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Archive for the ‘#shericonaway’ Category

Is Being Right Overshadowing Compassion?

Wherefore Art Thou, Compassion?

Warning: Rant Ahead

I’m getting more and more disenchanted with Social Media these days. Everyone seems to want to post articles and quote law (or what passes for law these days) to prove their point of view. The amount of hate that’s being spewed could, if harnessed as energy, power a large country. People I know who are basically good and kind are trying to shift blame or justify ignorance of human decency simply to be right; to justify choices they made. To what purpose?

Human rights are disintegrating before our eyes. We are seeing some of the worst periods in history for showing the ugly heads of hate resurfacing. One side continues to find reasons it’s OK, while the other pounds their chests and shouts from the rooftops, not in love, but in hate. I find myself mentally drafting a post or a message blasting them all, but to what end? I don’t need to be right. I don’t need to feed the hate. It all makes me so sad.

I’ve Been Accused of Having My Head in the Sand, But is it Me Or???

I have been in the minority almost since the beginning of our latest national debacle (which, unless you’re ignoring it all, which isn’t such a bad idea, is hardly isolated to the shores of our great-only-in-our-shadowed-minds country). My exhortations to look beneath the horrific attacks on human dignity, Constitutional rights, and outright murder to the real motivation behind the preponderance of such acts continue to fall on deaf or worse, militantly aggressive ears. Time and again, I’ve been shouted down, or ruthlessly berated for my failure to jump on any of the causes without reservation.

How many more “while you were focusing on Cause X, Congress quietly took away another right or freedom” posts and articles must we see before we realize we are, as I’ve been saying for at least a couple of years now, allowing ourselves to be led to the slaughter, innocent, or maybe simply disbelieving lambs. My words may have little effect, and being able to say “I told you so” is but an empty victory.

Our once great country is splintered and divided into a million fragments fueled by idealism and selfishness.


How many of us can honestly say “I give love and compassion to everyone” without adding “Except for…” or “But I won’t give up…”?

Feeding the Pain Body

We continue to feed the beast with our anger and outrage. My personal image of the Devil is one who feeds on anger, pain, hate—all the negative emotions Eckhart Tolle would say are coming from our pain body. I am beginning to understand the logic behind blood magic. One who wishes to used and abuse others has a pain so deep, they can only function when they cause suffering in others. Pain and hate have replaced love and kindness in their hearts. They make the Grinch look like Mother Teresa. And that’s the kind of people who are leading us around by our noses right now.

Think about it. In the last few years, we’ve had massive outcry over things like #OccupyWallStreet, #MeToo, marches for science, pink pussy hats, and the increase in school shootings with its resulting (and highly manufactured, if you ask me) outcry for more gun control. More recently, we have refugee children being separated from their parents and put into internment camps (WWII and the Japanese, anyone?).

The Signs Should Read “Distraction Ahead”

Every single time we are focused on something we deem horrendous, inhumane, or distressing, https://www.flickr.com/photos/35661951@N05/3301911347/in/photolist-62MacZ-8Xg8JJ-99EED2-6ukkey-99cpQj-K3PSrh-hFEZv-eevrK7-4ET5Ga-eirkqh-4QxafM-5thv2Z-7D9KW6-77wGJ5-eeonnH-aDN8j3-kbDBEA-8B6bHZ-2GsUh2-5gqAf-cyMRGU-5tUx72-oVs2Rk-9RuAeo-eevDx5-GywZT9-cyMwjW-pmZbM-h3P17c-3cBFP2-eevzuC-q8iZiZ-5TsVGN-aDN3D9-WrrMWj-7x9jR6-j1kqp-gEroQ-cQ6Pt5-4sNRtz-nkKGAk-GywYMb-GywZYj-JCRyYq-9utXaK-7YriHP-6WDWPK-bjM3J7-FFmjJG-2NLBMCongress slips something else past us guaranteed to help those in power, and strip the rest of us of more of our rights and privileges. At some point, people will wake up, but will it be before we’re stripped of the rest of our freedoms and shoved into internment camps ourselves?

At the moment, we’re still trying to fight the evil amongst us with their own weapons, and we’ve yet to win a single battle. Sure, they’ve offered a concession or two, but only to pacify the less diligent and get the herd mentality running in another direction so atrocities can continue undeterred.

Yet, for me, the end of many long-term friendships over the barrage of media grabbing issues is the saddest, most heart-wrenching casualty of the grand-standing, manipulative antics of our current administration.

Does All Hope Rest on the Millennials?

I watched an episode of Samantha Bee last night, and the part which resonated most strongly with me was a piece about a man who’s leading a movement to impeach Trump. Meanwhile, the Trump supporters are using the campaign against them to rally their own camp with “they’re trying to impeach him, but we won’t let them” campaigns of their own. Do we not yet realize things like underground railroads and secret societies were far more effective in the fight for good over evil? When you show all your cards, the enemy has time to launch a counter-attack, and the enemy amongst us is ALWAYS 20 steps ahead in this game.

Admittedly, in our digital age, it’s much harder to fly beneath the radar and organize people, but it’s not impossible. I’d like to say our last, unlikely hope is the Millennials, as attached to the digital world as most of them are. But who better to break a broken system and rebuild it better?

They learned computer-eze like the rest of us learned our milk language; almost from the cradle. Many can hack things we wouldn’t even believe were hackable in the first place. And yet, maybe the answer is to go off-grid before that right, too, is completely eliminated.

Being Driven to Rant Because I Have No Answers, Only Frustration

Unfortunately, I have no answers, only a multitude of questions, and a deep distrust for anything and everything I hear or see from the media, both social and traditional. Too much truth and honesty are being squelched these days to trust the diluted pablum we’re being fed. Even the most intelligent are sharing “facts” from sources which include candidates for public office. Why in the hell would they tell us the truth? They want our support and our vote, so they’ll say whatever they think we want to hear. It’s not like politicians are known for keeping promises.

This post has, unlike most of what I write, turned into a bit of a rant. I unfollowed several people (on both sides of the issues) this week because the political bullshit they were sharing was mind-numbing in its distortion of the facts (whatever they might be at this point) beyond all recognition.

I’ve reached the point where, even while watching something like Samantha Bee which tries to be equally disdainful of both sides of the house, I want to see their sources and look them up myself, then find at least 5 reputable sources confirming what I’ve read. Though I fear the number of reputable news sources is rapidly decreasing to zero. I immediately dismiss any post or article from a political candidate, official, or party, knowing they’re distorted. Yet, I do read some of them, if only to educate myself as to how farfetched the story-telling gets.

Is A Dystopian Society Only a Nightmare?

Maybe that will be my next novel. I’ll see if I can create a society even more dystopian than the one in which we currently live. I’m not sure I can. They do say truth is stranger, and in this case, more horrible and dehumanizing than fiction. Clearly, the only ones who learned anything from the atrocities of Hitler, Mussolini, and Kaiser Wilhelm are those who’ve studied them at length and are doing their damndest to recreate those worlds in a more sustainable fashion. I can’t handle that level of evil even from a TV show (I stopped watching “Bones” until they killed off Pelant), much less write my own story.

They say we shy away from the uncomfortable because we need to face it to grow. I’m not so sure diving into the depths of a twisted mind is part of my journey. There’s enough on my plate as I seek answers to the mindset of people who see suicide as a reasonable choice, and have to fight the urge to go down that one-way rabbit hole. Yet, I do want to understand what motivates people to treat others with willful disregard for human dignity. Who seem to exhibit the antithesis of compassion. Who are morally and ethically bankrupt. Until I understand the mindset, I don’t feel qualified to offer any viable solutions.

When the Dust Clears, I Am Still Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I maintain a discerning, if unpopular mindset.
  2. I am grateful there are still sources for fact-checking, if we’re willing to put forth the effort.
  3. I am grateful for the continued existence of healthy debate, even if it’s harder to find people and places (including myself) who can put emotion aside and exchange information.
  4. I am grateful for continued inspiration for my thrice-weekly posts. We’re in turbulent, confusing times, but I never run short of material.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; compassion, kindness, free speech, intelligence, discernment, challenges, lessons, upheaval in my life that leads to a better understanding of my purpose, support, connections, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

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Epiphany Central

Opening the Epiphany Floodgates

This has been a week of epiphanies. I’ve cleared the cobwebs and the fairy dust from several things, though they all, in their own way boil down to how I’ve mis-perceived my relationship with my dad, both while he was alive, and until recently.

As I’ve mentioned more than once, my relationship with my mom was virtually non-existent unless you count being like two angry bulls spoiling for a fight just for the sake of fighting a relationship. Early on, it was clear I was destined to disappoint her, though I never really figured out why. She had about 2 1/2 years to bond with her first-born before her second came along, and she, like her mother before her, tossed the first one aside to dote on the second. Nowadays, I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that she was young when I was born, and made her mistakes with me. It wasn’t necessarily that my sister was an easier child, but by the time she was born, mom had figured out some of the ins and outs of motherhood, just as she had with cooking.

Searching for a More Hospitable Host in my Dad

Somewhere in my young mind, I must have understood, and given up on trying to please her long before my 4th birthday (and heaven knows, I became an expert at displeasing her!) and turned my attention to my other parental unit, believing I could bond with him while my mother was turning all her attention to the newest addition to the family.

By then, I had become accustomed to being ignored or yelled at, so I figured any attention I got was better than nothing. My dad did what he knew best; he teased and tormented me, and when he had had enough, he yelled at me and sent me to my room. Even as a teenager, my mom would wield the over-used admonition “wait until your father gets home”. When he did, she’d whine and complain about my latest misdeeds until you’d swear I’d committed murder, or at least a federal crime. After a long day, it was the last thing he needed, so of course, he took it out on me.

Thus began another round of trying to win my dad’s approval. A game I’ve recently come to realize was one I could never win no matter how hard I tried. Eventually, I accepted his demanding nature and verbal abuse as approval, or the closest he ever came to giving it. I loved him unconditionally and accepted whatever small crumb of attention and affection he could spare.

Breaking the Rose-Colored Glasses

https://www.flickr.com/photos/derekgavey/5403628476/in/photolist-9ev1ud-9odiqE-99hCeK-28aMBcv-L2NkmJ-L2NjGN-9aaEe6-kvx1iw-rkYv1m-4JnGd-en3MZM-qccpV9-FVyYz-7qbqYL-JvQXse-28aMnuk-25pJMJY-286n5WU-L2Nm3o-275n4TN-25pJMX3-25pJUrq-6xmHDy-275nbsE-21iHwcY-L2N9Pw-286mVTd-C3YxBB-275nbQo-25pJFVo-275ntKf-Ehpm5G-27cSKLm-fpFWJU-275naRu-26NbLs2-286mVgm-L2N1uA-6xhy1c-25pJHDU-JvQCMP-8w3ARY-275naAu-djcYHr-L2N3yA-4jqADJ-r2KRCc-bSaaQx-dy1jLj-275noVqFlash forward to a night when I sat in the ER awaiting test results, and doing writing prompts to keep myself amused. As often happens, the seemingly innocuous prompt became a veritable rant about the times my dad had mistreated me or shown preference to a virtual stranger over me (like the time he let my then sister-in-law drive his RX7 but made some lame-ass excuse for not allowing me the same privilege).

The word storm escalated, and had I been sitting at a table or desk instead of resting the spiral notebook on my knees, I fear I’d have ripped holes in the paper, I was gripping the pen so tightly.

And yet, it was cathartic. It made me realize I’d been dishonest with myself, holding back feelings I actually believed I shouldn’t feel. But the truth about our feelings is they are what they are. If we try to restrain them, they burst forth in other less productive ways. Since my habit was to stuff mine into a bottle and seal them tightly, it was only a matter of time before the seal dried out and cracked, leaking those old, never-dealt-with feelings out in a random moment of inattention. The beeps and buzzes of monitors, crying babies, and cranky, confused old men appears to be the trigger that broke my seal and let all the messy, convoluted, unkempt feelings spill out in an inglorious mess.

Letting the Myriad Feelings Flow

While I sat in my curtained cubicle with my earbuds in my ears, the music only slightly reducing the ambient noise around me, the emotional cacophony poured forth as years of pent up anger demanded release. I cursed and railed against the man to whom I’d given only love and devotion, at least until even his crankiness became exhausting if taken in large doses. Yet I still called, I still checked in, and I still listened to him rail about this person or that, murmuring sympathetic noises while he ranted.

When the dust cleared and I’d had time to sort through my feelings, the anger subsided. Instead, I felt hurt, disillusioned, and disgusted by how much time I’d wasted trying to earn the love of a man who didn’t really know how to give it. He taught me to give my love unconditionally, whether or not it was returned. What neither he nor my mother taught me was how to receive love unconditionally as well.

Seeing What I’d Been Missing All My Life

I’ve lived over 63 years of this lifetime going from one unfulfilling relationship to another until I realized the problem was me, not them. At that point, I did something reasonably sensible. I stopped trying to find someone other than my daughters to give my love to and put my effort into fixing and loving myself.

If I’m honest with myself, I don’t know if I’m capable of allowing someone to love me like that, though it’s also my dearest, most heartfelt wish. I’ve learned to shrug it off saying “I like living by myself”. Those closest to me aren’t buying it, yet until now, I couldn’t understand why.

They’ve seen and experienced my capacity to love and to give, and I wouldn’t be surprised if several hadn’t already discerned my problem was on the receiving side. It explains a lot with regard to my difficulty asking for help. Granted, I learned it from a long line of brutally independent people. But as is my wont, I took it to a whole new level.

We All Deserve to Be Loved

It isn’t that I haven’t told myself over and over I deserve to be loved. I never managed to actually convince myself to believe the words I spoke. I’ve made great inroads into positive affirmations about my outside packaging, and really do love my meat suit, flaws and all. But that inner marshmallow, the young girl whose face peers back at me from an ancient black and white photo above my computer still believes she doesn’t deserve to get as much love back as she gives. Despite all of my exhortations to the contrary, a piece of that little girl is my mom too.

As with anything else, the first step in solving a problem is to recognize the problem. I’m recognizing mine. The question remaining is whether I can fix it and turn things around in whatever time I have left in this Human form? Stick around, if you dare, as I step off onto the next leg of my journey. At least I’ve finally learned I don’t have to do it alone. As the Beatles so aptly sang “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

So Much to Be Grateful For

My gratitudes tonight are:

  1. I’m grateful for the friends who are helping me get by these days; who are helping me recognize what I’m missing, and helping me figure out how to fix what I didn’t know until now was broken.
  2. I am grateful for epiphanies. They come when they’re supposed to. It’s never too late, nor the wrong time, but exactly the right time to bring in new data.
  3. I am grateful for loving my dad. I think in his own way he needed someone to love him unquestioningly, even if he didn’t respond in kind.
  4. I am grateful for the swings I’ve taken as I come to understand the parents I chose this time around. I may never have all the answers, but the number of questions dwindles just the same.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, understanding, compassion, kindness, epiphanies, new outlooks, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

Could Our Brains Be Hard-Wired for Suicide?

Suicide from a Different Perspective

Today I gained a new perspective on the mind of a person who chooses suicide. It came from a journalist who was also a friend of Anthony Bourdain’s, and shared a mindset with the chef many of us can’t relate to, but I suspect, far more understand better than they’ll admit. Because, well, suicide is a sin, right? It’s wrong, it’s selfish, it’s a cruel thing to….well, you get the picture. It’s a whole lot of BS that’s been flung around for so long, a large segment of the population believes it without question.

The article was published in the Observer by an essayist who goes by the pseudonym Film Crit Hulk. He writes for a number of well-known publications, though most of his work fits the pseudonym. The piece he wrote for the Observer was a deviation from the norm.

Like me, he is attempting to clear the nonsense and stigma surrounding suicide, but from the perspective of someone who carries the thought with him pretty much constantly. It never occurred to me until I read his article that things like depression, terminal illness, addiction, or mental illness are, for some people secondary if they even exist at all. Instead, he theorizes it is a glitch in our coping mechanism which is “installed” after we suffer a trauma. Some people get the ability to cope interlaced with what I can only guess is a desensitization to the idea of ending their own life.

The Act-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named

Interestingly, he refers to suicide as “that which must not be named”. I often use similar phrasing as my own poke at the masses who judge without any attempt at understanding. He also mentions something else I’ve professed to for a long time, but what most people don’t want to hear. Suicide Hotlines are only good to a point. If the person is unable to find support or to afford long-term treatment to get to the root of the problem, nothing and nobody is going to stop them from taking their life in the fraction of time when it all becomes too much, and suicide is, to them, the better option.

Yes, You Can Help

Once he finishes explaining how people actually fight the urge to take their lives, sometimes for years, sometimes not, we once again agree on the things we can do.

First and foremost is to stop freaking out at the mere mention of the word. I’m not saying desensitize yourself, but for heaven’s sake, don’t get squeamish or try to run away from the word, or brush it off like it was a mistake or something. Acknowledge it. Accept that it’s real. Realize it is often embedded in the coping mechanisms developed after experiencing a trauma.

