Dancing outside my comfort zone

Archive for the ‘#shericonaway’ Category

Peace Makers in a Volatile World

Keeping the Peace Behind the Scenes

My personal peace makerThere are people in our lives who willingly accept the role of peace maker. They’re the ones who seemingly sit quietly in the background, stepping in to extend a gentle hand when our emotional campfire threatens to explode into a full-fledged forest fire. They bury their own needs in favor of those of the people around them just to avoid arguments.

Most of the time we don’t even recognize what they’re doing, much less appreciate it. We don’t see how often their own wants and needs aren’t met just so they can keep everyone else happy. Worst of all, we don’t see what it costs them to consistently occupy this place in our lives.

It isn’t that they wouldn’t like to have things their way once in a while. They just value peace and quiet more. They’re typically extremely sensitive so arguments and unrest upset them terribly.

So they allow a sibling or friend to have it their way all the time. They back down from an argument though they know they’re in the right. They agree when they’d rather stand up to someone and make their point without being shouted down. Yet deep inside, the resentment and frustration build to what we’d consider staggering levels; levels we’d not tolerate in ourselves, yet silently expect them to endure all the time.

Peace Makers in Volatile Families

I don’t think my daughters ever knew a time when there wasn’t some kind of tension in our household. At first, it was between their father and me, but eventually, my daughter Jenni and I filled in the gap when he was no longer a part of our lives. Meanwhile, Heather did her best to stay in the background, letting Jenni have the limelight and make all the choices I asked them to make together. Jenni learned Heather would give way rather than risk the wrath of her red-headed virago of a twin. That left me to manage the explosions. In hindsight, the kindest thing I did was to give them separate bedrooms when they were about 11. It gave Heather the sanctuary she desperately needed, even if it was just a thin door between herself and the near-constant volatility of our household.

As children do, my girls grew up—Jenni still believing creating a category 5 storm would make us bend to her will, and Heather allowing her resentment towards her sister to surface and grow. I regret to say she fed my own annoyance with my youngest child until it no longer hurt to sever the relationship.

The truth is, both of my girls are hard-headed and stubborn. They’re both quick to anger but Heather lets hers go more quickly. Jenni seems to hold her anger close like a security blanket. As if as long as she gets her way, she’ll be happy, and yet, I don’t think she is. I think she’d like to have her real family back, but believes she’s gone too far to come back.

Releasing Pent-up Anger and Resentment

On the bright side, since Jenni chose to remove herself from our lives, Heather and I have grown closer. But better than our closeness, she’s learned to release some of the anger and frustration that built up throughout her childhood. She’s no longer living in the shadow of a sister who’d willingly throw her under the bus if it meant someone would like her. I often wonder if she sacrificed her relationship with her sister for nothing. Nobody ever thought better of her for turning her back on her sister. People remember her for her bright red hair, but they remember Heather for her kindness and helpfulness.

Every group dynamic has at least one peace maker. It might be you or someone else. Whoever takes on the role sacrifices a great deal of themselves in order to fulfill the weighty obligations it entails. Some may hold the role for a lifetime while others will find a way to allow their own wants and needs to be met.

Sadly, the resentment which builds up is often left to fester, unspoken and without release. It might manifest itself as broken families like ours, or as health issues, or even interpersonal ones. A peace makers ability to love and be loved is thwarted and misguided by constantly subverting their own needs for the sake of peace in their environment.

Being a Peace Maker Whether We Like it or Not

I also believe that we are all the peace maker at some point in our lives. We all find ourselves in situations where it’s better to just keep silent and go along because someone else is so desperate to be right that they simply shout the rest of the world down. I can think of several occasions where I worked for someone like that and in my own way, became the peace maker. However, as it was so contrary to my normal state of being, the silence with which I tolerated the situation was anything but peaceful inside myself.

The unrest and resentment I carried around while exposed to what I realize were merely desperately insecure narcissists is really what made me realize what the real peace makers must be carrying around inside. Well, that and what I’ve seen break loose in my daughter, Heather since the split with her sister. That resentment hurts my heart, but I know anything I do or so would, if anything, just make matters worse. Like the place I hold for Jenni should she decide to re-establish our relationship on more mutually satisfying terms, I hold the same place for both girls to reach some kind of understanding and acceptance. They are very different people with divergent values, they share a bond of twin-ship only another twin would understand.

Give your Peace Makers a Break

My purpose behind writing this article is to raise awareness of the people around us who keep life on a more even keel. But it’s also to acknowledge those of you who have taken on the role yourselves. The peace makers need and deserve to be heard. They have opinions and a unique perspective which just might bring solutions we’ve never even considered. They also need to be allowed to step away from the role, whether forced on them or self-imposed. They carry a lot of our tension and stress so we can function as reasonably normal human beings. It isn’t an easy job and is often a thankless one as well.

It’s time we acknowledged our peace makers and helped them drop their burden. It’s time to allow them to shine unencumbered by everyone else’s shit.

Remembering to be Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the peace makers who have made my life easier, and who have shouldered my crap at those times when I neither noticed nor appreciated their sacrifices.
  2. I am grateful for the outpouring of love I’m getting while trying to figure out what’s ailing my sweet boy, Toby.
  3. I am grateful for the gift of writing which has helped me work through the challenges in my life pretty much since the time I was able to write complete sentences.
  4. I am grateful for the understanding I’m getting from my more outspoken friends as I quietly break my silence over our current political climate. There will be no soapboxes. I’m still a behind-the-scenes kind of girl.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; health, happiness, beauty, communication, joy. inspiration, new clients, lessons, challenges, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

You can find the original video about peace makers here.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

Upgrading My Marketing Mindset

Marketing Makes Me Ill

I admit it. I’m a hater, at least when it comes to marketing for myself. The idea of trying to sell my own services is the stuff of nightmares. But as a solopreneur, I’m learning you simply have to suck it up and find a way to do it.

That’s not to say we have to sound like those annoying car salesmen who used to frequent the limited TV channels when I was a kid. We just have to learn to put ourselves out there and give people an opportunity to ask us about the services or products we offer.

As a writer, the most common of these is pitching. Unfortunately, my brain has twisted that word into a rather unappetizing pretzel as palatable as the afore-mentioned care salesman. Though I can’t get completely away from pitching, I have been able to soften the word so it doesn’t stick in my craw.

Proposing vs. Pitching

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to write proposals and that’s where I start to hit my stride. I spent far too many hours working with a proposal team in my last job, and have taken much of what I learned in those hours to heart. There are plenty of do’s and even more don’ts about proposal writing. My favorite of all of them is the “so what?” approach to evaluating a proposal.

The “so what?” approach essentially looks at all you’re offering the client or customer from their standpoint. If you can’t show the benefits of something you’re offering, or demonstrate how it will make their life easier, they’ll likely read it and wonder why you even included it. Many things fall into this category including lengthy descriptions of your assets and attributes. Believe me, a potential client doesn’t give a horse’s patoot how many years you’ve been in business or how many awards you’ve won. They want to know what you can do for them. They want to feel comfortable handing over not only their hard-earned cash, but tasks they want done on time, within budget, and above all, done right.

Testimonials from previous customers are great, but in this day and age, they’ve probably already looked at your website and seen the testimonials.

The Key is in the Customization

Remember all those resumes and cover letters you’ve sent out over the years? And remember when you finally learned that sending generic ones would most likely get you passed over no matter how good your qualifications were? A decent proposal (or pitch or query or whatever word you choose to use) is much the same. Sure, I use a template. I suspect most freelancers do. We don’t have time to reinvent the wheel every time we propose a job. But you have to take the time to learn something about the client and their company.

Sometimes, they’re not very forthcoming about their business, so you have to read between the lines. Sometimes, you’ll get a little bit of information from your direct questions, but the real gold comes from doing a little research, and from conversations and emails. In short, from less formal communications.

Lately, I’ve found that asking an innocent question in the context of the conversation will yield gems you weren’t expecting, but which will give you insight into what the client is really trying to accomplish with the service or product you offer. (From here on out, I’m just going to talk about services since that’s what I do. Product marketing is an entirely different ballgame anyway).

Understanding the Do’s and Don’ts

In the last couple of months I’ve learned a few useful things about potential clients and proposals which are making me look at the whole process from a much less revolted point of view.

  • Rarely is the service you’re proposing your contact’s priority. They’ve been given the task of coordinating with potential candidates, but they have a lot of other responsibilities which are more important than what you’re proposing.
  • Patience is rewarded. Because of the first point, you may experience long lags between your responses and theirs. Get used to it. Check in once a week or so, but don’t be a pest. You’ll often learn where things stand priority-wise if you ask for a little time to respond to their latest request.
  • Always believe that no news is good news once you’re communicating with the potential client. I’ve sent out my share of queries which never even get opened, so I know what it feels like to send my best efforts into a black hole—every freelancer and solopreneur I know has files full of rejections by silence. So when you do get someone to respond, take it as a yes until such time as, god forbid, they tell you no.
  • (This one should probably have gone first, but this list is not in order of importance) Spend time on the company website getting to know who you want to be working with. This is where strong investigative skills come in handy. But you can certainly take note of the obvious things like pages on their site (for me, one of the first things I look for is evidence of a blog. If it exists, I look at how active it is, and when they last posted). From there, look for the services or products they offer, the people they serve, and the problems they solve.
  • Leave room in your proposal for services above and beyond what you’re proposing. Make sure you have a clause which covers you for “scope creep”. I see many freelance service providers complaining about clients who take advantage of them.  Putting the “scope creep” clause in the proposal and contract tells the client exactly what they’re signing up for and when additional work will require a new or modified contract.
  • Whether you’re dealing with the company President or someone 20 steps down the ladder, respect and consideration go a long way. Those gate keepers have the power to lock you out. Never lose sight of that. I’m reminded of the years I worked in Corporate America. Until computers rendered a lot of secretarial tasks obsolete, every director and upper-level manager had a secretary or admin and woe be to the person who got on that admin’s bad side. When all else fails, put yourself in their shoes. How would you want to be treated by someone whether you’re just recommending them or you’re the decision-maker?
Learning to Wait, Revise, and Rethink

Patience has never been my strong suit. I’ll be the first to admit it. But I’m gaining a newfound level of respect for a friend who is a commercial realtor. Many times, I’ve seen her comment on the latest iteration of a contract, often in double digits. As I propose and re-propose myself, I’m learning it’s just part of the process. People re-evaluate. When they see something in black and white, it makes them think about what they truly want. They’re not trying to be difficult. They simply want to be clear on how the problem they’re facing should be solved.

I’m also gaining an appreciation for marketing, and despite the many voices telling me it’s just a numbers game and I have to send out a million pitches, I believe we have to find what works for us. When I hear someone say they get sick to their stomach whenever they pitch, yet they spend a significant part of their day doing it, I have to ask Why would you want to do something that feels like a bad case of morning sickness? Be creative. Find something that works without the physical discomfort.

I’m one who gets physically ill just thinking about selling myself. But I’m also not willing to give up on myself, so I’m taking my own advice and looking for a better way. Part of that is talking to people who more about putting yourself out there to gain recognition and trust rather than playing the numbers game. I spent enough of my life playing with numbers. I’m learning I prefer words, hands down.

Gratitude Always Works

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful there is more than one way to reach my goals.
  2. I’m grateful for the examples I see before me. Some, I’ll incorporate into my strategy, others I won’t. It doesn’t mean any of them are bad. Some are just a better fit for me.
  3. I’m grateful for dance nights, even when the DJ plays the same old boring dances instead of the many new ones we’ve learned. I get my exercise, my social engagement, and my hugs.
  4. I’m grateful for the upgrades I’ve made in my house in the last week or two. They’re neither expensive nor earth shaking. But they make me feel better, clearer, and more confident of my ability to attract the things I dream of.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, manifestations, inspiration, motivation, companionship, friendship, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

The Facebook Live associated with this post can be found here.

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

Are You Committed or Merely Interested?

A Time for Reassessing. Am I Truly Committed?

The last 3 1/2 years have been quite a ride for me. I’ve dabbled in a lot of things, written a few drafts of novels, and several hundred blog posts, but I’ve yet to figure out quite what I want to be when I grow up. No, I take that back. I’ve figured out what I want to be, I just haven’t fully committed to what’s required to get there.

We go through life trying many different things. Some simply interest us, but every so often, one comes along that grabs us by the throat and we have no choice but to commit to it, heart, soul, mind, and body. I thought the writing was it for me, but with each setback, each rejection, each failure to launch, I become less certain.

Step 1: Having a Plan of Action

I know I need a plan, and have come up with several, but have yet to truly stick to anything long-term. Even the plan I typed up and put on my wall hasn’t really come to fruition. I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day writing. I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day reading motivational literature. And worst of all, I’m not spending 2-3 hours a day working on queries or researching companies to send queries to.

Sure, I’m writing a blog post here and there. Yes, I’m doing at least 2 Facebook Lives a week. Yes, I’m still going to the gym most weeks, though the last couple have been challenging, to say the least.

Having a plan is certainly a good place to start. But if you don’t follow the plan, it’s just words on paper, and may as well be in Swahili for all the meaning they bring into our lives. Yet, if you’re truly committed to something, won’t you stick to any plan at all just to be heading in the right direction?

