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A Control Freak’s Guide to Stress Management

The Body Can Always be Trusted to Tell You When You’re Holding on too Tight

For the last couple of years (in fact, since I quit my job) I’ve been proudly proclaiming that I have no stress. But the last week or so has shown me the emptiness of my words.

It started on Saturday when I felt the beginnings of a migraine while attending the San Diego County Fair with my daughter. No problem, I found a bale of hay in a shady spot, closed my eyes and relaxed until my vision returned to normal. As it had been awhile since I’d experienced migraine symptoms, I didn’t think much of it.

Back home, I again experienced the vision squirreliness of an impending migraine on Wednesday and took the usual precautions. It was then I decided I really didn’t want to go through the aggravation of going dancing on Thursday as it entails getting ready and to the door of the club about 30 minutes early just to get a decent table these days. In the end, it worked out well because I enjoyed a 4 hour phone marathon with an old friend. I also got the veggies for my stir-fry chopped while we were talking and had I gone dancing, I wouldn’t have had time to cook and freeze a huge batch of stir-fry.

Personal Health is Thwarted by Complacency

I arrive at Friday feeling pretty good about the week’s accomplishments aside from writing, so I buckle down and write the draft of an article which is a bit overdue. Not long after the article is written, the telltale signs appear again and I’m back on the couch, letting myself go limp while the kitties find their favorite snuggly spots. This time, I’m not bouncing back so quickly and my daughter can hear it in my voice when she calls, though it sounds like distraction to her until I explain.

A couple of hours later, I’m feeling woozy again, and by 10:30, I have to cut a support call with AT&T short because the vision loss swoops in like a hungry raptor.

10 hours later, I’m finally convincing myself to detach from the warm cocoon of blankets and cats to start my day. I stretch and acknowledge the tension in my neck and shoulders and admit it’s not entirely due to activities over the last week or so. Yes, I carried a backpack with a camelback of water around the fair for 2 days. Yes, I made a massive vat of stir-fry which had me waking the next day with a bit of pain in my right shoulder. Admittedly, I’ve been less than diligent about exercising otherwise. But still…

Self-honesty is a Slippery Slope

In the end, I decided I need to be completely honest with myself and admit to having more than a little stress in my life. Even more important, I have to address and acknowledge the stressful situations. I don’t necessarily need to solve them immediately, but I need to at least acknowledge that they’re concerning me. So, here goes.

Stresser #1: Money (something many can relate to). I have not yet been successful in monetizing my writing to any great degree and the same is true of my accounting and virtual business consulting. I’ve also gone through a frighteningly large amount of my reserves including all of my IRA and am getting ready to contact the 401(k) administrator. I cannot even begin to admit how much this terrifies me.
Stresser #2: Considering going back into the job market. Every time I even think about this, my gut clenches. I’m so much more comfortable dealing with people when I want to rather than when I have to. Also, I know that should I choose this route, I’m very likely going to have to settle for a lot less than I’m used to making and it may be a long haul to find someone, aside from a temp job, to hire a person my age.
Stresser #3: The health and well-being of my animals and being able to take all of my cats into the vet for their annual checkups. I have put this off because of #1, and it puts me on edge not having proof that everyone is completely healthy.
Stresser #4: Finishing my 3 novels. I have been close to finished with the latest edit on Sasha’s Journey for months, and just need to get it done! A Dubious Gift hasn’t been touched since I wrote it and Hannah’s Chair isn’t even finished.
Stresser #5: Marketing. I am trying to learn how this is done, yet still get a depressingly low amount of traffic to my website and blog. Without it, publishing any of my books will result in less than stellar sales, no matter how wonderful I manage to make them.
Stresser #6: Writing for free: I have been attending a lot of events on press passes in exchange for writing articles. Although I’m enjoying the events, it’s getting harder to motivate myself to write articles which may or may not get many viewers and which yield me nothing to help support myself. In fact, events like the fair cost me money in food alone which set me back rather than forward.
Stresser #7: Getting enough exercise. I’m falling behind on what I need to do to maintain my physical health.

It Ain’t Over ’til You Let it Go

I had to stop writing at this point because I got another migraine warning. I used the time to innercise and meditate with the help of Dylan and Munchkin’s snuggles. Afterwards, realizing I hadn’t eaten in at least 14 hours, I made a quick protein shake (hunger is non-existent at the moment). The break helped me realize I need to look at these stressers rather than continuing to add to the list, without judging or emotionalizing. I need to thank each one for the opportunities and lessons it gives me, then let them go. I’m the first one to talk about trusting both the Universe, and my own inner guides and guidance to find a solution, yet, clearly I’ve been trying to control things instead.

We of the controlling personalities have a difficult time letting go of outcomes and allowing the things we’ve put in place to germinate before showing measurable results. It’s only when something happens to force us to release our stranglehold that we begin to allow the flow to proceed unrestricted.

For some, that release occurs when all of their well-intentioned plans fall apart or break into little, tiny, unrecoverable pieces. For me, a series of migraines usually alerts me to the fact ad2d5-thetowerthat I’m holding on too tightly: to outcome, to control, even to outdated ideas. I usually take it to mean I just need a break or something but this time, I feel the problem has been too many breaks and too little productivity. Still, some time in nature could be well worth the time spent or in the words of one of my favorite country singers, Brad Paisley, it’s “time well wasted”.

Recognizing Opportunities When They Present Themselves aka Synchronicity

An opportunity was presented to me today, and I don’t think the timing was a coincidence. One of my fellow freelancers started a group for beta reading each others’ work including articles and blog posts. My plan right now is to clean up my latest article and submit it to them for critique. I can always use another set of eyes.

Funny, just typing those words, admitting I can ask for help relaxed some of the tension in my shoulders and neck. Clearly, what I need right now and am asking for in a couple of different ways is simply the help of other humans; the connection, the camaraderie, the humanness I usually avoid. In fact, the one thing which has me reluctant to go dancing at my usual place. Although I understand the owner’s abrupt change from appreciation for his patrons to pursuit of money, I can’t help feeling a bit resentful of the sudden change. It has affected my actions and my previous love for the place, but worse, it seems to have isolated me from the rest of the people there. All too often, I occupy a table alone and am rejected when I invite others to join me. Whether I want to or not, I’m exuding vibes which are uncomfortable to happy, positive people who are relaxing from their daily work life. Perhaps part of it is that I don’t share that day-to-day grind from which I need to escape.

In the end, I have two choices, and this goes for everything in this article: either I change my attitude or I make some sweeping changes in my lifestyle, behavior and direction. What those choices will be remains to be seen but for now, the one change I’m making is to stop trying to force myself and my life into a self-defined, compartmentalized direction. Not an easy task for a control freak like me!

There Will Always Be Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for the reminders I get, even when they’re painful and even debilitating.
2. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned about removing judgement and emotion from my feelings.
3. I am grateful to at least acknowledge that I need to release negative money stories, even if the means is not yet clear.
4. I am grateful for the online communities of which I’m a part, but also for knowing that I need a more personal connection with people as well.
5. I am grateful for abundance: support, vision, awareness, intelligence, wisdom, creativity, friendship, change, guidance, motivation, inspiration, honesty, clarity, love, peace, harmony, friendship, health, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

A Clear Space Equals a Clear Mind

For the last week I’ve been finding ways to avoid writing. As mentioned yesterday, my excuses and methods are many-faceted. I thought simply breaking the spell by writing a blog post yesterday would do the trick, but today I discovered there was more to the problem than simply being unable to put fingers to keyboard and type something meaningful.

I woke up this morning after the best night’s sleep I’ve had in awhile, in spite of a howling wind which ripped a limb off my tree and had the cats racing around the house in a tizzy. I further delayed the commencement of writing by making a healthy brunch and doing my daily exercises.

As I continued to procrastinate and waste time, I looked at my desk and realized the cluttered, dusty mess was inhibiting my creative process more than I realized. desk-and-suppliesAn hour later, everything that was on it is in it’s proper place and the dust and cat fur have been removed, albeit temporarily (Dylan has already taken up residence, demanding skritches and spewing fur across the newly-cleaned surface). Now I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m writing a blog post which won’t be published until the wee hours of tomorrow morning. In other words, I’m making use of the “publish later” feature on my blog site.

While writing yesterday, I realized that writing regularly must include a post to at least one of my blogs, and starting my writing day with that post is a good way to clear the cobwebs. I’ve also learned while participating in a weight loss challenge that getting up from the computer every hour is just as important as sitting down and getting my work done. Thus, I’ve reminded myself to turn on the mindfulness clock app so I hear a loud DING when I’ve been sitting too long. It occurs to me that hourly reminder will serve just as well to get me writing in hourly chunks and I won’t need to remember to set a timer any more.

To make a long story short, I’m continually reminded that mental blocks are often connected with clutter in my physical environment. Clearing one quite often unblocks the other.

I actually started the clearing process earlier this week when I finally emptied my current year filing cabinet and started files for 2016, enabling me to finally put all of the documents which had been accumulating in a folder into their proper places. I’m seeing benefits to this almost every day. The folder isn’t taking up space on my desk or giving the cats yet another pile of papers to fling from the desk top. Even nicer was how quickly I could put the random bits still littering my desk into their proper places without having to wrestle a folder in and out of the drawer. As much as I hate cleaning, I love the way organized feels. I’m also grateful for the fact that I am still physically able to do my own cleaning, and when I’m mentally deficient, cleaning is a great way to unclog my brain and give me some much-needed exercise.

If cleaning your environment isn’t enough, it may mean you need to clear the energy as well. I keep a salt lamp (an incredibly thoughtful gift from a friend) on my desk, but don’t always remember to turn it on. (Writing this reminded me it was overdue). But the rest of the house gathers both helpful and detrimental energy as well, so a thorough smudging (in my case, with sage grown in another friend’s garden and bundled by her loving hands) is often called for. I’ve heard it should be done at least once a month, though I tend to wait longer. But I rarely have visitors so I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that negative energies don’t enter my home as often.

Thinking about it, I realize those energies can easily attach themselves to things I bring into the house like groceries and cleaning supplies, or to me from people with whom I’ve come into contact. I can even bring them in when I have negative feelings about someone or inadvertently indulge in negative self-talk.

This is a good place to end today’s chat as I need to do some smudging. Be well and clear those energies and clutter. Your own energy will thank you. When all else fails, sit down and love your cat, your dog or whoever shares your space.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for those de-cluttering urges.
2. I am grateful for the energy and flexibility to do my own housework.
3. I am grateful I can recognize when the energy around me is getting sluggish.
4. I am grateful for the lesson in distinguishing between “friendship” and “friendly acquaintanceship”. (more on this in another post)
5. I am grateful for abundance: clearing, energy, friendship, love, kindness, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

Wallowing in a Pit of Despair? Try Gratitude.

Finding My Way Back Home

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

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

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

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

Conquering the Demons Within

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

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

Reminding Myself of What the Universe Already Knows

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

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

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

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

I invite you to visit my Facebook pages, Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author and HLWT Accounting. Please also drop by my website, www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

June 2, 2015 There Are Days When I Wish I Could Find the Backspace Key

You’d Really Think I’d Know Better by Now

Today I let myself get sucked into watching another of those free 90 minute webinars (although this one droned on and ended up lasting over 2 hours!) knowing full well that somewhere during the time I was wasting there would be a sales pitch for more of the same, only better, for the meager sum of $297…$397…$497… I guess there’s a psychological logic to the ’97’ part as if our brain says Well, I’m not really spending $300…$400…$500 so it must be ok. These folks were more clever than most though. They provided some useful information for the second 60 minutes or so (the first 30 was spent talking about how wonderful their life is, which also seems to be de rigeur lately) before rather subtly, though with the use of a logo which blended into the color of the screen (a bit reminiscent of the subliminal effects in Exorcist where they inserted things into less frames than the human eye needs to transmit the image to the brain) launching into the expected sales pitch.

This same entity wants me to participate in an 8 hour long event on Thursday (do people really give up an entire day after today’s less-than-exciting experience?) using a free iPad with their meditations pre-loaded as the carrot, but only if you stick it out for the full 8 hours and only one! Sorry, but the smart money wouldn’t have even participated in today’s technically bankrupt example of their wares, much less sit through their droning for 8 full hours. OK, so I wasn’t the smart money today, and yes, I should know better by now.

To add insult to injury, I found myself, earlier this evening, slipping into my pity party dress and gearing up for a full on whine fest. I thought I’d yanked myself away before it was too late until I found myself in front of the TV with a container of guacamole and a bag of chips (granted, it was the greek yogurt guac from Trader Joe’s and their veggie/flaxseed chips, but still not the best dinner) and followed it up with almost half a carton of Salted Caramel Gelatto. Clearly, the pity party had to run its course, whether I liked it or not.

Losing Sight of What’s Important

The culprits in this drama are many but the responsible party is only me. I’ve been chasing the almighty buck, unsuccessfully, I might add, because the sight of my dwindling funds was starting to frighten me. In so doing, I’d lost sight of what I discovered when I gave up the copywriting course. I have to love what I’m doing, and do it for the right reasons before I’ll start meeting my needs. When I make it all about money, the Universe can and will kick my butt and be as unsupportive as possible until I get myself back on track.

Thankfully, my trusty cheerleader and butt kicker put it all back into perspective for me today. It’s not enough that I’ve finished the first draft of two novels, the first revision on one of them and have started revising my children’s book. No, I need to actually finish something and go through the process of publishing it. Thus, my agenda will now consist of editing and revising, working on Holly Lisle’s writing course which somehow got shoved to the side, studying the books I have on writing, plot development and such and putting the blogging for money on hold…for now.

I will, however, take time to be more supportive of the bloggers I’m following as that can be helpful on many levels, especially since many of them are writers too, some of whom have already been published at least once.

By the Light of the Gemini Moon

The full moon in my own birth sign is the perfect time to, once again, ask for help in releasing all which doesn’t serve me. The most important thing I need to release is limiting behavior and limiting beliefs. But I also need to let go of all things procrastination, and all things which keep me from my regular workouts. My list of priorities (in no particular order) is as follows:

Body: Get to the gym at least three times a week, dance at least twice, and move frequently in between times. Also, start eating the pre-made meals in my freezer and intersperse it with smoothies made with the fresh veggies and fruits I’m getting.
Mind: Write, edit, revise and study.
Spirit: Meditate regularly, go out in nature, spend time with my cats.

I’ve also added two new stickies to my growing collection: “I am Empowered” and “I receive everything I need to move ahead with creativity and inspiration”. With the help of my stickies, my friendly butt-kicker and my own preference for positivity, I will climb out of the abyss, leave the whining behind and actually become productive again. This whiny, pathetic, self-pitying person is no longer me, and I will not allow her to creep back into my life and ruin all I’ve worked so hard to achieve. So this is me, drop kicking old Negative Nellie to the curb! Let the work of being an author begin!

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for friends who tell me what I need to hear instead of what they think I want to hear.
2. I am grateful for a day of wallowing because it shows me a place I never want to return to.
3. I am grateful for additions to my book collection which will serve me well in the coming weeks.
4. I am grateful for ambition which, though it sometimes takes a beating, is still down there, crying to be recognized and fed.
5. I am grateful for abundance: drive, determination, purpose, love, joy, happiness, peace, harmony, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

I hope you’ll take a moment to visit my Facebook pages at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and https://www.facebook.com/HLWTAccounting . Please also drop by my website, http://www.shericonaway.com and check out my Hire Me Page. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

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