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

Archive for the ‘#shericonaway’ Category

Life Is Our Story to Write and Re-write

Living Vicariously Through an Oft-Repeated Story

Hallmark StoryI love a story with a moral. I adore a story with an uplifting or inspiring message. Where I didn’t expect to find either was in the boiler plate, “boy meets girl in an unlikely place, or hates her on sight, only to find common ground and love by the end of the movie” theme used in most Hallmark and Lifetime romance movies. Yet the more I watch and re-watch them, the more I see the messages hiding beneath the fluff, and skillfully embedded in oft-repeated and re-woven story lines.

I’ve found a lot of things in unlikely places, not the least of which were the ideas for my three novels-in-progress, as well as my children’s book, which also awaits another edit and rewrite. The only thing that came to me as a somewhat dubious gift was the topic for my memoir, though even that has produced a lot of surprises along the way.

No one’s life runs as smoothly as a Hallmark movie, even with the predictable and repetitive dramatic moments they add to give the story a smidgen of relatabilty. There are always twists, turns, and lessons learned along the way. Quite often the most important ones involve something painful, and thereby, memorable. My life has certainly been no exception, though everlasting love is a story line I seem to have missed, unless you count the long line of cats who’ve owned me over the years.

Every Chapter Has Value

It isn’t that I don’t believe in true love, else why would I binge watch so many sappy, romantic As I look back, it was more a matter of having a barge-load of baggage to slog through in this lifetime; all of it necessary and important. Letting go of it has always been my albatross, but one I finally started cutting loose over the last couple of decades. Old habits die hard, and for awhile, I tried to replace what I’d given up with more baggage, until I finally realized I was sick and tired of carrying around what amounted to a bag of dead, stinking fish heads.

The wiser among you might ask how I could have dragged a load like that around for so long before realizing the pointlessness of it all. In the first place, you’re probably more enlightened than I. In the second, I come from a long line of martyrs, and honestly believed I deserved to not only wear what amounted to a hair shirt, but to repel people so I could live out my life as a pariah. It took some doing, and a whole lot of pain when I emerged from my self-imposed cocoon to realize most of my beliefs were pure crap, as were my assumptions they’d come from reliable sources.

In truth, they came from people who were as brainwashed and self-deprecating as I was for my first 40 years or so. Hindsight opened my eyes to the fact they’d allowed those beliefs to ultimately destroy them, and to make me realize I no longer wanted to tread the same path that took them down their own rabbit holes of loneliness and misery. They may have succumbed to the tradition of binding themselves in marriage ’til death did them part, but I don’t believe they ever found their happily ever after.

Defining “Happily-Ever-After” On Your Own Terms thing I have learned is “happily ever after” doesn’t have to mean you found the love of your life, settled down, had babies who grew up, and gave you grandchildren to dote on you in your twilight years.  Sometimes it means finding your true self, reveling in the person you found, forming true and lasting friendships, building a community, and above all, following your passion.

For many of us, finding our own passion and joy means living a less-than-extraordinary life for years; even decades before realizing massive demolition had to occur before rebuilding on both a firmer foundation, and in an entirely different style.

My walls began to crack when I was 36, in a miserable marriage where the only shining spot was my beautiful, 4-year-old daughters. I woke up one day, said to myself: Life is too short to be this unhappy, and filed for divorce a shortly thereafter. I had no idea what the road ahead meant, but knew somehow it would be better than what I had. At least I had a career that, while iffy at times, paid enough to keep my daughters and me fed, clothed, and housed.

The first few years were indescribably hard mentally, emotionally, and physically. I was always stressed out, in need of sleep, and desperately lacking a proper diet. The last was on me as I simply didn’t care enough to put any energy into maintaining a healthy diet while trying to keep the rest of my life from tipping me into a swirling pit of despair. All too often, I found solace in a pint of Haagen Dazs in the wee hours after I danced until the bar closed.

Making the Most of Life’s Twists and Turns

My mom’s suicide when the girls were 6 widened some of the cracks in my protective walls, and gave me another reason to keep going, if only to avoid losing the same battle that had led to her ultimate and irrevocable surrender. At times, my only motivation was sheer stubbornness and a raging desire to be more than my mom. For a long time, I told myself a little white lie: I didn’t want to leave my daughters with the same legacy. In time, that lie became my ultimate truth.

By the time my dad followed my mom for reasons of his own, my walls were getting flimsy, and I was holding them and myself together with chewing gum and baling wire. The only way I saved face for the next 6 years was by continuing to keep everyone except my daughters at arm’s length. As long as no one got close enough to see the cracks, the lies I perpetuated continued to survive, if increasingly unstable as time went on.

It was my eldest daughter who gave my walls the final, fatal shove that sent them toppling. She did me the biggest favor of my life by forcing me to start writing about my experiences. Though I’m still working on clearing the rubble and strengthening the new, improved structure of my life, the experience continues to teach me a lot about myself, as well as the rest of humanity.

