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

Archive for the ‘compassion’ Category

Judging Us By Our Outside Packaging

Judging on Looks Alone

https://www.flickr.com/photos/kenwalton/17392785562/in/photolist-suWzc9-U1NXcb-XmjtCz-ed6kDh-24cGXED-zvNtw-22hdaT5-bnJAmT-29fwg6w-LeUtLe-28yjcKQ-29yKVqS-Zb4Czw-W3tEvE-W3j5Pq-25x3t69-28xQ2mC-G9mvwr-8B5AY-oAW92o-26oKdUj-27arySt-4RRRF-eRZ2Bz-vno6N-pNuMcR-bu8ZCf-b25rgp-qybkvh-8EJH9F-4drg3M-Gc4PnH-s6rhjo-5tu11t-pokUf-26gCo3c-7RnzT6-5ZrAGk-2436Pw7-7aoRuc-qsPPki-HeAyJc-5sJFgL-7Dje8Z-22ZDBAn-qQCAvU-5uSc-21sAW6c-WWzhBC-o89HnThere’s a lot of talk these days about the damage we do judging people by the way they look, whether it’s something that’s seemingly fixable like clothing or hygiene, or a physical trait such as skin color, ethnicity, or a disability.

Years ago, I was in a pretty bad place in my life, and went everywhere in either sweats or leggings and a baggy shirt. My hair was typically pulled back and my face didn’t know the meaning of makeup. It didn’t matter if I was running to the market, dropping the girls at school, or going to a teacher conference. My uniform was the same.

A few years went by and I heard a teacher friend saying how disrespected she felt when parents didn’t dress up for her. I was unpleasantly surprised at the time, but thinking back on it, I’m horrified.

In my own case, I was struggling to keep things together, trying to get a business going so I’d be more available for my daughters’ activities, and managing an unwieldy load of emotional crap at the same time. Making myself pretty for a teacher or administrator was the least of my concerns. There were days it was all I could do to get out of bed, feed the girls, and take them to school.

Basing the Respect We Give Solely on What We See

In hindsight, I realize I wasn’t respected or taken seriously by teachers or administrators in those days. https://www.flickr.com/photos/alisdare/6821200265/in/photolist-UB4c9G-eC7695-hBLDD-93L9XM-kYuVpf-UB4c3u-frGcgF-Dj96KV-ECCKLH-763CL-aB2kxX-NLUMEQ-boLrc8-7JVP3y-5qPdx9-27zcEPH-SErX9e-mhx3sb-d3Kv1w-bbHV92-edSAMq-gcdFEN-2brCHxp-aKBVjr-f9axWB-4F2voD-oGGEo9-f5xtRv-daC8zs-cFevC-eEFrNs-2ag28y-c6ahLG-nMywhk-BTQ5Yy-8iov8y-oAG89o-r8xj63-7yzik8-FktH6-fAebFr-psM1h-dTPcPi-8inAep-9Qj2wX-6Vi7Tw-D7zjy-d3cgUS-6acoir-g6L2UEThey met with me, sure. But it was always a “my way or the highway” attitude they projected.

The worst part of this to me is that as educators, they influence our children and pass on their judgemental attitude as an accepted mode of behavior. Never mind they have no idea what a parent is going through unless a child happens to share something (assuming, of course, the teacher is listening between the lines as well).

Now I know being a teacher is getting tougher by the day, but if what I heard and felt is correct, then we need to take a look at expectations and perceptions. It shines a pretty bright light on why there are such disparities between the education kids get in suburban areas vs. inner cities where there’s a higher rate of people struggling just to hold things together, and for whom dressing up to meet with a teacher is the last thing on their minds.

Looking Past the Smiling Faces

That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty who are holding on by their fingernails in the suburbs too, but all too often, their ignorance of what the educational system deems appropriate behavior and dress code are masked by other factors. For example, as a single mother, I noticed a marked coolness on the part of the other women when I was active with the band boosters; a chill which was confirmed by some of the other single moms. In fact, it was actually made blazingly clear to one woman when it became known that the man she was always with was someone she lived with but wasn’t married to. Somehow, we were undesirables, not only in the eyes of other parents, but the school system as well.

It didn’t matter that most of us not only worked at least one job, and often two or three to keep food on the table, clothes on our kids’ backs, and a roof over our heads, then dedicated countless hours to their activities as well. Nor did it matter that we often worked twice as hard as the ones who were happily married. I used to believe it was because they saw us as a threat, but now I think it was simply that we dared to be different and manage our lives without a man to help us or worse, validate us as someone who fit the conventional model.

It doesn’t surprise me that most of us weren’t perfectly coiffed or made up when we showed up to support our kids. Those who shunned us were blissfully unaware of the often Herculean effort it took us to show up and take an active role in the proceedings.

We All Have Challenges. What We Need Most is Understanding.

I certainly don’t remember anyone ever asking if one of us was all right—unless of course it was one of https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisyarzab/40513877112/in/photolist-24J5dbC-xLBnC-qDMybP-8uuvzF-er1tf-8S5Btn-5NYfwV-LihYBt-g4kBQ-S442nL-ceYb9U-g5JpWL-jTQZz6-cfHP9u-fauq5P-ahCCN2-isiMDz-6ViLeY-2EJXG4-HC2MUT-BU26S-5jegSL-VYGMA1-5j9Xzn-eB4adY-nBPSrp-5j9ZhH-dkoQLa-nbdfPZ-4FD4L1-dZ3Vjx-mbSGYM-dsW4Bs-6w75Kx-7sZRqK-8KRTG2-Mysc7N-LM2cLA-eXrUyD-faz3Az-dAR84B-8S8Fa7-7hKbWd-pYwhq-z2MhH-6jxdb7-261SwZS-ee4Pp7-vv8vw-8TKhq3the other single mothers. And we sure weren’t going to reach out to anyone in the secret society of marrieds for help. Showing even the slightest sign of weakness to that pool of piranhas was taken as an invitation to attack and consume.

By the time the girls reached Middle School, we’d been through several kinds of hell; way more than anyone ever suspected. I’d survived an ugly divorce in the midst of which my mom committed suicide. I’d been laid off from a job, only to go through another layoff, and a closure due to forced bankruptcy with another company, all in the space of about 2 years. I was trying to make a go of my own consulting business, but with no marketing skills and a negative outlook about almost everything, I didn’t exactly have clients knocking down my door.

Dancing helped, but when the girls reached High School, that, too ceased while I immersed myself in their activities and the barely concealed disdain of the married women.

Teaching Our Children Compassion

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhWhile I can empathize with teachers who want to be taken seriously, and know their jobs aren’t exactly easy, I hope my experience is the exception rather than the rule. I hope our educators are the first to follow the old adage: don’t judge a book by its cover. and remember if a parent isn’t dressing up for them, it may be something far more insidious than disrespect which has them presenting themselves in all their naked and unadorned glory.

Being a single parent is hard under the best of circumstances. But when you get no support from the father (or mother as the case may be), or they add to your burden by being difficult; when money is tight and you have to tell your kids no; when your job is kicking your butt for 8 or 9 hours a day; the very fact you’re showing up at all is, in my opinion, an act of ultimate strength. What you wear when you show up, as long as it covers you with reasonable decency should be the last thing people notice about you, much less judge you and mentally condemn you, assuming you lack respect for their lofty position.

