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

Archive for the ‘Love’ Category

Creeping Nostalgia

Letting the Mind Out for Spontaneous, Unfettered Play

After one of the busiest weekends in longer than I can remember, I finally found some down time, and my mind took the break like a kid who explodes out the classroom doors on the last day before summer vacation.

At last it was free to do what it does best; run amok. No line dances to try to memorize or two-step patterns to concentrate on. No trails to navigate, conversations to follow and participate in, memories to share. What’s an ADD brain on freedom to do?

One Thought Leads to Another in Typical Non-Linear Fashion

I tried turning on my Rascal Flatts station on Pandora in a futile attempt to corral it a bit. Not one of my better ideas. Each song made me more nostalgic. When “The Rose” came on, I felt tears pricking my eyes. It was the perfect song for my son-in-law’s grandmother who passed a couple of days ago. Elizabeth was the sweetest, most amazing lady I had the pleasure to know, even if it was only for a few short years. Through more than her share of life’s tragedies and heartaches, she was always cheerful, peaceful, charming, and witty. She left a lasting mark on everyone she met.

The one song and her memory made every subsequent song bittersweet, which struck me as odd because many of the songs on this station aren’t really nostalgic. But memories are funny things. So often, a song, a word, a person; unrelated yet somehow fitting sends us down a path of old experiences. Friends who’ve come and gone. Trips we’ve taken. The mistakes we’ve made…and the triumphs. It all comes rushing back like yesterday once more.

All We Really Need is Love to Make Us Better People

It all comes back, eventually, to love. The love I’ve felt but never expressed. The love I’ve yet to experience. The love I’m only now learning to open my heart to. And the love that’s been there all along, had I only crawled out of my shell to see it.

So I sit here listening to song after song, feeling just a little sad, and not entirely sure why.

Do I feel like I’ve missed out? If so, as the saying goes, I ain’t dead yet. I still have time to live my life and experience the things I think I’ve missed.

Do I feel I could have done more? See above.

Do I regret the unkind thoughts I’ve had and words I’ve spoken? That I can change. And should. And will.

I realize that part of what makes life good, gives us memories which give rise to the nostalgia is the sharing, the reaching out; but more, allowing ourselves to enjoy new experiences.

Comfort Zone Be Gone!

After making some enormous changes a few years ago, I settled back into a life so predictable you could have set a calendar by it. It’s no wonder my blog posts were few and far between for awhile. Life in a rut leaves nothing particularly interesting to impart.

Something inside me was clamoring for adventure, apparently. In the last few days, I’ve booked a cruise a year from now, spontaneously went to a day long dance event, and, the piece de resistance? I’ve agreed to start increasing my hikes until I’m ready to hike the Grand Canyon with some friends. Was it only a few weeks ago that a 3 mile hike on the flat path along the wash was enough to exhaust me? Or when 2 nights a week of dancing was plenty, both for the exercise and the exposure to people?

Is this blast of nostalgia for the comfort zone I’ve so casually kicked to the curb of late? One final good-bye to the person I was before embracing who I’m becoming?

Maybe in a small way, I’m wishing I’d let this person emerge years or even decades sooner. But as with everything else, I know this is exactly the right time. Along with the nostalgia, the questions, and even the edge of sadness is a great, heaping mound of gratitude.

Grateful for So Many Gifts

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for friends who are leading me away from my comfortable but boring life.
  2. I am grateful for adventures and moving into areas I’d never have believed I’d be navigating.
  3. I am grateful for patience and encouragement; skills my friends these days possess in abundance. May I learn from them and give back the same to others.
  4. I am grateful for my ADD brain which travels to parts unknown on a regular basis, but never leaves me bored or without thoughts and questions to ponder and pursue.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, intelligence, friends, new experiences, reminders of my own imperfections, joy, health, happiness, peace, harmony, inspiration, 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!

Can I Trust Enough to Give My Whole Heart?

My Own Words Come Back and Slap Me In the Face

In my last article, I wrote the following words:

Very few have ever gotten close enough to be able to hurt me.

After writing them within the context of the article and publishing it, I sat down to meditate. The words hovered in the forefront of my consciousness, almost taunting me to examine them further. Being unable to resist the temptation, I decided to use my next article, this one, in fact, to explore the idea further.

I looked back at the men in my life over the years. I realized that in every case, though I felt hurt over one thing or another when our brief interlude ended, it was never my heart which was hurt, but my pride. Thus, the words so casually tossed into the last thing I wrote for public consumption are not only the plain, unvarnished truth, but a sad commentary on my 61 years on this planet.

Being Worthy

For a long time, I was like so many others who believe they don’t deserve to be loved. It isn’t a conscious choice we make. After all, who would make such a choice? It’s more a sense of worthiness, and mine was decidedly lacking, and, as such, was reflected not only in the men I attracted, but people in general.

When I finally started telling myself a different story, my entire social circle changed. For a while, it meant I spent a lot of time alone, but as I returned to the activities which had always brought me joy, I found new people entering my life who shared the joyfulness. Even so, it took a long time for those friendships to become more than surface-level. My old habits still lurk beneath the surface. I’m still hesitant to expose my soft inner core and be vulnerable with anyone.

Chinks in the Walls

But lately, a few have begun to scratch beneath my surface. They read my words and, often times, recognize something similar in themselves. That recognition helps establish a connection and those people in particular read past the words to their source, my heart.

Granted, the insightful ones are still few and far between, but having even one in my life who understands what I’m not putting into words is a 100% improvement over what came before.

The biggest surprise came when I started letting my hair down both literally and figuratively. People suddenly found a safe place to share their own struggles and challenges. Why did I never realize how honored…how touched I would feel when a friend shared their vulnerabilities with me?

Pain Averted, Opportunities Missed

Hidden behind the walls I’d built so painstakingly, I missed out on a lot of things. Believing for so many years that emotions equaled weakness, I failed to learn things everyone else seems to take for granted. I know it was my misinterpretation of my parents’ actions and behavior. I know that now. But I was so completely convinced that exposing my emotions would make me the weak person I believed my mom to be, and who I refused to emulate. How was I to know that it takes a strong person to allow others to see their soft side, and not the other way around? I made a conscious effort before my 10th birthday to block myself off from the one person who could have taught me what I needed to know.

I watched my mom struggle to be loved and assumed she was too weak to just stand on her own and tell everyone to pound sand. I watched my dad keep all of his emotions inside and at the same time, drink away the pain he never let anyone see. Yet he’s the one I chose to emulate, sans drinking. I have to wonder if he ever allowed himself to be loved; if he ever gave someone his heart.

Taking My First Baby Steps

Now that I’m at least considering trusting again, it’s opened me up to having girl friends. But a relationship beyond friendship with a man is still as frightening as it ever was. So I make excuses. The pickin’s are really slim. Not too many single men looking for a woman my age. 60-year-olds want to date 40-year-olds. I’m telling myself new stories, but keeping the same theme.

It’s funny. One of my newest friends is in her early 40’s. We were talking about how the 60-year-olds want 40-year-olds and she echoed something I said when I was mid-divorce. At the time, I was in my late 30’s and it was the 60-year-olds who made the advances, not the 40-year-olds. I remember thinking at the time, Yuk! He’s as old as my dad! Seems like I’ve completed the circle now, and I’m not exactly happy about it. Because there will always be 40-year-olds who are happy to date the 60-year-olds, few as they might be. Where does that leave us 60-year-olds, even if we don’t look or act our age?

Strengthening Myself Instead of My Defenses

But again, that’s me making excuses because no matter what I might say, I’m still not sure I can trust someone with my heart. In my mind, it’s still far too fragile. Yet, how do you strengthen something? You have to temper it. Muscles need to tear. Blisters become callouses. There will be some pain or discomfort along the way. You just have to decide whether that pain or discomfort is worth it; if being stronger and healthier is worth the cost.

I still find it easier to watch people interacting, calling it research. I still can’t talk to a man I don’t know in a social situation until I’ve convinced myself he’s interested in someone else and will only see me from a non-emotional viewpoint. Only then can I approach him in friendship, feeling that my heart is safe once more.

It seems I’ve answered my own question. I am still not certain I can bare my heart to someone, trusting he won’t take my most precious gift and stomp it into the dust.

But then I ask myself whether I’d survive the experience, and I answer with a resounding Yes! Maybe I’m ready after all?

For All That Came Before and For All That’s Still to Come, I Am Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have breached my walls.
  2. I am grateful for those who are teaching me to let go of old fears.
  3. I am grateful for my girl friends.
  4. I am grateful for a mind that forces me to really look at my self-talk.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, lessons, growing stronger, love, joy, dancing, opportunity, 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, 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!

When Life Gives You Manure, Grow Vegetables and Share Them

Using the Manure That’s Been Slung to Good Purpose

The last year has seen a dramatic increase in hate-filled exhibitions and exhortations, all to support someone else’s agenda than the perpetrators (with a notable exception or two). Much of it has been stirred up for a purpose which, even now, I don’t think most people can see. The biggest casualty has been to the belief we are all part of the same community called Humanity. Hasn’t enough manure been slung already? If you ask me, there’s enough to grow vegetables for the entire world!

I’ve seen this happen on a small scale such as a woman’s response to one of my Next Door posts in which she called me an outsider because I don’t live in her artificially elevated housing development located less than 2 miles from my own humble tract. I’ve seen it on a larger scale in the increase in hate crimes at our colleges and universities, and in elementary school children spouting sexist propaganda. Someone even tried to tell me they get it from their teachers!

But I’ve also seen an increase in posts and articles about love and hope. We are all in this together, like it or not, so why not make it easier on ourselves by choosing to help rather than hinder, or worse, tear each other down?

We Have a Choice to Spread Love and Positivity or Hate and Negativity. Which Will You Choose?

This quote appeared on my Facebook news feed yesterday, and I believe it sums up where we are quite succinctly.

-When great evil occurs, great good follows -Nichiren Daishonin

Think about it. In recent years, when terrorists took over airplanes and flew them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, what happened?

In my neighborhood alone, neighbors who’d never even talked before came together. And it was true in communities all over the country. People came together with compassion and love. They offered encouragement, support and a sense of unity for the people in our country. The cooperative zeal lasted for a while, but without adequate fuel, people soon returned to their predominantly self-involved lives. The truth is, as a group, we humans lack the internal motivation to help other people just because we can.

Unfortunately, to inspire such cooperation typically requires a traumatic event and a major upheaval. What we’re facing now is considerably well thought out and insipid as hell. I’m not alone in feeling frightened by its very insidiousness.

Fear and hatred are what feed this beast. Divisiveness is its ultimate goal. As long as we’re afraid…yes, afraid to help our neighbors, the beast will win. The next Holocaust will be upon us before we even realize it, and we’ll be sucked into its gaping maw with little or no resistance.

We All Have Gifts. It’s Our Choice to Use Them, Abuse Them or Ignore Them.

Fortunately, there are many who are not letting fear paralyze them. Who are not willing to watch their neighbors face unchecked abuse while mistakenly thinking Thank goodness it’s not me. It will never happen to me. I, for one, applaud those who aren’t afraid or unwilling to put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of someone they don’t even know. I’m not that brave.

But I won’t be an ostrich either, burying my head in the sand, never realizing how easy I’m making it for someone to come by and sever my head from my body. We each have our gifts, our tools with which we can spread a different message; a message of hope, love and global community. My gift is words, and I would be dishonoring that gift if I remained silent right now. I would be tossing that gift back in the Universe’s face if I chose not to use it to do good. In so doing, I would truly become unworthy of achieving my dream of becoming both a published author and a motivational speaker. I can’t, nay, I won’t take that risk.

I raised my children to appreciate any and all gifts and compliments, no matter how small. How can I not do the same? This gift of mine is huge, though it took me years to acknowledge both its existence and its purpose. With it, I add my voice to those who may be braver than I. I lend my support in a manner I know well, despite the fact, or maybe because it pushes me out of my own comfort zone. And I’ll use it to urge others to do the same.

Whether it’s wearing a safety pin on your shirt to show you’re a safe place for the oppressed (and thanks to my friend Lorna, I’ll be carrying several with me to share with other like-minded people), stepping in when you see someone being abused or taken advantage of, or simply sharing words of hope and encouragement. Please believe it all helps.

Random Acts of Kindness help. Paying it Forward helps. Sharing articles written both by supporters and groups being targeted helps. Be the one small drop in the sea of humanity which causes the ripple of love and healing. And if the messages I’m sharing here resonate, please share my posts as well.

Sometimes, the Answer You Seek Can Be Found in the Words of Others. The Answer Guides You to Be Part of the Change.

My friend Peter has been sharing a lot of very interesting and thought provoking work lately. I shared one of them in my last post, and share another today. This one really gave me a clearer perspective of the ramifications of the events of the last year or so which culminated last Tuesday. I encourage you to read it and to do so with an open mind and a receptive heart. Seven Thoughts on Waking up in Our America

I have my prejudices. We all do. That doesn’t mean we have to listen to them. To let them guide our actions. Before you generalize an ethnic or religious group; a gender or lifestyle; or anything different from yourself, take a moment to stop and breathe. Take a moment to look past the outer covering; the clothing, the flesh. You’ll likely find a heart which is either filled with love, or longing to be loved. Just like you and me. Even those spouting hurtful and hateful things have a heart capable of loving, and likely do love, if selectively right now.

At any time, we are being called to both the darkness and the light. The darkness is a tricky bastard though, and adept at masking its true purpose. Sometimes, it takes a light shined by someone else to pierce its veil. Some of us need to be that light in the darkness. Some of us need to put aside our own feelings and just shine with no agenda and no force behind our light except love. If we shine brightly enough, consistently enough, those who have been misled will find their way back. It’s not for us to push them. It’s only for us to light the path so they can find their way to it on their own.

Above All, Express Your Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the wonderful gift I’ve been given, and for the courage to use it.
  2. I am grateful for all of the people who have the courage to speak even when faced with darkness or a blank wall of hate.
  3. I am grateful for the people who are reading my words, and hope they will share the ones they think will help others.
  4. I am grateful for my own ever-expanding circle of friends who have learned to give and receive love, and from whom I learn something new each and every day.
  5. I am grateful for hope. It truly is an eternal flame.

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!

Image courtesy of Don McCullough via Flickr

September 11, 2015 Remembering my Dad

I Honor and Respect Those Who Died on or Because of the Tragedy Connected to this Date But…

For most of the world, 9/11 has a particular significance which most, I trust can appreciate. In 2001, it was certainly a day which will live in infamy and which set off more than one chain of events, some actually for the good. I know it brought neighbors and strangers together, if only for a little while, yet it’s sad that it took tragedy to bring out human kindness and simple courtesy.

On 9/11/01, my daughters were one day shy of 14 and, like the rest of the nation, watched the news casts with horror and sadness and not a few tears. Having such a horrific event the day before their birthday certainly put a damper on that year’s celebration, and sits in our minds every year at this time, if only because there are so many reminders.

But 9/11/01, though a national tragedy and a series if events it is impossible to forget, and necessary to remember on some levels only makes the events of 9/11/03 so much harder; only makes the day before their 16th birthday an even bigger tragedy for us and one which we are reminded of with great pomp and circumstance every single year.

On 9/11/03, after considering the implications of a diagnosis of lung cancer, my father made a decision. Many years before, he had watched his mother die of lung cancer, and though he was an adult with a family of his own, I know the experience scarred him. In fact, it was one of the few times I ever saw him cry and at ten years old, it was a very frightening sight. So when he learned that his fate could well be the same as his mother’s, and the helplessness and misery he experienced as he watched his mother fade from an active, vibrant woman to a gasping shell, could similarly scar his daughters and grandchildren, he made the ultimate sacrifice, with the best, most loving of intentions and took his own life.

To this day, I don’t believe he considered the timing; the fact that it was 2 years after terrorists forced planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or that his granddaughters would be 16 the next day, a magical, all-important birthday for young girls. He simply thought that he had to leave us the ultimate gift of love; not having to watch him die an agonizing death.And now, 12 years later, California has made it legal to assist someone with a terminal illness to end their life with dignity. The irony of the timing is not lost on me.

As luck would have it, Dad shared the date he died with John Ritter so the media circus was even more pronounced on a day which for me and my two almost-sixteen-year-old daughters passed in a blur of pain and shock.But we were not so lucky in the days which followed when Dad’s true cause of death was revealed to me bluntly and abruptly. Though well-meaning, the friends who had shown up at my door to advise me of his passing had, in all fairness, probably been unable to share that bit of information though he’d left a note for the woman he spent time with, and left more telling evidence on the chair where they found him. It wasn’t until she said something about getting the stain out of the chair that she deemed it necessary to explain that stain.

We Move on and Yet, We Don’t

Thanks to my writing and blogging, I have worked through the feelings my dad’s suicide unleashed and in so doing, found love, compassion and understanding. Even so, I seem to come back to this every single year, and that’s because I’m a mom. When I see my daughter suffering, it isn’t my own pain which causes me to face that day 13 years ago again, it’s hers. Though I’m not sure exactly where on the grief continuum she is now, I know that some of the pain of losing her beloved Grandpa is still fresh. Because my daughter hurts, I hurt too, but for her, for the pain which has not yet eased to a bearable level and for the timing of that loss which can never be altered or erased. If I could give her one gift on her birthday this September 12th, it would be peace. For now, all I can give her is love and understanding, and a few shared memories of the man we both loved and who told us in his own way that we were loved too. I am grateful that so many of those memories revolve around the sense of humor we both inherited from him.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the years we had with my dad and the laughter which time, pain and sadness can never erase.
2. I am grateful for my writing as it has given me perspective and healing.
3. I am grateful for the sense of community which came out of 9/11/01. We’ve shown ourselves we can do it in the face of great tragedy. Now we can show ourselves that we can make it something more lasting, and without any excuses.
4. I am grateful for the pets who comfort us when sadness has to creep in, even if only for a little while. And I’m grateful for the things we love which help distract us until the moment passes.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, sharing, community, blessings, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

June 11, 2015 So Spectacular, I’m Speechless

I Don’t Even Know Where to Begin

We hermits are a unique breed. We disappear for long periods of time and often lose all concept of time and space while we’re in our self-imposed isolation. When we emerge it is akin to a bear emerging from his cave after a winter’s hibernation. The sun is too bright so he blinks rapidly, allowing his eyes to adjust. The melting snow and preponderance of dirt patches isn’t the landscape he remembers, pre-nap.

Walking into the club where I dance tonight, seeing how my daughter had transformed half of the place into an alter kakker’s paradise (that’s old fart for those unfamiliar with common Yiddish terms), hugging so many friends and well-wishers…even now, I’m overwhelmed. The love in that room tonight washed over me in gentle waves yet I was surprised at both their softness and how often they flowed. There may have been birthdays in my past which passed with nary a whimper, but in the last few years, they just keep getting better.

As I sit her typing with two of my boys snoring on my desk and a third vying for my attention, I feel love from so many directions, and I feel extremely blessed. Even if I return to my hermit-y ways tomorrow, there is no doubt in my mind that when I emerge, that warm feeling of belonging will still be there.

The Evening Was But Half of my Blessings Today

As if a lovely day with my kids and an overwhelming outpouring of love tonight wasn’t enough, my day was full of surprises. The bling provided by my daughter and friends was the icing on the beautiful cake that was my day. I also reconnected with another person from my distant past (would you believe, one of my dance friends is a mutual friend?) and I received positive feedback on both my blog and my Hire Me page from an unexpected direction. It just goes to show that we really need to scatter our birdseed. It will attract some very interesting and unusual species to our world. I’m learning that we don’t need a million people to visit our website. We just need the ones with whom we can create mutually beneficial relationships. We also never know when a relationship we formed some time in the past might open a door for another one.

We truly are all in this together, and we are connected in ways we cannot even imagine. I am further reminded to hold good thoughts for others, no matter what. That doesn’t mean I have to interact with them all or forget those who abuse my trust. It simply means that there’s a time to forgive the perceived hurt, remember when to watch my back and move into a place which is more conducive to my own growth and prosperity. At the same time, keep my thoughts positive and wish the person or people well in their own journey. It isn’t for me to understand why they do what they do. It is simply for me to accept that they have their own choices to make and paths to follow. If I allow someone else’s actions to alter my course, the only responsible party is me.