Acknowledging Our Fears and Frustrations

I question myself every day. I ask what I’m afraid of. At first, it was fear of not following through. But if I’m completely honest with myself, I’ve followed through on writing commitments for others again and again. It’s myself I have trouble committing to. But at least that eliminates the excuse that I don’t send out queries because I’m afraid I won’t be able to fulfill the obligation.

I’ve added a number of chapters to Forgotten Victims though I’m far from done. I did pay close attention to a book I’m currently reading in which the writer said that if your purpose in writing is to help other people, you might as wall hang it up. If your purpose is to help yourself, you’re more likely to succeed, at least by finishing what you set out to write. If it helps someone else, great. But the primary goal has to be self-healing. I needed to hear that as I’d gotten off track in writing my memoir.

I’d started posting chapters of Sasha’s Journey to a site of writers who critique each others’ work. But I wasn’t really committed there either. I read and commented on a couple of pieces, then slacked off. And now that they’re changing the rules and want us to post on our own blog sites and link to theirs, I’m not going to waste my time. If I wanted to post it on my site, I’d have already done so.

So the frustration, the backpedaling and the discouragement continues.

And again I ask myself “Am I committed or merely interested?”

Giving My Life Blood for Someone Else’s Dreams

The reality is, I’ve just about used up the time I had to dabble here, and fritter there. I need to get focused on what I truly want to do, what I’m truly passionate about; and throw myself into it wholeheartedly. Because if I don’t, I deserve no more than to work the rest of my life to pad someone else’s retirement fund. At least there, I know what I do not want.

It’s funny how figuring out what you don’t want in life is pretty easy. You just have to take all the things you’ve found uncomfortable or annoying all your life, put them in a pile and light a match. Those are your “don’t wants”.

Being Clear on What You Do Want

Figuring out what you truly do want is another story entirely. I want to write, yet I go for days without writing a word.

I want to be independent. But I go for days without doing a thing to move myself forward.

I want to do good for others, but here I sit, devoting time and energy to just worry about myself. That’s energy I won’t get back and it benefits no one.

I want to be an inspirational speaker, but until recently, was doing little or nothing towards that end. At least now I’ve signed up to volunteer at a summit for speakers in October. I’ve also been reading books like Talk Like Ted to help me understand what makes a truly great speaker. I’ve been incorporating what I’m learning into both my Facebook Lives and my writing. I’m also watching how other people speak, paying close attention to what does and does not work. As  a result, my more recent Facebook Lives have been under 15 minutes. (18 minutes is optimum for a TED talk. I figure a live broadcast should be shorter).

The Best Lessons Come From Watching Others

While watching one live broadcast recently, I realized how important it is to be prepared before you go live, and to have all of the tools you’ll need for the broadcast within reach. Nothing screams “unprofessional” to your viewers like staring at an empty wall while you disappear to find something you needed for your talk.

With all of the setbacks, with all of the failures, I must still be committed in some fashion, because here I sit, writing another post which will support one of my Facebook Live broadcasts. I created an editorial calendar today which will be the home to everything I need to write, both for publication on my own sites and for others.

Focus on What Is Working Instead of What’s Not

I’m getting back into the habit of writing late at night, even if it’s only 500 words. If I put it in perspective, 500 words a day will give me the 30,000 words or so I still need for my memoir in about 2 months. Considering how long it’s been a work-in-progress, 60 days is nothing!

Like the carpet that still needs to be pulled up in my bedroom, like the garage that needs to be shoveled out (though I have made some progress in recent weeks), like the yard that needs to be weed whacked—everything begins with a single step.

A few weeks ago, I pulled up another section of the carpet. I can do another section now. I just need to get up and do it.

I’ve been consistent with my Facebook Lives. Now I need to be more consistent with the coordinating blog post.

I’ve put the deadlines for client work on my new calendar. I know I’ll meet or beat those deadlines. Can I say the same of deadlines I set for my own work? Someone recently mentioned they’d committed to 3 blog posts a week. There’s not a single reason why I can’t do the same, even if I write them all in one day and schedule them to post throughout the week. I’ve proven time and again that knocking out a 1200-1500 word post is pretty much child’s play for me.

The Big “Why”

Everyone talks about the big “why”. Mine is becoming so clear that I inadvertently picked out a paint color to go with the life I want to live. It was brought home to me yesterday when my daughter and I took a couple of wrong turns and ended up driving along the beach. The water was the exact color I’d chosen for my dining room wall! Thanks to my daughter, it is now a beautiful dark teal, the same color as the ocean yesterday. The rest of the walls are in process of becoming a lighter version of the same color. Every time I walk out into my living room, despite the furniture sitting in the middle of the floor and the fine layer of dust coating everything, I feel both energized and soothed just by looking at that beautiful ocean-colored wall.