Even more important is understanding what happens in another person’s life; whether or not they reach a point where they choose suicide, has nothing to do with anyone else. Not you, not their spouse, their parents, their kids, their boss…it’s a choice, as I’ve said a zillion times, they make for themselves and by themselves. If one more person makes the lame ass comment about how they should have thought about how it would affect their family and friends, I swear, I’m going to reach through the computer and backhand them. The only thing they care about when they pull the trigger, swallow the pills, or whatever method they choose is ending their own pain. Period.

Again, Hulk and I agree on the only real solution, understanding it isn’t a guarantee they’ll live out their life until they meet their end through accident or natural causes. And yes, it’s the C word again. We have to be the ones to reach out when we notice someone is spending an excessive amount of time alone, or if they seem even the slightest bit off and show some compassion.

No One Wants to be Told They’re Broken

This is where I am starting to get why my mom went ballistic. My aunt and others believed the way to help her was to tell her she needed therapy. If you ask me, that’s about as sensitive as telling someone who just miscarried that it was “God’s Will”. I don’t think anyone wants to hear someone tell them they think they’re nuts. I may well be a few ticks off of normal, but unless you’re joking, and I know you’re joking, I’d suggest a less offensive approach.

Suggest a lunch date, or coffee, or a walk in the park. Something normal. In short, be a friend. Pay attention to them. Listen when they want to talk, and don’t feel you need to fill the silence when they don’t. Your company means more to them than you realize.

The Sucky Side of Being an Empath

It comes as no surprise to me to learn Anthony Bourdain was an Empath. The subject of depression and suicide comes up in Empath support groups more often than you might imagine. Why? Because in addition to our own demons who conduct regular games of tag in our brains, we get to take on other peoples’ demons too. How’s that for a dubious gift? Being in crowds is tough, but being in crowds where there’s anger, misery, or any mix of confusion and negativity is downright painful for an Empath. I’ve learned to limit my exposure to people who are drinking heavily as the filters on their emotions erode, the more they self-medicate.

Someone in Your Life Considered Suicide

In the many discussions which ensued both from the two high-profile suicides and my outspokenness on the subject, I learned there are people I hold dear who have, at some point in their lives, seriously considered suicide. After reading the Hulk’s article, I can understand how they might have reached that point. Their lives were no bed of roses, and there were traumas along the way. They learned to put on a face for the world that hid their pain. They made it from one day to the next, raising kids, working at jobs, taking care of homes, pets, and even aging parents without a word of complaint. They couldn’t and wouldn’t share the cesspool of emotions boiling underneath their public face.

But I can only relate to a point. Yes, there’s been a time or two when I seriously wondered if anyone would miss me if I ended it. I’ve felt sorry for myself more often than I can actually justify now. But I have never reached the point where all the reasons not to are slipping away, and I’m fighting to push them back. So to say I truly understand where Anthony, Hulk, and others like them have been would be insulting to them.

Being Conscious of People Who Claim They Like Being Alone

I know what it feels like to be alone, but I also realize I put myself there. I’m learning I can reach out just as easily as I can hunker down in my house with the blinds shut and the cats piled on top of me while I watch something mindless on TV. And I’m doing it more and more. But some people can’t reach out. They need us to do it for them.

I can hear the arguments as I’ve used some of them myself. “They’re too busy with their families.” “They have their own group of friends they hang out with. They won’t want to do something with me.” “I don’t make friends easily. I’m off-putting.”. There are more, but I won’t waste your time with whining or words I know aren’t true. We all have our own litany, if we are inclined to spend a lot of time alone, if not physically, in our own minds. Knowing there are people in all of our lives who would benefit from someone making a lunch or coffee date is the real key to slowing down the rising numbers of suicide deaths.

I’m not naive enough to believe it is the only solution, nor that it will end suicide deaths completely, but I’m reminded of the story of the child throwing starfish back into the sea. We can’t save them all, but isn’t it worth our while to save as many as we can? Or at least do what we can to make their lives more pleasant until the time they can’t hold on any longer?

Gratitude: My Regular Fallback

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for all the people who are doing what they can to raise awareness about suicide.
  2. I am grateful for my own hard-wiring which always seems to find a reason to keep going.
  3. I am grateful I’m an Empath, even if the cost is, at times, quite high.
  4. I am grateful for the Conscious ones in my life. Even when they’re sad, lonely, depressed, angry, or otherwise emotional, the emotions they spew forth are always laced with love, acceptance, and Being.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, commonality, movie buddies, extracurricular activities, opportunities, books, dreams, new doors opening, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

When the Light Bulb Comes On, You Find Your Purpose

Finding My Purpose Was the Ultimate Aha Moment

I’ve been searching for my purpose for a very long time. Many times, I thought I had it figured out, only to lose momentum and realize I hadn’t found it at all. This week, a lot of things changed for me. I rode an emotional roller coaster that makes The Demon seem tame. I’ve been up and down the continuum, from happy to miserable, joyous to furious.

The ride was wild and uninhibited, opening up doors I’d sworn I’d nailed shut. But in the end, I realized one vitally important thing: I have to put my efforts into educating people about mental health and depression, de-stigmatizing them so people who need help but can’t ask will find that help in all of us. Even more, I need to keep working to de-stigmatize suicide, not only for those who saw it as their only option and are no longer around to defend their actions, but for the family, friends, and loved ones they leave behind. It’s time those who had no control over another’s actions stopped bearing the overwhelming guilt, blame, anger, and pain of something over which they had absolutely no control, and in fact, probably never saw coming.

Inserting My Purpose Into My Life, or Maybe My Life Into My Purpose

I’m not sure at this point how I’ll work my purpose into my business, or even into my life, but I finally feel

like I have one, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s a giant leap in the right direction. At times like this, the words of my healing teacher, Michelle, come back to me. She said, “Paint in broad strokes.” What she meant by that (or perhaps how I interpret it) is to look at the big picture of what you want and don’t get hung up in the details. Or, to put it more simply, figure out what you want and let the Universe figure out the hows.

It’s easy to say, but it doesn’t stop me from fretting over how I’m going to connect with people who can and will benefit from my skills and experiences in a way that helps open up dialogue on such incredibly sensitive subjects. In the last week or so, I’ve seen some brilliant observations, and I’ve seen some which are irresponsibly ignorant; the most notable from a self-professed mental health professional who had the audacity to proudly proclaim he’d never lost a client to suicide. It led me to wonder exactly what kind of clients his practice attracts, and whether he picks and chooses who he’ll serve based on his assessment of their stability and suitability for his own needs.

Levels of Awareness

The truth is, I am still not sure where I’ll fit into the continuum between the masses who are ignorant of the challenges faced by people who suffer depression or other mental health issues and the large portion of our population who are often ignored and forgotten along with family and friends who are also at a loss for how to help. I suspect that now I’ve put my purpose into words; into a short description, those who serve the people I want to help will start appearing in my life. But patience isn’t my strong suit.

If I had my way, I’d already know of 10 people I could talk to about helping raise awareness, not only for those who judge without adequate facts, but for those who huddle in their own darkness, perhaps unaware that help could be found without having to actually step forward and ask. Instead, I remind myself to trust that not only those 10 people, but plenty more will come into my life at exactly the right time.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to hone my message, be clearer about what I want to do to help, and do my research so I better understand the mission I’m undertaking. Part of that I know is understanding even the professionals don’t understand all the ins and outs of the human mind. Often, what they treat are symptoms, because they’re unable to determine the root cause.

Understanding Current Practices and Treatments

Maybe treating the symptoms is necessary to clear some of the defense mechanisms away. The mind is a pretty powerful mechanism. It is hard coded to protect us, even when some of those protections are no longer needed. Sometimes, wires get crossed, but as it’s a brain instead of a computer, the wires aren’t actually visible.

To me it’s a bit like gaining the trust of a cat who was born in the wild. You have to move slowly and allow them to see you mean them no harm. If you don’t, ingrained behaviors take over causing them to flee if they can, fight if they can’t. All of us have that fight or flight mechanism. Many of us have learned to minimize its influence so we can try new things, and explore outside our comfort zone. But what about those who can’t?

Imagine being stuck in your comfort zone forever, unable to step outside. After awhile, it gets cluttered and dusty, but you have no place to move things out to make more room. The lights go out but you can’t get to the light to change the bulb, even if you could find one in the midst of the clutter. So you sit in the dark with nothing to occupy you but your own thoughts. Those thoughts get darker and twistier each time you pull them out to examine them. Your mind creates more and more reasons to stay put and not venture out, more potentially unpleasant or dangerous outcomes to contemplate. You no longer know what’s outside your four walls, and are terrified to find out.

To me, and many others, shaking free of those fears so we can get out and experience life is a no-brainer. Yet even there, we’re on different levels. Some see the idea of jumping out of a plane or bungee jumping as an exhilarating challenge. You’ll never find me doing either due to a combination of fear and lack of desire to feel that kind of adrenaline rush.

Every Comfort Zone Has its Place

I’ve known people who love to dance, but would never be the first one out on the floor for fear people would be watching them. Until someone voiced that fear, it never even crossed my mind. When I realize there are people who succumb to their fears instead of being able to challenge and overcome them, it makes me very sad but also inspires me to look for ways to help.

Sure, I’ve had my own bouts of depression; some lasted years and I didn’t even know I was there. Once I recognized it for what it was, though, I was able to make some changes. It doesn’t mean I don’t spend more than the “normal” amount of time alone, but I’m fortunate in that I rather enjoy my own company, and can keep myself occupied while alone in a multitude of ways, some of them even productive.

For now, I’ll leave myself open for clues and opportunities without worrying the whole thing to death. I know at the right time and in the right place, the people I’m meant to serve will appear in my life.

Experiencing Gratitude is the Ultimate Mood Booster

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful to have finally figured out my purpose.
  2. I am grateful for the people who have come through my life and taught me lessons which brought me to where I am right now, and will take me to the next steps sooner rather than later.
  3. I am grateful for aches and pains as they remind me to take better care of my body through exercise and nutrition.
  4. I am grateful for friends and family who share their struggles with me, and let me share mine with them. I realize I am so much more fortunate than many who lack the ability or the opportunity.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, opportunities, introspection, friendship, support, joy, peace, harmony, kindness, compassion, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

Self-Sabotage and Healthy Habits

Understanding Why We Self-Sabotage

I’m a procrastinator. The more my mind sees a task as disrupting my life, the more likely I’ll do everything in my power to avoid it.

Still, over the last couple of years, I’ve managed to temporarily shut my inner procrastinator down to set some incredible habits which are now non-negotiable:

  • Make the bed every morning
  • Go to the gym 3 times a week
  • Eat healthy meals (most of the time)
  • Write my morning pages every day
  • Clean the kitchen before I go to bed every night

To some, these might seem pretty easy. They’re things a “normal” person would do without thinking twice. But for me, they’ve taken time and tenacity to build into habits I am no longer willing to break, except on rare occasions, and usually with good reason.

Getting Past the Blocks to Completing My Memoir

My biggest obstacle these days is the rewrite of “Forgotten Victims”. I start each day with every intention of picking it back up again, but, until yesterday, hadn’t been able to bring myself to do it. I realize it’s merely another obstacle I must conquer, but to do so, I need to grab hold of the ladder and put my foot on the first rung.

Instead of just sitting my butt down, opening the file, and starting, I used the time, when not contemplating my navel or playing games on the computer to psychoanalyze myself and my lack of motivation.

Getting Out of Our Own Way Towards Setting New Habits

Every new habit we set out to establish was daunting at first. It’s easier to make excuses, or worse, analyze our reasons for avoiding the thing entirely than to dive in and do it.

Years ago, I had an employee who tried my patience excessively. Every time I’d ask her do something a little different from what she was used to, she’d spend two hours whining and complaining about what I was asking her to do, and making excuses for why she couldn’t. Eventually, she’d do what I asked, in about 1/10th of the time she’d spent complaining about it.

I see a little of her in myself when I do everything in my power to avoid something, whether it’s going to the gym (which nowadays I am excited about instead of dreading), cleaning house (I still hate it, but I hate walking barefoot across gritty floors more), marketing my business (still trying to figure that one out, but building relationships in the meantime), or working on one of my five (yes I really do have five going at once) writing projects.

Focusing on Our Accomplishments

So why is it I can conquer the menial, boring, passionless tasks, but when it comes to what I really love, my passion projects, I am continually mired in excuses and, let’s be honest, an Everest-sized mountain of self-doubt? With everything else, I learned long ago to look at what I have accomplished rather than what I have left to accomplish. Where am I losing sight of it with my writing which I truly love?

With that in mind, let’s take stock. What have I already accomplished writing-wise?

  • Consistently writing 3 blog posts a week
  • Completed several writing projects for clients
  • Wrote and revised over 103,000 words for “Sasha’s Journey”
  • Wrote over 90,000 words for “A Dubious Gift”
  • Wrote over 70,000 words for “Hannah’s Chair”
  • Wrote over 70,000 words for “Forgotten Victims”
  • Re-wrote an entirely new first chapter for “Forgotten Victims” which I LOVE!
  • Re-wrote 4 more chapters (as of 6/6/18) for “Forgotten Victims”
  • Wrote 4,500 words for “Frederick the Gentlemouse”

Not to mention what I wrote during my years as an Accountant

  • Wrote volumes of detailed desk instructions
  • Wrote procedures for an ISO 9001 project
  • Wrote Cost Volumes for government RFP’s (Requests for Proposal)
  • Wrote countless responses to management, government agencies, clients, and more

My mind is especially blown when I realize I recently started the 6th 200-page spiral notebook of Morning Pages, and have filled the better part of another with writing prompts. And let’s not forget more than 1,200 blog posts for my website and blog site.

Do More, Think Less

The point I’m making (more for myself than anyone else) is when I didn’t waste time making excuses or talking myself out of moving from the safe, boring place in which I was currently sitting, I did some amazing things. In fact, from the day I swore to my daughter I couldn’t possibly write 50,000 words in a month, and did it with words and time to spare, I have consistently overachieved—as long as I got out of my own way and didn’t over think it.

Therein lies a problem many of us face. We see, not the first step in a journey, but the entire mountain we believe we need to climb. We allow the part of us that hates change (and maybe exercise too!) to fill our heads with negative self-talk, excuses, and fear. And for what? So we can remain in the rut we know we hate forever? How dumb is that? Yet every one of us is an expert in self-sabotage.

That doesn’t mean many aren’t wildly successful. Just because you develop expertise in something doesn’t mean you have to pursue it. Sometimes, we need to learn everything about a particular topic or behavior pattern so we understand what’s needed to overcome it or conquer it.

It Isn’t Always Necessary to Know Why

A few days ago, I was talking to Linda Clay about my lack of motivation to finish “Forgotten Victims” and she started throwing out questions to help me figure out why I was self-sabotaging. When I finally picked it up and started re-reading so I could start re-writing, I realized something really important. The time I was spending trying to figure out why I wasn’t writing was keeping me from writing! (cue light bulbs, fireworks, and neon banners blazing across the sky)

I suddenly realized it isn’t always about understanding why you’re avoiding something. Trying to figure it out is adding to the list of avoidance measures you’re using. Sometimes you have to stop overthinking the reasons behind the problem and get back to the business of doing what you do best. In my case, remembering that I could be the most amazing writer on the planet, but if I never finish and publish anything, none of my lofty dreams will ever bear the fruit I seek.

Our minds will do just about anything to maintain our status quo. It’s safe. It’s known. It requires little effort. But it’s also boring as hell. Our amazing brains atrophy from disuse just as our muscles do when we do nothing but sit in front of the TV all day. We need to scramble those brain cells. Keep them moving and stretch them in new and different ways.

Between you and me, a healthy, challenged body is nothing without a healthy, challenged mind. Is it time to stop asking “why?” and start asking “why not?” Each of us has to answer that question ourselves, but if you’ve been stuck in a rut too long like I was, I can pretty much guarantee it’s time.

A Gratitude a Day…

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for a mind which, despite the odds, thrives on being challenged.
  2. I am grateful for new people and ideas which are coming into my world these days. Whether or not they ever know, they challenge me to strive to be the very best me I can.
  3. I am grateful for finally breaking the writing block that kept “Forgotten Victims” from becoming a reality.
  4. I am grateful for people who continually encourage me even when they don’t know exactly what it is they’re encouraging me to do. They know the what is less important than the why.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; perseverance, motivation, inspiration, encouragement, role models, support, entrepreneurs, friends, family, my cats who are there to encourage and sometimes distract me from myself, peace, harmony, love, happiness, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

Connected vs. Disconnected

Feeling Connected is Mind Blowing

Many times I’ve written about feeling detached and disconnected when I go dancing, even though I’m in the midst of my friends and dance community. Today, I’m writing, somewhat bemused about being connected.

The last couple of dance nights, I felt like my level of interaction with everyone jumped a few thousand points on the connection scale. Suddenly, I’m in the middle of groups chatting about whatever, or talking to someone and really listening to what they’re saying. Have I suddenly started learning how to engage with people naturally? Without talking to myself about really focusing on them and not going off into the dark, windy roads of my own mind?

What amazes me most is how good it feels to be engaged with the people I already love and respect, yet still felt a bit like a fraud and an outsider. I allow stupid differences to distract me: things like spiritual/religious preferences, political leanings, and even having (or in my case, not having) aging parents to care for.

Overlooking or Overpowering Insecurities

On a conscious level, I know those things are minor differences as far as the big picture goes. My connection with these people isn’t based on those factors at all, but on our mutual love for dancing, keeping healthy, and getting out into the world on a regular basis for something besides a J.O.B.

We all have our insecurities, though some of us have become better at getting past them than others. There will always be that little voice in our heads trying to convince us to pull back into our shell where it’s “safe”. It’s the voice who is perfectly content to remain inside our comfort zone, or what I not-so-fondly refer to as a rut.

In her 2012 TED talk, sociologist Amy Cuddy suggested that striking a power pose (AKA Wonder Woman Pose) could cause others to perceive us as more confident, and that perception could, indeed increase our own confidence. I’ve found it can also help overlook all the differences the voices in our heads are trying to magnify beyond any reasonable level.

Feeling Confident or Being Confident?

I’ve tried this method myself, though often mentally rather than physically when going into a confidence kicking situation like a meeting with a potential client. I’ve found even mentally seeing myself in a power pose is quite effective in raising my confidence. Yet it never occurs to me to use it in a social situation where I’m often more susceptible to feelings of inferiority and ineptitude.

The truth is, when it comes to my work-related skills, especially those I spent over 30 years practicing and honing, I know what I can and cannot do. I know I can figure out a way to make just about anything work. It’s like the numbers on a ledger sheet, black and white with no room for question.

Playing to Our Strengths

My social skills, on the other hand may not be as rusty and underused as they once were, but too often I’ll compare my skills to others and find myself lacking. Doing so creates an almost palpable feeling of wilting. When that happens, I’ll quietly move to the outskirts of the conversation, physically, energetically, or both. Then I’m back to being the disconnected hermit who hides out all day in her dark, quiet room with only her cats and a computer screen for company.

I’ve made a conscious decision to alter my trajectory, both in business and socially. In so choosing, I find myself turning to the power pose more often, at least until my confidence can hold its own without artificial augmentation. I pay attention to the times when I feel connected so I can analyze the situation later and see what I was doing right.

Polishing Up My Social Acuity

Up to now I didn’t see what Landon Porter calls “social acuity” as a necessary business tool, which could explain why building my business has seemed like such an uphill battle. Until you can read a room, as it were, and understand where people are coming from and what they want and need, you can’t really craft an offer that will resonate with them.

Where I got lost in the weeds was in losing sight of the fact it’s not a business I’m trying to appeal to, but the people who make decisions for a business. Whether I like it or not (and my introverted self still quakes at the idea of socially interacting, but less so than it used to) all successful business people are good at building relationships. They find connections between themselves and others that are much deeper than the obvious, superficial preferences.

The funny thing is, I’ve had the tools to get beneath the surface all along, but old habits still linger. I tend to mask or discredit my empathic response to people instead of listening to it, and more importantly, to them. Listening itself is something I’m only beginning to fully understand. The words you hear spoken are really the smallest part of the listening process.

Using the Tools We’ve Always Had at Our Disposal

When I do feel connected and engaged with someone, I feel their emotions rising and falling. I start to connect with what makes them feel passionate, angry, sad, or exuberant. I know when they’re talking about something which gives their life its real meaning. What I’m learning at this point is to avoid shutting myself down or panicking when I feel those waves of emotion flow over me. Instead, I have to learn to use the information to help gain an understanding of the unspoken wants and needs of the person I’m speaking to.

I was talking to someone recently who I’d always seen as strong, confident, well-connected, and socially active. Yet the strongest emotion I felt radiating from her when I left my guard down was loneliness. She’s simply learned to show that confidence and strength to most people, and I’m sure her many life successes have contributed to that confidence and strength. It doesn’t mean she, like the rest of us doesn’t have moments of loneliness or insecurity. She’s just learned to be selective about who sees that very vulnerable side of her. To say I was humbled and honored by the trust she put in me by sharing that side of herself is like saying rain is wet.

Taking Relationship Marketing to a New Level

It also gave me a whole new understanding about the idea of relationship marketing. It’s necessary for both sides to be willing to drop the shields to some degree, and you don’t get to that point without feeling you can trust someone.

Many of us are jaded by the game playing and power struggles in the corporate world. We’ve learned to hold back the most important parts of ourselves and trust no one. Though it may keep you safe in a jungle where it’s everyone for themselves, it’s a liability when the health of your passion project depends on trust and openness.

What it all boils down to is I’m learning to take what I’m discovering as a neophyte social creature and apply it to the rest of my world without qualification. I trust my instincts in most social situations; who to open to and who to shield with all my might. It’s time to practice those lessons in a world where the stakes (at least those which will allow me to continue following my passion) are a great deal higher.

Leading with a Grateful Heart

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people I’m learning to connect with on a deeper level.
  2. I am grateful for a rising awareness of the tools I’ve always had, but was afraid to use.
  3. I am grateful for the support and friendship I’m discovering has been there, in some cases, for a long time, but I wasn’t ready to see it.
  4. I am grateful for a new and improved outlook on the future help of my writing business.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, trust, faith, confidence, inspiration, motivation, tools, friendship, support, mentors, teachers, health, harmony, peace, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

Rawness is Beautiful

Reveling in Our Rawness

A few years ago, I gave myself permission to stop living down to the expectations of others; to rip off the masks I’d donned to conform with those expectations, and expose the raw gem I’d been hiding away. It was the best decision I have ever made.

We spend too many years trying to be what others expect us to be while our true selves are dying inside for lack of sunshine and air. Yet as we chase someone else’s dream, any chance of happiness and fulfillment disappears in the distance. It stays behind along with the self who is honest, true, unadorned, and unadulterated by society’s arbitrary expectations.

Since they are arbitrary and at the whim of someone who is following their dream, it’s a full-time job just keeping up with its fluid nature. What does this exercise in futility give us except ulcers, and a host of other stress-related maladies? The one thing it does not give us is a happiness of our own, a joy in our own unique being.

Being Real is Scary. The Rewards are Infinite.

Certainly, it takes courage to expose the rawness of ourselves to the world. Those masks we wear give us a protective shell as well as a certain amount of invisibility in an often harsh world. What many of us fail to realize is if we have the courage to be ourselves and expose ourselves to the hurt, we’ll grow stronger automatically. Our skin will thicken with each trauma, creating a transparent barrier, even while we allow others to see the genuine article rather than some cobbled together version of what we think they want to see.

Which brings up another matter. We don masks and fashion ourselves in an image we believe will be attractive to others. The trouble is, that facade is created with the best information available to us and crafted with our own perception of the information we gather. As such, it will never perfectly fit what the person or people around us see as perfection, nor will it be a one-size-fits-all image. It means we’ll always be short of the mark with everyone; some more than others, and we’ll be constantly changing to fit each person’s expectations.

Sounds like an awful lot of effort for minimal return, yet it happens around us, and sometimes to us every day. I’d say it’s the true definition of the “rat race”, this constant effort to be what’s expected, but doing so without complete information or control over any changes in those expectations.

Sure, there’s a certain amount of modification to our behavior required to coexist with people and to hold down a job. We all have moments when we’d like to tell someone exactly what we think, but hold back for a variety of reasons. If you ask me, the only valid reason for tempering words and actions is to avoid hurting someone unnecessarily. Anything else is just bulltwaddle. Frankly, if you hide your light under a bushel because you’re scared to make waves, you are hurting someone, the most important person in your world: YOU!

Taking a Tip from the Millenials

Perhaps that’s one of the positive aspects the Millennials have tapped into. Many aren’t willing to be what someone else wants them to be or conform their behavior to the “norm” so they’re launching their own endeavors. Entrepreneurialism is certainly on the rise and more people are choosing to work from their own space than to commute to someone else’s. After reading about the horrors of one friend’s commute when the company she recently joined moved its offices to a far less convenient location, I’m even more inclined to stay off the roads during rush hour. (Which is also a misnomer if you’ve ever been on the 101 or 405 during heavy commuting hours. Except for motorcyclists, I haven’t seen anyone rushing anywhere!)

More and more, we see the words “authentic” and “genuine” thrown about. I’ve been known to do it myself as I’ve yet to find a better way to express the concept of letting people see who you really are, to expose your vulnerability (mostly) fearlessly. I can tell you I’ve learned people respond better to someone who lets their imperfections show. Why? Because we all have at least a little bit of insecurity, which prevents us from opening up to someone unwilling to show a few cracks in their shell.

Life Kicks Us Down But We Can Choose to Get Back Up

By the time we reach adulthood, most of us have been slapped down a time or ten by someone who was stronger, or more likely, had stronger walls than we did. We’ve suffered an indignity or two and learned to mask our pain in public. Too often, we take it further than we should, and mask it from ourselves as well, only to discover we can’t do so indefinitely.

I’m learning it’s more important to let the scar tissue form and be our protection. We’ll be happier with our lives if we don’t let the lessons stifle the beautiful, sensitive, raw human being living inside our skin. Even more important, we’ll attract people who are more likely to fit us if we are ourselves and not some false front.

Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places

I spent the first 40 or so years of this lifetime attracting people who were wrong for me on many levels. Yet, they were right for the person I was pretending to be, and taught me some valuable lessons along the way. After years of wondering why I never seemed to fit in, I realized I never would as long as I tried to be someone I wasn’t.

It took years to shed the masks and break down the walls, and I know there are still a few left to vanquish, but these days, the people in my life are far more suited to the person I am deep inside. They communicate in a way my heart understands and responds to. They aren’t afraid to talk about the things they struggle with. Most of all, they aren’t afraid or ashamed to ask for help when they encounter a situation which requires additional insight or tools they haven’t acquired or mastered.

Break the Mold and Thrive on Originality

We live in a world where we’ve been brainwashed into believing we have to be some modern-day version of the Stepford Wives. That society was rotten to the core, and many parts of ours is too. The good news is, more and more people are breaking away from a model which assumes we should be happy with a hierarchical society where a few people run everything, and everyone else is a mindless drone. I say, it’s about damn time!

Like an uncut, unpolished gemstone, we humans are most beautiful in our raw form. That doesn’t mean we don’t clean up a bit or recognize a few social mores when interacting with others. It simply means being who we are or, in the immortal words of Dr. Seuss “Why fit in when you were meant to stand out?” or “Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

This week’s Live with Sheri and Friends addresses the topic of Rawness too. You can find it here.

Feeling Grateful Every Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful I’m learning to be comfortable without all the pretty packaging.
  2. I am grateful for the people who have come into my life since I stopped caring about fitting in.
  3. I am grateful for the beauty in my life now it’s filled with people who are real.
  4. I am grateful for inspiration from unlikely sources.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; inspiration, motivation, health, energy, connections, dreams, goals, processes, joy, friendship, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps 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

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