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It Takes Strength to be Vulnerable. What???

Shifting the Paradigm for Vulnerable

For many years, no, decades, I thought of my mom as weak and pitiful because, sometimes despite her best efforts, she let her feelings show. She laughed (seldom), cried (often), raged (even more often), and allowed some of the pain she carried inside to show.

Dad on the other hand was my rock, though I’ve since realized my trust was misplaced. He laughed often, many times at my expense. I only remember him crying once in my life before mom’s death, and it scared the crap out of me. When he got angry, it was usually the quiet, simmering kind except for his increasingly frequent yelling matches with my mother. Most of the time, they were about money and mom’s propensity to spend when she was unhappy. After she died, we found clothes with the tags still on she’d never worn, and mountains of sundries like baby powder, toothpaste, mouth wash, and toilet paper.

Because of my misplaced affections, I learned to view vulnerability and emotions as weakness. My dad frowned upon such outward displays. I thought he did it from a place of strength. Therefore, whatever my mom did was weak, right?

The Many Faces of Alcohol Addiction

Both of my parents were very social and their frequent parties were well-attended. Of course, their circles of friends also required excessive amounts of alcohol before they’d let loose and act like fools. At the time I thought that was normal. I’ve since learned better. But it took an 11-year marriage to another alcoholic, and living the dysfunction of having to be the only responsible adult in the household for me to recognize how abnormal my home life was.

Sure, dad was a business owner from the time I was about 12. Mom dabbled in Real Estate, but I think her heart was in the charity work she did. In hindsight, she’d have done well working for a non-profit. In many ways, I suppose they were functioning alcoholics, as were many of their friends who were also business owners. All had achieved at least a reasonable amount of success; enough to move to the newly built suburban area west of the San Fernando Valley in what was, at the time an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County. But years of heavy drinking took its toll on most of them. For some it was health, others, their businesses, and for many, it was both.

Where Do We Draw the Line Between Weakness and Strength?

I’ve learned a lot from my experiences up to the time I moved out of my parents’ home for good. For a while, the lesson was primarily related to alcohol consumption. Never one to feel comfortable being drunk and out of control (though I’ve only recently figured out why), my ventures into that world were relatively mild and short-lived. One particularly nasty hangover in my early 30’s was enough to quench the desire to ever drink excessively again. It also put me off Mexican coffee forever! Essentially being more parent than wife to an alcoholic cured me of any lingering desire to drink to excess, even occasionally.

In a roundabout way, it all leads to the topic of this post. I could oversimplify and say the alcohol abuse was a sign of weakness in everyone concerned. But that would be naive and inaccurate. People drink for their own reasons. Certainly, weakness and inability to deal with their day-to-day problems is one of them, but if you ask me, it’s hardly the most common.

In fact, some of the strongest people I’ve ever known abused alcohol or drugs at some point in their lives, not to run away from their lives, but from something far more insidious; voices in their heads they didn’t realize weren’t their own, but belonged to the people around them.

Finding Our Strength By Being Vulnerable

Which brings me back to vulnerability. Admitting you’re hearing and feeling things that don’t feel like your own, or talking about the abundance of inexplicable feelings you’re experiencing aren’t exactly table talk. Many of us were taught to keep things to ourselves and basically deal with our own shit. It would never occur to us to share something we were struggling with, especially if it reeked of mental imbalance. Yet the strongest among us have figured out the flaw in this line of thinking. We are stronger together, and how better to move closer together than to admit we don’t have all the answers?

People who try to fix everything themselves are like a house that’s been wired for electricity, but doesn’t have any outlets to plug things in. Sure, internally everything needed is there, but there’s no way to access it. Sure, deep down inside ourselves, we have what we need to solve nearly anything that comes our way, but some of it is buried so deep in our memories and history, we couldn’t access it if we tried.

It might be something simple like fixing a toilet or installing a new breaker. We would eventually figure it out, but what would we destroy in the process, and how would our sanity fare? More importantly, what pressing tasks would go undone while we spun our wheels trying to figure it out? It could be a legal issue, or a problem with one of our kids. Why not admit we’re imperfect and open the door for someone with the necessary skills and experience to come in and help us do it right the first time? Or at least avoid some of the pitfalls we’d surely encounter without talking to someone who’d already had to go through them before finding the best answer.

Ask For Help, Be Part of a Community

In opening up and admitting we need help, we learn something from the person or people who come to our aid. We also learn opening ourselves up like that takes a lot more strength and courage than trying to tough it out alone. Needing other people is hard! Especially if you’ve been taken advantage of, or had your heart stomped into a bloody puddle of mush a few times, or worse, humiliated. Being willing to go there again despite what you’ve been through is tantamount to stepping barefoot into a scorpion’s nest. You know the likelihood of a painful outcome will always be there, so you want to at least put on a heavy boot to protect your delicate skin.

If you’ve already done some reaching out and created a community, you no longer expose your imperfectness unprotected. My mom knew that and had friends who saw her at her most exposed. Dad on the other hand didn’t. After mom died, he lived alone with his cat, letting his girlfriend stay on certain nights, but spending the nights alone others; including the night before he took his life. He shared his health issues with a select few. His daughters weren’t among them. Even so, I doubt he shared the severity with anyone. He wasn’t one to handle pity or even concern well. He gathered around him men who supported him by drinking with him; each doing his best to mask his own pain.

And he went out alone. Unwilling, right up to the end to reach out and ask for help navigating the latest in a long series of perils and pitfalls.

Learning to Ask for Help Can Be a Rewarding Experience

I may not have the concept of reaching out for help down yet. I’m definitely in the fledgling stage. But I have come to understand and appreciate the advantages even if I’m reluctant at times to take advantage of them. Perhaps I still spend more time alone than others might deem healthy.

Each of us must find our own balance between going our own way and traveling in company. One of the groups I follow on Facebook has been using the mantra “test, adjust, test. repeat.” I think we can apply this to life in general, though the group refers to business-related activities. It starts when we’re infants, learning to roll over, then crawl, and ultimately walk.

Sometimes, part of the test is tuning into our internal monitor and adjusting our tolerance to things outside our comfort zone. The adjustments push us out of our self-imposed nest and, for some of us, further into a community where we learn there truly can be safety in numbers.

Being Grateful for Everything, Both Large and Small

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the friends who’ve been patient with me as I learn to walk as part of a community instead of as a solo act.
  2. I am grateful for the teachers who have been appearing in my life as the student becomes ready.
  3. I am grateful for some of the less-than-gentle drop kicks I’ve received to leave my nest behind and test my perfectly formed wings out in the real world.
  4. I am grateful for my writing which has played a huge part in changing my hermit-y ways, and for all the people who read and comment. Their inspiration and insight are invaluable to my personal growth.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, connections, community, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, earlier mornings, dreams, answers, questions, 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.

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Letting Toby Go

Sweet Toby: Gone But Never Forgotten

Last September I had to say good-bye to one of the sweetest cats to ever walk this Earth, however briefly. At barely 11 years old, cancer wracking his body, I had to admit the kindest choice was to let him quietly slip away. I decided one night I’d take him in the next morning, then sat with him on my desk, petting him, loving him, and saying good-bye.

The Universe somehow knew I needed a helping hand, and guided me to accidentally give him the wrong dosage of one of his medications. The error stopped his heart, and he died in my arms, convulsing once, then going quiet.

