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

Archive for the ‘positivity’ Category

Positively Positive: Sharing Inspiration

Why I Promote Positivity

About 20 years ago, I began my personal journey out of the abyss. Like everything else in my life, it hasn’t been a straight path, nor an easy one. There was a lot of backsliding, especially in the early years as my brain fought to keep me in the safe, comfortable, familiar place it loved.

But my desire for happiness has prevailed and I’ve managed to flip the switch which gives me more happy days than sad ones, more positivity and gratitude, and less self-pity and blame. A good part of my success has been the manner in which I’m currently using Social Media.

First let me say that I have to have a really good reason to unfriend someone, and putting up negative or uninspiring posts isn’t one of them. (that’s why we have the option to unfollow friends. That way, we simply don’t have to see their posts on our news feed). I do, however, insist on predominantly uplifting or at least humorous posts on my social media pages.

Over time I’ve subscribed to a number of groups and followed people who regularly share evocative, uplifting, humorous, or inspiring material. Those I particularly enjoy are set up on my Buffer account where I share them on my pages to provide something thought-provoking, humorous, uplifting, or inspiring for the people who follow me.

Hate Begets Hate

While there has always been more than enough negativity and downright hatefulness out in cyberspace, the last year or so has seen a dramatic increase in hateful words and acts, anger directed outward, and a general ugliness permeating the whole of humanity. None of us are immune.

Even the best of us (and trust me, I’m no angel!) don’t completely refrain from venting our anger or frustration from time to time. Everyone has a cause they feel strongly about. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Often, it’s not the message, but how it’s conveyed. I, myself am less than tactful when I’m frustrated. (just ask the rude group who kept assuming any table in the place was for their personal use last night!) I recognize and accept that. There are a number of people who regularly share things that make me smile or think, but have their pet causes. Like most of us, they might get a bit in your face about those causes. If it’s not something I share, I just scroll on by. I know a few posts down will be something I’ll really enjoy.

There is a point to this, I promise. I’m just a bit long-winded getting to it (unusual, I know. 🙂 ).

More Than One Way to Fight for a Cause

More than once, I’ve been called out for not supporting a cause publicly. But I believe there are plenty of people flinging angry words and righteous indignation. It’s not for me to add to that cacophony. Instead, it is for me to try to hold a sort of Switzerland where people can share their viewpoints in a loving way instead of trying to rip out the throats of those who disagree with them.

Do I have things I feel passionate about? Hell yes. But screaming about them from the roof tops isn’t going to change them, in my opinion. Finding ways to love ourselves and the people around us through the chaos and the maelstrom of hate is far more effective in the long run.

Think of it this way. Those who hate and stir it up in others are broken in their own way, but they feed on anger and hate. Those emotions make them stronger and help bury their own pain with things like power and recognition. Though it’s not a perfect substitute, they believe it is what they need.

Hate vs. Love

A few years ago, I attended an event where Marianne Williamson spoke. She said something which has stayed with me ever since. She said that people who act out in anger are doing so because they lack love in their lives. If you think about it, one of the surest ways to still someone’s anger is to wrap them in a warm, sincere hug.

I’ll take this one step further. When you enter a competition, you try to have the best tools and skills so you will prevail. If you went into a competition using only your opponent’s tools against them, you’d always lose. Why? Because they’ve honed those tools to be perfect for themselves and their personal strengths and skill sets. Soldiers have swords weighted for their own physical strength and build. Magicians have wands which complement their skills. If anyone else used their tools of the trade, they’d find the tools wanting when in reality, they’re simply mismatched to the user.

If you’re trying to overcome anger and hate, why would you throw more of the same at it? It’s no different than throwing gasoline on a wild fire. You give it more fuel and it will continue to grow.

I’m trying to do the unexpected in my own small way. I share positive quotes and inspiring stories. I post cute animal videos and tales of triumph over adversity. I’ve even been known to share things slightly political, but only if they’re humorous rather than hateful.

Keeping Dr. King’s Words Alive

I may not agree with a lot that’s going on today, but adding my voice to the already overwhelming complaints isn’t going to change any of it. What will is finding the silver lining or the lesson and sharing that instead. I might still get criticized for having my head in the sand or for not openly taking a stand against any of it. But I’m also not adding to the anger. I’m not fueling the fires of hatred which are burning as brightly as the fires in Montana, and are a million times more virulent. I can’t say it any better than the late Dr. Martin Luther King who said:

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

What he said then still holds true today. So enjoy the happy quotes I share. Laugh at the cute videos if you can. I want to be that beacon of light when everything seems dark. I believe in love when so many around me disagree. I know I’m imperfect and act unkindly at times, and each time I do, I have a nice self-flagellation session. Then I forgive myself and go back to posting positivity. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it. And some, like Dr. King gave it all to bring the light of love into the sometimes overwhelming darkness.

Finding Gratitude in Every Little Thing

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the continued inspiration I get to keep writing.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn every day.
  3. I am grateful for my imperfections as they make me work harder to do better next time.
  4. I am grateful for the improvements I’m making in my physical environment. As it is outside, so will it be inside. My inside is getting clearer with each coat of paint and piece of clutter I clear.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, sharing, compassion, lessons, challenges, problems and solutions, opportunities, dreams realized and dreams yet to manifest, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light



Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. She believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She is available for article writing and ghost writing to help your website and the business it supports grow and thrive. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information.




It’s Not Nice to Neglect the Blog

This is Where the Whole Thing Started

This blog is where it all started. Well, not quite all as I’ve been scribbling for most of my life,but it’s where my online presence really began when the writing of Life After Suicide: Healing and Forgiving stalled. Yet I realized tonight that I’ve been horribly neglecting it lately.

Of course, I have my reasons. I’ve been writing articles for my website as well as sharing a chapter or so of the aforementioned book every week. I’ve attended events and have been helping family members who are going through a crisis. All of those normal life things.

But I’ve also been doing some writing for other sites and even pitching a bit. (I know, that one is hard to believe!) All in all, I’ve been relatively busy, but in all honesty, more lazy than busy about writing something in my poor, neglected, red-headed step-child of a blog.

Tonight, that neglect and abuse ends as I once again give you a little taste of my ADD brain with or without mass quantities of caffeine.

Peaceful Days do not an Interesting Blog Post Make

In a random moment of uncharacteristic calm, I find I have little to really share. Life is chugging along rather splendidly at the moment. My daughter and son-in-law (along with my grandpuppy, Gwennie) have been here for the last few days which means I’ve been running around with them quite a bit. We’ve met some family members we didn’t realize we had, and found them to be amazing, compassionate, kind, loving people. We are so blessed to be able to include them in future holidays, laced liberally with our own particular brand of insanity and fun.

My cats aren’t entirely thrilled about sharing their home with a gasp! dawg! Especially one who, for all of her 45 or 50 pounds, truly believes she’s a cat and can’t for the life of her understand why these cats won’t play and cuddle with her the way her own three felines will.

Pyewacket did get locked in the bedroom with her one night, though he ended up hiding under the bed for most of it. Now, he uses the safety of the closed door to bat at her through the gap at the bottom.

Scrappy is walking around with a bottle brush for a tail from running away from a dog who simply wants to say hello. The older three are somewhat blase about the whole thing. They’ve seen it all before and know that she’s not allowed in my bedroom or the kitchen and there’s always the safety of one of the two cat trees, when all else fails.

At any rate, the household should return to normal in a couple of days, or at least to what passes for normal around here.

Do You Pokemon Go?

And how about that Pokemon Go? I swore I wouldn’t succumb, especially since I never played the game in the first place. But then I saw the potential for getting me out and moving, aka walking the neighborhood looking for those recharging stations where you can get more balls, potions, eggs and more, and for finding the little creatures (I got a Pikachu today and my daughter was NOT happy as she hasn’t found one yet!). Some of their stories are a little out there, and I kept bugging the kids to show me how something worked, but otherwise, I am having a good time with it. And because of our little side trips to find various things, I hit almost 10,000 steps yesterday (I’m writing this after midnight, so I guess it was yesterday now!)

The one thing which bothers me is how it perpetuates the face-down-in-the-cell-phone behavior I’ve come to abhor. However, I also see how it creates a talking point and strangers are chatting and sharing as they chase down more balls with which to capture odd little creatures or find an unusual guy to add to their collection. It also inspires a little healthy competition (I chose the same team as my son-in-law instead of my daughter) but also cooperation.

It makes you wander a little more off the beaten path to find things so you’re moving and exploring. I’m loving the stories of people who find and rescue abandoned animals they found will playing, and look forward to more heart-warming tales as the game continues to grow in popularity.

Do you have a Pokemon story? Please share it! I’d love to know how others are finding this new fad.

There is so Much to be Grateful For. This Barely Scratches the Surface.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for moving and grooving.
2. I am grateful for time well spent with my kids.
3. I am grateful for all of the new people who are coming into my life.
4. I am grateful for positivity in all the forms it is appearing.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, positivity, friendship, family, inspiration, writing jobs, passion, working together, helping others, contributing, 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, 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!

Featured Photo courtesy of Happy Come via Flikr


Don’t Go Changin’ to Try and Please Me

Why Fit in When I Was Meant to Stand Out?

A couple of days ago, I was ready to go into a full-on rant. In fact, I had several hundred words typed. If I’ve learned nothing else over the years, it’s to sit on things for a day or so when they spark my ire. Once again, I’m glad I did.

Let me give you a bit of background. Although I’m an introvert and inherently shy, I learned, early on to both mask it and protect my soft inner core (you’ve probably heard this before as I mention it on occasion). In some ways, I may have learned too well as I’ve been accused of being intimidating (and that’s one of the nicer things people say).

Whine All You Want…As Long As You Fight Your Own Battles

It’s brought its own share of problems, especially from people who feel they need to stifle me in some way. I don’t really mind if someone comes to me and raises an issue. But all too often, the complaints are far more insidious because they come from those who prefer to try to shake my confidence by going through what, in their weak minds is the proper channels.

These channels have, over my lifetime ranged from complaints to my manager about a conversation they overheard to a full-on written complaint accusing me (falsely of course) of harassment. In the past, these complaints have had the desired result; they’ve shaken my confidence and made me the object of unnecessary scrutiny.

The latest example occurred in my critique group, and at first, made me very angry. So angry I missed the last meeting where I’d submitted one of my chapters for critique. I have mixed feelings now, but feel that, in the overall scheme of things, skipping the meeting until I got things into perspective in my own mind was in everyone’s best interests.

Once emotion left the equation and logic took over, I understood that this is just another lesson in setting boundaries. In the past, I’ve done one of two things; either I changed myself, albeit unwillingly, or I retreated into my hermit hole, limiting interactions to the absolutely necessary.

I’m not going to do that this time. I am the person I am, warts and all. I don’t set out to offend people, but occasionally I do. If the person I offended brings it to my attention, I am apologetic and appreciate knowing that something which seemed innocuous to me was offensive to them.

Drawing a Line in the Sand

However, this time around, I’ve made the decision to ignore anything which comes through a third party or intermediary. If a person hasn’t got the balls to speak up for themselves, they can be as offended as they want to be. It’s not my problem. I’m done with catering to those who hide behind excuses like I’m too shy to talk to her or I’m an introvert or she scares me. I’m also finished with the ones who play damsel in distress and play upon the male ego to get someone to save them. Sorry, ladies, but that’s the biggest crock I’ve ever seen. Grow up, take responsibility for yourself and stop playing people. That’s just manipulative and passive-aggressive.

Sure, there will be an elephant in the room for awhile, but as far as I’m concerned, people are either going to have to learn to talk to me directly or stew in their own juices, and frankly, I’m not married to either outcome.

I also feel it is inconsiderate in the extreme to involve other people in something which is ludicrous in the first place. It isn’t that my behavior is especially bothersome to them at all. It’s that they resent someone who, at least in appearance, seems stronger, smarter and more capable than they are. Having been married to an alcoholic, I recognize this need to bring people down to your level. I’ve just decided to decline any future invitations to this party, but thanks anyway.

Kiss This!

The long and the short of it is, I don’t ask anyone to change to please me. I will no longer entertain any suggestions, complaints or requests that I change to please someone else, and especially if the requester uses someone else as their mouthpiece. If they don’t like me, nobody is forcing them to spend time in my presence.

And Still, There’s Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for recurring lessons as they remind me to be true to myself.
2. I am grateful for my personal therapist which always allows me to work things through from different angles.
3. I am grateful for the opportunities which are coming my way to write about different things and new places.
4. I am grateful for my daughter who is as anal about organization, deadlines and responsibility as I am, if not more.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, life, motivation, inspiration, opportunities, words, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

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!

The featured image is courtesy of Scott Akerman via Flikr

Evolving Vision, Evolving Life

beach front property with gazeboSeveral months ago, I found a piece of property which almost perfectly matched my vision for my future. It happened to be on the coast between Ventura and Santa Barbara, so it was still within reach of the places I know and frequent. At the time, that was important to me. But things change.

Out with the old, in with the new

It’s been a couple of weeks since I went dancing at what was my usual hangout. In part, it’s because I was at my daughters for a few days, but I’ve been back for over a week and have no real desire to visit a place which, for many reasons, is no longer the home I used to feel so comfortable and welcome visiting.

Friends turned out to be acquaintances. Management no longer feels any sense of loyalty to regulars who’ve been there through good times and bad; some for decades. So I’m adrift. I put together a list of dances with the songs I like to dance them to with the idea of pulling up the songs on YouTube and keeping my hand in. But I have yet to put on my dancing shoes and tear up my living room, to the amusement of the cats. Instead, I’m looking for other amusements to occupy my time.

Learning who I’m meant to be

Sure, a couple of people have noticed and might even miss my smiling face, but I’ve come to the realization that, like so many others, I’m expendable. As I struggle to find my purpose and make a go of my passion, it’s a little disconcerting to find I’ve made such little impact. But then, maybe that’s not where I’m meant to make an impact in the first place.

On a conscious level, I know purpose doesn’t come from others. It comes from within. So I turn my attention inward, seeking a germ, a morsel of something which makes me feel that I matter. I ponder my options. Some look viable but don’t really feed my soul. Others feed my soul but I have yet to figure out how to make them viable.

Still, I haven’t come this far or weathered so many storms to stop searching for the rainbow. This isn’t the first time I’ve felt almost entirely alone and directionless. I’ve just found myself in a clearing which has no clear roads leading outwards.

One thing is clear, though. I no longer need to confine my dreams and aspirations to this one, tiny corner of the world. There’s nothing to hold me here aside from my home, and soon, I’ll be in a position to make my home, my living, my way wherever I choose; without borders, without boundaries.

The time has come to shed old people, ways and paradigms

It makes me think this is not a down turn at all, but a new kind of freedom, without the need to stay in a pattern which no longer serves me. When access to people and places is no longer important, my world opens up to possibilities I hadn’t even considered.

Yes, I want to live near the beach, but there are coastlines everywhere. The perfect place for me was hidden behind all of the things I thought I couldn’t leave behind. As they fade from importance, my horizons simply broaden and with that broadening come new opportunities, the magnitude of which I’d never even considered.

