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

Archive for the ‘Cleaning’ Category

July 12, 2015 Clearing the Debris

My Own Particular Version of Hoarding

I admit it. I’m a sucker for offers of free webinars. I’ve watched more hours than I care to admit; be it self-help, writing, publishing, or underwater basket weaving; I’ve done it all.

Over the last few months, however, I’ve become more and more disenchanted as people become less and less subtle about the sales pitch in these free webinars. The worst of the bunch still has to be Jack Canfield and his publicist spending the first 30 minutes of a 90 minute webinar bragging about how much stuff they have. In fact, I think that was my turning point. From then on, I only watched a few more, and those were either writing related or having to do with meditation.

The Ultimate Junk Mail Subscriber

Yet, it isn’t the hours wasted watching webinars which all start to run together. It isn’t the fact that the useful content is getting smaller and the sales pitch is becoming the bulk of many free webinars. The real issue is once they get your email address, they inundate you with “special offers” and “not to be missed events”. Each iteration becomes even more sales and less content the more they believe they’ve hooked you.

In light of recent events and confusion clearing, today I did two things for myself. First, I unsubscribed from all of those free webinar people with the exception of a couple of writers who truly do give some valuable content and only a minimal sales pitch. This, alone should cut the time I spend deleting emails by about 75%. These insidious time-suckers will no longer even tickle the edges of my consciousness leaving the brain power for more important things like, say, the latest re-write of Sasha’s Journey.

Taking the Cleaning to a Whole New Level

Once the inbox deluge was stemmed, it was easier to see what is truly important and what is not, and also makes the disruptive ping of incoming mail occur a lot less often! With all the extra time on my hands, I gazed around my physical environment and noticed windows which hadn’t been cleaned in years and were so covered with grime it made the sky look muddy even though it was a bright, clear blue. Once again, I got a start on the project, but have a ways to go to finish. My office window is clean, inside and out, but the rest of the windows on the front of the house are only clean on the outside, and I need to remove the screens to finish even that much. But it is a start and one I’ll more likely complete as I gaze out the one completely clean window every day and remind myself how nice it looks.

If I’ve learned nothing else over the last couple of years it’s that a periodic cleaning and decluttering is essential to forward progress. We have to be willing to go through what we have and let go of what no longer serves us. (though I exclude books from this process. They will always serve me!) Looking back and looking around me, I have made some major changes and gotten rid of a lot of things I no longer needed. But the process will always need to be revisited. As we clear the way for new and better things to enter our lives, some of those things will only be temporary, and they, too will ultimately need to be cleared to make room for newer things. Though this was one of my toughest lessons, I find that the more I clear things from my life, the easier it gets. The more often I clear things from my life, the sooner I recognize it is time to do it again. Funny how that works!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for a clean, clear view of the world outside my office.
2. I am grateful for a huge reduction in the junk emails I receive.
3. I am grateful for a fun evening out with the girls and Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure”.
4. I am grateful for continued improvement in my shoulder and arm, thanks to daily exercises and Salonpas Deep Relieving Gel (which Scrappy Doo insists he must lick off my body!).
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, harmony, companionship, intelligent conversations, joy, peace, clarity, health, 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!

October 2, 2014 I love lists!!!

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

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

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

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

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

Lists and graphics and charts, Oh, my!

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

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

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

Namaste

September 11, 2014 At a loss for words…again

What do you say, when you have nothing to say?

I’m staring at the computer screen after a truly epic night of dancing which was topped off by the arrival of my daughter, here to celebrate her birthday, and it was all I could do to even open up the page for a new post. Though sitting in front of the screen with nothing to say isn’t all that rare, the reticence towards opening a page for my nightly post is new. It’s not as if I’m being judged or graded on what I post here. Sure, people have opinions, and there are always the rare few who want to attack the poster, but for the most part, the response I’ve received has been pretty positive.

So why the reluctance to put fingers to keyboard tonight? I’m sure Mr. Freud would have some explanation involving female hysteria, but I never thought much of his theories anyway. The only other explanation which sounds remotely plausible right now is that I have something percolating inside of me which isn’t quite ready to see the light of day. Thus, I’m finding it difficult to create a post at all. I won’t bore you with 500 words about nothing, but will allow my stubborn brain to have its way. Hopefully, the percolation will be complete by tomorrow (and why is it that I find myself typing so often when the clock reads “11:11”? Maybe this time, it’s a reminder that I have accurately assessed the problem and my solution is appropriate as well?)

Leave us not belabor the point. I will simply share my gratitudes tonight.
1. I am grateful for a visit from my daughter on her birthday weekend.
2. I am grateful for another epic night of dancing with the most amazing friends a girl could have.
3. I am grateful for a productive day of house cleaning…my least favorite sport.
4. I am grateful for the quiet at the end of a busy day.
5. I am grateful for abundance: positivity, exercise, a job well done, happiness, love, joy, health, mental gymnastics and prosperity.