For a while, I blamed myself for making his end so abrupt, for failing to look at the container before administering the fatal dose. Eventually I realized it was for the best.

Yet until now, I’ve kept my favorite picture of him as the background on my computer. With the onset of October, I knew it was time to let him go; let his spirit race with the other cats I’ve loved and lost over the years. So I changed the picture to one of Munchkin and Mulan, two of my zaniest and most loveable girls, and bid a silent farewell to my sweet boy. His spirit no longer needs to linger, watching over me as I extend my grief. I’m ready to turn all my focus on the furry family who I’m allowed to love and care for right now, though each will, in their own time, leave a hole in my life too. May that be later rather than sooner.

Autumn Brings a Season of Endings

October, at least in the Northern Hemisphere where I live means falling leaves, harvest, and shortening days. It’s a time for letting go of what no longer serves us, or, for that matter, what we no longer serve. Not always an easy thing to do, and at times, involving a great deal of soul-searching. I’m finding it also means being brutally honest with ourselves.

I’ve been looking lately at what I’m doing or holding onto that’s holding me back from writing as much as I need to, or growing my business as much as I want to. I discovered a lot can be found in who or what we grieve.

The losses aren’t necessarily due to a death. We enter and exit relationships our entire life, unless we lock ourselves in a cave of our own making and subsist on home delivery. But to do that, we still have to have a way to generate the funds to support our connectionless lifestyle. It’s becoming easier and easier to do both, much to the detriment of our society.

Connections Aid the Grieving Process

Photo: David Derong/Iowa State DailyI suspect living without connecting removes the problem of grieving. If you never have anyone to love, you can’t lose them so you don’t need to grieve. Somehow, that seems beyond unnatural to me.

Grieving is a natural part of life. Yet when we do lose someone, it’s not only the individual person or pet we grieve, but the connection we had. Because we miss the connection, we’re more likely to step out of ourselves and look for other opportunities to connect. Our grief itself is a means of connection as sharing it opens us to connecting with others who understand loss.

Each time I lose a cherished pet, I share the loss with friends. Each one understands and offers their support while I come to terms with another loss. I do the same when one of their pets or a family member crosses over. It’s the human thing to do, and brings us closer. We can all relate, at least in one area of our lives.

Learning Lessons Better Late Than Never

I wish I’d known this when I lost each of my parents. Instead, I stuffed my grief, anger, self-blame, and everything else into what would become my own personal Pandora’s box. The unreleased emotions gnawed away at my innards leaving me short-tempered, angry, and unapproachable; the exact opposite of what I needed to be. Withholding grief isolated me when I needed most to connect with others who understood loss.

Life has a way of forcing our hand when we’re too stubborn or afraid to do it ourselves. My wake-up call came in the form of a parent’s ultimate loss. One daughter had long since moved out, and the other was talking about moving out too. I realized if and when she did, I’d be completely alone except for my cats. I had no other real friends because I didn’t let anyone see my vulnerable side. As far as I was concerned, I was a brick wall, and I gave no one any reason to look for a gate or try to climb over.

Sometimes What We Need is a Swift Kick in the Gut

I’d like to think I was impervious. Instead, I kept all my feelings; the hurts, the disappointments, the neglect bottled up inside. But glass is fragile, especially when it’s battered and tossed around. My protections were no less fragile.

I believe my daughter did me an enormous favor in broaching the subject long before she took action. It was the fear of being completely alone which had me following her suggestion to start writing about my parents’ deaths. And I’ve been writing about them more and more openly ever since.

These days, I’m quite content living alone with my cats. I have as active a social life as I desire. I follow a healthy routine which gets me out of the house more often than not, whereas I used to go days without leaving the house. I’m interacting with people almost on a daily basis now; sometimes directly and sometimes it’s simply a matter of being in a place where other people are.

And I know when I’ve grieved long enough and need to let go and move on, for my sake as well as for the one I’m grieving. By holding on, I’m holding them back from the next step in their soul journey. I’m sad, and I will shed a few more tears, but I know it’s the right thing to do and the right time to do it. Toby and all the rest of my fur babies will always know I loved them fully and completely, and will forever remember them and the piece of my heart they took with them when they left. But they also left a piece of theirs with me, and those pieces make me better for the beautiful gifts they are.


To all the cats I’ve loved before, love now, and will love in the future, I’m so grateful for the time you were a part of my life.

Keeping the Gratitude Flowing

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the signs I receive telling me when it’s time to let go and move forward.
  2. I am grateful for the love of so many cats over the years, and the ability to share my home with the lost and abandoned ones.
  3. I am grateful for stories of people with philanthropic natures and the means to indulge them. It inspires me to reach higher, build bigger so I, too can follow my philanthropic inclinations.
  4. I am grateful for the variety in my days, some busy and running, others, quiet and introspective.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, companionship, help when I need it (and can break down my own barriers towards asking), inspiration, motivation, changes in routine, focus, scope, goals, dreams, plans, successes, failures and the lessons they bring, 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.

 

The Changing Face of Patriotism

Sullying the Name and Meaning of Patriotism

Created with CanvaSeeing USA or an American flag worn proudly emblazoned across someone’s chest, or embroidered on a cap used to make me feel good, and proud to be an American. Today, thanks to the “Make America Great Again” campaign cry, it gives rise to totally different emotions. Fear, disgust, embarrassment, sadness, and sometimes rage.

Like my previously unreconciled, and to some degree unwarranted negative feelings about Christianity, my mind focuses on the many heinous acts being wrought in the name of patriotism and I’m afraid, not just for future generations but those who currently identify with the United States of America. I see a nation dangerously divided by colliding ideologies which threaten to pulverize a foundation which has probably stood on shaky ground longer than I realize. A nation rotting down to its very core. The only glimmer of hope I see are those who are still making an effort to find and disseminate the truth amongst this pack of wolves who are fighting over the same dwindling and disease-ridden piece of meat. They do so at their own personal peril.

Corrupted by Power’s Unholy Grip

History has proven that power drives men mad. The more they have, the more they want, and they Created with Canvareach a point where they’ll stop at nothing to feed their unholy passion. Sadly, the list of casualties is growing, mostly among the innocents. The lust for power is, in my mind, no different than blood magick. It needs to feed on the pain and misery of others to grow stronger.

Personal power builds its foundation out of the bodies of innocents. Some of them, even sacrificing themselves willingly as they’re convinced the cause is right and just. Perhaps those fall harder and lose more in the end.

We have been a proud nation for more than 200 years, and maybe that’s why we’ve been so easy to subvert. After all, pride goes before a fall, right? We’ve seen ourselves as the greatest nation, yet how many of us can actually explain what that means, now, or at any time in the past? Other nations are better educated, have less poverty, better health care, and lower crime rates. Freedoms we consider unique are not only available elsewhere, but are, in all likelihood, better protected than they are here at the moment.

Loving Our Country, Warts and All

I won’t deny we are still a decent place to live, grow, and raise a family, but much of what we take for granted has eroded without our even noticing. In short, we’ve become a nation where passive oblivion is prevalent. Of course, I can’t speak for the circumstances in other countries as I’ve never visited those whose rankings are higher than ours. I know many of the social problems which exist here aren’t unique. How they’re addressed might be, and that’s not necessarily positive.

Created with CanvaThe trouble is, we’re allowing our patriotism to be fouled, and waving our flag is causing laughter and derision rather than respect. Where once we were counted on by those who needed help, I feel like the same ones who once took advantage of our philanthropy have become vultures circling our slowly dying carcass.

What makes a country great, when all is said and done? I think it’s the people working together to build something strong and resilient, but most of all, compassionate. The compassion is the mortar which binds the bricks together. It makes us one with each other rather than a bunch of islands floating on an unforgiving, storm-tossed sea. It helps those who are struggling so they can once again become an active part of the community.

Yes, We’re Broken, But Can We Fix Ourselves Before It’s Too Late?

In that regard, we’re broken, and our patriotic cries are little more than idle chatter mixed with bravado. People are dying every day from neglect, abuse, and downright hate. We live in neighborhoods where we don’t know most of our neighbors, and when new people move in, they are already hard-wired to self-isolate. It takes a major trauma to bring us together and believe me, the last two aren’t something I want to see repeated any time soon. Their positive effects wore off soon enough anyway.

You might think if you’ve read this far that I’ve given up all hope for our nation to come back together; to work as a team; to be a great, productive, compassionate community again. In fact, I believe just the opposite. I see people doing amazing things, and despite the derogatory comments made about this generation or that, those positive, uplifting acts know no age barriers.

Creating Artificial Segregation

https://www.flickr.com/photos/teosaurio/4532007943/in/photolist-7UtJ4Z-aEe3ow-WJ39bS-8DVH2Y-2fCdoh-WJ3ajU-cPPLob-XiUhyk-9FSfha-XiVmoH-pTtHPJ-9FVgHs-dj11wG-7YAKvu-2fCFt5-9FSFrg-9FSt6a-ehbYG9-Sogmvn-8Hdypm-mg6pMd-8aeYEN-dy1QrP-6xEfyW-29Q2zAo-XfdLz9-9FVdNG-Lan4E-2fCDpq-eAXV1n-9xz38L-9Wcsh7-9FTe1y-8DSzYc-Lan5j-i5cwaJ-9FRUSY-6M77YY-9FSmZK-22GwEJL-R6wJ3Q-8j1Nea-4ypw22-i5cthQ-p6KsUw-2nDi9-29x7g1F-Su3pkf-SjzMpE-2aR6Fo1Someone recently pointed out that the names given to various generations are meaningless anyway, and solely for the purpose of market research (thus the advertising industry and media put us in yet another choke hold). I tend to agree. I’ve been hearing complaints blaming one generation or another most of my life, and I have to cry bullshit.

There’s simply no justification for attributing a particular type of behavior to an entire group of people born within a given span of years. We are unique individuals who’ve grown up with our own cross-section of stimuli. Even two people raised in the same household, heck, even twins will respond to the stimuli differently and grow up with different values and expectations.

My own twin daughters are as different as it’s possible for two people to be. One is socially conscious to a fault, loving, giving, and compassionate. She takes responsibility for her actions, sometimes excessively, and finds pleasure in giving back. The other is, in a word, entitled. She believes the world owes her, that I am responsible for all the trials and tribulations in her life, and uses anger, venom, and manipulation to get what she wants. The first is by far the stronger of the two, though growing up, it seemed like she was the weaker, the more compliant. In truth the deep-seated anger in my youngest daughter hides a very soft, frightened little girl who is, much like I used to be, afraid to let people see she’s not as strong as she wants them to believe.

Disengaging Our Emotions So We Respond Instead of Reacting

My own experiences have taught me to step back as much as possible when confronted by anger, hate, or worse, the deep depressive sadness of those who’ve given up hope. I’m learning to listen carefully, not only to the words, but to the emotions so I can try to understand what has led them to their emotionally charged and often logic-less beliefs in the first place. Why do they distrust a certain cultural or religious group who’s done nothing to deserve that distrust. Why do they, in fact, lump everyone in that group together instead of realizing they’re individuals with their own unique set of beliefs, qualities, and faults?

Where is the truth embedded in a series of emotionally charged lies and half-truths, and why are we being encouraged to jump on one emotional runaway train after another these days? Our reality has gotten so painful, I find I can’t even watch some of the TV shows I used to any more. I recently deleted shows like NCIS and Major Crimes from my DVR after trying to watch one episode, and shutting it off halfway as it made me feel so sick.

Making the Choice to Create a Compassionate World

What kind of world are we creating? What kind of nation are we living in where reality is harder to take than fiction? Where we escape into thrill-based fiction to make our reality seem less ugly. And why do symbols of patriotism; once a source of pride and gratitude now make me feel somehow soiled and embarrassed?

It seems I need to spend more time watching and reading stories about people who are taking steps to make things better instead of accepting the reality or joining marches. If you ask me, all of the “little guys and gals” who are quietly doing things to improve morale or living conditions, or building communities are the ones who will turn the tide and make patriotism meaningful again. They’re the ones who will wash out the stains, mend the tears, and create what we once were and can be again; strong, resilient, and compassionate. “With Liberty and Justice for All” with no exceptions.

Finding Gratitude No Matter What

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I can still speak my mind, even when it’s unpopular. Mine might not bring hate-filled messages like some who are standing up for inequities, but each voice for positive change matters.
  2. I am grateful for the insights I receive from seemingly innocuous stimuli.
  3. I am grateful for quiet days spent writing and thinking.
  4. I am grateful for a career which allows me to decide how I’m going to spend my day, and allows for a few side trips and distractions along the way.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, joy, harmony, compassion, freedom, productivity, opportunities, incentives, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Watch my Facebook Live about Patriotism.

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.

Are You An Unconscious Empath?

Mind Numbing for an Unconscious Empath

Lately I’ve noticed a heightened awareness to my discomfort around people who are drinking excessively. For years I attributed it to living, first with alcoholic parents, and later with an alcoholic husband. I thought I’d developed a distaste because of the burdens it put on me to be in such a relationship.

As I continue to work through the healing process, which I realize now may or may not have been triggered by my parents’ suicides, I’m learning to look at people under the influence with different eyes. Let me first say I’m not talking about occasional social drinkers. My discomfort there is limited to those who get stupid and shrill. The ones with whom I’m most uncomfortable are the ones who, like my parents are carrying unbearably heavy loads of pain. They use alcohol to temporarily numb their pain, and in so doing, fling emotions like confetti once their personal filters are squelched as well. Anyone in their vicinity who is even remotely sensitive and not equally anesthetized is the unwilling recipient of the full-strength version of that pain.

Protecting Ourselves From Unfiltered Emotions

As one who is sensitive to the emotions and energies of others, I can tell you it isn’t a pleasant experience. Though my reasons are often misconstrued, I place myself as far from the seriously inebriated as possible, and set my shields on stun. Conversations with other Empaths and HSP’s support my own feelings about those who frequent a state of inebriation rather than face the reality of their own existence.

As I watch and listen from a safe distance, I see major correlations between my parents’ behavior and https://www.flickr.com/photos/collinj/28187872/in/photolist-3utgN-6dKm4U-ixFiym-Xq9zxX-5iV9vs-dvsbnZ-JbYbNS-9yYXge-oaNgSy-nTrTpN-5DJ9YU-5iV9S9-o8U3zy-5iQRZt-JtsRHZ-nTrL7c-o8TKcY-GBN8Sc-oaRENq-oaMYV7-nTrEwd-nTrPEK-oaWiFZ-6LQKXF-HEaAbW-rn2ZeD-7RzU6Z-o8TQhY-ocHiva-3i8NQ-pGH9jK-oaRGwW-2KqqNG-o8U285-ocH5JZ-FT9CLK-HoyT7a-HEazSu-9yYXvD-GzoDsW-o8TTDs-nTrEsL-9yYXMX-FALZgB-HEaAub-nTrNpN-9z2ZgE-J1HDTv-nTsq3F-GpK1YTthese outwardly happy drunks. It’s made me start asking questions:

  • Could they be trying to disconnect from pain that isn’t even their own?
  • Are there voices in their heads they can neither identify or locate?
  • Do they feel sad even when their lives are chugging along just fine, yet they’re not exactly depressed?
  • Are they afraid to ask the questions which might shed light on why they hear, see, and feel at inexplicably high levels?

In short, could these people be what I’ve begun to call “Unconscious Empaths”? To take it even further, could the term also apply to people who have been medicated because they experienced feelings they couldn’t control, or heard voices in their heads?

Finding Solutions Outside the Bounds of Western Medicine

Certainly medical science, with a few exceptions isn’t ready to admit that sensing thoughts and https://www.flickr.com/photos/clevercupcakes/4576733748/in/photolist-7YqXuy-22jbZb8-XZte3w-2E38fh-dtp56c-3NUNY-3NUP3-3NSUZ-3NSUK-VUxVut-aMjLSn-dUKkRp-4JpM4a-abD91G-932Hmu-8fJSDf-62xx8V-3c4zza-dUKms6-5AZhfv-dUQT8y-cPLm-3aqeS9-4NhLC1-4zty2J-4ttyNi-6U4fPj-3akHYp-3e21kE-6T47EL-obfTpE-3dWA6R-h2wXwy-7drB1P-ostgj2-6ieis7-a1LDFH-21n5r2B-q2i6g3-XScYar-dXwB6L-gQahXg-8EdGQ2-qFJcdw-YuGC4s-Jy7Cf2-28d1ChD-PHSfjW-x3xs87-MXhQbufeelings in others could be making people think they’re crazy. Few doctors are qualified to help someone distinguish the difference, much less learn how to manage energies, emotions, and thoughts which enter their hearts and minds uninvited.

A lot has changed in the last 30 or 40 years though. “Schizophrenia” has been replaced by other terms. “Bi-polar disorder” is far more common. Autism has been divided into multiple categories and degrees. Though we have a long way to go when it comes to depression, at least it’s being acknowledged as real and worth examining. Many may still self-medicate or simply withdraw. Those who seek help have a variety of pharmaceuticals at their disposal with no more than a subjective diagnosis and a doctor’s prescription. Both solutions mask the pain but do little to address the cause.

Reacting to Other Peoples’ Trauma

Yet how many of us will admit to having our mood changed the instant we entered a room or https://www.flickr.com/photos/whoisthatfreakwiththecamera/2128863889/in/photolist-4f7Z4P-qjFHFf-98uNgj-6rDocS-UiQVsw-9MwMca-Re3oF7-XGTMLU-on6pwo-SB9A6F-54qPeB-7H8Pz8-7SMaC-R6RucA-cdbJBE-XGU7Q5-bGtTU6-8YKrbu-4CRGDp-bfqo4k-PEvGt-6Q9zSA-mJQyHS-4Ew2AY-Sfkwdo-5vKK9X-aDJhs6-FWXiy-76To7V-PFoqM-6r9hiY-5YcHEt-bqFdZH-dzVpN2-df1Kzf-oG6Szg-oE5cau-49Ytgo-7dHNJe-76XiVw-5YcKbP-4S24ZU-5YcKtz-5YcJFF-bpo9oP-76Tjkx-4HL5yc-5YcJoT-8f2fwB-6km6Wdencountered a certain person? How many have experienced the bone-jarring sadness radiating off someone who wanders into our emotional range? Who can cite occasions when they’re having a conversation via private message when they can respond to the feelings of the person they’re talking to despite conversing with keyboard and computer screen from many miles away?

If you don’t understand what’s happening at least on a superficial level, you may question your own sanity. I’ve been there, and with no one to explain to me what was happening, I’d internalize what I was feeling and make it my own without a second thought.

Personal Care Means Sealing Our Own Field

https://www.flickr.com/photos/furyharbinger/13754521084/in/photolist-mXrvVf-i7tecw-ntZHNs-c2gN9S-ohigmk-57iTKB-73JEEv-s5JVaw-igW353-29rTSkk-XozdoG-qLfU2o-hi5jcs-bVGNFP-7Sb2wS-bVGNJP-NMwRpw-6B6c71-rna7La-bcDZX6-niW12j-2UhNhZ-8tsTnk-8J9aQL-78syKH-833Twc-kmyX4p-8m4vkZ-Y7u43B-4Uh1Sk-DKLQqd-a2nNnr-UZ1uqc-cR1ytd-mWjep8-XyM59F-9r3PkF-27UauY9-nw48YE-eNcN9H-WZoYde-VLKVRW-6SKYFi-9wm6oY-24cpFXW-MybNWR-2sEoYy-UcY7W2-CtGmWY-dmhqvAI will forever be grateful I learned a couple of things on my personal journey. One was how to shield. Though my first efforts were both clumsy and guilty of overkill, leaving me in a world devoid of true connection for more than 2 decades. I learned I could shut out what wasn’t mine. I’ve since learned to replace those impervious shields with filters which allow things like joy, love, and compassion to flow both in and out. Sadness, depression, and anger, are seen through a fine mesh screen. This gives me the opportunity to determine who they belong to and whether I can help the owner of the feelings without taking those emotions into myself.

Can We Become Addicted to the Misery?

Yet I’ve also become more aware of those who either can’t or won’t recognize they’ve become an https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisyarzab/40513877112/in/photolist-24J5dbC-xLBnC-qDMybP-8uuvzF-er1tf-8S5Btn-5NYfwV-LihYBt-g4kBQ-S442nL-ceYb9U-g5JpWL-jTQZz6-cfHP9u-fauq5P-ahCCN2-isiMDz-6ViLeY-2EJXG4-HC2MUT-BU26S-5jegSL-VYGMA1-5j9Xzn-eB4adY-nBPSrp-5j9ZhH-dkoQLa-nbdfPZ-4FD4L1-dZ3Vjx-mbSGYM-dsW4Bs-6w75Kx-7sZRqK-8KRTG2-Mysc7N-LM2cLA-eXrUyD-faz3Az-dAR84B-8S8Fa7-7hKbWd-pYwhq-z2MhH-6jxdb7-261SwZS-ee4Pp7-vv8vw-8TKhq3over-saturated sponge for thoughts, feelings, and pain which belong to others. Some have even become almost addicted to bearing the misery of others. Like any addiction or problem, you must first recognize it’s there before you can take the necessary steps to fix or heal it.

I believe the first step in helping the Unconscious Empaths is to raise awareness. Like a variety of other topics I cover here, Empathy (capital E) is still gaining traction. Some psychologists and psychiatrists are aware of it and even allow for it to be part of a patient’s challenges. There are support groups on Facebook and a number of books on the subject.

Like everything else, though, if you’re unconscious, you don’t see how something like Empathy applies to you when you hear it from strangers. Only when someone you know and trust starts to describe some of the, for lack of a better term, symptoms, can you allow yourself to listen and take personal stock.

Testing the Waters

https://www.flickr.com/photos/142726605@N03/26477590124/in/photolist-GkJz5y-Lbjtyy-7U6aRM-fAvVrd-8xkhNA-9y8U87-9y8PZ9-hkmFEV-pFNVmn-qfvzds-4wXFCU-qwU8vr-fvtgHY-rrTvBA-qx26Jh-deDyEe-zLy9J-iyNxU-9y5Sva-zLy9G-nGtJKV-2ahmb-8GaT1p-8xhj1c-qfZurB-8xo6AA-o2vgjD-fhmvPA-i9LLEe-fhfA2Y-eyHAQ7-4wTwBV-fvthgq-4wQn2x-fvdZMM-fvuWFY-6Q1PWA-fP1Z3u-EjZqZV-daB9Am-aAFS2R-9y8RDE-fAvVAo-iSPYmR-6EKY95-4o5gjJ-6PDXe3-Kcbqcp-9aQUMa-75sAZqI’ve become carefully open about talking about being an Empath in the last few years. I’ll describe a situation and how it affected me, or talk about someone who is self-medicating with alcohol and suggest they may be experiencing pain and destructive emotions which belong to someone else. I used to be especially careful around those who were devoutly religious, but I’m learning Empathy doesn’t seem to conflict with those beliefs, at least with the ones I’ve opened up to.

It may even be that those who are deeply spiritual, regardless of their path are more open, not only to the idea of being sensitive to others, but to being that way themselves. Perhaps a willingness to believe in a higher power, or a greater whole, or some other description which gives us a feeling of connection to something bigger than ourselves is Empathy in itself.

Detach and Accept Without Judgement

The best way to learn and connect more, I’m finding, is to let go of judgement when I talk about Empathy; to detach from any beliefs I might have based on religious, political, social, or other deeply personal outlook. Discussions like this depend on openness without fear of humiliation or repudiation, and acceptance that whatever the listener believes is right for them. It’s been a difficult lesson for me, but ultimately, a rewarding one.

I’m learning those deep-rooted beliefs can’t obscure the fact we’re all connected, and more alike than we realize. There are a lot more Empaths and HSP’s out there than I’d originally believed. In fact, I’d venture to say it’s more the rule than the exception, even if some have yet to realize it.

We hear more and more about focusing on similarities rather than differences. It would certainly keep the arguments and dissent down. As I try to throttle back my own emotions on certain topics, I’m learning those similarities are far more relevant anyway. And I’m meeting more people who light up with recognition when I talk about Empathy.

With Heartfelt Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I’ve become braver about sharing my Empathic journey.
  2. I am grateful for the people who have come into my life to challenge, to teach, and to learn.
  3. I am grateful for an expanding social life that’s making it a bit more challenging to work on building my business, but know it’s actually a part of that process.
  4. I am grateful for my cats who keep my grounded and in touch with what really matters; a warm place to sleep, food in my belly, exercise, stretching, and someone to snuggle with whenever I need it. And kisses. Lots and lots of kisses.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, inspiration, friendship, joy, challenges, lessons, courage, steps out of my comfort zone, 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.

Where Are You Getting Your News?

Holding On To Outmoded Methods of Discernment

Emotions are a large part of the human psyche, but they were never meant to replace our brains. They’re a touchstone for some, internal guidance for others, but for many of us, something which makes us repeat old mistakes over and over because we’ve been programmed to avoid things we’ve long since outgrown needing to avoid. Old wounds left scars, but they didn’t take us back over what happened to arrive at a better solution. They simply put a scar in place which triggers avoidance behavior or worse any time we experience anything remotely similar to the original pain-filled experience.

It seems lately this is what people are using to pick sides in a volatile and self-serving political climate. Intentionally emotionally charged topics are at the forefront every single day, obscuring what really matters; we are all in this together, and by working together, we can make things better for all.

When News is Nothing More Than Spewing Propaganda to Incite the Masses

Which brings me to today’s topic, news sources. Maybe I’m not the best person to wax poetic on this topic as I eschewed all news agencies long ago. But then again, maybe I am. It’s no secret each one has its own political slant. People are going to listen to the ones which share their viewpoint more often than not. The problem is by doing so, everything we hear is slanted towards our beliefs, and gives us no chance to understand what drives the other side of the argument.

One night while waiting to get into our local dance hall, someone asked me whether I was still buying NIke products. Of course, a “discussion” about the right to take a knee during the National Anthem arose. I put the word in quotes because it was, except for one voice of reason (which wasn’t mine), more of a series of emotional outbursts than a discussion. It saddened me to see so many of my friends letting their emotions make their decisions, and realizing I’m not doing my part to improve the situation. Not that I’m immune, but those in power are stirring those emotions daily, and as long as we act and don’t think things through or do our own research, they have us by the proverbial short hairs.

We’re so busy in-fighting about stupid, emotionally triggered subjects that we’re letting the thieves clean out the banks, the stores, and every freedom we hold dear. It’s got to stop! We need to push our emotions back where they belong and re-engage our brains.

Opening Our Hearts and Minds

For example, when did people manage to separate the act of kneeling in church from kneeling during the National Anthem, seeing one as an act of respect and the other as tantamount to treason?

Jeremy Adam Smith  published a piece in Scientific American called “The Psychology of Taking a Knee”. In my opinion it is one of the best and most well thought out articles about both the reason for Colin Kaepernick’s misunderstood and misrepresented (for their own personal benefit) act of protest over police violence against blacks in particular. I urge you to not only read it in its entirety, but do so with an open mind and an accepting heart. It’s time we all made more than a token effort to understand beliefs which aren’t our own.

If you ask me, we’ve become a nation of lemmings, believing what we’re told by people we think we should continue to trust no matter how many reasons they give us for running the other way. It’s time to push past the walls of our own cognitive dissonance and realize a good part of our beliefs are based on either faulty or non-existent reasoning. Most of the time, instead of changing old beliefs with new facts, we take the easy road, and fall back on old beliefs, ignoring the reality that’s literally smacking us in the face.

Seeing the Light in the Media’s Darkness

https://www.flickr.com/photos/shan213/13959398126/in/photolist-RwnZWa-ayQgu1-amXuij-9KZfif-bJsTcF-dmiwBx-4LwPZS-ngxyJ3-amXunq-83AkxT-5nmCvL-ajRRF1-p726Pa-8hXzrj-WYoqBq-b3XtLV-gtT43-g2PFEr-ayVLip-6AUTqf-dZMYA2-b3XnVr-dMLMcs-dPtAeM-dC9uL-W1398F-5zxVfC-W13cbK-b3XsLF-WYowof-d5HvmS-ax8DQJ-RsJuww-bsRwtU-ni7c-S7xRBk-qHFZg7-W13cvT-7YXYc7-4geuqc-ax8Sof-SVd9Lv-4yeamM-cx5tVs-dPzfsJ-cYzr1J-SAoCFu-VdeFR1-ax5YN8-4o3RtnPersonally, I admire Nike for hiring Mr. Kaepernick to represent them despite the potentially negative https://www.flickr.com/photos/pvsbond/3477570009/in/photolist-6iispB-cTMR4f-F6qtRL-g25gqj-qnk8ek-721gcK-cTMNFu-gszkkM-cApCff-9nMRgW-orFCmu-asgdxf-9vgqRN-cTN4BU-ntm7Vj-iWoqWL-ruYcaN-hmuAUt-qDJY7g-4cyLgM-bbnbtT-bsTjtB-cTMMhE-boFaev-cTMNrQ-pC6YNZ-eMYwJ4-cTMScQ-cTMQKm-drV5oA-7Rfktm-9iQTqr-cTMNyY-8Hjoex-FzhCh2-9FuTL1-9HqAtM-cTMN3o-RWF1nm-cTMMxq-g2646E-qnjDfp-qnbDUh-5ht2kg-dK3zmi-drV2rE-cTMNbG-9ZxLax-gcrehS-cTMNiYimpact on their profits. It means a lot for a person or company with a fair amount of power (or in this case, financial assets) to back an unpopular viewpoint. People may be doing stupid things like burning shoes in protest of Nike’s decision. Yet they’re talking about it, and paying attention. It’s opening up conversations and inciting people like me to look past the hype and the political machinations to what’s behind a promising athlete essentially killing his career to stand up for what he believes is right.