As always, there’s a lesson for me in this memory and story. I’m far from innocent as far as misjudging people based on what I see instead of giving them a chance to show me who they are on the inside. Remembering how I felt is a painful yet poignant reminder to give others the same consideration I would have them give me. In other words, give people a chance to show their true colors, and don’t assume the outside packaging in any way, shape, or form tells the whole story.

Gratitude Instead of Judgement

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the challenges I’ve gone through and the lessons they’ve brought me.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to revisit past hurts and find the lesson contained therein.
  3. I am grateful for those who directly, or even inadvertently point out areas in my own personality and behavior that need work.
  4. I am grateful for the people who did take the time to ask if I was OK, even during the years when I wouldn’t ask for help no matter what.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, opportunities, friendship, inspiration, cooperation, compassion, kindness, peace, harmony, health, 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 the Tide: Confirmation Needn’t Divide Us Further

Could Kavanaugh’s Confirmation Be the WASP’s Death Rattle?

In the aftermath of the Kavanaugh confirmation I was all set to write a research piece about the major contributors to the campaigns of his staunchest supporters. My plan was to encourage those displeased with the confirmation to boycott businesses owned by those supporters. But after stepping back from my emotional response it occurs to me I needn’t bother. What’s actually happening is the WASP male stranglehold we’ve seen for generations is seeing the writing on the walls. Like the dinosaurs before them, they’re facing extinction, and like any cornered animal they’re fighting hard and playing dirty.

Their most effective weapon so far has been to keep us fighting amongst ourselves. They make decisions which are clearly not in the best interests of the country, or engage in activities they know will incite emotional responses on both sides of the table. They rub their hands together in glee the more we raise our voices and stomp our feet impotently over their carefully constructed hot buttons.

In the end, though, those who don’t wake up and see past the haze of cigar smoke will simply fall into the tar pits of oblivion along with the men and their consorts who are so desperately afraid of losing the lofty places of power which are crumbling beneath their feet. As they built them atop the bodies and souls of people they steamrolled over or baffled with their bullshit, they have no infrastructure with which to maintain the integrity of those ivory towers. Soon they, themselves will be the ground upon which we, the people rebuild on a firmer, more resilient foundation.

Using Unexpected Tactics

So my original concept; to point fingers at the major political contributors and influencers, encouraging people to do business elsewhere, while questionably admirable at its roots, would have been a fruitless effort to use their own tactics against them. At best, it might only have delayed the inevitable. At worst, it would have resulted in further retribution collected from those who deserve it least and who’d bear the brunt of the ensuing hardship. Even if we could make a difference to the financial status of the giants, they’d simply retaliate by cutting jobs and raising prices. Once again, the little guys would bear the brunt, not those who’s money trees we’d seek to shake.

Like the brontosaurus and Tyrannosaurus Rex, the good ol’ boy, WASP coalition isn’t long for this world. They fight an uphill battle in a world where they are becoming a smaller and smaller minority. Their smoke screens, fake news, and highlighting of emotionally charged issues are coming under scrutiny. Not by everyone, by any means. At least not yet.

There are still many who are quite content to believe whatever they’re fed by their “trusted” sources. Like the Pied Piper’s rats, they’ll follow their dying leaders right into the abyss without question or hesitation. But enough are questioning, discussing, and dropping the emotional knee-jerking to heal wounds and bridge gaps.

We Must Come Together to Thwart The Misuse of Power

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyThey’re counting on us to stay divided. We need to show them, instead, a growing community which is united and determined to avoid the pitfalls we’ve been succumbing to until now. We are learning to step back from arguments over emotionally charged issues; to open our hearts and minds to people with dissenting opinions and beliefs. In so doing, we’re finding more common ground than points of disagreement. By learning to listen instead of shout, we run the risk of learning something new which might even make us stronger.

When all is said and done, people not only want to be treated fairly themselves, but to see others treated that way as well. Certainly, definitions of “fairly” vary, but at some point, we can and will come upon common ground.

Judging someone by their faith, skin color, gender, or sexual preference, or worse, assigning unfavorable standards to those who might be different in some way is ludicrous and short-sighted. Every single one of us is different in our own way, though I prefer to use the word “unique”. Even those who profess to be the superior race, gender, whatever, are unique each in their own way. The same-ness they use to connect with their elitist, entitled group of swine is weak and growing weaker with each new excuse they cobble up for excluding or ostracizing yet another group. It’s all arbitrary, and they’re slowly rendering themselves redundant. If you ask me, that redundancy can’t happen quickly enough.

Our Most Powerful Weapon is Compassion

Our best response to all the diversionary tactics, the disrespect, the cornered animal behavior is to arm https://www.flickr.com/photos/142726605@N03/26477590124/in/photolist-GkJz5y-Lbjtyy-7U6aRM-fAvVrd-8xkhNA-9y8U87-9y8PZ9-hkmFEV-pFNVmn-qfvzds-4wXFCU-qwU8vr-fvtgHY-rrTvBA-qx26Jh-deDyEe-zLy9J-iyNxU-9y5Sva-zLy9G-nGtJKV-2ahmb-8GaT1p-8xhj1c-qfZurB-8xo6AA-o2vgjD-fhmvPA-i9LLEe-fhfA2Y-eyHAQ7-4wTwBV-fvthgq-4wQn2x-fvdZMM-fvuWFY-6Q1PWA-fP1Z3u-EjZqZV-daB9Am-aAFS2R-9y8RDE-fAvVAo-iSPYmR-6EKY95-4o5gjJ-6PDXe3-Kcbqcp-9aQUMa-75sAZqourselves with two things; logic based on fact, and compassion. Those who seem to view sexual predators, abusive behavior and outright bigotry as positive qualities don’t know how to deal with something so simple. Compassion alone is completely beyond their ability to comprehend. If it ever found it’s way into their tool box, they probably tossed it away as a weakness not to be tolerated. In his article “Power Causes Brain Damage” published in the July/August 2017 issue of The Atlantic,  Jerry Useem puts forth a viable explanation for the failure of those in power to recognize or utilize compassion.

In between all the rhetoric and emotional insanity, there are new stories every day highlighting acts of compassion which epitomize the strength of working together for the common good; of setting personal needs aside to help someone else. Better still, they are stories of love across all real and imagined borders where we’re continually encouraged to hate with no valid reason to do so.

Becoming Part of the Solution

https://www.flickr.com/photos/gcaspers/3674508861/in/photolist-6AGPt4-9XPdGp-9AfZYv-asnfWg-2j1go4-7UukPU-a2XVdU-NqoUQ-dbkFUe-a2XRDb-6nnHrK-9EBf9b-9xemFj-cucYQS-cud1JC-cucV5Q-cucW5f-9GVbUK-9XS6cJ-53kCM9-8dXRc-ctMcPj-crXsXw-cutJfu-a3bJ56-9XS6GA-aspUtj-a3bRmp-rjDGsd-cudgUJ-9xeGYS-ctNGF1-cutroo-crYSB9-a2UPPe-crYbPw-6ZUrTn-cutJYm-jCRHS-cutQqA-csxxsh-sabp4u-aspXws-a3fFX5-cutPDh-dmd5Ze-asnkuX-cykHmj-9xAUFm-cutrGUAs I see it, it comes down to a choice. We can continue to be part of the problem until we, too tumble into the abyss. Or we can take control of our emotions, throttling them back before reacting, and use the cognitive part of our brains to recognize we’re being manipulated, and take ourselves out of the reactionary mix.

