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

Archive for the ‘#shericonaway’ Category

Pain Won’t Respect Our Walls

Pain and Trauma Make Repeat Performances

At one time or another, we all suffer some kind of pain or trauma. It might be a broken friendship or relationship, the death of a beloved family member. For many, it’s far worse, and to many of us unimaginable. Yet regardless of what caused our suffering, most of us have one thing in common; we try to wall away the pain and get on with our lives.

We might or might know the best thing to do is work through the painful event, but life and society, and a host of other excuses make it easier to shove our feelings into a box, and get on with our lives—or so we’d like to believe.

The trouble with pain is it has a nasty habit of re-introducing itself into our lives at inconvenient moments, and it does it with insidious regularity. It isn’t really coming back at us to punish us though. We are meant to both deal with our painful moments and learn from them. When we wall them away, we guarantee we’ll be revisited; our own personal version of the Ghosts of Traumas Past.

The Masks We Wear are so many people we meet who seem to continuously wear a smile on their faces. Some of them even make us smile just to see them. But what’s really behind those smiles? The positive exterior? What does it cost them to maintain the mask and the ruse that everything in their life is perfect?

I’ve learned so much about that in recent years. We all have our secrets and things we choose to hold in rather than inflict on others. We all smile when we’re hurting inside at one time or another, telling anyone who asks we’re “fine”. The general public accepts our words and looks no further, but what about the people closest to us? Do they listen to the words and ignore what lies closer to the surface than we’d like? Do they look into our eyes, see the pain lurking in their depths and offer comfort though we don’t, and would never ask?

Letting People Down When We Hide From Our Pain

I think about my dad and all the times he ignored my mom’s pain while at the same time, walling away his own. Some, I know was years of habit. I think at one time, he was conscious of her inner turmoil, her need to be loved and accepted without qualification. But when her need wasn’t met by her family, she sank deeper into herself and only in those moments when they were alone together and her defenses dropped, albeit deeply, might he have seen the quagmire of her soul beneath the carefully constructed facade.

Coming from a family where emotions were rarely displayed and where stoicism was highly valued, I don’t think he knew how to deal with raw emotion in himself or anyone else. I suspect it was even terrifying for him when mom’s masks slipped and he saw the raw and bleeding soul beneath. I’m not surprised he developed defense mechanisms and responded with anger or disgust. So much of the way he responded was self-directed too.

The tendency to hide from our emotions and pain is perpetuated into adulthood. I remember a female manager taking me under her wing when I was working in aerospace. One of her most oft-repeated lessons had to do with hiding your emotions. Women had to work harder to be taken seriously in that environment, and showing emotion was the quickest way to kill any upward momentum you might have achieved. I took her message to heart, embracing the lesson with the zealousness of a religious fanatic.

Hiding and Re-living: An Endless Cycle Until We Learn and Accept

Through a divorce, the death of my mother, and the challenges of juggling career, self-care, and two young children, I kept my struggles to myself. The result was what appeared to be a rock-hard exterior and few I could call “friend”. The false front prevented anyone from getting close. No one ever figured out that a slight tap on that exterior would have cracked it into a million pieces. I even convinced myself I preferred the solitude and the isolation.

As the years have passed, the painful moments were triggered over and over. Often they led to periods of even more isolation as I tried vainly to shore up the eroding walls. Ultimately I learned to face the reminders head on and find the lesson in the pain. And I learned to be more understanding and compassionate of others.

We Are Never Truly Alone

Part of learning to manage and accept our own painful past is the realization we’re not alone. Everyone suffered a setback, a loss, or a trauma at some point in their lives. Yet comparing ours to theirs isn’t the answer either. It’s easy to say “I shouldn’t feel so bad. This other person has suffered far more than I.” But we all suffer within our own contract; our own capabilities. We all have challenges which help us learn to become the person we were meant to be.

It’s not a matter of comparing. It’s a matter of empathizing and connecting. Sometimes we connect through our propensity to wall away the pain. Other times, we connect because of similarities in our experiences. The best connections, in my opinion, are those made when we understand it’s not the level of pain or how we’ve worked through it, but that we all have. It’s an unspoken understanding that at one time or another, we all need to straighten our spine and go on, even when we’d rather crawl into a hole.

Yet, it’s also that moment when we truly accept we weren’t meant to soldier through alone. Sometimes, it takes some life-shattering moments, much like the ones I experienced before we accept that we deserve to ask for and receive help. Even there, we find connection with others who believed themselves unworthy. We connect with the isolated, the hermits, the ones who for years believed themselves to be oddballs. We find our community where we least expected it—with the ones who are connected through being different.

Finding Our Community in Our Differences

Perhaps it’s easier to find comfort in a community where everyone thinks like we do, and shares all the same values, beliefs, and visions. It’s harder when your world-view is a unique combination of pieces and parts gleaned from what you’ve read, seen, and experienced as an isolated soul on its own journey. But the very fact we hide our feelings and thoughts away to blend in is what ultimately brings us together. When we have the epiphany and realize we were never meant to blend in and doing so is stifling the unique and beautiful butterfly of our soul, we find ourselves in a garden with thousands of other unique and beautiful souls.

The hardest thing in the world is to come out from behind the walls we spent a lifetime building—the walls which make us appear to belong. Yet there comes a point when we can no longer maintain a construction which was never structurally sound. For some, it comes with the force of an earthquake, stone, mortar, blood, and tears flying everywhere with no hope for containment. Others may voluntarily take down their walls as they allow themselves to see past the smokescreens and preconceived notions.