OK, I’m starting to sound preachy again, when I merely set out to share my joyful, blessed feelings. That means it’s time to share my gratitudes and close.
1. I am grateful for the blessings in my life: my friends, my family, shared values, joys and even the sorrows. Sharing the sorrows allows some to give compassion and others to receive it.
2. I am grateful for the best birthday ever.
3. I am grateful for a lovely night of dancing and time to talk to my friends too.
4. I am grateful that I can return to a quiet house with just my kitties for company (though they all had to investigate the bags I brought inside with me as their curiosity must be satisfied), just as I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my daughter and son-in-law.
5. I am grateful for abundance: friendship, love, blessings, happiness, joy, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I hope you’ll take a moment to visit my Facebook pages at and . 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!

June 7, 2015 Unmitigated Joy

Experiencing Joy for no Particular Reason

The drive to my daughter’s house on Thursday night and the subsequent drive home today shared a single unusual trait. In both cases, I had a feeling of euphoria and happiness for no other reason than just being happy. Today, in particular, I found myself smiling broadly as I drove, admiring the view and accepting delays due to slow traffic without losing my euphoric state (although my bladder would have preferred a little less delay as it was cursing quite colorfully by the time I pulled into my driveway!). Even now, I’m experiencing a lightness which comes into my life infrequently.

For now, I’m going to attribute this blissful state to the epiphany Thursday night. It definitely lightened the weight on my mind and perhaps that was all it took to release a bubble of happiness which the world will be hard-pressed to break. The busy week ahead will leave me little time to attract weighty issues to replace the ones I’ve released, and that is a wonderful thing. Instead, I can focus on actually revising and editing, and I’ve already been rewriting the beginning of Sasha’s Journey in my head. I want to allow it to percolate in my head a bit more and maybe sleep on it tonight before I start getting it down on computer screen, and reading the 7th Harry Potter book for the first time is certainly inspirational.

I’ve been seeing a lot of very positive comments about J.K. Rowling’s writing style, but when I picked up the book last night and began to read in what has become my typical critical fashion, my world literally exploded with wonder. She throws the reader right into the middle of things and keeps the story rolling even when the action, as all action does, winds down for a few beats. That ability to keep the reader on the edge of their seat, turning page after page wanting to know what happens next is exactly what I’m looking for in my own writing (and which I know I lack right now). Over the next few days, my plan is to read and study, then try my hand at achieving the things she has.

Although I’ve barely scratched the surface of Elements of Style, I can see how J.K. Rowling, either consciously or not, removed extraneous words, and how much better the story flows as a result. Which means I will, as is my wont, be reading at least three books at a time this week: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Elements of Style and Stephen King-On Writing. These should make a nice addition to both my writing and continued efforts to complete the Holly Lisle How to Think Sideways course. Good thing I have plenty of coffee and tea in the house, and a fairly full freezer!

Yo Ho, Yo Ho, the Hermit’s Life for Me

I like to say that I live alone and it suits me fine, but that isn’t entirely true. Arriving home after three days at my daughter’s (or a trip of any length, even if it’s only an hour at the gym), I’m greeted by several of my cats before I get more than a couple of feet in the door. They’re favorite times are when I’m sitting on the couch either reading or paying homage to the one-eyed monster, or working at my desk. As soon as I sat at the desk and fired up the computer this afternoon, my two biggest boys, Toby and Dylan, took pride of place on the top of my desk. (thankfully, the computer has a built in desk of its own leaving the oversized brown monstrosity I inherited from my father free for them to spread themselves across. That is not to say that anything I might leave on the desk top won’t eventually end up on the floor when it gets in the way of their sprawls, but I’ve learned to keep that to a minimum most of the time.

Now that I’ve been home for several hours and Toby has received his share of cuddling, he’s left his perch free for Munchkin and Pyewacket to join Dylan in supervising whatever I might be doing. For once, Pyewacket isn’t trying to clear off the cork board on the wall behind the desk, but it’s only a matter of time before I’m rescuing another push pin from his curious jaws. Dylan, on the other hand, never seems to reach the satiation point, attention-wise, and makes this known by laying on top of my mouse with his belly in the air; a not-so-subtle hint that whatever I might be doing is far less important than his daily dose of attention.

Thinking even for a nanosecond that I live alone is a serious misconception. I have to consider the needs of my roommates before my own, no matter what I might be planning. Even the midnight trip to San Diego when my daughter had an emergency appendectomy was undertaken only after I received an affirmative answer to the text I sent my cat sitter. I shudder to imagine the reception I’d get if they were left completely alone over night! It would surely be rather more disturbing than the cat litter I found scattered across the bathroom floor this afternoon.

Even those of us who consider ourselves hermits succumb to loneliness from time to time, but my furry roommates keep that loneliness from ever really gathering steam and turning into depression. Curling up every night with a bed full of warm bodies snuggling and purring is the best anti-depressant I know. So when I come home happy and silly and full of joy, their presence amplifies it to a level which just might overflow and positively charge the Human Energy Field a little. As I think about that, I give it a little boost with some more loving energy. While more and more I hide posts about hate and war and death and abuse, I do so while sending loving energy. Maybe that’s why I’m filling with joy for no apparent reason. The love and light I’m sending to those who seem to need it most is starting to overflow too, and coming back to me so I can overflow and send even more of it out to the Universe in general.

