Dancing outside my comfort zone

Archive for the ‘change’ Category

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

Are Self-Limiting Beliefs Undermining Your Sense of Worthiness?

Recognizing Self-Limiting Beliefs

(This post is a follow-up to my May 14th Facebook Live which can be found by clicking the link)

Last year, I bought Neurogym’s Winning the Game of Money program and listened to the 12 weeks worth of audios dutifully not once but three times. Still, I hadn’t really made the progress with my business I’d have liked, nor had I broken through some of the barriers to my success. I finally set the program and all of its bonus materials aside for awhile, and focused on my physical health with much more success.

I’ve learned over the years that if something isn’t working or I’m just not getting it to set it aside and let the ideas percolate for a while. In fact, I’ve found that works for books I can’t, at first get into as well. (Most notable lately was Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now.) When the time is right, I’ll have an epiphany and be able to resume forward progress (or in the case of books, I might get bonked on the head when what I need to read falls off the shelf in protest for being ignored).

This week, I had one of those epiphanies. My business block had to do with a self-limiting belief about money, or more specifically, people with money. Somehow, I’d gotten it into my head that I wasn’t worthy of associating with people who were, by my perception, rich, or at least very well off. I know it’s silly as people are people regardless of their net worth, but the feeling was there and I needed to find its source and clear it.

Uncovering the Source of the Self-Limiting Belief

I didn’t have far to look. My mom was very conscious of money and people who had it. Most of my life she was trying to align herself with wealthy people, but anyone who knew her as well as anyone was allowed could see she wasn’t entirely comfortable around even those she called friends. Admittedly, my mom had more unworthiness issues than anyone else I know, but love and money were her biggest albatrosses.

We inherit many of our traits and beliefs from our parents whether we like it or not. Many just bubble beneath the surface, harming no one. But others, like feelings of unworthiness are diabolical creatures. They undermine our best efforts to follow our dreams; telling us in the most sincere, loving voices that we’d best turn our attention elsewhere. Like a rattlesnake hiding in the grass waiting to bite the unwary, our internal nay-sayer lies in wait for opportunities to chop us down to a size it deems appropriate. Why? Because change is our internal voice’s mortal enemy.

Many times, we don’t even hear the whispered voice telling us we can’t. We simply fail one time too often and give up, often just before the attempt which would have yielded the results we sought. We can silence the voice, but first, we have to recognize its existence and more, its methods.

In my case, that voice was particularly annoyed because I’d recently replaced It’s too hard! with I can! with regard to physical activities. I’ve been pushing my limits at the gym, and more recently, on hiking trails, with spectacular results. That voice was especially determined to knock me down to size, and where better than my dreams of being a successful writer and entrepreneur?

Lessons Are Like Dancing. What Works in One Area of Life Will Likely Work in Another.

But I’d learned a valuable lesson with my physical improvements. If I tell myself I can and keep trying no matter how many times I fail or have to take a step back, I’ll eventually conquer the next milestone and be able to move forward.

I also started looking around at my circle of friends. Most of them, admittedly, are from the dance community, but that makes more sense as I join some of them for hikes or other activities which involve self-improvement. People who engage in an activity like dancing on a regular basis are the last ones you’ll find sitting on a couch at night munching on junk food and drinking beer. In short, the antithesis of the people my ex attracted. I’ve come a long way from that place, though until now, I hadn’t realized just how far.

Surrounding Myself With People Who Embrace Change

People who have already eschewed the pull of the one-eyed monster and couch surfing are the ones who are more likely to challenge themselves in all areas of their lives. They’re the people who retire only to start new businesses or take on large projects. They’re the ones you can count on for help if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew, or just need an example to follow to get you past a temporary road block. Often, they’re the same ones who are financially well off, but are also low-key about it.

So when I noticed how many of my friends are traveling at least once a year to Europe or South America or other exotic locales, it hit me. I already do fit in with those who are better off financially than me. And nobody cares! They simply accept that I’m at a different place in my life. I’ve made choices which temporarily put me at a lower point economically, but as that isn’t the basis of our friendship in the first place, it just isn’t an issue.

If it’s not an issue for my friends, why on earth should I make it one in my own head?

Recognizing and Eradicating Self-limiting Beliefs: I Am Enough

When it comes to self-limiting beliefs, the first step is to recognize them. The second is realizing the only one they matter to is ourselves. At that point, we can use whatever method works for us to release the belief. In some cases, it might be writing it on a piece of paper and burning it. In others, perhaps meditating on releasing the baseless and inhibiting belief. Still others might just bulldog their way through, faking it ’til they make it, as it were.

I tend to use a combination of techniques, but have added a new one this time and hired a business coach. We’re only really focusing on one area where I’m stuck and I’ve only purchased three sessions, but it will get me headed in the right direction. And I will also be ready to listen to the Winning the Game of Money audios as well as working through the tasks with more clarity and direction. Two of my biggest road blocks are now out in the open where they can be addressed and released.

I’ve learned already that I truly do have tenacity in far greater quantities than I gave myself credit for. Now I’m learning how I’ve been getting in my own way regarding money and social status.

There will be more discoveries and releasing to do along the way, but these unexpected successes will make it easier to negotiate the mine field of my own mind in the future. I’ll be more inclined to get out of my own way and ignore the voice telling me I’m not good enough or intelligent enough or determined enough…any enoughs at all. Because at the end of the day, what truly matters is that I am enough!

Get in Tune With Your Own Self-Limiting Beliefs

What is holding you back from achieving your dreams? What self-limiting falsehoods is your inner voice feeding you so it can avoid having to change? How are you going to clear those thoughts and replace them with the ones which will propel you in the direction you want to go? There’s never a better time than now to start shutting those who would get in your way down. And the worst of those will always be the ones inside your own mind.

Gratitude in the Virtual Tool Box

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for epiphanies.
  2. I’m grateful for the excellent examples my friends and family set for me.
  3. I’m grateful for learning to release self-limiting beliefs.
  4. I’m grateful for the skills and abilities I uncover as I stop letting my change-reluctant brain get in the way.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; energy, strength, inspiration, friendship, joy, success, motivation, encouragement, self-improvement, dream manifestation, health, happiness, 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!

The Mind is the Ultimate Race Track

The Human Mind Makes the Indy 500 Look Like a Sunday Drive

My mind has been whirling so wildly, I found it impossible to pin it down to a topic or two for a blog post, but tonight I decided I needed to at least try.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the inner me with both Winning the Game of Weight Loss (WTGOWL) and Winning the Game of Money (WTGOM). I’m actually on round two of the latter, and seeing even more changes, and yet, I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do to actually support myself, and resources are dwindling faster than I’d like. I finally took pen to paper as it is said to be a better link to the brain. I started by writing an almost two page story called “My Compelling Debt-free Future”.

I followed it up by setting an intention which was actually inspired by one of my fellow Achievers (as we call ourselves in the private Facebook group). I will find a part-time or contract job that pays well, has a flexible schedule and allows me to work from home (or any remote location for that matter).

The Goals, They are a-Changin’

After I set my intention, I thought for awhile before deciding I needed to write down some goals. These seem to change somewhat every time I write them, but the current version looks like this:
1. Make an excellent living from my writing
2. Become a Motivational Speaker
3. Buy a large piece of property overlooking the beach with no neighbors
4. Start or support an existing cat rescue
5. Build an artist’s retreat
6. Develop strong relationships with other artists in a variety of mediums and support each other and our efforts

What Good is a Goal Without a Plan?

So now I have an intention and some goals. Reviewing my list, I realized that everything really depends on the first one so the next thing to do is to list the steps needed to achieve the goal. Naturally, as a lover of lists, I was happy to make another. The steps I feel will get me to my goal (subject to revision as I learn more, of course) are:
1. Learn how to pitch successfully
2. Complete what I’ve started (this includes books, stories and courses)
3. Commit to writing daily
4. Commit to studying daily
5. Commit to pitching daily
6. Develop a network of service providers including editors and cover designers
7. Hire a coach

Today, I’m 2 for 7, but the ink is barely dry on my list.

Using Small Wins to Harness the Power of Positivity

I realized after reaching two milestones this week in my weight loss (or as we say in the group, “fat release”) journey that I’m already doing well in an area that has thwarted me for all of my adult life. If I can be successful there, then there’s nothing to stop me from finding success in every aspect of my life. That is not to say I’ll get it right on the first try or even the 100th, but it does mean that if I continue to persevere and use the same principles I apply to the fat release journey: no blame, no shame no guilt, I can’t possibly fail.

