and the resulting sleep deprivation.

Conquering the Demons Within

The answer to my problems, both real and imagined can be summed up in a single word. Gratitude. Sure, I’ve remembered to give thanks for all of the little synchronicities in my life, and, on what has become the rare occasion I actually sit and write a blog post, list a handful of gratitudes. But I’ve been missing the big picture. I’ve been allowing the “don’t haves” to smother the “haves”. No wonder I’m suffering the consequences. My face is meeting my palm rather violently at the moment.

Instead of rambling on about this or that, or detailing the things I won’t be doing from here on out, I’m dedicating the rest of this post to as many gratitudes as I can conjure, because, really, that’s why this blog has evolved; that’s why it is no longer “Surviving and Beyond”, but “Leaps of Faith”. For the last month or better, I’ve been giving it a great deal of lip service, but failing to follow through in my thoughts and deeds.

Reminding Myself of What the Universe Already Knows

Without further ado, here are some things for which I am grateful in this crazy, beautiful, sometimes insane life I’ve been given this time around:

  1. I am grateful for sunny days.
  2. I am grateful for rainy days.
  3. I am grateful for the fur babies I fall asleep with every night and wake to every morning.
  4. I am grateful that I have already lived nearly a year longer than my mother did.
  5. I am grateful for the people who pointed me towards the path of positivity and offer daily reminders.
  6. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the ones I am still mastering, and those which await me further down the road.
  7. I am grateful for the pains in my body which remind me that I’m being allowed to age and that I need to get up and move more, stretch more and love my body more.
  8. I am grateful that I’ve learned to recognize when I’m wandering away from my true path.
  9. I am grateful for the tools I’ve acquired which help me get back on track.
  10. I am grateful for signs and head slaps from the Universe which remind me to stay positive and hopeful, and get my attention when I start to forget.
  11. I am grateful for all of the wonderful examples I’ve been given: people who have conquered their own demons and retain the kindness and compassion I strive to achieve and embrace as part of my being.
  12. I am grateful for changing my career path to the one which fuels my soul.
  13. I am grateful for remaining positive despite setbacks and challenges which I know are intended to test my commitment.
  14. I am grateful for those setbacks which force me to seek alternatives and remind me that my path will never be straight and smooth. Easy paths don’t offer much in the way of inspiration for writing.
  15. I am grateful for successful completion of my three novels and Frederick the Gentlemouse and for the strength and tenacity to publish and market them.
  16. I am grateful for the stories inside me that are yet to be told.
  17. I am grateful for opportunities to mentor, coach or otherwise support other people.
  18. I am grateful that I’m learning to Stop, Look, and Listen more; not necessarily while crossing the road, but while interacting with other Divine Beings having a Human Experience.
  19. I am grateful to my daughter for encouraging me to start this blog when I got stuck in the middle of writing my first book about family suicide. Not only has writing about it eased my pain and brought more compassion into my life, it has connected me with others who have had similar experiences.
  20. I am grateful for the people who read my blog, my website and even my comments on Social Media. You touch my life and make it a better place. You’ll never know how much that means to me, nor how much it makes me strive to be a better person.

I could go on and on with this, but I’m already feeling better, just for sitting down and doing it. I’ll likely continue the list off-line. Listing my gratitudes has dragged me out of far deeper holes than the one in which I currently find myself. It is probably the single most powerful lesson I’ve learned in the last few years, and one I need to spend more time doing. Maybe that’s why the Universe sat back and watched me slide into a well of negativity for a little while. Like the stretching I now do every day to reduce the physical pain, the physical act of listing my gratitudes turns the inner pain around and shows me how much joy and beauty I have in my life.

Thank you for being a part of my process…my path.

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!

June 11, 2015 So Spectacular, I’m Speechless

I Don’t Even Know Where to Begin

We hermits are a unique breed. We disappear for long periods of time and often lose all concept of time and space while we’re in our self-imposed isolation. When we emerge it is akin to a bear emerging from his cave after a winter’s hibernation. The sun is too bright so he blinks rapidly, allowing his eyes to adjust. The melting snow and preponderance of dirt patches isn’t the landscape he remembers, pre-nap.