However it happens, finding the garden beyond where uniqueness is valued instead of squashed is worth the effort and even the pain of the journey.

Do we ever completely release our painful and traumatic moments? Probably not. There will always be some which come back to haunt us in one way or another. But there will also be those which fade into distant memory as we deal with the pain, embrace the lesson, and move onto other things. Some of those become our ability to relate and help others through their own which I believe was the purpose of the experience in the first place. I know my own life is richer for the opportunities I’ve been given to be there for someone with whom an experience we in some way share is still fresh, or returning in full force to bring them to their knees as it once brought me to mine.

Knowing We Always Have Something to Be Grateful For

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the experiences which have made me stronger, but even more for the ones which taught me compassion.
  2. I’m grateful for the opportunity to give back now that I’ve learned my walls only kept me from experiencing joy and connection.
  3. I’m grateful for my friends and family who teach me every day to be a kinder, more compassionate Divine Being having a Human experience.
  4. I’m grateful for love. Without it, we’re incomplete.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, lessons, compassion, kindness, beauty, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light


About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats, suicide survivors, mental health, and depression. 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


Things Our Pets Tell Us

The Pet Emergency Warning System

Animals can be great predictors, but too often, we fail to understand what they’re trying to tell us. Many times I’ve wished I could understand my pets more clearly. I might realize they’re warning me of something, but have no clue what it might be. The only exception was during the aftershock period following the Northridge Earthquake.

The Lynx Point Siamese cat I had at the time would start freaking out a good 2 to 4 hours before one of the larger aftershocks. But since my daughter and I would get queasy about the same time, it was easy to read what Missy was trying to tell us.

Behavior Changes Mean Something

Lately, my clowder have eschewed their usual practice of napping on beds or couches between mid-morning and late afternoon before looking for attention. Instead, Dylan and at least one of the other boys are on my desk the entire day, leaving only when I move to another room, and then, only to follow me. Even my former foster, Tiana who won’t even let me pet her yet is following me, but keeping a safe distance.

I could attribute their behavior to changes in my schedule which put my out of the house more often, but I like to think I’m pretty good at recognizing changes in cat behavior for what it is. I don’t think I’d be as curious if it was only Dylan, and maybe Munchkin who felt the need to keep me in sight whenever I’m home, but it’s pretty much everyone.

You may have noticed Scrappy Doo on the end of my desk for at least part of every Facebook Live (once, he fell off the desk in the middle and was quickly replaced by Dylan). He never used to care, and only came around when he wanted to sit in my lap while I played a game which didn’t require the keyboard. I’ve woken the last few mornings with him right beside me too. He typically prefers the foot of the bed.

If It Was Only Mine, I’d Believe They Miss Me

I asked my daughter if her dog and cats were being especially clingy, and it turns out, hers are behaving similarly to mine. Yes, she is gone a lot these days with all her activities, but even her two skittish ones like to be in the same room with her more than before.

Cats have been used to predict earthquakes for a number of years now, and quite successfully. Heaven knows we’re overdue for another big shaker somewhere in California, though frankly, it could be anywhere. And it’s possible some of the monsoon weather they get in Arizona this time of year could be starting to charge our own air. Cats definitely react to an increased ozone level if only because they can smell it (I’ll smell it myself, though not as early as they do, for obvious reasons. Yet, I’ve gotten a weird look or two when I’ve announced an impending storm on a day when the skies are a clear, cloudless blue).

Elemental Awareness in Animals

Everyone has an affinity for at least one element, whether they realize it or not. My daughter is very connected to Earth, but has more than a little Fire in her as well. I tend to connect to Fire and Water, though I’ve been known to key into Earth changes too. I believe the same is true of animals, though most, if not all are sensitive to Earth.

Which brings up another question: if we’re sensitive to Earth, does that mean only our planet, or can we, if the change is powerful enough to cross the miles, pick up changes on other planets as well? And if we’re able to, can animals with their more sensitive natures be picking up signals from Mars or Jupiter, maybe even Pluto?

Of course, by the time this post publishes, since I’m writing and scheduling things ahead of time these days, I may have had to revise it to encompass whatever change the cats and other animals have been trying to tell us was coming. Now more than ever, I wish I was an animal communicator and could understand what my cats are trying so hard to tell me with body language, unusual meows, and their insistence on being close to me at all times.

Blind to the Obvious Signs

I feel like, without the ability to understand more than my animals’ basic needs, I’m stumbling around half blind. It’s like looking at a picture in which all the details are blurred.

Even the little things are starting to make me ask questions. Dylan typically sits on the end of my desk while I write my morning pages, purring or snoring softly, but letting me have the 30 minutes or so it takes to write my 3 pages undisturbed. Lately, he’ll do things like walk across the page, or rub his cheek on my pen, or waft his tail across the page so I can’t write. He’s also pushed my mouse off the desk repeatedly, when ordinarily it’s an infrequent pastime. His bids for attention these days are as far from subtle as they can be.

When a child demands our attention more frequently than normal, we start asking questions, feeling their forehead, or otherwise trying to figure out why they’re suddenly so needy. I think we need to give the same attention to our fur children when they make it clear they want more of our attention, but especially when it isn’t just one, but all of them.

Whether it’s About the Weather

Thunderstorms, earthquakes, fires, floods: animals know. I’m convinced it’s true, but there are only a few areas where there’s definitive proof. Yet when there’s a forest fire, animals panic. They may run into it, but their goal is to get away. The smell of burning wood is not normal in their world so they react. The same with thunderstorms. The scent in the air is something they’ve learned either through their own experience or from their parents means they could be in danger. Their natural instincts and the lessons they’ve learned lead them to seek shelter.