Learning to Be a Participant Instead of an Observer

No one is meant to walk through life alone. We all need opportunities to help other people, but also to allow others to help us. The lies I’d been told about hard work and self-sufficiency had kept me from letting people see my true, imperfect self for too long. I’d cheated a lot of people of the opportunity to get to know me, to be there for me, and to form bonds. But then, I didn’t know how.

It scares me to look back and realize I almost passed that legacy on to my daughter Heather. She truly is the stronger of the two of us because she resisted building the walls our family history dictated, and threw herself out into the world in all her vulnerable, real glory. I ached every time she got kicked, bruised, or battered. I tried hard to protect her and fight her battles. Thankfully, she resisted my efforts and we’re both better for it.

I’m no longer depressed, downtrodden, or angry. I find the positive in the world I encounter more often than not. In fact, there have been some who deemed me “too positive”. I can live with that a whole lot better than I could the person I’d become until a couple of decades ago. I’ve found at least one of my purposes in life, and am open and willing to find more in whatever time I may have left.

Most of all, I enjoy every minute of my journey now; of the new chapters I’m adding to my story. In the past, I slogged through far more days than I now care to admit , but even those seemingly miserable steps led me right to where I needed to be. The difference now is I’ve learned to appreciate the tough roads, and even the times I wasn’t the most likeable person on earth. They were necessary. But more importantly, they’re part of my past.

Enjoying the Blessings Life Gives Me For the Asking

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for all the roads I’ve traveled that brought me to where I am now.
  2. I’m grateful for my daughter Heather without whom I may never have gotten here.
  3. I’m grateful for my parents’ choices. While difficult at the time, and even for decades afterwards, they were necessary for my own personal growth.
  4. I’m grateful for the stories I’ve told, and the ones I’ve yet to tell.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, happy endings, community, connection, vulnerability, peace, health, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Express Your Opinion With Kindness

Whatever Your Opinion, Be Kind

kindnessSome people feel the need to rant, or to meet every opinion that contradicts theirs with an argument. I’ve decided I need to let them rant or fume, but save my own sanity, and refrain from adding my opinion to their rant; which often means fuel to their fire. It’s taking me a long time to learn I don’t need to push my opinion on others, and especially when we are on opposite sides of an emotionally charged issue. Neither of us is going to change our view by being shouted at, preached at, or browbeaten, so why engage at all?

Each person has their own wants, needs, beliefs, and desires. They won’t all match yours. Be kind. You can’t possibly know all the reasons someone else believes as they do, any more than they can be privy to yours. I’ve learned through a few hard lessons the best thing to do is disarm your own triggers, and recognize when someone else’s are armed and ready to fire. In most cases, their battle isn’t yours to fight anyway.

Once upon a time, I dove into every fray with cannons ablaze, ready to fight for what I perceived to be the underdog. In at least 95% of the cases, I learned after I’d been bruised and battered myself that I’d been manipulated, and I dove into someone else’s fight with the sketchiest of information. It took several repetitions of the same lesson before I realized it wasn’t my job to fight someone else’s battles, or to succumb to their entreaties and altered perceptions about how they’d been wronged.

Picking My Battles on the Road to Compassion

I have strong opinions of my own about some topics, while others leave me feeling detached, battlesor worse, scratching my head in confusion. Learning to sit back and wait until I see a more complete picture, or, if it’s important enough to me, doing my own research has kept me out of many battles I wasn’t meant to fight in the first place.

Sure, there have been people who attacked me for remaining neutral, mostly because they were of the mistaken opinion everyone should believe as they did, and respond with equal parts outrage and chest pounding. Those who became abusive in the bargain are now history as far as my life is concerned.

As I continue adding years to my stay in this form (for which I continue to be grateful), I become more aware of what really matters. It isn’t joining every battle, or even those of the people I love and respect. The best way for me to show them my love and respect is to be supportive quietly, and to show as much kindness as I can to everyone—especially the ones I disagree with.

Leaving Regrets Behind While Taking the Lessons to Heart

Trust me, I’m no angel, and I’ve been unkind my share of the time. In my 6 1/2 decades, I’ve hurt share of people, and try to see those episodes as lessons rather than adding them to a list of regrets that will only keep me from doing better next time. Of the many things I’ve jettisoned over the years, my own duffel bag full of regrets is the one I’m happiest to be rid of. It’s a heavy load I could never possibly fix or change, so it’s only purpose was to weigh me down, and slow my forward progress; sometimes bringing it to a standstill until I remembered to drop the heavy stuff.

It’s not that I don’t have people I’d apologize to if I were ever to encounter them again, which is unlikely, but I’ve learned to recognize my own unkind behavior as lessons I needed to go through. Most of all, they’re in the past. They happened. I may have been guilty at the time, but in all likelihood, most of the people I harmed weren’t permanently affected, and have long since forgotten not only the event, but the person involved. Of course, there is one exception, but she not only remembers the times I was unkind, but also some of my better moments I, myself had forgotten.

It’s been decades since I threw a block at a classmate, or said mean things to a fellow middle schooler. In hindsight, I know I was an unhappy child myself who was often verbally berated by both family and peers. I didn’t know how to do anything but pass the unkindness I experienced on to someone else. I certainly didn’t understand the behavior could stop with me. How many children and teenagers do?