I also broke down and bought the resin Adirondack chairs I’d fallen in love with a week or so ago. They, too fit the life and setting I envision for myself.

My big “why” is alive and well. It’s now a matter of committing everything I have, everything I am to making it happen.

Writing has always been my best therapist, and tonight is no different. I began this piece feeling like an utter failure with no real possibility of achieving my dreams. But as I think of the changes I’ve made even in the last couple of weeks, I realize I’m more committed than I give myself credit for. I’m simply moving towards my goals in my usual convoluted fashion. It may seem like I’m aimless and uncommitted, but somehow, in my own weird way, I’m getting where I’m going.

Remembering Always to be Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful for the supportive people who continue to find their way into my life. My blessings grow daily.
  2. I am grateful for my personal therapist who has a way of turning my frown into a smile no matter how bad I think things are looking.
  3. I am grateful for the opportunities that are literally dropping into my lap lately.
  4. I am grateful for learning how to ask for help, and how to put myself into places where I can find exactly what I need.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; resources, friendship, courage, companionship, progress, improvements, signs, commitment, love, joy, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

You can find the Facebook Live which inspired this post here.

 

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

Take Time to Breathe Through Your Challenges

Just Breathe

https://www.flickr.com/photos/philipglevy/9462509263/in/photolist-fqaQkr-6B62hk-9jZwX5-4FH1En-54uCWa-a3Ns41-6BanmN-6DM4U9-5u49NP-6v9Puu-6DGTwD-4FMcCG-doJVpC-3ervgn-4FMcmC-pb1bmR-6v9McG-6DM5Wm-a71Zuu-5i6sb2-6B9Lkj-4FH1v4-gQpcex-jZKZ5o-6v9NNf-6B5zw6-89YYg5-6v9Xbb-6MPVRc-6v9Wow-6v5Gyk-aPQjfH-6v9QjU-6v5PF8-6v9VcG-cu2a4-DUvgxx-6v9YGJ-5oAaDQ-8ipJ7z-5VgzB9-6B9AVJ-5KTyGH-5Vce46-Uwsk9p-6vNzky-6v5FCV-6B5rgp-6v9UFb-6v9LjqLet’s face it. For life to be any kind of interesting, there are going to be periods when you feel like you’re riding the roller coaster from hell. While the wild ride might be fun and exciting for a while, there comes a point when you’re grateful to have reached the end. There comes a time when being in a semi-comatose state is not only a relief but necessary. We all need time to let our minds, bodies, and spirits recover from an overdose of the insanity life loves to throw into our paths. We need to allow ourselves time to just breathe.

This week has really run the gamut for me, and there are still a few more days left! From plumbing issues which just don’t want to be easily resolved to meeting with new clients, to throwing myself into new experiences, the week has definitely been an E ticket ride. The ups and downs I’m experiencing remind me, like a bucket of ice water to the face that life is truly about balance.

We are mired in frustration and soothed by ease. We hit all the red lights, then a path opens up just for us. We feel like money flows only one direction—away. Then suddenly, those interviews we had or proposals we submitted begin bearing fruit—often with the intensity of a California mud slide. When they do, we realize just how important those times we spent semi-comatose really were. We’re ready for the challenges and embrace them wholeheartedly.

Make the Most of the Down Time

Yet the biggest challenge for me is to use the down time wisely. Though I need to catch up on reading or finish a course I started, it’s easy to slip into sloth-like habits; spending too much time on social media, watching TV, playing computer games, or just napping endlessly. I recently discovered something most of you probably already know. Sloth attracts more sloth.

While I was farting around accomplishing nothing, opportunities eluded me. But when I changed my course, began participating actively in entrepreneurial groups, or supporting other entrepreneurs, focused my reading (and my meditations) on self-improvement, and limited the time sucking activities, abundance began to flow like the leaking hot water line under my house.

Messages in Bottles or Leaky Pipes

I also realized something rather profound. The leaking pipe and the destruction required to fix the problem were a direct reflection of the path my life was taking. The foundation I’d laid was weakening and even breaking. It needed to be torn up in places and rebuilt differently. My efforts were flowing uselessly (and expensively) into the ground, wasted and misguided. I needed to do some serious soul-searching to redirect my efforts and locate the places in my foundation which no longer served my best interests. Even the ground on which I stood was no longer the safe, stable place I’d come to take for granted.

