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

Archive for the ‘#shericonaway’ Category

My Road Map is A Scatter Diagram

Defining a Road Map

Created with CanvaMy Mentor, Linda Clay is a big fan of plans and road maps for reaching your goals. Me, not so much. I’m more of a “set the intention and follow the breadcrumbs the Universe leaves me” kinda gal. Linda insists I really do have a plan, even if I can’t see it in all it’s map-y glory.

It occurred to me today I was looking at it wrong. Instead of trying to see the nice, neat little road leading from point A to point B, I have to look at the dots flung hither and yon and imagine a line connecting them together. It won’t be straight and it won’t head directly to my goal. My map has dozens of side trips and deviations to the original plan because that’s the way I think.

Looking at the Empty Spaces

I used to tease my daughter Heather about solving problem by going from A to Q. She tended to skip a lot of the steps in between because her mind processed them too quickly to mention. Such is the ADD mind, and mine works the same way. But by the same token, we may go off on tangents seemingly unrelated to our goal while we’re in that space between A and Q. People don’t typically see those either because, again, they happen pretty quickly.

But life, though it’s certainly a constant series of problems and equations to solve, isn’t a single one we can solve quickly, then get on with it. Instead, we may be juggling 6 or 7 things at once, and maybe more. While we’re solving one, another 8 are jumping on our backs like a bunch of hungry chimps, each certain it’s the one that should get our attention first.

The Disorderly Mind

To an outsider, or simply someone who requires order, it might look like I’m chasing my tail https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nmost of the time. In truth, I’m gathering data and learning new things with every side trip and switch back I take. Connecting my dots would reveal, not a clean, direct route, but rather a spiral which leaves some things after one visit, but goes back to others time and time again because there’s more to be gained after learning a few more things on my journey.

We aren’t always ready for the lessons life gives us. For some it means plugging away in frustration until finally, something falls into place and it makes sense. My frustration level is very low. I’m more likely to walk away, but experience has shown me that’s often my best option. By walking away, I turn my attention to other things, maybe discovering key components in something entirely unrelated. I clear my head so when I return to the problem or lesson, I approach it with a clean perspective, and often see the solution clearly.

Games Which Stretch Our Minds

I’ve always enjoyed doing logic problems, not because they engaged the analytical part of my brain, but because in a weird way, they didn’t. You’re presented with information that doesn’t seem complete, in pieces and parts that require you to put them together without an actual framework. Looking at 3 of the clues, you might find information to check off a box or two the first time around. But each time you go through the clues, what you’ve checked off previously coalesces to clarify the picture.

My approach to life and especially my goals is a lot like a logic problem. I don’t have all the answers or knowledge I need to get there right now. I have to keep picking up skills and information, then circling back to put a few more pieces in place. Once I do, more clues are revealed or I’m directed to another source of information I need to absorb before I can continue.

Traversing an Unmarked Road of Opportunities

My guides don’t provide flashing neon signs telling me “you need this piece before you can assemble Process Q47H”. Instead, they toss out opportunities to learn something, or people who offer something I need. It’s up to me to decide whether I’m ready to assimilate what’s offered, or even willing to put forth the effort. I might even know the offer is a one-time deal and won’t come back again. That, too goes into my decision to pursue or pass.

I know if I miss one opportunity, it will either return in another form, or it’s something which might have actually confused me and taken me further off course. There are times I have, indeed chosen something that took me far away from my original path. That’s not always a bad thing either.

Each Person’s Road Map is a Series of Choices

At different points in our lives we make choices. We decide how we want our lives to look in X years. But things change. New options become available. Or old options lose their luster for one reason or another. The dreams I have today and the choices I’m making are seemingly light years away from the ones I had 20 or 30 years ago. Even the ones I had 5 years ago when I quit my accounting job are considerably different than the ones I have now (except the house overlooking the beach on a private peninsula. I still want that!).

Why? Because as I’ve pursued the original dream, I’ve learned a lot of things. Some of them are still pointing me in a reasonable facsimile of my chosen direction at the time, but many of them have expanded my horizons—showing me how much broader and more diverse my options are. I didn’t have the knowledge or the experience 5 years ago to see past my personal horizon. I was also locked in a pretty constricting comfort zone.

Growth Occurs When We Leave Our Comfort Zone

In the last couple of years, I’ve taken some giant leaps outside my former comfort zone. It’s https://www.flickr.com/photos/europeanspaceagency/31275407857/in/photolist-PDGD8X-bnbiQa-k7zt6d-6M2nn9-mAAwrU-k7wXWX-nhNH58-k7zDp9-k7xjWk-nJgXGP-nk9CP8-k7tAv4-nziGrM-6ez3RC-nxeRe7-k7zCqf-2fgYi1C-k7B7wo-c411jo-S3dRoP-k7zetH-aubYf9-5u7LHw-cDzxty-5u3mjF-efS9bW-9tURvV-MNVXL-dkbcr9-aMCP28-LFJ8h-HUeD1-87TPHZ-5u3o9k-4t8Czz-5u7Lnq-XBZhbM-Yz4KP7-dJTsqi-YfKzKY-5Xw9Tw-kYuVpf-9GbcYZ-7DuDAu-fkpUYM-zGvsDE-qxEs38-o6g4QL-pJaHTv-mmZ7Ucnow on the far-distant horizon behind me, and before me are endless possibilities. I certainly wouldn’t have considered ghostwriting as the piece to fill the gap between my memoir and novels, and making a living. But here I am, writing for other people and getting paid to do it. The crazy part is, I’m loving doing it! I get to combine my Empathic skills with my writing skills to get inside someone’s head and write as if I were them.

Sure, my insecurities stage a rave every time I take on a new client, but with each new piece they accept and often love, my confidence grows. It will never reach cocky as a little humility, nervousness, and work ethic drive me to offer my best product to each client. But maybe at some point the raves will become more of a line dance floor where common steps are given their own twist by the participants, and I’m more certain I’m at least doing the same dance.

