Dancing outside my comfort zone

Archive for the ‘friendship’ Category

Navigating the Human Mine Field

Foot in Mouth Disease

You can find the Facebook Live on this topic here.

I don’t always say the right thing. All too often, my mouth engages long before my morning caffeine catches up to my brain, usually with results ranging from “undesirable” to “just shoot me now”.  All too often, the magnitude of my faux pas is determined, not by what I said, but by who my audience was.

Over time, I’m learning there are many different levels of people who enter my life, from strangers who never even know I exist to my nearest and dearest friends and family. But there are several levels in between, and in some ways, I’m still learning which ones I need to concern myself with and which I need to simply treat with courtesy and leave it at that.

Trusting Selectively

At the end closest to my heart, I have my dearest friends. I include the few family members who remain a part of my life through all of my evolutionary iterations (who can sadly be counted on one hand). After that come friendly acquaintances, a group I’ve mentioned in previous posts. But today I realized there’s another group I’ll call “selectively friendly acquaintances”. These are people who are friendly as long as I conform to their societal standards. In other words, when I’m behaving myself, I’m in their good graces. When I’m not, it is appropriate to shame or shun me as they see fit. There are also neutral acquaintances. We smile and nod when we meet, but have no emotional attachments or expectations. Finally, come strangers who are simply people I have yet to interact with and determine where they might fall.

Nurturing the Child Within

For some reason, the insecure little child inside me keeps insisting on trying to make friends with the selectively friendly acquaintances, despite having been set down hard on more than one occasion; despite understanding the rules governing their acceptance, or really, tolerance of my presence. And when I invariably blunder and violate another of their rules, I spend too much time beating myself up and letting them shame me before I finally realize it doesn’t matter. They are the “other people” in my favorite catch phrase what other people think of me is none of my business. There’s not a snowball’s chance in hell they’ll ever accept me for who I am. They will always find a reason to look down on me like I’m some slimy worm crossing their path. So why do I let it bother me, even for a minute?

I have to admit there are still remnants of the acne-ridden girl with glasses and braces who desperately wanted to be accepted. She believed her mother who kept telling her she was fat and suffered a long serious of humiliating nicknames from classmates. She cared because she believed she was on the outside, never realizing there was a perfectly good circle of friends who included her without question. She could only see where she was excluded and failed to appreciate that the places she was included were far better.

Taking Ultimate Responsibility

Even now, I know those I keep allowing to make me feel small aren’t the ones I want to be close to anyway, but I can’t stop trying, knowing I will continue to give them reason to mistreat me again. With each new experience, I am reminded to treat everyone courteously, but to only allow a few past the length of my arm. The times I forget and let some in closer, I get slapped down and reminded yet again. Or worse, I spend a few hours beating myself up for being insensitive, when their response was equally so.

I’ve finally started to recognize those who I will invariably say something to irritate them and who will respond unkindly. They’ve decided not to like me, and that’s not only their right, but it’s perfectly OK. But like the kids in the school yard who called me names or pushed me down, they don’t have the right to be cruel. Yet it falls on me because as long as I allow it, they’ll continue to believe they are justified.

Recognizing Those Who Come into our Lives for a Reason, and Responding Accordingly

I truly believe people come into our lives for a reason. Clearly, the selectively friendly acquaintances come into my life to teach me to honor my own boundaries. We all have the right to be treated respectfully even when we make mistakes. We’re human and making mistakes is part of our learning process. If we make none, we cease to evolve. So I’m grateful to the people who fail to recognize my worthiness and treat me as a lesser being. They make me stand up for that sad little girl who didn’t realize how special she truly was. They make me wrap my arm around her shoulders, give her a hug, and tell her about all the things which make her unique and valuable. They make me tell her to ignore the bullies and meanies who mistakenly believe that making her and others like her feel inadequate will fill the holes in themselves.

My words may, at times, come out wrong, but my heart is always in the right place and doesn’t deserve to be stomped on for expressing things badly. That insecure little girl deserves a better champion. And she’s going to get it from now on! I’m done trying to win over those who were lost before I ever began. Why am I wasting time on them when there are some amazing people who love me in spite of, or maybe even because of my warts? They deserve better from me too..

With Love and Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people in my life who treat me harshly. It reinforces the lessons I need to learn about boundaries and my own worthiness.
  2. I am grateful for introspective days which help me find my true north when I’ve wandered too far away.
  3. I’m grateful for the friends who support me and even kick my butt now and then. Knowing they believe in me makes it easier to fight the battles that come my way.
  4. I’m grateful for the peace and sanctity of my home. No matter how sad I might be, it can be cured with some cuddle time with my cats and a chat with my Guides and Higher Self.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; insight, lessons, cherished friends, peaceful retreats, inspiration, motivation, uplifting moments, aha moments, love, joy, peace, harmony, health, 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!

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

Another Lesson About Friendship

There Comes a Time When the Only Thing to do is Make Use of the Only Truly Effective Form of Therapy.

I’m a solitary person. I’m more likely to withdraw into myself and write my problems out than seek the help or counsel of someone else. Tonight, that meant sitting in the bar where I dance, writing nearly 1000 words in the Notes app of my iPhone.  Ice Cream Therapy

I’m a very direct person. If I don’t like something someone is doing and it’s someone I care about, I’ll usually do my best to communicate my feelings. I limit the proverbial “cold shoulder” to three circumstances: when the other person is so emotionally engaged that anything I say would only escalate the problem, when I’m so angry that I’m likely to just spew venom(in which case I’ll likely address it later when I’ve calmed down enough to at least make an attempt at being reasonable), or if the offending party is someone I don’t care about.

This attitude has come back to bite me on more than one occasion. Sometimes it’s because I expect my friends to be honest with me while they fall back on social niceties and remain silent, but all too often I just misread the relationship and what I thought was a friendship was just an acquaintanceship from their perspective, making me as disposable as the packaging on the Lean Cuisine they had for lunch.

Such seems to be the case yet again. Admittedly, I did behave badly. I’ve apologized and tried to make amends with everyone involved. Things are pretty much back to normal with those I did consider acquaintances but the ones I considered friends are wearing fake smiles and taking pains to keep their distance. I’d like to say it doesn’t hurt and that I don’t care but there’s no point lying to myself. It does serve to remind me why 60 years in this body has taught me to be very sparing about opening my heart, even in friendship. I’m not one who is able to take friendship lightly, nor do I successfully protect my heart on the increasingly rare occasions when I give it.

It just baffles me that people can act like they care until you make a mistake and earn their disapproval.

But the Universe saw me for the overly trusting, heart-breakingly sensitive soul I am and gave me a passion which can be followed without a lot of human interaction. Instead, I can stand on the sidelines watching other people interact, and yes, play those social games I never learned, by my own choice. They become characters in my stories or part of the landscape in the articles I write while I again try not to be fooled into bringing my heart out of the bubble wrap where I’m reminded to keep it every time it gets stomped into a bloody mess.

Hope Springs Eternal

I guess in some ways I’m a romantic. I keep hoping I’ll find friends and maybe even a partner who will care enough to protect and nurture my heart instead of treating it like garbage. But after 6 decades, my hope is waning. Like Tinkerbell, I desperately need a reason to keep believing; keep hoping; keep loving without reservation. But for now, I’ll stuff those hopes down until they smother and focus on living my own, personal, private passion. For that I just need to dream and write. No messy human contact necessary.

And yet as I let the unhappiness fade I remember the choice to be happy is mine alone. I can choose to allow the insensitivity of others affect my mood or I can flip them a mental bird, wish them a nice life and get on with mine. It still means going it alone but I’m in great company. I know for certain that the company I’m keeping would never abuse my heart and wants only a life of joy and fulfillment for me. I guess there are times the Universe dumps sadness into our lives so we can fully appreciate how wonderful, how bountiful our life truly is…and how overrated most people’s idea of friendship is.

The Silver Lining Inside the Latest Cloud

And yet, as I get busier  doing the work I love, it occurs to me that perhaps endings are simply a part of freeing up more of my time. People can be a distraction and I create enough of those without any outside assistance.

And I remember one of the few biblical quotes I really like:


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

My personal brand of therapy has led me to conclude this is simply a time for me to be solitary and tend to things which need to be tended.

