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Archive for the ‘healing’ Category

Another Universal Head Slap

From One Moment to the Next…

After spending a fabulous afternoon listening to a Queen tribute band in a beautiful park on the perfect Southern California day, the Universe snuck in and blindsided me. You know the feeling. You’re invigorated, and relaxed, and altogether amazing from a day of total bliss, then WHAM! Your entire world goes off kilter from one nanosecond to the next and all you can say is “WTH????”

This time, it started in my throat. I started feeling more and more constriction and a miserable ache. But not in the usual spot. Oh no! That would be too normal. No, this time the pain was at the very top of my throat, almost at jaw level. Being me, I felt the glands that sit right under my chin (or at least, I think they’re glands) and since I could feel their round bulginess, I assured myself they were indeed swollen, and probably the cause of my malaise.

Making a Go of the Day in Spite of the Pain

In the morning, still feeling lousy and barely able to swallow, I took a couple of turmeric and a Claritin and crawled back into bed with my furry posse, hoping their purrs would get me over the worst of it while I slept way too far into the day.

No such luck. I woke up around 11, feeling, if anything, worse. OK fine! Gotta start the day sometime. I grumbled to myself as I got up, made the bed and stumbled into the kitchen to put wet food down for my brood.

Two cups of honey- and lemon-laced tea later, I started feeling marginally human, but also realized this wasn’t your garden variety sore throat, and thoughts of seeking medical help would be a waste of time and money. This was the Universe rattling my chain loudly because I’d apparently ignored the more subtle nudges. As the throat chakra is typically about speaking your truth and communication (or has been in my experience) I started taking stock—and groaned in recognition.

Awakening the Subconscious, Unwillingly at First

Over the last few weeks, whenever I’ve done a writing prompt, it’s usually taken some kind of dark, twisty direction. Either it becomes a short story about murder and anger, or I wax poetic about the memoir which lays in my office untouched and ignored for the last two months. Many of those meanderings have focused on the relationship I thought I had with my father. It seems there was an undercurrent I had, to this point been unwilling to investigate. I preferred seeing a loving father-daughter relationship quite the opposite of the combative one I shared with my mother.

But as my mind opened itself up, despite my best efforts to shut it down, I started seeing things without the sugar coating, and, not liking what I saw, chose to try to stifle it and, of course, keep it from finding its way into the pages of my memoir. Somehow I’d convinced myself the only way to keep it from rearing its ugly, sibilant head was to practice an art I’ve used to excess my entire life: avoidance.

You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide

Unfortunately, the Universe evolves more quickly than my ability to find ways to avoid its insistence, and simply makes it more and more painful to turn my back on the obvious. (maybe that’s where the term “painfully obvious” came from?) I knew my throat would continue to ache until I sat down and started writing about what was bothering me deep inside, in those places whose doors I’d once locked, intending to leave them locked forever. Once again, the Universe had other ideas, and gave me a daughter who encouraged me to start writing about my parents’ deaths. Neither of us could have foreseen what would come out of the original exercise. I could never have foreseen the feelings, thoughts, and emotions I’d been harboring, not just since my parents’ deaths, but for at least one lifetime…possibly more.

With the aid of the writing prompts I’ve been using since the Writers’ Conference I attended in February, I’ve been poking the bear who is my hidden emotions, and hoping I could just get him to move over rather than actually waking him up. It seems my little charade has been exposed for the avoidance I’m so good at performing. I’m not being allowed to sidestep the issue any longer. At least if I want to remain the happy, healthy woman I’ve been, let’s face it, pretending to be.

The Difference Between Subverting and Blaming

I look at people like my sister and a few others I know who are suffering ill health with one malady after another and assume the illness is the result of repressed anger and blame they’re unable to release in a healthy fashion. I am constantly grateful I have managed to bring my feelings to the surface, air them, and let them go. I’ve practiced forgiveness and acceptance excessively. But also, selectively.

The pain in my throat is telling me I need to remove the qualifications, the excuses, the blind love I had for my dad and see where he wasn’t kind at all. Where he taught me by his example to settle for unhealthy exhibitions of love.

This isn’t the time to start blaming him for who I am and how I turned out, but simply to see and accept that what he felt for me and what he gave me weren’t particularly nurturing. I need to write the feelings and impressions out the way I’ve written them out for my mom, only to find a completely different human being underneath the facades and walls I battled and resented most of my life.

Facing and Accepting Reality, No Judgement Required

I haven’t been fair to either my dad or myself, painting him in unrealistic hues. Not unlike the father of my own children, he loved his daughters in the only way he knew how. The examples he had of parental love were no better or worse than the ones I had. They were simply the only examples he had.

Does that excuse the way he’d subtly put me down or diminish me? Not on your life! Nor does it mean this is the time to be angry with him, or shout about how he screwed up my life. It’s simply long past time for me to acknowledge and accept the way he showed his love was as warped and tainted as my mom’s. It’s certainly embedded in the foundation of how I believe I deserve to be treated, and needs to be rooted out and examined more carefully, yet clinically at this point.

When You Have to Purge

You might ask why this has become so important the Universe is kicking my butt to deal with it. Like everything else I’ve gone through, all the garbage I’ve dug through in search of myself, my life, and what loving really means, I’ve carefully avoided this corner of my personal attic. It’s been festering and mouldering in the corner, tainting everything around it until I have no choice but to pull it out into the light and deal with the ugly, rotten mess it’s become. The answer is no more complicated than “it’s time to let it go.” Letting it go is where it gets a bit more complicated.

When we sit on something for years, ignoring it, refusing to deal with it, there’s a cancerous substance embedded into our soul. Though it may not be as ugly and destructive as it seems, we can’t clear it out until we bring it into the harsh light of day, inspect all its nooks and crannies, and understand the structure of its being so we can flush it out of our system completely. We have to recognize the caustic thing for what it is so we’ll recognize those bits that might have broken off, attempting to remain in the host…us.

I know now I need to do a lot of writing about my dad, about the things I ignored, and how he treated me. There will be forgiving in the process, but most of it will be for myself, for allowing it to continue and for failing to realize it was wrong, and was infinitely less than I deserved. Most of all, I need to release the belief system he bestowed upon me from childhood that I deserved to be mistreated and ridiculed instead of uplifted and loved. Until I go to the places I’ve tried to avoid, the healing I seek will be incomplete.

Through the Good Times and Bad, I Can Always Find Things to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the most painful of Universal head slaps as they are the ones which make me do the most self work.
  2. I am grateful for my overall good health because when it misbehaves, I know there’s something really important I have to face.
  3. I am grateful for my flexible work schedule that allows me to start work at 9 or noon, or 4 and still put in a full day, getting the things I most need to address done and behind me, much like cleaning up the kitchen at night or making my bed first thing in the morning.
  4. I am grateful for the support I get from the most unexpected sources, and for the reminders I am loved even when I don’t see or recognize it.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, motivation, inspiration, generosity, resolve, acceptance, forgiveness, and being able to recognize that grief isn’t a bucket you empty once, but a well that keeps giving. But as the water flows, it eventually flows clear. When left to stagnate, it only becomes more foul.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

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

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How Much Serendipity Do We Need for Self-Trust?

Why Do We Trust Others More Than Ourselves?

A few years ago, I took a class in healing. One of the things we had to learn was to trust the feelings, images, sounds, or whatever messages we received. This has always been difficult for me. I’m all too quick to discount what I’m feeling as simply my overactive imagination.

Time and time again during the course of the class, my feelings were corroborated, often with some surprise on the part of the person I was working with. Yet, to this day, I still struggle to just trust myself.

Over the years, I’ve become increasingly aware of repeating numbers. I’ll see 11:11, 3:33 and other combinations fairly frequently, but for a long time attributed it to the new car syndrome. You know how when you buy a new car (or anything else for that matter) you suddenly start seeing others like it everywhere. It isn’t that there are more of them. You’ve just become more aware.

Pay Attention to the Signs

Many see these repeating numbers as confirmation that you’re on the right track, or as angel messages. Either way, they are considered a sign that you need to pay attention to something. Call me a crackpot if you must, but I’m one who started out just noticing the frequent occurrence and seeing it as things that make you go hmmmm. As other things begin occurring which corroborate the messages in the numbers, I’m starting to believe it’s the Universe, getting my attention in a kinder, gentler way than its usual rather painful head slaps.

Whether it’s all green lights on a stretch of road I know is timed to stop drivers every few blocks, or finding the perfect parking spot in a crowded lot, or even forcing me to walk a mile and a half each way because the closer froyo shop is now only selling Dole Whips. I feel like I’m being pushed a little further on my path, but more, being reminded to trust in myself and where I’m going.

Leave the Comfort Zone, Follow the Heart

A few weeks ago, I took a gigantic leap outside my comfort zone and introduced myself to Carolyn Maul, a life coach and personal trainer. Although I’m not in a place right now to hire her, she gave me a couple of pieces of advice which have made significant changes in my life. Though they were things I already knew about, I wasn’t doing them, and her suggestions came at exactly the right time. You might notice there has been a marked increase in blog posts in the last few weeks, and I attribute that to following Carolyn’s advice concerning my health. When I started treating my body better, my brain engaged. Who’d have thought?

A few weeks into a routine which involved tracking what I eat and going to the gym 3 times a week, I’m getting out more, writing more, and finding inspiration in interesting places. But I’m also finding that what I’m inspired to write about shows up a day or two later on someone else’s blog or Facebook page, corroborating my own perceptions.

And there it is again. I recognize something, but think it’s only me. Not long afterwards, my feelings are confirmed by others. If the Universe was into neon, I’m sure I’d be seeing flashing red signs saying Are you going to start trusting yourself or what?

Recognizing Good News as Well as Bad

We all recognize the warning signs which tell us we’re heading into they abyss; the sick feeling in the pit of our stomach, the reluctance to step further into a situation. Sometimes we heed them and are glad we did. Other times, we ignore them and pay the price later. But how often do we recognize the signs which tell us we’re heading in the right direction; following our true path?

Those signs are more subtle (most of the time) but they are still there. I’ve found they become especially strong when our courage is waning or when we’re about to give up because we’re not seeing results and the future looks grim for one reason or another. Maybe that’s why I’m noticing them now.

My dream of being a writer and somehow being able to support myself with it has seen a limited amount of success in the 3 years or so I’ve been pursuing it. Some of it is me as I have long dry spells when few words hit the page…any page. Then I get really inspired and write thousands of words in several places in a matter of days. The floodgates open and I’m like a waterfall after a heavy rain. I can barely type fast enough to keep up. My desk is littered with notes about what I’ll write next. I’m typing madly into my phone instead of dancing because an idea has to be captured before it flits away along with the million and three other thoughts rushing through my brain.

In the last few weeks, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone more often and more dramatically than I have since I made the gigantic leap of faith which left me without a steady source of income or even a regular routine. One of the biggest things I’ve accomplished is setting a routine, not only health-wise, but work-wise too.

Changing From the Inside Out

I guess you’re wondering what’s changed. Here’s a brief recap:

  • Tracking all meals on MyFitnessPal
  • Resuming the fat release progress I started last year
  • Setting 3 regular days to work out (in the past I just said I’d work out 3 days, but didn’t specify which ones, so the routine died on the vine in short order)
  • Writing at least 3 blog posts a week
  • Adding chapters to Forgotten Victims every week
  • Responding to job postings (with limited success at the moment, but I have confidence the tide will turn)
  • Developing a plan for the type of websites I will pitch
  • Expanding my own skill-set for VA work
  • Learning to trust the feelings and ideas I get without question

I’m not seeing huge successes in any of these areas…yet. I am, however, giving myself credit for each and every one instead of beating myself up when one or another doesn’t give me immediate results. I’ve discovered it isn’t how fast you get results, but how consistent you are in sticking to the plan. The rest will come together in time.

The biggest change, however, is my attitude. My confidence has returned on many levels. I know I can make my ideas work. I know I can get published. I know I can be a knock-out VA. And because of all this, I’m more willing to go out on a limb, nearly any limb (I draw the line at bungee jumping or jumping out of perfectly good airplanes). I’m leaping out of bed every morning having finally recovered from Daylight Savings Time, earlier and earlier. I’m excited about what the day will bring, even if it’s just another batch of something or other for my freezer which will save me from having to cook for awhile. (That has to stop after today, though. I’m almost out of space and today’s batch of stuffed cabbage will require all my Tetris skills to get everything in in an organized fashion. I rather like being able to choose what I want from the appropriate pile rather than just reaching in, grabbing a container, and hoping for the best.

What Signs Are YOU Ignoring?

Now I’m going to throw this over to you. What changes have you made or could you make which will get you going in the right direction? What signs have you been getting which tell you either that your on the right path or it’s time to change direction? How often do you take these signs seriously? If seldom, isn’t it time to start trusting your gut, so to speak? Above all, can you identify at least one small success which resulted from trusting your intuition?

I look forward to hearing YOUR story!

Reinforcing the Changes With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for signs.
  2. I am grateful I’m finally learning to trust in myself and know everything is working out exactly as it’s supposed to.
  3. I am grateful for the love and support of friends and family who aren’t afraid to tell me when I’m going in the right direction despite appearances, but who are also not afraid to tell me I need to get my act together.
  4. I am grateful for all of the amazing changes which have come from a single encounter with an amazing woman.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; courage, drive, productivity, imagination, dreams, hopes, love, friendship, surprises, confidence, hope, 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!

Blame it on the Moon: Reflections on Mom’s Birthday

Remembering More as the Years Pass and the Clouds Clear

This morning as I realized it would have been Mom’s 82nd birthday today that, aside from the extensive writing I’ve done about her in my yet-to-be-published memoir (or yet-to-be-finished to be more accurate), I’ve written little about my feelings about her or her death.

Today, as I typed my typical “today would have been” post on Facebook, something changed. I first noticed it by the words I chose to use in my post. Then I turned on my Rascal Flatts station on Pandora instead of one I typically listen to. 3 tracks in, “What Hurts the Most” played and I felt tears coming to my eyes. That’s when I knew I needed to write this post.

Full Moons Are a Time to Reflect

Now, maybe it’s the impending full moon which always makes me more emotional anyway, or maybe it’s the chapters I’ve started adding to my memoir lately, but I received one of those infamous Universal head slaps this morning.

It made me realize just how far I’ve come in resolving my hopelessly twisted feelings towards my mother. The short version is I’ve come to realize she was exactly what she needed to be both for herself and to help me become the woman I am today. But as with all things, I’m never happy with the short version. So buckle up for some intensely personal revelations, if you dare.

Finding Appreciation: Too Little, Too Late?

I’ll be the first to admit I never appreciated mom’s many qualities. I was so busy being at odds with her that we pushed each other away when I was quite young. Nurturing my baby sister was far easier for her to cope with than a headstrong 2-year-old. I don’t think I ever quite got over that feeling of abandonment.

It’s not that she turned her back on me, per se. She simply found more joy in doing things with and for my sister as we got older and the paths of our interests took different routes. My sister’s musical prowess and outright tenacity far exceeded my own. Mom could point at her playing first chair clarinet or performing with the prestigious Royal Cavaliers and feel proud of the daughter she’d raised and shlepped to endless music lessons.

Was She Aware of My Love of Writing?

I was a disappointment across the board. I preferred to pursue my passion behind the scenes. Whether it was building a set for the latest drama production, running the light board or applying makeup, I was never front and center to stoke her motherly pride. As for the stories and poems I wrote, regardless of their quality or, in most cases, lack thereof, I can honestly say she never read a word. Of course, I never showed them to her either, so how could she know or even have the opportunity to refuse, or worse, offer a patronizing word of false encouragement?

The real truth is, by the time I was doing any writing to speak of, I’d long since ceased valuing her opinion about anything important. Maybe that’s part of the reason I have trouble accepting my daughter’s encouraging comments about one of the novels she’s reading. I learned not to show anything to my family for fear of the requisite “that’s good, dear” which might or might not have been delivered. I do my daughter a disservice by not valuing her opinion. After all, she’s been reading voraciously most of her life. She knows what she likes to read and what she thinks sucks.

Lessons Offered, Lessons Learned

Again, I digress. Because I started tuning Mom out from an early age; a trait I’m pretty sure I learned from my dad, I missed out on the many things she had to offer. She kept a beautiful house, entertained magnificently, and taught herself to be a gourmet cook. I am decent, but I’ll never have her skill, much less her patience in making every detail perfect. Thankfully, though those skills were lost on me, my daughter inherited them with a vengeance.

I’m reminded of the chicken and egg scenario. Did Mom stop encouraging me in the things which made me shine because I pushed her away; shut her out even? Or did I shut her out because she turned all of her attention to my sister’s pursuits, relegating mine to just sweet little hobbies?

Family Dynamics Are a Balancing Act

I’ll never know the answer, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t changed. I realize now it doesn’t really matter which came first. What matters is that despite the gigantic chasm which existed between us, she gave me so many invaluable gifts. She helped me learn to stand strong and fight my own battles. But she also tempered the gifts I got from my Dad.

Where he was stoic, she was sensitive. Though it might have seemed like she was too sensitive at the time, her sensitivity wove itself into my persona despite my best efforts to be as unlike her as I could be. So well in fact that Dad’s stoicism became my protective shell until I learned when and where to let my sensitivity show.

Where Dad was stubborn and dogmatic, Mom was more malleable, often to her own detriment. Again, I used the stubbornness to counteract my tendency to be easily manipulated. All too often, both tendencies have blown up in my face, forcing me to learn to find the balance.

An Introvert in Extrovert’s Clothing. Who Am I Really Fooling?

I think the most valuable lesson she gave me was negotiating an extroverted world while keeping my soft, mushy, introverted self safe and hidden. Yes, I took it to extremes, but so did she. She smiled and entertained and got involved in charitable causes. She even tried her hand at a career in sales. I know now from my own experience that these are all ways introverts learn to cope with the outside world when they’d often rather just hide away with a book and their pets. The difference between us is she needed validation from others to replace the love she didn’t feel from her family. I learned to be loud and entertaining (though some would probably call it obnoxious). I had a wall around my heart acres deep. Very few have ever gotten close enough to be able to hurt me. I can’t say the same for Mom.

In hindsight, I think Mom hurt every day of her life until the day she decided to end it. She suffered emotional rejection from just about everyone in her life, and certainly her entire family. Sorry folks who might be reading this and are part of that group, but I see no exceptions to this observation. Not one of us took the time to try to see behind her extensive collection of masks.

When Someone No Longer Feels They Have Value

Which brings me to my final point. Collectively, we helped mom feel that she wasn’t needed; was not important to anyone. I have to believe that was the final contributing factor. It was what made her decide suicide was her only viable option. I cannot even imagine reaching the point where you believe with all your heart that nobody will miss you when you’re gone, but I think that’s where Mom was when she carefully followed the instructions in the book she’d bought. When she closed the guest room door where her granddaughters slept when they visited, lay down on the bed she’d shared with my dad for 40 years and took the last, fateful step.

As I type this, my eyes are filling with tears, and my faithful cat, Dylan is on the desk giving me head bumps. Mom died on December 27, 1993…and it hurts more now than it did when she died. In the ensuing years, I’ve put aside the relief, the guilt, the blame, and the anger. I’ve replaced them with forgiveness, compassion, and understanding. And finally, the tears of grief and sadness for the daughter I couldn’t be for her are flowing, cleansing my heart and her memory.

I love you and miss you, Mom. Know you were important even if we didn’t show it. Know your granddaughters remember you with fondness and show that love in all the things you taught them to love and do well. Rest well until we meet again. I hope I’ll be kinder next time.

In Loving Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons my mom so patiently taught me, whether or not I was listening.
  2. I am grateful for having finally learned some of those lessons, albeit decades after her death.
  3. I am grateful for the living embodiment of love for my mom in my daughters.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to allow my emotions to flow all the way to the surface instead of keeping them bottled up like I’ve done for so long.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, lessons, compassion, understanding, epiphanies, gratitude, releases, friends, 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!

Healing the World One Hug at a Time

It Starts With a Hug. Where it Ends is up to You.

While writing my morning pages today, I reflected on the wounds humanity has inflicted. I thought about the Native Americans who feel the pain of wounds inflicted on Earth. My thoughts then drifted to our current hostilities, the divisiveness that plagues our nation and even the world right now. I thought about the healing properties of a simple hug and thought how cathartic a global group hug would be.

As an introvert, the idea of hugging a stranger or even someone I don’t know well is pretty frightening. But I know I’m also meant to help with the healing process. If I can start hugging people I don’t know, wouldn’t it set an example? Wouldn’t it show those more inclined to hug both strangers and friends how easy it is and how much good it can do?

A Person’s a Person, No Matter How Small, Large, Light, Dark, Intelligent…

A hug transcends our differences, be they ethnic, cultural, political or any other artificial belief that all of us are anything other than Divine Beings having a Human experience. Beneath the outside covering, apart from the beliefs we’ve learned or acquired along the path which constitutes our personal journey, our hearts beat in the same manner. Our blood flows through our veins, our muscles respond  to the same stimuli, and we have the same basic needs; food, shelter, love, acceptance. The last two, we can give each other as simply as giving a hug.

Hugs are positive energy all rolled up into a nice, comforting, loving package. But why stop there? Have you ever noticed how a person’s demeanor changes from a simple smile or kind word?

A kind word, a gentle embrace, our world becomes a better place

Lately, I’ve found myself noticing something special about a person and making a point of telling them. I’m overwhelmed by how much people light up from a compliment and how their pleasure washes over me as well.Yet, what really surprises me is how paying a few compliments comes back to me almost immediately. The other night while dancing, I paid compliments to a couple of people, just because I felt compelled to do so. It might be a new hair style, or a color that looks especially good on them, or an outfit. It doesn’t really matter what it is. The wash of pleasure they exude is amazing. What I did not expect was to have people pay me compliments a little while later, thereby causing me to exude that same wash of pleasure. It wasn’t that I had done anything different than I’d been doing lately. I know the joy I’d received from the random compliments I’d paid fed my own inner glow. No amount of makeup, time spent fixing my hair, pounds lost, or new outfits improves our appearance like feeding that inner glow.

Giving to Receive

I’ve read many times that to receive you must first give. But it’s only now becoming clear to me exactly what that means. It has nothing to do with giving money to charity, or even time to a cause you believe in. It has to to with giving a small piece of your heart with love and sincerity. Charitable work certainly does that, but it’s the result, not the action. You can just as easily give because you feel obligated. but the inner glow of giving from a place of love won’t be there.

What I am trying to say in my usual convoluted manner is that we’re living in a time when people are withholding their love, their hearts all too often. We hide behind our electronics. We encase our hearts in concrete. We ignore the world and the people around us for our own personal agendas. We’re becoming little better than a world of robots, interacting with each other superficially, needing a violent encounter to make us actually feel something.

Wake up to the loving Human you were meant to be

But we aren’t dead yet. As long as we’re still essentially upright; as long as we’re still living and breathing in this world, we can reverse this dehumanization. We can counteract the virtual autism that’s swept the world, encasing us in a hard outer shell that’s only breached by outside stimuli of atomic proportions.

Step away from the computers. Put the phones down. See the people around you. Even the non-empathic (and frankly everyone is empathic to some degree) can feel pain or joy from others if they crack their own shell a bit. I read somewhere recently that a crack doesn’t mean you’re broken, it means you’re letting the light in.

Isn’t it time we all let some light in?

Above all, there is gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the lessons I’m learning and the insights I’m gaining.
  2. I’m grateful for the words which come to me, and the ones I know must be shared.
  3. I’m grateful I created a platform long ago which can be used now to encourage cooperation and healing.
  4. I’m grateful for the positive influence of friends and acquaintances.
  5. I’m grateful for hugs.
  6. I’m grateful for smiles.
  7. I’m grateful for abundance in all its forms.
  8. I’m grateful for light at the end of a seemingly long, dark tunnel.

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 credit: Ian Riley via Flickr

Getting Out of the Rut and Making the Life You Deserve

Seeing Changes and Knowing They’re Good

I’ve been in my current human form for the better part of 61 years yet I’m beginning to realize that for the much of that time, I was simply plodding from one day to the next, having little impact on the world around me and accomplishing little. I’d fallen into the societal trap of working at a job which offers a decent living, doing repetitive things, be it work, play or chores and errands.

I’d like to stay I began to wake up over the last 15 or 20 years, and that would certainly be true, but progress, up until the last 2 or 3 has been decidedly slow. Sure, I watched “The Secret” a few times, read “Laws of Attraction” in several of its forms and practiced positivity. I definitely made some improvements to myself but nothing of any real significance. That is, until I started taking a healing class on the recommendation of my massage therapist.

That class may not have launched my career as a healer, but it made me take some good, hard looks at myself and my life, and frankly, I wasn’t exactly pleased with the naked truth. My life was boring and predictable, uncreative and unremarkable. 4 months into the healing course, I decided to trust my gut for a change and quit my boring and soul-sucking 9-5 accounting job to launch my writing career.

Anyone who follows this blog pretty much knows how that’s been going. I’m certainly putting a lot of words on screen, but except for articles I publish on the website of the photographer I’ve begun working with, publication is still an unrequited dream. My inner critic is still stronger than I’d like despite the compliments I do get on some of my pieces. My ability to actually finish something longer than a blog post or article is still shaky at best. But I am making progress.

Yet, in my own way, I was still plodding along in a predictable and boring pattern. I get up, I exercise sometimes, I do my errands on the same day every week and dance on the same nights in the same place. In short, my brain and soul were itching to break out of this self-imposed rut.

Learning to Ride and Thrive with the Changes

A couple things happened over the last 4 months to get me moving again. First, I got tired of chronic pain and went in search of both a diagnosis and a solution. The nearly 3 months of physical therapy has not only given me no small amount of relief but has me exercising more regularly and moving much more freely.

Enter my photographer friend, Jesse. Towards the end of last year, she hired me to write some posts for her website. After attending a couple of events together, she realized she’d rather put her efforts into taking photographs and avoid having to write the accompanying story so she offered the job to me. It’s a perfect match as we both get to do what we love, plus we bring different administrative and marketing skills to the table, creating a very effective synergy.

Body issues also served to remind me that I’m not in the best of physical shape, but in a chicken or the egg kind of scenario, I figured that stressing out over money was a huge factor. After attending one of John Assaraf’s Brain-a-thons, I signed up for Winning the Game of Money and became part of a community of ambitious, supportive people.

It was a no-brainer for me when John offered an 11-day weight loss challenge. I lost a few pounds, improved my eating habits, starting eating more of the veggies from my weekly box and between the two programs, was feeling a whole lot better and more energetic. Better still was the improvement in my sleep and the drastic improvements in my pain levels, strength and flexibility. The icing on the cake was when I won one of the two subscriptions given out for the Winning the Game of Weight Loss program.

I am now starting week 11 of the WTGOM program and week 2 of WTGOWL (technically, I spent about 3 weeks on Level 1 because of the challenge). I’m learning to say “releasing fat” instead of “losing weight” because losing implies that you’ll eventually find it again. As most people who’ve spent years of their lives dieting know, it’s often an endless cycle of losing some and gaining more. I didn’t get to be 233 pounds at my highest by accident, I assure you. Thankfully, the last time I “lost weight” I actually did manage to keep some of it off, but I’m a long ways from my healthy place. The difference is, this time, I’m more confident about getting and staying there.

Finding Someone New and Exciting, and That Someone is Me

But this isn’t really a testimonial for John’s programs, but a picture of my own evolution. The last piece is the afore-mentioned friend and photographer, Jesse. She’s dragged me along, sometimes kicking and screaming on her own quest to work with Food Network. To my surprise, and to the especial surprise of my inner hermit, I’m having a blast. While she runs around with her camera photographing everything, I’m in amongst the people, talking, asking questions and generally having a great time. I don’t know how this happened as I’ve always thought of myself as a loner and someone who just doesn’t do well with people. Maybe on some levels that’s still true, but I know now that it doesn’t have to stay that way.

I’m learning that when people see someone with a notebook taking notes, they’re curious. When they find out you’re a writer/journalist, many are anxious to talk and share.

This weekend, we attended what was publicized as a beer event, but also featured about 20 food trucks. But these weren’t just any food trucks! Each and every one of them was owned and operated by chefs…not cooks, but chefs. One of them was a collaboration of 3 who had recently left the restaurant where they all worked. Their exit took the executive chef, chef de cuisine and pastry chef, and ultimately one of the cooks as well. You know it’s not about the money when three high level chefs turn their skills to running a food truck! They have a passion and a dream.

And that’s where I’m reminded I do too, and that I’m not going to realize them by sitting in my house day after day, maybe pounding away at this keyboard. I’m not going to find it going out on the same nights every week to the same place and seeing the same people who may or may not care whether I’m there or not, and it doesn’t really matter either way.

I’m going to find it by, for now, helping my friend chase her dream because in helping her, I’m giving myself a gift I didn’t even know I wanted or deserved. I’m gaining confidence, learning how to get people to talk about themselves, feeling the passion from those who do have the sense to follow what their heart wants. And I’m stretching those writing chops of mine into unknown directions where I just have to fake it ’til I make it. Except I realized tonight, I’m no longer faking it. I’m really loving the new directions, the places we’re going, the people I’m talking to. This is my new adventure, and the best part of it is that I really don’t know where it’s going to take me, and it doesn’t matter!

GOYA (Get off your Ass)

Though I wouldn’t recommend quitting your 9-5 job like I did, without a real plan or source of income, I’d definitely suggest you take a good, hard look at what you’re doing with your life and how it makes you feel. If you have settled into a life of sameness, make sure that’s what you really want, and if it isn’t, start by making small changes. Most important, find people who align with what you really want, and help them chase their dream until yours comes around and smacks you in the face.

My gratititudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my friend, Jesse who drags me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.
2. I am grateful to John and the NeuroGym team who are helping me improve my health, my outlook, my ambition, my drive and how I’m spending my time these days.
3. I am grateful to the friends and family who cheer me on, egg me on and kick my butt when I need it. Without the encouragement, I would still be existing instead of living.
4. I am grateful for my writing skills and my constant efforts to improve them; sometimes by studying, but more often by just exercising the muscle in a variety of ways.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, motivation, community, peace, harmony, healthy, 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!

Wallowing in a Pit of Despair? Try Gratitude.

Finding My Way Back Home

For the last 15 years or so, I have made immense progress in turning my life around. I am no longer the angry, defensive creature I had become through long years of tragedies, disappointments and, what I considered at the time to be poor life choices. I’ve learned that everything I’ve done and everywhere I’ve been had a purpose and came together in making me the person I am today.

But sometimes, pieces of my former self rise insidiously to the surface and if left unchecked, threaten to undo all of the work I’ve done. The trick is recognizing it before it sets me back years.

This morning when I woke with the prospect of cooking a huge pot of chili and spending the afternoon with anywhere from 50 to 100 people, the negative thoughts and the desire to crawl back into my hole and pull it in after me became almost overwhelming. Thankfully, years of training myself to do otherwise proved stronger, and I realized I had all the tools I needed to turn this around.

I looked back over the last couple of weeks and realized I’d become angry over stupid things, reactionary, and downright hateful. And truth to be told, I couldn’t dig a hole deep enough to escape the real problem anyway, so fixing it is a much wiser choice. It would also go a long way towards alleviating the constant, if relatively manageable pain I’ve been in since December, helping lower what has clearly become an upwardly spiraling stress level (thankfully, the every-other-day migraines have eased off!), and the resulting sleep deprivation.

Conquering the Demons Within

The answer to my problems, both real and imagined can be summed up in a single word. Gratitude. Sure, I’ve remembered to give thanks for all of the little synchronicities in my life, and, on what has become the rare occasion I actually sit and write a blog post, list a handful of gratitudes. But I’ve been missing the big picture. I’ve been allowing the “don’t haves” to smother the “haves”. No wonder I’m suffering the consequences. My face is meeting my palm rather violently at the moment.

Instead of rambling on about this or that, or detailing the things I won’t be doing from here on out, I’m dedicating the rest of this post to as many gratitudes as I can conjure, because, really, that’s why this blog has evolved; that’s why it is no longer “Surviving and Beyond”, but “Leaps of Faith”. For the last month or better, I’ve been giving it a great deal of lip service, but failing to follow through in my thoughts and deeds.

Reminding Myself of What the Universe Already Knows

Without further ado, here are some things for which I am grateful in this crazy, beautiful, sometimes insane life I’ve been given this time around:

  1. I am grateful for sunny days.
  2. I am grateful for rainy days.
  3. I am grateful for the fur babies I fall asleep with every night and wake to every morning.
  4. I am grateful that I have already lived nearly a year longer than my mother did.
  5. I am grateful for the people who pointed me towards the path of positivity and offer daily reminders.
  6. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the ones I am still mastering, and those which await me further down the road.
  7. I am grateful for the pains in my body which remind me that I’m being allowed to age and that I need to get up and move more, stretch more and love my body more.
  8. I am grateful that I’ve learned to recognize when I’m wandering away from my true path.
  9. I am grateful for the tools I’ve acquired which help me get back on track.
  10. I am grateful for signs and head slaps from the Universe which remind me to stay positive and hopeful, and get my attention when I start to forget.
  11. I am grateful for all of the wonderful examples I’ve been given: people who have conquered their own demons and retain the kindness and compassion I strive to achieve and embrace as part of my being.
  12. I am grateful for changing my career path to the one which fuels my soul.
  13. I am grateful for remaining positive despite setbacks and challenges which I know are intended to test my commitment.
  14. I am grateful for those setbacks which force me to seek alternatives and remind me that my path will never be straight and smooth. Easy paths don’t offer much in the way of inspiration for writing.
  15. I am grateful for successful completion of my three novels and Frederick the Gentlemouse and for the strength and tenacity to publish and market them.
  16. I am grateful for the stories inside me that are yet to be told.
  17. I am grateful for opportunities to mentor, coach or otherwise support other people.
  18. I am grateful that I’m learning to Stop, Look, and Listen more; not necessarily while crossing the road, but while interacting with other Divine Beings having a Human Experience.
  19. I am grateful to my daughter for encouraging me to start this blog when I got stuck in the middle of writing my first book about family suicide. Not only has writing about it eased my pain and brought more compassion into my life, it has connected me with others who have had similar experiences.
  20. I am grateful for the people who read my blog, my website and even my comments on Social Media. You touch my life and make it a better place. You’ll never know how much that means to me, nor how much it makes me strive to be a better person.

I could go on and on with this, but I’m already feeling better, just for sitting down and doing it. I’ll likely continue the list off-line. Listing my gratitudes has dragged me out of far deeper holes than the one in which I currently find myself. It is probably the single most powerful lesson I’ve learned in the last few years, and one I need to spend more time doing. Maybe that’s why the Universe sat back and watched me slide into a well of negativity for a little while. Like the stretching I now do every day to reduce the physical pain, the physical act of listing my gratitudes turns the inner pain around and shows me how much joy and beauty I have in my life.

Thank you for being a part of my process…my path.

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!

July 17, 2015 Taking Good Care of Mind, Body and Spirit

Putting the Final Touches on the Healing Process

Today I treated myself to a massage with my amazing massage therapist, as I felt I’d done everything else I could do to put my neck, arm and shoulder back into alignment. Though with Barb “Massage Therapist” is such a simplistic name for what she truly does. A couple of years ago, we took a healing class together and though I ended up learning a lot about myself in the process and cleared out some personal, energetic baggage, she truly put the pieces together and has built on her already impressive toolbox of skills.

Going to see her today was as much for the body work as it was for all of the other things she puts into it, including helping me find that missing thread I needed to heal myself. Although we’ve had many tremendously successful healing sessions together, I’d have to say that today’s was over-the-top extraordinary.

First off, we added a verbal aspect to the session which is atypical for us. Since I finally learned how to relax and not try to help (at least most of the time), I tend to go into a meditative state while she works. Today, however, there was intermittent dialogue as well as the extra effort she made to keep me comfortable with an arm and shoulder that needed extra support at times and changing positions at others.

Visualizations and Revelations

From long association, Barb has learned that I get a lot of visualizations during meditations, Tarot readings, massages and pretty much any kind of spiritual, energetic practices. When the visions came today, I shared them with her in a kind of free associating manner. This allowed her to help me understand and expand on them. I’m getting a bit confused about the order of the visuals, but the first two were of a ghost-like fairy rising up from my shoulder and trailing a long strip of white light behind her while the muscles and tendons in my shoulder became the gnarled old roots of an ancient tree. Then, I was digging through the roots, breaking them up with some kind of wooden tool and working them into the already rich soil which was the result of centuries of fallen leaves being reabsorbed into the earth. Once the soil was broken up, I saw sunflowers growing in abundance and a small pool of water forming amidst the sunflowers.

She interpreted the sunflowers as my supporters or my fans, or perhaps both. The more I think about it, the more it fits. I felt like I was an integral part of this enormous, ancient spreading oak tree and felt the leaves waving around my head, caressing my cheeks when suddenly I realized that I was the tree…or the tree was me!

The long and the short of it is that my shoulder and arm have felt much better all day today, so I feel that I reached a point where I’m ready to release the things which turned them into a mass of painfully knotted muscles. That release is exactly what I hoped to do when I impulsively asked for the appointment after yesterday’s acupuncture session.

There Are Times When We Need to Give Ourselves Time to Look Inward

I spent the rest of the day doing a few small chores, but mostly meditating and finishing Ray Bradbury’s Zen and the Art of Writing. I also added more words to the list of prompts I started when I began reading the book (though in truth, they’ll ultimately become a part of the word map I started for the Holly Lisle writing course I’m slowly working my way through. But as I finished the book, I was inspired (though after I began writing I’m not sure that’s the proper word) to write what became the first 9 pages in longhand of a tale depicting my own worst case scenario, five years from now as a result of the choices I made a year and a half ago. For some reason, I needed to write about losing everything, being unable to afford vet bills to save three of my cats (though I didn’t specify which three except that one was my soul mate cat because I knew that would be the most devastating) and selling off my furniture, clothes and even most of my books.

At times, the tale I wrote seemed so real that I found myself sobbing as I wrote. I don’t know if I’ll re-read it (though I probably will) nor if I’ll even finish it, but I do know that it was, in some way, part healing process and part getting me writing, caring more about the process than what actually came out. Of course, I changed the names to protect the not-so-innocent too!

We All Have the Tools Within Ourselves to Self Heal, But Sometimes, a Little Help From a Friend Can Kick Start the Process

Though we are all capable of self-healing, being objective about locating and correctly interpreting our own blocks can sometimes present a challenge. I’ve learned that finding friends and practitioners who can not only help amplify the messages and answers we receive so we hear and recognize them, but can also help see things in the messages we receive that we are too immersed in the problem to see for ourselves. Like everything else, I believe such people are put into our lives when we are ready to utilize the skills for which they can offer guidance. Even if we know what to look for, they elude us until we establish a foundation which is open to their teachings.

So tonight, I feel comfortable releasing the fears and worries which knotted my neck and shoulder, but I also feel like I’ve released the negative expectations of the path I’m on, despite the fact that there is still no certainty of success, nor a guarantee that I can safely release any thoughts of obtaining temporary accounting work just to make ends meet. I have faced the demons by writing about them and truly believe that the power rests with me and not with them.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people, the skills and the tools to self-heal.
2. I am grateful for my house full of healthy, happy, demanding fur babies.
3. I am grateful for a social life which, while not extremely active is extremely satisfying and has the diversity I need to get me away from my cave for several hours a week.
4. I am grateful for the words of some of my favorite authors which inspire, encourage and push me to keep up the effort.
5. I am grateful for abundance: resources, inspiration, motivation, love, friendship, understanding, harmony, peace, words, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I’d appreciate your taking 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!

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