Impacting the Ripples You Make

In truth, it took me several decades to finally learn how much power I had to shift the script, and in fact, how much I was responsible for doing exactly that; for my family, for the people I’ve wronged in the past, and for those who will cross my path in the future. I’m even doing it for people I will never connect with in person. In short, I’m changing the ripples I create by my own actions.

As I travel down life’s path, following some existing trails, and forging a lot of new ones, I realize how little kindness there was in my life for about 2/3’s of it. I probably could have changed things sooner, but I had to break free of a lot of the choices I’d made based on my own skewed perceptions. I had to heal some of the damage, but more importantly, learn there were better ways, and especially, better people I needed to allow into my life.

All in all, I think everyone has choices. You can be kind or not, as you see fit, or as your experiences dictate. It isn’t going to change what I believe I need to do, nor how I act upon those beliefs. I may comment on the occasional post when I think someone is being particularly unkind, or thinks shaming is OK, but I also respect the fact that they’re operating from their own set of paradigms. I don’t know what their life is like now, nor what they’ve had to endure, or compensate for up to this point.

Guidance by Affirmation live by a lot of adages and affirmations these days:

  • I am Enough
  • What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business
  • There’s Always Something to be Grateful For

To name a few. But the one that really keeps me, and the things I say and do in check is:

  • Until I walk in your shoes, it’s not my place to judge what you do or say, and why you do or say it.

I can have an opinion, and in many cases, I do. Shouting you down, trying to change your mind, or making you feel bad about it isn’t my job, and it really isn’t my right either. If I can’t express my opinion with kindness, I’ve finally, after many missteps, learned to keep my mouth shut—most of the time anyway.

Recognizing My Blessings With Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned.
  2. I’m grateful for the healthier habits I’ve been forming, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
  3. I’m grateful for the friendships I’ve formed since I learned to be kinder, and less hard on myself.
  4. I’m grateful for choices: we don’t have to stick to the path we fell onto by default, and sometimes we tread that path so we learn what we need to to make significant changes.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, kindness, compassion, lessons, dancing, fur children, acceptance, understanding, peace, balance, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Cementing Healthy Habits During Quarantine

Healthy Habits Old and New

I’m finding the healthy habits I established both pre- and post-quarantine are becoming engraved in stone. I might think to myself, I’ll skip something like cleaning  up the kitchen, or brushing my teeth before bed, or washing my face and brushing my teeth after breakfast before doing my Facebook Live for the day, but it seems I can’t do it any more. I can’t undo the habits I’ve been performing diligently for so long.

Heaven knows there are days I’ve tried. I’ll walk into the kitchen late at night and think: I’ll just leave this for tomorrow. There isn’t very much. Every time I even think about leaving dirty dishes in the sink over night, I’m overwhelmed by the feeling I get when I see a clean kitchen both before I go to bed, and when I get up in the morning. Needless to say, the task gets done every time.

It isn’t just the big things either. I was having trouble remembering to defrost a cup of blueberries for breakfast the next morning. I discovered if I refilled the little bowl right after I emptied it in the morning, I was more likely to remember than if I put it off until I did dishes at night. I was forgetting to take my second round of supplements until I incorporated it into my night time teeth brushing/face washing routine. Habits are more effectively solidified by a slight tweak rather than by beating myself up for forgetting yet again.

Establishing a New Normal

The first month of quarantine I let a lot of things slide. I realize now it was a kind of grieving Created with Canvaprocess for things that were no longer available, and that I wouldn’t get back for an as yet unspecified amount of time. It wasn’t unlike the much longer process I went through after leaving my last full-time job.

I have a habit of wandering around aimlessly for a little while when something in my life changes drastically. It isn’t that I don’t like change. In fact, I embrace it. But I have to go through a kind of transition period between one lifestyle and another when, apparently, I don’t get anything done for a little while as I adjust to the changing demands (or in some cases, no demands) on my time. In both cases, I essentially had to reinvent myself and set my own priorities because there was no one in the outside world who was setting them for me.

Not only were trips to the gym removed from my schedule, but so were regular dance nights, running errands once a week on the same day, and even my daily walks. The last was a personal choice because there are too many people walking the streets in my neighborhood, and I don’t feel comfortable around that many potentially germy people right now.

Changes for the Good

It hasn’t been entirely bad so far. I spent the better part of one week binge reading seven Mercedes Lackey books on Kindle. My friend parked her motor home beside my house (my property has RV access) instead of where she’d originally planned on the street near her condo, because she works in a hospital and needed to distance herself from her significant other to protect his health.

The addition of a roommate, even if we’re not actually sharing the house has actually had a major positive impact on my life overall. It’s given me someone to talk to many nights, albeit from at least 6 feet away, I’m using my patio and porch more than I have in years, and we get a small group of people together once a week for dinner and some line dancing. In short, we’re making lemonade with the lemons life’s thrown our way (and I’ve even gotten a small Meyer lemon tree for a recently cleared area of my yard.

Speaking of yards, my friend and her S/O pulled some yard equipment they’d been storing in her mother’s garage since she moved to a condo, got the lawn mower fixed, and gave me the tools I needed to regain control of my badly overgrown yard. It’s a process that isn’t going quickly, but not only do I have the tools I need, but some help in whacking it all down and taming the persistent weeds and trees that were doing their best to return my yard to it’s natural state.

If Not This, Then That

Gym visits have been replaced by yard work, heavy house cleaning, and, just recently, twice-weekly ballet classes. There again, I’m surprising myself. I would have told you even a week ago that balancing on one leg was something I simply couldn’t do. The classes give me a chance to wobble around in the privacy of my own home (mostly) but to also discover that by following the instructions from my teacher, I can actually succeed where I was certain I’d fail.

My arabesques and other one-legged stances may not be anything close to perfect. I can’t raise my leg as high as it’s supposed to go, nor straighten my leg out all the way yet. Each session sees some improvement, and I’m left with not only a feeling of accomplishment, but a little more strength, balance, and flexibility. I can’t tell you how much those things are improving my self-image. An added bonus has been an end to persistent lower back pain I’d come to accept as part of my aging process. Whodathunkit?

Opportunities abound for those of us determined to maintain the exercise regimen we’d established, or even to start new ones. Whether it’s online yoga classes, line dance gatherings, or other forms of movement, all you need is the desire, and a little determination to stick with it even when you’re tired, or out of sorts. For myself, those are the times it’s most important to tell my inner child to shut up and get moving.

Acknowledging the Small Things

There are days I still feel like I’ve accomplished nothing, yet if I look back on the day honestly and uncritically, I always find something I took off my plate, or something good I did for myself. Sometimes, it’s just washing my face, brushing my teeth, taking all my supplements, posting daily gratitudes and doing a Facebook Live but there was a time those things didn’t get done every day, and it wasn’t so long ago. More often than not, I get some writing done, or an administrative task crossed off, or another area decluttered.

Whatever it is I’ve done, I make sure to acknowledge it and compliment myself on the achievement. Some people will spend the quarantine continuing to work their old job, but from home. Others will spend it sitting around and feeling unmotivated. There are those who, like me, see it as an opportunity to try new things and stay relatively active (many are doing far more than me). It’s important you don’t compare yourself to anyone else. One person’s self-care isn’t a good fit for the next person.

If sitting around is what you’ve chosen, look closely at what you’re doing. It is as much a type of self-care as anything else. It’s entirely possible you’ve burnt yourself out running in seventeen directions at once. Your body, mind, and spirit are taking this opportunity to recharge. It may have only taken me a few weeks to find my stride, but I wasn’t overly stressed out by life. If it takes you longer, it’s because you need it. Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to find your own new version of normal. There are no wrong answers.

Feeling Grateful Every Day

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for new opportunities to indulge in self-care and self-improvement.
  2. I’m grateful for all the instructors and teachers who have embraced technology to bring me classes and dance events that keep my body active, and even more limber than before.
  3. I’m grateful for long, quiet days when I can read, write, or do whatever I feel I need to do with my time alone. It’s all good.
  4. I’m grateful for friends who share inspiration and motivation and encourage me to do the same. Being there for others is the greatest kind of self-care I know.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, silence, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, books to read, small gatherings with friends, new experiences, completion of old tasks, peace, health, balance, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Overwhelmed by Simple Tasks

When Leaving the House Makes Me Feel Overwhelmed

In all the time I’ve been working from home, life’s been pretty simple. No commute. Dress however I like. Go to the gym when I’ve finished my morning activities. Dance a couple of nights a week. Maybe somewhere in there I meet a friend for coffee or lunch. Errands on the same day every week.

It’s a lot more complicated now, though I spend more time at home, and inside the house. Sure, I can go outside into my yard whenever I like (though when I do, I’m reminded of all the things I need to do there now that I have the tools to do it), but I’ve given up walks because there are simply too many people walking around my neighborhood these days. I put off going grocery shopping as long as I can. The trips are now dictated by when I’m down to my last 5-gallon bottle of water.

When I do go out, it’s an ordeal of mask-wearing, sanitizing, and making sure I don’t directly touch anything I have to. When I get home, I have to sanitize the top of my washing machine so I can put the items I’ve wiped down on top of it, but only after I’ve scrubbed my hands. I don’t want to touch anything after I’ve touched heaven knows how many other peoples’ germs all over the stores. I even leave a clean set of clothes in the garage to change into after I’ve removed the ones I wore in the stores (because heaven knows when I might have walked through a lingering cough or sneeze).

Overly Cautious, or Legitimately Careful?

The rigamarole I go through which may or may not be necessary, but I’m not taking any overwhelmedchances, is worse than when I used to have to get ready to take my twin babies out of the house for any length of time. I can’t even imagine trying to do this with children in tow. They are among the worst at social distancing in the first place, and can’t wear masks if they’re under 2 according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Many believe I’m being overly cautious, especially given the fact I have no health conditions. But I am considered a senior citizen based solely on the years I’ve been in this particular meat suit, and thus considered high risk. If it was just about me, I might relax my process a bit if I saw numbers dropping significantly. The truth is, it isn’t just about me. Anyone I come into contact with, however briefly, or who touches something I touched first could be put at risk if I lower my standards or become careless. That weighs on me heavily.

Because I have a friend staying on my property who works in a hospital, I hear about people, and even several members of the same family who are dealing with a disease that can’t be seen or adequately detected under current circumstances. My conscience dictates that I take what to some might seem unreasonable precautions so I minimize the risk of infecting others. I may not go out much, but when I am out, I don’t want to be putting the people around me at risk.

Making Your Own Educated Choices

Sure, it’s a choice right now, especially in the county I live in, to be more diligent than required. I see how overworked and stressed my friend is, and know only by practicing things like social distancing, mask wearing, and over-the-top personal hygiene can I do my part to help keep the flow of patients down. The part I do might be small; even minuscule, but if each one of us was excessively diligent, it might save a few of the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers from either burnout, or succumbing to the disease themselves.

The problem lies in my own response to the extreme measures I believe I need to take. The very idea of having to go out of the house to run errands would, until recently, elicit a migraine either the day before when I’d stress myself out with anticipation, or the day of, leaving me sitting in the Costco parking lot after loading my groceries into the car, with eyes closed and the seat leaned back until my vision cleared and I was able to ward off the worst of the headache.

It also means I’m less than responsive to any suggestion to add one more step to anything I’m already doing. And it means I have more days than I like when I get absolutely nothing of merit accomplished. Thankfully, I’ve learned not to beat myself up for those days, but they still nag at me in their own way.

Reducing Stress Responses

I’ve come to the conclusion I need to somehow lower my negative response to all the extra I’m taking to simply acquire food, and a few medicines and supplements I can’t easily acquire online. My processes need to change yet again so, if nothing else, a trip to the market doesn’t elicit severe anxiety and resistant behaviors. It’s especially irritating when the activities in question are things I’ve done without a second thought for decades. How has adding a few steps turned them into some of the most stressful parts of my month?

Perhaps I’m overdoing the precautions. Maybe I don’t need to change clothes in the garage for fear of dragging potential virus bits into my house. Maybe I don’t need to wipe all of my groceries down with Clorox wipes. To be honest, I think I’d end up stressing myself out more if I didn’t. If I wore clothes or brought things into the house without sanitizing, I’d be forever wondering if I was putting myself more at risk, and in so doing, put others who I encountered without the six foot spacing or masks on both our faces at risk as well. Frankly, I’m not willing to take the chance.

Using Physical Activity to Mitigate Stress

The solution is to engage in more practices which offset the errand-induced stress before and after I leave the house to make those necessary trips. Instead of focusing on what’s causing my anxiety, I need to turn my attention to those things which have, and always will relieve it.

Sometimes, redirection is the only way around a problem. There’s no pat answer to how much effort needs to be put into cleaning what comes into our homes, including ourselves. but there are numerous methods for relieving the anxiety and stress it causes. Things like yoga, meditation, gardening…even cleaning. Basically, anything that allows me to release the excess energy that’s building up inside me will likely also minimize the amount of anxiety that actually becomes stress. It’s worth a try.

Always Plenty to be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for options.
  2. I’m grateful I can choose how much or how little I’m going to do to help lower the spread of COVID.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who are voluntarily indulging in safe practices, even if it means a lot of extra steps to do normally simple tasks.
  4. I’m grateful I’ve learned not to beat myself up for not accomplishing a huge list of tasks every day.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, joy, support, opportunities, motivation, inspiration, dedication, peace, harmony, health, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

You Gotta Have Friends

True Friends Came Late In Life

There’s nothing like forced isolation to make you realize how important it is to have, not just friends, but close friends. When you don’t have the option of going out to your usual haunts to hang with friends, sharing a mutually loved activity like dancing, life becomes an endless slog from one faceless day to the next without people to talk to via phone, text, Zoom, or Facetime.

You need people who understand your weird sense of humor, recognize when you’re not your normal, perky self, and can ask the tough questions without judgement or expectations. But if you’d told me this 20 years ago; even 15, I’d probably have argued it was true for some people, but not for me. Was I ever wrong!

Leave out the part about friends giving me things to write about (which they do quite often). Without my friends, I’d be spending a lot more sleepless nights, my yard would be more of a jungle than it is right now, I’d be at least 10 pounds heavier, and I might even be so depressed I’d be at a loss for reasons to get up in the morning. The good news is, none of those things are true.

The Give and Take of Real Friendship

Sure, my yard will require a lot more work before it looks decent again, much less until it’s readyCreated with Canva to plant vegetables and herbs. But because of friends, I not only have tools to make the job easier, but someone who is more than happy to get out of the house and do a little mowing fairly often. The dandelions cringe when they hear the mower firing up, as they know it’s time to have their little heads shorn yet again.

My friends also give me a mirror in which to see areas in myself that still need work. They allow me to help them, even if all I do is listen. It’s hard enough for me to accept help, but if I didn’t have opportunities to give back, you can be sure I’d refuse all offerings. Thankfully, I’ve finally learned, if not to ask, at least to accept help gracefully. I know right now, everyone needs to do some giving, if only to break up days that allow boredom to raise its ugly head if the monotony isn’t broken somehow, even if it involves physical labor.

Not that physical labor is a bad thing with dance halls, gyms, and hiking trails closed for the time being. The first couple of weeks, my body ached in all the wrong places because I spent too much time sitting on my butt in front of the computer or TV. My friends have helped me get out from in front of the computer, and turn the TV on only late at night, and then, mostly for noise and kitty cuddles.

Cultivating Friendships While Socially Distancing

Created with CanvaThey’ve given me dance nights, evenings on the porch having socially distanced conversations, hilarious Facetime conversations, and more. I’m learning to enjoy yard work, and heaven knows, it’s been years since I picked up a rake or a cultivator. (I think that’s what the 3-pronged thingamjig is called.) I’m delighting in the sight, smell, and feel of good, rich soil in my garden-gloved fingers.

Many nights, I don’t have to eat dinner alone in front of the TV as I have a friend to sit with, even if we have to bundle up a bit against the still-chilly evenings. Speaking of which, I’m getting a lot more fresh air than I used to too. I’m finding a lot more reasons to get outside, even if I’ve stopped walking while there are too many people out and about for my liking. I’ve acquired a new appreciation for my large yard, and the fact that my house was built at a time when land in this area was cheap, and builders saw no reason not to give homeowners a nice plot of land.

My friends keep me humble, and let me laugh at my own foibles. We have our inside jokes, and often laugh like loons over the same ones. They also help me see my own value which I’m wont to underestimate, or even disparage when left to my own devices. They build me up when I need a lift, or take me out of myself to do the same for them. Life may not be perfect, but it’s a lot closer to it, knowing I’m never alone.

No Longer Walking Through Life Alone

Knowing someone has your back, and will check on you if you’re out of touch for too long is a new, but heady experience for me. I know it seems odd for someone to learn so late in life the value of friendship. But the person I was raised to be, and who never questioned what I’d been taught in some areas wasn’t big on connecting with people. She didn’t feel comfortable letting anyone see her soft, mushy insides. She hid it all behind a thick crust; a wall that by her mid-40’s had achieved epic proportions.

What I didn’t realize then was it was mostly a facade, and one with a network of fine cracks to boot. It didn’t take much of an effort on my part to send it crashing down, though I learned the hard way I didn’t have a stable foundation to build on once I’d removed the vaguely protective layer. I was basically a newborn chick whose feathers were still wet, but I lacked the safety and security of a mama to protect me.

Looking back, it was a stepping stone I needed to tread, and it taught me not only to let people in, but how to be and have friends. There are moments I wish I’d learned the lesson sooner as it would have made my life and its many traumas a whole lot easier. Then I come to my senses and realize all those pieces; all the traumas I lived through alone; all the struggles I endured are what make me value and appreciate my friendships today. I never got the chance to take them for granted, and I don’t think I ever will. What I experienced was necessary, and wishing it were different won’t change that. So I push aside thoughts of what might have been and simply bask in the glow of something that, for me, is new, different, and makes me infinitely greater than I am alone.

Finding an Endless List of Reasons to be Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people who accept me as I am and allow me to call them “friend”.
  2. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and the roads I had to travel alone to get where I am now.
  3. I’m grateful for broken, twisted roads.
  4. I’m grateful for sunshine, rainbows, storms, and clouds. All of one thing would get boring, and I’d become complacent. Variety keeps me on my toes.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; friendship, love, joy, commitment, compassion, kindness, health, companionship, hope, health, peace, harmony, balance, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Kindness is Not Overrated

Learning Kindness While Isolated

Sometimes you get so caught up in all your duties, responsibilities, and self-imposed challenges you forget to be kind; to your family, your friends, people you encounter at work or while running errands, and most of all, to yourself. In the limitless agenda you set for yourself, you barely leave room to breathe much less, for taking time to be kind.

You don’t mean to be short with the cashier, or snappy with your child but you set expectations so high that even at your most superhuman, you can’t possible accomplish them all, much less, do them well. So you get frustrated; angry, and in the process, you forget how to simply Be. You lose sight of the fact that you could actually accomplish more, and even do a better job of it if you stopped rushing around like a headless chicken.

COVID has, in some ways, done us all a favor. It’s forced us to stop the crazy, pointless rushing around, and spend more time with the people we love, be it physically or virtually. Social lives are conducted in living rooms, on patios, in garages, and dens instead of in restaurants, clubs, and bars. Families are being forced to get to know each other, perhaps for some, more deeply than ever before.

Taking the Opportunity to Evict Your Demons

Some are struggling worse than ever because isolation is forcing them to face their demons on without the masks they’re used to wearing in public; without the shielding of other people that takes them, albeit temporarily, outside themselves. Those demons have been waiting a long time to be acknowledged, and will do their best to consume if they’re not faced head-on, acknowledged, and defused.

As someone who stuffed and avoided her demons for decades, I can assure you, this is the worst possible scenario, though if approached with the right attitude, it can also be the best. I used the distractions of work, social gatherings, and an endless list of responsibilities to hide from mine. Even so, I was isolated in all the ways that counted; my only real community was my daughters. I neither asked for nor was I offered support from the people I saw while dancing, my fellow band moms, or the parents of the girls’ teammates when they played soccer or ran track.

Thankfully, something woke me, not only to what I was avoiding, but to what I was missing as well. It didn’t happen overnight, and it was, at times, a pretty painful process, but I’ve learned, little by little, to start being kind to myself by allowing my demons to have their say, to acknowledge them, then let them go. I’ve learned what they have to say isn’t really true, but the result of people and situations as I stumbled through life which made me doubt myself.

I’d created a system of false beliefs I had to face down. Above all, I needed to learn to form relationships with people who could help me recognize the lies those demons told. In the process, I learned to recognize when others were struggling with their own demons.

Kindness Begins With You forgiveness, kindness has to start with yourself. Until you can be kind to yourself; quell the anger and hurt you’ve carried inside for years; maybe even decades, you can’t be truly kind to others. In the first place, kindness has to come without reservations or expectations of something in return. In the second, it has to come from a heart that’s truly open. As long as you’re beating yourself up over imagined past transgressions, you’re locking the door on the part of your heart that knows how to give unconditionally.

I grew up believing love was expressed by teasing someone unmercifully. Until I became a parent myself, I was usually the target of the teasing, and my family was expert at going for the jugular. I grew up believing I was fat, wasting my talents (whatever they were), and a disappointment to everyone. I carried that burden long into my adulthood, and unknowingly practiced the same behavior with my children.

Not all the time of course. I vacillated between the cruelty I’d learned from the cradle, and being overprotective. Neither extreme was healthy for me or my daughters. Once I started facing my own demons, and treating myself with more kindness and respect, I recognized the way I’d been mistreating  my own children, and was horrified.

A Second Chance to Be Kinder

I could claim I didn’t know any better, and in some ways that’s true but it’s no excuse. I see the times I sent my daughter Heather off in tears, or worse, gave her the silent treatment when she displeased me, and I cringe in horror. I hope and pray she learned from my mistakes, and will see that horrific family pattern end with her generation. I would rather her children grow up knowing only kindness, compassion, and even a little patience (something both Heather and I struggle with).

The Universe has blessed me with what I consider a second chance. The community which now embraces me has yielded many wonderful examples of loving kindness, compassion, and a level of love and caring I never saw growing up, nor in my ill-fated, and short-lived marriage. In fact, if I’m honest, leaving my ex was the first kind thing I did for myself. It was the first step in learning to face my demons, even if it took nearly a decade to take the next, and frankly more cataclysmic steps. In deciding to end the marriage, my primary thought was: “Life is too short to be this unhappy”. And yet, I’d lived in a state of unhappiness and even misery most of my life without even realizing it. From the examples I’d been set, it was not only normal, but the best I could expect.

Everything comes to you in right timing, or so I’ve come to believe. I try not to look back at all the years I struggled before I awoke, and at all the people now who are suffering and struggling through pain and misery. That they express their pain in the form of hate and cruelty is part of their own path, and not mine to change or judge.

Turning Crisis into Opportunity

COVID is giving so many a chance to be kinder and more compassionate. For many. this could be the cataclysmic event that gives them a chance to turn around, face their demons, and tell them to get lost. But so many others will get stuck and succumb to the lies. If you’ve learned to face your own, you can’t help but recognize the signs and symptoms. Exercising the kindness you learned when your own feet were to the fire is essential now. It truly is your responsibility to help those who struggle, and above all, to avoid responding to the outward cruelty and hate with unkindness of your own, unless your goal is to add fuel to the fire. If so, you’ll only become part of the inevitable forest fire, consuming everything and everyone in your path who doesn’t wield the sword of kindness and the shield of compassion.

Everyone has a choice. Love or hate. Kindness or cruelty. Abuse or compassion. Look carefully at what you’re giving yourself, and take this time of forced isolation to make a few course corrections. Look into the mirror and see where, and how you can treat yourself better. From there, it’s but a baby step to treating those around you with equal kindness and respect. Call me an idealist, but I believe all humanity has a stronger propensity to kindness than cruelty. It’s about breaking old, outworn patterns and replacing them with those capable of withstanding time’s ultimate tests.

Using Gratitude to Fuel Kindness

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the people and circumstances that have taught me kindness is a simple thing.
  2. I’m grateful for all the good, hard looks I’ve been allowed, or forced to take at myself. May I continue to look closely and make more changes for the better.
  3. I’m grateful for friendships closer than I ever thought I deserved, much less would see in my lifetime.
  4. I’m grateful for laughter, for tears, for honest, unfettered emotion.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, community, heartbreak, connection, kindness, compassion, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, dedication, peace, balance, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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

Inboxer Rebellion Part Something-or-Other

Taking Inbox Sales to a New Level

inbox zeroWith increasing frequency, not to mention volume, I’m seeing the inboxes on all my email accounts filled with exhortations, and sometimes even pleas to part with my own dwindling cache of cash. Some are open and honest about it while others….aren’t.

I don’t really mind the ones from places like Kohl’s, Costco, World Market, Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, or even Groupon. Many have been forced to temporarily close their doors leaving stock on the shelves that was ordered months ago and may or may not be seasonal. Those who are still open see less traffic, and people who do come to shop head for the necessities first, and the luxuries second, if at all. There too, much of what’s on display is either seasonal, or will soon be obsolete.

Though some of this type still use tactics like “best sale of the season”, or “last chance”, or “special purchase”, they’re basically open about what they’re asking of me, and absent of any subtle or outright yank of my emotional chain. They’re simply trying to move the merchandise they might have committed to a season or two ago.

The Ugly Side of Marketing 101

The ones that have begun to get on my nerves are the subtler ones who are selling a product or service that, in my mind anyway never was, and never will be essential. Many are using tactics I’ve always considered repellent. Things like:

  • You should be downright grateful I’m offering you a few kernels of my wisdom for free
  • If you don’t respond favorably (e.g. send me lots of money) I’ll assume you hate money (and this is often said in a disparaging manner)
  • You’re a fool if you don’t make a monetary investment in yourself right now
  • You’re a lazy dullard if you don’t take advantage of my offer
  • Look at how many people are sending me lots of money for my wisdom right now (insert testimonials here). Why aren’t you jumping on my bandwagon?

This is only a sampling (and of course, my interpretation) of what’s filling my inboxes every day. Of course, I have the right to both delete the emails and opt out, and have done so in quite a few cases. Still, there are a few relationships I’m not quite ready to kill yet. Maybe I’m still giving some the benefit of the doubt that this is a minor deviation before they go back to the honest and upright citizens I believed them to be when I joined their email list or community in the first place.

The last on on the above list takes me back to my college years and Marketing 101. “Jump on the Bandwagon” was one of the oldest arrows in a marketer’s quiver, and one that will always push me away rather than get me to buy. If nothing else, I’m nobody’s lemming, and especially when my money is involved. I’m especially intolerant of those who think they have the right to tell me how and where to spend it.

Doing My Due Diligence

I’m the type who, when faced with a new level of expertise will hang around for awhile, watching and listening. If I see some value in what’s offered, I may dip my toe in the water (read: purchase one of their less pricey options). I may even, after watching and listening some more, invest a little more time and money to see if what they offer is a good fit for me.

I will, however, either backpedal quickly, or run the other way if their behavior starts smelling like the old hard sell, or worse, a bait and switch. I’ll admit, I’m naive in a lot of ways, and may be convinced to part with a few hundred dollars by some of the sneakier sales hawks. But when I have to follow a series of links in order to:

A. Get real information about what they’re offering

B. Learn what their offering will cost me (which is usually several thousand dollars at a minimum)

C. Get only a vague idea of whether or not it will even work for me

D. See a series of entirely one-sided disclaimers

My spidey senses go on high alert, and even if it’s not a scam, I know there are hidden perils and pitfalls I’m best served in avoiding like (at the risk of saying this too soon) the plague!

A Protective Layer of Skepticism is Warranted

Whether rationally or not, my first thought is “this person is fleecing a lot of people who are too or ashamed to admit it”. Maybe they are, and maybe they truly are legitimate. The fact remains, they’re too rich for my blood. I’ve also spent too many years padding someone else’s retirement to fall victim to one that may not involve being at an employer’s beck and call, but yields the same results.

Despite my feelings right now, there are still a few I’ll continue to follow for reasons of my own. Perhaps I’m waiting for the truth to dawn, or maybe I’m attributing some of what to me, if not to them looks like a kind of Hail Mary play while the world, especially when it comes to commerce and finance, is in complete turmoil.

I know from my own experience things will ultimately shake themselves out, and the cream will rise to the top of the pan. Until then, I’ll keep watching and listening, but buying only what I need from purveyors of goods or services. If what’s offered fails to meet my own litmus test of necessary or not, I’ll let them continue to fill my inbox until such time as they either offer something I consider valuable and worthwhile, or they prove themselves beyond a shadow of a doubt to only be in it for their own personal gain.

As far as I’m concerned, deciding who can and cannot fill my inbox is another sort of decluttering, and is part and parcel of how I’m spending my time these days. Some days, I’m decluttering my mind. Sometimes, it’s a room in my house. When I get tired of some peoples’ tactics or claims, it’ll be my inbox. For those who don’t make the cut, it isn’t personal. We’re simply not a good fit anymore, if we ever were. It might have taken me longer to realize it in some cases. Some people are that good at masking their true purpose for awhile.

Gratitude Keeps Me Balanced

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for classes I took decades ago which have left a modicum of wisdom and knowledge behind.
  2. I’m grateful for opportunities to see different tactics in action.
  3. I’m grateful for the people who’ve allowed me into their communities to watch, learn, grow, and sometimes, leave.
  4. I’m grateful for pragmatism. There are few things I’ve done or places I’ve gone that didn’t give me something, even if it was only a lesson.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, joy, friendship, inspiration, motivation, commitment, dedication, creativity, peace, hope, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. 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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