Yet, I’m reminded by people like Linda Clay that, like the song says “there’s a time for every purpose”. The times I spend mimicking a sloth aren’t as unproductive as I think. Yet, knowing when to move away from those times is also key. Just like a dead-end job can become a rut, so can dead-end slothing. Recognizing things like plumbing leaks and excess water usage are essential in determining when we need to do what is taught in the Neurogym courses, and GOYA (get off your ass)! Ignoring the signs and symptoms will result in hemorrhaging our resources, be it money, energy, water, or even life-giving blood.

Turning Messages into Productive Actions

By now you might be asking how to recognize the signs. How can simple things like a plumbing leak or constant delays mean more than they seem at face value? For me, it comes down to a process I’ve developed in the usual manner, through trial and error. I’ve learned to apply it to any and all seeming problems which arise in my life, my home, and my overall environment. I apply those steps as follows:

  1. Step back from the problem.
  2. Depersonalize it while remaining open to possible solutions.
  3. Ask myself how it might apply to the situations currently active in my life, be they personal, business, or something else.
  4. Meditate on question 3, allowing answers to flow rather than be forced into existence.
  5. Take the necessary steps to resolve the obvious problem (especially with interpersonal issues, this isn’t always clear).
  6. Take action on signals I receive about seemingly unrelated parts of my life.
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 as often as necessary until I feel that my life is flowing freely and smoothly again.

I won’t say this is a fool-proof system as the control freak in me invariably decides things are moving too slowly and seeks to intervene, more often than not exacerbating the problem rather than helping. What I will say is that the more I practice the process, the more I fine-tune it. The more I fine-tune it, the easier it becomes to let go and avoid trying to control the solution.

Going with the Flow

Even now, as I sit here waiting for the leak detection company to re-do their work because the spot where they said the leak was located turned out to be a perfectly solid piece of pipe, I’m opening myself to other areas in my life where this situation is reflected. Where else did I think I’d found the problem only to discover I hadn’t. Where else am I experiencing delays? Where else am I allowing myself to be frustrated because I’m not controlling the situation?

It all comes down to one thing, really. I need to get out of my own way. Give myself permission to stop and smell the coffee. Maybe even find a way to get those two red chairs I saw at Lowe’s home so I have a cozy spot on what I jokingly call my veranda. Invite a friend over to share a bottle of wine and watch the world go by from my front porch looking out.

We spend a lot of time rushing from here to there, blowing through a to-do list that would freeze the heart of the most Type A CEO. Yet in most cases, we’re not really changing the world. We’re simply anesthetizing ourselves to the effects of everyone else rushing around like they have to accomplish so much every week. In reality, less is truly more. We really need less moments which leave us breathless and more that take our breath away.

Let Your Gratitude Go Wild

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for setbacks and challenges that force me to slow down, look around, and reassess.
  2. I am grateful for opportunities to look at my life from different angles.
  3. I am grateful for my sloth-y times. I’m never really doing nothing, or acting without purpose. It only seems like it.
  4. I am grateful for new opportunities which arise when I finally figure out how to get out of my own way.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, inspiration, motivation, aha moments, joys both great and small, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

You can find the associated Facebook Live Podcast here.

 

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

 

Photo courtesy of philipglevy via Flikr

Fears: They Can Cripple or Inspire

Even Dreamers Have Fears

Whether it’s fear of a living thing; spiders, snakes, dogs, bears, fear of something physical; heights, crowds, flying, germs, or something intangible; success, failure, ridicule, exposure. We all have something which stands in the way of doing anything we want to do or being anything we want to be.

The major difference between those who go on to achieve their dreams and those who don’t isn’t lack of fear. It’s learning how to overcome or manage them. But it’s also learning how to use them to our advantage. In fact, learning to listen to our fears can sometimes save our lives.

We accumulate our fears in many ways. Some may be taught to us by our parents. Others may be the result of a frightening experience. Still others come when we make an effort to do something different and we are somehow shamed or humiliated for our trouble. Some may even have no discernible basis, yet they’re no less real than all the others.

Managing Our Fears

I’ve learned to ask myself questions whenever I encounter a roadblock in my life. The first is Am I stuck because I’m afraid of something?

But fears can be tricky little devils. Quite often, thee first time or two I ask the question, I’ll get an immediate denial. But if I keep asking, the denial grows weaker, more hesitant.

Our minds are conditioned to be resistant to change but this resistance isn’t as strong as we might believe. If we keep questioning and prodding, the affinity for sameness will falter. When it does, we need to ask the next question, What am I really afraid of?

Don’t expect the answer to come readily though. The protective instinct still has a few tricks up its sleeve. We might get a vague or generally unhelpful answer. The truth when we finally get to it might actually be a confusing conglomeration of fears which over time have coalesced into one massive excuse for maintaining the status quo.

How Our Fears Keep Us Stuck

But “status quo” or “comfort zone” are just fancy ways to say “rut”. I for one have gone out of my way to move on when I’ve found myself in a rut, regardless of whether the condition is due to outside influences or of my own making.

As might be expected, those of my own making are far more difficult to break free of. The mental resistance to coughing up the real reasons and fears which keep me in the self-made rut is often the work of a master brick-layer. Chipping away years of masonry quality excuses is a major challenge all by itself. But the mind has another weapon at its disposal. That weapon is pain.

Built into those solid stone walls filled with our experiences is all the pain, both real and imagined that we accumulated with those experiences.. When we demolish one of the layers, the pain is released and sometimes even relived. If we take a step back and observe without entangling our emotions, the pain doesn’t last. Doing so, however, requires a conscious effort we don’t always employ during the demolition process. More often, we attack the walls, yanking down bricks and flinging them, willy-nilly, behind us.

Stopping the Pattern of Pain

Far too frequently, part of the lesson we were meant to learn was short-circuited by the pain so we actually have to experience the lesson and the pain again. Only then can we release the pain and the fear it hid within its prickly womb.

So, what is strong enough to make us relive the pain and release the fear?

For me, it’s passion. It’s dreams so vivid I can feel the excitement and replace the fear-based pain with success-based euphoria. I imagine myself with those dreams already fulfilled—where I’m living my passion. I feel the energy of the places I visit and live, the people who are part of my life, the things I’ve accomplished to make at least part of the world a little better. It all becomes as real as my excitement and joy over living my dreams.

Making Sure We’re Headed in the Right Direction

But imagination can take us in the other direction as well. I wrote this post out long hand a few days ago, so I had to search through the collection of notebooks which litter my office, my purse, and random surfaces throughout my house to find what I’d written. In the process, I came across a story I wrote some time ago, detailing a worst-case scenario where I had never succeeded. I’d become so destitute I’d sold my furniture and books, but was still unable to come up with the money for vet bills to save my beloved cats. I won’t take you down the miserable path I’d detailed on 9 pages of college-ruled paper, but the picture I painted was the antithesis of my dreams. It was a picture of a woman alone, friendless and destitute who lived on only for the sake of the 3 remaining cats.

By the time I finished reading what I’d written, tears filled my eyes. But I also faced a harsh reality. I have a choice. I can face my fears, do some really uncomfortable things and manifest my dreams, or I can continue to refuse to do what’s necessary, hope for the best and, if not be quite as pathetic as the story in my dream, still find myself paring my life way back and having to make some tough decisions where future expenditures are concerned.

Keeping Our Choices Real

Life is always about choices, and how we deal with our fears is one of the biggest because it can mean the difference between living our dreams or our worst nightmares. Does anyone truly wish to live their nightmares? Yet many don’t realize they do so because of their own choices.

I don’t know about you, but I have some fears I need to drop kick into oblivion. I don’t know quite how I’ll do it, but I know I’m asking for help, which is something I don’t normally do. Sometimes, the first fear you have to conquer is the fear of being a burden.

Start by Being Grateful

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful for the things I find that remind me or shake me out of my complacency.
  2. I am grateful for choices.
  3. I am grateful for my friends and family who wouldn’t abandon me as my imagination sometimes believes.
  4. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve learned and those I’m still learning.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; lessons, friends, love, joy, dreams, fears conquered, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

The accompanying Facebook Live can be found here.

 

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

Dissed or Dismissed

https://www.flickr.com/photos/isfullofcrap/14380470592/in/photolist-nUKEU9-oMLPmB-8o71Ca-nPPNHJ-qd9RKP-okhmqR-fuWjT3-oML6M6-fuX8cK-p5e2Em-GERdfA-vFBnZi-oML9bz-p4ZHWk-o5JVM2-oMLPzT-aC6HoR-fuG2oD-5fJ4yk-p3e3fq-fvcbu9-fuxXyo-4vkQY2-fuWm8Q-o7cT4m-dxhEEA-nPPevH-9hDwZw-axGR4j-nWVbLk-ry7Zq9-nPNYbf-fuhu2e-o4eXnh-noF8Du-o5gnFG-6j3PHv-ocnr3Y-BKd9wG-dmwng-oMLLX9-fuWM6k-fvc3HQ-oMLjrL-fuXjMt-dFuNNC-o22Eqd-U1T3as-o5go5s-9T6eJo

When We Outlive Our Usefulness

Recently I was forced to accept a hard truth. A woman for whom I’d been doing a few simple kindnesses had been accepting them with little more than an off-hand thank you, almost as if my actions were her due. Then I witnessed her offering to compensate someone else for a similar kindness. It made me feel that in her eyes I had little value, a feeling which was proven when she approached a group of us talking and acted like I wasn’t there.