In the case of house pets, shelter or escape means seeking out their caregivers as we are the ones who are charged with keeping them safe, warm, and dry. When my own start seeking me out more frequently, I have to believe it’s because they know something is coming from which they’ll need protection, comfort, or shelter, or perhaps all of the above. In such cases, I may not understand what they’re trying to tell me, but my spidey senses go on high alert until the danger arrives or the animals return to normal. How about you?

Grateful For All My Little Blessings

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the animals who have come into my care. The care and protection I give them is returned a thousand-fold in the love, affection, and de-stressing they give me.
  2. I am grateful for the little bit I’ve learned about animal behavior. I may not understand the words, but the melody is clear.
  3. I am grateful for friendships with animal people who don’t think I’m a complete nut case for looking for patterns in our animals’ behavior.
  4. I am grateful for waking up in the morning to purrs and cuddles after falling asleep to them too. My cats end up in my dreams a lot because there are always at least a couple of them by my side. (another perk of working from home)
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, trust, hope, kitty love, inspiration, motivation, writing, sharing, support, encouragement, joy, health, 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

Communities Come in Many Flavors

Everyone Needs a Community

I’ve talked a lot about Community in the last few months, mostly because, until recently, I believed to the depths of my soul I didn’t need one. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, but I was raised to believe the only way to be truly independent was to depend on myself and no one else. Above all, I should never ask for help.

In the realm of self-limiting beliefs, that one is, if not at the top of the list, it’s pretty darn near. Without other people, we severely limit our progress to our own knowledge and abilities.

It doesn’t matter if your community is purely social like the dance community is for me. Within any community are people and resources, or connections to people and resources who can help you over a mountain you don’t have the skills or ability to climb alone. They become your climbing team as you scale personal mountains which rival the height and challenges of a trek up Everest. Without the leg up your community provides, you’d be either stuck at the bottom trying to get a foothold, or down some crevasse with no one to toss a rope and pull you out.

Lack of Community Equals Lack of Growth

We limit ourselves when we choose not to reach out. Yes, I said “choose”, because asking for help truly is a choice, and one I eschewed for years in my mistaken belief it was a sign of weakness. I’ve learned the strongest people I know didn’t reach their levels of fulfillment and success alone. Those who have, or claim they have stand on shaky ground and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to shore up their position. The trouble is, without a community, a team, their building materials are faulty and will ultimately fail them; typically at the most inopportune time possible.

Admittedly, going from isolated, half blind hermit to contributing member of a community hasn’t happened over night, nor have I fully embraced the concept of asking for help. I often dismiss suggestions about selling my services, for instance, without considering them from all sides. I still think, though I have no physical evidence to support my claim, that I’m doing things the best way possible for my beliefs and temperament.

There are those in my community who may actually have some ideas to increase my odds of success. But I have to stop asking “why?” and start asking “why not?”. What do I have to lose in considering their suggestions? Instead of dismissing them out of hand, how can I modify them so they work for me?

Communities Offer a Choice of Seeds

I talked recently about planting seeds instead of beating people over the head with ideas which run counter to their own. There are times I need to wake up and pay attention to my own words. Being a part of a community means (at least if you’ve found one which aligns with your own values) you’re offered a wide array of seeds to choose from. Your best option isn’t always the one that looks the prettiest and yields your favorite fruit. It might be the one that makes you cringe a little, forcing you to look behind the veil you’ve thrown over things that scare you.

I don’t mean leaping off cliffs or walking through fire scare you. It’s more about taking a few steps in a direction you feel you’re not prepared to walk; a direction which requires skills you haven’t yet learned to trust, but which will, given the chance, stand up to the test, even if part of the journey is spent tempering them so they’ll withstand the weight you put on them as you move further into the new path.

Support May Take the Form of a Kick in the Butt

The right community will provide both support and a kick out of your comfy nest, sometimes in equal parts. In others, you’ll feel like the football in a 40 yard field goal, flying through the air, praying you’ll fly gracefully between the arches and land safely on the other side. In those moments, it’s easy to forget your community will be on the other side, if not to catch you, at least to lead your bruised and battered self off the field for some much-needed R & R until you’re ready to launch again.

Can you get all the support you need, as well as the opportunity to support others within a single community? Perhaps. But I’m also learning in order to attract all of the people, skills, and opportunities you need to fulfill your hopes and dreams (assuming you’re willing to subject yourself to a few baptisms by fire, of course), you need different communities. Each serves a different purpose and brings unique skill-sets to your table, while offering both the support and the blunt, butt-kicking honesty you need to kick that rut some call a comfort zone to the curb.

If One is Good, Two or Three is Exponentially Better

At the moment, I see 3 very distinct communities in my life which are all doing their best to propel me into the life I envision. The first is the one which allows me to be my plain, unadorned self, and actually have physical and energetic contact with other humans; my dance family. The other 2 are online, and to date, I’ve yet to meet anyone in person. It doesn’t make them any less effective. They serve a different purpose. One is the #Heartfelt community, and especially, Linda Clay. The other is Landon Porter’s #GorillaArmy (Getting Clients without being Sales-y). He’s created a boot camp he calls the Treasure Hunt which is full of actionable ideas to, quite bluntly, get off your butt and grow your business. I’ve been through it once, and am getting ready to go through it again.

Communities of One Count Too

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a number of individuals who don’t fit into any of my communities, but are, maybe a community of their own. One is, of course, my daughter Heather. She has been encouraging me for years, but inspires me with her actions more than anything. She has become somewhat of a hero to me for so many reasons.

The second is my oldest (as in years known) friend. We met in elementary school, and when my family moved, so did hers, putting is into the same High School. We weren’t especially close most of those years, but she is a HUGE reality check for me more often than not, and does one heck of a job kicking my butt when I need it.

Lighting the Way

In truth, when we open ourselves up to the benefits of belonging to a community, it opens our eyes to how many people have been lurking in shadows of our own making, possibly for decades. They’ve waited patiently for us to realize they’re encouraging us silently until we allow them to be more open about it, allow ourselves to receive instead of always giving.

As usual, this post has taken on a life of it’s own and gone in a direction I hadn’t intended when I started. As always, I trust it’s the direction it was meant to take, and know the side roads are not a detour, but a course adjustment.

We all need a reminder now and then to not only recognize our communities, but to appreciate and be grateful for all they offer. The give as well as the take. The support as well as the chance to support others. A network of people, skills, and knowledge we could never achieve on our own. Not least of all is the limitless opportunity to climb as many increasingly treacherous mountains as we want, provided we’re willing to be kicked out of our nest time and time again by our loving, supportive family.

And Always Being Grateful

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the people who have supported me for years, waiting patiently for me to both acknowledge and appreciate their support, but also to do something with it. Heather, Candy, Joleen, Lorna, Anne, just to name a few. There are truly so many I’m overwhelmed and can’t always comprehend the magnitude of my support system.
  2. I am grateful for inspiration which is continuing to keep me, albeit barely, two weeks ahead on my blog posts. I look forward to expanding my “lead” in the next few weeks.
  3. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned which make me less fearful of stepping into uncharted territory.
  4. I am grateful for the people who continue coming into my life as I rip away layers of protection I’m finally learning weren’t protecting me at all, but were holding me back.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, support, community, guidance, lessons, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

Watch my Facebook Live about Community here.


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

Effectively Silent

Starting on a Silent Note

I love quiet first thing in the morning, the silence broken only by the whirring of the ceiling fans and the purring of a cat who sits on my desk waiting patiently while I write my morning pages.

When my daughters were young, I’d insist on a minimum of babble, claiming I needed time to wake up before I heard a lot of voices. It’s more than that. I realize now I need the time between sleeping and going full tilt into my day to just be. It’s a time when I don’t want the radio or TV going for background noise. I don’t need the distraction from one, the mindless chatter from the other. It’s the one time of day I want my mind to go wherever it might without having one piece or another held fast by any outside influences.

Moments of Silence are Rare and Precious

Living alone as I do, it would be easy to go either way with silence. I know some people feel the need to fill it with anything just so they won’t have to listen to their own thoughts. Others become mired in it and fear the cacophony of a world of a zillion opinions. I appreciate the opportunity to hear what my inner self has to say.

As my awareness of the beauty of silence increases, I notice other things as well. I no longer run to catch the phone, a text, or an IM. I know anyone who is trying to reach me is, like me, not always available. They’ll wait, as I would for them, until I’m free and can give them my full attention.

Clearing our Lives of Noise

We live in a world where a million and three things are always vying for our attention. We’re left with the often cumbersome task of weeding through the mess and noise to determine what is and is not important. I’ve learned once we do the initial weeding, we’re usually still left with too many demands and too little time. At that point I usually get on what my daughter likes to call my de-cluttering kick.

I know she finds it amusing that I need to, at times, clear some more space, be it physically, energetically, mentally, or emotionally. I think as we grow older and the years seem to flash by at warp speed, we become less patient with the weeding, and seek to simplify our lives more and more.

Some go to extremes and ditch almost everything for a tiny house or a nomadic existence. I know I’ll never be that minimalistic, if for no other reasons than, well, books and cats. I’m not willing to give up either because when the world becomes too much for me to deal with, they are my refuge, and my tune-up. My cats are my loves, my children, and my serenity. My books are old friends, even the ones I’ve yet to read. I could never toss away those relationships.

We Choose Our Surroundings to Suit Our Nature

This may make me sound rather weird, preferring books and fur-babies to relationships with humans. Don’t get me wrong. There are people in my life I wouldn’t consider tossing away either, but most of them understand and relate to my need for space and non-human time. Most of them also appreciate the value of silence.

There’s a lot to be found in silence. It isn’t, as some might think, an absence of sound. Instead, it’s an absence of the overlay of sounds which mask what lies beneath, if you stop to listen.

Often when I meditate, I’ll listen to the silence, and soon, begin to hear what is so often masked; the chirping of birds, the wind rustling the leaves in the tree outside my window, the snuffling sound one of my cats makes when he sleeps, even the settling sounds the house makes.

If my meditation takes me outside my own four walls, I might hear the slosh and crash as the ocean’s waves meet the shore, the sea birds scavenging for a forgotten sandwich, a gentle breeze murmuring under it’s breath, the words indecipherable, but the tune, soothing.

When we sit in silence, we can hear the sounds beneath the sounds, Nature humming along when it’s not obstructed by the innovations of humanity. Most of all, we can, if we allow it, hear the flow of energy which connects us all, oblivious to artificial lines of race, religion, politics, culture, or opinion.

Using Silence to Figure Ourselves Out

Lately, I’ve been feeling queasy rather more often than can be attributed to anticipation, worry, or stress (not to mention, eating crap instead of my usual healthy meals). The silence helps me get in touch with the source of my discomfort. I may not find solutions, but what I find is better. I find peace of mind, not that everything is going to be all hunky dory, but that everything is as it is supposed to be. Things may feel out of whack right now, and the world may seem like a cesspool of contrasting agendas and opinions, but I know it’s only a moment in time.