Connecting my dots doesn’t have a single solution. I can connect them in a million different ways and ultimately reach my goal. But I spend less time connecting and more time experiencing because I know that goal will change a few dozen times as I draw closer, and by the time I do reach it, it will more likely be a way-station than a destination.

My Most Powerful Tool Will Always Be Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful to all the people who inspire me with ideas. My blogs are from real life; mine, yours, the world’s.
  2. I’m grateful for disruptive dreams that show me I’m embroiling myself in nonsense and fruitless meanderings at times.
  3. I’m grateful for a new day when irritations fade and perspectives are back in place.
  4. I’m grateful for the plethora of inspirational material available on Social Media. It’s thought-provoking, conversation-starting, or sometimes, what someone really needs to hear.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; opportunities, new clients to write for, inspiration, ideas that come simply by placing fingers to keys, friendship, motivation, support, encouragement, love, healing, joy, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Triggering Old Memories and Unspent Grief

Memories and Grief Dug Up From the Past

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrWhile reading a manuscript about childhood loss, I was thrown back in time to the day my dad told us his mother was dying of lung cancer. It was the first and only time I saw my dad cry, and even now, just thinking about it unnerves me.

Yet as a child, I followed my parents’ lead when it came to emotional issues, not only because it was all I knew, but because I was often ridiculed for being overly sensitive. Though I was already 12 at the time, I’d  had a few hard lessons about publicly expressing my emotions. I’d continue to experience humiliation from many directions until I learned to switch that part of me off (not the best solution, but all I had for a long time). The little I knew about losing someone I loved was enough to color my first experience with grieving.

So when I started reading about how a child’s grief is different from that of an adult, it threw me back to when my grandmother died. I realized I never grieved her passing. We visited her a few times before she passed, and I think I went to her funeral. But after that, she was just gone. We didn’t talk about her or think about her any more after that—until Dad took his life after being diagnosed with the same disease that killed his mother.

Emotions Buried, Memories Skewed

Even so, it’s taken me years of writing therapy, reading books about other peoples’ suicide experiences, and finally, a book about childhood loss to shake loose the feelings and emotions I buried so long ago.

The first thing I discovered was my faulty memory. In my mind I lost my grandmother when I was 10, but in reality (and after a Google search for her obituary) I discovered I was 12. Researching the date actually helps to put things in perspective as the year she died, 1968, was a pretty eventful one all the way around.

That was the year I was walking about 2 miles to attend a Junior High School that was out of my district. I’d leave the house early to make the 45 minute walk most days rather than having my mother drive me. I remember walking alone and enjoying the solitude. In those days, no one thought twice about a young girl walking alone on a city street. By the time my daughters were born, we were diligent about teaching our kids to travel in groups. Were the weirdos and creeps always there, or has life and disconnection made them more common?

I don’t remember what I thought about on those long walks to school. I don’t even remember having any friends, though I’m sure I interacted with someone during my school days. I do remember bottling up my emotions until they’d come out in a flood at inconvenient moments. It opened me up to the cruelty of Junior High School kids (the worst of all if you ask me) and likely caused me to recede further into myself.

The Festering Cesspool of Unexpressed Emotions

https://www.flickr.com/photos/anieto2k/8156999698/in/photolist-dqNKPQ-8xXrZz-a2tqF7-ecib3q-aR5rxR-23UMduh-aWLsg4-aQ6X3p-dTTc5c-dcyQ5m-b1FLUp-drS8ZF-bsmN5R-nNhBzE-6ssEeg-9jEcfZ-aVXtzx-j6LK2o-aNpZyT-dCTfD3-dvswdt-b3pgdi-dtXu4B-6LJawW-8CFHEg-8aL7Jf-hDdmuC-anA578-cPoDxo-9qmjuQ-dtXueV-qsdJSm-dqq1i2-2cGG4pp-dqq1sP-hp14Hw-cbnjHE-7bv7xs-chavXC-7uLgNT-8E3GL9-ar7X3y-aai6ME-nt1LXG-gZvg1N-S1DgTf-8kUop7-6532HD-exeWcJ-di6ynQMixed in with those emotions were probably the things I couldn’t express about losing my grandmother. My dad’s example wouldn’t allow it. After her death, I don’t remember any pictures of her around the house except in my parents’ wedding picture which I didn’t see until years later. Her name wasn’t spoken. We didn’t even go visit my grandfather. He visited us once with a cousin he’d married so he wouldn’t be alone. It wasn’t long after my grandmother’s death, and she asked us to call her “Grandma”. My sister and I ran up the stairs to our rooms in tears.

Again, my memory is unclear as a search revealed the marriage didn’t take place until 1971, 3 years after my grandmother’s death. Our grief was clearly lying dormant awaiting an opportunity to be expressed openly—an opportunity which never came.

Other memories of 1968 include horrific migraines (a legacy from my grandmother and father) which had me throwing up in trash cans while waiting for my mother to pick me up from school. But it wasn’t an entirely bad year. It was also the year we moved to Westlake Village after spending the better part of the year traveling back and forth so my dad could do the electrical in our new house himself. He’d made a deal with the builder to reduce the price and allow him to do what he wanted. We ended up with upgraded appliances and far more lighting than the typical tract house enjoyed in those days. We also ended up with avocado green and harvest gold EVERYTHING!

Opportunities to Start Anew

1968, the year I turned 13 brought a lot of changes into my life. I made new friends who https://www.flickr.com/photos/162733867@N08/29086322568/in/photolist-Ljg1m9-8b3Bcq-8dftDn-8mKHGw-kNJinr-7G5qTG-qqkYQy-8diVHq-icq54s-7G1vvv-8wSgbU-icquZX-7G5rPh-icquE8-icqcvj-dumDWG-c2Bg2L-9tJW5E-c2BjJY-dug3Ya-6CY1c7-F2Dn7m-6RgcKS-oTJEvg-myPgtn-5JppCu-b8Mizx-6zQ5G6-8mKTLQ-7KP9jG-dumDnj-8mGTPt-ryq1RH-sve5aR-7KK6Ec-4JjASd-9ATqPS-7KKbkz-8mGXFk-8mL5Ld-7RZ28J-4Jfkoc-8dfkdv-8mGyHH-8mGJdK-8afnPD-6Lg64e-biSy3F-pihYMh-8sRJY6shared my interests and didn’t want to beat me up (a major flaw in my previous neighborhood). We all had to ride the bus to school as there was only one Middle School in the district at the time and it was a freeway ride away. We had teachers who weren’t beaten down by an excessively large school district who actually made learning fun and interesting.

