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Archive for the ‘challenges’ Category

Lining Up Your Ducks: Grabbing Opportunities as they Arise

Raising Awareness of the Opportunities Around Us

All too often we wander through life stuck inside our own minds. We struggle through problems and challenges, oblivious to the fact that solutions are sitting there, waiting for us to notice them. Most of the time, they wait patiently, like a dutiful child waits for an adult to invite them to speak. But when the Universe becomes tired of waiting, its impatience manifests in ways we can’t ignore.

Whether we make the connection between those irritants, both major and minor, and the problems we’re letting our mind wrestle with is entirely up to us.

Physical Challenges are Indications of Personal Challenges

Lately, I’ve had a frustrating time with a plumbing leak. First it was, then it wasn’t. It was here, then it was there. I lived with two holes in my slab, only to have the leak reappear in an entirely different place. At least the leak is now fixed and the holes are patched, all but the surprise hole in the wall I found when I was replacing the contents of the closet where the repair was made.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the issues with the plumbing in my house. I thought about the way I’d used excessive amounts of water and natural gas before becoming aware of the problem with my pipes. I realized that while my house was hemorrhaging natural resources, so was I, in my own way. But where were the leaks in my personal life? What resources (aside from the obvious one, money) was I hemorrhaging?

Recognizing When Plumbing Leaks Tell you to Look Within

While waiting for the leak to reappear and get fixed, I spent a lot of time meditating. I found it really tough to actually sit quietly and focus when I felt like my world was coming apart at the seams. Yet, I knew the only way to get things back in balance was to work through the frustrations calmly.

I began asking myself questions. How did the initial inaccurate locating of the leak apply to me personally? Where was I inaccurately locating my own dwindling or misused resources? While I was waiting for the leak to re-appear, I asked myself what I might be using to mask the real problem.

Not surprisingly, once I started asking myself the right questions about my personal life, the leak re-appeared, was accurately located, and repaired. I don’t see this as a coincidence.

When a new issue arose, the unmentioned hole in the wall, I asked even more questions.

How are other things affected when my attention is diverted? What am I still avoiding or neglecting?

Hidden outflow of resources

In the midst of hyper focusing on the leaks without and within, I completely missed another area where things were out of balance. My cat Toby suddenly lost a lot of weight and was refusing to eat more than a few bites. For better or worse, the vet I see now tends to look at worst case scenarios. Though the tests pointed to pancreatitis, she felt there was reason to test for lymphoma as well. Though an ultrasound revealed a couple of masses in Toby’s abdomen, the minimally invasive tests failed to turn up any cancerous cells. I’ve been treating the pancreatitis and am seeing a marked improvement in his appetite  and behavior in only a week. He’s even regained almost a pound of what he lost!

Yet again I was forced to recognize that working through everything with only my brain and emotions was a sure-fire road to failure. As long as I focused on how upset I was instead of how sick he was, we made no progress. As soon as I made it about him and his comfort, he started making more effort to eat, and I got the encouraging lab work back. We put him on appropriate medication for the pancreatitis, and now, he’s acting like his old cuddly, demanding self again. He has enough energy to eat solid food, and lets me know in no uncertain terms when it’s time to give him more of the deli turkey he’s taken a fancy to.

And boy, did everything else suffer while I wallowed! I didn’t dance, I didn’t talk to anyone, I didn’t write, and I didn’t do a single thing to help my business grow and thrive.

Pay Attention to Opportunities that Arise

Recognizing when your focus is misdirected is the first step towards recognizing the opportunities which have been right in front of you the entire time. How many did I miss while my focus was too narrow, too self-involved? How many do you miss when you forget to look at the whole forest and not just one sickly little tree?

Our lives ebb and flow in a constant, ever-changing cycle. We only truly recognize it when we look back and see how what appeared to be a disaster at the time turned out to be one of the best things ever. It brought a kaleidoscope of color into our black-and-white life. We found things within ourselves we’d never have found had we not been forcibly ejected from the comfortable rut we’d dug ourselves.

Whether it’s a job you’ve lost or a relationship that ended, they all lead us to where we are at this moment. A song by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band which was later re-recorded by Rascal Flatts epitomizes this idea. Our broken roads truly do lead us to where we are today.

 

Laws of Attraction Doesn’t Happen in a Vacuum

If you believe in the Laws of Attraction (and not everyone does), you are probably setting intentions and seeing yourself in better situations than you currently experience. You visualize like crazy, flip your attitude, and a dozen other tools you’ve learned from the books and videos, and perhaps a webinar or two. You might also have figured out that visualizing and positive thinking alone aren’t enough.

Laws of Attraction is not now, nor ever has been about sitting around on a lily pad visualizing a better life and expecting it to drop into your lap with no effort on your part. In order to attract the life you envision (or an even better one) you have to recognize what I like to call the stepping stones.

Each time you complete a step, an opportunity you’ve been given and acted upon, you’ll be given another. But you won’t even reach the first step in your journey unless you pay attention to the signals, opportunities, and even warnings you manifest when you set those intentions. You probably won’t achieve those dreams or have the opportunity to set new ones. You’ll sit in your hovel joining the ranks who write endless posts debunking the Laws of Attraction, The Secret, and others who insist the process works.

It’s pretty simple, really. You don’t learn to dance by sitting on a bar stool and you don’t improve your life by wishing it into existence alone.

Solve the Mysteries

What’s holding you back? What challenges are you facing in your outer life that point to issues within? What signs have you been ignoring? What steps aren’t you taking to manifest your dreams? Let your mind drift. Watch those thoughts and emotions float by without engaging. They’re there, certainly. But we needn’t allow ourselves to live a life of conditioned responses. Do you really want to react to things the way you did when you were 5? or 12? or heaven forbid, 16? Feelings we formed as children and teenagers will continue to arise unless we teach ourselves that what triggered the conditioned responses no longer carries the same emotional impact.

Look at the feelings when they arise without reacting. Put on your detective hat and trace them back to their origins. See how they no longer serve your best and highest purpose—and let them go!

Embrace Periods of Uncertainty.

What about those gut feelings? The ones we feel as physical discomfort or even pain. What do they mean? Try looking at what’s happening in your life to find the trigger. Did you have a fight with someone? Is your job in jeopardy? Bills piling up? Is someone close to you ill? Is something in need of repair?

Have you experienced any of this before? How did you feel? Most important, how did you deal with it? Did you come out OK in the end?

Know that you don’t have to have all of the answers. Sometimes, you have to let something play out without reacting, or more likely, over-reacting. Be OK with not knowing. The answer will come at the right time and no amount of pushing, prodding, or worrying will make it come any faster. Accept that the information you need may not be available yet. Remain open so you’ll be ready.

Taking time to Be

Many of us are conditioned to be, do, solve, and resolve. We think we have to come up with all of the answers; all the solutions. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even the most isolated among us can’t possibly do or solve everything. Yet learning to receive is often one of the toughest lessons we ever have to learn. And yes, we have to learn it. It’s scary because we’ve told ourselves asking for help makes us vulnerable. Maybe we can even cite an instance where doing so kicked us in the pants. If we gave up on everything that knocked us down, we’d never learn anything new. If you take it back to the very basics, we’d still be depending on someone to feed us pre-digested food which we’d poop out into a diaper!

Life is about doing things that scare us. It’s about taking chances, and making mistakes. We take a chance every day when we get out of bed. We could fall. We could cut ourselves. All the calamities we risk just moving around our own homes could bring on a full-fledged panic attack—if we let them. But we don’t. We take chances. We put ourselves out there. We learn new things.

Sometimes, what we learn is how to let go. It’s OK to do nothing at times. Though it might be hard to sit back and wait, sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do. Give yourself permission to step back and wait. It is a better answer than trying to force things. Let things unfold naturally. Let someone offer to help, and take them up on it without dissolving into a quivering mass of fear over what you mistakenly perceive as vulnerability. Because what you’re really doing is giving someone a chance to fulfill a need in themselves to help someone else!

Challenges Come to Us For a Reason

To sum it all up, the challenges in our lives aren’t really challenges at all. They’re opportunities to move further along our path. Each one mastered brings us closer to one of our dreams. Sure, they may not seem like opportunities at the time. Sometimes, we just have to take what’s before us at face value, putting one foot in front of the other until we get past the bumps in our road.

Some are gentle and others are what I like to call “Universal Head Slaps”. They kick our butts and force us to put everything we have into learning the lesson. I believe those are truly the best ones because afterwards, we’re left with not only some new skills, but a tremendous feeling of accomplishment. Anyone who has been through a divorce or a death in the family knows the sense of pride that comes with weathering one of life’s tougher storms. You get to add another “I got through that!” to your list of outstanding accomplishments. You’re stronger and smarter for the experience. You’ll need those tools for the challenges and opportunities to come.

Whether You Call Then Challenges or Opportunities, Gratitude Makes Your Road Less Rocky

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the challenges which became opportunities to be stronger, smarter, and closer to my dreams.
  2. I am grateful for the times when the road was smooth and the times when it felt like I was herding cats.
  3. I am grateful for the people who are helping me learn the joys of receiving.
  4. I am grateful for the gift which allows me to communicate the lessons I’ve learned.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, challenges and opportunities, sharing, caring, compassion, vulnerability, strength, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

The Facebook Live on this topic 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.