What this means on a practical level is that I praise myself for the things I did well each day, but instead of beating myself up for the things I didn’t, I simply make a promise to myself to do better. In that vein, I’ve re-initiated the practice of climbing into bed at night and laying there for a few minutes thinking about the things that happened during the day for which I’m grateful.

Putting the Success Team Together

Essentially, I’m becoming my own head coach. I encourage, praise and note areas needing improvement. I also post both progress and areas in which I’m struggling in my support groups. This way, I get additional encouragement and even ideas which help me do better.

Asking for help has always been a difficult thing for me to do, but I realize that I’m not going to get where I want to go without some outside assistance of some sort. I’m also learning that there truly are people out there who want to support me achieving my goals, but they can’t help if I don’t ask or allow them in.

Embracing Change as a Driving Force

Stepping outside my comfort zone seems to be the theme for 2016. Whether it’s interviewing chefs, stepping into unfamiliar situations or changing up the schedule I’ve been keeping for years, the Universe is making it very clear that I need to try new things and wander away from what is easy. I need to forge new trails and break from routine. For a number of reasons, that seems to be what I’m doing.

I’ve even revamped my website a time or two. It’s still not exactly what I want, but each iteration sees some improvement. Eventually, that, too will be dealt with by professionals.

For now, I’m embracing change, being kind to myself when I don’t complete all my tasks, but still prodding myself to continue to improve and progress. Out of all this will, with any luck, come a real plan for reaching my loftiest dreams.

With Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the support I’m getting from the Neurogym community.
2. I am grateful for the outpouring of love and good wishes I received for my birthday.
3. I am grateful for the milestones I’ve reached with my weight and look forward to reaching some in other aspects of my life.
4. I am grateful for the time spent with my daughter and son-in-law this weekend. They always make my birthday special. And I’m looking forward to more time and endless walking with my daughter again soon.
5. I am grateful for abundance: supportive people, inspiration, goals, encouragement, the will to keep trying, release of fat, release of fear, friendship, love, joy, harmony, peace, health, 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!

You Say “Chaos” Like it’s a Bad Thing

Isn’t it Time We Got Back to Kindness?

Lately, I’m finding all sorts of reasons to hide posts from friends on Facebook. Between the usual (and this year, sometimes unusual) BS inherent to election years, the transgender issue and a score of other things people find to be passionate about, my drama-free zone is in jeopardy. I’m forced to exercise regular diligence to keep my news feed fun, friendly and inspirational.

In the last couple of days, I’ve seen a new villain appear; the anti-change proponent. These people are so set in keeping their own personal idea of the status quo that they’re trying to turn what to me seems obviously necessary change into a demon they call “Chaos”. But I ask you, if it weren’t for chaos, how would we be able to understand order? If it weren’t for chaos, how would we evoke massive change in a society which has become overly complacent and willing to be led like sheep to the slaughter?

“Chaos”: A Word Coined by Those Who Will Be Usurped by Change

Let’s face it, in order to make significant changes to ourselves, our surroundings, and most of all, widespread hatred, we have to shake things up a bit (ok, maybe more than a bit). For many, this is a terrifying concept. They want to know that one day will follow the next, predictable and ordinary. They’re the first ones to jump on the bandwagon like a bunch of lemmings when someone sounds sufficiently authoritative about how something new will turn their lives upside down.

But do they even look at the issue? Do they look at the authoritative body and check their facts? (Blackfish and Obama Care come to mind here). Do they take the time to understand what the change, the innovation really means to them, to their families? Or do they take the word of someone they don’t even know,  accept that it’s bad and start beating their chests and re-posting scathing reports which, if investigated would be found to have no basis in fact at all?

Let’s face it. Nothing really significant has ever happened without upsetting several factions. There is no way to please everyone, so why not look at the greater good? If you exclude one group, you open the doors to bullying. Then, how do you teach our children not to bully when the message they get is “don’t bully except…gays, transgenders, Democrats, Republicans, Muslims and homeless people”?

If you ask me, we need a lot more chaos right now. We need to shake people right out of their boots. We need to show them in full technicolor what their outdated viewpoints ;have created and are perpetuating.