Still, I managed to attract the bullies who did their best to embarrass me at every opportunity. Hard as I tried, my overly sensitive nature and all the emotions I wasn’t allowed to express at home refused to stay bottled up and controlled. I had yet to replace tears with anger, though I practiced at home. My mother and I were already pushing each others’ buttons on a regular basis.

I also got to indulge in a pleasure I still find today with my writing. I had an extraordinary English teacher who gave me many opportunities to flex my creative muscles and introduced me to collaboration.

Learning to Grieve, but Only in Private

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpThe year my grandmother died was filled with a lot of highs and lows. I learned more about keeping to myself and not letting anyone see the shy, frightened child inside. But I never learned to grieve. Not for my grandmother, not for my other grandparents when their time came, and not for my parents. The only ones I’ve been able to openly and unashamedly grieve for are all the cats I’ve loved and lost over the years.

Each time, I grieve alone, in the safety of my home, spilling tears on the comforting backs of the ones who are still here letting me love them unreservedly. And maybe that’s how I’ve learned to grieve. It’s a whole lot better than holding things in and allowing them to fester.

Today I have friends who are more than willing to help me get over the rough spots, whether it’s grieving or anything else. They talk unashamedly about expressing their emotions (both the men and the women) and aren’t afraid to turn to each other when their own strength needs shoring up.

Though I’m always there for them, and especially sensitive to someone else’s needs, I still find it hard to be honest and open about my own feelings—my own struggles. Old habits die hard but I’m trying to stop saying I’m fine when I’m not. Even that is a huge step for a girl who comes from a family who discouraged expressing your feelings. For a girl who was beaten up, picked on, and humiliated by peers who took pleasure in seeing her cry.

Accepting Ourselves Fully and Completely

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691NIt’s a legacy I inadvertently passed on to my daughters. One struggled with the same issues I did, the other became hard and cold. It’s a legacy which has to stop, if not with me, with the daughter who’s as overly sensitive as me. She needs to know it’s OK to openly grieve, whether it’s a friend, a grandparent, or a beloved pet. She and her own children need to know it’s OK to be human.

As humans, anger is the easiest emotion to express. Too often, we use it indiscriminately to mask softer emotions like grief, worry, and insecurity. Unfortunately, being angry all the time as a mechanism for protecting our softer selves tends to make us appear hard and cold. If carried on too long, we start to become the persona we’ve assumed.

We need to accept and own our emotions fearlessly. They are as much a part of us as fear, and deserve to be expressed. Those who try to use them against us are simply not our people. It might take awhile to find those who accept our whole package, emotions and all, allowing us to express those emotions in a healthy manner. We may stumble a few times, and get hurt many more.

Finding those who do accept our complete selves are the rainbow we find at the end of a long storm that seems to thrive on our misery and discomfort. But when we find them, when we’re finally allowed to be and express our true selves, both happy and sad, the trip through that storm ceases to matter. Only the end of the journey will remain in our hearts and memories. And I finally found my soft place to land.

Gratitude Heals Our Wounds

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for friends who accept me as I am, and instead of running away when I’m barely holding on, offer me lifelines.
  2. I’m grateful for for the many cats who’ve traveled through this lifetime who’ve allowed me to be who I am, the good, the bad, and the ugly.
  3. I’m grateful for storms because there are rainbows at the end.
  4. I’m grateful for the many layers I’ve uncovered as I travel the roads this lifelong journey leads me on.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance: love, friendship, joy and sorrow, storms and rainbows, all the cats I’ve loved, and those I’ve yet to meet and love, dancing, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Evolving From a Moth to a Butterfly

Coming Out of Hiding

https://www.flickr.com/photos/augustbrill/5025448773/in/photolist-8E5JQv-bj2Q3-buZES-NosS3S-bE9C2-8NP6x3-oKBJYc-7yxvUJ-4eRexw-28mE1ch-5tW6Kf-f2JEoo-acCwSd-eajL56-paxFhz-4cv8b7-7yxvw5-7D7azC-ofd2U1-4jX86v-cLpNW-7yxvPb-7yxvS7-6hKsj7-7ytH5n-6ZkEpv-nxKqWs-pz4SNk-8HDCce-gT2U3W-7AkeTX-5hzA7T-5hDXEh-fjpMeq-ceoQ2-5hzAiF-51qGYK-ceoza-51qFRM-9vkmV9-5v6EqD-ceoGA-51uTs5-51uSJo-8NP6zA-51qEZx-7zy4Hg-ceoKc-ceorH-w9TTq10 years ago I was Isolated. I went dancing twice a week, went to work, and spent the rest of my time alone or with my daughter Heather. I had few Facebook friends and no phone numbers or other ways to reach my dance “friends”. I was a loner who watched people connecting beyond the dance hall enviously. I was a sad, dull moth fluttering unnoticed amidst the brightly colored butterflies.

I was also oblivious. I had no idea the problem, and eventually the solution was within me.

I spent years building a tough, impermeable wall around myself—a place where I hid from the world and ensured my tender heart would feel no pain. And yet, it did. The pain of loneliness is insidious. It creeps up when you’re not looking, enveloping you in what seems to be a comforting shroud, only to reveal itself as a prison where pain might be held at bay, but love and compassion are too.

We Express Love in Our Own Way

I’d spent most of my life trying to win the love and approval of a man who was, if anything, more withdrawn and unable to give and receive love than I. In hindsight, I am pretty sure he loved me, but his way of showing it left scars I’ve only just begun to recognize and understand. Whereas my mother used criticism to show her love, my dad used sarcasm, cruelty, and rejection.