There Will Always Be Gratitude

What would a blog post from me be without gratitudes. I can always come up with at least a few, and I won’t disappoint you tonight.
1. I am grateful for life’s lessons even if I repeat the painful ones more often than I’d like.
2. I am grateful I’m comfortable in my own skin…and my own company as there are times when it’s the best place for me to be.
3. I am grateful for the people who teach me what friendship is not.
4. I am grateful for my writing. It’s my friend, my solace, my sanity, my therapist and my passion.
5. I am grateful for abundance: lessons, life, limitations, aspirations, motivation, writing, opportunities, stepping outside my comfort zone, peace, harmony, health, joy, 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!

Not My Usual Upbeat Post

Warning! Steep Downhill Ahead.

It’s been awhile since I’ve needed to post a warning at the beginning of a post, but, having decided to put this out in public instead of taking it off-line, I feel I owe it to my readers to warn them of impending doom.

Depression Sucks

There, I’ve said it. Depression is the worst place to reside, even for a brief span of time. To someone who is depressed, I don’t think there really is a brief span of time. Every moment seems endless and excruciatingly painful. Though I only have my own perspective, I think it’s even worse when the cause of your depression is your own thoughtless actions.

I didn’t expect to gain additional perspective into my mother’s life and actions this late in the game, but it seems the Universe decided I needed some. Mix together months of physical pain, the inability to sleep more than an hour or two at a stretch, financial worries, a shit load of fears, a feeling of being alone and disconnected from everyone and the unconscious lowering of shields necessary to an empath’s sanity and you have a cocktail for disaster. The other night, not only did I partake indiscriminately of that cocktail, I wallowed in it like a pig in mud.

Now, I’m left feeling embarrassed, mortified and even more isolated than ever before… and filled with even more compassion for my mom. I can’t know how physically isolated she felt despite what appeared on the surface to be a decent marriage and a large circle of friends, nor how much pain her arthritis and other physical ailments were causing her. But I am reasonably certain that, unlike me, she hadn’t found a way to crawl out of the emotional hole she was in. Her foundation was a lot less stable than mine in the first place, despite the clear messages she gave me about how much I disappointed her. I, unlike her, was able to reach a point where I knew the only approval I needed was from myself, and I worked very hard to give myself that approval…until this week.

My only saving grace right now is that the circle of friends I moved into while making a more positive, compassionate world for myself is more supportive and understanding than the me I am right now believes I deserve. My heart swells with gratitude over how blessed I am to have these people in my life. As I sit in front of my computer with tears flowing down my face, wiping off my reading glasses every few minutes so I can see the computer screen or a text on my phone, I realize the messages they send are a true testament to the changes I made. Although on one hand, it comforts me, on the other, it reminds me of how tenuous a hold I have on both the positivity and the friends I’ve been able to attract by working to become a better person.

Friends, Indeed

Yes, I admit I’m being overly dramatic in thinking that friends of this nature would be so quick to turn their backs on me. The truth is, though I’ve learned a lot, I haven’t learned to believe I deserve loving, compassionate, understanding friends who realize even the best of us have bad days. Sure, my bad day this time took on what to me appears to be epic proportions. One friend even pointed out in an incredibly kind manner that I seemed to have regressed back to the angry, negative person I’ve worked so hard to leave behind. Talk about a reality check!

When I think of my mom living every day in this dark, lonely, desolate place, reliving every word she said to someone and tearing herself apart, I want to cry anew for the lonely, disconnected, unhappy woman who saw no other choice but to end that life. And it scares the living daylights out of me.

Is it any wonder that the cats, and Dylan in particular have been especially attentive for the last month or two? They saw me going down that long, dark spiral and have been doing their best to make me feel loved, appreciated and needed. They recognized when it reached its peak last night. Dylan has been glued to my side ever since. He curled up with his head on my lap while I watched TV and slept with me on the couch until my shoulder relaxed enough to move to my bed. In hindsight, he helped me sleep longer than I have in quite a few nights (a whopping 4 solid hours!). When I moved to my bed around 5 AM, he followed and curled up around my head where he stayed until I got up about 9. Now he’s just sticking by me wherever I go.

Taking Control

Even during my worst years, I used to tell myself I’d allow no more than 24 hours to be depressed before dragging myself out of that hole and getting on with my life. Whether I really did or not is irrelevant now. Suffice it to say, it made me wallow far less than I might have. And it was pretty good advice.