 

Photo courtesy of Russellstreet via Flikr

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Take Time to Breathe Through Your Challenges

Just Breathe

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philipglevy/9462509263/in/photolist-fqaQkr-6B62hk-9jZwX5-4FH1En-54uCWa-a3Ns41-6BanmN-6DM4U9-5u49NP-6v9Puu-6DGTwD-4FMcCG-doJVpC-3ervgn-4FMcmC-pb1bmR-6v9McG-6DM5Wm-a71Zuu-5i6sb2-6B9Lkj-4FH1v4-gQpcex-jZKZ5o-6v9NNf-6B5zw6-89YYg5-6v9Xbb-6MPVRc-6v9Wow-6v5Gyk-aPQjfH-6v9QjU-6v5PF8-6v9VcG-cu2a4-DUvgxx-6v9YGJ-5oAaDQ-8ipJ7z-5VgzB9-6B9AVJ-5KTyGH-5Vce46-Uwsk9p-6vNzky-6v5FCV-6B5rgp-6v9UFb-6v9LjqLet’s face it. For life to be any kind of interesting, there are going to be periods when you feel like you’re riding the roller coaster from hell. While the wild ride might be fun and exciting for a while, there comes a point when you’re grateful to have reached the end. There comes a time when being in a semi-comatose state is not only a relief but necessary. We all need time to let our minds, bodies, and spirits recover from an overdose of the insanity life loves to throw into our paths. We need to allow ourselves time to just breathe.

This week has really run the gamut for me, and there are still a few more days left! From plumbing issues which just don’t want to be easily resolved to meeting with new clients, to throwing myself into new experiences, the week has definitely been an E ticket ride. The ups and downs I’m experiencing remind me, like a bucket of ice water to the face that life is truly about balance.

We are mired in frustration and soothed by ease. We hit all the red lights, then a path opens up just for us. We feel like money flows only one direction—away. Then suddenly, those interviews we had or proposals we submitted begin bearing fruit—often with the intensity of a California mud slide. When they do, we realize just how important those times we spent semi-comatose really were. We’re ready for the challenges and embrace them wholeheartedly.

Make the Most of the Down Time

Yet the biggest challenge for me is to use the down time wisely. Though I need to catch up on reading or finish a course I started, it’s easy to slip into sloth-like habits; spending too much time on social media, watching TV, playing computer games, or just napping endlessly. I recently discovered something most of you probably already know. Sloth attracts more sloth.

While I was farting around accomplishing nothing, opportunities eluded me. But when I changed my course, began participating actively in entrepreneurial groups, or supporting other entrepreneurs, focused my reading (and my meditations) on self-improvement, and limited the time sucking activities, abundance began to flow like the leaking hot water line under my house.

Messages in Bottles or Leaky Pipes

I also realized something rather profound. The leaking pipe and the destruction required to fix the problem were a direct reflection of the path my life was taking. The foundation I’d laid was weakening and even breaking. It needed to be torn up in places and rebuilt differently. My efforts were flowing uselessly (and expensively) into the ground, wasted and misguided. I needed to do some serious soul-searching to redirect my efforts and locate the places in my foundation which no longer served my best interests. Even the ground on which I stood was no longer the safe, stable place I’d come to take for granted.

Yet, I’m reminded by people like Linda Clay that, like the song says “there’s a time for every purpose”. The times I spend mimicking a sloth aren’t as unproductive as I think. Yet, knowing when to move away from those times is also key. Just like a dead-end job can become a rut, so can dead-end slothing. Recognizing things like plumbing leaks and excess water usage are essential in determining when we need to do what is taught in the Neurogym courses, and GOYA (get off your ass)! Ignoring the signs and symptoms will result in hemorrhaging our resources, be it money, energy, water, or even life-giving blood.

Turning Messages into Productive Actions

By now you might be asking how to recognize the signs. How can simple things like a plumbing leak or constant delays mean more than they seem at face value? For me, it comes down to a process I’ve developed in the usual manner, through trial and error. I’ve learned to apply it to any and all seeming problems which arise in my life, my home, and my overall environment. I apply those steps as follows:

  1. Step back from the problem.
  2. Depersonalize it while remaining open to possible solutions.
  3. Ask myself how it might apply to the situations currently active in my life, be they personal, business, or something else.
  4. Meditate on question 3, allowing answers to flow rather than be forced into existence.
  5. Take the necessary steps to resolve the obvious problem (especially with interpersonal issues, this isn’t always clear).
  6. Take action on signals I receive about seemingly unrelated parts of my life.
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 as often as necessary until I feel that my life is flowing freely and smoothly again.

I won’t say this is a fool-proof system as the control freak in me invariably decides things are moving too slowly and seeks to intervene, more often than not exacerbating the problem rather than helping. What I will say is that the more I practice the process, the more I fine-tune it. The more I fine-tune it, the easier it becomes to let go and avoid trying to control the solution.

Going with the Flow

Even now, as I sit here waiting for the leak detection company to re-do their work because the spot where they said the leak was located turned out to be a perfectly solid piece of pipe, I’m opening myself to other areas in my life where this situation is reflected. Where else did I think I’d found the problem only to discover I hadn’t. Where else am I experiencing delays? Where else am I allowing myself to be frustrated because I’m not controlling the situation?

It all comes down to one thing, really. I need to get out of my own way. Give myself permission to stop and smell the coffee. Maybe even find a way to get those two red chairs I saw at Lowe’s home so I have a cozy spot on what I jokingly call my veranda. Invite a friend over to share a bottle of wine and watch the world go by from my front porch looking out.

We spend a lot of time rushing from here to there, blowing through a to-do list that would freeze the heart of the most Type A CEO. Yet in most cases, we’re not really changing the world. We’re simply anesthetizing ourselves to the effects of everyone else rushing around like they have to accomplish so much every week. In reality, less is truly more. We really need less moments which leave us breathless and more that take our breath away.

Let Your Gratitude Go Wild

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for setbacks and challenges that force me to slow down, look around, and reassess.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to look at my life from different angles.
  3. I am grateful for my sloth-y times. I’m never really doing nothing, or acting without purpose. It only seems like it.
  4. I am grateful for new opportunities which arise when I finally figure out how to get out of my own way.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, motivation, aha moments, joys both great and small, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

You can find the associated Facebook Live Podcast here.

 

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!

 

Photo courtesy of philipglevy via Flikr

Alone for a Reason

Alone Again, Naturally

I woke today after an exceptionally good night of dancing feeling strangely…icky. The lingering joy which usually greets me when I wake was replaced by a dark, writhing pit in my stomach. Thankfully, I have my normal morning routine of writing three pages of thoughts longhand. I don’t think I’ve ever needed it more than I did today.

It took me two pages to come to the realization that everyone I know has some sort of support group close by. It might be a loving and devoted spouse, or kids, or a close circle of friends; often it’s a combination of things. Meanwhile, I’m alone. If something happened to sideline me for a while, I really don’t know where I’d turn.

Life’s Challenges Come at Just the Right Time

But before you start thinking “Oh, poor Sheri”, let me get to the second part of my realization. Those people are all going through some kind of trauma or difficulty in their lives right now. It might be an aging parent, a death, the spectrum of an empty nest, issues with a child, injury, or some other disaster. But having that support group means they aren’t facing the roller coaster of emotions alone.

I, on the other hand, got my traumas and disasters over with early, while I still had at least a couple of people around to help me get through them. One child did her middle-of-the-night disappearing act over 10 years ago, setting off a chain of events which would ultimately have us leading completely separate lives. The other lived with me until shortly before her marriage. Even so, she stayed in the area another year or two. When she moved away, I may not have had a support group, but I had a life which kept me busy, and that’s nearly as good.

My parents both passed when I had work, the girls, their activities and a dozen other things to keep my mind occupied. Eventually, I even went back to my long-neglected writing. In their own way, they even inspired, and continue to inspire my writing in ways they never were able to do while alive.

Turning Bitter Fruit into a Tasty Treat

Instead of crawling into a hole and feeling sorry for what I don’t have, I see an opportunity to be more. My performance on the compassion spectrum can still use a lot of work. I still see people as strangers and tend to be territorial when it’s not necessary or even kind. I still take small snubs personally without taking into consideration the challenges my friends and acquaintances are doing their best to navigate. I see the support group and ignore the obstacles which need extra hands to clear away.

I’m reminded of the story of the coffee, the carrot, and the egg. The carrot when boiled becomes soft and flexible. The egg becomes hard and unyielding, and the coffee makes the water better. I find I want to be the coffee but am struggling in my efforts, often making the water bitter instead.

Yet it’s mornings like this when I experience my greatest revelations; my purest insight into my purpose for being in this particular lifetime. It’s the things I struggle most to learn; love, compassion, patience, supportiveness, understanding, acceptance, forgiveness, I’m here to not only exhibit, but encourage in others. I may be a long way from learning what I need to know and embrace, but I’m a lot closer than I give myself credit for, especially given what I started with.

Being the Grown-up in My Relationship With Myself

My inner child continues to fight to be the center of attention. My biggest challenge is in teaching her she needs to give first. It’s her selfishness which leaves her out in the cold while others enjoy the warmth of hearth and home. It’s her unwillingness to recognize others are struggling with their own demons which has left her teased, shamed, and ostracized over and over again. And it’s the fragility she has covered over with a seemingly impermeable shell which makes it difficult for people to get to know her soft side and see how much she really has to give.

I was originally going to post a piece about fears which I wrote between dance classes yesterday, but when I woke this morning, this topic seemed to be the more important of the two. The fear piece will be waiting for the right moment, but today, compassion seemed to be more timely.

It might be in part my monthly response to the Full Moon. I do tend to react more physically and emotionally these days than I recall doing in the past. Maybe it’s because I’m post-menopausal, but I think that’s coincidental more than causal. (as I write this, I realize I started it at 11:11 on 6/11. The coincidences in my life keep pointing in the same direction. I also finished it at 1:11!). Or maybe it’s that I have time for introspection and self-reflection and am not exactly satisfied with what I see.

Where I Am and Where I Am Not

Putting aside where I am on my career path. Ignoring for a moment the many things I can point to that I don’t have. My personal development has a long way to go, which is pretty daunting when I admit how many decades I’ve had to work on it.

Even after writing several pages of self-revelation this morning, I still have the knot in the pit of my stomach. Though some of the darkness has lifted, I’m clearly not where I need to be right now. I’ve shown a marked lack of compassion in the last week or so, and I’m ashamed of myself. My inner child really needs a good shaking right now to stop feeling sorry for herself and focus on being a better person.

Thankfully, today is a new day and a new start. It’s up to me to make the most of it.

And finding a Reason to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I have a new day to make positive changes.
  2. I am grateful for the mistakes which make me see what I still need to learn.
  3. I am grateful for the friends I do have who accept my flaws even when I, myself don’t.
  4. I am grateful for the energy to dance for hours and sleep the sleep of the innocent, even if I wake feeling not-so-innocent.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: lessons, friends, energy, health, happiness, inspiration, motivation, Universal head slaps, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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!

Lessons Catch Us Unaware

Life: An Endless Chain of Lessons

If you’re doing more with your life than staring at a wall, you’ve likely experienced your share of lessons. Some of them are pretty obvious and come as a result of something you actually set out to accomplish. More often than not, though, the lessons have a way of finding you. This is especially true when it’s a subject you’ve revisited multiple times, yet have yet to quite grasp the concept. One of my personal favorites is patience. (In case it isn’t evident, the last comment was laced with a liberal dose of sarcasm. I, for one could use a sarcasm emoji!)

Since I seem to be uniquely resistant to this particular lesson, the Universe has seen fit to hit me with another opportunity to get it right when I least expect it, and typically, at the worst possible moment. Put me in a store with 3 screaming children when I’m in a hurry, have a blazing headache and haven’t eaten in hours and I guarantee my patience will be tested yet again. Seriously, who could be expected to assimilate the lesson under those conditions. Never let it be said the Universe lacks a sense of humor! I only hope it will avoid taking me into a situation where I learn patience or suffer serious physical harm.

Lessons in Camouflage

As I believe I am both a component of the Universe as well as it’s entirety, I feel it’s in both our best interests to protect my physical self, at least for as long as it is required to learn the lessons I came into this lifetime expecting to learn. That does not, however, preclude increasingly painful lessons along the way. Perhaps that’s part of the plan?

Although I’ve come to the conclusion painful lessons are often the most memorable (after all, who really wants to revisit an experience akin to being smacked in the head with a bat?), I am beginning to wonder if, in some cases, it’s truly about learning the lesson, or if the pain itself is the real lesson? Are we meant to experience a certain amount of struggle and strife in order to make us stronger and more resilient? Is that strength a critical component of our virtual tool box?

My perspective on life lessons is constantly evolving, but this is the biggest breakthrough I’ve had in a long time. To realize that sometimes the experience of the lesson is the real lesson is mind-blowing. So many times, I’ve wracked my brain looking for the lesson in the painful experience, completely missing the fact that the painful experience in and of itself was what I needed to learn. The real lesson, then wasn’t patience, or kindness, or compassion, or some other admirable quality. It was, instead resilience.

Finding the Blessing in Disguise

One of the most powerful lessons I’ve learned over the years is that seeming catastrophes are always blessings in disguise. They occur when we’ve become so attached to something, someone, or a situation that we fail to recognize when it’s time to let go of the old so we can evolve. We stifle our own ability to enter the next iteration of our life because we’re holding too tightly to what we know. No matter what our relationship to change is, there’s a time in every life when change has to occur. Most of the time it’s in baby steps, but periodically, we need a 1994 Northridge earthquake- or World Trade Center-size upheaval to shake us right out of our boots and into a new reality.

Even when these upheavals are strictly personal, the effect is the same as those occurring on a national or global scale. We are forced to re-evaluate what we need to keep and what we need to leave behind. These events might be brutal and painful like a nasty divorce or loss of a loved one by suicide or accident. But they can also be dangerously subtle like rising dissatisfaction with a job situation. Dangerous because the longer we ignore the signs, the more likely we’ll have the situation taken out of our hands.

Changing for the Better in Spite of Ourselves

I can honestly say I never left a job which no longer served my best interests at the first sign, or even the 10th. In fact, in most cases, I stuck it out until the situation was taken out of my hands in one way or another. And yet, in hindsight, I left at exactly the right time because the circumstances surrounding the parting of ways was a critical component of the lesson I needed to experience. It was especially scary when I had two young daughters to support, but I can look back now and see that I always managed to pull through. That, too is part of the lesson. I’ve always survived whatever I was dealt.

Granted, I have not been given some of the challenges I see others face: developing a terminal disease, watching parents age, sicken, and ultimately pass on, homelessness, or a multitude of other life-lessons. But those are not the lessons I came here to experience. At least not this time around. But the people who are faced with different challenges than I am simply get a collection that’s unique to them.

Recognizing Our Own Brand of Resiliency

Though family suicide is far more prevalent than even I had come to believe, I am uplifted not only by the stories I’ve been privileged to share, but by how many different ways people demonstrate their own resiliency. In the process, one of my major upheavals broke me off from a group of friends who chose to expend their energy complaining about their lives instead of changing them. Though it left me adrift and alone for a time, the conditions I, myself had put into motion by looking at the world through more positive, grateful eyes ultimately led me to friends who faced their challenges in a healthier manner.

From my newer circle of friends, I’ve learned that life will deal you some seemingly crappy hands just to force you to step up and accept the challenge. I learned I’m not the type to crawl into a hole and pull it in after me no matter how many times I wanted to do just that in the years following my divorce and my mom’s suicide. Somehow, I always found a reason to keep going. I always found a reason to keep trying. I found it in myself to find another way when the old ways no longer worked.

Not only did I find out I was resilient, I found out how to make that resiliency work for me. But most of all, I started learning how to ask for help; how to be vulnerable at times. And guess what? There wasn’t a single time when I actually shattered into a million, irreparable pieces.

Yes, some of life’s lessons can really kick the crap out of you. But getting to the other side with most of your pieces intact is the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. And it’s one I give myself over and over again.

From My Eternally Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my resiliency.
  2. I am grateful for the opportunities I’m given to learn, even the less obvious lessons.
  3. I am grateful for inspiration which gives me not only an endless stream of Facebook Live topics, but an ever-growing list of blogs waiting to be written.
  4. I am grateful for being a constantly evolving being. Stagnation has never been my comfort zone.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, lessons, experiences, opportunities, joy, sorrow, pain, healing, vulnerability, and strength. It is only by experiences both sides of the coin that we become whole.

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!

 

Photo Courtesy of Lucie Provencher via Flickr

The Tarot Card pictured is The Tower from the Spiral Tarot

Mistaking my Way to Perfection

Finding Hidden Opportunities

I was playing a computer game last night when I made a move which had me kicking myself. Dang it! I should have moved there! I thought to myself. But a couple of moves later, I discovered the move I thought was a mistake had actually set me up to complete the round with a higher score than I’d have gotten if I’d made the “right” move earlier.

It occurred to me that life is the same way. What we believe to be a mistake often turns out to be the best thing we could have done. It’s the wrong turns we make which often lead to the most amazing discoveries. How many hours do we spend beating ourselves up over what we believe is a mistake, only to find out later that it was truly a blessing in disguise?

When my daughters were growing up, I used to tell them to look for the lesson instead of labeling themselves a failure. Things which seem like a disaster at first are nearly always opportunities they’d have missed had everything gone as planned. Oftentimes, those opportunities are only meant to appear when things look the most bleak.

Whether it’s a job I lost or didn’t get, the ending of a friendship or an ending of another sort, I’ve learned that if I wait a bit, I’ll see what that ending left me open for, and find I’m grateful for the ending because had I stayed where I was, I’d have missed something much better.

Letting My Course Be Altered

Even now, more than 2 years into my leap of faith, I’m finding opportunities I wouldn’t have dreamed of 2 years ago. Sure, I haven’t published that book yet or managed to monetize my blog writing very much, but as I’m being pushed out of my comfort zone and out into the world more, I’m exposing myself to opportunities which aren’t even on my radar yet. The hours I spend at home alone are getting shorter and the places I’m going are becoming more interesting and diverse.

I’m doing research into topics I had not, until recently ever written about and digging back into my memories for lessons and techniques I never expected to use. I thought I wanted to sit in my version of a garret and just write and research without much human contact. Instead, I’m filling my calendar with events where I have to walk up to strangers and ask them questions–questions which might once have been off-the-cuff but now require some advance research and planning on my part. Each step I take outside that old comfort zone leads to more steps which take me even further away from where I once dwelled in hermity comfort.

Life is changing and yes, it’s scary, but it’s also exciting. This week, I started Level 5 of John Assaraf’s “Winning the Game of Money”. Am I noticing major changes? Not that I can see. However, I am accepting opportunities to expand my horizons and I have finally gotten back to editing “Sasha’s Journey” so maybe, just maybe, it is making me move, if nothing else. As many of the events I’m attending as Press attract a lot of wealthy people, maybe it’s simply giving me the opportunity to feel more comfortable in their presence for the moment. And maybe that’s what I need right now to help break down any barriers I have to finding wealth myself.

For now, my calendar is filling up and I’m going to have to manage my time better in order to fit in time for writing and editing my novels, writing blog posts and researching and writing the articles for all of the events I have scheduled over the next few months.

Setting Goals and Making Plans

Being busy also means moving more and sitting less which will support one of the goals I wrote down this week; to get healthy and fit. Somehow, all of the pieces I need to achieve the 13 goals I’ve already recorded and the others which will follow in the days and weeks ahead of me are coming just a bit faster than I can manage easily, but at the right pace overall. What I’m trying to accomplish right now doesn’t require a lot of deliberation, it requires action. Giving me less time to think about it or waffle, or even talk myself out of things I find uncomfortable is a good thing, and part of the overall process to reinvent myself right now.

In short, I’m pleased that things are changing a bit too fast, and though I’m running to keep up sometimes, I can always use the extra cardio. I’m excited about the future as I haven’t been in months, and I finally see myself accomplishing a lot of those scary things I set out in my ignorance to do. Those things are only the tip of the iceberg as they came from my limited imagination and experiences. As both expand, those dreams will, of necessity, become loftier and more exciting. It’s a marvelous time to be alive!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the things which expand my consciousness.
2. I am grateful that the baby steps I’ve been taking to get out of my comfort zone are getting larger and more diverse.
3. I am grateful for the people who are pushing me, pulling me and otherwise helping me leave what comes easily behind in favor of what makes me grow.
4. I am grateful for the brief respite I had while I was sick as it may be the last one I have for the rest of this year.
5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, knowledge, opportunities, friendship, love, peace, harmony, health, imagination, 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!

Making Lemonade

Whew! What a ride!

I’ve managed to slide into mid-week fairly unscathed despite a few challenges life decided to toss my way. But the week wasn’t without some loveliness as well.

On Monday, I received two new books from one of my favorite Authors, Debbie Macomber which I’d won in an online contest. I spent the better part of a day which didn’t even begin until noon reading Last One Home, a story about a woman who had left her family behind at 18 to marry what she thought was the love of her life. Instead, he was a manipulative abuser who cut her off from family, friends and even acquaintances. The story chronicles her struggles climbing out of the hole he’d buried her in, alone, broke and with a young child to raise. Reaching out to the family she’d left behind forced her to see that the damage her husband had caused went beyond just her and her child.

Sometimes, the Universe Intends for our Choices to go Awry

As women, we make our share of poor choices but it’s how we rectify them which really tests how strong a foundation we had to begin with. Many of us don’t see how strong and capable we are, settling for someone who is far less than we deserve. The lucky ones like me finally hit a point where we realize we truly do deserve better. We do whatever it takes to fix our lives. We know we’ve truly succeeded when we learn to love the person who may have gotten buried under a lot of crap, both of our own making and from those poor choices we allowed into our lives.

Fortunately for me, unlike Cassie in Ms. Macomber’s book, I left my own abusive relationship with a means of supporting myself and my children and no visible bruises or scars. Many women aren’t so lucky. The existence of the many shelters and safe houses for women and their children to escape abusive men is evidence of this. But what about those who either aren’t strong enough or who lack either means or opportunity to leave their own version of hell, or never get the chance? Kudos to Ms. Macomber for highlighting the organizations which not only provide shelter but also moral support for women to escape their abusers and the fear they lived under for so long. But even more for emphasizing how helping others sort out their own lives benefits the giver as much as the receiver.

Always on the Lookout for Ways to Give Back

She also piqued my curiosity about Habitats for Humanity. At one time, my daughter and I considered helping with the construction of a home in our area, but other commitments got in the way. Though I don’t know that I’d be much help these days (it was once pointed out that I paint more with my belly and boobs than with a paintbrush) I’m sure there are other things I can do to help them or another organization in my area. I made an effort awhile back to get involved with neonatal care for a cat rescue, but was met with scheduling conflicts for all of their required training sessions. As I believe things happen for a reason, I can only assume that I was being “saved” for something else.

Macomber’s Cassie reminded me that the best way to improve your own life is to give of yourself to someone else. She took what she’d learned during her own struggles to help others. I know that writing about my own healing processes has given others something to think about, but I’ve only really covered two traumatic life events, and they were basically related. Maybe it’s time to speak out about how I ended up marrying a man who was as wrong for me as he could get and who I stayed with longer than I should have. Or how it took me years to recognize and embrace the lessons I learned from the experience. Or how I learned to tell my daughters that he did the best he could with what he had as he, himself was broken.

I will never regret the two beautiful daughters he gave me, albeit less than willingly, but I’m grateful that I was finally able to crawl out of the hole of self-loathing which was already in place when we met. It’s unsettling, to say the least, to realize that had I just loved myself more, I would never have even noticed him. I see now that his real purpose in my life was to give me another tool I’d ultimately need to learn to love myself. Funny how that works.

Each Lesson Shortens the Learning Curve for the Next

As I continue the journey I set upon when this lifetime began, I find it takes me less and less time to figure out the lessons which are embedded in the challenges I face. I know now that we never, ever make wrong choices. We do make choices which have less-than-desirable outcomes. However, in truth, we needed to make those choices because we needed the outcomes to teach us a lesson. Without that particular lesson, we might still be fumbling around trying to find our way, all for lack of an essential virtual tool.

If I’ve learned nothing else in the 60 years I’ve been on the planet this time around, it is to be grateful for every challenge and setback I’ve faced. (You’ll notice, I don’t use the word “Failure” here). Each one taught me to look at things from a different angle or to step back and regroup. Sure, there’ve been more than a few face-palming moments but if I’d truly been at the point where I should have known better, I wouldn’t have needed the lesson, now would I?

So the next time you’re chastising yourself for a mistake you think you’ve made, try taking a step back and asking yourself What did I learn from this experience? Was the outcome sufficiently painful that I won’t be likely to repeat this particular act of misdirection? If you can answer the first question honestly and the second question in the affirmative, then the experience was both necessary and valuable. But be warned, if you struggle to answer the first question and waffle on the second, you will have the opportunity to revisit the lesson again…multiple times if necessary…until you see the lesson and internalize it for future reference.

Life doesn’t give us lessons to sour our mood but to quench our thirst when things heat up.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for every mistake I’ve made and every lesson I’ve learned from them.
2. I am grateful for the friends I’ve made and the ones I’ve lost along the way. Some were meant to be here for a season, others for a reason, and a few, even for a lifetime.
3. I am grateful for lights at the end of the tunnel.
4. I am grateful for synchronicity.
5. I am grateful for abundance: life, love, lessons, joy, challenges, successes,dancing, writing, playing, working, peace, hope, 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!

August 31, 2015 Life Between Universal Head Slaps

I believe the Universe is warming up to deliver a humdinger of a head slap. Why do I say that? In the last month or so, it has seen fit to reintroduce people into my life who were last seeing during a very difficult time period when I was making a lot of poor choices and behaving in a very negative and self-defeating fashion. And it isn’t the same time period. As of tonight, I’ve seen three of them.

The first instance was very positive and friendly, showing me that despite my poor behavior, there were some good times, and good memories.

The second was more like a leech seeking to re-attach itself if I wasn’t able to make it clear I was no longer that person. Fortunately, after a month of intermittent encounters and behavior on my part for which I’m not proud, I seem to have sent that particular less-than-stellar portion of my life back into the past where it belongs.

My latest encounter was only from a distance, and given certain circumstances, wasn’t entirely unexpected. The parting of the ways I experienced with this particular individual was instigated by his recently-deceased wife. In this case, I saw no real reason to make contact. I couldn’t say with sincerity that I was sorry for his loss, and maybe that’s the point. His appearance was a reminder that it’s high time I just forgave the woman. We’d both moved on and hadn’t had any contact in at least a dozen years. We moved in different circles and even the smallest of ripples didn’t intersect. Before that head slap comes, I guess I need to work on that forgiveness; both towards her and for myself. I certainly contributed to the situation by being stupid and unnecessarily vulnerable. It also occurred at the end of what I think of now as ‘the years of negativity’. Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to “The Secret” and began eliminating negative behavior from myself and negative people from my life.

You Win a Little and you Lose a Little

Looking back on those years, since the Universe insists, I carried around a lot of unnecessary baggage. Through a series of events and some much-needed guidance, I finally realized I had the ability to put things down. I didn’t need to schlep every single bad decision and every single tragic life occurrence around with me forever. I simply needed to take the lesson from each experience and let the rest go. I also found during those years that the Universe didn’t bother giving me head slaps; perhaps because I was beating myself up more than enough without any outside assistance. Instead, I was given a lot of opportunities to learn to love and appreciate myself. Believe me, back then I was a very slow learner, but even the tortoise gets to the finish line eventually.

What I’m trying to say in my usual meandering fashion is that we need to look around at what is coming into our life now and then because oftentimes, it is something we need or a lesson we need to learn. If we’re already indulging in self-flagellation, the Universe won’t give us more of the same, even if it feels like that’s what we’re getting. The Universe knows that we’re going to attract what we put out there so it isn’t even necessary to pile more manure on someone who is attracting manure. It takes little effort to become an expert shit-attractor.

It’s only when we’ve learned from those wrong turns and detours that we start to receive some challenges; not to drive us backward but to make us stronger and more certain of our path, perhaps even to get us to open up to options we’ve discarded because they seemed to be too difficult. Forcing us into a detour means we have to figure out how to make the sub-optimal work instead of just taking the easy road. Step out of that comfort zone and try something that makes us think quickly, maneuver better and even get out of our own way.

So in spite of the frustration at having to field some old manure, I know it is in my best interests and is preparing me for a new and interesting detour which will take me someplace I’d never have gone had the road I was on remained smooth and easy.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for life’s challenges as they give me the opportunity to explore new places.
2. I am grateful for my imperfections as they give me reason to strive to be better.
3. I am grateful to be getting back into the edits of “Sasha’s Journey” and to have set myself a goal to finish before NaNoWriMo. So I have another 292 pages to edit before November 1. I didn’t think I could write 50,000 words in a month either, and now I’ve done it twice!
4. I am grateful for my friends and family who, whether they realize it or not encourage me to go farther, do better and be a kinder, more compassionate person.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, encouragement, inspiration, motivation, freedom, happiness, charity, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking 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!

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