There will always be people whose minds are closed and who believe they have all the right answers. We can’t help them, nor catch them when they go down in flames. But I believe there are enough of us who are at least ready to hear other points of view, but need to learn to take our own emotional responses out of the mix first.

Being One of the Baby Steps to Change

https://www.flickr.com/photos/genomegov/27861478565/in/photolist-36R456-TVEoV3-7Wybvd-4WUnY9-5fFekL-UxPtrE-JXsDow-JXsDFW-5xxC-i6g81S-pj2KGy-RqtEwb-3bW8wG-aiBE4-21HP7o-7WuXxi-a87gs-v23FG1-e5Ta5U-8hAaU2-7CJgqt-4RTmW-6VGoa4-21HP7G-bKycpP-bwDtbf-rBr5w5-Js2mU6-4RTmT-bKycvn-6nNpdg-dtid4-5hSULN-8qeqEZ-vi6Sx1-vi6iuY-v2adQn-vi6nRJ-vi5UuQ-v23BpL-umARN9-v23yrQ-umAZaJ-wkdd7E-daLc3v-bwDtvf-aLErhv-a3Giyp-9oXUVB-7S9ue4Change doesn’t happen in giant leaps most of the time. Instead, it’s tiny cracks in the impenetrable walls we build around ourselves. It’s opening our hearts just a little to something we’ve misunderstood, and trying to see something from another perspective. We can start by re-evaluating who and what we’re listening to and asking where and why they see things as they do. We can actively look for publications and sources which don’t share our perspective, looking for different interpretations of facts.

Instead of shutting down when we see something that confuses and confounds, we can open to the possibilities. Unless we’re stuck in a dark, dank rut of a comfort zone, we do so with other aspects of our lives. So why not use the skills we’ve learned to open our minds to things which we can’t immediately see as impacting us personally? In reality, we are all connected, so what impacts one, truly does impact us all. Think about that for a few moments.

Breaking Our Own Paradigms

I can only speak for myself in this, but know in the last couple of years I’ve altered my perceptions and pre-conceived notions on a wide variety of subjects. If a self-confirmed hermit like me can come out of her shell, interact more freely with people, and even do live videos, why is it such a stretch for others to make small changes, create tiny openings in beliefs that may seem hard-wired, yet can be changed with a little concerted effort?

Start small. Listen to an opposing viewpoint without immediately going on the defensive. Change news stations (if unlike me you’re still listening). Talk to friends who disagree with you and agree to hear each other out without showing disdain, raising your voice, or emotional outbursts. Or at least read the article I linked.

When you’re ready, branch out. Take one of your more emotional beliefs and the events or people linked to it. Search for articles and stories which take an opposing view and read them without criticism. Learn to accept that there is truth in every side of a story. The trick is to weed out the emotional triggers and biases so you can see the bald, unadulterated truth buried inside the rhetoric.

We’re sentient beings born with the ability to reason and discern. It’s time we rose above the apes and into that birthright again.

Gratitude for All We Have, and All the Possibilities

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for situations and circumstances that remind me to open my mind and stop being an ass.
  2. I am grateful for the lessons I learn both from watching others, and watching myself behaving badly.
  3. I am grateful for a circle of friends with varying beliefs, even if some of it frustrates me and even makes me want to cry.
  4. I am grateful for my talent for research, and the desire to dig deep into things others are accepting on faith these days. Faith is overrated all too often, I’ve found.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, client attraction, friends, joy, kitty love, happiness, morality and ethics (even if buried deep), peace, harmony, philanthropy, health, 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.

Choose Your Words Carefully in Case You Have to Eat Them

May the Words We Speak Be Tasty

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-8sRJY6In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”, Alice is called upon to make a speech at the Mad Tea Party. She launches into a typical wordy monologue. Later, she’s admonished by the other party-goers who tell her she should have chosen her words more carefully, as now she has to eat them. In this case, and given the many unusual events during Alice’s trip down the rabbit hole, a speech was simply another word for placing your food order.

In life, we do much the same thing. The words we speak define our lives, whether we realize it or not. If we spend our lives complaining about how imperfect things are, what we don’t have, and how lousy we feel, we’ll attract more of the same. It reminds me of my dad telling me “stop crying or I’ll give you something to cry about”. In short, we get the life we order.

People Can be “Nellies” or “Pollies

Lately I’ve noticed my friends on Facebook (the ones I haven’t unfollowed for posting too much political https://www.flickr.com/photos/paulhami/2993662670/in/photolist-5yxiBC-8U5hPD-3edYTu-4CUgRY-3zQatC-5vmZ5c-bu1dBi-aGGHJg-aGGHaR-BrnmAC-JDHRGr-aGGG6n-anNJMT-aGGJDF-nhi5kC-URiXsy-8TU5Uu-7RHX6n-dSUfp3-8pz3GG-ax1E17-Gf1oKW-5wx88t-66XiHU-7U9YpL-7fcpGE-6C7S53-6AEtio-8YbMjQ-587zbz-MiRWFF-5htVfK-onWKYE-edRR9q-9jX3Pw-oZ6LzR-8pRD6w-9eVxUz-axUgNW-F6D6yL-dbZeKc-4cLsjY-b8ppRD-FfTkWW-7Lsz4B-66Xk3Q-2zs3Zi-7Lxsep-kyFmeu-RNnFfMnonsense, at least) seem to fall into one of two categories: Negative Nellies or Positive Pollies.

The “Nellies” are the ones who will post things like “I’m having a really bad day. Someone post the 12th picture on your camera roll to make me smile.” Or “I really hate my job. I wish I was {anywhere that isn’t their current reality}”. Or worse, “I’m so sick right now. I wish I could feel better”.

It’s gotten to the point where I don’t even click on notifications they’ve posted even though I know there is often something valuable buried amongst all the complaints. I almost want to shout at them If I wanted to see or hear something depressing, I’d watching the freaking news! But I restrain myself. I know they’re in a bad place, and may not even know how to get out of it.

Just as I choose not to see all their negativity, they can’t or won’t see all the positive quotes, comments, and graphics I’m posting, nor those shared by anyone else on their list. When we are deep in a wallow, we see all that positivity as a poke in the eye. How can everyone else be so perky and happy when we’re in the depths of despair? They’re probably lying. Nobody can be that happy with their lives because no matter who they are, shit happens.

Seeing the Value in All Experiences

The “Pollies” know shit happens, but handle it in a completely different way. They look for things in their life to be grateful for. They seek out other “Pollies” who post things that lift their spirits. The do their best to lift someone else’s spirits. Why? Because it’s a known fact if you do something for someone else, it will make you feel better!