He had high expectations for me, most revolving around independence. I even earned slight praise for ceasing to be a financial burden on him and my mom soon after I left college the first time. Though mom tried on many occasions to help me, I craved my dad’s love so much, I’d do without rather than admit I needed help. My sister was far more willing to accept handouts, so mom was somewhat appeased.

Hiding from Life

Looking back now, I stayed overlong in my cocoon before bursting forth in a blaze of…dull https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsexagesima01/3612047773/in/photolist-6vbFXK-7mfHK5-82q4rd-7Ku82r-7xTufQ-7xTvNm-noV2nx-8v7yLg-7xTtxw-b5JoM-awiDbx-74ofjQ-4xTEyL-aFUvSc-2nJqV-pnUS3J-UZSY-KSCvY-q54hFw-74jkL8-57r2Za-rXWSV-RAqoKt-wCAn3-74jkCt-459Ltf-8VkKtr-jrTTpy-7Mx4vz-9gJ6Hm-q2BAZF-A1eTBs-4sLmnj-7hJteh-nDn5BQ-98W5r7-4oJBHP-FUYqD-66WsR1-aaLTe-9gF1wt-7AibaD-cof4ks-bKGrY-7pamwZ-9yY17Q-2QEkGc-qtnpn9-qUrb5H-5EB1gvand boring. Instead of a beautiful butterfly, I emerged as a dull, grey moth. Still pretty and ethereal, but in a subdued, hide-in-the-corner kind of way.

My few attempts to stand out left me feeling exposed and vulnerable. I scuttled back into my corner quickly, happy my dull coloring allowed the shadows to consume me. But as I started writing about my parents’ suicides, as I opened up about my own flaws, I realized I had undiscovered dimensions beneath my colorless exterior. I learned I’d simply pulled a full-body mask over my own bright colors to keep from attracting unwelcome attention.

As bit by bit I removed the mask and tore down the walls, I re-discovered my love for bright colors and shiny things—a love I’d buried beneath a thousand layers in my efforts to fit in and be accepted.

A Difficult Journey

Created with CanvaI won’t say I didn’t make a few miss-steps along the way. I know I said and did things to annoy others, and sometimes even piss them off. But I learned to be true to myself, and by doing so, I attracted people who appreciated my bright colors, even if they were a bit loud and glaring at times. I found people who were wearing their own colors proudly, unapologetically, and fearlessly. I joined a flock of butterflies who found joy in standing out.

I may still have moments when I slip back into my moth attire, or fear I’ve overstepped. There are times old feelings come flooding back feeling like a sucker punch to the gut. But I’ve learned to communicate my fears and feelings to those who’ve made me feel welcome and comfortable. They tell me honestly if I’ve pushed the envelope, but usually, they reassure me I’ve done nothing wrong in being myself.

Born to Break Old Patterns

I always had to fight my natural tendencies to fit in with my family. Only now, I’m learning I https://www.flickr.com/photos/geekphysical/34110702621/in/photolist-TYfjPn-TYfjA6-SW9mjv-TYfhFV-nfDXTT-TzQShS-U7cbG3-TYfeGt-SW9q7a-TYffM4-TYfj3T-TYfgur-TzQSHS-U7cdRy-SW9oDR-SW9poM-UaL182-SW9rkH-SW9pEP-r9jQNK-U7ceT3-TYfhAp-TVUzJW-TYfhxt-TYfjgP-TzQM83-UaL13c-TYfeJn-UaL13x-UaL5av-TYfeRM-SW9oAz-SW9qAB-TYfhND-TzQPph-TVUyuw-p57Yrr-FjQDuX-TYffBp-TYfdzZ-UaL2kT-TzQSvY-U7cde1-UaL1Ux-TYffjF-TzQPku-TYfmMRwas different for a reason. In every family, there comes a person who was meant to break old, outgrown patterns and replace them with new, better ones. Their life is rarely easy because they step on a lot of toes without meaning to. It took me decades to understand that was one of my many purposes. My family is rooted in survival behaviors they carry in their genes because they were Jews living in Europe. Though many of those behaviors have been unnecessary for at least 2 generations, they were indelibly etched into the fabric of our genetic weave.

Though I didn’t understand why, I made my family uncomfortable, and they did a fabulous job of shoving me back into a semblance of their mold. But that mold always chafed and itched. It was only after detaching from my family I started stretching my wings and slowly climbing out of a box that wasn’t entirely of my own making. Yet, I’d allowed it to become a part of me, albeit an uncomfortable one because it was easier than fighting what I saw as a losing battle.

Being Left to My Own Devices Was A Blessing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/erix/66519749/in/photolist-6SW1e-VTKUdm-M1eYnL-242z7nc-oqkg1j-proThx-fsTWuh-6k2FkX-o4wR24-y6Zwr-KfMCGq-SFv9cS-8hfbmZ-bfs4it-SkpXJ5-fTkgBF-SRG43L-oaSpyU-6LELFf-8sY2Wq-65Q84A-4uhkK6-4CwKmQ-21jdqXp-ry5GpM-RHagrR-s7emTJ-b8moxH-pgqTW-GmKEPY-7h7g9p-6tuV9R-r3UHnJ-9kePpX-b1DnC2-9Gv9Kj-RFjn7k-6tuPQR-2b4oHPW-nxaMN8-Kez8E-6tuN7i-dUaLfP-6nXEKq-TiiQCx-nXxmkn-hCDNRa-CFeyn-2YRhRS-9BUEVMore and more, I’m grateful to my family for walking away after my mother died. Though it took me another decade to realize it, I no longer had to live my life according to someone else’s rules. They didn’t accept me as I was, and suddenly, that was just fine! I could be who I wanted to be without looking over my shoulder to see who I’d offended or annoyed. And the feeling was incredibly freeing.

I could exhume old skeletons, put them under my personal microscope, and realize their ways weren’t mine. I may have shared blood with those skeletons, but I didn’t have to follow the same old roads they’d followed, perhaps for centuries. There came the day when I looked at those old roads, shuddered, and walked away. I started breaking my own ground.

Sure, it’s been slow going, but the scenery is brighter, friendlier, and more joyful than the bland, grey road I left. But the best part is, I can wear my neon-bright, multi-colored wings proudly. I can soar without fear of tripping up or falling, or worse, attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Shedding my overcoat of grey has been a long, sometimes painful journey, but well worth the trouble when I can fly high in my coat of many colors with others doing the same.

Lessons Learned in Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the family who, for reasons of their own left me to find my own way.
  2. I’m grateful for the strength I didn’t always know I had.
  3. I’m grateful fro the friendships I’ve made since I shed my moth-y greyness.
  4. I’m grateful for a happy, busy, crazy life that suits me perfectly.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, new adventures, love, joy, colors, dancing, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Helping the Traumatized or Depressed

Proactively Helping Our Community

You see it all over social media these days: “If you need help coping with {insert traumatic event here} I’m here for you. Just reach out and I’ll be there.”

While I commend people for wanting to be there for their friends, family, and community, I’ve seen all too often that those who need help the most are the least likely to take the hand reaching out to them. The reasons are endless, but here are just a few of the ones I’ve seen, heard, or even spoken myself:

  • I’m fine. I don’t need help
  • Others have worse troubles than me.
  • Everyone is busy with their own lives and problems. They don’t need to be burdened with mine.
  • They don’t understand what I’m going through, and I don’t feel like explaining it.
  • I just want to be left alone. I’ll figure it out.

Showing Up for Those Who Can’t

The reality is, life is a lot like writing. We have to do more showing and less telling. Instead of posting our offer of an ear, a shoulder, or a sanctuary on social media for everyone to see and scroll right past, we need to be proactive. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.

Is there someone who hasn’t shown up lately? Give them a call. Invite them out for coffee, or a meal, or a walk in the park. Whatever you think might interest them. If they decline, call again in a few days and offer again. Or show up at their place and insist they come out with you or at least let you in for a visit. Even if they’re less than gracious about it, deep down, they’re grateful, believe me.

There is nothing worse for someone who is dealing with deep, emotional pain or trauma than to be left alone for too long. Left to their own devices, they’ll talk themselves out of being valuable to anyone. They’ll wallow in their misery and watch it grow bigger and scarier every day they’re alone.

Better by Degrees

We may not be coping much better than they are, but the fact that we can leave the house and reach out to someone puts us in a much better place from which to heal and move forward. If nothing else, the best way to help ourselves is to reach out and help someone else.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against those who make a public announcement they’re available and ready to help their friends in need. I simply think we need to take it one step further and do something. I’ve seen for myself how much healing happens when a few people get together and share their feelings, or do something they all enjoy to take their mind off reality for a little while. Sitting alone and stewing never did anyone any good.

Knowing they’re hurting, we have to be ready to switch gears if they try to change plans at the last minute. They’re not up to going out for coffee or a meal? Bring the coffee or a meal to them. They just want to sit on the sofa and veg? Bring over a couple of movies or channel surf and find something you can watch together. Or talk to them. Carry the conversation until they’re ready to contribute something of their own.

Being the Friend in Deed

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jkfjellestad/17408694382/in/photolist-swm7k9-5RUVz2-mJjTbx-5RZcQG-LaVetu-ehWSkL-mJjNaa-mJncXh-UQc1nx-mJkdTR-mJnhJS-UNopBe-TLtd22-UnTzSt-UKUNfQ-TvXc6r-UWzrjN-g9uykn-H7hkTY-27dmuiJ-dPKPg5-StARkr-H28Np7-TLyHW2-SasSyJ-ovj4Jg-TDQz2w-g9v3mc-H7rXSy-UWEf8E-qxwgcP-X7uFem-TyrPG7-g9uRij-g9vmqr-TLF3sZ-683YTJ-4DjRMh-5R69WX-eiwKNy-873BnY-787D4h-g9vKLK-UWGbnj-TytBPA-p92cJn-Ufcsfy-URnUfu-TrXPo4-UMmQvhIt’s funny. This isn’t a new concept. There’s an old proverb that says “A friend in need is a friend in deed”. By taking action instead of just offering to be there, we’re taking the act of friendship to the next level. We can even let them know that their company is just what we need right now to get past all the tragedy and pain we, too are experiencing. Take the pressure off of them to be helped by turning it around. They are helping us by allowing us to try to take their mind off the voices in their heads.

I spent a lot of years alone, broken, wallowing, and unwilling to ask for help. Granted, I’d done a bang-up job of pushing people away or keeping them out entirely, so there weren’t many to choose from, even if I knew how to ask. It was a dark, lonely place, and I would have been happy if someone took enough of an interest; cared enough to brush off all my excuses and help me get out of the funk I’d sunk into. But no one did. No one offered. No one visited. And I wallowed for years in my own private pity party.

Look for Those Who Need Help Climbing Out of Their Funk

I’m one of the lucky ones. I found a way out of my funk. I took a couple of suggestions when Created with Canvathey were offered. I decided I was tired of being miserable, and set out to address my ghosts and invite them to leave. The recent suicides of one of the Parkland survivors and the father of one of the Sandy Hook victims makes it clear there are many who can’t do it alone. And it’s more than likely they’re also the ones who won’t reach out or even accept an offered hand.

It’s OK to be sad. It’s OK to wish things hadn’t happened; that lives hadn’t been lost or homes destroyed. But we can’t change the past or make it better than it was. We can, however, change the future by taking action now.

It’s the Little Things

Gather with friends. Visit memorials. Bring soup to a friend like someone did for me not so long ago. Even let someone help you even if you don’t feel you need it.

I recently called a friend to change some light bulbs for me. I could have climbed on a ladder or chair and done it myself, but he’s tall enough to reach without either. He helped me by preventing a potential fall (I’m a well-known klutz), but I got him out of the house for a little while too. Win-win.

My point is, we could all use help once in awhile, but tend to blunder along on our own rather than ask. If someone shows up on our doorstep it’s harder to make excuses, turn them away, or even do without. Sometimes, we might even enjoy the company or a break from our usual routine. We truly are better together than alone.

Gratitude Attracts More to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful there were caring people around to help me emerge from a decades-long funk.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, the people who’ve reached out, and those who’ve allowed me to reach out to them. We all heal in the process.
  3. I’m grateful for choices. Sometimes we really do need to be alone, but too much of anything is not a good thing.
  4. I’m grateful for lessons I’ve learned and people who’ve been there when I needed an example or a teacher. I might still have made progress, but it would have taken much longer.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; new clients, new projects, new opportunities, progress, inspiration, motivation, productivity, joy, love, dancing, positive indifference, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

We All Matter

You Always Matter

I see a lot of posts lately about how we all matter, but I think the real question is, why would we ever think we don’t?

Somehow, we’ve come to believe life has to be a power struggle where there are winners and losers, those who matter and those who don’t. Is there a lack of mattering? Not enough to go around? Or do we just believe it’s so because someone else told us?

Everything is Energy So Tap Into Yours

I recently read a post about money, and how you have to recognize it’s nothing more than Created with Canvaenergy. Once you realize that’s all it is, you’ll understand it’s limitless and there will always be enough to go around if we know where and how to look for it, or, to be more accurate, attract it.

The same is true of finding where and how we matter. In the first place, it’s not about matter to someone or because of some special characteristic we possess. We matter simply because we are. In short, we don’t need a reason to matter any more than we need a reason to exist. The very fact that we came into this human form at this particular time is reason enough.

Sure, you can say that each of us matters to someone. But the first person we matter to isn’t someone else. It’s us! We matter, first and foremost to ourselves. Yet so many people feel they need to find something outside themselves to validate them, and until they do, don’t believe they matter to anyone.

Look For Validation Within Yourself

How often do you see women who, until they’re part of a couple seem to be drifting along in a bubble of meaninglessness? Or who, until someone notices a particular quality, feel like they’re invisible. (If you ask me, there are times when being invisible is actually a good thing. As an introvert I strive for invisibility quite often with minimal success.) They’d be surprised to know people notice them all the time, and more often than not, in a positive way. But until someone comes out and says something to them, they feel invisible and worse, unimportant.

We can certainly go around telling everyone they matter and they’re important. But too many have spent a lifetime waiting to be noticed and believing until they are, they have no value. In the meantime, those whose notice they seek recognition are likely laboring under the same misconceptions!

Looking for Self-love in All the Wrong Places

Maybe that’s why people fight so hard over the little things, and are so easily drawn into https://www.flickr.com/photos/armenws/5837909811/in/photolist-9TSPcr-C3VGX-24FwY6-26x1rb6-5itLut-dhFGeP-pFWFZK-abNp5y-adf5z-hL7FHE-dhFHhY-dhFvph-dauvud-dhFwgW-dhFqWQ-dhFtAn-abeFZP-dhFDeu-dhFuoZ-dhFqbq-adhZR-abKzAD-adf81-abKx9R-bpTzDn-QVxKyY-abKyYK-9gERc8-anUgst-abeFCX-bzS7hf-abeGb2-2cYSbck-8GpCMm-abNm6Y-21Uy4Gb-4NKgmb-abNkTs-begshM-hRcioi-daKq9G-aUymi2-ZRYKoW-9tsYBM-abeFsx-bNLL6K-F2o45H-6MFFvx-9SsLVR-ZAWXwipetty battles over things like race, religion, and politics. They join with others to fight for a cause they probably don’t even understand because it means they belong somewhere; but somewhere outside their perfectly wonderful selves.

Most are losing propositions meant to distract and divide so they’ll constantly be looking for another horse to jump on, another manufactured injustice to oppose. If you ask me, it’s a wonder we don’t see more people collapsing in the streets from exhaustion. I can’t imagine trying to keep up with all the rules and expectations required to continue belonging to something as structurally sound as a wind gust.

When we find our belonging within ourselves, we don’t have to worry about the ground being pulled from beneath us. We don’t need to keep up with the latest set of rules and expectations. The only thing we need to follow is our own heart and beliefs. Those will never change at someone else’s whim.

Why Fit In? We Were Born to Stand Out.

We learn from an early age we need to fit in. As children in school, we’re subjected to bullying and teasing if we are too different from the rest. As teenagers, we’re encouraged to do things even though we know they’re wrong to avoid being ostracized. Those who walk their own path are deemed “weird”, “oddballs”, or “outsiders”. Often, they’re mistreated quite cruelly for minding their own business and refusing to join the mainstream.

Sadly, most of us are guilty at one time or another of expecting others to be like us. Yet we resent being treated the same way, even if we’re too scared to admit it, much less, speak up. I’ve judged people unkindly and unfairly more often than I’d like, though in most cases I’ve come to regret it in some way. Once I remind myself they matter because they’re as unique and special as I am, I recognize I’m neither qualified nor justified in judging them in any way.

Withhold Judgement—Always

Each time we judge someone else and find fault, we’re reinforcing a false expectation which prevents them from feeling they matter. Some are able to rise above the opinions and expectations of others. Some of us learn to face our detractors and say: If you don’t like the way I look, don’t look!

But too many turn themselves inside out trying to get even a single positive word. I did it for too many years. Worse still, I watched my mother do it with her own family, never realizing the rules changed when she showed any possibility of getting close. She died believing she wasn’t good enough, and that’s a tragedy I don’t wish to see visited on a single other human being.

I Wish Everyone to Know They Matter

My wish is that every human being who walks this earth now or in the future knows their https://www.flickr.com/photos/ky_olsen/4860839266/in/photolist-n8CFnR-o5uD96-22RQjNp-eCZ3Kq-WYUGZj-DLmHDZ-KKjkM7-8px5ayperfectly imperfect self is important and needs no improvements or changes. They don’t need to follow someone else’s rules or twist themselves into uncomfortable shapes in order to belong.

It starts with me though. I have to catch myself when I start judging or comparing. I have to recognize the wonderful qualities each person brings to the table. I need to look past qualities that don’t fit my own myopic vision and see the amazing and inspiring person waiting to be noticed and accepted as they are.