Namaste

September 10, 2014 A truly extraordinary day

There are times when the seemingly mundane takes on a whole, new perspective!

Today was a day of errands and chores, which, on the surface, seems pretty mundane. Sometimes, it’s not so much what you do, but how it makes you feel!

Sure, there’s nothing extraordinary about the fact that I get my nails done every other Wednesday morning (this time, a marvelous, sparkly red!). What makes it extraordinary is the people I meet and the hour I get to spend with the delightful woman who does my nails. Sometimes, our conversations are pretty benign, and others, we might be solving all of the problems of the world. But it really doesn’t matter what we talk about. I enjoy the hour every couple of weeks that is all about me. She puts me back together when I’ve had a couple of casualties, and just having nice hands makes me feel that much better about myself. Sure, it’s a little thing, but isn’t most of what makes us feel good just a compilation of little things?

Shopping for decorations and a gift for my daughter’s birthday is definitely extraordinary. It wouldn’t matter if I’d done it twenty times, or a hundred and twenty. Labors of love are like that, you know! How can you feel anything but happy and joyful while shopping for a gift and the accoutrements of celebration for someone you love with all of your heart? Add in shopping for the ingredients for the filling and frosting for a new cake I helped her brainstorm last weekend, and the day just got better and better!

But it didn’t end there! I also checked out a new sushi restaurant for lunch. Though the food was pretty good, it paled in comparison to the place my daughter found near her house where their all-you-can-eat menu was more extensive, containing a few things besides sushi, and they had the wonderful, marinated cucumber salad I love (the new place didn’t even sever it as a side with some of their rolls!) The service was quite a bit slower and they tried to charge me for a soda when all I ordered was a glass of water! Needless to say, I won’t insult my daughter by offering it up as an alternative to the place she already likes near here.

As if the day couldn’t get any better, I indulged myself in a Nora Roberts book I picked up while shopping for my daughter, stopping only to warm up leftovers for dinner.

As the day winds to a close, I have everything I need for the birthday party on Saturday, clean clothes, scooped sand boxes, a clean kitchen and clean bedding. The only thing left to do is to get a good night’s sleep so I can finish tomorrow’s chores before going dancing, and my daughter’s arrival for a weekend of celebration!

There are times, and if you ask me, it’s most times, that the simplest things are the ones which bring us the most joy. When things get too complicated, it means a whole lot of extra effort had to go into making them happen in the first place! So this is me, keeping it simple, and loving every minute of it!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for simplicity.
2. I am grateful for labors of love.
3. I am grateful to be celebrating the birth of my daughter again this week.
4. I am grateful to be able to find joy everywhere I look.
5. I am grateful for abundance: Joy, love, simplicity, health, harmony, peace, motivation, creativity and prosperity.

Namaste

September 1, 2014 Don’t do it, I tell ya!

I promised myself I wouldn’t do it, but I…just…couldn’t…stop…myself!

Remember how I said I was going to put my book aside, at least for a few days, until others eyes had a chance to see it? Remember how adamant I was about not looking because I knew I’d find fault and want to start rewriting again? Well, I didn’t listen to me. While I was waiting for my friends to arrive so we could go see Led Zep Again, I pulled out one of the boxes of printed pages. I got through the first couple of chapters and, not only did I find errors like using the wrong word, or punctuation, but I thought of ways I could make it even better. I knew this would happen, and I know that I will go through it again after a couple of people have given me their thoughts, but…all I can say is, it called to me. At least I resisted the urge to pull out a pen and start making notes on the copy! That’s something, right?

How do other authors do it? How do they keep themselves from going back over what they’ve written dozens of times? At what point do they say, “OK, I’ve gone through it exty seven times and I have to let it go now. It is as good as it’s going to get without working on it until the end of eternity.” Or, like me, do they just drive themselves crazy? Is it like getting over a relationship? The way to let go of one book is to go on to another? I’d sure like to know before I drive myself completely looney tunes over this one!

It’s not as if I don’t have a million other projects as well as another trip to see my daughter. It’s not as if I couldn’t spend the next three weeks just cleaning my house and yard. But even while meditating, it niggles at me, like a voice in my head that won’t be silenced. “Did you remember to put in the part that… What about those characters you mentioned. Did you ever expand on them? Is that really where you want to end it? Shouldn’t there be more violence?” And on, and on, and on.

So tomorrow I’ll keep myself busy with errands and such. I’ll try to knock a few more chores off of my to do list. And maybe, just maybe, I can give the book a week or two to cool before I light yet another fire under my poor, abused child!