Chaos Brings People Together

After the Northridge earthquake in 1994 there was a lot of chaos. Freeways were closed, neighborhoods were without power and water. And you know what happened? Neighbors who’d never even met were out helping each other. We were forced to think beyond the confines of our own, small worlds and actually care about someone besides ourselves.

After 9/11, the whole country and even people from other countries came out to help people who were complete strangers, often who they’d never see again. Out of Chaos came a sense of community, a sense of pride and concern for people in need, no matter who they were.

Well, here we are again. Hating people and making scapegoats of them, Putting up smokescreens to hide the real issues. Putting the fear of some nebulous, human-created god into people who won’t take the time to check the facts themselves, but instead, take the word of strangers that change is bad, no matter what that change might be.

Scapegoating: An Unsuccessful and Costly Tactic

As a Jew, I know what it’s like to be shunned or treated like our only path to salvation is accepting one of our own as the one son of god and savior (he was a rabbi for chrissakes; a teacher!). Otherwise, we’re not good enough to share space with those who’ve “seen the light”. And if you think the end of anti-semitism was after WWII, you’re living in a fairy tale. It’s simply become more covert. I can’t tell you how many times over the years I was told I wasn’t a whole person because I didn’t accept an ancient rabbi as my end-all and be-all. And because of my lapse, I wasn’t fit to be part of the lives of a bunch of judgemental, myopic idiots. (Thank you for that, by the way. In retrospect, you all did me a favor by kicking me out of your lives!) This week, the Muslims are the ones-to-be-most-hated. And for what? Different beliefs and a few fanatics. Open your eyes now as you could be next!

And by the way, for those Christians who were recently arguing that Messianic Jews practice Judaism, here’s a quote from Wikipedia. Note the part I’ve italicized.

Salvation in Messianic Judaism is achieved only through acceptance of Jesus as one’s savior,[8][13][14][15][16][17] and Jewish laws or customs which are followed do not contribute to salvation.[16][17] Indeed, belief in the messiahship, power to save, and divinity of Jesus, which Messianic Judaism professes, is the defining distinction between Christianity and Judaism.[18][19][20][21][22][23] Other Christian groups usually accept Messianic Judaism as a form of Christianity.[24]

So I say, bring on the Chaos. It’s long overdue. Force people to see past the pretty, well-coiffed lies to the ugly truth beneath.

Why Not Put as Much Effort into Embracing as We do Into Rejecting?

My point is, you’re not going to eliminate the differences, the uniqueness of various cultures and points of view by ostracizing, condemning or fooling yourself into believing they must be like you and can be like you. Even a man like Hitler, infamous in his insanity tried and failed to wipe out an entire culture with a little help from his friends. Yet that culture still thrives and, in fact produces far more than their fair share of scholars, Nobel laureates and and highly successful business people and philanthropists.

Why any rational person believes they can stop the progress of other cultures like the Muslims or gender identification that isn’t heterosexual is beyond my comprehension.

For a Real Laugh, Listen to the Original Pedophiles

And speaking of the gender issue, I nearly peed my pants laughing when I read someone’s post about how co-ed restrooms would encourage pedophilia. Good grief! Is that the best they can do? The most rampant place for pedophilia is the Catholic Church and has been for longer than we probably realize. Is there a more unnatural state than a man who has to remain celibate to keep his job? And yet, these same men are supposed to counsel couples who are getting married? Seriously? What is the basis for their knowledge? What do they know about the challenges of raising a child? They’ve taken their natural carnal instincts and stuffed them into a cardboard box, then left the box sitting out in the rain!

Winding Down and Getting to the Point

I make no apologies for this seemingly disjointed rant. In the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing some of the hated ones first-hand, and know they are not the fanatics the propagandists want us to believe. In fact, they are better people than most of us, and are living beneath the shadow of the actions of a relatively small group of extremists.

I have friends and family who are homosexual or transgender, and for the most part, they are the most forgiving, accepting people I know. Once again, we could all stand to learn compassion and respect from them. Many of them face challenges we in our insular lives cannot even imagine, but they don’t judge.