In the silence, I hear the turning of the wheel which reminds me everything is temporary. What is true today will be a memory tomorrow. Universal guidance will ultimately help us find a place of balance. It might not be the same place we found balance before because there have been changes, even upheavals. Instead, we’ll find a new order, a new balance which is better suited to where and who we are when the dust settles.

I see a great deal of conflict, even with people I love and respect lately. Silence is teaching me there’s a time to voice my opinion, and a time to step away before the conversation escalates into an antagonistic maelstrom of words spoken in anger, never to be retracted. My voice alone will not change people’s attitudes or beliefs. I can offer tools but I can’t force anyone to use them. Getting angry because they choose to follow a belief I “know” is wrong only makes me angry, and to what purpose?

Leaving Space for Others to Think

I’m no different. If someone voices an opinion for which I’m emotionally attached to the opposing side, whether I mean to or not, I tune out all logical arguments they might offer on the subject. But if someone merely plants a seed, then leaves me alone to think it through, I’m more likely to do some investigation and perhaps even alter my opinion. Trying to shove a point of view down someone’s throat is a straight shot to resistance. Remaining silent, while often difficult gives them a chance to process ideas contrary to their own. Maybe they’ll consider the other side and make an effort to educate themselves. Maybe they won’t. But finding common ground or at least agreeing to disagree is more likely within a cushion of silence.

My blogs have become my personal forum. People may read or not, agree or disagree. I’m not here to change anyone. If my words make someone think, if it brings something to light I wasn’t aware of, if a lively but respectful discussion ensues, all the better.

Many times, I feel I’m writing for no one but myself. Then a friend or acquaintance will comment on one of my posts and I realize my audience might be small, but that isn’t such a bad thing.

A Time and Place for A Smaller Audience I was in high school, we had a small theater in the “A” building. It was part of the first phase of construction and was suited to both the general and campus populations at the time. It was small and intimate, lending itself well to the productions performed there.

As the school grew, a multi-purpose building was erected, and became the theater. By then, it was better suited to a population which had exploded in a handful of years. It wasn’t long before all performances were sold out in the larger theater. Yet memories from those early years in the smaller theater, as well as the outdoor production of Sound of Music in an amphitheater which didn’t survive when the population increased even further bring a smile to my face and warmth to my heart.

What I’m trying to say is there is great value in a smaller audience which can’t always be achieved when the numbers and size of the room and stage increase. For now, I’m happy being a production in the “A” building, though I know in time, I’ll become dissatisfied and make plans for a larger stage. Until then, thank you to everyone who reads my words, often, occasionally, or even a single time. You’re all special to me.

Grateful for All Experiences

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the choices I’ve made. Not all have brought great success, but they’ve brought wisdom which I find more valuable.
  2. I am grateful for inspiration. No matter what I’m doing, ideas pop up like thought bubbles in a cartoon strip.
  3. I am grateful for my cats. Even when they’re shoving their head into my mouse hand, sending the cursor all over the screen, or shoving the mouse off the desk, they are pure love. They remind me to stop and listen, even when I think I’m too busy to take a needed moment.
  4. I am grateful I’ve learned to take a step back, at least some of the time, rather than pushing an argument and a friend to the limit.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, friendship, knowledge, fact-checking sources, contradictions, experiences, and wonderful, beautiful words.

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

A Time to Detach and A Time to Connect

Embracing the Moments of Detachment

Until recently, when I’d start to feel detached or disconnected even when surrounded by people, I’d fight the feeling and work overtime trying to find a point of connectedness. Typically, my efforts were futile, further frustrating and even depressing me.

When it happened while dancing, I’d end up drawing into my own little bubble of energy of being in the moment in spite of myself. It made the experience less joyful if only because I didn’t get that extra boost from the energy of the other dancers and people watching on the sidelines.

Lately I’ve discovered the best way to manage moments when I feel like I’m on the outside looking in is to embrace them and actually enjoy the moment when I’m a bubble floating above and through the crowd, dancing my own dance to the music in my head. It is, in fact, merely a moment in time in the Life experience; an integral part of the unique individual who is Me. I’d already learned fighting it was futile, and often made me feel worse. Now I see how embracing it and “going with the flow” can not only enhance the moment, but make those moments of connection even more special and fulfilling.

Alone Time Can Occur Almost Anywhere

As an introvert, I need periods of alone time when I have no connection with humans, either directly or electronically. What it took me a long time to figure out was those disconnected moments aren’t always convenient. They don’t always occur when I can close myself into my personal space with no one but the cats for company. Sometimes, they come on when I’m out in the world, doing something I love like dancing. The challenge is in maintaining my balance while facing what seems to be a discordant situation.

In truth, I haven’t had a problem isolating myself in a crowd since I learned to shield decades ago. Sometimes I do it because the crowd’s energy would overwhelm me if I left myself open to it. Others, because I need to be more of an observer than a participant for a little while.

As one who often dines alone, I’ve become rather an expert at tuning out the noises around me. I might be reading or writing, or simply listening to music through my earphones. I’ve learned these moments of isolation in a public place can actually be quite productive. My ADD brain is able to hyper-focus, and often, I get more writing done when stuff is going on around me than I do in the quiet and peace of my home.

Using the Ability to Hyper-Focus to Best Advantage

Years ago, I worked in an office the owners had created by converting an old house. My office was an

open space which used to be the living room, and was shared with a couple of other people and a micro computer. I faced a sliding door which led to the parking lot behind the building. Needless to say, there were always distractions whether it was people moving around or holding conversations, telephones ringing, or client calls. I had to learn to tune it out and get my work done. With the detail necessary for accounting and tax work, it wasn’t always easy. But my ability to hyper-focus served me well, and I’d get to the point where I didn’t even notice what was going on around me. If someone approached my desk, they might have to shake me loose (figuratively, of course) in order to get my attention.

I learned from the experience that I work best with a little distraction, whether it’s music playing in the background (Pandora was a godsend for me!), surrounding myself with people and movement in a coffee shop or restaurant (preferably not at peak hours. There is a limit to the amount of distraction I can have and still be productive), a table at the bar where I dance while a lesson is going on—the possibilities are truly endless. I’ve even written at length on a writing prompt while ensconced in one of the red Adirondack chairs on my front porch with my outside cats demanding the attention they don’t get when I’m holed up in the house.

Finding Balance Whether We Like it Or Not

Like so many other things in life, it’s all about balance. We can’t be connected all the time any more than we can be disconnected. We don’t always get to choose what we need when either. We can outline our life with a schedule, but we have to be flexible with the outline, and with ourselves. Stuff happens and we may need to break away from our schedule. Sure emergencies happen, but what I’m talking about isn’t anything as overt as an illness or accident.

Sometimes life kicks us in the butt because we’ve fallen into a rut that’s taking us nowhere fast. It might be a demonstration of how low we’ve sunk without even realizing it, or a study in contrasts to feed the artist’s soul within all of us. It might be a need to do something purely spontaneous because we can, and because when we take a day to do what feels good, we come back twice or even ten times as productive afterwards.

Letting An Artist’s Date Go Where It Will

Case in point. I spontaneously turned a gym day into an extended artist’s date one sweltering Monday afternoon. I threw laptop, notebook, colored pens, and Judy Reeves’ “A Writer’s Book of Days” into my trunk before leaving the house just in case. After a pretty decent leg workout, I drove to Panera, ordered a salad, and found a table with an electrical outlet nearby.

As it turned out, the laptop never came out of its case. Instead, I spent an hour and a half writing a four page story from one of the book’s writing prompts. In fact, I am considering turning it into a post on my website, as, for once, it didn’t take a turn to the dark side.

Feeling pretty good after what I’d produced, I wandered over to a FroYo place nearby, lingering over a dish of half fresh fruit and half FroYo (my favorites, Death by Chocolate and Sea Salt Pretzel) before succumbing to the ultimate indulgence, the $5 Book Store. $15 and 5 books later, I was happy as a pig in mud on a hot summer day.

Time Time to Detach Recharges Our Batteries

Instead of wearing me out, especially after walking around in the 100 degree heat, I came home and got busy. I finished and scheduled another blog post, cut up 2 pineapples and a cantaloupe, and made enough salad to last me 3 or 4 days. Of course, I was motivated by trash day and wanting to get all the rinds, peels and vegetable parts into the trash so they wouldn’t sit in the barrel stinking up my garage for a week where the heat would turn them into a fermented mess of slime and goo.

The funny thing is, I’m feeling extra energetic, getting up and hitting the ground running. I believe it’s because I’m learning to embrace the moments when I feel disconnected instead of fighting them. They appear to serve a purpose, even if that purpose is to make me more of an observer than a participant. As an observer, I have to clear the cobwebs so my vision is unobstructed, and it gives me a clearer view of the path forward in realizing the dreams I have; not only the small, easily achievable ones, but those huge, somewhere-in-the-future dreams with components whose path to realization is still hidden from my sight.

A Time for Every Thing

There’s a verse from the Bible which, though I eschew religion, I’ve always found inspiring. It applies now, more than ever:

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

The more I learn to embrace the different aspects of my personality, the changing needs of my heart, body, spirit, and mind, the more powerful these words become, and the more convinced I become of the validity of Eckhart Tolle’s teachings about living in the Now. Only by being in the moment and accepting the conditions as a temporary thing can we live the life we were meant to live and achieve the things we desire. Above all, it encourages me to remember I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, doing what I’m meant to do in this moment in time. Resistance is futile, and self-limiting.

Honoring the Need to Detach on Occasion Leads to More Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for the simplest of reminders which come into my life at unexpected moments.
  2. I’m grateful I’m learning to embrace instead of resist the changes coming to me every day.
  3. I’m grateful for spontaneity. It reminds me nothing is engraved in stone, and almost everything can be put off for a little while so we may experience life.
  4. I’m grateful for solitude and distraction. Both are necessary for a productive, fulfilling life.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, life, experiences, choices, opportunities, joy, sorrow, gifts, and losses, health, 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

A Life Made Better By Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss Kept it Simple For A Reason

More than a couple of generations of children cut their literary teeth on the works of Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. I’m no exception. I couldn’t have been older than three when my mom introduced me to Dr. Seuss’s “The Cat in the Hat”.

Dr. Seuss had a unique way of not only engaging the young reader, but imparting moral lessons in an easy, undemanding way. Yet he cut to the heart of our world’s most basic and far-reaching issues in a timeless manner which is still relevant today.

So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.

So Many of Our Society’s Ills Could Be Cured By Following the Lessons in “The Lorax”

One of mine and my daughters’ favorite Dr. Seuss stories is “The Lorax”. In fact, my eldest has a Truffula tree and a series of Seuss-isms tattooed on her leg. I recently caught the last few moments of the movie, and as the credits started to roll, this timeless quote from the book filled the screen for a few seconds:

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

As I sat staring at the screen, a shiver ran up my spine. How like Dr. Seuss to put what should be obvious to an adult into a simple phrase even a young child could understand. And how farsighted of him to realize how much the generations who’d grown up with his stories would need to be reminded.

