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Archive for the ‘#commitment’ Category

Finally Putting Myself First

Who’s Looking Out For Me?

For most of my life, I was convinced it was my responsibility to please other people. Whether it was parents and teachers when I was younger, bosses and boyfriends as I moved into my 20’s, children, friends, and co-workers as my 30’s and 40’s slipped by—not once during those decades did I pause for a moment to ask:

Who’s looking out for me?

The harsh reality was, no one. Everyone had expectations, and I suppose they all assumed I took care of my own. And yet, I didn’t. I ate poorly, slept badly, gave up dancing to schlep my daughters to practices and events while they were in high school, worked long hours for thankless, self-serving bosses. The only things I got out of it were a marginally decent paycheck, and a lot of extra pounds.

Don’t get me wrong. The time and effort I spent on my daughters was a labor of love. It wasn’t their job to take care of me, though as they grew older, Heather, at least made an effort at times, when her own life wasn’t overwhelming her. And she was definitely the driving force behind me getting back to doing one thing I’ve always loved; writing.

Forgetting to Put My Own Health and Welfare First

But I always put things like healthy eating, regular exercise, and me time on hold until I had less on my plate. Of course the day didn’t come until long after Heather moved out. I didn’t give myself permission to put myself first until all other responsibilities; kids, job, friends; were no longer a factor.

That’s when I started paying more attention to what I needed. I put myself on a gym schedule, increased the number of blog posts I wrote, finished the first draft of my memoir, and so much more.

I discovered the more I gained control of my own wants and needs, the more able I was to organize something else. My house grew less cluttered. My health improved, and when I was faced with revisiting my diet or taking blood pressure medication, the answer was obvious. I increased my weekly blog posting to three and my pre-scheduling to at least two weeks. And I added thrice-weekly posts to Medium.com as well.

Falling into Old Habits

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrStill, it wasn’t long before I began doing things for other people, even when it conflicted with my own needs. Nothing major really, but enough to bring my migraines back more frequently. It took me awhile to realize where my problem lay, but when I did, I took a giant step back.

I looked at how little I’d been getting done aside from what I’d already put in place. Nothing new had been added in months, and I was spending too much time either parked in front of the TV or playing computer games. I was wasting my best writing time, late nights, on mindlessness. And it had to stop!

I looked around myself at all the projects I wanted done but couldn’t bring myself to start. I tried to ignore the preparations I’d made to re-write my memoir after getting the editor’s notes. I cringed at my failed attempts to write regular articles for Elephant Journal.

Re-Committing to Me

It all came down to one monkey I thought I’d gotten off my back. Once again, I https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpwas failing myself. I was blowing off all the commitments I’d made to move my life and business forward. I’d allowed myself to become discouraged by a combination of other peoples’ opinions and my own lack of progress.

So many times in the last few years I’ve recognized a need to take a few steps back and take stock. To look at where I am now, where I’ve been, and where I still want to go. Part of the solution is to re-set intentions. Part is to use my time more wisely. But most of it is to rekindle the flame inside me that burns away feelings of unworthiness, inability, fear, and ineptitude. In recent months, I’d allowed that flame to burn low, if not go out.

I’ve filled my weeks with more dance nights. But my alone time has been an endless chain of ennui. I’ve convinced myself I’m doing well to stick to the schedule I’ve made for writing blog posts, but have written nothing for others in the last month. I’ve made no effort to work on any of my larger projects, or even set myself a schedule for completing them.

Filling My Time With Uselessness

When I sit down at my computer at night, I open a game or social media instead of a document. Even my passion for reading has gone unfulfilled.

Sure, I write my morning pages every day, but most days, they’re filled with comments about the cats or other meaningless drivel. I’ve lost sight of their true purpose; to dredge up my innermost thoughts and drag out what’s truly bothering me and keeping me from moving forward. I’ve even seen only an occasional blog idea rather than the many I used to get from a single day’s writing. My dreams are vivid, but by the time I hit snooze a few times, they and whatever message they might have held disappears and never makes it to my morning pages.

But the real problem still comes down to one thing. I’ve stopped honoring commitments to myself. I haven’t really replaced them with anything substantial. Occasionally, I’m an ear for a friend, but even that’s become infrequent of late. Mostly, I’m simply avoiding.

Recognizing My Avoidance Behavior

https://www.flickr.com/photos/158790927@N08/25811269728/in/photolist-FjRveS-9bdN4K-dKT3m8-anLPS8-G2jGGP-666Dfo-9m3HTB-2ybGf6-9iiWLY-25XfULY-7a6uQa-U9eETw-7DiPVT-p9S65F-e2GNW6-vQhq-4X1zBQ-21j28Rw-aThcrK-RtCD8e-JQymgD-4tNbf5-pHEbRM-6Spn3F-q6BKxR-dFUcvG-pRv5H1-a83xB-3BDEC4-51zVdg-qDXFZQ-ZxzHMW-5QUcWa-sRkDaA-nwfiJe-D2A2dy-6mzNAb-51EaCE-dH2iC3-51zW7R-qy8Bsg-2fiQNc-4rnFvK-cGPQZG-jKU2zx-rpgXY4-oUjEqW-6AiPdn-8GTCLG-9VrnVKAvoiding what, you ask? First and foremost, finishing my memoir and figuring out how and where I’ll publish it. After that, it’s doing things to improve my physical environment like sanding the walls in the bathroom and applying the paint I bought months ago, or digging up weeds in the yard I thought about doing while we had rain and the ground was soft. Now it’s summer and the days are hotter, giving me more excuses to put that project on hold yet again.