That’s not to say the “Nellies” aren’t socially conscious, loving, giving people. I know some whose lives are spent doing good and helping others. Why can’t they find the joy in all they’re giving? Though it baffles me, I wonder if it’s coming from the wrong place. I don’t mean they’re giving with the expectation of getting something in return, and becoming despondent when that doesn’t happen. I think some of them give through a sense of obligation.

When my kids or a friend would thank me for a deed or gift by saying “you didn’t have to do that”, I’d always respond “if I had to do it, I probably wouldn’t have. I did it because I wanted to.”  The same holds true today.

Doing Good, Each in Our Own Way

Maybe I’m not working at a soup kitchen serving meals to people who can’t afford food. It’s not that I don’t care. It’s simply not where I choose to put my Samaritan efforts. Heaven knows there are more than enough causes and neediness to go around when it comes to doing our part to make the world better. I have causes I support, but have no need or desire to broadcast my efforts. I simply do what I can and know in my heart I’m doing something to make a difference, no matter how small.

“Pollies” go around spreading joy wherever they go, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t times when they need a boost too. It is a little harder to get them to admit it though! I have friends who are suffering from cancer, or a debilitating disease who are the most fervent broadcasters of joy and positivity I know. You wouldn’t even suspect there are serious challenges in their lives unless you get into a private conversation with them and give them the opportunity to open up a bit without feeling like they’re dumping on anyone. They find their joy and purpose in raising the joy level overall.

Giving From Our Own Well

There’s a younger couple I see at the gym whenever I’m there. They’re not the skinny minnie, or hard bodies, but they are something far more impressive. The first time I really noticed them was when the woman did squats holding a 75 pound dumbbell. You read that right. SEVENTY-FIVE FREAKING POUNDS! And she did really low squats, nearly to the ground, several times with that behemoth of a dumbbell. I almost had to pick my jaw up off the floor!

Not only that, they usually have one of those skinny minnies with them, showing them how to use the machines and weights properly. I was so impressed I finally broke my usual silence while at the gym to tell them how much they inspire me, not only with their physical strength and dedication to their own health, but because they take the time to help other people too. Of course, they were incredibly humble, and touched to be recognized doing what they clearly love to do. I walked away feeling uplifted and blessed to have had the opportunity to interact with people like that. They are giving back by using their own skills and talents, yet see nothing unusual or noteworthy about what they’re doing.

I’m learning when we give back out of desire rather than obligation, and do so in a way that utilizes our own unique skills and talents, we generate positive energy effortlessly. We’re doing what comes naturally, and because it’s natural, we create something genuine, honest, and in most cases, heart warming too.

Are You Giving Because You Can, or Because You Believe You Must?

I think that’s the greatest difference I notice between the “Pollies” and the “Nellies”. “Pollies” give because they can, and without even thinking about it as giving. They share what they’ve learned with others who might need a little help getting going. They give from a bottomless well because they’re doing what comes naturally; from a well that never empties because it’s source is soul deep and each act of sharing replenishes rather than drains it.

“Nellies” give because they feel it’s what they’re supposed to do. It may also come from the core of their being, but because they feel it’s obligatory, they’re not refilling their own well with the joy of doing something simply because they can. They’re doing it because they feel they must, or to get recognized for being a good person, or some other reason known only to them. The giving drains and depletes them because they do the right thing for all the wrong reasons.

Negativity is a Cry for Help in Changing Perspective

I could hide every one of my friends who typically spreads sadness and negativity, but know it’s their Created with Canvaway of asking for help. Somewhere along the way, they might catch the attention of a “Polly” who can help pull them a little way out of the hole they’ve dug for themselves. Though, sad to say, it’s likely they’ll attract more of what they’re broadcasting and dig themselves in deeper.

We all respond from our own perspective. Negative people don’t always see the positive aspect which exists in everything. For example, I started getting a migraine yesterday just as I was finishing my errands. My thoughts went something like this.

Dammit! Another migraine.

At least I’m almost done with my errands, and less than 5 minutes from home.

I’m so glad I have an early warning system that tells me a migraine is coming so I can do something to keep it from being really bad.

I’m glad I was able to get everything done before this came on.

In the end, I missed the night of dancing I’d planned, but instead, I got laundry done and got to talk to a friend, (another “Polly” as it happens) and learn a little more about her. In return, I got the inspiration for this post. In my mind, the migraine changed my plans, but put me exactly where I was supposed to be.

Learning to Flip Our Own Script

If I was still a “Nellie” as I was a couple of decades ago, the conversation with myself would have gone much differently, and I’d have missed an opportunity. I will always be grateful to the friend who introduced me to “The Secret” and helped me start recognizing my negative self-talk. The journey of discovery and resulting climb up the emotional ladder continues. I may still have begun without her help, but I’d have found the way a lot later, and suffered a lot longer.

I wish for all of my “Nellie” friends out there the help and guidance to start climbing out of their own emotional pit of despair. It’s a lot more pleasant up here where the sun shines and the flowers bloom.

Gratitude: The Ultimate Script Flipper

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have been put in my path at just the right time so I begin moving in a new and better direction.
  2. I am grateful for the coaches, cheerleaders, and butt kickers who ensure I keep moving forward instead of trying to revisit and regurgitate where I’ve been.
  3. I am grateful for the inspiration and motivation to get ahead on some things so I’m more likely to get back to those things which will ultimately propel me forward.
  4. I am grateful fro new ideas and viewpoints which are constantly appearing, exactly when I need to hear and see them.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, encouragement, support, joy, positivity, friendship, variety, people, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Special thanks to Becca Burnett who inspired this post.

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.

Memories Stored On Calendars

Memories Give Us Pause

Every year at this time, I write a post of remembrance, but this year is a little different. On September 10th, I began thinking about all the dates on the calendar which make me stop for a moment and remember, not necessarily what is good and right in my world, but what I’ve lost, and how it has impacted the woman I am today.

March 12th was my mother’s birthday. She would be 84.

December 27th was the day she took her life. It will be 25 years this December.

September 28th was my father’s birthday. He would have been 87 this year.

And September 11th—for most people, the day we remember when terrorists took down the World Trade Center with a passenger plane full of people, and targeted the Pentagon with another. But for me and my daughters, the memory is quite different, and far more painful because for us, it’s personal.

Our Personal Sadness

On September 11, 2003, my father wrote a note to his girlfriend, smoked one last cigarette, put a gun in his mouth, and pulled the trigger. His girlfriend and best friend found him a couple of hours later when he missed the daily check-in call from the girlfriend and wasn’t answering her increasingly frantic voice mails.

Some people read my words and assure me the anger will pass, and that diagnosis of Stage IV lung cancer he received 2 days before his death meant he wasn’t in his right mind. To them, I can honestly say, my anger over him leaving without saying goodbye to me, my daughters, my sister and my nephew has long passed. I understand why he did it. The only time I ever saw my father cry was after the long ordeal of watching his mother die of the same disease. In his position, I can’t say I’d have made a different choice.

At the time, I was less angry about the act, and more with the fact that it was just under 10 years since my mom had also checked out by her own hand. Her reasons have never really been as clear-cut as dad’s, but I’ve accepted the fact that she, too had her reasons. I’ve had nearly 25 years to learn, and at this point, probably millions of words I’ve penned to facilitate the healing process.