Once again, the Universe is forcing me to break free of old patterns and ideas. It’s forcing me to look at other possibilities which couldn’t occur as long as I was hanging onto things which had outlived their usefulness. I face the coming days with a new sense of excitement because I can now consider possibilities beyond the limits of my current geography.

It’s freeing, but a little frightening as well. The butterfly is truly emerging from her cocoon. Time to see how far these new wings will take me.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the freedom of my solitude.
2. I am grateful that I’m learning to recognize the difference between friendship and friendly acquaintances.
3. I am grateful for the new opportunities and possibilities coming into my life.
4. I am grateful for the new people and places I will be experiencing, though I can’t help but be saddened by what’s disappeared with the rose-colored glasses.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, joy, health, philanthropy, prosperity, family, writing, publishing and expanding horizons.

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!

The Mind is the Ultimate Race Track

The Human Mind Makes the Indy 500 Look Like a Sunday Drive

My mind has been whirling so wildly, I found it impossible to pin it down to a topic or two for a blog post, but tonight I decided I needed to at least try.

I’ve been doing a lot of work on the inner me with both Winning the Game of Weight Loss (WTGOWL) and Winning the Game of Money (WTGOM). I’m actually on round two of the latter, and seeing even more changes, and yet, I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do to actually support myself, and resources are dwindling faster than I’d like. I finally took pen to paper as it is said to be a better link to the brain. I started by writing an almost two page story called “My Compelling Debt-free Future”.

I followed it up by setting an intention which was actually inspired by one of my fellow Achievers (as we call ourselves in the private Facebook group). I will find a part-time or contract job that pays well, has a flexible schedule and allows me to work from home (or any remote location for that matter).

The Goals, They are a-Changin’

After I set my intention, I thought for awhile before deciding I needed to write down some goals. These seem to change somewhat every time I write them, but the current version looks like this:
1. Make an excellent living from my writing
2. Become a Motivational Speaker
3. Buy a large piece of property overlooking the beach with no neighbors
4. Start or support an existing cat rescue
5. Build an artist’s retreat
6. Develop strong relationships with other artists in a variety of mediums and support each other and our efforts

What Good is a Goal Without a Plan?

So now I have an intention and some goals. Reviewing my list, I realized that everything really depends on the first one so the next thing to do is to list the steps needed to achieve the goal. Naturally, as a lover of lists, I was happy to make another. The steps I feel will get me to my goal (subject to revision as I learn more, of course) are:
1. Learn how to pitch successfully
2. Complete what I’ve started (this includes books, stories and courses)
3. Commit to writing daily
4. Commit to studying daily
5. Commit to pitching daily
6. Develop a network of service providers including editors and cover designers
7. Hire a coach

Today, I’m 2 for 7, but the ink is barely dry on my list.

Using Small Wins to Harness the Power of Positivity

I realized after reaching two milestones this week in my weight loss (or as we say in the group, “fat release”) journey that I’m already doing well in an area that has thwarted me for all of my adult life. If I can be successful there, then there’s nothing to stop me from finding success in every aspect of my life. That is not to say I’ll get it right on the first try or even the 100th, but it does mean that if I continue to persevere and use the same principles I apply to the fat release journey: no blame, no shame no guilt, I can’t possibly fail.

What this means on a practical level is that I praise myself for the things I did well each day, but instead of beating myself up for the things I didn’t, I simply make a promise to myself to do better. In that vein, I’ve re-initiated the practice of climbing into bed at night and laying there for a few minutes thinking about the things that happened during the day for which I’m grateful.

Putting the Success Team Together

Essentially, I’m becoming my own head coach. I encourage, praise and note areas needing improvement. I also post both progress and areas in which I’m struggling in my support groups. This way, I get additional encouragement and even ideas which help me do better.

Asking for help has always been a difficult thing for me to do, but I realize that I’m not going to get where I want to go without some outside assistance of some sort. I’m also learning that there truly are people out there who want to support me achieving my goals, but they can’t help if I don’t ask or allow them in.

Embracing Change as a Driving Force

Stepping outside my comfort zone seems to be the theme for 2016. Whether it’s interviewing chefs, stepping into unfamiliar situations or changing up the schedule I’ve been keeping for years, the Universe is making it very clear that I need to try new things and wander away from what is easy. I need to forge new trails and break from routine. For a number of reasons, that seems to be what I’m doing.

I’ve even revamped my website a time or two. It’s still not exactly what I want, but each iteration sees some improvement. Eventually, that, too will be dealt with by professionals.

For now, I’m embracing change, being kind to myself when I don’t complete all my tasks, but still prodding myself to continue to improve and progress. Out of all this will, with any luck, come a real plan for reaching my loftiest dreams.

With Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the support I’m getting from the Neurogym community.
2. I am grateful for the outpouring of love and good wishes I received for my birthday.
3. I am grateful for the milestones I’ve reached with my weight and look forward to reaching some in other aspects of my life.
4. I am grateful for the time spent with my daughter and son-in-law this weekend. They always make my birthday special. And I’m looking forward to more time and endless walking with my daughter again soon.
5. I am grateful for abundance: supportive people, inspiration, goals, encouragement, the will to keep trying, release of fat, release of fear, friendship, love, joy, harmony, peace, 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, 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!

Getting Out of the Rut and Making the Life You Deserve

Seeing Changes and Knowing They’re Good

I’ve been in my current human form for the better part of 61 years yet I’m beginning to realize that for the much of that time, I was simply plodding from one day to the next, having little impact on the world around me and accomplishing little. I’d fallen into the societal trap of working at a job which offers a decent living, doing repetitive things, be it work, play or chores and errands.

I’d like to stay I began to wake up over the last 15 or 20 years, and that would certainly be true, but progress, up until the last 2 or 3 has been decidedly slow. Sure, I watched “The Secret” a few times, read “Laws of Attraction” in several of its forms and practiced positivity. I definitely made some improvements to myself but nothing of any real significance. That is, until I started taking a healing class on the recommendation of my massage therapist.

That class may not have launched my career as a healer, but it made me take some good, hard looks at myself and my life, and frankly, I wasn’t exactly pleased with the naked truth. My life was boring and predictable, uncreative and unremarkable. 4 months into the healing course, I decided to trust my gut for a change and quit my boring and soul-sucking 9-5 accounting job to launch my writing career.

Anyone who follows this blog pretty much knows how that’s been going. I’m certainly putting a lot of words on screen, but except for articles I publish on the website of the photographer I’ve begun working with, publication is still an unrequited dream. My inner critic is still stronger than I’d like despite the compliments I do get on some of my pieces. My ability to actually finish something longer than a blog post or article is still shaky at best. But I am making progress.

Yet, in my own way, I was still plodding along in a predictable and boring pattern. I get up, I exercise sometimes, I do my errands on the same day every week and dance on the same nights in the same place. In short, my brain and soul were itching to break out of this self-imposed rut.

Learning to Ride and Thrive with the Changes

A couple things happened over the last 4 months to get me moving again. First, I got tired of chronic pain and went in search of both a diagnosis and a solution. The nearly 3 months of physical therapy has not only given me no small amount of relief but has me exercising more regularly and moving much more freely.

Enter my photographer friend, Jesse. Towards the end of last year, she hired me to write some posts for her website. After attending a couple of events together, she realized she’d rather put her efforts into taking photographs and avoid having to write the accompanying story so she offered the job to me. It’s a perfect match as we both get to do what we love, plus we bring different administrative and marketing skills to the table, creating a very effective synergy.

Body issues also served to remind me that I’m not in the best of physical shape, but in a chicken or the egg kind of scenario, I figured that stressing out over money was a huge factor. After attending one of John Assaraf’s Brain-a-thons, I signed up for Winning the Game of Money and became part of a community of ambitious, supportive people.

It was a no-brainer for me when John offered an 11-day weight loss challenge. I lost a few pounds, improved my eating habits, starting eating more of the veggies from my weekly box and between the two programs, was feeling a whole lot better and more energetic. Better still was the improvement in my sleep and the drastic improvements in my pain levels, strength and flexibility. The icing on the cake was when I won one of the two subscriptions given out for the Winning the Game of Weight Loss program.

I am now starting week 11 of the WTGOM program and week 2 of WTGOWL (technically, I spent about 3 weeks on Level 1 because of the challenge). I’m learning to say “releasing fat” instead of “losing weight” because losing implies that you’ll eventually find it again. As most people who’ve spent years of their lives dieting know, it’s often an endless cycle of losing some and gaining more. I didn’t get to be 233 pounds at my highest by accident, I assure you. Thankfully, the last time I “lost weight” I actually did manage to keep some of it off, but I’m a long ways from my healthy place. The difference is, this time, I’m more confident about getting and staying there.

Finding Someone New and Exciting, and That Someone is Me

But this isn’t really a testimonial for John’s programs, but a picture of my own evolution. The last piece is the afore-mentioned friend and photographer, Jesse. She’s dragged me along, sometimes kicking and screaming on her own quest to work with Food Network. To my surprise, and to the especial surprise of my inner hermit, I’m having a blast. While she runs around with her camera photographing everything, I’m in amongst the people, talking, asking questions and generally having a great time. I don’t know how this happened as I’ve always thought of myself as a loner and someone who just doesn’t do well with people. Maybe on some levels that’s still true, but I know now that it doesn’t have to stay that way.

I’m learning that when people see someone with a notebook taking notes, they’re curious. When they find out you’re a writer/journalist, many are anxious to talk and share.

This weekend, we attended what was publicized as a beer event, but also featured about 20 food trucks. But these weren’t just any food trucks! Each and every one of them was owned and operated by chefs…not cooks, but chefs. One of them was a collaboration of 3 who had recently left the restaurant where they all worked. Their exit took the executive chef, chef de cuisine and pastry chef, and ultimately one of the cooks as well. You know it’s not about the money when three high level chefs turn their skills to running a food truck! They have a passion and a dream.

And that’s where I’m reminded I do too, and that I’m not going to realize them by sitting in my house day after day, maybe pounding away at this keyboard. I’m not going to find it going out on the same nights every week to the same place and seeing the same people who may or may not care whether I’m there or not, and it doesn’t really matter either way.