Walking into the club where I dance tonight, seeing how my daughter had transformed half of the place into an alter kakker’s paradise (that’s old fart for those unfamiliar with common Yiddish terms), hugging so many friends and well-wishers…even now, I’m overwhelmed. The love in that room tonight washed over me in gentle waves yet I was surprised at both their softness and how often they flowed. There may have been birthdays in my past which passed with nary a whimper, but in the last few years, they just keep getting better.

As I sit her typing with two of my boys snoring on my desk and a third vying for my attention, I feel love from so many directions, and I feel extremely blessed. Even if I return to my hermit-y ways tomorrow, there is no doubt in my mind that when I emerge, that warm feeling of belonging will still be there.

The Evening Was But Half of my Blessings Today

As if a lovely day with my kids and an overwhelming outpouring of love tonight wasn’t enough, my day was full of surprises. The bling provided by my daughter and friends was the icing on the beautiful cake that was my day. I also reconnected with another person from my distant past (would you believe, one of my dance friends is a mutual friend?) and I received positive feedback on both my blog and my Hire Me page from an unexpected direction. It just goes to show that we really need to scatter our birdseed. It will attract some very interesting and unusual species to our world. I’m learning that we don’t need a million people to visit our website. We just need the ones with whom we can create mutually beneficial relationships. We also never know when a relationship we formed some time in the past might open a door for another one.

We truly are all in this together, and we are connected in ways we cannot even imagine. I am further reminded to hold good thoughts for others, no matter what. That doesn’t mean I have to interact with them all or forget those who abuse my trust. It simply means that there’s a time to forgive the perceived hurt, remember when to watch my back and move into a place which is more conducive to my own growth and prosperity. At the same time, keep my thoughts positive and wish the person or people well in their own journey. It isn’t for me to understand why they do what they do. It is simply for me to accept that they have their own choices to make and paths to follow. If I allow someone else’s actions to alter my course, the only responsible party is me.

OK, I’m starting to sound preachy again, when I merely set out to share my joyful, blessed feelings. That means it’s time to share my gratitudes and close.
1. I am grateful for the blessings in my life: my friends, my family, shared values, joys and even the sorrows. Sharing the sorrows allows some to give compassion and others to receive it.
2. I am grateful for the best birthday ever.
3. I am grateful for a lovely night of dancing and time to talk to my friends too.
4. I am grateful that I can return to a quiet house with just my kitties for company (though they all had to investigate the bags I brought inside with me as their curiosity must be satisfied), just as I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my daughter and son-in-law.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, blessings, happiness, joy, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I hope you’ll take a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://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!

January 23, 2015 And the beat goes on

The last few days have brought a new dynamic, not only to my writing but to my life as well

As those who follow me regularly know, I officially became an Accelerated Copywriting dropout this month. I hoped it would shake things loose and it has, but not in quite the manner I’d expected. However, if I learned one thing from my A.R.T teacher, it was to set my intentions with broad strokes and allow the Universe to fill in the details

In the meantime, I got back to work on my second NaNoWriMo effort tentatively titled “A Dubious Gift”.   But this was only the beginning of how the Universe began to lead me, step by step, to start living like a Writer.

An opportunity to join a local critique group showed up on my list of Meetups, so of course, I joined.  I also ran across a Facebook group called Insecure Writers Support Group or IWSG for short.  I signed up for that too, little knowing that I would then be matched up with three other writers to help  each other reach that Writer’s Holy Grail, publication.  I was fortunate enough to be matched with three amazing ladies who all seem to be on the same page.  We created our own group and plan to do brainstorming and share both struggles and triumphs along the way.  But the best part is, I shook the mothballs off of my 2013 NaNoWriMo effort for their reading and critiquing enjoyment ( though I expect that my ‘child’ will be taken apart quite drastically before this is over.  But at least it will become more than a box of pages for Scrappy Doo to rest his scrawny self on when the hard, unforgiving wood of the shelf beneath my office window ceases to meet his exacting standards for feline comfort.

Meanwhile, in other news, my daughter who has been the driving force, not only behind the original inception of my blog but also my first NaNoWriMo has finally agreed to start her own blog which we’ve agreed to associate with this one.  So stay tuned to this location for the launch of Heather’s Culinary Adventure, a blog filled with recipes and lessons learned as she travels the road to a degree in Culinary Arts.