Time Heals, But Brings Clarity With It

My anger with my father takes a different direction now, and yet, it too is tempered with understanding. https://www.flickr.com/photos/14778685@N00/5620269958/in/photolist-9yDmsb-9wLFJL-psqyLM-9eAGhb-8JDGi-22seJFb-eSRPY9-iPbhs5-nG8C4Y-ar7VdX-5cMaFn-enkvir-bqUWhr-5cMehe-5cRtPA-5cMbV6-7JBXyM-9NcXFu-akjnB4-f24BV3-Y4j9hL-C7FKVi-VTy9k3-8kdguW-4rv5oP-bJ1Fkv-8nE69a-f3h27J-4uSagZ-coUiM3-NioBNY-8r29ho-6Tj8Fy-6sU9p1-dRZwBZ-UWF6WG-8nMjbJ-dY99M6-oFhtwA-f32MKz-RtLuuB-9gdY6g-8n6qjK-iebqgz-dS9hDW-UUq24S-bt2EvL-LynnF6-nUg6Ge-auC2dzI know he did the best he could with what he had and where he came from. In truth, I’m angrier with myself for playing his warped and twisted game for so long.

For most of my life, I was certain my dad not only loved me, but favored me over my sister. Maybe he did, but if so, it was for all the wrong reasons. My sister was wise to his manipulative games decades before I ever figured it out, and went her own way. She understood him better than I as she’s the one who is more like him. I mistakenly believed she favored mom until recently.

Both she and dad wore their cold, hard exteriors like armor, and used sarcasm as a shield. But there was (and in my sister’s case, probably still is) a level of bitterness beneath the armor which further shields from honest, messy emotions. As I’ve learned, though, it also shields from the good stuff; the love, joy, compassion, and empathy I’ve come to appreciate in myself.

Mom wore her heart on her sleeve, though she tried very hard to cover it up. Her efforts to belong, to fit in, to be accepted were often heartbreaking to watch. I hardened my own heart so I wouldn’t have to watch hers break over and over again. Maybe Dad did too?

A Conglomeration of All Who Came Before

As time goes on and the dates come and go bringing memories and new insights, I realize I’m a little like both of my parents, and a lot like neither. Much of the deviation though, has occurred in the last 10 years. Until then, I held everything in and stumbled through life with my feelings treated as unwelcome guests. That’s the way I was brought up, and the only way I knew.

But when I started writing; when the feelings I’d held in check at great cost came tumbling out onto the computer screen, I found a part of myself that resembled not only neither parent, but none of the family I’d once been close to either. I became an enigma, not because I had always been different, but because I was the first and maybe the only one to break out of the mold into which we’d all been cast.

I let go of the blame, the bitterness, and the need to hold a grudge. I forgave and learned to recognize the need to forgive myself most of all. Even now when I drag out old feelings and find they were buried in lies, I allow them to flow, then forgive all over again.

Letting My Pen Lance the Boils of My Hidden Emotions

https://www.flickr.com/photos/matt_rogers/32072645186/in/photolist-QS9G29-7jFGWM-jSSXTn-gWnnAn-7jKzg7-k1Q3Ez-49HGS-JaXYoH-6HUNQF-7jFHgR-nQzqNh-fzUL6w-hx2nML-a4N44-Z3xc8b-6ef9HF-aEXdio-m2HqQt-bBKzg2-kbdf3P-5Db73z-b7AkyD-6zJzQw-7dEU9V-ZDftY1-fY9zv8-7pBPUc-bmfwto-7eXMSj-9NdNPm-8EVVBC-6JNLK8-6nNaux-c28A2C-9atUf8-7oMuuJ-9YvpG-vdJj7-ecCm-8LJzww-eEd6oi-BQX1p-XZKjij-k1Q1px-E6Miuc-6zrveY-j2kDUf-7vaq24-7fnH1m-dDHfZsThe revelation about my relationship with Dad came during a free-writing session which began with a writing prompt. An otherwise benign prompt became a tear- and anger-filled rant about how badly he’d treated me all my life. It churned and boiled inside me for a little while. Now I realize he not only behaved as he’d been taught, but loved me as best he could. He made me strong and independent, maybe in the extreme. It has been up to me to find the balance. I had no good example to follow.

I’ve hypothesized I come from a long line of Empaths who closed themselves off rather than feel everything that bombarded them. The choice was made more from fear and lack of understanding than a lack of desire or inability to embrace the sensitivity and accept the responsibility this sometimes dubious gift requires.  More and more, I’m convinced that’s true. I’m certain Dad would have been a wreck trying to deal with all the angst I had as a teenager, or the misery I tried to hide during my marriage and divorce. He already knew how to close himself off, and used it to good purpose to protect his own delicate psyche. Mom spent her whole lifetime trying to fit in, yet always sensing negative thoughts and feelings, especially those directed at her personally.

Lack of understanding and an inability to filter out the negativity and even anger emitting from her close family must have been painful in the extreme. The alternate spirituality she tried to turn to and draw my sister into as well makes more sense as I continue clearing the muck from my own mind. In her own way she sought what I found when I learned, first to shield with outward facing mirrors, and later to filter with elemental assistance. My own early extreme shielding gives evidence to my early need to shut the outside voices and emotions off completely until I learned how to be selective about it.

Remembrance and Healing

The dates bring an upsurge of feelings and thoughts. But more than that, they bring opportunities for more healing, more understanding, and more forgiving. My parents weren’t perfect. Nobody’s are. But they weren’t horrific either. In some ways, they might have been ignorant to what they were doing to their offspring, but again, I think most parents are to some degree. They all do the best they can with what they’re given, and both of mine weren’t given a full toolbox in the first place. There were more empty spaces than full ones, and I don’t think they had a clue what was missing or how to find it. You can’t miss what you don’t know exists in the first place, right?

I’ve gone, in the last decade from angry to compassionate, to understanding to resigned, and a bunch of other things in between along the way. My journey won’t be done until I lay my own head down for the final sleep. That, too is as it should be.

We learn, we grow, we become stronger, and we become lighter Beings because of the experiences we have and how we learn to adapt and thrive from each one. When we allow the journey to continue unthwarted and to share what we’ve learned along the way, no matter how painful, we shine a light for others to follow, and perhaps learn and grow themselves. Throwing up walls as I did for so many years put the process on hold, and perhaps even gave me additional barriers to cross and lessons to learn.

I don’t regret any of the challenges life has thrown me. I don’t think I’d have ever come out from behind my walls without the gigantic kick in the pants my parents’ suicides gave me. I was lodged pretty solidly and needed what amounted to a volcanic eruption to get out of my own way. It wasn’t pretty, but then, most eruptions aren’t. It was exactly what I needed to become the person I was meant to be.

No regrets, no anger, no blame, and no illusions.

Infinitely Grateful For What I’ve Been Given; The Good, The Bad, and The Horrific

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the lessons I’ve been given; the easy and the painful, they all made me grow.
  2. I am grateful I can take what I’ve learned and share it with others who might need to hear what I have to say.
  3. I am grateful for understanding friends, and even virtual strangers who find value in the sharing of my own life’s convoluted path.
  4. I am grateful for the ability to write at length on things which at one time (and sometimes still do) reduce me to a puddle of tears and misery. Only by continually wading through the emotional swamp can I clear it and make the land clean and ready for fresh growth.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; caring friends, loving children, a life that’s as people-y or non-people-y as I want it to be, days of quiet contemplation, joy, time spent with friends where love flows, and sadness is shared, inspiration, motivation, 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.

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