Writing has always been my sanity, even when what came out sounded somewhat less than sane. It is my therapist and a place where I can pour out hopes and dreams as well as fear and misery, knowing that putting the words on the page are tantamount to pulling the plug in the bathtub and letting the water flow out. The words and thoughts are no longer crammed into my brain, fighting for space and clamoring for release. They’re out there and given voice.

In the years I’ve been meditating, I often make use of a phrase to still my monkey-mind: “Accept, Acknowledge, Release”. I believe that the writing is a physical manifestation of those words. When I write down the thoughts churning in my brain, I am indeed, accepting and acknowledging them. When I finish the document or post, I’m giving myself permission to release them and move one. Small wonder so many of us find writing therapeutic. Not only can we give voice to those dark, twisty thoughts, but we can acknowledge and accept ourselves, realizing those thoughts are not necessarily the person we are. There’s always the other advantage and that is to help us understand those dark emotions and make the characters in our books more three-dimensional.

Yes, this week has been a wake-up call for me. Though I’ve worked hard to be positive, allowing the challenges in my life to grow unchecked still has the power to undermine years of hard work. I’m just grateful that where my efforts to be positive have excelled is in attracting incredible examples of natural positivity into my life. When the reflection in my mirror becomes displeasing to my eyes, I need only look towards those I now consider friends to remember that the person I want to be really is still in there. I just need to re-focus my effort and re-adjust my perspective.

Depression might suck but even as it is necessary to remind me how fortunate I am to have amazing, loving, beautiful people in my life.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for lessons which help me put things back in perspective.
2. I am grateful for the lessons which repeat when I forget to be kind, compassionate and positive. They remind me that I am still a work in progress, and that’s OK.
3. I am grateful for friends who don’t abandon me when I get ugly, but also don’t sugar coat things. There is a time and a place when I just need to be told I’m acting like an ass.
4. I am grateful for reminders that, no matter what, I need to accept and forgive. What my mind might magnify into a major slight might just be someone else’s bad day.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, compassion, kindness, lessons, challenges, perspective, joy, 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!

With a Little Help from my Friends

Sometimes We Need a Reminder We’re Never Completely Alone

I lead a fairly solitary life. Sometimes by choice and sometimes because the hours I keep just don’t mesh with normal humans. I don’t say this as a complaint, but rather as a simple statement of fact. In truth, for the most part I love my solitude. I do the things that make me happy; write, cook, read, snuggle with my cats, research new things. Even now, I love to learn. I don’t necessarily enjoy studying or taking tests, but I love learning whether it’s something big and life-changing or just a bunch of random facts on a subject that interests me. My brain is happy when it is being filled with new thoughts and ideas.

Because I love those new facts and ideas, I also love to talk (strange, I know, coming from an introvert), but I’m picky about my conversation partners. I prefer people with open minds who are not inclined to fall back on someone else’s tired dogma; people whose minds are open to new ideas or are constantly chewing over the old ones to see if they’re still relevant. And I love the ideas that are filled with positive energy.

The people I most appreciate are those who make me stand up and listen; who make me re-think my own tired, outmoded ideas in favor of those which are less confining, less restrictive and above all, more likely to attract positive results.

Accountability Buddies

Nearly a month ago, I got fed up with seeing the numbers on my scale increasing and decided to take action. I started using MyFitnessPal again to track food and exercise. The first couple of weeks were great as I dropped about 5 pounds. Since then, I’ve only dropped a couple, but I have to keep telling myself Progress is progress. Truth be told, I do have more energy and more motivation. I’ve made progress on the revision of Sasha’s Journey and begun refilling my freezer with healthy, single serving meals.

There are times like last night while I was putting together a pot of Turkey Pumpkin Chili when I enjoy the silence and the solitude. But sometimes, I just need a couple of attaboys to help me see I’m on the right track (or, as in this morning, a figurative head slap to remind me I’m going down the wrong one). My healthy eating accountability buddy and I burn up the phone with text messages every day, encouraging each other and helping avoid temptation. Trader Joe’s has been especially bad this year with chocolate covered pumpkin-y goodness, but I’ve found things which don’t blow my daily calorie count out the door while satisfying my need for sweet, pumpkin-y goodness.

Today, an accountability buddy I had not even acknowledged gave me one of those head slaps. I made a comment in a thread about men being intimidated by intelligent women. In it, I remarked, quite innocently, I thought, that I’ve been drawn to intelligent people more and more lately, and especially those who eschew the dogma of someone else’s teaching to think for themselves, be it spiritually, politically or socially. More importantly, they are people who don’t mind if others disagree with them as long as it is done respectfully.

What my friend made me realize is that I’m still holding negative thoughts about attracting the attention of the male of the species in a mutually beneficial manner. Once she got my attention, my brain started chewing on the thought and I came to the realization it is all intertwined.

I’m displeased with myself for allowing my weight to creep up and for getting away from my regular gym routine so I’ve somehow managed to send that displeasure down an old, well-worn path. If I’m displeased with my behavior, then I’m not worthy enough to attract someone who can appreciate me, challenge my brain and just be someone I’d enjoy spending time with. To quote a line from the movie ‘How to Lose a Guy in 10 days’, “Bulls**t!” What you believe-Buddha

It does make me realize I still have much work to do on my self-image. I need to permanently annihilate the idea that only young, slim women find someone who can love and appreciate them, be supportive but not smothering and even be a balance for the areas where I’m not as strong as I’d like people to believe. At times, I still believe the old Pam Tillis classic ‘All the Good Ones are Gone’ Pam Tillis-All the Good Ones are Gone

Thankfully, my accountability buddy slapped some sense into me, reminding me that they’re only gone if I believe they are. In fact, she gave me a not-so-subtle reminder when she posted this: She’s obviously learned I’m not much for subtlety.

Remembering to Appreciate Those Accountability Buddies

This post is a shout out to everyone who helps me be good to myself, be true to the image I want to present and to remove self trash talk from my vocabulary. I love you all and appreciate you more than you know, though I often forget to acknowledge all you are to me.

I ask you to take a few moments and think about the people in your life who help you stay on track. They’re there even if you aren’t conscious of their presence or the contributions they make in your path to building a better you.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for my accountability buddies.
2. I am grateful for the progress I’ve made and the progress still to come.
3. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made, the broken roads I’ve traveled and the people I’ve met along the way.
4. I’m grateful for the ability to look honestly at what I’m doing or saying and, sometimes with a little help, realize where I need to make changes.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, lessons, positive examples, kindness, compassion, community, solitude, motivation, inspiration, health, harmony, peace, 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!

Why I Write: Version 957 (or something like that)

I Feel so Blessed if I Touch But a Single Heart

I try to be as open and honest as possible here when sharing my own hopes, dreams, successes and tragedies. I know that though my experiences may be unique to me in how all of the pieces come together, the basic framework; the components which join together to create my personal mosaic are shared by many. They may put the pieces together in different patterns, add a few I missed, delete a few which don’t fit the picture they’re portraying. But in the end, we share a common bond.

Especially in tragedy or in the things over which we struggle, it is somehow comforting to know we aren’t alone and that there is someone out there who understands. For some, even those day to day struggles can become overwhelming, and a tiny glimmer of hope might be enough to open up a window in their dark room.

Sometimes when I share, I strike a note and people say Oh, yeah! I can relate. I’ve been there too. Other times, like with my last post, one of the people who inspire and support me turns around and challenges me.

Getting in Touch with Ourselves

Essentially, I was challenged to investigate my own particular perceptions. I was asked whether I knew when I saw someone that I would be attracted to them, whether or not getting to know them better furthered the attraction or not, didn’t I at least know if I had a smidgen of interest?

Let me preface my answer by saying that I’ve learned to fight back those niggling little attraction gremlins for a couple of reasons. First, the last time I allowed myself to let them have their way, I was in a mucked up emotional place. I was unhappy, angry, negative and a bit self-destructive. Needless to say, I wasn’t attracted to anyone who might actually be good for me. Or if I was, my interest wasn’t returned because they only saw the broken, messy part of me I was showing the world at the time. Second, I have a terrible history of making an ass of myself over someone to whom I was attracted. As a result, I’ve taught myself to discount the feelings and run the other way before I once again embarrass myself.

Being the friend and the strong honest woman she is, I wasn’t allowed to prevaricate. With each lame answer I gave, another question, another challenge came. So this post is for Lorna who has, on more than one occasion, forced me to take a good, hard look at who I am, what I’m doing and what I truly want. I am so grateful for her tenacity even when she makes me look at a part of myself that isn’t very pretty. She is truly in my life for a reason because, left to my own devices, I’d probably just allow those hard truths to molder inside me, tainting everything good I’ve managed to accomplish.

Her first comment about my post was:

So this made for interesting reading but was safe and “over there”. My question is do either of the last two men interest you personally?

I’m not going to include the entire conversation here, but you’re welcome to follow it on my Author page on Facebook (referenced below) if you’re interested in all the gory details. Suffice it to say, I sidestepped her question a couple of times, but like a bulldog, she wasn’t about to allow me to get off that easily. I admit, I never completely answered her question, nor her later remark: I bet you know what you like.

Knowing When it’s Time to Face Our Fears

I know a lot of my lack of response has to do with fear: fear of making the same mistakes, fear of rejection, fear of making a fool of myself…and the list goes on. But as was pointed out by another friend recently, we cannot let fear control us or keep us from doing the things we want to do like completing projects or developing deep, enduring friendships.

In order to face those fears, I’m going to answer her question here. Without further ado, here are the things I like and which would lead me to feel attracted to someone. This applies to both men and women as they are things I find attractive in my friends. I also believe that to have a strong, healthy relationship of the romantic kind, friendship is essential, and must be there before anything else can develop.

  • Sense of Humor
  • Wit
  • Positive attitude
  • Comfortable in their own skin
  • Humble
  • Intelligent
  • Supportive
  • Strong-willed but not dictatorial. Someone who has an opinion and won’t let go of it just to please someone else.
  • Young at heart
  • Responsible
  • Dances
  • Compassionate

I could add a lot more to this list, but I think this covers most of it. Anything else would just be overly picky or icing on the cake. I’ve heard different points of view about making lists of the character traits of someone you’d like to attract. That’s not my purpose here. I’m simply answering a question and maybe, just a little, giving myself permission to find someone with a few of these traits attractive, if only on a visceral level. Whether or not I’d act on my own feelings of attraction would depend on whether I manage to overcome those fears and manage to keep the attraction at level where there are no expectations other than a new friend/acquaintance and someone I might dance with now and again.

I’ve learned that sometimes, putting my fears down in black and white somehow takes some of the power out of them. Looking at them as the formless, insubstantial beings they are makes me realize they are no more than a figment of my imagination anyway; even those I’ve experienced at some distant point in my life. I just have to keep reminding myself: that was then, this is now. I’m not the same person I was 10 years ago. I’ve grown, I’ve developed, I’ve made changes and I’ve done a whole lot of soul searching. With other people, I give credit where credit is due. But with myself, I have a bad habit of minimizing my accomplishments. I think the cold, hard truth is that we have to learn to love ourselves but we also have to learn to treat ourselves like our own best friend.

What Fears Are Holding You Back?

We all have them. A part of our life where we aren’t giving ourselves the chance to be everything we could be. A place where we’re allowing misplaced fears to call the shots. Sometimes, it’s cathartic to share them with others, so feel free to do so in the comments. When all is said and done, we’re in this together; we’re all a part of the same whole.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for friends who expect me to be honest with them and myself.
2. I am grateful for the challenges in my life and the fears I’ve already let go.
3. I am grateful for the gift of writing which has, so many times, allowed me to work through a problem, a fear, a trauma…and come out whole and stronger on the other side.
4. I am grateful for perseverance. Each day, I get more and more accomplished and each day, I feel that much better about myself.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, lessons, challenges, productivity, intelligence, imagination, love, joy, harmony, peace, health, 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!

September 18, 2015 Gratitude: When What We Need is to be Needed

The Universe Always Comes Through

I’m a firm believer in the Laws of Attraction. The Universe will always bring exactly what is needed, though quite often it isn’t exactly how you might have envisioned it. Whether we realize it or not, we are putting our wants, desires, hopes and dreams out there every day and though we might not see all of the big ones manifesting, if we pay attention, we will see a multitude of small ones.

I couldn’t tell you which of the many requests I’d put out there was answered yesterday, nor how I’d asked. What I do know was that when yesterday’s writing session was interrupted by a friend in need, it wasn’t long before I realized that at some point, I’d expressed a need to be needed. I feel both honored and grateful that my schedule as a writer and freelancer allows me to be there in those rare but beautiful moments when a friend reaches out, seeking what small comfort I might offer, but I know I’m the one who’s truly blessed because I’m being allowed to be needed. So many of my friends and family members are much like me and rarely ask for help so when one of them does ask, it’s something really important and requires attention at the moment of the asking, otherwise, the asker will just pull back into themselves and try to muddle through alone. As I worked on this post, Pandora chose to play this song and as it was so appropriate to what I’m writing, I am sharing it with you.James Taylor – You’ve Got a Friend

Don’t think it gives me joy when someone I care about is suffering. Of course, I’d rather see them not have to go through a painful experience. But if it is necessary for their growth to struggle a bit and they can reach out to me to help them weather the storm, I can only feel grateful that time and circumstance aligned so that I could.

Sure, we all have our own share of struggles and those struggles not only make us stronger but give us new tools with which to face future obstacles. Just as we crawl before we walk, we face bigger and bigger obstacles in our lives so we can receive or even create the tools we’ll need to make the next challenge that much easier. Imagine trying to fight a forest fire with a garden hose because you hadn’t gone through the experiences necessary to acquire a fire hose. Life is like that too. Anything we do gets better and stronger with practice.

I look back on how I wrote when I was a kid, then as a teenager and, more recently, when I started this blog 6 1/2 years ago. So much has changed, not only for me personally, but for the way I put words together. The only way I got here was to put hundreds of thousands of words together in an infinite number of ways until I learned what worked and what didn’t. That’s not to say that I’ve got it all down, but the practice I’ve already had makes what I do going forward maybe just a little less like drek and more like literature. It has certainly encouraged me to keep trying, even when I’m taking my first novel apart and reassembling it, losing some of the old pieces and inserting quite a few new ones.

Maybe I’m not quite achieving the aggressive goals I set for myself, but the four chapters my friend Candy challenged me to complete has now grown to 11 completed and a twelfth in progress. (what that means is, I figured out which of the original fifty-odd chapters I wanted to go next and cut and pasted it under the heading “chapter 12”). Admittedly, the initial challenge to get my butt back in gear came at the end of July, and that, in fact, is when I got the first four chapters done, so seven more in a month and a half isn’t exactly breaking any records, but forward progress is forward progress, and now I’m setting my own goals even if I have to revise them because I was too aggressive for right now. That doesn’t mean that four chapters a week won’t be realistic the further along I get. If I get frustrated, I look at page count instead and see that I’m almost 80 pages into a 342 page book right now. Again, not bad as long as I don’t dwell too long on how long it’s taken me to get this far.

What I’ve gained over the last few weeks may not be earth-shaking, volume-wise. But I’ve gained consistency in sitting down to work on the project. The time I spend in a sitting has grown from about an hour to well over 2 lately (when I’m not interrupted, of course). Better still, I no longer have to argue with myself about sitting down to write, be it a blog post for me or a client or editing Sasha’s Journey. I just allocate time every day to write something, anything, even if it’s pure garbage. (I actually revised Chapter 11 3 times over the last few days until I got it somewhere close to acceptable so I could move on). In fact, I’ve been getting so focused lately that I often forget to turn on the background music. That may or may not be a good thing as I tend to be significantly more self-critical when my internal editor is not otherwise occupied.

Once again, I’ve wandered off the track a bit, but interwoven between all of the words I’ve put on the screen tonight is a single theme: Gratitude. The Universe really does hear our requests. It may not bring them to us in the form we imagined, but it brings us what suits us best and helps move us forward.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the opportunity to give of myself.
2. I am grateful for the friends who teach me by their own beautiful ways to be more giving, kind and compassionate.
3. I am grateful for the progress I’m making and though it will never be easy, I’m no longer having to fight with myself to move forward.
4. I am grateful to one, special friend who flat out told me to stop allowing my fears to get in my way. Even if I can’t identify them, I know they’re there and anxious to get between me and my dreams. Only I can thwart them.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, progress, tenacity, determination, joy, health, happiness, harmony, peace, 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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