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

Archive for the ‘lifestyle’ Category

Rainy Day Thoughts

Looking out my window at the rain-drenched street, the late-afternoon sun casts a glow making the neighborhood appear almost magical. Though the drenching we’ve received in the last two days will make but a small dent in our drought-ravaged state, the parched earth, nonetheless, offers it’s own words of gratitude to the dark, looming clouds.

It was easy today to read or study or meditate; a cat or two always nearby. The rain beat a staccato rhythm on my roof, punctuated periodically by thunderclaps, resounding like tympani, emphasizing the downbeat. Yet the almost non-stop downpour elevates my mood. Not because we so desperately need it but because I’ve always found the sound of rain soothing. It’s a sound we humans cannot duplicate via faucet or fountain; its arrhythmic rhythm following its own beat; playing its surreal tune.

Can you hear the music in the raindrops? Can you feel the beat as they bounce off the sidewalk or tap on your window? Do you heed their call when they tap out “Come out and play!”? Or are you more focused on getting the kids to school relatively dry or making what you know will be a challenging commute? Are you too busy, too stressed to stop and just listen to the rhythm of the rain?

One of the many things I gained when I slowed my life down was the luxury of listening to the rain and even heeding its call. Even a downpour while I’m loading groceries into my car just makes me laugh. I turn my face upwards, lapping up a drop or two, then stomp purposefully in the puddles just because I can.

I believe growing old, at least mentally, is a choice. It happens when we choose to let go of our childlike enjoyment of the little things because we feel the need to be responsible. Yet in reality, we can be selectively responsible and still retain that childlike enjoyment.

Maybe that’s why cat and dog videos are so popular these days. You can, for the few moments the video plays, revel in that devil-may-care attitude. But why not take it a step further? Embrace it. Be it. Dance in the rain or sing a happy song. Cut loose and realize what others might think of your behavior is really not your concern. They’re going to react as they do regardless of your behavior. So you might as well make yourself happy, right?

Back when I did have to commute, I taught myself to embrace the delays. They gave me a few more minutes of alone time when I could sip my coffee and smile at my fellow commuters. For those few extra minutes, I was disconnected from phones and computers and people who needed something from me. Those were moments of pure bliss. But those were also days when I worked in a job that was sucking my soul so periods of disconnectedness were golden.

Though I’m rarely stuck in traffic these days, on the rare occasions when I do find myself crawling along the Southern California freeways, I use the time to imagine or create or just sing along with the radio or CD. I’m still learning to release the things I can’t control, but for the most part, traffic jams are no longer a cause for stress. But then again, I can choose to stay home when the roads are a mess.

Someone asked me recently if I could continue to survive financially if it took me a little longer to get a few writing or VA gigs. I was pleasantly surprised to admit that the simplifications I’ve made in my life in the last couple of years along with some fortuitous reductions in outflow mean I’d actually be OK for quite some time.

As I felt some of the pressure flow out of my system, I felt confidence flow in. Thanks to an ever-increasing network of positive, supportive people, I’m gaining much-needed skills for promoting not only the work I’m doing now, but the books I will be publishing over the next couple of years. These things took time to build. Relationships have been a process. This isn’t something I could have accomplished in less time than it’s taken. There’s a lot to be said for being a work in progress.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the people I’ve met, the challenges I’ve taken, and the growth I’ve enjoyed.
2. I am grateful that I’ve simplified and downsized my life. It’s a much better fit now; like a comfy pair of well-washed jeans or loose-fitting sweats.
3. I am grateful for each and every opportunity I’m being given to learn, grow and give back.
4. I am grateful for my own personal forums on which to share my thoughts, lessons and ideas, and for the people who read them and offer feedback.
5. I am grateful for abundance; friends, fellow travelers, lessons, challenges, successes and failures, laughter and tears, dancing, love, joy, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity (and that piece of property overlooking the beach where I’ll live, love, thrive and offer other artists a place to retreat and follow their own passion.)

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!

A Grain-Free Week

Switching it Up

A month or so ago, a friend and I became accountability buddies. We checked in regularly, logged our food and exercise and kept track of the pounds. It went well for a couple of weeks, maybe more, and I did drop about 9 pounds. But lately, that’s changed and I’ve gone back to the old “up three, down two” game. My blog writing pitching took me to some paleo sites so I started looking into what changing to that kind of diet entailed. As previously mentioned, it isn’t for me.

What I did realize was that the last time I dropped a good amount of weight, over 30 pounds to be exact, I not only checked in with MyFitnessPal regularly, but I cut out most grains. For me, that’s doable in the short term or perhaps, in sprints. So for the last week and a half, that’s exactly what I did.

I’d like to say I got immediate results, but I think your body and even your eating habits have to acclimate to the change. So it took about a week before I started seeing a noticeable change; not only in weight but in energy. The protein-rich diet fills me up without bogging me down. I’m sleeping better than I was, too! In just over a week, I’ve dropped about 3 pounds, which thrills the heck out of me.

Making it Work During the Holidays

Spending Christmas with my daughter and son-in-law will be challenging. Her house is redolent with her Christmas baking frenzy this time of year, and now that she’s learned a few more tricks in her culinary arts classes, she’s become even more creative. However, she is also incredibly supportive. Didn’t she start learning how to convert recipes to gluten-free because I found the gluten was irritating my stomach after awhile? She’s already stocked up on plain yogurt so I can enjoy my usual breakfast instead of reaching for something grain laden.

Though she won’t give up grain for her or her hubby, nor would I expect them too, she has come up with alternatives for me. Heck, I may snag one of those pumpkin pancakes with Christmas breakfast, but will fill up on the eggs and fruit or whatever other non-grain alternatives there might be. And she’s making sure dinners can be eaten without pasta or rice if I so desire.

All in all, I deem this experiment a cautious success. I’m also counting on my daughter’s usual pattern in which I accumulate between 16000 and 18000 steps per day during my visit. Even if I only manage to keep the grains at a minimum while I’m there, I suspect I’ll avoid the usual bulking up which usually occurs Christmas week.

Setting up for my Next Sprint

Better still, no matter how good or bad I am this week, I’ll be ready to do another week or two sprint with no grain. If I can do about 2 weeks on and one off, I can see me setting a pattern because the two weeks I’m off of grains will get my body accustomed to doing without. If I eat a moderate amount during my week off, I’ll be able to tell just how much makes me feel sluggish and how much screws with my sleep and meditation patterns. If that amount is small, it will simply make it easier to give it up for longer periods of time.

Not Quite Paleo

Giving up grain of all kinds is a huge step for me. I’ve actually given up starches almost entirely. I’ve had potatoes a couple of times, but aside from that, it’s been protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. Snacks include yogurt dip and veggies, almonds and dried cranberries, though even those have slowed down as my body stays full from the increased protein. I don’t however, see a day when I’ll give up dairy or legumes. I love lentils in my turkey-pumpkin chili and my fat-free yogurt and honey in the morning is a quick, easy, no-brainer to get me going. Yes, I may start pre-making the egg casserole I used to take to work, but it’s not going to be a daily or even weekly change. Too many mornings, all I can stomach is that 1/2 cup of yogurt. It isn’t until after noon, and sometimes 2 or 3 before my stomach is ready for anything heavier. But at least I know myself.

Many of us realize we need to change our eating habits to something healthier, but there’s no point in changing to something which has no appeal. You just won’t stick with it unless you’re some kind of masochist who gets off on torturing yourself. When I was pregnant with my twins, I saw a nutritionist and the first thing she did was to ask me what foods I liked and which ones I didn’t. She wasn’t about to help me design a meal plan containing foods I disliked or omitting everything I liked. Nearly 30 years later, I still take her words to heart.

Living in a Land of Plenty

I am very fortunate in that I love fresh produce, and even luckier still that I live in an area Harvest box 11-18-14 view 2where it is abundantharvest box 11-4-14 12 months a year. You can bring me to tears with a nice bunch of broccoli or cauliflower, a bucket of brussels sprouts or a lovely member of the squash family. My daughter has even taught me new and different ways to enjoy these wondrous treats. That very love and abundance is what makes this new path easier to tread. No rice? No problem. I’ll just eat more of this lovely veggie with a little bit of chicken stir-fry. No bread? Let’s throw a few more veggies in the pan and scramble them into a fluffy pile of eggs. Stir fry nearly done 10-22-14

Do I feel deprived knowing I’ll have to pass on the pizza or sushi? Not really. In fact, many times there are versions of sushi which are riceless anyway. Have you ever tried a hand roll without rice? Very tasty! And if I really want pizza, I’ll just wait for my off week. If I still want it by then, so be it.

Leaving Behind a Life of Constrictions

Two years ago, I left behind a life of waking with an alarm to go do a job which built up someone else’s nest egg. I left a world of someone else’s rules and rush hour and being around people even when I didn’t want to be. I’ve made a lot of changes over the least two years, some good, some not so good. I’ve established some healthy habits which have fallen by the wayside, perhaps to be picked up again in the future…and perhaps not.

But I have learned that if I make changes to my life that don’t make me happy, I’ll find a way to undermine those changes or just wander off in search of something new. And yes, I’ve done both. But eating is really easy. I love to eat, I enjoy cooking and find more of the healthy foods appealing than not. Realizing that I need a specific time frame to go off track was the missing link, though. If I lock myself into a week or a couple of days or whatever, I’m more likely to say during the weeks I’m supposed to be diligent “Nope, that has grain. You can’t have it this week, but give it a few more days and you can indulge if you even want to by then.” And for now, that’s enough.

How do you keep yourself on track with those healthy habits you form? Are you just one of those whose internal motivation is enough, or do you have to make deals with yourself so you’ll do what you know is best anyway? Do you hold the results up like a mirror so you can easily see how following those habits has improved your life? I’d love to hear what works for you.

Tonight’s gratitudes are:
1. I am grateful for fresh produce year-round.
2. I am grateful for small successes.
3. I am grateful for the things which motivate me.
4. I am grateful for new opportunities and ideas which help me make necessary changes to my path.
5. I am grateful for abundance: success, motivation, inspiration, support groups, cheerleaders, friends, family, joy, love, dancing, bliss, peace, harmony, health, happiness, 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!

September 16, 2014 How much structure?

Though a simple, unstructured lifestyle may seem ideal, there is something to be said for a little definition to help make things happen.

Once upon a time, my life had a very specific structure. Five days a week, I got up at the same time, showered, dressed, did the usual morning things and went to work for eight hours. On Sunday nights, I made my breakfasts and lunches for three days, and on Wednesday nights, I made meals for the other two days. Laundry was done on the same day every week as was grocery shopping and other errands and chores. When November came along, I took the NaNoWriMo challenge, and sat down to write at the same time every night, until the task was complete.

In the months since I left my job as a Corporate Controller (fancy name for Manager of Accounting and Finance), I’ve seen that structure weaken until, in the last three or four months, it has really been non-existent. All of the day-driven tasks I’d settled into in the first few months had fallen by the wayside. Unless I had an appointment or it was a dance night, my days were one, big, loose, barren wasteland of laziness and sloth; but worse, little to show that I’d spent my day in worthwhile pursuits. It became what so many people teased me about; a full-time vacation.

Taking frequent trips to my daughter’s house didn’t help matters, though I did keep up with my daily writing tasks while there. It took me far longer than it should have to complete the first revision of my novel because I allowed myself to slip when I just didn’t feel motivated.

There comes a time when you have to take a good hard look at what you’re doing and realize that it just ain’t working!

I think my turning point was when I actually finished that revision and had copies made so other people could read it and give me their thoughts on what worked and what didn’t. Though delayed by a couple of weeks due to my visit to my daughter, and hers to me, I finally took stock and made some changes. The first was to revamp my To Do list so I can track my progress in completing weekly tasks. (Old bean counter tricks can actually be handy!)  The second was to commit to a Read and Critique with a local writer’s group. Though initially I only committed to one meeting, I felt so good about it afterwards that I made it a permanent addition to my calendar.

Though I’m refraining from working on the novel for now, I made the decision today to pull out the children’s story I wrote <gasp!> over twenty-two years ago, and start reviewing and revising it in preparation for next week’s meeting.

It hasn’t hurt my recent attack of motivation to re-acquire an accounting client and have the possibility of acquiring another. I now have tasks which need to be completed on a tighter schedule than I’ve enjoyed thus far, further necessitating a more definitized structure for my days. I have some reading I need to do, which I’m told will give me ideas on how to grab the reader’s attention. I have people I need to respond to with regard to improving my novel. And in order to facilitate the increased claims on my time, I’m reinstating my pre-made lunch program. Dinners will continue to be managed by making a large batch of something to be consumed throughout the week. This actually solves two problems for me: what to eat and how to eat more healthy meals. Grab and go, if I’m dependent on whatever is easy right now means a sandwich or something frozen, and I don’t really need either.

So what have I learned by going from one extreme to the other?

Always one to find the lesson in the ups and downs life brings me, I realize that, even if life becomes less structured, there are some things we do when we’re busy to make life easier that are just as useful when the structure in our life is self-created and self-motivated. Although I have the freedom to sleep a little later and do my chores and errands when I decide to do them, things still need to be done every week, every day, every month. I still need to follow a healthy lifestyle including diet and exercise. (My knees are happiest when I move around frequently in some fashion, be it choreographed or freestyle). I still need to move forward on the things which will help me become a published author, sooner rather than later. There’s a website to create, a copywriting course to complete, a Facebook page to maintain, and a plethora of other tasks I don’t even know about yet, which will ensure that the world is ready for me to join the literary world with a reasonable amount of success.

If it means I have to start setting my alarm and pre-making lunches, so be it. It is all just a means to the same end.

And so ends the days of wine and roses (or coffee and long naps).

Nobody ever said that being self-employed meant shorter hours and an easier lifestyle. As a writer, I find that I am a whole lot more than just the chief cook and bottle washer. I’m the “talent” and the personal assistant and any other job title which comes along in my quest for that golden ring; my name on the cover of a book that people actually buy and read! It took awhile, but I think I’m finally on the right track towards balancing my desire for a life which is lived on my terms and actually achieving the lofty goals I set over nine months ago. Tally ho and away we go!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for extremes as they help to find that middle ground which is what works best in the long run.
2. I am grateful for new lessons as they keep me growing and moving forward.
3. I am grateful for other people with fresh viewpoints who can help me clear the clouds away and get a clearer picture of what I need to do to achieve my goals.
4. I am grateful for days when I get a lot accomplished and feel proud of myself once more.
5. I am grateful for abundance: assistance, guidance, friendship, hope, love, beauty, happiness, health, motivation, inspiration, and prosperity.

Namaste

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: