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Archive for the ‘learning’ Category

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, 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!


Making Lemonade

Whew! What a ride!

I’ve managed to slide into mid-week fairly unscathed despite a few challenges life decided to toss my way. But the week wasn’t without some loveliness as well.

On Monday, I received two new books from one of my favorite Authors, Debbie Macomber which I’d won in an online contest. I spent the better part of a day which didn’t even begin until noon reading Last One Home, a story about a woman who had left her family behind at 18 to marry what she thought was the love of her life. Instead, he was a manipulative abuser who cut her off from family, friends and even acquaintances. The story chronicles her struggles climbing out of the hole he’d buried her in, alone, broke and with a young child to raise. Reaching out to the family she’d left behind forced her to see that the damage her husband had caused went beyond just her and her child.

Sometimes, the Universe Intends for our Choices to go Awry

As women, we make our share of poor choices but it’s how we rectify them which really tests how strong a foundation we had to begin with. Many of us don’t see how strong and capable we are, settling for someone who is far less than we deserve. The lucky ones like me finally hit a point where we realize we truly do deserve better. We do whatever it takes to fix our lives. We know we’ve truly succeeded when we learn to love the person who may have gotten buried under a lot of crap, both of our own making and from those poor choices we allowed into our lives.

Fortunately for me, unlike Cassie in Ms. Macomber’s book, I left my own abusive relationship with a means of supporting myself and my children and no visible bruises or scars. Many women aren’t so lucky. The existence of the many shelters and safe houses for women and their children to escape abusive men is evidence of this. But what about those who either aren’t strong enough or who lack either means or opportunity to leave their own version of hell, or never get the chance? Kudos to Ms. Macomber for highlighting the organizations which not only provide shelter but also moral support for women to escape their abusers and the fear they lived under for so long. But even more for emphasizing how helping others sort out their own lives benefits the giver as much as the receiver.

Always on the Lookout for Ways to Give Back

She also piqued my curiosity about Habitats for Humanity. At one time, my daughter and I considered helping with the construction of a home in our area, but other commitments got in the way. Though I don’t know that I’d be much help these days (it was once pointed out that I paint more with my belly and boobs than with a paintbrush) I’m sure there are other things I can do to help them or another organization in my area. I made an effort awhile back to get involved with neonatal care for a cat rescue, but was met with scheduling conflicts for all of their required training sessions. As I believe things happen for a reason, I can only assume that I was being “saved” for something else.

Macomber’s Cassie reminded me that the best way to improve your own life is to give of yourself to someone else. She took what she’d learned during her own struggles to help others. I know that writing about my own healing processes has given others something to think about, but I’ve only really covered two traumatic life events, and they were basically related. Maybe it’s time to speak out about how I ended up marrying a man who was as wrong for me as he could get and who I stayed with longer than I should have. Or how it took me years to recognize and embrace the lessons I learned from the experience. Or how I learned to tell my daughters that he did the best he could with what he had as he, himself was broken.

I will never regret the two beautiful daughters he gave me, albeit less than willingly, but I’m grateful that I was finally able to crawl out of the hole of self-loathing which was already in place when we met. It’s unsettling, to say the least, to realize that had I just loved myself more, I would never have even noticed him. I see now that his real purpose in my life was to give me another tool I’d ultimately need to learn to love myself. Funny how that works.

Each Lesson Shortens the Learning Curve for the Next

As I continue the journey I set upon when this lifetime began, I find it takes me less and less time to figure out the lessons which are embedded in the challenges I face. I know now that we never, ever make wrong choices. We do make choices which have less-than-desirable outcomes. However, in truth, we needed to make those choices because we needed the outcomes to teach us a lesson. Without that particular lesson, we might still be fumbling around trying to find our way, all for lack of an essential virtual tool.

If I’ve learned nothing else in the 60 years I’ve been on the planet this time around, it is to be grateful for every challenge and setback I’ve faced. (You’ll notice, I don’t use the word “Failure” here). Each one taught me to look at things from a different angle or to step back and regroup. Sure, there’ve been more than a few face-palming moments but if I’d truly been at the point where I should have known better, I wouldn’t have needed the lesson, now would I?

So the next time you’re chastising yourself for a mistake you think you’ve made, try taking a step back and asking yourself What did I learn from this experience? Was the outcome sufficiently painful that I won’t be likely to repeat this particular act of misdirection? If you can answer the first question honestly and the second question in the affirmative, then the experience was both necessary and valuable. But be warned, if you struggle to answer the first question and waffle on the second, you will have the opportunity to revisit the lesson again…multiple times if necessary…until you see the lesson and internalize it for future reference.

Life doesn’t give us lessons to sour our mood but to quench our thirst when things heat up.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for every mistake I’ve made and every lesson I’ve learned from them.
2. I am grateful for the friends I’ve made and the ones I’ve lost along the way. Some were meant to be here for a season, others for a reason, and a few, even for a lifetime.
3. I am grateful for lights at the end of the tunnel.
4. I am grateful for synchronicity.
5. I am grateful for abundance: life, love, lessons, joy, challenges, successes,dancing, writing, playing, working, peace, hope, 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, 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!

October 24, 2014 NaNoWriMo prep #shericonaway #blogboost

Gearing up to write 50,000 words in a month.

In preparation for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers’ Month for the uninitiated), I purchased a package containing webinars, ebooks and print books designed to help me actually do a little bit of plot development instead of just jumping in blindly like I did last year. It doesn’t mean I won’t continue to sit down, shut my brain off and let the story flow as it wishes, but I thought a few tools might help bring down the number of rewrites this one will require compared to last year’s effort.

I watched one of the webinars and started to watch another, but it was all I could do to sit through 15 minutes of it. I’m not sure if it was the presenter’s style or how she arranged the material, but I got stuck on it as surely as I’ve been stuck on the assignment for my AWAI Accelerated Copywriting course.

As with the copywriting course, I came to the conclusion that I needed to focus on the things which did resonate and avoid wasting time on the things which didn’t. So I poked around in the items I’d downloaded from the site (after paying my fee, of course) and did, indeed, find a gem. I’ll be spending quite a little time with the 280 page ebook, but was able to send it to my iPad so it will, at least, be portable.

The next week looks to be a rather busy one, what with the writing challenge beginning next Saturday, a trip to my daughter’s on Friday night (return date, pending), and getting ready to be an educated voter a week from Tuesday. Somewhere in there will also be my daily blog post (even when UBC comes to an end), trips to the gym (I’m becoming rather attached to those visits, believe it or not) and another batch of something healthy once I get my weekly Harvest Box.

Did I mention a guest blog post or two in the mix? One thing is certain. I will soon be very grateful for the pre-measured meals stacking up nicely in my refrigerator and freezer. My recent foray into less healthy eating with a dinner of sushi and tempura is making me rudely aware that my stomach is no longer happy with fried or sauce filled foods. (strange gurglings and rumblings are, even now, emitting from what should be my peaceful center, alerting me to the unhappiness of my innards.)

In this time of preparation, I am thrown, once more, back to October of last year when, with the help of my Ascension Resonance Training class, I made the decision to leap faithfully to my fate, also known as my true calling. Though I’m still not completely clear on what that calling will ultimately entail, writing and learning about writing is definitely high on the list of things I can’t help but do.

This last year has surely been one of fits and starts, a lot of sitting around trying to figure myself out, and some major changes in lifestyle, eating and health habits. I’ve fought some battles, come close to giving in to frustration, even, for a moment or two, considered going back to accounting where I knew I could have a steady income. But always, there was something which whispered in my ear, saying: “Stick with it. You’ve got this. It might be taking longer than you’d planned, but you’re still ok. You’re learning to live differently as well as in your truth, and that will take time. But don’t give up on yourself!”

That little voice has never steered me wrong, except when I’ve ignored it. So despite the fact that I’m not yet on the road to a six figure income as a copywriter, and my first novel is still a long way from publication and my website has not been launched because I haven’t a clear picture of what I want it to say…it’s all part of my process. I’ve learned a lot this year, and am definitely not the person I was a year ago, nor will I be the person I am now in another year.

You have to have Faith, even when it doesn’t look like you have a good reason.

Finding my true path, following my heart’s desire took an enormous leap of faith. I stepped off into something which, from where I stood, gave me no guarantees of supporting me into my dotage. But as I made the decision, more and more signs came to assure me that I was making the right decision; the decision that meant I would have at least one less regret years in the future.

Sure, I’m learning that there is a great deal more to being a writer than simply writing. Sure, I’ve yet to earn a dime doing what I love, but so what? I’m doing what I love, and I’m still managing to keep a roof over my head and food in my cats’ dishes. I’m taking better care of me than I ever have, and even if it’s only a blog post, I’m writing every single day.

Something else I’ve always enjoyed is learning. I’m getting ample opportunity right now to expand my education. Whether it’s an online class or reference material or research for my latest effort, it’s all a learning experience for me. In fact, I’ve even had the opportunity to learn what not to do, and that is always useful as well.

The sooner we learn that Life, itself is a learning experience, the more we will get out of the trip.

Part of the reason I was so unhappy in the last year or so of my old job was that I didn’t have enough left to learn and explore, at least that made me want to get up in the morning and get to it. I had, for all intents and purposes, gone about as far as I was going to go in the position, and, I realize now, I had been mentally ready to move on for quite awhile. But I was in that rut where the job pays reasonably well, I was reasonably stable and, occasionally even got to do something which challenged my brain. I also wasn’t anxious to stay in the corporate world, and where I was only loosely fit that label.

For the first time in my life, when I hit that particular wall, external forces did not conspire to kick me in the butt and move me out of my rut. With the support of a few friends, I did it myself. The only thing I can say is that I must have been ready to make this huge shift and to simplify my lifestyle at the same time to accommodate the learning curve which would come as a result.

Am I any closer to supporting myself with my dream, my writing? I’d like to think so. Will it matter if it takes some more time? Not in the overall scheme of things. My contemporaries might be taking trips to Europe right now while I’m home banging on the keyboard and filling my head with more knowledge and skills, but I’m right where I need to be. I spend a few days each month with my daughter, and am enjoying exploring her new city. But I also love the freedom of my life to do for myself and follow a regular exercise routine, to meditate daily and work with the cats gathered around me. I believe that as I become ready for more, I will move into a position where I’ll find exactly what I need.

And that, my friends, is what taking a leap of faith is all about. Believing in yourself, first and foremost, but also believing that the resources you need will align themselves with your trajectory at the time they are required. As long as I hold that Faith, the Laws of Attraction never fail me.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to the women who encouraged me to take the leap of faith that put me where I am today.
2. I am grateful for my simplified, me-central lifestyle.
3. I am grateful for the lessons I’m learning and the progress I’m making.
4. I am grateful to be following my dream, and learning more about what it truly is as I go.
5. I am grateful to be on this grand adventure called life.
6. I am grateful for abundance: freedom, love, adventure, learning, exploring, health, harmony, peace, comedy, friendship and prosperity.


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