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

Archive for the ‘bliss’ Category

Clean Diaper, Full Belly. Finding Our Bliss In Simplicity

When Did We Lose Sight of Simplicity?

Somehow we’ve all gotten caught up, at least to some extent in the myth that happiness is predicated on having more. We’re bombarded, especially this time of year, with entreaties to let our consumeristic selves go wild, and the devil take the credit card bills.

Finding My Bliss by Giving Things Up

As I throw away every ad and delete every email asking me to buy, buy, buy (and only about half of them are from retailers), I feel a certain kind of peace in my decision to keep my holiday purchases to a minimum this year. It takes a lot of the stress out of the holiday season and beyond, and lets me put more focus into accomplishing things I want to see finished by the time the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Here are a few things I won’t miss this year:

  • Endless hours spent wrapping presents
  • Cramming my car to the gills with gifts for my daughter and son-in-law, many of which they probably neither want nor need (pajamas, socks, and books notwithstanding)
  • Hours agonizing over what I can get them they don’t already have anyway
  • Hours spent online or in the stores which would be better spent bringing my clients’ affairs up-to-date and getting my own projects ready for the next steps
  • Credit card bills in January that leave me questioning what I could possibly have been thinking
  • Dragging out and putting back the bins of wrapping paraphernalia
  • The chaos my living room becomes while I’m wrapping those endless piles of gifts
  • Time spent wrapping in front of the television that would be better spent writing, editing, or doing work for clients
Halting the Pursuit of Stress, er, Happiness

Needless to say, I’m already enjoying the minimal stress of this holiday season more than I’ve enjoyed the holidays in a very long time. My shopping is already done and the wrapping won’t take more than a couple of hours including dragging out the paper and boxes and putting them back. Instead of setting up the card table in front of the TV as I’ve done in years past, I’ll just wrap everything on the dining room table so there’s one less thing to put away when I’m done.

There are hidden benefits to keeping our gift-giving to a minimum this year too. My daughter and I have been working on de-cluttering our environments. Adding more stuff means finding places, or re-cluttering areas we’ve worked so hard to clear. Why would we want to get back on that hamster wheel to nowhere?

Steps to Becoming the Ultimate Non-Consumer

I’m making good use of that “unsubscribe” option at the end of most emails these days. I have no problem if someone is offering me information with a link to their site if I want to learn more. But when someone bombards me with daily emails, each containing a poorly veiled sales pitch, there’ll be one less subscriber under their tree come Christmas. But I’m grateful to all who choose to do business this way as it shows me things I should not do when my goal is to develop a tribe who know, like, and trust me.

Many business-people out there believe very strongly in a numbers game. The more people you put yourself in front of, and the more often you do it, the more sales you’ll have. But if you think about it, their success rate is minimal. They send out daily emails to their 5-10,000 subscribers, so they have to take the time to either write those emails or pay someone to do it for them. Of those 5-10,000 daily emails (and don’t get me started on those who send more than one a day!), I’d say, conservatively, 75% are deleted without being read. Another 20% delete them after seeing they’re nothing but another sales pitch.

Generously, 5% or 250-500 people might actually read those emails, but how many of them actually buy? Remember those same people are also being inundated by emails as well as TV and online ads from Target, Kohl’s, Walmart and more encouraging them to buy the latest fashions, toys, and electronics for their oh-so-deserving families. You can bet most of them haven’t seen a gigantic influx of money to feed these voracious and never-satisfied fires of consumerism. I’m guessing most are going to take care of family before signing up for yet another course or e-book.

Happiness is Simplicity

Though this little rant of mine has strayed a bit off-topic, the point is that if we take it back to basics; to a time when the little things made us happy, we might be surprised to find that the little things still make us happy.

Here are a few of mine, just to get you started:

  • Spending time with friends in an environment conducive to relaxation and conversation.
  • Spending time with my daughter and son-in-law being silly and laughing a lot.
  • Snuggling on the couch with my cats, a book, and a cup of tea.
  • Letting my imagination take over as I spew words on the page with no particular reason or direction.
  • Getting outside and walking, preferably with a friend.
  • Daydreaming
  • Cooking up some kind of tasty mess
  • Baking something just to give it away.

We all have our own version of “clean diaper, full belly” if we just clear the crap and the constant compulsion to buy, the invisible cord that drags us into stores so we might buy on impulse rather than thoughtfulness.

Getting off the Stress-Go-Round

The biggest advantage to this year of simplification is that my stress levels have gone down to almost nothing. My calendar is fairly full, but the tasks required to get there are manageable. There’s even time in between for self-care; something most of us shove to a back burner this time of year, only to pay the price come January (in more than those previously mentioned massive credit card bills).

Simon and Garfunkel said it best, a long, long, time ago:

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last
Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

If you find your pleasure being a part of the holiday chaos, so be it. As for me, I’ll be talking to lampposts and watching the flowers grow.

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for slow, easy holidays.
  2.  I am grateful for simplicity, and for recognizing it’s an option.
  3.  I am grateful for work that keeps me busy enough, a social calendar that makes me spend a little less time alone, and that both require me to stay on task more.
  4.  I am grateful for the many things I’ve learned and the progress I’ve made this year. Looking back, it’s been a wild ride, but one helluva year for me. I’m looking forward to seeing where the wheels I’ve set in motion take me.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; work, friendship, lessons, love, joy, time, peace, harmony, opportunities already here and yet to come, inspiration, motivation, balance, limitless possibilities, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

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. Her special gift lies 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 or to schedule a free informational call. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

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!

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: