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Archive for the ‘people’ Category

Going Stir-Crazy Without My People

Even an Introvert Needs Regular Doses of People

About 4 weeks into no human contact, I started to lose it. Introvert or no, I found out I need people, and not just once every couple of weeks when I make quick, low contact trips to the grocery store. I miss hugs, and couples dancing, and standing close to talk in someone’s ear because the music is loud. I miss sitting close at movies or dinner. I miss razzing my friend Bill at the gym. I could go on, but I think you get the idea.

More and more I feel like I need to fill the silence. Either Pandora or the TV are my near-constant companions. Perhaps it’s a weak attempt to inject a little humanity into my world that Zoom, Facetime, Social Media and the telephone aren’t quite managing to fill. Yet there was a time I reveled in long periods of silence. Once I enjoyed the peace. Now, I find it oppressive and lonely.

Life as I knew it is changing. Who and what I was before COVID, while not entirely things of the past, will surely have evolved when everyone emerges from their personal cocoons at some as yet unspecified date. Will it be harder to give those unrestrained hugs that were such an integral part of the dance community? Or will we cling to each other like the lifelines we truly are?

How Quickly Will We Evolve?

I suspect the return to whatever the new normal will be is going to be gradual for some, and instantaneous for others. The more cautious will ease into it slowly. Those who missed human contact the most will likely throw caution to the wind and hug as if their life depended on the contact and connection. Maybe it does.

As I wilt a little some days, I wonder about those for whom contact with other people is necessary to keep them energized; make them feel alive. In many ways, I’m one of the lucky ones as I don’t normally need energy from others to inspire or uplift me. If I’m faltering after a few weeks alone, what of others? Is their absence from social media and Zoom gatherings a silent sign of their distress?

It’s becoming more evident I don’t truly understand how to help the extroverts who thrive on human energy. I suspect my efforts to motivate and uplift fall flat for them because they lack the one element they need nearly as much as the air they breathe. How can I provide that with the means I have at my disposal?

Contact While Observing Social Distance

One friend suggested meeting in the street at a safe distance from each other, but her neighbors are also her friends. Even if I knew more of my neighbors better, I live on a street that runs through the neighborhood so even in times of less movement, there are always cars passing through at some point. Public places are also not an option with parks, beaches, and trails closed. I suspect others are similarly limited right now too.

My mind is screaming You’re a creative! Surely you can come up with creative ideas for reaching out and helping people stay connected and mentally healthy! It’s all well and fine to be a creative person by nature (and frankly, I believe we all are, if we learn to get out of our own way), but as I struggle to get back on my blog-writing schedule, I know it’s not exactly a switch that can be turned on at will.

Creativity is a lot like feelings. It is at its best when we let down our guard and stop trying to control things. It’s also human nature to grab on and hold tight when your world is in chaos. That doesn’t mean the walls are tumbling down, or storms are ravaging the land. Sometimes that chaos is simply a major alteration to the neat, orderly life you’ve become used to.

Adjusting to Temporary Limitations

For me, neat and orderly meant being able to go to the gym 3 times a week, do my grocery shopping and errands on Wednesdays, and getting out for regular dance nights. In between, I wrote, cleaned house, and everything else that for me meant a well-rounded life. I ordered a lot of things (but not everything) online, and usually got it within a day or two. Now, it’s a week or more, and I often find some of what I ordered is cancelled in the interim. Stock dwindles as others are ordering more and more of their necessities online rather than venturing into stores which may not even be open any more.

Meals are another area I’ve seen altered. I’m now eating almost exclusively out of my refrigerator and freezer which, while well-stocked, gets somewhat monotonous after awhile. A couple of attempts at ordering in yielded unsatisfactory results, so I’m settling into my own cooking for the duration. I have gotten a bit more creative, supplementing my usual yogurt and blueberries breakfasts with oatmeal, proznick (basically cottage cheese, cheddar cheese, eggs, and spinach), and pancakes. Lunch and dinner have become one meal as I often get busy and don’t feel hungry until late afternoon.

Coffee consumption has increased (OK, so I’ve only gone from one to two cups a day) as I spend many of my waking hours in front of the computer which I moved to the dining room to better accommodate the Zoom dance nights. But I also throw the blinds in the living room wide as soon as I move to the front of the house in the morning. There’s something about having natural light (even filtered through heavy clouds and rain) that raises my spirits and makes me feel more connected, if not to people, at least to the world outside my four walls.

Releasing Expectations’m learning the best way to maintain my sanity is to remain flexible; to adjust and adapt to the many things I can neither control nor change right now. It doesn’t mean I keep it together every day. I don’t even feel obligated to make every post; every article airy fairy and upbeat. Instead, I allow myself to be real, though even at my darkest, I somehow manage to find a ray of hope, or at least a lesson in my struggles.

When my daughters were young, I did everything in my power to remain strong and stoic around them. I never cried in front of them, no matter how bad things got. But in hindsight, I realize I wasn’t as loving and giving either because I kept everything bottled up inside. One night when they were about 10, I had a meltdown on my office floor after several unsuccessful attempts to refill some inkjet cartridges. Jenni wrote me a little letter telling me it was OK to cry in front of them, and though I still tried hard to remain strong, her words had a profound effect, made more poignant as they came from a 10-year-old.

Finding a New Kind of Balance

Years later, I still vacillate between being strong and positive, and being real. Real wins more and more often, even if I do my best to inject a note of positivity or inspiration into my low times. If nothing else, it’s my way of refusing to ever be the miserable, angry, pain-filled woman I once was, and not because I disavow my less attractive feelings.

In truth, I’m pretty terrified of going down that dark hole again, as I never, ever want to follow my mother’s example and let it consume me. I try to trust that I’ve healed a lot of wounds in myself she never even addressed in herself, but two suicides in one immediate family are one of the harshest lessons life can give. I know I’ve healed and forgiven a lot of things, not only in my parents, but in myself. But I also know there are depths I’ve yet to delve. As such, I keep protections in place to keep myself from falling too deeply down my personal rabbit hole. It’s a lot more challenging while in isolation, but I’m learning as I go, just like everyone else.

Using Gratitude to Remind Myself of All the Good Things

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people who check on me, and let me check in on them regularly.
  2. I’m grateful for the gift of line dancing. It’s always been one of the things that kept me sane, but right now, it and the people who keep it going are one of my strongest lifelines.
  3. I’m grateful for opportunities to learn new things, whether it’s dances, computer programs, or anything else. Keeping my mind sharp keeps me from wallowing.
  4. I’m grateful for an entire room filled with books. When all else fails, I can lose myself between pages wrought by someone else’s imagination.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; motivation, inspiration, dancing, joy, love, friendship, community, kitty love, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Watching and Forgetting to Participate

When Watching People Detaches Us

As a writer, observing people is part of the job description, or maybe it’s an occupational hazard. There are times I get so caught up with watching people and how they interact with each other, that I forget to interact myself. I wrote recently about feeling disconnected, but as I become more aware of those periods of disconnection,  see there’s more to the story, and I’m confounded by whether the chicken or the egg came first, so to speak.

In other words, do I become disconnected because watching is so fascinating, or do I begin watching because I’ve become disconnected from the proceedings? Lately, the lines have been so blurred, I honestly don’t have an answer. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the next chapter and wondering where my subconscious is going to take me when I sit down to actually write it. You may have noticed that unlike those who can easily draw a straight line from point A to point B, my brain eschews the linear and more direct path for something quite convoluted. Rarely is a trip undertaken which doesn’t take a few detours, gathering odds and ends along the way.

Conversational Convolutions

Fortunately, because likes attract, many of my friends have a similar thought process so we follow each others’ conversational convolutions quite nicely, thank you. And since I am rarely asked “what did you mean by that” in relation to these posts, I have to believe many of my readers are also able to follow the conversational switchbacks as well.

But again, I digress. People watching, even for the casual observer and not the career watcher can be all-encompassing. Human beings are simply fascinating. And they’re especially so in social situations like bars where there’s a certain level of effort to attract the opposite sex. As my social life typically involves a bar or at least a dance floor, I tend to see certain types with regularity and have, over time, broken them down into categories as follows:

Archetypes in the Social World
  • The Adonis: These are men who typically arrive late so the place is reasonably full. They clearly spend many hours at the gym, and have the skin-tight t-shirts to emphasize their dedication. Upon arrival, they make a slow circuit or two, ensuring that all the women in the place have noticed their bulging pecs. Then they’ll single out one lucky lady to bask in the glow of their awesomeness.
  • The Piranha (sometimes also known as The Limpet): These are single women who keep one eye on the door so they’re the first to see new single men arrive. They are well-versed at starting conversations and holding a man’s attention, but often vie with others of their type for the same men. Scarcity tends to bring out the huntress in these women, and they don’t know the meaning of the words “defeat” or “retreat”.
  • The Safe Ones: Again, of the female persuasion, these are women who typically dress a little more conservatively. They wear a look of serenity and have a similar style. Men tend to gravitate towards them because these women are unlikely to behave in an unexpected manner. They don’t tend to stand out and will likely give a guy her full attention.
  • The Couples: This one really needs no explanation, but for the sake of completeness, I include them.
  • The Free Spirits: These folks typically stand out, either by their attire or their actions, and often both. They aren’t part of the interpersonal ebb and flow as they’re usually just there to have a good time and hang with friends.
  • The Exotics: Like the Free Spirits, these are also unique, but in such a way that they get attention without even trying. They may or may not be interested in attracting someone. Again, they are there to have a good time and for the most part, go home alone. They are often found in the center of one group or another as they’re also very social.
  • The Wall Flowers: Face it. There will always be women who blend in with the scenery. They’re a little socially awkward, but don’t necessarily hang out alone. However, in an environment like a dance club, they’re all too often not asked to dance, or if they are, it’s infrequent.
  • The Weirdos and Freaks: Every club has them, and for the most part, they’re harmless. They can also be amusing. They don’t seem to care what people think of them. They take goofiness to new levels. And they break up the monotony of some of the more normal or sedate patrons.
  • The Charming Charlies: These guys could sell ice to the Eskimos. They’re charming to a fault, and are often nice to wall flowers, old ladies… pretty much everyone. They also tend to have a bevy of beauties vying for their attention.
  • The Drinkers: What would a bar be without the ones who are there to get a buzz…or maybe more than just a buzz? They keep the place in business, and if you’re lucky, they’re happy drunks. Just don’t try to dance with one. They’re loose as a goose, but you’re not, and you could get hurt.
  • The Entitleds: These folks have no concept of dance floor etiquette or personal space or even common courtesy. They believe the world revolves around them and want what they want when they want it. They’ll sit at an obviously occupied table and congregate in pods who hog floor space so others can’t get by them. In the olden days, we might have just called them spoiled brats.
  • The Old Folks: As I age, this category does too. But there are a few who, even in a place where you go to have fun, are crotchety and cranky. They also tend to move a little slower (or sometimes, a lot slower) and don’t handle change well, whether it’s a new dance, new music, or a new place on the floor. They’re treated respectfully because of their age, and, let’s face it, they deserve credit for still being out there dancing instead of sitting at home in front of the TV.

There are also a few one or another of us has given a special nickname. Most of those are affectionate with the exception of one or two who can be especially annoying. A local bar and dance hall is usually a friendly place and if you’re lucky, one where single women can go and feel safe from being accosted. It’s a healthier environment in which to unwind from whatever stresses life might throw at you.

A friend indirectly pointed out that I’d left a key point out of my observations and categorizations. Human beings are seldom as they appear on the outside, especially when surrounded by strangers. We don masks to hide the more fragile elements of our beings. This is what makes not only the observing but the typing so interesting to me. Once I’ve seen where someone fits in the overall social dynamic, I’m free to let my imagination follow tangents of its own, filling in blanks, creating back stories and otherwise delving into the person behind the social mask.

In fact, I’m especially fond of newcomers, not because I flock to them like a piranha, but because I can observe them and create a persona free of any ideas I might have inadvertently formed by seeing how they interacted with other people; with my friends. Aside from which pattern they initially exhibit, these folks are a blank slate, and what’s more fun to draw on?

Going Off on Another Tangent

It seems a post which started out talking about people watching and disconnecting has evolved into something completely different. Instead of focusing on the person doing the observing, it’s somehow morphed into some of those observations. Maybe that’s where it was meant to go in the first place.

At least I have the basic archetypes should I ever write a scene about a bar where people go to dance. This list would easily span both the regular patrons and the occasional visitors though some are more relevant for the regulars if only because they’re there often enough to get a more complete picture of their personalities. There’s certainly a cross-over to other social situations as well.

So there you have it. Proof I spend more time watching people than might be healthy. Yet I suspect I’m not alone in my people watching, even if I fall back on it with greater frequency than the norm. Hasn’t everyone categorized people around them at one time or another? In an airport? A grocery store? On the freeway?

It Begins and Ends with Gratitude

Tonight’s gratitudes are:

  1. I am grateful for my powers of observation.
  2. I am grateful I can amuse myself.
  3. I am grateful that I am never truly alone in a crowd as long as I can let my imagination run wild.
  4. I am grateful for people who give me something to watch and analyze.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; life, love, diversity, personality, character, inspiration, imagination, humanity, friendship, 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!

December 23, 2014 It’s all about the people! #shericonaway

My heart is happy and I know why!

After a busy day which began by waking up to my daughter and grand puppy, took me from veggie pickup to grocery shopping and finally more wrapping, I am happy to say, I’ve found my Christmas spirit.

Call me weird, but I get very excited over veggies. Today’s box included a large head of cauliflower, celery, round carrots, spinach (which I need for Christmas breakfast), lettuce (which I dropped off at the local pet store as I don’t want it to go to waste), two lovely artichokes and an avocado, PLUS a whole bunch of oranges! I’m doing the happy dance over all of that bountiful goodness. Some of it became tonight’s dinner and some will be Christmas breakfast, but I’ll have some things to just play with too!

But again, I digress. While running errands I was alternately talking to my daughter between her errands and texting two of my adopted kids (not while driving of course!) about Thursday’s festivities. It finally hit me why my spirit was proving hard to raise this year. I needed my people! The day got an even more wonderful boost when I got to join in the skype with my son-in-law who is several months into a very long deployment! If all goes well, he’ll be here via skype for both Christmas Even dinner and our Christmas morning chaos. Though we all wish he could be home, we’re doing the next best thing so he can still share our Christmas insanity.

Today, I wrapped while my daughter cooked dinner, and we chatted and joked the whole while. My heart grew three sizes and I felt like myself again, filled with joy and feeling like a giant smile. Even without our traditional shopping silliness, the holidays came to my house after all, and I feel incredibly blessed.

The newest additions to my family are blatantly disrespecting the Christmas tree.

I knew there would be issues since Scrappy Doo (aka, demo boy) and Pyewacket (aka willing accomplice) had never seen a tree in the house before, albeit a fake one, but I had no idea they would be so creative. With a little help from Toby, who insists that his 20 pound bulk won’t disturb my skinny little six foot tree, Scrappy quickly found his spot on the lower branches of the tree, bending the poor things beyond recognition, but hopefully, not beyond repair. On the bright side, they’re leaving the packages alone. At least I had the foresight to earthquake strap the tree to the wall!

For now, the neatly wrapped packages are piled around the tree or stuffed in stockings and the detritus from a few days’ wrapping frenzy is neatly stowed. All that remains is some cleaning, our traditional Jewish Christmas Eve dinner and a couple of good nights’ sleep before my living room becomes a chaos of ribbons, wrapping paper and heaven knows what else my disturbingly creative daughter has come up with for us this year. ( last year it was a nerf gun fight in my living room, and I’m still finding the disks in the most unlikely of places!)

Sundown tomorrow rings in the beginning of Christmas and the end of Chanukah.

This is my last chance to wish my Jewish friends and family a very Happy Chanukah, clearing the way for me to wish a Merry Christmas to one and all. For those who may be feeling less than joyful this holiday season, and I know many won’t for their own reasons, I hope I can spread the joy I’m feeling around enough to help them at least tolerate all of the jolly people around them. If this year holds more pain than joy for you, I wish you healing in 2015.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful to have reconnected with my holiday spirit.
2. I am grateful for the days I get to spend with my daughter and grand puppy.
3. I am grateful for my adopted kids and the very special joy they bring into my life.
4. I am grateful for the friendships I’ve made, the ones I’ve lost and the ones I’ve strengthened this year. Each and every one changed for good reason, and has made my life better for it.
5. I am grateful for an overflowing of joy, enough to spread around as far as I can reach, and maybe farther.
6. I am grateful for abundance: joy, love, friendship, sharing, forgiveness, inspiration, imagination, health, peace, harmony and prosperity.


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