Dancing outside my comfort zone

Archive for the ‘feelings’ Category

Sometimes You Just Have to Be Sad

Sadness Unexplained

There isn’t anything wrong. There isn’t even anything particularly not right. Yet sometimes, the sadness hits for no particular reason. Most of the time, you get busy working or cleaning or something that doesn’t require much thinking. Or you watch a funny movie. Or you make a list of gratitudes. But sometimes, you really need to let the sadness run it’s course.

Life is a balance. We have to be sad to appreciate happy, low to appreciate high, sick to appreciate healthy, and so on. If we stifle one, we diminish the other. As an artist, some of my most productive times are the sad ones. They’re the ones which let me spill raw emotions onto the page or craft a character who makes the reader ache for them. A song writer might write an achingly sweet ballad, a painter, a painting which rips deep into your soul. Where would art be if the artist didn’t allow herself to experience these inexplicable periods of sadness?

Fighting the Sadness is a Losing Battle

When I was younger, I did everything in my power to talk myself out of being sad, even to the point of getting angry with myself. Unfortunately, it often left me angry and feeling unfulfilled for a long time afterwards. Yet the reasons I shoved it aside were valid. I had a job to perform so I could earn my paycheck and support my two daughters. I had a household to maintain, chores to do, groceries to buy, and all of the things that go into surviving as a single mother. Heaven knows, I didn’t always get it right and I came into a lot of criticism from well-meaning friends who disagreed with my priorities.

In years when my life was slightly slower, I’d sometimes allow the sadness to overtake me, obliterating all memories of happier things. I’d spend too many hours in my sweats, curled up in bed sleeping. In hindsight, I’d probably internalized things like my divorce, my parents deaths and a thousand other things for so long, I’d fallen into a depression I didn’t even recognize as such. I know those times were hardest of all on my daughters. But as bad as it got, I’m one of the lucky ones because I didn’t stay there.

Finding My Way into the Darkness and Out Again

Eventually, I found my happy place again. I also found a way to stop walling myself in behind a wall of misery. At first, I wrote only for myself. I created Word documents meant only for my eyes, though many of them remain in my archives. I wrote about my unhappiness, but more, I wrote about the things I could not change; my parents’ suicides, my guilt over feeling I didn’t do enough or care enough. In a nutshell, my past.

Only when the Notes function on Facebook proved insufficient to hold all of the thoughts, questions, Tarot readings, and random thoughts I’d begun to share did I move to a more public arena with my first blog. Little did I know where it would take me. What started as a way to talk about family suicide and maybe reach a couple of people who, like me had bottled up their feelings has become so much more.

Giving Society’s Misguided Standards the Finger

Just as our society isn’t very understanding about just needing to be sad, it lacks compassion for people who have lost someone to suicide. The things we are taught in order to function in that society also teach us some incredibly unhealthy things. Funny little catch phrases like “Here’s a quarter, call someone who cares.” or “Suck it up, Buttercup” may sound cute and funny…if you’re not the one being told to box up your feelings and just deal with it.

Yet, we’re only human. We have feelings and if we don’t get to express them when they’re small and manageable, we will eventually break under the pressure of everything we’re stifling, and something small will make us crumble into a million pieces. By then, we’ve been so outwardly strong that nobody understands why we could possibly get upset over something which, on the outside, appears quite small.

In sharing my own ups and downs, struggles and successes, I’ve learned a lot of lessons, but the greatest lesson of all is that I am not alone. Others have been where I am. They may have dealt with it differently, but they can relate. Sometimes, what I write about comes at just the right time for someone who is having a tough time. More than once, I’ve heard from someone that just reading that someone else shares what they’re going through takes their pain down a notch.

Sharing Our Struggles Can Be Someone Else’s Gift

We can’t take away someone else’s pain. We can’t cure their ailing parent, or make the loss of a child, a parent, a dear friend, or a beloved pet less sad and painful for them. And feeding them platitudes like “it’s going to be OK” or “time will heal this” or my personal least favorite, “it’s God’s will” don’t help. All you’re doing with those little catch phrases is invalidating someone’s feelings. You’re telling them they don’t “need” to be sad.

Feelings have nothing to do with need. They just are. We can’t turn them on and off like a faucet. Yes, we can shove them into a box in our heart for a little while, but the box is not infinite. Eventually it will burst. Which is why I encourage you to feel your feelings. After awhile, you can step back and simply observe them, but can you really observe something you don’t understand? That you haven’t allowed yourself or been allowed to feel? Sure, time does heal in its own way. Even that is different for each of us. But when the pain of loss is fresh, when whatever made us feel lonely, or ostracized, or ashamed, or hurt is still new, it’s important that we accept the feelings without judgment.

We’ll have the rest of our lives, if we choose, to rehash the feelings. We may even discover, in some cases, that we’ve misunderstood or overreacted. But in the moment, the feelings are as real as we are, and deserve to be acknowledged and felt.

Following My Inner Compass

I started writing this a good 12 hours ago, and have kept myself moving and interacting while the sadness ran its course. I kept a commitment to myself to go to the gym. It wasn’t my best workout, but it wasn’t my worst either. I felt a lot better for having done it, and removed the possibility of feeling guilty for having dishonored a commitment to myself. I was lazy and picked up dinner after my workout. It could have been better, but it could also have been far worse. Again, no guilt. I watched a movie and cuddled with my cats who have been extremely attentive the last few days. Finally, I sat down to finish this post. Still a little sad, but less so than this morning.

The sadness is passing because I didn’t make a big deal of it. I didn’t try to whitewash it or bury it under a load of platitudes. It’s taken a long time, and I still have a lot to learn, but accepting myself, my moods, my screw-ups, and my successes gets easier every day. I realize I am the sum of all of the things which make me the person I am; some good, some not so much. But if those parts were different, I wouldn’t be me.

In Sadness or in Joy, I Can Still Find Something to Be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my imperfections.
  2. I am grateful I’ve learned to let things out instead of holding them in.
  3. I am grateful I’ve learned to accept myself, imperfections and all.
  4. I am grateful I have friends who sometimes need to see those imperfections.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, acceptance, friendship, lessons, challenges, imperfections, joy, sorrow, dreams, failures, successes, and words. Lots and lots of words!

Love and Light

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

Acknowledging our Feelings

Acknowledging: The First Step in Releasing

Tonight I’m feeling despondent, which is strange since I just got home from dancing.

One of the programs I’m following teaches us to acknowledge our feelings, and that they’re neither good nor bad. They’re just feelings. We’re supposed to take a step back and look at them without judgement or blame, but simply acknowledge their existence and, like a researcher, gather data on them.

So I’m looking at my despondency, but I’m trying to find a reason for its existence. Perhaps I ate too little and exercised too much today. Or perhaps I’m more sensitive than usual to being at the club, the sole occupant of a four-top while people I call “friends” are filling the tables around me, some even to overflowing. I sit alone between sets except for the occasional person who stops to chat for a minute or three.

Seeking Explanations Where There May Be None

I’m feeling alone despite the crowd. The rose-colored glasses I once wore which told me these people were my friends instead of just friendly acquaintances have shattered and are of no further use to me.

While everyone else gathers together, making plans for lunches or movies or even vacations together, I’m alone in a crowd. And so, I’m despondent tonight.

By tomorrow, this may all be forgotten as I find myself embroiled in the business of the day and the tasks I’ve set myself. In time, I won’t feel so alone any more because I’ll find a way to rationalize, reason, or even justify my aloneness and how much I appreciate the gift of solitude.

I’ll fix my healthy meals, do my exercises and innercises, cuddle with my cats and write. It won’t be in my face that others have relationships with each other, be they friend, family or something else. Yet, I’ll know that somehow, I’ve missed out. I didn’t learn a lesson I was supposed to learn and it’s left a gaping hole in my life.

But my despondency isn’t just about being alone. As I listened to an acquaintance talk about her new job, I seriously considered looking for something at least part time. I even, for a moment, indulged in some blame. After 2 1/2 years, I should have published something and earned money from it. I should have built up something of a business so I had some kind of income. I should have finished at least one of the books I’m in the middle of writing.

Trying to Avoid Rash Decisions

And yet, a small, almost imperceptible voice whispers desperately Don’t give up yet. You’re closer than you think. Things aren’t as bad as they seem right now. I’m tempted to ignore it, but willing to at least sleep on it. Tomorrow is Friday so at least give it the weekend before doing anything drastic. I have gotten more efficient and motivated lately. I’m writing more. I’m completing articles more quickly, though I have two on my plate right with a third to come on Sunday. I’ve even edited a few more pages of Sasha’s Journey and am now about 30 pages from printing out the whole thing and dissecting it.

But what if I never get it done? Or what if I start reading it through and decide it’s just crap? Or what if I can’t figure out how to get it published, or marketed? The “what if’s” alone are starting to overwhelm me.

I know things will look better in the morning. They always do. A good night’s sleep and some kitty purrs always make the world look brighter.

So I’ll sleep on it. I’ve acknowledged the feeling. I’ve asked myself what it’s all about. I’ve accepted my despondency without judgement or blame.

I’ll sleep on it and by morning, I’ll be ready to formulate a plan…assuming a plan is even necessary. The feeling might just pass. Until it does, I’ll accept my despondency as there for a reason, even if the reason is not yet known to me. Because, sometimes it’s OK to be despondent.

Acknowledging Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I’m grateful for my ever-present therapist.
2. I’m grateful for the new things I’ve been learning lately, and the doors they’re opening to even more lessons.
3. I’m grateful for my solitude even though there are times I’d rather be less alone.
4. I am grateful for the weight I’ve released even though I’m the only one who notices. The changes I’ve made have not only allowed me to release nearly 10 pounds, but have cleared up a lot of the pain I was enduring, and increased my energy as well.
5. I am grateful for abundance: feelings, health, kitty love, smiling faces, 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!

June 9, 2015 When the Words Won’t Come

Having a Hard Time Expressing Emotions

Just when I think I’ve got it all figured out; when I have it all together, something happens and I slide back a few steps to discover that there are lessons I have yet to master. Such has been the case over the past couple of weeks. Instead of just admitting that my feelings had been hurt, I allowed myself to lash back in anger, or resort to silence. Clearly, neither of these were effective in the end, as the conflict continued, even into today.

I have never found it easy to be vulnerable with or around anyone, but I find it especially hard to do so with my adult children. Just as I convinced myself when they were young that it was not okay to cry or lose it in front of them, a germ of that still lives inside me, preventing me from just saying the words: When you did/said that, it hurt my feelings.

For many people, it’s all so simple. They live, the love, they feel and they express those feelings. I’m not one of those people. My parents both had trouble expressing emotions and my dad leaned towards the stoic. I only saw him break down twice in my life: once when he told us that his mother was dying of lung cancer, and once when he called to tell me my mom had died. Beyond that, he held his emotions in check, at least when I was around. No, that’s not true. The one emotion he didn’t hold in check was anger. I saw a fair amount of that from him, though I’ve learned over the years that it is the easiest emotion to express, so clearly, there was more to his anger than what he let me see.

My marriage was never really meant to be as I chose a man before I’d learned who I really was. Having my daughters was the right thing  to do for all the wrong reasons, and being alone to raise them from the time they were four meant that I had to cover all of the bases, parent-wise, at least in my mind. For years, I was an emotionless wall of brick until something happened to crack my walls and then, the dam broke. But once the storm was over, I just rebuilt the walls and carried on.

When All is Said and Done, We’re All Just Works in Progress

A friend reminded me today that we are all constantly evolving. We meet challenges, learn lessons, add tools to our virtual tool box, and sometimes, we find that a lesson we thought we’d mastered wasn’t really mastered at all. That’s when we need to take a good, hard look at the stories we’ve been telling ourselves, and finally admit, if only to ourselves, that we still have some healing and forgiving to do.

Such was the case for me today. I am close with one of my daughters while the other is absent from my life along with her 5 1/2 year old daughter. Even though we are close, we don’t always see eye to eye, and we do things which are hurtful to each other without ever meaning to. We just get caught up in our own worries and responsibilities, and stop, for just a moment, being sensitive to each other. Eventually, it does pass, but not without taking a few nicks out of each other in the process.

I continue to lie to myself about the daughter who is estranged. I tell myself it doesn’t hurt that she’s adopted another family as her own, nor that the family she adopted used to be a close friend of mine. I do, however, accept and appreciate that it was time for the friendship to end. Maybe I’m not entirely lying to myself as most of the time, it doesn’t hurt. But sometimes, it does.

Vulnerability is NOT an All or Nothing Prospect

I need to put the above sentence on a big piece of paper and stick it on my wall where I can see it every day. It is a lesson I have yet to learn. Over the years, I’ve either allowed myself to be fully vulnerable to someone (on very rare occasions) or I show no vulnerability at all. I still haven’t figured out how to find that happy medium. But I believe that half the battle is recognizing the problem. Just as an alcoholic won’t stop drinking until she admits that she has a problem, so is it true for any other challenge in our lives.

The lesson I need to take with me tonight is that it is OK to show my soft side some of the time. It is OK to be the needy instead of the needed…some of the time. It is OK to drop the facade because facade’s by their very nature are nothing more than false fronts. In short, it really is OK to be yourself and let the world see you for who you truly are. That is not to say that there will be times when you need to play it close to the vest, but part of the process is learning when it is safe to be vulnerable and when it’s not.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for friends who teach me new lessons.
2. I am grateful for lessons which keep repeating because convincing myself that they’re learned does not make it so.
3. I am grateful for the yummy chicken adobo my son-in-law made for dinner tonight, and for the leftovers I’ll have next week.
4. I am grateful for my cats with whom I can always be vulnerable and for my two semi-ferals who are doing a terrific job of keeping my house and garage rat-free.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, sensitivity, support, happiness, friendship, challenges, lessons, peace, harmony, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I hope you’ll take a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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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