Sure, I was hurt at first. But then I remembered a friend’s wise words. “Don’t take another person’s actions personally”. In this case and a few others recently, I saw how well the words applied and am doing my best to take them to heart.

People and Their Stuff

People are always going through their own stuff. We aren’t always aware of what that stuff is (unless it’s one of those people who broadcast their entire life in true basketball play-by-play fashion on social media). Some are truly going through a difficult time. But like it or not, some are simply narcissists who direct their attention towards those who can benefit them is some way and blatantly snub those who might somehow stand in their way or worse, offer them no value. Either way, their actions are a reflection of themselves and nothing more.

Unfortunately, they are often quite adept at drawing an empath into their game for a little while. Their very real struggles to achieve value and validation can tug at sensitive heartstrings and bring a desire to help. But eventually their true, soul-sucking nature comes through and it becomes clear that this person will continue to take, never to be filled and will, if they’re permitted, drain the empath dry before seeking another soul to suck.

With Age Comes Perspective

As I get older, I don’t stop being taken in but I do learn to recognize the signs and extricate myself before any long-term damage is done. The knowledge that it truly isn’t personal has done a lot to help me withdraw and heal more readily

Although I wouldn’t go so far as to say these people don’t recognize their insensitivity or the harm they do, I do believe it isn’t a conscious choice to harm a particular person. They simply latch onto the easiest targets to fill a well in themselves which can never be filled. They themselves are a black hole of insecurities which absorb compliments and reassurances like a dry sponge yet never come close to saturation.

That would require becoming a complete human being capable of both giving and taking on a visceral level. They’re only capable of such actions on a superficial level at best.

Learning to Offer Pity and Nothing More

I’ve found such people earn my pity as they are incapable of having truly fulfilling relationships with others. They’ll always be looking for the next emotional well to drain in a fruitless effort to more than dampen the ground at the bottom of their own. But it just absorbs what it takes from others like a vampire sucks blood, never satisfied, never fulfilled.

I can’t imagine the emptiness of a life which depends on the emotions and approval of others, yet still finds no value in themselves. It must be a sad, lonely place where love and joy are just words with no meaning to which they might connect personal experience.

Experiences Help Me Better Understand My Mom

Then I think about my mom and the collection of faces she showed the world. I wonder if this emptiness I recognize in others was the life she lived and saw fit to cut short because she saw no reason to continue living in that infinitely dry well. Though I’m tempted to show more compassion for those who live their lives this way, I know it will not only pass unappreciated, but will end with me feeling used and hurt.

There are many people in this world who deserve our love and compassion; those who face their own struggles, yet put some effort into getting through each day on their own. But there are some who always expect others to fix what’s broken. Those who never recognize that in order to fix their own broken parts, they have to be an active and willing participant. To me, these people are no better than the man who pays for sex because he’s not willing to give something back to his partner other than the sightless, soulless cash he gives in exchange for a few moments of physical pleasure.

Recognizing Real Value

They believe they give value for what they receive, and I’m sure in their minds, that value is fair and reasonable. But that questionable value is something I’ve chosen to refuse. If I can’t give of myself willingly and lovingly, I’d rather walk away and leave a broken, lonely, confused person to someone else’s ministrations. To help them, even for the short time I’m able would only leave me drained and them searching for something they’ll never find.

Still, I can’t help giving them the benefit of the doubt for a little while, in hopes they can find the spark of humanity they’ve long since buried beneath layers of brick, mortar, and building materials proven impermeable to the balm of humanity we all come into this world bearing. My hope will always spring eternal. I’ll forever believe I can make a difference in just one person’s life. No matter how many times I fail.

There is Always a Reason for Gratitude

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I am grateful I toppled my own walls, despite the agony it caused for a little while.
  2. I am grateful my well is always full, no matter how many people have tried to drain it dry.
  3. I am grateful for friends who value me even when I’m not behaving like I deserve it.
  4. I am grateful for my writing which helps me work things out, sort things out, and just gain perspective over that which weighs me down for a bit.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; prosperity, friendship, love, hope, joy, compassion, inspiration, insight, motivation, support, peace, harmony, and philanthropy.

Love and Light

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

 

Photo courtesy of R. Crap Mariner via Flikr

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