I’m also avoiding working through a course which will help me create a client funnel, and thus, more business. I’m making excuses, most of which are pure garbage. I tell myself I don’t know where to find people who need a ghostwriter or even an accountant. But have I put forth the effort to learn where they hang out? Barely.

I’ve also talked about trading more blog posts for coaching sessions, but have yet to offer up a schedule I promised a couple of weeks ago.

Taking Positive Steps

Now I could keep beating myself up for letting myself down, but frankly, that would simply extend this already interminably dull and unproductive cycle. Instead, I write about it here, taking credit and responsibility for what I’ve done and where I am so I can come to terms with it and move on.

The funny thing is, if someone let me down like this, I’d address the issue and try to find a solution. I wouldn’t let it drag on forever. I’d send a follow up email or text and open a dialogue. It’s really no different with myself except the dialogue is done with pen and paper, or fingers and keyboard instead of voices or emails.

In a way, I’ve already done most of the work by writing this post. I’ve pulled out the issues, and if I don’t fully understand the causes behind my latest round of self-sabotage, I’ve at least acknowledged it’s happening, and that I’m aware of it. Like any kind of obsession or addiction, the first step is admitting it’s a problem. In the coming weeks and months, I can work on the solution. I can acknowledge all the things I do to avoid the commitments to myself, and I can offer convincing arguments against any value in avoidance.

Using My Writing to Set Myself Right

The solutions are always in my writing even when writing is the problem. In fact, when writing is the problem, sitting down and writing are my best direction out of the pit I’ve likely crawled into while avoiding writing. Funny how that works.

Some might say I set my personal expectations high, but in reality, they’re fairly low. Write my morning pages every day. Easy. Write at least a few words or a blog post daily. A little tougher, but not outlandish. Keep my personal space clean. A bit harder with my piglets of cats who simply cannot be trained to clean up after themselves, but still do-able.

As for the bigger projects like the bathroom and the yard, I’m confident when I clear the blocks around my writing and business building, those projects will be my reward for a job well done.

Above all, I think I need a reminder for those times when I forget my most important commitment is me.

Identifying the Many Things I Have to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for little things that remind me to take better care of myself and my own needs.
  2. I am grateful for the gift of writing which always gets me back on track provided I remember to use it.
  3. I am grateful for my daughter Heather who single-handedly got me back to writing regularly, even if sometimes it was kicking and screaming.
  4. I am grateful for all the people who continue to read, support, and encourage my writing.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, writing, friendship, inspiration, motivation, ladders out of the abyss, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Turning Irritation Into Productivity

Taking “Do Not Disturb” to New Lengths

I have an irrational aversion to people I don’t know parking in front of my house. It could be a neighbor, one of their friends, or someone pulling over to send a text or check an address. It doesn’t matter. I see their car in front of my house and have to physically restrain myself from running outside and telling them to park elsewhere.

Perhaps it stems from the first few years I lived in this house. We had a neighbor around the corner who was dealing drugs. His customers would often park in front of my house and run around the corner to make their purchases. But he’s been gone for at least 20 years, and still, park an unfamiliar car in front of my house and my ire escalates.

I realize the street in front of my house is public property. I know I have no legal right to ask people to leave. Still, I wish they’d find somewhere else to park and not avail themselves of the shade my big, beautiful tree provides.

Releasing Irritation For More Productive Pursuits

As I try to follow the teachings of Eckhart Tolle and stay in the moment, it’s easier to let the irritation slip away, but I’ve yet to master it completely. Like a two-year-old with a prized toy, the space in front of my house is mine. In my selfish mind, I’ve lived here long enough; paid enough taxes to maintain the roadway that I feel I’ve earned the right to be a little selfish. Yet I also see myself turning into the cranky old woman everyone secretly mocks because she yells at all the kids going by and watches from her window to see what the neighbors are doing.

My saving grace is my writing. I typically have more than enough projects for myself and others to keep me busy and reasonably oblivious to the goings-on in the neighborhood. I also don’t know most of the neighbors well, if at all. In fact, I find myself taking a page out of my newest neighbors’ book and remain detached from all but my two oldest neighbors. Maybe it’s not the friendliest existence, but I never claimed to be the Welcome Wagon. Nonetheless, I did try, albeit fruitlessly to welcome the neighbors when they moved in maybe a year ago. I’d been friendly with 4 of the previous 6 residents of the house in the 30 or so years I’ve lived here.

Like me, they chose to isolate from the neighbors, and being a hermit myself, who was I to argue? I’m happy to watch out for the elderly woman across the street, and the octogenarian couple next door. They rarely ask for much, and I’m grateful I can be there for them if they do. But having a far more distant relationship with the other neighbors suits my hermit heart fine.

Isolated Doesn’t Mean Lonely

Created with CanvaOne might ask if my existence is lonely; an island in a suburban sea of souls. There was a time it was, especially the first couple of years after I left Corporate America behind. But as regular habits improved and I left the house 3 times a week to go to the gym, had a regular errand day, and saw friends for dancing, movies, lunches, and game nights, being lonely left my schedule entirely.