Many of his stories have been made into movies, or re-enacted on stages. Who hasn’t seen “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, or “The Lorax” at least once? I admit I’ve yet to see the movie version of “Cat in the Hat”, but it’s on my ever-increasing To-Do list. But first, I have to re-read “The Lorax”.

A Lesson in the Repercussions of Greed and Environmental Insensitivity

If you’re unfamiliar, let me briefly summarize. In a town de-void of nature (flowers, trees, grass, etc.) a young boy goes in search of the truth. He learns a greedy, conscienceless man used up all the Truffula trees and fouled the environment to satisfy his own personal agenda. He disregarded the admonitions of the Lorax who spoke for the trees, until he’d hacked down all the trees, fouled air and water, and driven all of the wildlife away in search of greener pastures. Without a steady supply of Truffula trees, even his business died out and left him living alone in the decaying remnants of his factory and home. The neighboring town with its plastic “nature” was dependent on another greedy man for the very air they breathed.

Sound familiar? But then, Theodor Geisel was also known for his political cartoons. Small wonder they seeped into his children’s stories. Perhaps he hoped he could instill social and environmental conscience in our formative years. I like to think he was successful, at least with a few.

Though Millennials as a group are getting a bad rap from the Baby Boomers (and vice versa, I might add), they are, like every other generation, a group of individuals, each with their own perspective on the world and idea of where they themselves need to take responsibility. Despite the seeming oblivion and obsession with electronics attributed to their peers, many are working hard to make a difference. They are perhaps even more socially and environmentally conscious than we were in the 60’s and 70’s. I attribute part of that to their ready access to information courtesy of the internet.

Lessons In Social Consciousness From Early Childhood Make For Better Adults

I wonder if part of that consciousness comes from early exposure to the lessons embedded in Dr. Seuss’s books?

Quotes from one book or another pop up on Social Media too frequently to be mere happenstance. They’ve become as much a part of our vocabulary as the Instant Messaging and Text-driven shorthand we use today. Every single quote encourages us to be better people, or to appreciate our differences rather than trying to be carbon copies of each other. I’m sure I’m not alone in turning to the good Doctor when my spirits need lifting or my confidence is waning. Here are a few which are guaranteed to lift me up and get me moving.

Dr. Seuss had a unique way of reminding us each and every one of us is special and has a reason for being right here, right now. He didn’t believe in hanging back or fitting in or hiding your light under a bushel basket. Instead, he taught us to be our very best selves, and to respect others, nature, animals, and this planet we call home.

If you ask me, we could all benefit from re-reading some of his books a couple of times a year to remind us, not to be humble and silent, but proud, strong, and outspoken. But most of all, to be kind.

One Small Pebble Causes A Thousand Ripples

What we do and say has impact. It might not seem like it in our own small view of the world, but every pebble we drop in the water creates ripples. We don’t see where those ripples go, who they touch, or what they affect. Most of us would be surprised our tiniest actions have any impact at all, much less the snowball effect each one is capable of.

In the past month or so, an individual not only stopped speaking to me, but began acting like I wasn’t even there. Ordinarily, I might be hurt about it, but I know in some way, my own actions or words sparked his behavior. He feels justified in denying my existence, and I truly have no reason to disrespect his wishes. Though the venue where we used to interact isn’t all that large, we manage to stay out of each others’ way, interacting with the same people and both enjoying our time there.

I share this story because it’s a clear example how something we do or say, seemingly in a safe little bubble has implications we can’t possibly predict. I suspect I’ll never know what my word or action was, but it has reminded me to be more aware of the ripples I create, and to revisit #28:

Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great balancing act.

Gratitude is Always in Style

I think one of the many things I learned from Dr. Seuss was to appreciate what is all around me. My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned and continue to learn from Theodor Suess Geisel.
  2. I am grateful for the many times life reminds me to go back to the basics.
  3. I am grateful for a strong personality and the ability to be comfortable being different.
  4. I am grateful for like-minded friends who have eschewed society’s expectations of same-ness for delightful, inspiring, and unique one-ness.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; friendship, lessons, inspiration, joy, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, motivation, 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





Subliminal Mind Control, One News Story at a Time

Is The Media Using Subliminal Mind-Control? recent conversation with a friend caused a thought I’d been chewing on for a while to resurface. She said her husband went to bed at 8:00 every night, then lay there watching Fox News for hours. She even went so far as to say his addiction and immovable adherence to what he saw and heard had caused him to change. He was no longer the man she’d married. Not that she didn’t still love him, but I could tell the changes were worrisome, especially to someone who, like me has a tendency to do her own fact-checking rather than accepting what she’s told.

I’d think it would be especially difficult for a life-long liberal to see her once like-minded mate becoming a close-minded conservative following the party line blindly. Which brings me to my concern.

Subliminal messaging has been used in the media for decades. I remember seeing “The Exorcist” for the second time and making a point of watching for the messages embedded in a series of frames too short for the human eye to recognize and categorize. Let me tell you, those quick flashes of skulls and other terrifying images made the movie a thousand times scarier than the first time I saw it!

Advertisers use it too. Sometimes it’s blatant, but other times, so subtle, your mind reacts without question because the message flashes by too quickly to process. So why not news stations as well? What better way to control the minds and thoughts of a population than to bombard them with tiny subliminal thoughts telling them to think and act a certain way?

What’s in a Word?

By definition, subliminal means:



  1. Below the threshold of conscious perception. Used of stimuli.

  2. Inadequate to produce conscious awareness but able to evoke a response: subliminal propaganda.

Merriam-Webster offers a medical definition as well, which perhaps feeds more closely into what I’m imagining:

1 : inadequate to produce a sensation or a perception

2 : existing or functioning below the threshold of consciousness

We Learn by Repetition or Frequent Exposure

Subliminal messages are often repeated to further solidify them in the minds of the target audience. Yet, as I mentioned in the “Exorcist” example, they can be perceived if you focus and watch for them to appear. The technique has been used in advertising fairly frequently, so I see no reason to assume it hasn’t been tested and used on large populations for purposes other than commerce.

I know. I’m drifting dangerously close to conspiracy theory again. Yet, I have to wonder how so many seemingly logical, rational, kind people are being convinced to hate people they’ve never even met; to blame an entire cultural group for their less-than-perfect lives, and even, to see their lives as less than perfect in the first place! The words I’ve heard coming out of the mouths of some of the most intelligent, successful people I know in the last few years are downright disturbing.

How Can So Many Justify Such Heinous Behavior?

The stories they tell and the actions they justify would make any rational person person tilt their head in vain effort to make sense of the spate of inconsistencies. Yet words straight out of Fox News (and other dubiously reputable sources) fall off their tongues like raindrops in a hurricane. No wonder the Empaths and HSP’s are having such a tough time these days. We’re caught in a shit storm of irrationality, hate, and propaganda.

Under ordinary circumstances, I’d take the time to prove or disprove my hypothesis, but doing so would require watching those news broadcasts and focusing in, not on the words spoken, but the underlying messages. In this case, I’m not sure I’d escape with my sanity intact. There’s a lot more at stake for the alleged perpetrators than a few scary moments for theater-goers.

Reality Mimics Decades-Old Sci-Fi my thoughts are provable, imagine the implications. I’m thinking it might be a good time to re-read George Orwell’s “1984” assuming I can find my copy in the chaos that is my personal library. It wouldn’t be the first time one of the Science Fiction writers of the early to mid-20th century was spot on with their predictions, even if the timeline wasn’t precise.

Read some old Dick Tracy strips, then look at the smart watch on your arm. Watch a shuttle launch, or pull a recently heated meal out of the microwave. And remember when we’d joke about video phones and how we wouldn’t want one as we might accidentally answer in our underwear?

Think how much easier it would have been for Hitler to mesmerize an audience if he’d had subliminal messaging and the media at his disposal. Or look at how many people you’ve unfollowed or unfriended on Social Media in the last couple of years because the words they type are so ugly and hateful from your perspective, of course. I know I’ve been unfriended or unfollowed for sharing my views on what to me were less volatile topics than what people share nowadays. In my opinion, their opinions on such topics are heavily influenced by their choice in media source.

Striking Where We’re Unaware

The very fact that subliminal messages operate “below the threshold of consciousness” is, at the very, worrisome. That someone could, in essence, plant seeds in other people’s brains without their knowledge or consent has frightening implications and ramifications. If nothing else, it is indeed a form of mass hypnosis; in other words, mind control.

The fact that so many are accepting what they’re told as gospel instead of investigating the facts themselves lends itself to my diagnosis of a cancer invading the land. Admittedly, it takes time and even the best researchers can’t possibly investigate all of the “facts” with which we’re bombarded on a daily basis. Those of us who do choose to look into what we see and hear tend to have multiple sources which simplify our search to some degree. We also pick and choose which topics we look into, and as such, probably miss quite a few, and accept more than we should without verification.

A Culture of Blind Acceptance is Born

Nevertheless, questioning some of what we’re told is better than questioning none. Having a skeptical mindset probably gives us a bit of an edge on even the things we accept, if only because, in our questioning minds, nothing is gospel. Everything we see, hear, say, and do has an element of subjectivity. Every one of us sees things from our own point of view, heavily influenced by our own experiences, lifestyle, upbringing, and culture. An anthropologist or psychologist would probably add a few more factors to this list, but the ones I’ve listed are enough to skew how I see something vs. how anyone else sees it enough to allow for drastic differences in our conclusions.

I can’t help but wonder how quickly blind obedience follows on the heels of blind acceptance.

Check the Facts…If You Dare

Since I encourage fact-checking and questioning what we’re told, in light of the suppositions included in this post, I’ll share a few of my sources with you, in case you’d like to check a few facts yourself:

Snopes was the first site I ever used to check emails and posts for validity. At one point, I was rather impressed when I found an answer to the reporting of an event which was less than 24 hours old. I’ve used this one a few times in recent months. They’re a good source for political shenanigans.

Politifact is known for it’s Truth-o-meter which it applies to statements made by politicians. I’ve found a few surprises here.

Media Bias/Fact Check offers up a list of reputable fact-checking sources. Those referenced above are all on their list.

I encourage everyone to be their own advocate. These sites and more like them make the job a lot easier. But having a network of friends and acquaintances who is doing their best to abstain from media bias, and shares what they’ve learned is essential if you’re going to get a handle on the endless stream of gobbledygook we’re subjected to every day.

Grateful for A Questioning Mindset

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for resources which help me navigate a world filled with lies and self-serving, power hungry mad men.
  2. I am grateful for a questioning mind and an endless thirst for knowledge.
  3. I am grateful for a platform which allows me to show others how to question instead of accepting blindly.
  4. I’m grateful I’m neither a sheep nor a lemming (despite what the Chinese calendar might say about my date of birth).
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; intelligent friends, opposing opinions, multiple sources, endless opportunities, a constantly increasing supply of brain cells (thanks to dancing), dancing, friendship, love, support, education, inspiration, motivation, peace, health, 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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