Change is inevitable, folks, and if to you that means Chaos, then I would suggest you buckle in and get ready for a very bumpy ride. As for me, I’m looking forward to seeing some old social and political structures razed to make room for something new and better. We probably won’t get it exactly right the first time, and it will take time for the dust to settle and the benefits to become apparent, but I’m hoping we’ve learned from our mistakes and will be open-minded to the lessons we can learn from people who have suffered at our hands, yet never even considered laying blame. They’ve taken the moral high ground and learned that it’s our differences rather than our samenesses which make this a better, kinder, more compassionate and more progressive world.

I, for one, wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure I’ve offended a lot of people with this rant, but as I’m a proponent of this change you call chaos, it was inevitable. If you choose to comment, please follow the common courtesy of posting which goes back a number of years: “Attack the post, not the poster”.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for a world where we have the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of people.
2. I am grateful for the ability to check facts and sources, if we only take the time and make a little effort to do so.
3. I am grateful for places where differences are valued and celebrated.
4. I am grateful for the ability to hide hatefulness, ugliness and ignorance.
5. I am grateful for abundance; kindness, compassion, change, lessons, multi-cultural exchanges, gender acceptance, enlightenment, love, peace, harmony, health, 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!

6 Things I’m Doing to Increase Productivity

The Time Has Come to Dig My Way Out of This Hole

Sometimes, we get ourselves into a rut; doing the same things at the same time on the same day, week after week. We end up in a rut which affects all parts of our lives, and often, we don’t even recognize it. In the last couple of weeks, I realized I’d hit that point and needed to take some drastic steps to re-invigorate my motivation. Here are just a few of the changes I’m making.

Change 1: Change it Up

Since part of the rut was just in the routine, I looked at doing some of the usual things like exercising at different times of day. Instead of doing it right after I get up and feed the cats every day, I’m moving it around. Sometimes, I’ll do it right after breakfast, others, later in the afternoon. My brain is no longer expecting it and will not be able to adjust to a particular time and schedule.

Change 2: Making Meditations More Proactive

I decided to test-drive John Assaraf’s “Winning the Game of Money” program. I say test-drive because, for now, I remain skeptical that it will teach me to make significant changes in the way I approach my writing and making a living, but I’m also keeping the door open to the possibility that it will. As he has a 30-day money back guarantee, I’m going to give it the full 30 days before deciding whether to continue. After only 4 days, I can say that it has opened my eyes to, well, opening my eyes. I admit that there are opportunities staring me in the face that I’m just not seeing right now. As the main component of the program is a 30 minute guided meditation which can be done once a day or more if you like, I’m using it instead of my usual hour-long, silent meditation. The one thing I’ve noticed after only 4 days is that the cats are becoming active participants. Pyewacket, in particular, feels the need to lie on top of my head or climb all over me through the entire recording. I’m also feeling more alert, more positive and more energetic. I can certainly appreciate these benefits and use them to my advantage!

Change 3: Enjoying my Own Company

I’ve been spending more than the usual amount of time out in public lately, between doctor visits, errands, and physical therapy. It’s given me a bad case of human overload. Since I crave a certain amount of alone time, I gave myself three full days of nothing but me and the cats. Half-way through Day 2, I was feeling absolutely wonderful! Then, while doing chores I was visited by a very friendly pit bull puppy, and, better still, an old friend I haven’t gotten to visit with in awhile!

Change 4: A Dance Hiatus.

As you might have read, I had a bit of a meltdown the last time I went dancing. I lost the ability to, as I like to say “leave my shit at the door”, and behaved rather badly. Though I have tendered an apology to the injured parties, I am not ready to return to that environment right now. I’ll go back when my daughter is in town, but have no real pressing urge to do so any sooner. I do miss seeing my friends, but I know they understand and will welcome me back when I’m ready.

Change 5: Setting Deadlines

I have done very little work on any of my novels lately. It’s becoming terminal and I finally decided to switch from working on my 2015 NaNo to going back to the one I wrote in 2013. I tried to finish the latest revision by October 31, but came up about 50 pages or so short. So far, I’ve managed to get another chapter revised, but now, I’m committing to 20 pages per week. It may not sound like much, but revising takes a whole lot longer than writing a draft, as I’ve learned to my frustration. I read today that writers procrastinate because we work better under pressure, and saw myself in that slightly tarnished mirror.

Change 6: Getting More Regular

I used to be really good about writing blog posts several times a week, but in the last few months, I’ve really let my readers down. My goal for now is 3 posts a week, but I can certainly do more if I just plant my tushie in the chair and start writing. I’m hoping the WTGoM program will inspire me to write more and give me things to write about as well. Stay tuned to see how well I do on this one.

Keeping it Simple For Now

The only thing missing from this plan is a more intense exercise plan, but until my neck and shoulder are in better shape, I’m going to leave most of that to my Physical Therapist. She kicked my butt today and I came away feeling a bit battered, but I’d rather she pushes me so I’ll get better more quickly.

At this point, there’s nothing left to do but give you tonight’s gratitudes.
1. I am grateful for support groups. There are many people out there who share interests with me and both cheering their successes and giving each other moral support makes what could be a very lonely journey something uniquely companionable.
2. I am grateful for life’s synchronicities. Just when I feel like I’m making no progress, something happens to assure me I am.
3. I am grateful for beautiful, sunshiny days and emerald green grass. The rains have made our air clearer and allowed the drought-murdered lawns and hillsides to thrive. Even my daffodils are turning their faces to the sun to smile radiantly.
4. I am grateful for my daughter. We don’t always agree and we can really frustrate each other, but there’s a love and a bond we share that nobody can ever break.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, support, inspiration, butt kicking, brainstorming, connections, friendship, family, health, harmony, peace, 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!

Shaking up the Status Quo

When Things Are No Longer Working

As much as I try to stay positive, there are days when my mood is communing with the serpents. Days when all I want to do is pet my cats. The cats don’t mind. In fact, they rather enjoy it. They know that if they get tired of my strokes and skritches, they can just get up and move to another part of the house for awhile. I can’t offend them or hurt their feelings nor they, mine. And it is good.

Humans are a completely different story. My words, when flowing unchecked can cause all sorts of mayhem. I can offend, annoy or anger with just a few words, an unkind tone, a gesture. Humans don’t try to take a step back and wonder why I’m behaving so poorly. They don’t try to see that I might be having a rough time or feeling pain. It’s neither their job nor their responsibility to see past the words, the tone and the gestures. They simply respond to what they see and hear.

Understanding the harm I can do, albeit after the fact convinces me that my hermit nature needs to be exercised sooner rather than later. I am responsible for the harm I do others so I am responsible for recognizing when pain, stress, worry, or grief have impacted my normal, if hard won, joyful nature. It is up to me to realize when I’m not fit for social interaction and absent myself from the community of humans until I can again behave in a fashion which does no harm.

Especially disturbing is how quickly a few setbacks can erase the work of years; often in the space of an instant.

Change Can Actually be a Relief

What makes less sense to me right now is, having taken that step back and even given up my dance nights for the time being, I feel no sense of loss. Sure, I miss seeing my friends but I am actually relieved that I don’t have to leave the house at a certain time on the same days every week. Hard as it might be to believe, even something I find pleasurable has become something of a rut.

Suddenly, I don’t feel like I have to go out on certain nights and if I do, I don’t have to follow a specific schedule or go to the same old place. Instead, I can stay home, put together a healthy batch of whatever, do some writing or editing and even go to bed early; or early for me, anyway. It’s an odd feeling of freedom from obligations I set for myself.

Is it possible to get stuck in a routine that’s supposed to be fun until your very mood, your personality is affected? I suspect that it’s less common with people who are naturally social and those who work a regular job where social activities, even if pre-planned over a long period of time are a nice way to break up the week. But in a free-flowing lifestyle, rigid adherence to a regular routine becomes almost painful, no matter how much pleasure is derived from the activity. I speak, of course, as one who takes in inordinate amount of pleasure from being alone.

Turning an Anomaly into a Research Project

As I have a curious mind, it does make me wonder if this finding of displeasure in pleasure is an anomaly found only in beings like myself who thrive on aloneness or if it’s something which can affect anyone. Is it attributable to people with very limited social lives who get their social interaction according to a very strict schedule? Will altering the schedule and throwing in some unexpected social choices alleviate loss of pleasure? Or does it call for something more drastic?

This is becoming something of a one woman social experiment. Phase 1 involves giving up my regular social schedule. I’m not sure yet whether Phase 2 will take the form of different activities engaged in on my regular social nights or if both activities and schedule will be altered. For now, I’m just happy to have accomplished something with my writing. But that, too meant going in a different direction. For now, I’ve put Hannah’s Chair aside and gone back to the latest revision of Sasha’s Journey. While I only managed a chapter today, it’s a chapter more than I’ve managed on anything in over a week. My initial conclusion, then, is that changing things up is a good thing. But my pool of data is quite small and doesn’t warrant reaching any far-flung conclusions.

May my sanity hold out and my inspiration rise to the occasion!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for change.
2. I am grateful for the opportunity to experiment with my life.
3. I am grateful for the companionship of my furry children.
4. I am grateful for improvement in my physical world.
5. I am grateful for abundance: opportunities, inspiration, motivation, change, lessons, challenges, peace, health, 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!

What? You Want me to Change my Look?

The More We Change, the More We Stay the Same

In the last couple of days, two different articles/videos showed up in my news feed about the importance of changing your hairstyle. Crazy hairOne even had the commentator declaring “You must change your hairstyle at least every 2 years to avoid looking older.” I found this especially amusing because I haven’t changed mine in at least a couple of decades yet am constantly mistaken for 10-15 years younger. So much for that idea. Or, do they mean, I could look 35 again if I changed my hair? Hmmm, let’s think about this for a minute. The men my age are going for the 40-year-olds so if I look 35, I’d attract the 50-year-olds? This could work for me!

But I digress. As focused as I am on all things ‘change’, the whole scenario got my attention and started the gears turning. I claim to have made some significant changes, and indeed I have, but are they really enough? I’m still a terrible procrastinator and I’ve yet to publish so much as a short story (assuming I could limit myself to 5,000 words instead of 100,000). I’m watching fellow freelancers and other entrepreneurs making up their former salaries in a matter of months yet, to quote someone in my networking group, there are times when I feel like I’m hemorrhaging money. OK, so it’s not really that bad, but unlike him, I don’t have an office to pay for or anything other than my existing living expenses and those of my cats.

Sure, my hours have changed. I’m living a 9-ish to 2-ish lifestyle now, but I’m not working enough to even make me happy. Then I hit a rut like I’ve been in for the last few days and get very little done. I know I’ll make it up by working some long days to catch up, and I did get my personal books updated, but what about those long-term items on my to do list? I haven’t knocked one off the list in quite awhile, and let’s not get started on the gym routine which started off so well at the beginning of the year and has been non-existent since June.

Yes, I’ve decluttered my life a lot but I haven’t finished. Yes, I have gotten into some very good routines so my house isn’t a complete pigsty. But would I be embarrassed to have visitors right now? Yes, I would. Until I get the nasty, stinky, stained carpet pulled up in my bedroom, I would. Until I figure out how to at least get the kitchen cabinets in, the wall torn down and the tile installed, yes, it looks like I’m living in a war zone. Sure, it’s an easily maintained war zone, but a war zone nonetheless.

I’m also lacking the get up and go I need, or maybe it’s the confidence, to bring in new business, sell my writing, finish at least one novel all the way through editing and formatting and just start living up to my potential (hear that, Mom. I’m agreeing with you now). I need a better plan. I know that. But I don’t know where I want to begin. It’s not that I don’t have several quite viable directions I can go. My problem lies in choosing one, mapping it out and running with it.

Does Changing the Outside Change the Inside?

I have to wonder if changing the outside really would have the “King and I” effect? Would I be able to convince myself that I’m the successful and prolific author of my dreams by changing my outward appearance? By giving up the natty t-shirt and gym shorts in favor of stylish duds, makeup and an actual hairdo that doesn’t involve a scrunchy? Does hair really make the girl?

I’m opening this one up to my readers.

Have you changed your life by changing your look? For the better? Was it a major change or a minor one?

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for continuing to step out of my comfort zone.
2. I am grateful for new ideas.
3. I am grateful for change, even if it’s smaller than I first thought.
4. I am grateful for progress; slow, sometimes unsteady, but progress nonetheless.
5. I am grateful for abundance; peace, harmony, prosperity, forward momentum, friendship, love, connection, inspiration, motivation, and philanthropy.

“font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>Blessed Be

“font-family: lucida sans; font-size: small;”>I invite you 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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