All in all, through communications glitches (I lost about 75% of this post and had to start over), travel, business requirements and just the day to day stuff we all have to do as part of being human adults, the process of reinventing myself from that initial leap of faith continues.  In fact, that one significant step has led to more steps outside of that once familiar place called my comfort zone until, lo and behold, that place has expanded beyond anything I could have imagined, much less recognized a year or so ago.  I would venture to say that it was one small step for my Human self and one giant leap for my Spiritual, Divine self.

My gratitudes tonight are:

1. I am grrateful for the people who encouraged me to take that initial step.

2. I am grateful for the opportunities the Universe keeps placing in my path.

3. I am grateful for the people I’m meeting along the way on my new journey.

4. I am grateful for my daughter who has been so very supportive and uncritical as I find out who I need to be on this new journey.  She thinks I don’t appreciate it, but I do, more than she realizes.

5. I am grateful for abundance: love, sharing, worig, writing, people, places, things, ideas, new adventures, health, harmony, peace, happingess and prosperity.

 

Blessed Be

 

October 2, 2014 I love lists!!!

There’s a phrase I never thought I’d hear myself utter!

Truth be told, this is really a new love in my life. It began just shy of a year ago when I left the rat race and no longer had a fixed routine. Suddenly, I found myself needing structure, not only because it got me motivated, but because it gave me a sense of accomplishment to check a task off of one of my lists. I have several now, but one main list on which I keep track of daily and weekly chores as well as things I’m trying to accomplish over the course of time, and things I want to make part of my regular routine. For the most part, it works very well. However, one thing I didn’t count on was how much I like being away from people…a LOT! This makes things like regular gym visits very challenging, and forces me to look for alternative activities that I might actually stick to for more than two or three months.  So far, cleaning house, something I used to despise, seems to be filling some of that void.

I’m also learning, by following my lists, that it does me good to get out in the world more, as I seem to get things done better when I’m not a complete hermit. Take today for example. I had to be out of the house early to take one of my cats to the vet for a check up. By noon, I had not only been to the vet and returned, but I had emptied, cleaned and refilled both sand boxes, vacuumed the entire house (minus the ant room which I am still hesitant to enter) and scrubbed the kitchen and bathroom floors! All that, just because I got moving!

Lists: They’re not just for tasking any more!

Using lists isn’t just to keep track of what you have to do, though (and I’ll include packing lists in that category). They can also motivate in other ways. Take, for example, the gratitude list I always close my posts with. Can you really be unmotivated and miserable while counting your blessings? Lists are also good when you’re trying to make a decision. You can lists pros and cons, or things that inspire you…the possibilities, and lists, are endless!

Lists and graphics and charts, Oh, my!

Spending over 30 years playing with numbers, charts and spreadsheets does leave a mark on a person. Being no exception, my lists have evolved so that they are no longer simply checklists, but spreadsheets on which I can not only check things off, but quantify my actions. Once I have compiled enough data, I’ll be able to do some trend analysis as well. (OK, so maybe that is a bit over the top, but did I mention I love my lists?)

Something else I’ve discovered by keeping my lists, I sleep better at night! No, really! Think about it, especially the women out there. How many hours of sleep do you lose in a month because you’re making lists in your head instead of falling into a peaceful slumber? If you committed those lists to paper or computer screen, wouldn’t you rest easier? If a small amount of effort could cure your insomnia, wouldn’t you try it? C’mon! Be honest now! I challenge you to try listing for just a week or two, then report back to me via the comment section of this blog. I want to hear from you, whether or not keeping lists works for you, and if it does, I want to hear about your lists. What where they for? What did you keep track of? How did it make you feel to check things off or count your blessings or list the pros and cons of a decision you were trying to make?

But before I go off into a list bliss, I’ll close with my favorite list, my nightly gratitude list:
1. I am grateful for lists. They keep me focused and they remind me of what’s truly important.
2. I am grateful for the people who read my blog, especially when I hear that something I said inspired them.
3. I am grateful for all that I accomplished today, and the things I plan to do tomorrow.
4. I am grateful for forward progress on my copywriting class. Sometimes, it just takes a little motivation.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, harmony, motivation, inspiration, imagination, gratitude, faith, hope, health and prosperity…and of course, LISTS!!!

Namaste

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