I can’t control what other people see or do. Those who still believe they need outside validation can learn by the example the rest of us set to accept and validate themselves as they are. They don’t need to be restructured or remodeled unless they want to make changes to suit themselves. In other words, there is nothing wrong with them, and everything about them is right. But if all they feel is judgement, they’ll continue to reach for the impossible. I believe we’re all better than that, and it’s time we treated ourselves and all humanity with more kindness, compassion, and unconditional acceptance.

Setting a Standard for Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had which taught me to see I matter.
  2. I am grateful for reminders I need to treat others like they, too matter without conditions or expectations.
  3. I am grateful for friends I’ve attracted now that I accept myself as I am, making only the improvements I believe I need to make.
  4. I am grateful for the opportunity to help others learn they are important because they are unique.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, compassion, friendship, uniqueness, belonging, sharing, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Detaching from Other Peoples’ Drama

OP Drama is Exhausting!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/prestonrhea/5236270625/in/photolist-8YHfQ2-4X1dP6-P58XGS-dmtrwi-2pMKC-nC1YD-QxGsf-q4rWqa-8HeDZc-o8pVg-8mXR4g-o7nP7c-8jQqTQ-bPxsQc-dJusGN-78jLU7-98LY1P-dYGYNq-cgtYSu-cgu1F7-7rMJ9R-6z6KQA-6VuMG-6Jfxqk-4bbwMg-dmtxds-9Rf6xQ-v8gDMa-9PqETD-4MsUzv-ptUKap-a2BfLR-4UtU1B-4UtSun-5dBS8k-7eGxtr-7nUbqa-7nUbW8-fBZ3S4-5M1h3P-8DYirc-8E2uBh-6r2V98-7oFgff-7oBon2-7oBpbn-7oBoG6-7oFfRo-vPhUL-jk3BYpFor the last few days I’ve felt lazy, withdrawn, and disinclined to make even the slightest effort to clean, complete tasks I’ve set myself, or even move. Instead, I’ve felt a need to connect with the Earth physically and at length to the point where I’ve moved my daily meditation from the couch in my living room to a blanket spread on the grass in my backyard.

I couldn’t figure out whether I was being affected by malaise, moon phase, or geomagnetic storms. Ultimately I realized that while any or all may be factors, the simple truth was I’d allowed myself, once again to be drawn into someone else’s drama. I know better. I tell myself every time to run the other way when I see drama looming. But friendship and a misplaced sense of responsibility always get in my way.

Revisiting Our Lessons

I suppose the lesson keeps repeating itself because I haven’t mastered it yet. Hell, I haven’t even gotten past elementary school with this one, if truth be told. But my energy body knows and has initiated a shut-down, preventing me from making plans away from home or doing more than thinking, meditating, or napping until I get this sorted out.

Part of the sorting will be posts like this, some will be meditation, and some will be as simple as cleaning the house and doing some self-care. Yet interestingly enough, as soon as I recognized the problem and began writing about it, I felt a burst of energy and started getting some of the things done I’d been neglecting since this bought of “drama flu” came on.

Finding My Cure in Nature

I’m grateful the weather has cleared, at least temporarily, allowing me to lay out on the back lawn, work with the window open, and watch, hear, and smell nature at her finest while I work. For the last couple of days, I’ve been delighting in the feel of the wind playing with my hair, the sight of painted lady butterflies passing through my yard in their usual meandering way, and feeling the sun warming my skin. The resident raven is taunting the cats from his perch in the tree outside my office window.

Interestingly enough, my normally noisy neighborhood is unusually lacking in sounds like lawn mowers, leaf blowers, revving engines, and air tools. Somehow, everything is aligned for me to free myself from the web of drama and do things useful, creative, or both.

Reminders to Detach and Reconnect with What Matters

It’s not unusual to get not-so-subtle reminders of a lesson which has yet to be learned. But Created with Canvararely have I noticed circumstances aligning quite this well for me to gather my resources and focus on the lesson. The cleaning I still need to do is perfect for getting some thinking done as it’s automatic and mindless. The weather is perfect for reconnecting with the Earth. My schedule has nothing in it which must be done in the next 2 days.

I’ve seen how the drama affected some of the people concerned with illness and fatigue. I neither want nor need to take myself down that far. It did take me through a couple of days of less-than-healthy eating. This morning, my weight and blood pressure gave me a pointed reminder I needed to get back on track, though I’d figured it out last night and made a big healthy salad. (of course, by the time you’re reading this, it’ll be a couple of weeks after the fact, but sometimes it’s hard to write in the past when it’s Now).

Catching On More Quickly These Days

It’s taken a lot of years and many painful reminders, but now I’m liable to respond to subtle hints long before I reach the point where a Universal head slap is required. I may be slow, but I am averse to pain. Hit me enough times over the same thing, and I’ll start paying attention. I may still fall into the same old pattern and need reminders, but at least I don’t need the ones that lay me out flat, rubbing my poor, bruised head and wondering what I did this time.

The truth is, I care deeply about my friends and hate seeing them get hurt or abused. But in the last few years, the friendships I’ve built have been with strong, resilient people like me. They don’t need me to absorb any of the negative energy or take on any of the drama they might be temporarily immersed in. They can take care of themselves, with perhaps a little moral support. In fact, I’m probably doing more harm than good by letting myself get sucked in.

Giving People Credit for Their Own Strength and Resilience

Sometimes, the best thing we can do is to step back and let things unfold without our Created with Canvaobservation or influence. As I tell my cats sometimes “go find something else to do for awhile”. Like them, I’m more in the way and hindering progress right now, though my friends may be too kind to tell me so outright. If I stop trying to fix things, I’ll realize they’re pulling back and sharing less with me right now; a subtle reminder my help isn’t needed a this point.

They’ve got this, and I’m not helping by worrying and fretting, nor by getting annoyed at the person they’re managing quite well on their own. In short, it isn’t my problem to solve or boundaries to set, it’s theirs. If I keep trying to make it mine, I’ll end up making an ass of myself and having to step back and regroup anyway, so I might as well do it beforehand. Truth be told, I have enough going on in my own life. I don’t need to take on anyone else’s anyway.