I’m going to find it by, for now, helping my friend chase her dream because in helping her, I’m giving myself a gift I didn’t even know I wanted or deserved. I’m gaining confidence, learning how to get people to talk about themselves, feeling the passion from those who do have the sense to follow what their heart wants. And I’m stretching those writing chops of mine into unknown directions where I just have to fake it ’til I make it. Except I realized tonight, I’m no longer faking it. I’m really loving the new directions, the places we’re going, the people I’m talking to. This is my new adventure, and the best part of it is that I really don’t know where it’s going to take me, and it doesn’t matter!

GOYA (Get off your Ass)

Though I wouldn’t recommend quitting your 9-5 job like I did, without a real plan or source of income, I’d definitely suggest you take a good, hard look at what you’re doing with your life and how it makes you feel. If you have settled into a life of sameness, make sure that’s what you really want, and if it isn’t, start by making small changes. Most important, find people who align with what you really want, and help them chase their dream until yours comes around and smacks you in the face.

My gratititudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for my friend, Jesse who drags me out of my comfort zone on a regular basis.
2. I am grateful to John and the NeuroGym team who are helping me improve my health, my outlook, my ambition, my drive and how I’m spending my time these days.
3. I am grateful to the friends and family who cheer me on, egg me on and kick my butt when I need it. Without the encouragement, I would still be existing instead of living.
4. I am grateful for my writing skills and my constant efforts to improve them; sometimes by studying, but more often by just exercising the muscle in a variety of ways.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, motivation, community, peace, harmony, healthy, 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!

Evolution: The Person, The Blog

A Time to Restore Order

I’ve been thinking a lot about the direction (or lack thereof) of this blog lately. I’ve come to the conclusion that in some ways, it’s time to return to the original, underlying premise when I began writing publicly and believe that is truly where my heart is.

What this means is in the coming weeks, I’ll return to my focus on personal challenges, growth, positivity and inspiration. The topics may not be Google search-worthy, but the truth is, I love sharing what I’ve learned (even the painful parts) and inspiring others, if only by assuring them they’re not alone.

I’ve also learned that inspiration is a two-way street. The people I inspire invariably inspire me as well. You could say we create a mutual inspiration society, and my most heartfelt desire is that the inspiration and supportiveness continue to spread. We’re all in this together, folks, and not one of us is getting out alive!

Knowing Which Trees to Shake

One of the best ways to get past a traumatic event is to talk about it, but it’s not always that simple. Upbringing, societal standards and embarrassment are exacerbated by our very real fear of being judged. As open as I’ve been here, there are things even I am not ready to discuss openly; things I’ve experienced, choices I’ve made which would rain too much havoc on my head to broach right now. And that’s a choice in and of itself.

We all make choices every day and one we choose most often, I believe, is to hold our tongues. Just as we wouldn’t come out and bluntly tell a friend “You look fat in that dress”, there are many times when things are better left unsaid. It might be to spare someone’s feelings or simply to avoid someone’s hot buttons to prevent unnecessary arguments. Either way, as adults we have learned to be tactful and not just blurt out whatever comes into our heads (there are, of course, exceptions to this and the results of their absence of tact is the basis for some rather interesting drama).

The most obvious topics are religion and politics. I’ve learned through some painful experiences to be extremely cautious about the first. People can be quite dogmatic about their beliefs and contrary to my own viewpoint, think what they believe is the one, true way. Rather than screaming “Bullshit!” in their faces, I’ve learned to bite down very hard on my tongue, smile and walk away. Such people will never, ever admit that we all have a right to our own beliefs and that ours is just as valid and meaningful as theirs. What astonishes me most is that some religious circles still hold fast to, and continue to propagate such an egocentric concept. But it explains a lot about the continued existence of religious persecution.

Politics, on the other hand, is such an unholy conglomeration of social, moral, religious agitation-inducing nonsense fueled by a desire to distract everyone from the real problems…the elephant in the room, if you will that to attempt to debate any of the issues is, to me, about as satisfying as trying to find the end of a tightly wound ball of string without the slightest opportunity for a successful outcome.

Taking the High Road and Keeping the Peace

So for now, I will continue to share the inspirational and the painful, the cheering and the sobering while carefully avoiding anything which would give way to heated, emotion-based discussions where nobody wins.

As always, I’m grateful to those of you who continue to visit and even, on occasion, share your own thoughts and experiences. Without you, I might have stopped writing this blog years ago. But here I am, 7 years later, still writing somewhat regularly, and it’s all because of you.

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful to be regaining my focus.
  2. I am grateful for friends, old and new.
  3. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned, lessons I struggle with and lessons yet to arrive.
  4. I am grateful for opportunities the Universe gives me to help others. They’re beginning to appear in unexpected ways, and make me glad I asked.
  5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, sharing, caring, kindness, compassion, 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, 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, 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!

Dream a Little Dream With Me

Asleep or Awake, the Universe Guides Me With Clear Intentions

I’ve been having a lot of dreams lately (and yes, I remember a lot when I wake up) involving people from my past. Sometimes they appear individually and others, like last night, in veritable hordes. Individually, I usually recognize the person, if not by face, at least by reference to something in the past to which they were connected. But when they’re in hordes, I often think The face is familiar. but I can’t put a name or a place to it.

Last night in particular, I kept wandering into groups of people, ostensibly from my past, but behaving in bizarre manners. In the first one I remember, I was directed to a conference room where I was supposed to meet with someone about doing some kind of contract work. Next thing I knew, the room filled up with people who seemed oblivious to my presence until I started babbling about irrelevant things. After receiving several pointed glares, I realized it wasn’t my inane commentary to which they objected, but to my bare feet propped on the table which I’d somehow managed to overlook when people started filling the room.

Without getting lost in a lengthy analysis or discussion about my vivid dreams, I just want to say that I’ve come to the realization I’m being guided to revisit the past for a reason: I need to clear and release all of my old baggage to leave my slate clear for all of the positive affirmations and life changes I’ll be making during the *infinitepossibilitiesproject.

Our Possibilities are Only Limited by Our Own Thoughts and Beliefs

Speaking of which, I haven’t posted the last couple of days’ #infinitepossibilitiesproject tasks because they were more experiential than documentable. But for Day 8, that all changed, and here is my personal version of the theme.

Day 8 Changing My Story

My life really blasted off in 2016 when I started looking forward instead of back, while enjoying one day at a time in the present. That’s when I just started writing whatever came into my head and publishing it on my blog with a link to my website. I covered everything from How-to’s to dream analysis to healthy eating to pets. My unfiltered approach began attracting attention as friends and followers started passing my posts around.

Soon, posts turned into short stories which required daily or weekly updates and I used the art of the cliffhanger to my advantage. If I happened to miss a day, I’d receive a slew of comments wanting to know what would happen to my hero or heroine next. Forget Watt Pad or any of the formal story posting sites. I created a following of my own and began inviting other writers to share their serially written stories on my site as well until volume reached such a level I had to create a website just for the stories! But the real icing on the cake came when my Hire Me pages completely exploded with requests for me to write for other people. The law of supply and demand forced me to not only raise my rates to an almost embarrassing level, but to hire other writers to work for me! I had my pick since many were already posting stories on my site, and I knew what they could do.

With the creative juices flowing so steadily, I finished all three of my novels in progress and hired editors and cover artists. On the advice of my Marketing Guru, I released them several months apart, offering giveaways of some of my short stories to attract attention. It wasn’t long before I had to start charging for the short story collections too, as demand got too high to keep giving them away. What came next was a whirlwind of book signings across the country, television interviews and finally, the cherry on top of my hot fudge sundae, an invitation to do a TED talk!

Sitting on the deck of the dream house I had built on an extraordinary piece of property overlooking a stunning piece of Southern California beach, I watch the sun sinking into the sea. Perhaps one of my writer friends has joined me for a cup of tea on a chilly autumn evening to share the day’s progress or just enjoy the silence broken only by the crashing of the waves. My cats have each found their favorite spot on lap, chair or floor to enjoy the peaceful camaraderie and a bit of attention after being somewhat ignored while I wrote all day.

Eventually, with the darkening sky, I stand up, stretch and head for my in-home gym to push muscles which my fairly sedentary life of writing would otherwise render less useful. Even several nights a week of dancing need to be augmented by pushing some heavy pieces of metal around in various ways to keep muscles and joints strong and limber. I feel my body moving freely through the motions and a rush of gratitude flows through me. Not only for the ability to move and lift at my advanced age {grin} but for how my passion for writing has given me the life I’ve always dreamed of and friends to share it with who truly appreciate the road I traveled to get here. I am so blessed.

I got a bit behind on Day 8, but made it up by getting a jump on Day 9:

Day 9 Choosing beliefs that serve me in every area of my life I wish to transform.
1. I am dedicated to my craft and to writing every day.
2. I attract people who inspire, promote and advance my career goals.
3. I crave foods which are healthy and inspire my creativity in the kitchen.
4. I have all of the resources I need to be successful, and to help others be the same.
5. There is more than enough work for all of us in every area we wish to influence and affect.
6. The Universe guides me, giving me stepping stones as I complete each lesson, leading me to the next lesson and accomplishment.
7. The world contains far more kindness and compassion than anything else. We are all inspired to help and support each other.
8. Marketing my books and stories is easier than I imagined, easier than it’s been to get the words down on the page and worked out to my satisfaction.
9. I am fearless. I know what I want and I know how to get there. I am my own best advocate.
10. One of my purposes is to help, guide and inspire others.

You Deserve Abundance

If you’re finding yourself in self-defeating thought, behavior or belief patterns, I recommend you check out Tut’s Infinite Possibilities Project. I can attest to the fact that I’m feeling stronger, more inspired and more powerful with each new day. In fact, a few more days of all of this incredible positive energy and I might become rather a PITA about it. I will try to keep my soapbox firmly tucked away as I know that like everything else, it’s not for everyone. But if you’re inspired at all by the accounts of my experience, you might want to take a few minutes and just listen to a couple of the videos.

Before this becomes a novella, let me leave you with tonight’s gratitudes.
1. I am grateful for all of the people who spread love and positivity.
2. I am grateful for the opportunity to encourage and inspire others.
3. I am grateful for the many people, things and circumstances which are flowing into my life to inspire, to uplift and to help me find my true purpose.
4. I am grateful for things that make me twitchy because those are the things that make me take action and move closer to the life I imagine while adding more details I hadn’t even thought of.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, inspiration, friendship, motivation, positivity, kindness, compassion, health, beauty, 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!

Who Else Has the Holiday Blahs?

I Can’t Get into the Holidays This Year

There, I’ve said it. My Christmas spirit is about the same as the song lyrics playing right now on my Pandora “…dead, dead and gone.” OK, so Blood, Sweat and Tears’ song is a lot more upbeat than the line implies. Nevertheless, it fits the idea that my typical excitement about the holidays has floundered.

Perhaps it’s because my only concession to decorating this year is the annual Trader Joe’s wreath on my front door. But logically, as I’m spending Christmas with my daughter and son-in-law this year instead of them spending it with me, it makes perfect sense. I’m sure the cats would disagree as they thoroughly enjoy chasing ornaments around the house this time of year.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m as happy as ever and am following the tradition of lighting the Chanukah candles every night. I just can’t get into the preparations, and it’s affecting everything else as well.

The other night, I pulled out all of the wrapping paraphernalia after rearranging my living room furniture. A couple of night’s later, I took everything out of it’s mailing envelope and checked my orders to see what I’m still missing. Now everything sits on top of my card table waiting for me to do something…anything with it.

Gone, the Joy of Annual Crazy Wrapping

I think my mind has yet to wrap itself around the idea that stockings won’t be hung on the entry wall with care this year and there won’t be the mess on my living room floor where wrapping paper is tossed for cats to play hide ‘n seek in. The idea of loading everything up in my car seems to have killed the buzz I get from dreaming up new and different ways to annoy my kids.

Lean Years Shouldn’t be Mean Years

There were plenty of lean years when my daughters were growing up; years when many of their gifts were hand made and often not especially pretty. But they loved it all because I did my best to make it fun. The fact that this year is lean as a result of building my freelance business shouldn’t change that. And yet, in some ways, I think it does.

Doing hand made stuff for my daughter seems pointless since anything I might do, she does better. She’s creative and innovative and she’s actually good at artistic stuff. I’m not. Words are my art and it’s not like I could write a story for her by Christmas and have it bound all nice and pretty. I don’t even have time to clean up “Frederick the Gentlemouse” which is more than half written, by then.

Where oh Where Did my Mojo Go?

So I’ve sat, night after night, watching Christmas movies on Hallmark channel until they no longer hold my attention. I was supposed to be wrapping but so far, I’ve not gotten any paper unrolled or cut nor the stuff on my table put into boxes. What I have done is what you see right now. I’ve done what I usually do when faced with a problem or mood I want to shake. I’ve written about it, shared it and dragged the causes and reasons from the depths of my somewhat twisted soul.

As I type, I realize that part of the problem has been my concern over my elderly cat, Patches, who has been ill for the last week or so. What started as lack of appetite has gone through several stages after learning that her liver enzyme numbers were off the chart. She seemed to get worse and I finally took her off the antibiotics which were upsetting her stomach and killing what little was left of her appetite.

Thankfully, she’s finally eating, if smaller amounts, but I offer her food about 3 times a day so all in all, she’s probably getting as much or more than she was, and the vomiting has stopped. Like anyone who has been that sick, she just wants to hide and sleep. I keep finding her curled up on a pile of stuffed animals in my closet. When she does come out, she likes to curl up on my bed where the rest of my brood gather around offering comfort (as long as food isn’t involved. Toby, Scrappy and Pye would just as soon scarf down her food as comfort her, the little piggies!). I think that until I know she’s out of the woods (and each vet I speak to has more words of dubious cheer to offer) I’m going to be a few quarts low on my holiday spirit.

If you’re still reading this, I want to thank you for reading my petty rant. I do know I’m not alone in having to dig down deep to find my holiday spirit, though, thankfully, my usual joy and positivity is still intact. There’s something about the world saying “you need to be joyful” that makes people want to stomp their foot like a two-year-old and say petulantly, Don’t tell me how to feel!

Speaking of positivity, I’m finding myself rewording my thoughts at the strangest times. I was driving between errands today and when I passed the offramp for Costco, I glanced at my gauge and thought I don’t need gas. After a second, I changed it to I’m good for gas and finally, I have sufficient gas. I’ve got myself so well trained that I even correct casual thoughts now. I guess that’s a good thing when you consider the Laws of Attraction. Thoughts can and do become things.

On that note, I’ll leave you with my gratitudes:
1. I am grateful that Patches is finally keeping food and water down.
2. I am grateful for my writing when I need to work something out.
3. I am grateful for the people who read my posts; even the ones I know are rather tedious.
4. I am grateful I cleared my mental path so I can move forward, getting things accomplished the rest of the week.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, ambition, support, friendship, encouragement given and received, joy, hope, 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, A Passion for Writing 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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