I may still spend a lot of time alone (and frankly, it’s difficult to write and carry on a conversation at the same time), I do so when and because it’s what I want. It’s only loneliness when you want for company and can’t find it. Heck, there are times I make it clear I want to be alone while out in public. When I’m at the gym, or in a jury room, I put earbuds in my ears, making it clear I’m there to get something done, and not to be the social butterfly my friends are for me.

We all have our functions in life. Some of us carry the conversation or bring people together. In that regard, I’m a follower. That isn’t to say I’m not a leader at times, else I’d have never been able to run away from the real world to be a writer. There’s a lot of leadership in re-creating yourself into something completely different, then actually earning money doing it. Of course, at times there’s also a lot of blind stubbornness too.

Stubborn Enough to Keep Doing What I Love

I thank goodness for the stubbornness that always drove my parents nuts. Without it, I’d have given up https://www.flickr.com/photos/carbonnyc/6144729060/in/photolist-3sXiiN-79cUTk-6VaBVG-GUsXeK-qnCm5H-d5XpoC-5Tvsgb-7x7Jhw-amZkSu-pXsfKM-5TopvB-5MF2XZ-dnqeiB-9C31Yv-28ku7Rg-9m5Cts-omGCDC-5T4qn7-e2xNUC-mfCeZT-6RVoAh-a3P2f7-urpka-nKtZgr-8LFLux-dsSyjE-9AzNx5-W4TpQJ-xXPgS-brRoHe-9T2kCn-edcZ3H-a4dWNc-2Frv8v-sBJeM-5MGjKv-5cGQ25-gMdeqC-bzzgF5-4zDj55-4Uaf26-91q2wz-GPmaw-6uvJCp-7viqdV-7YKDTv-6T4oiL-7g2xCc-MKA7BD-gg9bcdlong before I’d used up a lot of financial resources. But that stubbornness told me I was going to make a go of being a writer, come hell or high water, and I have to say, the water has gotten pretty high at times.

Instead of allowing myself to drift with the current, I’ve continued to reinvent myself until I found something that began to work. I learned a lot of things along the way.

  • What I love to do
  • What I hate to do
  • What I’ll tolerate doing until I can outsource it
  • What I do well
  • What I don’t do well
  • How to write better and faster
  • How to help others with my writing

Committing to Myself

Created with CanvaI took a few courses and dropped most of them. I talked to coaches, but only hired one after several years of muddling along by myself. I learned to set myself deadlines, and to treat commitments to myself as at least as important as the ones I made for others. I set schedules for myself:

  • For gym visits
  • For self-care
  • For posting to my blog (and later refined that even further)
  • For dancing more often
  • For expanding my social life

That last is more important than it sounds since I learned that outright selling isn’t my thing. I have a hard time promoting myself. What I can do, and which helps my writing immensely is to listen to other peoples’ stories. I’m still working on listening more and talking less so I get more of their story and less of my interpretation. It’s one of the skills I’m learning to hone as it makes me a better writer and ghostwriter.

More than once in even the last 24 hours, I’ve stopped myself from interjecting. I read recently we listen to respond rather than listening to understand. I’m working on shifting the practice in myself. There are so many interesting stories out there waiting to be told, and 99.9% of them aren’t mine.

Part of learning to listen to understand is tied directly into living in the moment and disallowing any petty irritants. It’s still a work in progress, but isn’t that what makes life interesting?

Need Help Getting Organized?

Are you struggling to keep all of your entrepreneurial balls in the air? Is lack of time getting in the way of committing to yourself? Would you like to take a task or two off your plate? Maybe it’s content creation, or perhaps it’s getting your books in order and creating a budget. If this sounds familiar and you’re ready to streamline your life and give your business space to grow and thrive, CONTACT ME and let’s talk!

Making Time for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful I’ve taught myself to respond to the alarm clock, no matter how early I have to set it.
  2. I’m grateful for earbuds and Pandora so I can create an island of serenity in a crowded place and get some work done,.
  3. I’m grateful for a general understanding that earbuds mean “please don’t try to engage me in conversation”. I might seem antisocial to some, but like everything else, there’s a time and a place.
  4. I’m grateful for inspiration which doesn’t let me down as long as I put fingers on the keys or pen to paper on a regular basis.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; quiet places, solitude, friendship, commitment, collaboration, opportunities, joy, love, peace, harmony, health, comfortable clothes, beautiful days, friendly people in difficult situations, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Changing It Up To Enhance Creativity

Finding New Ways Out of Old Ruts

https://www.flickr.com/photos/35632217@N05/11141220045/in/photolist-hYvEyM-f3q2XF-WN7cAa-WC2tgo-VvU28y-VVCUnp-VZPPpx-X4hSbx-Xgdvnt-Xa18aU-X5F6Ba-WCiedS-VX3ngd-VZNKfH-XdNen3-X4eCyZ-WMPNM6-W32Dnn-W3cPuB-WYbJQU-VSPUyU-WcLFXu-WYe2r5-X65BN1-VVBR3a-WcJ347-Wy5z6h-WN6NEv-WwVjBd-VWVfpw-WXUkAj-WXTMcm-W36zBD-X27vox-VWWtgb-WC1Dp1-Wy6zs7-Wcye5A-WEfsVW-WDZxtd-VyyhgF-VZJ8T9-Xa1kuJ-WA8NKV-WcJi1w-psKV9t-XdCj1a-X66ds1-VywuMB-WigauPTonight I’m typing on my laptop in front of the TV where I’ve been binge-watching Hallmark Christmas movies while others celebrate Christmas with their families. It’s not that I lacked invitations, but I wanted to be alone, even as I wanted some company. I didn’t realize how much until I burst into tears when the last line of one of the movies talked about how the best family is the one we create with our friends.

It took me a long time to figure that one out, mostly because I spent too many years trying to be what others expected instead of myself. But that’s hovering dangerously in territory I covered a couple of days ago. ADD taking over my brain once again.

What I really want to talk about today is how changing our routine can open doors we didn’t realize were closed. My life and work depends on new ideas; plentiful and frequent. It’s difficult to maintain the momentum sitting in the same place at the same time every day. Sometimes, I need a change of scenery.

Making Dates With Ourselves And Our Creativity

For a while, I was trying to do some cafe writing at least once a week, typically on Fridays. But with the holidays and a bunch of other challenges, the practice has fallen by the wayside, much to the detriment of my idea generation.

Sometimes, a change of scenery is as simple as getting off the desktop and either firing up the laptop or picking up pencil and paper and moving to another room, even in a house as small as mine. This isn’t the first time I moved to my laptop on a TV tray in front of the television to get the creative juices going, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

That isn’t to say I won’t soon be reviving my cafe writing practice as it yielded some interesting results in the past. Some, in fact, will likely find their way into what I’m starting to see as the memoir from hell, as I work on it in fits and starts these days, throwing roadblocks in my path with every opportunity. I’ve re-set the timeline for completion three times so far, and I’m already a few days behind on the newest one. But at least I’ve learned not to beat myself up about missing deadlines, nor to give up on myself. More than likely, I’ll get into another kind of binging; one which involves writing instead of dividing my attention between the one-eyed monster and games on my phone.

Picking Our Battles With Ourselves

For now, I’m focusing on the immediate which means, getting a couple of weeks ahead on blog posts (I’m currently only a week ahead and that makes me anxious), and researching alternatives to blood pressure medication. My latest two doctor’s visits were disconcerting at best, especially for someone who has always run a little on the low side.

I know part of the problem is the weight I’ve gained since my dance schedule has been disrupted, part is the amount of time I’ve spent sitting lately (also due to the challenge of finding places to dance), and part is clearly a level of stress I don’t typically see, but which has been exacerbated by a dozen different factors this holiday season. As I look back on this paragraph, I realize the temporary loss of my usual dance venue is having a huge impact on my overall health.

Some of it I can mitigate. I’ve increased the amounts of Hawthorne and Potassium I take daily. I’ve revised my shopping list to include foods high in potassium and low in sodium. I’ve reviewed the DASH diet to see what I should and should not be eating, and will be even more crazy about reading labels from here on out. And speaking of out, eating there will be severely curtailed because it’s so much harder to control what’s in my food if someone else makes it.

Life Is About Reviewing What Works, And Changing What Doesn’t

Sure, it means changing my lifestyle even more, but all for the better. I’ve gotten sloppy about my eating habits the last couple of months, and it’s reflected in the numbers on my scale. I’ve missed a few gym days too,. and that’s not helping. Using alternative dance venues means less 10,000 plus step days too. Again, the one habit I’ve broken in this area is beating myself up over my lack of diligence.

What’s done is done. We can’t change the past. We can change what we do now, and try, moment by moment, to do things differently as the future unfolds. Changing up how and where we do our regular tasks is one of the things which can have nothing but positive effects. One of the things I look forward to as 2019 unfolds is embracing more changes in my life.

One Person’s Distraction Is Another’s Focus

Typically, I write either in silence or with music in the background, but tonight as I pound away on my laptop keys in front of yet another cookie cutter Hallmark movie, I’m finding it’s as good at keeping my internal editor in her proper place as music. I’ve seen the movie before so it doesn’t require much of my attention. What it grabs is the part of me who would, if given the chance, pick away at my word choices, my spelling errors, and even the topic I’ve chosen for this post.

It doesn’t hurt that tonight’s selection is about a writer. I find I key into those in particular, despite the fact that Hallmark’s version of a writer is probably romanticized and unrealistic. Yet watching a story about another writer in a strange way inspires me to write. I can’t really explain why, but as it’s gotten me to drag out my laptop and start working on another blog post, I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. In truth, anything that gets me writing is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

Using What Works Without Dissecting Why

It could simply be the power of suggestion. I’m watching a movie about a writer and, oh yeah. I’m a writer so why am I not writing? Since I don’t have a good answer to that question, I pull out the necessary accoutrements and let the words flow.

Sure the downside to working in a cafe, in front of the TV, or anywhere distractions can wind their way into my attention is that either some of what’s distracting me gets into my writing, or I stop altogether to give my attention to the distraction.

For the first, that’s why I edit what I write. For the second, the diversion is only temporary. I pull my attention back to the project at hand in a reasonable amount of time, thus finishing what I started, (I’ve learned I hate leaving an incomplete blog post. Now to transfer that lack of tolerance to the books I have yet to finish, as my daughter so delicately reminded me recently).

Goals Plus Gratitude Equals Success

Though I don’t make New Year’s resolutions since it’s far less effective than creating To Do lists and cards on my Trello board, I’m setting myself a goal for this year. I will seek and embrace more change in my life; look for opportunities to do things differently; take on challenges without nay-saying them for days or weeks before admitting it’s worth a try. My coach will give me ample opportunity to test this goal, and I hope to rise to the occasion. I do love a challenge!

My gratitudes today are:

  1.  I am grateful for a willingness to recognize how often I get in my own way rather than making necessary and interesting changes,
  2. I am grateful for the friends who have become my family, and who support me without question.
  3. I am grateful for opportunities to do things differently.
  4. I am grateful for a new year, and the chaos it will likely bring to my life. That chaos is overdue and a shakeup with the way I do things is a challenge I know I’m up to undertaking.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; change, challenges, opportunities, new dietary opportunities hidden as restrictions, cats to love, friends to share with, writing to expand upon, clients, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

 

Love and Light.

About the Writer

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Sometimes Writing is Hard

Pushing Past Writer’s Block

I’ve fought with myself for the last two days about sitting down to write Wednesday’s blog post. I had an idea I thought I was going to go with, but somehow, I managed to find every excuse in the book to avoid sitting down at my computer and starting to write.

Most of the time, I tell people how easy it is for me to write, whether it’s my morning pages, a writing prompt, or a blog post. I can usually dash off a thousand words or more without much thought. Of course, the key to any writing is sitting down with pen or computer keyboard at hand and actually putting pen to paper or fingers to keys. My problem with this post has been, to use an old movie title, a failure to launch.

When Habits We Set Become Non-Negotiable

I find it difficult, if not impossible to skip my morning pages after about 2 years of dedication to the task. In fact, on the days I do have to skip (which can be counted on one hand with fingers left over) I feel like the day never really gets started properly. Like I’m running on 4 1/2 cylinders instead of 8. And I know if I go to bed tonight without having scheduled the post for Wednesday, I’ll feel off all day knowing, not that I let anyone else down, but that I let myself down.

I used to let myself down all the time. I’d honor commitments to friends, strangers, and co-workers while ignoring commitments to myself. I’ve learned how damaging that can be to my self-esteem, and work hard to ensure I no longer forget about the most important person in my life. It has led to having a number of things that are non-negotiable: thrice weekly gym visits, dance nights, morning pages, and thrice weekly blog posts. (re-reading this I’m seeing how heavily I’m influenced, without even realizing it, but the “Rule of Three“).

We Are the Most Important Commitment

It doesn’t mean I don’t sometimes struggle with one or another of my self-imposed commitments (usually writing or editing). It means sometimes, like now, I really have to force myself to start. The funny thing is, once I do begin one of my tasks, no matter how unmotivated I might have been, everything comes together. On the days I have to drag myself to the gym (which thankfully are relatively rare these days) I’ll tell myself “I’ll just do a couple of machines, a stretch and get out of here”. Those are the days I’m usually there for an hour and a half or two hours, working extra hard.

Blog writing is no different. I may wait until 10 or 11 o’clock to start, but once I get going, I’m a beast, and it’s usually one of my longer posts. I can’t say right now if my pattern will stand tonight. For all I know, I’ll end this particular ramble at 700 words or so. For those who’ve been reading for a while, that’s flash fiction compared to what I typically write. But some days, I just need to write a shorter post. It’s no reflection on how committed I am to myself. It’s simply a day when ideas flow more slowly, and I don’t have the usual waterfall of words flowing from my fingers.

Yet the commitment is honored whether I write 2000 words or 700. I think that’s what I’m trying to say here, and it matches a saying I have on my vision board. “Creator, you take care of quality and I’ll take care of quantity.” It was one of the many things besides my morning pages I took away from Judith Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”.

Goal Setting and Baby Steps

When we set small goals, we might dive in and accomplish them in a single session, a single push. But our large goals, be they writing a book, healing from a trauma, learning something new; they all require a series of smaller steps, maybe even baby steps. Trying to get from point A to point B instead of skipping to point R on some of those larger tasks is often necessary, not only so the foundation is firm, but so we learn some essential lessons along the way.

My writing is one of those things. Committing to three blog posts a week is one of my baby steps. Making myself sit down at the computer and pound out a post, even when I don’t feel like it is training for what I need to know and do if I ever want to be that best-selling author who currently lives in my head.

Inspiration From Persistence

I admit I’ve put J.K. Rowling on a rather tall pedestal, but she epitomizes what it means to set goals, then work towards them. She is a huge inspiration to me regarding what we can do when we set down our stepping stones, securing them in place, then setting down a few more.

Success rarely comes easily. It’s reached by traveling a road filled with triumphs and disappointments, but mostly, of small steps which, when we’re consistent, when we’re persistent, bring us, ultimately to our goal. Of course, by then, we’ve likely set new ones, but the road to each goal is paved with lessons which will help us, not only with the goal we’re currently working towards, but for the even loftier ones we set once we’ve achieved the first ones.

Color My World With Words

Many times, I feel like I’m not painting the vivid pictures we writers are supposed to paint with our words. I’m not giving readers enough detail to allow them to see what I’m seeing, or at least see it colored by their own experiences. Then someone will say to me “I can tell you’re a writer by the way you answered my questions”. It tells me the word picture I painted, believing it was insufficient was actually enough for them to see something that was at least close to what I was seeing.

Too often we sell ourselves short, or fail to start on the road to a goal, even talking ourselves out of it, thinking it’s too ambitious. I’m learning no goal is too ambitious if you can see it clearly in your mind. No vision is too lofty if you can feel it in the depths of your soul. It’s simply tragic if we envision ourselves with the goal achieved, yet can’t find a way to launch ourselves, to take those first small, seemingly inconsequential steps. No step is inconsequential or unimportant if it moves you even the slightest bit away from what you know and are comfortable with, into something that is different and maybe even scares you a little.

Using Our Fears as Stepping Stones

In all honesty, I’m a little terrified of getting my memoir published and out there to the general public. I’m scared to get up in front of a bunch of people and talk openly and honestly about losing someone to suicide, about understanding how a person can feel depressed and suicidal, and about forgiving myself. I know I’ll get a fair amount of heat for postulating that suicide is a choice, and for some people, the only one they believe they have left. But I’m more afraid of being in the same spot I am now, 5 years from now, or even 1 year from now, having accomplished nothing.

We all have to face our fears. Frankly, I don’t believe we have a choice. Some may choose to face theirs by wrapping themselves in cotton wool and retreating from the world. They may feel safe there, but they sure aren’t happy. I spent enough time in that particular town to know. It’s lonely and dark, and the feeling of being disconnected from the world is far more painful than anything I’ve encountered by taking a few risks and letting people into my life and the world I kept hidden for so long.

Honoring Personal Commitments is Our Biggest Success Story

Once again, I’ve honored my commitment to myself to write a post every Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday by dashing off a “few” words for this one. As before, I set out to dash off a few hundred words, and ended up with over 1,000 again. It seems I’m incapable of saying anything in a few hundred words. But I’m also incapable of following a single thread to it’s reasonable and predictable conclusion. I think that’s why my writing has been such a great therapist for me, and in the process, has shown others they’re not alone in feeling some of the alone-ness, the frustration, the round peg in a square hole-ness they’ve felt while trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape we call life.

The best advice I was ever given was to set my goals in broad strokes and don’t try to control the steps or even the outcome. I do the same with my writing. I get my fingers on the keyboard and type the first few words. But what you ultimately see here and on my website is very much a free flow of ideas that comes, maybe from somewhere inside me, and maybe from the Universe itself while I’m but a vehicle to communicate what needs to be said. I’ve let go of the need to know where the words are coming from. I’m perfectly OK with being the conduit rather than the source.

Like moving towards our goals, there are many roads we could take. The easy ones might get us there faster, but the tougher ones give us tools we’ll need later to tackle the tougher goals which may not come with an easy road. I’m happy with the way my words flow out, just as I’m happy with the roads I choose. I don’t need to analyze why I followed one train of thought rather than another any more than I need to know why I chose one road over another. As far as I’m concerned, it’s all part of my personal grand plan which puts me exactly where I’m supposed to be at any given time.

That’s enough.

Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful I have learned to honor the commitments I make to myself first and foremost.
  2. I’m grateful for the ease with which words flow from my fingers when I get out of my own way.
  3. I’m grateful for being able to type fast enough to keep up with the thoughts my brain is thinking, and the ones I’m sure are seedlings being planted.
  4. I’m grateful I’m a night owl so commitments I put off can still be accomplished when the sun has long ago started shedding it’s light on the other side of the world.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance, ideas, commitment, persistence, innovation, inspiration, overcoming fear, baby steps, new goals, friendship, joy, love, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Painting Goals in Broad Strokes

Synchronicity and Broad Strokes

I subscribe to “Messages from the Universe” which sends an email every weekday full of encouragement and positivity. Quite often, those messages go straight to my heart. The one for April 26th, is especially appropriate for me:

Expecting “end results” – such as wealth and abundance, health and harmony, friends and laughter – in broad brushstrokes, is part of the secret formula for manifesting the life of your dreams.

Expecting your path to follow a certain route – such as writing a bestseller to accumulate wealth, having a particular someone fall in love with you, or insisting upon this idea, that diet, or the other invention to be your deliverance – is just plain messing with the cursed hows and severely limits my options.

He would have to mention “writing a bestseller”, ensuring he had my attention on this one. As several friends share the messages from time to time, I know this is the same message everyone gets, but boy, did it hit home for me!

As often happens, when I get a particularly pointed message from the Universe, it’s repeated several times to ensure I’m paying attention and ready to act on what I’m hearing. I’m getting a similar message from the #HeartfeltAcademy suggesting I set goals and break them into smaller pieces which can be managed daily, weekly, monthly, or even quarterly.

Find a Goal and Break it Down

Of course, the hard part is not only picking one goal, but being realistic about what I can accomplish in smaller segments of time. For example, I’ve tried setting goals to re-write a chapter or two a week, but with other tasks I took on in the meantime, allowed that goal to slip away, not just for a few days, but for months on end.

I’m realizing though we need to pick one goal at a time to focus on, the rest of our life doesn’t come to a standstill while we’re doing it. In order to make those small steps work, we have to be conscious of the other commitments we’ve already made to ourselves; the other goals we are accomplishing every day.

I’ve established goals for my morning pages and gym visits which are now pretty much engraved in stone. Creating another daily activity involves more than just deciding to do it. It means managing my time more efficiently so I can add one more thing to my day or week. Admittedly, I sometimes get frustrated with it all and end up accomplishing nothing except what I was already doing anyway.

Focus on Accomplishments

Instead of beating myself up about it, I’ve learned to take a step back and look at the whole picture. I’ve done my morning pages every day. I’ve gone to the gym 3 times a week for the last couple of months (except the day I came home from the cruise, but as I got over 50,000 steps in 3 days, and the day I missed was leg day, I decided to be OK with a missed day). I also surprised myself by getting up earlier for the last few days as if in preparation for an increase in daily activity and expectations.

Sometimes we have to give our minds and bodies a little time to catch up with our new goals and plans. If we were only doing actual work for 4 hours a day, jumping into an 8-hour day (unless you have to drag yourself into someone else’s office to do so) is extremely difficult, at least on a regular basis. I know my mind is trying to adapt to the idea by getting bored more easily with hitting the snooze, forcing me to  get up after only swatting the obnoxious contraption one or two times instead of my usual five or six.

Also, the rest of the team doesn’t start making adjustments until and unless we prove we’re fully committed to the new demands on our time. My own system decided I was finally ready when I started committing to the homework assignments in the afore-mentioned #HeartfeltAcademy.

Commit First, Ask Questions Later

And yet, I haven’t clearly defined what those new commitments will be. It seems the act of committing to making a change is all it takes for the shift to start happening. Sometimes, taking small steps like choosing healthier food options, or increasing the amount of exercise you get, or even something as simple as setting your alarm can trigger positive changes.

The broad brush strokes we paint pick up on the modifications we make to our normal routine. They recognize our mental shifts even if we haven’t gotten up to speed yet. Which is exactly my point when I suggest setting goals as broadly as possible. The less we get stuck in the details, or as a former colleague put it, the weeds, the more opportunities the Universe has to bring us exactly what we need when we need it.

Of course, simply setting a goal is only the beginning. I’ve spent countless hours writing out what my future world will look like including sights, sounds, smells and tactile sensations. I’ve included little nuances that mean something only to me. I’ve written them longhand and read them out loud to myself and whichever felines choose to grace my desk and pretend to listen. Why? Because our goals begin to manifest from the passion we invest into the reality we envision.

Using the Laws of Attraction

As a firm believer in the Laws of Attraction, I see it as a simple but powerful formula.

Vision + Passion + Action = Manifestation

In other words, you have to have a vision you can see, hear, feel, taste and touch which gets you excited just thinking, writing, or talking about it. The more you picture the life of your dreams, the more excited you get. That excitement attracts opportunities you might not even recognize as stepping stones to your ultimate goal. Regardless, you have to act on the opportunities which come your way, even if they seem, at times, to take you in a different direction.

Thinking about it, I probably should have included “trust” in the equation. You have to trust that the opportunities you’re given are going to take you in the right direction, albeit in a more circuitous manner than you’d have chosen if left to your own devices. But the circuitous path is there for a reason. In part, there are aspects which will hone skills you aren’t yet aware you’ll need. You may also find connections to like-minded people you might have missed had you stayed on a straight and narrow road.

Choosing Our Opportunities Wisely

In my case, I looked at a lot of opportunities for coaching and mentoring, and had actually narrowed my choices down to less than a handful. When an opportunity came to join a community which brought together a number of skills and services along with coaching, I realized it was exactly what I was waiting for, and without thought or analysis, jumped on it immediately. I know some of the changes I’m experiencing now are a direct result of that decision.

Since the life of our dreams is typically a moving target (who knows what we can have until we manifest some of what we think we want?) the process has to evolve as well. We may find we are part way to what we’d been envisioning and find something more exciting and fulfilling to aspire to. That’s perfectly fine, and in fact, it’s more than fine. It’s amazing!

Sometimes We Have to Get Out of Our Own Way

We’re only able to envision things slightly outside our own experience. When we expand our horizons, our visions expand as well.  Right now I may see myself living on a private peninsula overlooking the Pacific Ocean with my cats, a small rescue operation, groves of fruit trees, and cabins for my artist friends to use when they need a creative retreat. Who’s to say that vision won’t change when I see what else is available? For now, I see myself drinking my morning coffee on the west-facing porch with a cat or three at my side and my morning pages in my lap.

There’s a chef’s kitchen where I can either cook up messes with my daughter and son-in-law, or bring someone in to cook and clean for me. Of course, there’s a two-story library with a spiral staircase, loads of comfortable, well-lit seating, and at least a couple of shelves dedicated to my own published work. I even see myself standing on the staircase toasting a fellow author who got a plum of a book, or even movie deal.

I see it. I believe it. I feel the joy of having it all come true. And yet, there’s also a spark of unknown excitement for what I don’t even see coming yet. That spark keeps my passion alive even when things seem bleak, and I’m ready to throw in the towel and go back to doing something I hate, but which I know will pay the bills. That passion has me accepting new challenges and connecting with people when my introverted self would rather hide. And it has me sitting down at the computer, pounding out another 1500 words or so when, all too often, I didn’t have a thought in my head about what I wanted to write when I sat down in the chair and placed my fingers on the keys.

When our goals are fueled by passion, and we don’t sweat the small stuff, we move forward in spite of ourselves. We can’t stop the forward momentum without hurting ourselves in the process. And frankly, why would we want to?

Throwing in a Little Gratitude to Grease the Wheels

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friends who have become family.
  2. I am grateful for dancing as it keeps me moving, brings me joy, and attracts all the best people.
  3. I am grateful for my writing. It inspires me, teaches me, and is my greatest commitment to myself.
  4. I am grateful for my cats who love me no matter what, keep me from spending too much time alone, and remind me to take frequent breaks, if only to give them attention or fill their food bowl.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; energy, love, joy, dancing, friendship, exuberance, silliness, supportive people when I need them, opportunities to give support, expanded horizons, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

 

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for ghostwriting to help your business grow and thrive. Her specialties are finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author

Re-kindling Self-love With Committment

Committing to Me

The Facebook Live associated with this post can be found here.

Last night I talked about how I struggle with making and keeping commitments to myself. One of the things I have found over the last few months is that making a commitment to do anything is only half the process. The other half is coming up with a plan. In the case of my workouts, it meant setting specific days. When I deviate from those specific days, I’m not as likely to get all of my weekly workouts in.

At risk right now is the business I’ve been trying to develop for the last three years, or more specifically, my writing career. I know I haven’t been committed or I’d have actually finished and published something by now. But I also know that doing it just for the money sucks all of the energy out of me.

Help When I Need It

I had a conversation at the beginning of the week where this very concept came up. The person I was talking to suggested that regardless of my fears and concerns right now, I need to take money out of the equation. Instead of pitching ideas for stories I’d like to write for compensation, he proposed I write the article first, then pitch it to someone and be willing to let it be published, compensation or no.

Since then, I’ve created a business plan, but not in the normal sense. This one simply commits to a certain number of hours per day spent writing, reading and researching, and querying (I’m trying to use a word other than pitching because of the negative feelings I have around the word).

Part of my research today was to compile a list of places I might present my work. I even took compensation out of the equation and included sites which, though they might not pay me for my initial offerings, would give me visibility. In this day and age, getting found is critical. With so many writers, entrepreneurs, and virtual businesses out there, we each need to find a way to stand out from the crowd, and high traffic sites is one way to do it.

Boomers vs. Millennials

I’m also working on an article about Baby Boomers and Millennials. When I started it, my focus was on how Millennials will change the face of business in the next decade or so, but as I read articles from different points of view, I learned a lot about not only what drives Millennials and why, but how different the relationship between the two generations is from the one I had with my parents.

For instance, my circle of friends includes people from their 20’s to their 80’s. We interact on equal footing for the most part. I can’t even imagine my parents having the kind of relationship I have with people my daughter’s age. Even as adults, we were always just kids to them.

I’m not saying we do all the same things or hang out together regularly, but we share ideas and opinions, challenges with our businesses, and we support each other’s activities. I’m also not saying that the age-defying outlook my friends and I enjoy is applicable to all Baby Boomers or Millennials. But the fact it exists at all is for me, compelling.

Finding Common Ground

I’m not blind to the fact that there are some from both generations who blame the other for their woes. I guess that will always be the case when the subjects of jobs and social security come up. I realized, though that one of the best ways to work our way through the quagmire of misinformation and fake news really lies in our ability to cooperate inter-generationally. Our being at odds serves someone else’s purpose—someone who does not have any of our best interests at heart.

Choosing to emphasize our similarities and downplay our differences seems like a pretty good idea to me. I’ve never been a fan of placing blame anyway. I saw enough of it in the workplace, and it’s only real purpose is destructive. Far better to take the position that we agree something is broken and between us we can come up with the best way to fix it.

Learning From Each Other

Frankly, we can learn a lot from a generation which grew up with cell phones, instant messaging, and social media. One of my biggest pet peeves has always been communication, or lack thereof. In some cases, there might be a bit of over sharing, but for the most part, it’s more of an asset than a liability. Millennials are accustomed to getting immediate answers. By getting those immediate answers, they get things done faster too. Good news since instant gratification with communication has created a culture that’s used to constant stimulation and when that stimulation wanes, boredom sets in. To be honest, I relate to this myself, but my career path led me to embrace technology early on. Anything to get away from the drudgery of writing everything down in big, dusty ledgers, totaling up dozens of columns on countless pages with nothing more than a calculator, then moving all of the figures to the proper accounts. All-in-all a painstaking process which spreadsheets and accounting programs rendered obsolete. Others might have complained as they didn’t like the changes, but I was overjoyed.

More to Come

But I’ll leave the results of my research on the topic for another day. What started with a single article is escalating out of control as it is, but believe it or not, that’s a good thing. I can write on the subject from a number of different angles which gives me yet another niche. Not bad for my first day’s work with a plan!

Was I ready to take this step 6 months ago? Probably not. I needed to gain more clarity on what I truly wanted, and that has occurred in the last few weeks. Will I get it in gear before the next 5 months races by? I can only hope and put the work in. The rest is just going to have to resolve itself as my plan and its potential unfold. Stay tuned!

Remembering to Be Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for epiphanies which move me forward on m path.
  2. I am grateful for the tenacity which, though little used lately is still there when I call upon it.
  3. I am grateful for the support and advice of my friends. They help me find clarity and the courage to continue moving forward.
  4. I am grateful for my writing. When I’m lost and confused, it helps me sort things out.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, resources, friendship, love, joy, dancing, inspiration, kicks in the butt, encouragement, support, peace, harmony, health, 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!

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