Whether you believe in the process I describe or not, can it really hurt to send those positive thoughts out there as often as possible? The power of prayer or focused meditation or whatever we choose to call it is full of possibilities. If we can use it to help heal a seriously ill friend, imagine what focused effort on the part of many can do for the ills of the world. <ok, stepping off my soapbox now>

Before I go off on another tangent, here are my gratitudes for tonight?
1. I am grateful for joy with no reason.
2. I am grateful for beautiful weekends with my kids.
3. I am grateful for the welcome I receive when I return home, and the love my pets bring into my life.
4. I am grateful for the people who are supporting my writing by reading, commenting or just sending positive thoughts. I hear you, I feel you and I appreciate you. With your help, I will achieve the lofty goals I’ve set.
5. I am grateful for abundance: understanding, love, joy, happiness, compassion, health, harmony, peace, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

November 3, 2014 Getting a little behind #shericonaway

Life is all about trade-offs

This weekend was like every other weekend, in fact, like every other day. I had to choose between one thing and another. Now that my daughter lives 2 1/2 hours away, visits with her are very precious. Visiting her at her house also results in the expenditure of a great deal of energy, which I don’t ever regret, even for a minute. This weekend, I had already accumulated over 13,000 steps on my own recognizance between chores, errands and dancing on Friday. Though we only hit about 7,000 with our Saturday activities, we more than made up for it with over 14,000 steps on Sunday. Add in little sleep and a late morning on Saturday plus an early morning and going non-stop on Sunday, and the result is that I got no writing done at all last night; not even a blog post.

Because of my slacking off,  I’ll play a bit of catch up on my novel over the next couple of days, but because I exceeded the daily minimum both today and Saturday, I don’t really think it will be a problem (all I need to do is remember the 8,000 word night last year!). I would probably have made it up tonight had it not been for an election tomorrow and the need to slog through the propositions tonight! If I don’t manage to get the entire 3100 words I need by tomorrow done, I suspect I’ll be darned close. Even with a reduced amount of time to write tonight, I managed over 1800 words.

Granted, the story is kind of slogging along right now, but will gather momentum more and more as I continue. As usual, I find myself jotting down notes to be used later in the story. I’m also trying to incorporate some of what I’ve been learning, though more of that will occur once I do the first revision.

In some ways, I have to admit, writing is hard work.

I’ve learned that getting myself to sit down and write if I don’t have a plan can be really tough. I find it very easy to procrastinate. That’s one of the reasons I decided to do the challenge again. Now I have a plan and a word count requirement to meet. I also put more time into work because I know that I have to get accounting work done in a given time period, personal paperwork and chores plus my writing and studying. It’s really a good mix for me.

In fact, the deadlines and word count requirements are so effective that I got home today and immediately got laundry done, unpacked and put away my suitcase and took care of a couple of other chores before sitting down to write. Even so, I got a good couple of hours of writing in, slow and go though it might have been. I guess I’ll be looking for more deadlines to keep myself in line! (I know, I know. Be careful what you ask for!) but I really want to be majorly productive again. I’ve slacked off enough for the past year! It’s time to get back to doing what I enjoy, and believe it or not, it involves being productive. At least now, my productivity is in the field of my choice most of the time!

Once again, I leave you with a short post as my brain is rather tired from a long drive, a lot of writing and a lot more brain dashing, monkey mindedness.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for goals, deadlines and requirements.
2. I am grateful for an increase in productivity over the last few days.
3. I am grateful that I’ve put several chores behind me.
4. I am grateful for a couple of days to myself before my daughter arrives for HER visit with ME.
5. I am grateful for the increased energy I’ve been enjoying as I hit the gym at least three times a week.
6. I am grateful for abundance: things to be grateful for, love, passion, determination, deadlines, imagination, motivation, dedication, inspiration, happiness, health and prosperity.


And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

October 1, 2014 Accepting the challenge to blog on a given topic #shericonaway #blogboost

Tonight’s UBC topic suggestion, “who do you admire?” is actually a subject close to my heart.

I often take time to talk about people I admire here, sometimes naming names, while others just admiring them collectively. I tend to admire people for a variety of reasons, but most often because they set extraordinary examples for me on lessons I struggle with.

One such lesson is kindness. Too many years of working in a man’s field and a male-dominated industry toughened a skin already the consistency of rhinoceros  hide from long years of single parenthood and the joys of trying to love alcoholics. Needless to say, my kindness quotient was so far into the negative, I didn’t hold much hope of ever digging it out. Despite my tendency to drift back to those tried-and-true ways when the going gets tough, several women in my life have shown by example that it is entirely possible to be a strong, independent woman, not of the doormat persuasion and still be kind.

Not only have these women developed successful careers, often in male dominated industries, but they’ve raised strong, confident, ambitious children and have loving, charming, supportive mates.

Some have even shown me that it is entirely possible to be kind to someone who irritates the snot out of you, smiling sweetly and making them feel special without losing a piece of yourself in the process. In fact, they seem to be more just by being kind when the inclination was to be rude.

As I’ve watched and learned the last few years, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. But let me set the stage, first.

Each of us finds ourselves in the position, every now and again, of having to contact customer service to resolve an issue with an account. Often it is the phone company, a utility company or a cable company, but it could be almost anything. Often, we’re already annoyed, if not angry when we make that call, and having to sit on hold listening to a perky voice tout the benefits of their product, at least for me, tends to set my teeth on edge. When a human finally answers the phone, my first hope is that English is at least their native tongue. Needless to say, by the time said human answers my call, I’m even more cranky than when I began. Here is where kindness plays a huge part. It would be very easy to take my irritation out on the first person I talk to, but frankly, those folks aren’t paid enough to be the recipients of rude or angry behavior. Yet, there was a time when I would shoot those messengers, and believe me, it doesn’t get you very far. In fact, even when I don’t shoot the first messenger, I can still get someone who will put me in hold hell now and then, simply because I didn’t like the answer they gave me, and asked for someone higher up the food chain.

I say this because I had an issue with Paypal this week, and the first person I got did exactly that. I am happy to say that when I called back today, the people I spoke to were much more willing to let me speak to someone higher up, and the second escalation gave me the results I wanted, if not a little more. (a little side note here, Customer Service people sometimes think they know everything, including what their bosses are and are not allowed to do. As an accounting professional, I tend to take issue with someone who tells me that their system is incapable of issuing a credit or reversing a payment. Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, but anyone with accounting background is going to know that it is all about permissions!) At any rate, the point I’m trying to make here is that treating those folks kindly and respectfully will usually make them more cooperative and likely to give you someone with more authority (or permissions, if you will) who can and often will respond positively to a reasonable request.

While my natural tendency would be to not-so-politely explain the hierarchy of permissions to one who told me that what I want can’t be done, I’ve found it far more effective to follow the examples of my much kinder friends, and remain polite and respectful, keeping comments like “Moron!” and “Imbecile! Stop wasting my time and give me your boss!” kept buried well beneath what might be a falsely calm exterior. That archaic saying “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” still holds true today.

I cannot even imagine being a customer service rep who has to sit on the phone all day and speak to angry customers who might just take out their ire on the first person they speak to. To me, that is like a hundred bad days all rolled into one. No matter how much training they receive in defusing a volatile situation, some of that has to hurt. People do remember how you made them feel far longer than they’ll remember what you said. So I’ve learned through a great deal of trial and error that I’d much rather be remembered as someone who was kind under duress than horrific over something rather inconsequential.

I think it’s pretty simple, really:

  • People respond best to kindness
  • People like it when you address them by their name (I learned this from a man I dated briefly. Most store clerks and cashiers wear a name tag. They address us by name, shouldn’t we return the favor?)
  • Everyone wants to be treated like they matter.

How hard is it to suck up our anger over a situation which it’s very unlikely it was caused by someone who is trying to help us resolve it? Those times when I did rake someone over the coals were, to say the very least, extremely unsatisfactory on all levels.

To the women who continue to teach me kindness, whether they realize it or not, I love and admire you all, and appreciate the example you set far more than you’ll ever know. Thank you so much, to Dezi, Judy, Lorna, Barbara, Leslie, Kay, Candy, and probably more than a dozen others who I may have lost track of, but know that the influence and the lesson remains. But for you, I would still be an angry, cranky woman who wondered why things never went her way, instead of a joyful, happy one who has everything going her way! All it took was a little kindness!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for all of the kind people who have been put in my path, in my life. I am a much better person for their influence.
2. I am grateful for interesting blog topics on a night when I didn’t have one of my own.
3. I am grateful for the process of writing which allows my mind to empty so it can slow down for a few hours each night.
4. I am grateful for my daughter who, despite the miles between us, is still very much a part of my life, and I, hers.
5. I am grateful for abundance; kindness, sharing, loving, growing, learning, joy, harmony, peace, health and prosperity.


September 14, 2014 Catching up

Living in a vortex

Have you ever heard the term “spiraling out of control”? Have you ever lived it? Or, the better question is, have you ever not lived it? I just watched a video about how the solar system isn’t really just a bunch of planets circling the sun, but rather, a sun which is moving through space, dragging the planets behind it. Thus, the orbits are really spirals as the planets circle the sun while chasing it across the sky.

Life is rather like that. We rarely stand in one place and just go around and around. We move, ever forward, our orbit, if you will, following that forward progression, stretching out, from birth do death, in an ever evolving spiral. Even though we may repeat certain lessons endlessly, the actual delivery of that lesson changes over time, partly because we might actually assimilate part of the lesson after a few dozen iterations, but also because the format of the lesson must be appropriate to where we are in life if we’re even expected to recognize it, much less, learn the darn thing! (I am reminded, at this point, of the lessons in both patience and kindness which haunt me like a specter as I continue to be gifted the opportunity to finally nail those suckers…yet, still the lessons come.) I won’t call the yet-to-be-learned lessons failures as there truly are no failures, just lessons in what doesn’t work!

Getting back to my original point: catching up.

As the ADHD once again redirected my thoughts, I left my original point before I’d even started to type tonight. That point? Catching up. The week got away from me as the celebration of my daughter’s birth was uppermost in my mind. She arrived here Thursday night, and if you were watching, posts for the last couple of days were noticeably absent. But overdancing on an already sore foot (if you can show me a dance addict who hasn’t done that a time or two, I’ll kiss their shoes!) gave me an unexpected day of little activity as I paid the price by needing to stay off of it entirely for awhile. I even had to decline the opportunity to start learning a new kind of dancing, much to my disgust! But I promised myself and my friend, Dezi that I will soon accept the challenge of learning Casino Rueda while taking another step out of my cozy little comfort zone.

However, the day was not a total bust. I finally got my computer checked out and was assured that most of my problem was the accumulation of dust inside the case. I am also relieved to learn that my hard drive is healthy and not facing imminent demise. The best news is that my printer and all of its functions are now fully–functional again. This is especially helpful as I prepare to take Chapter 1 of “Sasha’s Journey” to my very first read and critique. The activity requires hard copies of the material I’m presenting, so having a working relationship between printer and computer is somewhat important to the cause. I just need to get some sort of heat goo which my technical person assures me he will apply for me. (I admit, I don’t exactly know what the stuff is, much less where on the computer it should be applied! The little knowledge I have carries the very real risk of putting my electronics in jeopardy; a risk I’m not willing to take as my work load is starting to increase, and my schedule of tasks requiring my computer grows exponentially.

So a day spent reading, snuggling with the cats and completing tasks which were temporarily abandoned (like daily blog posts) leaves me feeling rather pleased and accomplished. The week ahead, filled with doctor visits, meeting with another editor for my book, working with a new client and of course, dancing, will give me a great start towards getting back on task with all of the things I’ve set aside lately. There is a lot of truth to the saying “If you want something done, ask a busy person”. The busier I am, the more efficient I become, and the more tasks I’m able to accomplish. Lately, my accomplishment rate has settled into one of the lowest places ever, and I can no longer tolerate such sloth. A temporary hiatus on either traveling or having a house guest will be helpful as well.

My goal for the next few weeks is to get some of the longer term tasks off of my to-do list and to revise the format a bit so that I can generate graphical data from the weekly progress. If I were writing a spell to ensure success, I would, at this point add: “As I will, so mote it be.”

In fact, let me take a stab at it!

Completion of the tasks at hand
Be they exciting or rather bland
Motivation is what I seek
Triggered by the words I speak
To trim my list by one, two or three
As I will, so mote it be!

Inspiration is definitely flowing more freely this week, and tasks I’ve left hanging are seeming less daunting now. I’m getting encouragement from many directions, and stepping out into opportunities which have recently begun appearing (or more likely, I’ve finally just opened my eyes to see what was already there, awaiting my notice). So may things swirling in this vortex of my life, that make it impossible to avoid feeling and joining the pace as it speeds up once again. It’s been awhile since my life was a wild roller coaster ride, and it feels as if that wheel is about to turn and the wonder and excitement is being turned up a few notches. Stay tuned as the ride will be interesting, exciting and sometimes frustrating, but never, ever boring!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for new insights.
2. I am grateful for encouragement from new and old directions.
3. I am grateful for synchronicity which brought me another editor.
4. I am grateful for the fun, busy weeks which have come to an end for awhile so I can really get down to business.
5. I am grateful for abundance: projects, prosperity, enthusiasm, motivation, creativity, tenacity, love, friendship,harmony, peace, kindness, patience and love.


September 11, 2014 At a loss for words…again

What do you say, when you have nothing to say?

I’m staring at the computer screen after a truly epic night of dancing which was topped off by the arrival of my daughter, here to celebrate her birthday, and it was all I could do to even open up the page for a new post. Though sitting in front of the screen with nothing to say isn’t all that rare, the reticence towards opening a page for my nightly post is new. It’s not as if I’m being judged or graded on what I post here. Sure, people have opinions, and there are always the rare few who want to attack the poster, but for the most part, the response I’ve received has been pretty positive.

So why the reluctance to put fingers to keyboard tonight? I’m sure Mr. Freud would have some explanation involving female hysteria, but I never thought much of his theories anyway. The only other explanation which sounds remotely plausible right now is that I have something percolating inside of me which isn’t quite ready to see the light of day. Thus, I’m finding it difficult to create a post at all. I won’t bore you with 500 words about nothing, but will allow my stubborn brain to have its way. Hopefully, the percolation will be complete by tomorrow (and why is it that I find myself typing so often when the clock reads “11:11”? Maybe this time, it’s a reminder that I have accurately assessed the problem and my solution is appropriate as well?)

Leave us not belabor the point. I will simply share my gratitudes tonight.
1. I am grateful for a visit from my daughter on her birthday weekend.
2. I am grateful for another epic night of dancing with the most amazing friends a girl could have.
3. I am grateful for a productive day of house cleaning…my least favorite sport.
4. I am grateful for the quiet at the end of a busy day.
5. I am grateful for abundance: positivity, exercise, a job well done, happiness, love, joy, health, mental gymnastics and prosperity.


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