Of course, I have those other voices telling me to finish the copywriting course and get to work on the website. Those voices tell me that I need to take a few more steps forward now instead of constantly going back to the drawing board. Which voices are right, and does it really matter as long as I find a way to move forward again?

Sometimes, when the road gives you too many choices, you can do one of two things. You can stand at that crossroads and worry and fret about whether this choice or that will be good or not, or you can close your eyes, spin yourself around, and just go in the direction you find yourself facing. The fact is, none of those roads is the wrong one. They’re simply different. No matter which one you take, you’ll eventually wind up exactly where you need to be. Some may take a little longer because they contain more lessons, while the easier ones might get you there sooner, but less prepared for what comes next.

Sometimes, it’s not so much the direction you take, but that you take a direction.

So this is where I’m at tonight. I need to take a direction and start moving. Stagnation is never pretty! Tomorrow morning, while I’m waiting for my car to be serviced, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing; looking at my choices and just picking one. I know in my heart that whatever I choose, I can’t go wrong.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful that I have choices.
2. I am grateful for days spent with friends, music and fresh air.
3. I am grateful for my upcoming visit with my daughter and my grand furries.
4. I am grateful for inspiration which I know will come as soon as I stop trying to force things.
5. I am grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, decision-making, harmony, peace, joy, prosperity, work that feeds my soul, love, health and success.

Namaste

August 24, 2014 Ask and it shall be answered

Finally! Restlessness and weird, itchy twitchies; explained!

After nearly a week of feeling restless and out of sorts, accomplishing very little and even foregoing a night of dancing just to avoid being around large numbers of people, the explanation has made itself known; but not before spending another day snuggling with cats who were also itch-twitchy and out of sorts. Today, two 6+ magnitude earthquakes hit the west coast of the Americas. One around San Francisco and the other in Peru. Where am I? Between the two! No wonder my household has been so uncomfortable and I’ve experienced such an extreme lack of motivation! No wonder the cats have been following me around and gluing themselves to my body as often as possible! There is a veritable cacophony of Earth energy bouncing around us, making grounding close to impossible!

At least now that the culprit has revealed himself, I can start getting things done again! But just when I decide I’m going to get back to the gym in the morning, I give myself a serious (could even need stitches, serious) gash on the knuckle of the index finger on my right hand. I’ve gone through three band-aids so far, and it’s bled through all of them. I am begging the Powers that Be that I will be spared a long night in the local ER! Sadly, this can’t be blamed on an earthquake, but simply my own, inherent grace and inability to watch where I’m going (not to mention, one of those nice, sharp lids from a pull-top cat food can!).

While it may not be wise to send the blood pumping too quickly through my veins until I’m sure the little “boo boo” has closed up, this should keep me planted in front of my computer long enough to edit the last ten pages of my novel, so all is not lost! (slowed down a bit as I can already feel my typing speed losing points, and my ability to type for long periods of time being impaired) Yes, as I look at my throbbing finger, encased in three band-aids, I feel an odd detachment from it all, as if the functionality of my physical self isn’t really all that important. If it’s one thing I’ve always been good at, it’s work-arounds.

Healthy eating is going much better though. The choices I’ve brought into the house this week and a batch of turkey taco meat to go with my salads gives both healthiness and the ability to grab and go.  It makes it just as easy to have a healthy, quick meal as it had been to resort to frozen stuff and dry cereal. Score one for the good guys!

As loss of blood has slowed down my brain, you get a short one tonight, but be warned that tomorrow could make up for it!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for helpful kitties when blood is pouring out of me and I’m trying to make it down the hall to the first aid kit. Now, if they could only help with the bandaging while keeping from sticking themselves between the bandaid and my skin!
2. I am grateful for a container of lunch stuff, ready to be assembled on demand.
3. I am grateful that the reasons for my feeling out of sorts have revealed themselves at last.
4. I am grateful that I can just start clean tomorrow with the new week.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, happiness, harmony, peace, health, prosperity.

Namaste

August 18, 2014 Visiting is nice, but there’s no place like home.

The crazy, busy weekend has come to an end, and the cats are happy to claim their fair share of attention.

It was really lovely spending a few days with my daughter, son-in-law and grand furries, but at the end of the 2 1/2 hour drive, I was glad to be back in my own home, surrounded by my own furry children. Rather than do the normal, post vacation chores like unpacking and laundry, everyone was happy for a lazy rest of the day cuddling and reading (I did the reading, they did the cuddling!). As everyone follows me around the house, making sure that I’m not leaving again any time soon, I love being back in my own space, with a night of sleeping in my own bed taunting me gently as I type. Of course, it also means that I have to stop every few minutes and drag someone out from behind my monitor where all of the cords and wires for my computer lurk and make for a treacherous place for cat naps.

I had grand intentions for taking out trash, unpacking and doing laundry, but a lazy day with the cats and an e-book seemed to hold more appeal than doing chores which can just as easily happen tomorrow!

I guess this has always been my approach to life in general and to the raising of kids and cats. The chores will always be there, but the special times we spend cuddling, reading, taking walks and sharing laughs are so precious and should always take precedence because the opportunities are fleeting. Kids grow up, cats grow old and pass (and many times pass before they grow old), life’s responsibilities wear us down. Those moments of closeness and laughter are truly what makes life worthwhile. Friends I’ve had over the years who put the cleanliness of their house and the timing of their meals before the laughter and cuddles were, in my opinion, always the worse for it. They were typically the ones who judged me and found me wanting because I wanted and needed fun in the lives of me and my kids. They were also the ones who spent a lot of time complaining about their lives. Seems to me that just a little more laughter would have eliminated a lot of the complaining! Even worse, they were old before their time.

I see one friend in particular who seemed older than I am now when she was a good fifteen years younger than I am right now. By the time she was my current age, she was difficult for me to be around because she shrouded herself in her negative energy. Thinking about it, even her animals had endless health issues! Was it any wonder that it took something which, in hindsight was small and insignificant to end the friendship? The truth was, I outgrew her long before that time when I chose laughter and gratitude over duty and complaints. I know that my own joy and dismissal of her complaints was uncomfortable for her as well.

I honestly believe that we’re all given periods in our lives when things don’t seem to work well for us, just to see how we’re going to handle them. There’s nothing wrong with going all gloom and doom once in awhile either. It gives us a point against which we can measure those moments of joy, and teaches us how to take a setback and turn it into something better than an immediate success might have become. Heaven knows I had years when I wallowed in misery, though the misery paled in comparison to what came before.

Making the slow climb out of the pits of despair.

We’ve all been through them. The doldrums, the lower than lows, the times when it feels like it takes all of the strength we have just to keep our chin from dragging on the ground. Most of us eventually found a way out, but it wasn’t by taking a giant leap from despair to joy. Like just about everything else we do, we did it in baby steps. Despair gave way to grief, grief gave way to sadness, sadness gave way to ennui, and eventually, we rose above our own, personal darkness to find happiness, and for the luckiest of us, joy and rapture and ecstasy. If we’re honest, though, we admit that staying at that high point takes effort as well, and most of the time, we slide back to happy or content and can stay there for awhile before climbing back up to the pinnacle. Each backslide and each climb teaches us more about ourselves; what it takes to keep us joyous, how little it takes before we lose the glow.

What I’m really trying to say is that we find our own balance through a lot of trial and error, and what may be balanced for one aspect of our life isn’t necessarily going to be comfortable when it comes to something else. Not to mention the fact that balancing one area can send another flying into the air without a net! Yet, while we’re trying very hard to walk the high wire which stretches across the mile high chasm of our lives, we need to give ourselves a break from taking it all way too seriously, and just step back and laugh at our seemingly fruitless efforts and realize that the chasm is only as deep as we allow it to be. If we can learn to see that chasm as being only a foot or two beneath our feet, stepping off the wire won’t be such a big deal. At that point, we can throw caution to the wind and get more creative about our movements because the worst that can happen is that we take a couple of steps back before moving forward again.

Which raises another question. Is forward necessarily the answer to every question? Are there times when the best solution is to go sideways or even, backwards? If we stop painting ourselves into a corner where mistakes have dire consequences, we’ll have the opportunity to explore alternative solutions, and even find that a more creative solution gives us unexpected and rather desirable results.

All roads lead to Rome, but the best choice might not be the shortest route.

This whole thing brings to mind the conversations I’ve been having with my daughter about the best route between her new home and mine. The most direct route is also highly traveled, and more likely than not to be hindered by construction, extreme traffic conditions and accidents. Other routes might be considered because they require a minimum of freeway changes. Ultimately, I’ve settled on one which might mean changing freeways four times, but is less heavily traveled, is less plagued by construction crews and means that the longest leg of the trip is a straight shot down a single, main highway. Despite the fact that it’s about twenty miles further, travel time is the same or significantly less as hazards are few. And so goes life. The best path may not be the shortest or the quickest, but it satisfies other requirements far better in the long run. There really is a lot to be said for the phrase: “taking the long way home”.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I’m grateful for short trips that remind me how good it is to be home.
2. I am grateful for opportunities to leave home…and come back.
3. I am grateful for a home full of furry children who are happy to see me, whether I’m gone an hour or several days.
4. I am grateful for crazy, busy weekends followed by slow, steady weeks.
5. I am grateful for abundance which is there for the asking: love, happiness, harmony, peace, joy, health and prosperity.

Namaste

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