I still cannot comprehend the reasons some of my friends are choosing one side or another. I respect them enough to recognize they have their reasons, and don’t allow those reasons, whatever they might be, to affect our friendship. We all walk the path we’re supposed to, even if that path is inexplicable to others. We don’t owe anyone justification for what we think or do. We only have to reconcile it within ourselves. The one thing I do find unacceptable is if someone expects justification from others, but insists their own ways are right and require no explanation or reason. Ya can’t have it both ways. Double standards are at the root of our current problems, and people are speaking out against the practice both overtly and subtly. They must be eliminated before we begin building our new foundation.

I’ll leave you with a final thought. When you take the time to listen to someone who doesn’t share your values or beliefs, you might actually learn something or see a viewpoint you hadn’t considered, but might prove valuable in the overall scheme of things.

Gratitude Blurs the Lines Between Us

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the opportunity to share different viewpoints.
  2. I am grateful for friends who don’t share my opinions and beliefs.
  3. I am grateful for the dying dinosaurs. They once served a purposes, but show us how that purpose has changed or become obsolete.
  4. I am grateful I’m able, after a time, to step away from emotional responses and look at things logically seeing cause and effect.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; diversity, friendship, love, joy, compassion, kindness, connection, peace, harmony, health, 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.

Is Being Right Overshadowing Compassion?

Wherefore Art Thou, Compassion?

Warning: Rant Ahead

I’m getting more and more disenchanted with Social Media these days. Everyone seems to want to post articles and quote law (or what passes for law these days) to prove their point of view. The amount of hate that’s being spewed could, if harnessed as energy, power a large country. People I know who are basically good and kind are trying to shift blame or justify ignorance of human decency simply to be right; to justify choices they made. To what purpose?

Human rights are disintegrating before our eyes. We are seeing some of the worst periods in history for showing the ugly heads of hate resurfacing. One side continues to find reasons it’s OK, while the other pounds their chests and shouts from the rooftops, not in love, but in hate. I find myself mentally drafting a post or a message blasting them all, but to what end? I don’t need to be right. I don’t need to feed the hate. It all makes me so sad.

I’ve Been Accused of Having My Head in the Sand, But is it Me Or???

I have been in the minority almost since the beginning of our latest national debacle (which, unless you’re ignoring it all, which isn’t such a bad idea, is hardly isolated to the shores of our great-only-in-our-shadowed-minds country). My exhortations to look beneath the horrific attacks on human dignity, Constitutional rights, and outright murder to the real motivation behind the preponderance of such acts continue to fall on deaf or worse, militantly aggressive ears. Time and again, I’ve been shouted down, or ruthlessly berated for my failure to jump on any of the causes without reservation.

How many more “while you were focusing on Cause X, Congress quietly took away another right or freedom” posts and articles must we see before we realize we are, as I’ve been saying for at least a couple of years now, allowing ourselves to be led to the slaughter, innocent, or maybe simply disbelieving lambs. My words may have little effect, and being able to say “I told you so” is but an empty victory.

Our once great country is splintered and divided into a million fragments fueled by idealism and selfishness.


How many of us can honestly say “I give love and compassion to everyone” without adding “Except for…” or “But I won’t give up…”?

Feeding the Pain Body

We continue to feed the beast with our anger and outrage. My personal image of the Devil is one who feeds on anger, pain, hate—all the negative emotions Eckhart Tolle would say are coming from our pain body. I am beginning to understand the logic behind blood magic. One who wishes to used and abuse others has a pain so deep, they can only function when they cause suffering in others. Pain and hate have replaced love and kindness in their hearts. They make the Grinch look like Mother Teresa. And that’s the kind of people who are leading us around by our noses right now.

Think about it. In the last few years, we’ve had massive outcry over things like #OccupyWallStreet, #MeToo, marches for science, pink pussy hats, and the increase in school shootings with its resulting (and highly manufactured, if you ask me) outcry for more gun control. More recently, we have refugee children being separated from their parents and put into internment camps (WWII and the Japanese, anyone?).

The Signs Should Read “Distraction Ahead”

Every single time we are focused on something we deem horrendous, inhumane, or distressing, https://www.flickr.com/photos/35661951@N05/3301911347/in/photolist-62MacZ-8Xg8JJ-99EED2-6ukkey-99cpQj-K3PSrh-hFEZv-eevrK7-4ET5Ga-eirkqh-4QxafM-5thv2Z-7D9KW6-77wGJ5-eeonnH-aDN8j3-kbDBEA-8B6bHZ-2GsUh2-5gqAf-cyMRGU-5tUx72-oVs2Rk-9RuAeo-eevDx5-GywZT9-cyMwjW-pmZbM-h3P17c-3cBFP2-eevzuC-q8iZiZ-5TsVGN-aDN3D9-WrrMWj-7x9jR6-j1kqp-gEroQ-cQ6Pt5-4sNRtz-nkKGAk-GywYMb-GywZYj-JCRyYq-9utXaK-7YriHP-6WDWPK-bjM3J7-FFmjJG-2NLBMCongress slips something else past us guaranteed to help those in power, and strip the rest of us of more of our rights and privileges. At some point, people will wake up, but will it be before we’re stripped of the rest of our freedoms and shoved into internment camps ourselves?

At the moment, we’re still trying to fight the evil amongst us with their own weapons, and we’ve yet to win a single battle. Sure, they’ve offered a concession or two, but only to pacify the less diligent and get the herd mentality running in another direction so atrocities can continue undeterred.

Yet, for me, the end of many long-term friendships over the barrage of media grabbing issues is the saddest, most heart-wrenching casualty of the grand-standing, manipulative antics of our current administration.

Does All Hope Rest on the Millennials?

I watched an episode of Samantha Bee last night, and the part which resonated most strongly with me was a piece about a man who’s leading a movement to impeach Trump. Meanwhile, the Trump supporters are using the campaign against them to rally their own camp with “they’re trying to impeach him, but we won’t let them” campaigns of their own. Do we not yet realize things like underground railroads and secret societies were far more effective in the fight for good over evil? When you show all your cards, the enemy has time to launch a counter-attack, and the enemy amongst us is ALWAYS 20 steps ahead in this game.

Admittedly, in our digital age, it’s much harder to fly beneath the radar and organize people, but it’s not impossible. I’d like to say our last, unlikely hope is the Millennials, as attached to the digital world as most of them are. But who better to break a broken system and rebuild it better?

They learned computer-eze like the rest of us learned our milk language; almost from the cradle. Many can hack things we wouldn’t even believe were hackable in the first place. And yet, maybe the answer is to go off-grid before that right, too, is completely eliminated.

Being Driven to Rant Because I Have No Answers, Only Frustration

Unfortunately, I have no answers, only a multitude of questions, and a deep distrust for anything and everything I hear or see from the media, both social and traditional. Too much truth and honesty are being squelched these days to trust the diluted pablum we’re being fed. Even the most intelligent are sharing “facts” from sources which include candidates for public office. Why in the hell would they tell us the truth? They want our support and our vote, so they’ll say whatever they think we want to hear. It’s not like politicians are known for keeping promises.

This post has, unlike most of what I write, turned into a bit of a rant. I unfollowed several people (on both sides of the issues) this week because the political bullshit they were sharing was mind-numbing in its distortion of the facts (whatever they might be at this point) beyond all recognition.

I’ve reached the point where, even while watching something like Samantha Bee which tries to be equally disdainful of both sides of the house, I want to see their sources and look them up myself, then find at least 5 reputable sources confirming what I’ve read. Though I fear the number of reputable news sources is rapidly decreasing to zero. I immediately dismiss any post or article from a political candidate, official, or party, knowing they’re distorted. Yet, I do read some of them, if only to educate myself as to how farfetched the story-telling gets.

Is A Dystopian Society Only a Nightmare?

Maybe that will be my next novel. I’ll see if I can create a society even more dystopian than the one in which we currently live. I’m not sure I can. They do say truth is stranger, and in this case, more horrible and dehumanizing than fiction. Clearly, the only ones who learned anything from the atrocities of Hitler, Mussolini, and Kaiser Wilhelm are those who’ve studied them at length and are doing their damndest to recreate those worlds in a more sustainable fashion. I can’t handle that level of evil even from a TV show (I stopped watching “Bones” until they killed off Pelant), much less write my own story.

They say we shy away from the uncomfortable because we need to face it to grow. I’m not so sure diving into the depths of a twisted mind is part of my journey. There’s enough on my plate as I seek answers to the mindset of people who see suicide as a reasonable choice, and have to fight the urge to go down that one-way rabbit hole. Yet, I do want to understand what motivates people to treat others with willful disregard for human dignity. Who seem to exhibit the antithesis of compassion. Who are morally and ethically bankrupt. Until I understand the mindset, I don’t feel qualified to offer any viable solutions.

When the Dust Clears, I Am Still Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I maintain a discerning, if unpopular mindset.
  2. I am grateful there are still sources for fact-checking, if we’re willing to put forth the effort.
  3. I am grateful for the continued existence of healthy debate, even if it’s harder to find people and places (including myself) who can put emotion aside and exchange information.
  4. I am grateful for continued inspiration for my thrice-weekly posts. We’re in turbulent, confusing times, but I never run short of material.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; compassion, kindness, free speech, intelligence, discernment, challenges, lessons, upheaval in my life that leads to a better understanding of my purpose, support, connections, peace, harmony, health, 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

Could Our Brains Be Hard-Wired for Suicide?

Suicide from a Different Perspective

Today I gained a new perspective on the mind of a person who chooses suicide. It came from a journalist who was also a friend of Anthony Bourdain’s, and shared a mindset with the chef many of us can’t relate to, but I suspect, far more understand better than they’ll admit. Because, well, suicide is a sin, right? It’s wrong, it’s selfish, it’s a cruel thing to….well, you get the picture. It’s a whole lot of BS that’s been flung around for so long, a large segment of the population believes it without question.

The article was published in the Observer by an essayist who goes by the pseudonym Film Crit Hulk. He writes for a number of well-known publications, though most of his work fits the pseudonym. The piece he wrote for the Observer was a deviation from the norm.

Like me, he is attempting to clear the nonsense and stigma surrounding suicide, but from the perspective of someone who carries the thought with him pretty much constantly. It never occurred to me until I read his article that things like depression, terminal illness, addiction, or mental illness are, for some people secondary if they even exist at all. Instead, he theorizes it is a glitch in our coping mechanism which is “installed” after we suffer a trauma. Some people get the ability to cope interlaced with what I can only guess is a desensitization to the idea of ending their own life.

The Act-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named

Interestingly, he refers to suicide as “that which must not be named”. I often use similar phrasing as my own poke at the masses who judge without any attempt at understanding. He also mentions something else I’ve professed to for a long time, but what most people don’t want to hear. Suicide Hotlines are only good to a point. If the person is unable to find support or to afford long-term treatment to get to the root of the problem, nothing and nobody is going to stop them from taking their life in the fraction of time when it all becomes too much, and suicide is, to them, the better option.

Yes, You Can Help

Once he finishes explaining how people actually fight the urge to take their lives, sometimes for years, sometimes not, we once again agree on the things we can do.

First and foremost is to stop freaking out at the mere mention of the word. I’m not saying desensitize yourself, but for heaven’s sake, don’t get squeamish or try to run away from the word, or brush it off like it was a mistake or something. Acknowledge it. Accept that it’s real. Realize it is often embedded in the coping mechanisms developed after experiencing a trauma.

Even more important is understanding what happens in another person’s life; whether or not they reach a point where they choose suicide, has nothing to do with anyone else. Not you, not their spouse, their parents, their kids, their boss…it’s a choice, as I’ve said a zillion times, they make for themselves and by themselves. If one more person makes the lame ass comment about how they should have thought about how it would affect their family and friends, I swear, I’m going to reach through the computer and backhand them. The only thing they care about when they pull the trigger, swallow the pills, or whatever method they choose is ending their own pain. Period.

Again, Hulk and I agree on the only real solution, understanding it isn’t a guarantee they’ll live out their life until they meet their end through accident or natural causes. And yes, it’s the C word again. We have to be the ones to reach out when we notice someone is spending an excessive amount of time alone, or if they seem even the slightest bit off and show some compassion.

No One Wants to be Told They’re Broken

This is where I am starting to get why my mom went ballistic. My aunt and others believed the way to help her was to tell her she needed therapy. If you ask me, that’s about as sensitive as telling someone who just miscarried that it was “God’s Will”. I don’t think anyone wants to hear someone tell them they think they’re nuts. I may well be a few ticks off of normal, but unless you’re joking, and I know you’re joking, I’d suggest a less offensive approach.

Suggest a lunch date, or coffee, or a walk in the park. Something normal. In short, be a friend. Pay attention to them. Listen when they want to talk, and don’t feel you need to fill the silence when they don’t. Your company means more to them than you realize.

The Sucky Side of Being an Empath

It comes as no surprise to me to learn Anthony Bourdain was an Empath. The subject of depression and suicide comes up in Empath support groups more often than you might imagine. Why? Because in addition to our own demons who conduct regular games of tag in our brains, we get to take on other peoples’ demons too. How’s that for a dubious gift? Being in crowds is tough, but being in crowds where there’s anger, misery, or any mix of confusion and negativity is downright painful for an Empath. I’ve learned to limit my exposure to people who are drinking heavily as the filters on their emotions erode, the more they self-medicate.

Someone in Your Life Considered Suicide

In the many discussions which ensued both from the two high-profile suicides and my outspokenness on the subject, I learned there are people I hold dear who have, at some point in their lives, seriously considered suicide. After reading the Hulk’s article, I can understand how they might have reached that point. Their lives were no bed of roses, and there were traumas along the way. They learned to put on a face for the world that hid their pain. They made it from one day to the next, raising kids, working at jobs, taking care of homes, pets, and even aging parents without a word of complaint. They couldn’t and wouldn’t share the cesspool of emotions boiling underneath their public face.

But I can only relate to a point. Yes, there’s been a time or two when I seriously wondered if anyone would miss me if I ended it. I’ve felt sorry for myself more often than I can actually justify now. But I have never reached the point where all the reasons not to are slipping away, and I’m fighting to push them back. So to say I truly understand where Anthony, Hulk, and others like them have been would be insulting to them.

Being Conscious of People Who Claim They Like Being Alone

I know what it feels like to be alone, but I also realize I put myself there. I’m learning I can reach out just as easily as I can hunker down in my house with the blinds shut and the cats piled on top of me while I watch something mindless on TV. And I’m doing it more and more. But some people can’t reach out. They need us to do it for them.