Even if I could, they are far better suited to handle what comes their way than I am. They’ve traveled the pathways which gave them the tools they now carry just as I’ve walked my own. (Yet another lesson I’ve yet to master?) Maybe I need another affirmation for my ever-growing collection:

I will attend to my own life and stay out of other peoples’ drama

Stepping Back and Being Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for Universal reminders which come without head slaps.
  2. I am grateful for a loving heart to give to my friends and family, but also grateful I can limit what I give and what I allow myself to take on.
  3. I am grateful for a lifestyle which allows me time to step back and regroup.
  4. I am grateful for choices.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; a life well-lived, inspiration, friends, family, joy, laughter, wit, a strong sense of humor, motivation, energy, love, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

 

What Else Leaves When Your Nest Empties?

Our Nest Empties of More than Our Kids

Although my kids moved out years ago (has it really been that long?) I’m starting to notice things I no longer keep in the house. I don’t mean the obvious like piles of laundry, messy rooms, and a sink full of dishes I didn’t use. No, I mean the more subtle things. The products I no longer use and the foods I no longer eat, the occupation of my space.

Here are a few things which moved out when my kids left the nest:

  • Ketchup
  • Goldfish (the kind you eat)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Boxed macaroni and cheese
  • Random animals (guinea pigs, hamsters, lizards other than the suicidal ones I see once in awhile…)
  • Bagel bites
  • Games
  • Encyclopedias
  • Clutter
  • Constant noise of some kind
  • Arguments
  • Tension
  • Companionship

What Fills the Empty Space

I could go on, and it will vary from person to person. But what about what moved in when the kids flew the coop? Here are a few things, years later I’m still discovering and loving:

  • An entire house all for me
  • Peace
  • Tranquility
  • Silence
  • Clear space everywhere
  • A clean kitchen every night
  • Healthy food in my refrigerator and freezer
  • Keeping my own crazy hours without worrying about disturbing anyone
  • All the cats sleep with me

Adjusting to What’s Missing

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrStill, it isn’t all wine and roses. There are and always will be downsides to living alone. The biggest for me is being alone when I’d rather not be. I’m basically an introvert, so I’m not likely to just go out by myself to a place where I don’t know people to avoid being alone on a Friday night.

Most of my friends still work outside their homes and often need a quiet Friday night to relax and detox. As I’ve been working from home and only seeing people when I wanted to, I’m usually in a pretty mellow state by Friday and wouldn’t mind some company of my own choosing. Nevertheless, most Friday nights I spend alone.

Other areas where living alone can be hard are:

  • No one there if you fall in the shower and can’t get up or even reach the phone
  • No one to hold you when you’re sad or lonely
  • No one to take you to the doctor or go get you soup if you’re sick
  • No one there if you need an extra set of hands
  • No one to help with the chores
  • No one to talk to when you don’t feel like being alone
  • Dinner in front of the TV or at your desk gets old after awhile
  • Cooking for one (need I say more?)
Empty Nest: A Blessing and a Curse

Needless to say, adjusting to the pros and cons once the kids move out for all us single parents out there definitely has its highs and lows. We learn to adjust to the lows and fill our lives with enough activity to keep us from wallowing. We learn how much alone is enough, and where it becomes too much to bear. Of course, pets are a huge benefit. Without them, I know I’d have crashed and burned a few times when life threw too many tough things at me, or gave me too much time alone.

You could say people who are extroverted have an easier time of it, but do they really? I have extroverted friends who struggle over the same things I do. Maybe they manage them differently, but you can only go out alone so often, even to crowded places without finding yourself in “lonely town” in spite of the crowds.

Sure, we chit chat on social media or talk to our pets. We may private message or text back and forth. But it’s not the same as human contact. It’s definitely not the same as having someone around at least part of the time who cares how you’re feeling, how your day went, and what’s making you feel anxious at times. Nor will it ever replace a good, old-fashioned, heartfelt hug that’s made especially for you.

The Beauty of Human Contact

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAMy social circle; my friends are real huggers. We hug hello. We hug good-bye. We hug because we know someone needs it, or because we know they’re having a tough time. We hug for joy when someone has wonderful news. We hug for no reason at all. Still, there is the hug from someone who believes you are their moon, sun, and stars. It’s the most special kind of hug, and one I haven’t felt in a very long time.

How can you miss something that’s so far in the past as to have been forgotten or so distant as to be more a dream than a memory? Some things embed themselves into the very fiber of our being. We don’t need to remember. It’s just there. And it’s the single most unpleasant part of always being alone; of putting the key in the lock, knowing only the cats will be waiting behind those doors. Of getting ready for bed every night knowing you’ll fall asleep alone, get up alone, and maybe not even talk to a single soul all day long.

Wondering if Anyone Would Notice

Too many times when I’m feeling especially low, I’ll ask myself “if I fell and hit my head, how many days would go by before someone even thought to check and see why I was so quiet? How many days would I be off social media before someone thought to ask why I hadn’t made a single peep?” If the times I’ve been sick for a few days, or simply boycotting social media are any indication, it could be a while.

My daughter is used to me not answering her at times. She knows I get busy with my writing and thinks nothing of radio silence for a few days. At least I’m pretty sure she does. I have yet to get panic calls or texts asking why I haven’t been responding when I’ve been out of touch for a few days.

Lest you think I spend all my days having a pity party, it’s really not so. I have created an active social life with some pretty amazing friends. But that doesn’t mean there are times I wish I wasn’t so alone whenever the door closed and the lights went out. It’s human nature to be connected. Much as I proclaim my love of solitude as an Introvert, there is such a thing as too much alone time. There are times I miss the clutter, the tension, and having to wipe the ketchup off the counter because someone was too lazy to clean it up.

I miss having someone there if I were to fall and hit my head.

Finding Gratitude at Every Turn

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my amazing, loving friends.
  2. I am grateful for my cats who keep me company no matter what, and love me unconditionally.
  3. I am grateful I’ve learned to be more social.
  4. I am grateful I have an amazing gift in my writing which allows me to express things instead of burying them deep inside to fester and grow.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, hugs, inspiration, joy, dancing, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. 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

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: