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

Archive for the ‘emotions’ Category

Staying Afloat in a Typhoon of Emotions

Drowning in a Sea of Emotions

Lately, the rush of emotions comes on suddenly. The fear, the anger, the frustration, and worst of all, the loneliness. For the most part, these feelings aren’t mine, but they engulf me on those occasions when I have to leave the house to run a few errands I couldn’t accomplish with my phone or the internet.

While I’m drowning in the flood, I don’t always take the time to step back and ask if the feelings are mine. I flounder through, singularly focused on finishing what I have to, and rushing back home to the warmth of my personal cocoon. There I can hug a cat or three, and take the time to analyze the feelings overwhelming me.

Sometimes I realize right away I’ve been absorbing the unfiltered emotions of the people around me. Others, it takes a few days, and comments from friends who understand before I recognize what actually happened. The truth is, anywhere people gather, socially distancing or no, there’s a shit storm of emotions no one is trying to mask. It reminds me of someone intoxicated who broadcasts every joy, every hurt, every ounce of pain they normally keep buried.

Emotional Overload Isn’t Just for Empaths

Everyone is overwhelmed right now whether they realize it or not. Heaven knows I didn’t for emotional overloadawhile until it smacked me in the face. I started getting migraines again for no apparent reason. My heart would pound though I had done nothing more than walk around the house. My body would tense up making me afraid to even move.

I’m one of the lucky ones. When I feel those unpleasant feelings, I can write, or go work in the yard. I can clean house, or declutter the garage. I have no end of projects to clear my mind and soul. I think of people closed up in an apartment or condominium with waves of other peoples’ emotions flooding them without respite, and my heart aches. What saves me right now is being able to detach from everyone else’s emotions, and work through mine by doing something physical. There are only so many times you can clean an apartment or condo, or declutter closets.

Combating Emotional Overload With Hard Labor

I have a wealth of opportunities to clean, organize, or be productive. I’ve yet to create any sort of list, aside from my blog schedule. I’ve been overwhelmed by a yard that was becoming a forest until my friend brought over lawn equipment that’s been sitting in a garage unused for several years. There are no lawns to tend in a condo.

Getting my yard back in shape, even with  help is going to take awhile, but it provides me with ample opportunity to work off a lot of this heavy energy. When I get tired of whacking away at weeds or trying to make them resemble a lawn, there are still blogs to write, a house to clean, and even a bathroom to paint.

I also have a huge library of books to read, and more in the electronic libraries of my daughter and me. So no, I won’t run out of things to keep my mind and body busy in between Zoom ballet classes and line dance nights.

A Healthy Dose of Human Connection

I’ve learned though that the one thing I can’t get from my projects and books is the connection https://www.flickr.com/photos/68716695@N06/29720272855/in/photolist-cidCGQ-cidAbW-oxdYzL-yNtP9-axVQZG-UVaRyd-oPHnHz-aEWSPf-cidEi3-cidDJj-pq3vki-cidGwb-cidAUs-cidzEm-cidGg5-6MaBxt-cidzzm-dRCmyq-7N6Ex-9i79bM-axVQZA-cidCsC-cidBSw-cidAyL-cidE3w-dY4eeu-cidBZG-8yJgxE-MhhaFv-Lk5teP-Lk5pNa-Lk5tT4-7M2d6q-cidG7W-7LXeC6-7LXeKr-WdN5Mm-5gktq-8zGa9M-9JanH2-ghRqpv-ehWVQY-LkYuxs-Sk3zxC-TnTsSY-pEomxJ-pEomes-PPJTdd-2aVQK6S-7VzqQPwith people I’ve learned to appreciate in recent years. I need chats on the porch and Saturday night gatherings for my mental as well as physical health. I’m learning that connection isn’t an option if I want to stay healthy. When I see people wandering through a store with no real sense of purpose or direction, I remember that was me not too many years ago, and my heart breaks a little.

I remember my dad and his buddies wandering through the Costco near them, not because they needed anything, but to get out of the house and around people. I used to laugh about it. I’m not laughing now, because I’m beginning to understand.

The worst part of the COVID virus isn’t the number of people who are going to get sick, and even die. It isn’t the businesses who are floundering and may not make it until things start to open up again. Being disconnected from each other; unable to share a meal; unable to hug; unable to combine our individual energy into one big ball of amazing…that’s the worst part. I shudder to think of the casualties caused by lack of connection. They won’t be as obvious, and they, too will take more lives.

Finding New Ways to Feed Your Social Animal

I can’t begin to count the number of times a night out dancing pulled me out of my doldrums and quelled my feelings of worthlessness. Exchanging hugs with my friends, or laughing on the dance floor lifted me back up when I needed it most. How many others depended on a regular social schedule to maintain their sanity? Add financial woes to the mix for many, and the picture isn’t pretty. Is it any wonder many are running afoul of the social distancing orders?

The truth is, when your mental health is on shaky ground, you start to lose interest in maintaining your physical health. Why bother? You ask yourself. Nobody will notice if I gain a few pounds or let my hair get shaggy. So what if I don’t shower for a week or two, or put on clean clothes? You can’t see how many really do care while you’re holed up in your house alone, either by choice, or by necessity. The reason doesn’t matter.

Paying Attention to the Ones You Love

People do care though. Sometimes we don’t recognize it as caring, but they really do. And sometimes it takes a good shaking to remind some to show that caring before it’s too late. I see now I’m one who needed a shaking, and at times, I wallow in the realization I let my parents down by not showing them I cared when they were still around.

I’m getting a little of it back from my daughter Jenni now. I pushed my mom away when I was in my 20’s. Jenni has done the same, and now, in her 30’s with 3 children I doubt I’ll ever get to know, she’s pushed me away harder and further than I ever pushed my mom.

The difference is, I stopped trying to pretend I was OK all the time and let people see the real me. I developed real friendships with give and take. Sometimes I’m the one who uplifts and supports someone, and others, I receive the support. I’ve learned a healthy relationship is synergistic; everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, but together, everyone is stronger, more resilient, and most of all, important to the whole.

What’s most important is learning from all the falls I’ve taken over the years. Wallowing in regret won’t make the world a better place, and it won’t make my own life better. What will make a difference is recognizing places where I could have done better, or where I should have asked for help instead of bulldozing my way through until I destroyed the entire structure.

So I notice things like lonely people wandering Costco trying to find a connection. Once upon a time, that person was me.

Ever Grateful for the Many Blessings in My Life

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for lessons learned.
  2. I’m grateful for the trials and tribulations I’ve faced; for the traumas and the challenges that taught me to stop keeping everything to myself, and to trust other people.
  3. I’m grateful for my community which is working overtime to help it’s member stay safe and sane.
  4. I’m grateful for human connection, even from a distance. I’ve tried isolation, and realize even I need people, if in smaller doses than others.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, motivation, inspiration, love, joy, community, friendship, connection, balance, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Running Your Life on Emotion Alone is a Slippery Slope

Sliding Down the Slippery Slope

We’re all guilty, at one time or another of allowing ourselves to make an important decision or choice emotionally, without engaging the logical part of our being. Often, we live to regret decisions made from our gut without at least a modicum of input from our brain. Marketers know this and play to our illogical, feeling side all the time as does anyone else who want to control the choices we make.

They encourage us to disengage our brains by setting off emotional land mines between our feelings and the logical, rational part of ourselves which would ask difficult questions if allowed to intervene. What frightens me is not only are we being encouraged to feel instead of think, but the message is being pumped into us from every direction in a constant bombardment of—let me call it what it is—propaganda.

Infomercials Thrive on Emotional Decisions

How many infomercials use tactics which hit us below the surface of our logic? Take the ones for a well-known pillow manufacturer. The guy wears his shirt buttoned to his chin, the cross necklace conspicuous in the seemingly haphazard way it sticks out above the top button instead of hanging loosely over the collar, or as would be more likely, underneath. The commercials are studded with American flags and a not-so-subtle message to “make America great again” by buying things that are made “right here in the United States”. Boo-rah!

Every one of these visual and auditory components is an emotional trigger encouraging people to pick up their phone or log onto the website and buy the darn things right now. There’s even a code which most people don’t realize is used to track which of the company’s many advertising media sucked the customer in.

Out of curiosity, I logged into the site (without the code) one night just to see what the hype (and expensive TV spots) was all about. At the time, their “buy one, get one free” offer (yet another emotional trigger) was over 80 dollars. It’s now “only” $79.98. Even so, how many of us spend $40 apiece on pillows? I don’t even want to know what they charge for the rest of the product line that’s evolved from the first spate of infomercials that invaded my television time.

Triggering Our Emotions for Profit

My point is, enough people are getting sucked in by these tactics to keep the guy showing up on TV not only in between shows we choose to watch, but on 30-minute, stand-alone infomercials as well. Clearly, playing on people’s emotions to generate sales is a lucrative proposition, especially in today’s environment. I suspect companies like this are counting on people being on a constant emotional high to sell them crap they don’t need now, and would have never considered buying had the thinking part of their brain been engaged.

As for me, I sleep perfectly well on my $5 Big One pillows I got at Kohl’s during one of their “biggest sales of the season”. Were they made in America? Probably not. But when so many people can’t even afford to rent an apartment or keep healthy food on the table, I, for one make no apologies. There are enough monkey wrenches being thrown into trading freely between countries these days as it is.

Step Back, Take a Breath, Engage Your Brain

However, I didn’t intend this post to turn into a rant, but merely a cautionary tale about preventing our  emotions from getting us into hot water. I take advice I was given long ago very seriously with regard to flaming emails from bosses and co-workers. Do not respond right away. Take the time to step back, cool off, and address the matter from a rational place. The decisions and choices we make are no different.

Would you buy a car without taking the time to research your options, check pricing at different dealers, and maybe even see what the average purchase price has been using Edmund’s or KBB? Would you buy a house without looking at comps and assessing your options? Other choices might not have the same impact on you financially, but they deserve equal consideration.

A Time to Think Clearly and a Time to Go With Your Gut

Don’t get me wrong. There are certainly times when trusting your gut is appropriate. If we spent the same amount of time deciding on dinner as we do buying a car, we’d starve. There’s certainly a place for gut decisions. Just understand if you make some of the biggies from the gut instead of the brain, there may be a lot of backpedaling, adjusting, and perhaps even damage control to manage after the decision has been made and the wheels put in motion.

Such was the case with my decision to quit my day job to do a complete career change without adequate things in place to maintain my lifestyle and solvency while I put the new path in place. I’ve taken more steps back than forward in some areas, and taken a beating for leaping without looking first.

Still and all, I wouldn’t go back and change the fact I made the choice when I did. I might have gotten my act together a little sooner. Then again, perhaps the lessons I’ve learned in continuing to follow a dream that isn’t as easy to reach as I’d hoped are worth the struggle, the worry, and the people who’ve come into my life as a result.

Diving in Before We Have All the Answers

The biggest and best of those lessons is accepting I don’t have all the answers, nor do I have the resources or the time to get the answers I need if I isolate myself. Life is a series of hills and valleys, give and take. What I’ve learned by connecting with people who struggle with some of the same things I do, or who’ve overcome some of those things would never have happened if I’d jumped easily from one career to the other.

I’ve also learned working from home, despite the scarce times, is far better for me. Too often, I was manipulated by people who saw someone who was, in many ways naive to the ways of the world when it came to climbing the corporate ladder. I was often someone else’s stepping stone, offering too much because I expected them to be as open and honest as me.

I wouldn’t change that either. I simply learned I’m a sitting duck in the corporate cesspool, and needed to learn to be successful as an entrepreneur. My emotions are too easily engaged, causing me to make a lot of poor choices, or put up with things I shouldn’t have to. Sometimes, the key to making decisions with the right part of our anatomy is knowing when and how we function best.

These days, I have the luxury of time when it comes to making decisions. That isn’t to say I haven’t tripped up a few times anyway. It means I trip up less spectacularly, and spend less time doing damage control. I have certainly given up a lot of things I had when there was a steady paycheck, but I’ve given up the stress, misery, and abuse that went with it. I’d make the same choice again in a heartbeat.

Grateful for Every Minute, Every Breath

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the time and wherewithal to make conscious choices.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned since I left the corporate rat race.
  3. I am grateful for learning to live more minimally.
  4. I am grateful for the little things, like cooler weather and lower power bills.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, epiphanies, inspiration, motivation, butt kicks, helping hands, opportunities to help others, comedy instead of drama, prolific writing, productive days, 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.

Emotions Disconnected

Feeling Disconnected Again

Tonight in the middle of a line dance, I suddenly felt what has become a frequent and familiar sensation. There, in the middle of a crowd, voices clashing with the music, a cacophony of sounds fighting for recognition, I was suddenly alone. The ties to people, to sounds, even to the steps I was executing were suddenly severed. I continued to go through the motions, but no longer felt like I was connected mentally, physically, or emotionally to the experience.

I’ve been here before. Suddenly a piece of jetsam floating rudderless above the sights and sounds. So often, I even have a standard behavior which executes on its own when the feeling of disconnection pervades my being.

Going Off of Auto-Pilot

But this time was different. For some reason I recognized I was about to launch the escape sequence and stopped for a split second. In that frozen moment in time, instead of allowing the self-executing program to engage, I stopped. I asked myself why I didn’t just allow myself to feel that disconnectedness instead of masking it like I usually do. I asked why I didn’t allow myself to feel the feelings which pervaded my being at moments like this. Why did I instead allow myself to be encased in a bubble of energy which gave me false stimulation I was unable to reach from the people around me?

And the self-executing program stopped, unsure whether to go forward or address this new set of queries because I couldn’t think of a single valid reason why those feelings should not be felt.

Of course the next thing I did was to start writing about it, allowing the feelings to flow onto the screen unedited. Much like a brain dump but one I knew I’d publish one place or another. The questions poured out of me like the Oroville Dam through its emergency spillway. Once the flow began, there was no way to stop it.

Questioning Old Habits

Should I do what I’ve become accustomed to doing and enclose myself in a golden egg-shaped ball of light, or instead, allow myself to feel the disconnectedness? Have I grown so accustomed to masking the disconnectedness that it’s more natural to mask my feelings from myself as well as everyone else? Has the defense mechanism I initiated while  learning to handle the feelings of pain, loss, anger, guilt and so forth outlived its usefulness?

And yet, the habit has become so ingrained I normally don’t even think twice about launching the escape sequence if I even launch it consciously any more. It’s pretty much on auto-pilot. I didn’t even recognize I was doing it until tonight. Experiencing this disconnectedness on the dance floor happens often enough I consider it commonplace.

Taking a Turn for the Better

While I stood on the sidelines typing furiously into my phone, someone asked me to dance and afterward,  I joined a conversation with people at the table next to mine. Yet I knew sooner or later I’d have to follow the flow. Something changed tonight. Suddenly, I was, if not giving myself permission, at least exploring the option of allowing my feelings to flow unchecked. Is this the next stage in my healing process? Acknowledging the feelings which have been so bottled up I didn’t even realize I’d been doing the bottling?

Turning the Protective Mechanisms Off

The mind is a very complicated apparatus which is directly responsible for the fight or flight behavior. But it also protects us in times of severe emotional trauma by doling out the experience in more manageable bits and pieces. It does this by blocking the feelings until we’re ready to handle them without imploding. And yet, there are times when our minds go a little overboard. They fail to give us credit for the strength we’ve developed through years of challenges and lessons. Or they simply get stuck in protective mode and forget to dole out a few more feelings for us to process.

In my case, I think I just got to the point where it was easier to deny any connection to those feelings. In true “out of sight, out of mind” fashion, I made no effort to retrieve the things which had been put away until I was stronger. In doing so, I lost part of my humanity. I lost kindness. I lost compassion. Until I found myself wondering at my inability to connect.

That’s when the hard outer shell which had grown around my heart and even the feeling part of my mind started to show signs of strain. It was no longer obvious to me why I should stifle and contain my feelings when I suddenly felt alone in a crowd for no apparent reason. With each new question, the walls cracked a little more. And in cracking, I was able to re-establish part of the connection. By giving myself permission to feel disconnected and alone, I no longer was.

Opening a New Door in the Healing Process

By acknowledging and allowing the feelings, I did something I’d been working towards for a long time. I allowed my vulnerability to show. Granted, it’s unlikely anyone around me even noticed. But I noticed. I felt vulnerable and didn’t do anything to stop the feeling.

This might seem insignificant to most, but to anyone who has guarded their heart with military precision, never allowing themselves to experience uncertainty or weakness, this is a major accomplishment. I learned tonight that until I can truly feel comfortable being vulnerable in my own space, I’ll never open up to others in that manner. But I also had to decide I was ready.

In all honesty, I’m still not completely certain I’m ready. But I am certain I’m ready to try, and that’s a step in the right direction.

For Each Experience, I Am Truly Grateful

Tonight’s gratitudes are:

  1. I am grateful for the cracks in my shell.
  2. I am grateful I could experience the vulnerability without an audience for now.
  3. I am grateful for the unanswered questions.
  4. I am grateful for new experiences. Especially the scarier ones.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, vulnerability, courage, connection, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 18, 2014 I trust my feelings, but sometimes I just don’t get their message! #shericonaway

Sometimes, I wish my feelings came with an instruction manual.

When I went to bed last night (way too late again as I simply had to watch the latest episode of Castle before I started writing) I had what I’ve come to know as “Anxiety Tummy”. You know that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you’re worried about something very intensely? Like when you’ve interviewed for a job you really want and are waiting to hear if you got it. Or you’re waiting for the results of tests at the doctor. That sort of thing.

The only problem is, I don’t have anything like that happening in my life right now! The worst part is, I woke up this morning and my stomach was still doing somersaults.

What do you do when your body gives you messages you just can’t decode?

Our bodies are wondrous things and, if we pay attention, can really point us in the right direction (or send us running really fast the other way if we’re heading for disaster, also known as “a learning experience”.) Sometimes, we ignore those messages, to our own detriment, but at other times, like today, I just don’t know what I’m being alerted to.

When I went to sleep last night, I asked my guides for clarification, but if they gave me any, I don’t remember. I’ve sat quietly, trying to allow thoughts to just float into my brain which might explain this weird feeling. The only thing I’ve come up with is my upcoming income verification with Covered California. I wouldn’t think that would be enough to upset my stomach, especially after all I’ve been through with them over the last year.

One thing I have learned is that if I spend a lot of time worrying about what I’m worrying about, it only makes things worse and I get nowhere.

It really is true! Exercise helps put things into perspective!Harvest box 11-18-14 view 2

I opted to refrain from fretting and went about my daily business which, on Tuesday includes a workout at the gym and a trip to Underwood to pick up my veggie box. Call me weird, but I get very excited over things like artichokes and kale, both of which appeared in this week’s box. This week’s new veggie to try is a butternut squash. I’ve had it in ravioli, but little else so I’ll enlist my daughter’s assistance in determining what to make with it. We are both looking forward with gusto to another kale, potato and chicken sausage stir fry this week. I’ve also grown rather fond of the purple carrots which once again were part of the week’s yummy bounty.

Getting back to the point I was trying to make before I waxed eloquent over my veggies, is that going to work out was the best thing I could have done with regard to understanding my body’s signals. Not only did my chest and tricep workout loosen up my shoulder, not completely, but range of motion is much better, but I realized what was bothering me.

I was on track when I thought it might have to do with my Covered California renewal, but as it turns out, the real issue was only indirectly related, and goes something like this: I haven’t made as much money this year as I’d hoped, but to be honest, I haven’t put as much effort into the writing as I could have. BUT when I started looking at what I had accomplished rather than what I hadn’t (sound familiar?), I was pretty pleased. Conservatively speaking, if I say I averaged 30,000 words a month blogging, that’s 300,000 words just in this blog! Add to that the 30,000+ words I added to the novel I started last November plus the 29,000 I’ve already written this year…Do you see where I’m going here?

Now, add to the list the fact that I’ve gotten through two and a half chapters of the copywriting class (chapter 3 alone is over 300 pages) plus the first 10 or 11 exercises, and I’ve worked on two new clients’ books as well as spending some time for my former employer in the early part of the year.

On top of all that, I’ve done a lot of decluttering in my house this year, managed to keep up with most of my chores and improve my environment. All this, and I got away to visit my daughter at least a half dozen times this year.

Whew! Needless to say, anxiety tummy is a thing of the past, though my shoulder is telling me that a massage and energy session should still be part of this week’s agenda.

The moral of my story is, listen to the emotional signals your body sends, but don’t stress out if you don’t, at first, understand the message.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for a system which reminds me to focus on what matters.
2. I am grateful for my workouts which do my body a world of good and take me away from things which used to tie me in knots.
3. I am grateful for my weekly box of fresh veggies.
4. I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on what I have done rather than what I haven’t.
5. I am grateful for caring friends who share life’s ups and downs, both theirs and mine. It is heartwarming to know that we travel life’s roller coaster in good company.
6. I am grateful for abundance: faith, love, joy, friendship, inspiration, accomplishments, health and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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