I can hear the arguments as I’ve used some of them myself. “They’re too busy with their families.” “They have their own group of friends they hang out with. They won’t want to do something with me.” “I don’t make friends easily. I’m off-putting.”. There are more, but I won’t waste your time with whining or words I know aren’t true. We all have our own litany, if we are inclined to spend a lot of time alone, if not physically, in our own minds. Knowing there are people in all of our lives who would benefit from someone making a lunch or coffee date is the real key to slowing down the rising numbers of suicide deaths.

I’m not naive enough to believe it is the only solution, nor that it will end suicide deaths completely, but I’m reminded of the story of the child throwing starfish back into the sea. We can’t save them all, but isn’t it worth our while to save as many as we can? Or at least do what we can to make their lives more pleasant until the time they can’t hold on any longer?

Gratitude: My Regular Fallback

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for all the people who are doing what they can to raise awareness about suicide.
  2. I am grateful for my own hard-wiring which always seems to find a reason to keep going.
  3. I am grateful I’m an Empath, even if the cost is, at times, quite high.
  4. I am grateful for the Conscious ones in my life. Even when they’re sad, lonely, depressed, angry, or otherwise emotional, the emotions they spew forth are always laced with love, acceptance, and Being.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, commonality, movie buddies, extracurricular activities, opportunities, books, dreams, new doors opening, peace, harmony, health, 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

Empaths vs. Alcohol

New Insight Into the Drinking Game

I’ve always been uncomfortable around people who overindulge in alcohol. I saw it in my parents often enough, and later, my ex-husband. At times, I simply masked it by over-indulging myself, with obvious unpleasant consequences.

It wasn’t until recently I finally recognized the discomfort lay, not in the inebriated state of others, but in the results of that state and its impact on me.

I discovered what was there all along when I accepted that alcohol releases inhibitions. I used to believe those inhibitions were those which stopped people from making fools of themselves to they could relax and have a little fun. But there’s a somewhat sinister side to the lack of inhibitions.

Releasing the Pain Body With a Little Lubrication

We naturally corral what Eckhart Tolle calls our “pain body” when we’re sober, but the addition of alcohol in increasing quantities removes the filter which we’ve put in place to function within the parameters of society. When we remove those filters, thought it might not be apparent to most, we leak all of the sadness, pain, and misery we’ve kept bottled up until it’s flowing out of us like a veritable river of agony.

The average person won’t even notice, and will, in fact enjoy the crazy, uninhibited-ness of the the outwardly happy drunk. Not so with an empath like me.

Once I made the connection, I realized my real issue with people in an inebriated states wasn’t the alcohol (or drugs for that matter) at all. Instead, it was that they were functioning without the usual filters which protect me and others like me from being flooded with someone else’s emotions. You could say we were being drowned in sorrows of someone else’s making.

Once I realized what was happening, I could start taking the necessary steps to protect myself and above all, refrain from engaging with those who danced gaily around the room with their filters in shreds.

Mixed Reactions

I posed my conjecture to a group of empaths recently. In some cases, I was gratified to find others who recognized themselves in me. In others, I was saddened some took my words to mean it was open season on people who drink to mask their pain. Instead of finding an opportunity for compassion (once they’d protected themselves, of course), they took my words as permission to bash and abuse those who chose the only way they could manage to put aside their pain, if just for a little while.

The truth is alcoholism is a disease, plain and simple, and the people who use any kind of drug to excess do so for many reasons, one of which is a lack of healthy coping mechanisms. To crush them further with our condemnation will only serve to drive them further into they abyss.

Granted, it’s neither our place nor our gift to help them all, or maybe, not any of them. But neither is it our place to push them over the edge on which many totter. I am saddened and even mortified to learn my words caused others to take that path.

Self-Medicating to Mask the Pain

I know a number of people I reach are alcoholics or recovering alcoholics and can only imagine the strength it takes to challenge the addiction every single day. Far too many of them are probably empaths who chose alcohol or drugs to shut out the voices, the emotions which bombard us daily when we don’t know what they are or why we hear them in the first place.

I was one of them once upon a time. Though I didn’t abuse alcohol to excess nor use it to mask my pain on a regular basis as my parents did, I used my own equally ineffective and harmful methods for running away from myself and my true purpose. But I also used some healthy ones like dancing.

Learning to Embrace our Humanity

What it all comes down to is we are born compassionate human beings. Life and circumstances change that in us. Whether it’s family troubles or accepted behaviors, traumas we experience as life moves forward with or without us, or something seemingly innocuous. We learn to protect ourselves from mental, physical, and emotional harm in the best way we know how. All too often, the first step is shutting down our compassion for others.

I learned the hard way that shutting down, be it my compassion, sharing, connecting, or authenticity is equivalent to cutting off a limb which is perfectly fine the way it is. Closing ourselves off means we’re denying the very thing which makes us human. As time goes on, it becomes a lonely existence and one impossible to maintain without some hefty sacrifices.

Yet we’re taught to believe that only by functioning according to society’s rules; being cheerful, being gregarious, getting along, being easy-going; will we be able to get ahead, to make something of ourselves, to be a contributing member of society.

Here’s where I have to cry BULLSHIT! To be a true member of our beautiful, crazy, messy society, we have to be our whole selves. We have to share the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sure, we don’t want to go around harming others, but would that even be an issue if we were loved and accepted for who we are in the first place? Do serial killers kill because they were loved and cherished, accepted and celebrated? Do bullies tear others down because they feel good about themselves? NO! They do harm because it’s all they know to make themselves feel less ignored, less lonely, less apart.

Loving Each Other Beneath the Pain

We all have grumpy days. It’s a part of life. Those who deny they do are the ones who most need our compassion because they’re forcing themselves into a mold no one can possibly fit. Life is full of challenges. It’s how we learn, like it or not. It’s also an opportunity to reach out and ask for support, for help from other humans. And here’s a news flash. Other humans LIKE being asked for help once in a while. It makes them feel needed as well.

Yes, I learned a lot from putting my thoughts about alcoholics in particular out there for a group of empaths. Not all of it was good, but it was all useful for me. It reminded me to keep looking below the surface. It told me to put the judgment aside and look at the person underneath, the person the alcohol sought to mask. The mask is flimsy at best and the person underneath is crying for understanding and love, or perhaps just someone to say: “You’re OK just the way you are, warts and all. You’re loved.”

These little reminders make me grateful for the community I’m building, the people I reach out to, and those who reach out to me. You won’t see me marching in the streets any time soon. I’m too busy trying to learn my lessons and spread compassion in the world I know I can touch. In my own small way, this is how I believe I can make a difference. Imagine what would happen if we all spread some compassion. It might not solve all the problems of the world, nor stop all the anger, hatred, and evil, but where we start our journey is entirely up to us, and should be celebrated.

When we belittle the efforts of others, we minimize our own. Whatever we choose to do, it all makes a difference. Believe that, if nothing else.

With Love and Gratitude

OK, I’ll step off my soapbox now and give you today’s gratitudes:

  1.  I am grateful for the people who show me both sides of the impact my words make.
  2.  I am grateful for my little forum where I hope to provide dialogue and the exchange of ideas including those which oppose my own. Only then will we all learn a few things we might have missed out on.
  3.  I am grateful for the new people who come into my life, the messages they bring, the help they offer, and the suggestions they make to help spread my own message further.
  4.  I am grateful for acts of compassion and love as they serve as examples of how much more I could be doing.
  5.  I am grateful for abundance; love, peace, compassion, lessons, people, examples, warmth, pleasure, pain, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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 article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports 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.

We Are All Connected So Why Must We Hate?

An Appeal for Harmony

Last month, Linda Clay asked the question: “What one thing would you like to tell the world?” I replied “I’d tell them to be kind”. An old Coca Cola commercial from the 70’s is a beautiful example of what, in today’s environment seems virtually impossible.

The truth is, we are all connected so when we’re unkind to someone, we are, in reality failing to treat ourselves with love and compassion. If you think of all humanity, animals, and even the rocks and trees, each of us is a thread in the warp and woof which creates a beautiful living tapestry. Unkind acts damage the collective fabric which joins us, weakening and making it less resilient.

Self-Love Can Begin the Healing Process

The world is full of unkindness these days. Whether it’s overt hate or simply disrespect, it’s all boils down to one thing: a lack of love in people’s lives. Whether that lack manifests itself as money, possessions, a coveted job, or a relationship, expression of what’s lacking comes out the same. What’s even worse is that a lack of self-love is at the root of the problem.

When life doesn’t give people what they want, they choose to respond by lashing out, spewing hate, and blaming other people or groups instead of looking within to see what they actually lack. They fail to see the solution to their lack lies in learning to love themselves and the gaping hole in their lives is exposed. Their emotions become like an open wound, aggravated by anything or anyone that fails to salve their wound. The salve they themselves have always possessed gets buried deeper and deeper.

We Need a Moratorium on Blame

When we use blaming words like “You made me feel…” or “you did this to me” we put others on the defensive. They react to our words and how those words make them feel rather than listening or trying to understand. They’ll dig into their own emotional luggage compartment and counter what they feel is an attack with one of their own. At least some of this emotional backlash could be avoided if we simply re-worded things so as not to assign responsibility for our feelings to someone else. You could start with “when you said this I felt that” and open the dialogue to why you felt what you did. Give your friend a chance to help you resolve an old emotional issue and you’ll both walk away feeling loved instead of attacked.

We can only control our own reactions. So it’s up to us to step back and observe our emotional responses objectively before deciding how to respond. Though I doubt any of us other than maybe the Dalai Lama will ever master our emotions, it is possible to temper the way we react once one of the myriad we possess is inadvertently triggered. First, we need to turn down the heat beneath those emotions. When they’re already at the boiling point, even a minuscule trigger can set them off and containment is nearly impossible.

Distortion of Truth is the Root of Hate

What is and isn’t true nowadays often depends on who you talk to. This distortion of truth plays directly into those already overheated emotions. Too many things are now becoming “true” simply because they’ve been repeated so many times. Too many people believe because it comes from someone they trust, or disbelieve because the speaker is someone they distrust. Our responses are being triggered, not by what is true, but by what we believe is true. All too often, emotions are boiling over based on “truths” which have no substantiation whatsoever.

As friendships are severed and atrocities inflicted on the basis of subjective truth, volatility within humanity runs rampant. The effects of such volatility are as destructive as the wild fires which have been burning for weeks in Montana and elsewhere.

Think First, Then Act. Not the Other Way Around.

We need to question things, do our own due diligence. Until we, first as individuals, begin to look closely at what we’ve been told is true, we won’t be able to detach ourselves from the backlash over disparate truths. Until we refuse to become part of the manipulations which pit human being against human being, we won’t be able to help thwart this massive rendition of Sherman’s march to the sea.

Sitting, watching and waiting won’t in the end, solve the problems we’re having. But sitting, watching, and waiting until we understand better what’s true and what isn’t before speaking our piece or jumping into the fray with voices raised and epithets flying will help avoid an endless conflagration of reactions.

Understanding Doesn’t Mean We Must Agree

We don’t have to agree with everyone but it can help to try to put ourselves in their shoes. Get a feel for where they’re coming from; why they believe what they do, and why those beliefs are causing them to react with such venom. Dig deeply into what makes them so afraid they have to lash out with hateful words and acts in order to protect what they fear losing.

The voice of reason needs to come forth. It can take something as small as waiting a moment before reacting to give yourself a chance to see what’s real and what’s fabricated. If you react to hate with more hate, you might as well just pour gasoline on a fire, then stand back and watch your whole world burn to a cinder.

Don’t lose sight of the fact we’re all connected; all woven into the same fabric of being. We owe it to our collective selves to learn to listen without reacting.

Be the Mediator Instead of Another Extremist

Most of all, understand what motivates people to go to extremes. Many are flying on pure emotion. Those in power know it and are using it to keep everyone off-balance and reacting instead of thinking. Many are committing acts that are abhorrent to a rational human being. It is up to us to avoid reacting with emotion. Instead, we must step back and try to understand what drove them to go to such an extreme. We all hit that point at times, shut off our rational side and fly on pure emotion. But we are all also rational human beings capable of thinking things through and finding better ways to express our displeasure and lack. One person at a time, we can turn the tide of irrationality and hate.

Find Reasons to be Grateful

Every life has blessings. Sometimes we have to dig deep to find them, but they are there. Even finding 5 a day raises our emotional barometer significantly. So here are my 5 for the day.

  1. I am grateful for the gift I’ve been given and the courage to voice what may not be popular.
  2. I am grateful for the encouragement I receive from both likely and unlikely sources.
  3. I am grateful for love. It will truly be humanity’s salvation.
  4. I am grateful for understanding. We all have it, but sometimes need to receive a little before we find our own.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, understanding, compassion, kindness, giving, receiving, acceptance, joy, inspiration, motivation, sharing, caring, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Watch the Facebook Live that inspired this post here.

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. She specializes in finding and expressing your authentic self. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.

 

The Damage We Do

Old Hurts Haunt Us

It recently came to my attention that several decades ago, I attacked a fellow Kindergartner with a block. The incident and its subsequent repercussions is irretrievable in my own memories, but I trust that the victim’s memory of it is true.

Flash forward a couple of years when we shared a classroom. The victim of my apparent kindergarten tantrum is again witness to my arrogance; this time in verbal form. As with the first incident, I have no memory of my declaration, but the source is a trusted one.

While I remember the people who attacked me both physically and verbally over the years, my memory of attacks I instigated in my early years is decidedly blank.

My point in all this is we remember getting hurt far better than we remember inflicting it. And whether the infliction was intentional or not, it leaves scars on the people to whom we do harm.

Learning as we Grow

As young children, we have no clue of the harm a misplaced word can do, but as we get older, we have our own experiences to draw on. Which leads me to the next encounter.

By coincidence our parents moved us out of the Valley and into an area with a smaller school district. So small, in fact, that there was only one middle school in this unincorporated area between the City of Los Angeles and the Ventura County line. Here I proved I hadn’t learned anything from the many unkind words and deeds hurled in my direction by children as clueless to the feelings of others as I.

I could have looked upon a familiar face from the old neighborhood with kindness and even welcome, but instead, followed the pattern which began with a wooden block, and threw yet another unkind word.

Over the years, I’ve learned many things, one of which is that I can’t undo the awful things I’ve done in the past, be it recent or distant. I can ask forgiveness of those I’ve hurt or offended, but most important, I can forgive myself.

It’s even more important to learn from those mistakes and pause before responding to something in anger. This is something I’m still working on.

Made Hard by Hurts is No Excuse

A few days ago, I re-posted this image as I thought it was a cute way to share my feelings on the onslaught of anger and ugliness to which Facebook has been subjected for the last year or better:

make-facebook-fun

Much to my amazement, the comment stream was soon filled with anger and vitriol, not all of it from others.

By the time the dust had settled, one person was angry enough to unfriend me, causing me to briefly understand the twisted logic of people who accuse the younger generation of being clueless.

Another didn’t understand why I deleted their comment and the stream which followed, though part of the reason for the deletion was my own failure to think before reacting.

We Only See What We Want to See

The uproar was inspired, not by the overall intention of this graphic, but by the one small blue box entreating people to refrain from hurling political bombs on the pages of social media. Some went so far as to accuse me of having my head in the sand because I refuse to be dragged into the hysteria currently making the media more political than social.

What they fail to see is how Social Media is simply a tool to drive the populace to hysteria and blow even the most normal things completely out of proportion to distract us from what’s really happening. In fact, it’s turning people against each other simply for disagreeing on something so mundane as whether or not to share and discuss every outrageous accusation against our new administration.

Certainly, some of what’s happening is both outrageous and unconscionable, but how can we really tell with all the propaganda that’s flying across our screens from any and all factions?

A Spark of Sanity, A Spark of Hope

Finally, one friend posted an article which reflects what I’ve been thinking, albeit from a far more knowledgeable base than mine. The article prompted me to actually subscribe to the Washington Post (which has, by the way, been mentioned as one of the publications which prides itself on reporting accurately. Which isn’t to say it’s unbiased, just that they report facts rather than hysteria).

The foregoing is simply a reminder that we are all in this together. We’re members of only one race, and that’s the Human one. We all came into this world the same way, and we’ll all go out of it in our time. We can either be loving and kind about it or we can be hateful and ugly. The choice is always ours.

As A Divine Being Living a Human Existence, It’s Up to Us to Evolve

As for me, I’m endeavoring to think before I act or speak, knowing my humanity will cause me to fail now and then. I’m willing to accept my imperfections. Most of all, I’ll be asking forgiveness when I do screw up and hurt someone.

Most of all, I’m working on stepping outside my comfort zone, and the first example of it is to reach out to people more often until I learn to do it naturally. It may seem easy to many, but as an introvert, it’s one of the most difficult things I can do.

What Are You Doing to Evolve?

So here’s my challenge to you: choose something that is very difficult for you and start working on doing it. Don’t expect huge successes at first, but instead, give yourself credit for those baby steps. In my opinion, they’re more important than the larger goals because they are the hardest ones to take.

If All Else Fails, Be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for friends with differing opinions, even if we clash now and then as a result.
  2. I am grateful for forgiveness. Without it, we’d just be one angry bunch of humans all the time.
  3. I am grateful for friendships both new and old. Like the song says: “Make new friends but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold”.
  4. I am grateful for the rain. I haven’t seen such green hillsides in ages, and it makes my heart smile.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: peace, love, understanding, forgiveness, friendship, dancing, cats, joy, philanthropy, harmony, 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!

Photo Courtesy of Get Everwise via Flickr

Finding Compassion in Knee-Jerk Annoyance

Opportunities to Reinforce an Old Lesson

Today  I found myself giving serious consideration to blocking my social media posts from someone on my friends list. Why? Because I was allowing comments from this person to annoy me. It doesn’t matter why. What matters is that was allowing it to annoy me. Pure and simple.

So I sat here thinking about it, and realized this was a person who has struggled to fit in, at least since high school if not before. I might feel that comments lack things like reading the whole post or avoiding attempting to shove an idea down the poster’s throat they’ve stated they already considered. But what it all boils down to is just a simple need for acceptance. Even the people who seem the most popular and together experience this feeling. In fact, I suspect many of them need that acceptance much more than the plain Janes and Joes. Their looks or other impressive talents have caused them to grow accustomed to attention, and they wilt without it, much like a flower without water.

Others like me have learned that the only approval we really need is from within, so who is really better off in the long run?

But back to my little dilemma. I realized it really did me no harm to field the occasional well-meaning but poorly thought out comment from this person, nor would it do me any harm to be kinder to them when the comments did appear on my post thread.

Giving My Compassion Meter a Little Nudge

As I’ve admitted in the past, my compassion meter does not go all the way to the top…yet. Reminders like this one help me make better choices when it comes to communicating with other people, and for them, I am grateful. They make me realize that the annoyance is all on me, and so is the compassion should I detach from the annoyance enough to see it. How far would a single kind word go for this person who may well have exceeded their own comfort zone to make a comment in the first place? Shame on me for overlooking that, especially when I already know they have their own personal struggles.

Resolving to be more compassionate, I’ve found, is not enough. We must also resolve to pay more attention to opportunities to be compassionate, and take the final step towards actually doing it.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction book. We learn the social rules from the people around us; the laws from our teachers and parents. But the road to being a truly decent person is fraught with perils I believe are meant to teach us to make the right choices, even when the right choice isn’t the easiest or most comfortable for us.

Both compassion and patience have long been my Achilles Heel. Annoyance has been my biggest obstacle towards achieving either. So one of my lessons is to turn off those gut-level responses and look at things from a dispassionate position with regard to myself so I can look at someone else with compassion.

I won’t say the road has been easy or direct, though I’ve spent the better part of this lifetime trying to master these self-appointed tasks. However, the rewards have, and will continue to be greater for having made the effort. My existence is far less cold and lonely when I care a little more about others and am a little less egocentric. And maybe I can serve as a little bit of an example to other people that a leopard can change her spots, if she just opens herself up a little to the amazing world around her.

With Gratitude

And so, I end this post as I usually do. With Gratitude.

  1. I am grateful for opportunities to recognize my failings.
  2. I am grateful fro friends who demonstrate traits I desire but lack.
  3. I am grateful for changes in my life which help me exercise the newly learned but still shaky traits.
  4. I am grateful for the love and compassion I receive every day.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: work, play, friendship, joy, compassion, community, love, humanity, peace, hope, philanthropy and prosperity.

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 Ricardo Moraleida via Flickr

Take Off the Mask and Let People Care

You Wear a Mask While I Become a Hermit. The Overall Effect is the Same.

One of what I consider the lesser products of human evolution is the existence of masks. Not the kind you wear on Halloween or Mardi Gras, but the invisible ones we don for various social situations.

Some of us are still pretty “what you see is what you get” but we’re in the minority and tend to come off as somewhat socially retarded as a result. In fact, even recognizing that a mask is in place is something I find challenging, and often to my own detriment.

I recently saw masks of friendly acquaintanceship replaced by ones of cordial tolerance. My initial, knee-jerk reaction was a combination of hurt and anger followed by a shut down which, to the casual observer would probably be seen as rude. In fact, the harsh words that shutdown prevented would have been far more rude and unkind. They’d also have been harder to repair afterwards.

But I’ve had some time to think about the whole scenario including a brief fall into negative self-talk. After referring to myself as “pathetic”, followed quickly by a stern reprimand about speaking to myself so disrespectfully, I paid a visit to the therapist who does me the most good and forces me to look at things objectively: my writing.

It was there I discovered that I still carry pieces of my mother with me; particularly those which leave me staring at a mask instead of a real, honest person and not understanding why. It was because I recognized the source of my reaction that I began to understand and even feel compassion for those who utilize masks instead of being honest with themselves and those around them.

Now, I don’t mean baring your soul to every stranger you see. But I think we can exercise self-restraint without hiding behind a mask. Seeing/sensing someone’s pain, our inherent compassion allows us to offer a shoulder or ear, but understand if they’re refused. However, I realize what’s true for me may not be so for the rest of the world. Maybe I’m simply naive.

From my mother’s life, I am learning to recognize people use their collection of masks to protect themselves and to hide hurts which are too raw and exposed to safeguard any other way. Like me, they have triggers. In their case, those triggers automatically throw up a particular mask. It might be something which affects them directly or something they witness which brings a painful memory rushing back. I suppose it could be as simple as a song or a phrase for some people.

Like so many things which remind me of my mom, I have to remind myself that the donning of a person’s mask really has nothing to do with me aside from something I might have unwittingly said or done to trigger that person’s defense mechanisms.

I’ve struggled interpersonally over the years, and the struggle continues, even after 6 decades. I was never interested in the social game playing so I never took the time to learn the rules. It’s bitten me in the butt on too many occasions to count. Yet I can only be who and what I am, and that means masks off. The only exception to the rule is when I do experience pain coupled with ire, at which point, retreating behind the one mask I do possess is better for me and everyone else concerned as it prevents my mouth from running amok and exacerbating the situation beyond redemption.

Forgiveness is the Answer

I have also learned that time and distance heal pretty much everything. If I didn’t believe it before, a recent encounter reminded me. A couple of years ago, I had a friend who I thought I was helping (I was in the middle of the healing class at the time). Instead, I unwittingly triggered something very unpleasant from her past and found myself completely shut out. A week or so ago, we happened to be in the same place at the same time. She approached me and apologized for her actions! After assuring her that I understood why she’d backed off, I accepted her apology (as it would have been unkind not to!) and we caught up a bit with each others’ lives.

Once again, there are some painful lessons and perhaps a long road back. But in the process, I’ve learned a little compassion for the wearers of the masks as well as some appreciation for their methods. While I have to just shut down for awhile, they can continue to function socially and, I suspect that few ever even notice anything different about them.

It Always Comes Back to Gratitude

And still, I’m grateful. Each experience and the lessons I learn from them helps me become a better Human. So here, for your reading enjoyment are tonight’s gratitudes.
1. I’m grateful for lessons which teach me compassion.
2. I am grateful for my flaws and social awkwardness. In many ways, they leave me free to view the world with the innocence of a child.
3. I am grateful for a very productive day.
4. I am grateful for the ultimate therapist: a blank computer screen or piece of paper and the spilling of my thoughts.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, kindness, compassion, lessons, productivity, health, peace, harmony, happiness, 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!

September 23, 2015 Expanding Our Horizons Intelligently

How do You Answer the Age-old Question: What do You Want to be When You Grow Up?

Figuring out our future begins when we’re very young. As a child we may have visions of being a surgeon or a fireman or an astronaut because those careers seem larger than life and our experiences are small. As we grow older, our aspirations begin to refine, though often, they are driven by our parents’ advice to pick something which will make us a good living.

As a result, many talented writers, artists and musicians become accountants, bankers and salesmen because the definition of a good living they were taught is to earn lots of money. Pardon my language, but that’s a crock of shit, and one I, myself bought into for over 30 years.

Yes, it allowed me to leave a bad marriage and still support my daughters. Yes, it has kept me off the streets and in the home I’ve owned for nearly 35 years, but if I’d started following my passion sooner, might I have made different choices which would have landed me somewhere completely different and even better? I’ll never know, nor do I really give it much thought because I know I’m exactly where I need to be right now. But at least I finally learned that preaching the same tired sermon to my daughters wasn’t doing them any favors.

Today, I work for myself making, for the moment, less money. But I also have less stress, more freedom, a happier life and am surrounded by my cats, my books and friends who understand me.

Passions Pro’s and Cons

There are down sides to living my passion. In the first place, I have to learn how to market my skills better, but thankfully, I’ve connected with some people who set an incredible example. Second, I have to hold myself in check, insuring that I actually finish projects instead of haring off to take this class or that one or begin yet another project that will join the queue of those awaiting completion. In the last year and a half alone I’ve signed up for:

  • AWAI’s Six-Figure Copywriting Course
  • Gina Horkey’s Freelance Writing Course
  • Holly Lisle’s novel writing course

I’ve also purchased dozens of paper books and countless e-books and papers on writing, many of which I’ve actually read! I’ve also participated in blog challenges and 3 NaNoWriMo’s so far. But I’ve had to curb my tendency to buy courses (even though Carrie Smith Nicholson seriously tempted me with a package for only $99 the other day) until I finish the projects I’ve already started. In fact, I am set to deny myself this year’s NaNoWriMo if I don’t finish the revision of my first novel before November 1. I’m my own harshest mistress.

My latest mind wander has taken me into my interest in herbal remedies and the temptation to search for a course in herbalism. Before I could even type the word into a search engine, my conscience kicked in and said What? Another side trip into something you may or may not finish? Sorry, kid, but there’s a novel on your desktop which deserves better. Add this to your bucket list and get back to work.

Thankfully, that little voice has gotten stronger over the last few months, fueled in part by my dwindling finances, but also by the desire to see more than my blog in print. When I worked for a corporation, I was good at prioritizing and completing multiple projects on time. Now, I have to set my own deadlines and believe deep in my gut that they’re not arbitrary.

Going back to the three courses, I ended up cancelling the first one, completing the second and playing hit-or-miss with the third (though I’ve already gained some insight from it which is helping with my latest novel revision). Fortunately, I stopped the downward spiral by taking myself in hand (with the help of a pep talk from a a friend) and setting both boundaries and goals. I’m also determined, whether I meet a goal or not, to refrain from beating myself up. Not only is it counterproductive and motivation killing, but it also wastes time which would be better spent doing everything I can to meet those goals.

Many Happy Miles to go Before I Sleep

It’s after 4:00PM and I could say I have nothing to show for the day. I haven’t worked on my novel. I haven’t done any client work. OK, fine. But instead, I got out of the house and attended a meeting for a local networking group, met some delightful small business owners, talked to two potential clients (and agreed to meet next week), tried out a new restaurant in town, chatted with a friend who is inspirational on so many levels and started a blog post much earlier in the day than normal, before any ideas I might have had fled my brain, leaving me with nothing to write about. Do I have anything tangible to show for it? Not yet. I do have inspiration, motivation and a blog topic. For me, that all adds up to a successful day. Besides, it’s not even 5:00 yet so I have hours of productive time left before I sleep.

The Student Becomes the Teacher, Or Has She Always Been?

My daughter was one of those who encouraged me to get out of the rat race and live my passion. She did so both with words and actions, and I couldn’t be more proud. She is studying Culinary Arts and plans to open a catering business. She’s taking business courses so she will understand both the creative and the mundane aspects of her work. And she’s another who can show me how to better market myself and my work. Better still, she didn’t buy into that dysfunctional mindset that says to be successful you must pursue the dollar and hope the fun and passion finds you. In truth, you have to pursue your passion and the rest will ultimately take care of itself. She is smarter than I as she trusts in the Universe to guide her, though she may not put it in those words. She follows her passion, treats people right and the doors she needs will open when the time is right. The student has, indeed, become my teacher.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for the teachers who have come into my life now that I’m finally able to see past making money.
2. I am grateful for those who have been there for me with moral support, kicks in the butt and even a shoulder to cry on when I need it.
3. I am grateful for the freedom to live my life as I see fit, write until my brain freezes or my fingers cramp, be there for my friends and family at any time of the day or night without worrying about letting anyone down, including me.
4. I am grateful that I’ve learned to make a life instead of just making a living.
5. I am grateful for abundance: life, love, freedom, self, lessons, challenges, writing, reading, peace, harmony, kindness, compassion, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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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