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Archive for the ‘stress’ Category

A Control Freak’s Guide to Stress Management

The Body Can Always be Trusted to Tell You When You’re Holding on too Tight

For the last couple of years (in fact, since I quit my job) I’ve been proudly proclaiming that I have no stress. But the last week or so has shown me the emptiness of my words.

It started on Saturday when I felt the beginnings of a migraine while attending the San Diego County Fair with my daughter. No problem, I found a bale of hay in a shady spot, closed my eyes and relaxed until my vision returned to normal. As it had been awhile since I’d experienced migraine symptoms, I didn’t think much of it.

Back home, I again experienced the vision squirreliness of an impending migraine on Wednesday and took the usual precautions. It was then I decided I really didn’t want to go through the aggravation of going dancing on Thursday as it entails getting ready and to the door of the club about 30 minutes early just to get a decent table these days. In the end, it worked out well because I enjoyed a 4 hour phone marathon with an old friend. I also got the veggies for my stir-fry chopped while we were talking and had I gone dancing, I wouldn’t have had time to cook and freeze a huge batch of stir-fry.

Personal Health is Thwarted by Complacency

I arrive at Friday feeling pretty good about the week’s accomplishments aside from writing, so I buckle down and write the draft of an article which is a bit overdue. Not long after the article is written, the telltale signs appear again and I’m back on the couch, letting myself go limp while the kitties find their favorite snuggly spots. This time, I’m not bouncing back so quickly and my daughter can hear it in my voice when she calls, though it sounds like distraction to her until I explain.

A couple of hours later, I’m feeling woozy again, and by 10:30, I have to cut a support call with AT&T short because the vision loss swoops in like a hungry raptor.

10 hours later, I’m finally convincing myself to detach from the warm cocoon of blankets and cats to start my day. I stretch and acknowledge the tension in my neck and shoulders and admit it’s not entirely due to activities over the last week or so. Yes, I carried a backpack with a camelback of water around the fair for 2 days. Yes, I made a massive vat of stir-fry which had me waking the next day with a bit of pain in my right shoulder. Admittedly, I’ve been less than diligent about exercising otherwise. But still…

Self-honesty is a Slippery Slope

In the end, I decided I need to be completely honest with myself and admit to having more than a little stress in my life. Even more important, I have to address and acknowledge the stressful situations. I don’t necessarily need to solve them immediately, but I need to at least acknowledge that they’re concerning me. So, here goes.

Stresser #1: Money (something many can relate to). I have not yet been successful in monetizing my writing to any great degree and the same is true of my accounting and virtual business consulting. I’ve also gone through a frighteningly large amount of my reserves including all of my IRA and am getting ready to contact the 401(k) administrator. I cannot even begin to admit how much this terrifies me.
Stresser #2: Considering going back into the job market. Every time I even think about this, my gut clenches. I’m so much more comfortable dealing with people when I want to rather than when I have to. Also, I know that should I choose this route, I’m very likely going to have to settle for a lot less than I’m used to making and it may be a long haul to find someone, aside from a temp job, to hire a person my age.
Stresser #3: The health and well-being of my animals and being able to take all of my cats into the vet for their annual checkups. I have put this off because of #1, and it puts me on edge not having proof that everyone is completely healthy.
Stresser #4: Finishing my 3 novels. I have been close to finished with the latest edit on Sasha’s Journey for months, and just need to get it done! A Dubious Gift hasn’t been touched since I wrote it and Hannah’s Chair isn’t even finished.
Stresser #5: Marketing. I am trying to learn how this is done, yet still get a depressingly low amount of traffic to my website and blog. Without it, publishing any of my books will result in less than stellar sales, no matter how wonderful I manage to make them.
Stresser #6: Writing for free: I have been attending a lot of events on press passes in exchange for writing articles. Although I’m enjoying the events, it’s getting harder to motivate myself to write articles which may or may not get many viewers and which yield me nothing to help support myself. In fact, events like the fair cost me money in food alone which set me back rather than forward.
Stresser #7: Getting enough exercise. I’m falling behind on what I need to do to maintain my physical health.

It Ain’t Over ’til You Let it Go

I had to stop writing at this point because I got another migraine warning. I used the time to innercise and meditate with the help of Dylan and Munchkin’s snuggles. Afterwards, realizing I hadn’t eaten in at least 14 hours, I made a quick protein shake (hunger is non-existent at the moment). The break helped me realize I need to look at these stressers rather than continuing to add to the list, without judging or emotionalizing. I need to thank each one for the opportunities and lessons it gives me, then let them go. I’m the first one to talk about trusting both the Universe, and my own inner guides and guidance to find a solution, yet, clearly I’ve been trying to control things instead.

We of the controlling personalities have a difficult time letting go of outcomes and allowing the things we’ve put in place to germinate before showing measurable results. It’s only when something happens to force us to release our stranglehold that we begin to allow the flow to proceed unrestricted.

For some, that release occurs when all of their well-intentioned plans fall apart or break into little, tiny, unrecoverable pieces. For me, a series of migraines usually alerts me to the fact ad2d5-thetowerthat I’m holding on too tightly: to outcome, to control, even to outdated ideas. I usually take it to mean I just need a break or something but this time, I feel the problem has been too many breaks and too little productivity. Still, some time in nature could be well worth the time spent or in the words of one of my favorite country singers, Brad Paisley, it’s “time well wasted”.

Recognizing Opportunities When They Present Themselves aka Synchronicity

An opportunity was presented to me today, and I don’t think the timing was a coincidence. One of my fellow freelancers started a group for beta reading each others’ work including articles and blog posts. My plan right now is to clean up my latest article and submit it to them for critique. I can always use another set of eyes.

Funny, just typing those words, admitting I can ask for help relaxed some of the tension in my shoulders and neck. Clearly, what I need right now and am asking for in a couple of different ways is simply the help of other humans; the connection, the camaraderie, the humanness I usually avoid. In fact, the one thing which has me reluctant to go dancing at my usual place. Although I understand the owner’s abrupt change from appreciation for his patrons to pursuit of money, I can’t help feeling a bit resentful of the sudden change. It has affected my actions and my previous love for the place, but worse, it seems to have isolated me from the rest of the people there. All too often, I occupy a table alone and am rejected when I invite others to join me. Whether I want to or not, I’m exuding vibes which are uncomfortable to happy, positive people who are relaxing from their daily work life. Perhaps part of it is that I don’t share that day-to-day grind from which I need to escape.

In the end, I have two choices, and this goes for everything in this article: either I change my attitude or I make some sweeping changes in my lifestyle, behavior and direction. What those choices will be remains to be seen but for now, the one change I’m making is to stop trying to force myself and my life into a self-defined, compartmentalized direction. Not an easy task for a control freak like me!

There Will Always Be Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for the reminders I get, even when they’re painful and even debilitating.
2. I am grateful for lessons I’ve learned about removing judgement and emotion from my feelings.
3. I am grateful to at least acknowledge that I need to release negative money stories, even if the means is not yet clear.
4. I am grateful for the online communities of which I’m a part, but also for knowing that I need a more personal connection with people as well.
5. I am grateful for abundance: support, vision, awareness, intelligence, wisdom, creativity, friendship, change, guidance, motivation, inspiration, honesty, clarity, love, peace, harmony, friendship, health, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

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

10 Things I’ve Learned by Meditating

There’s More to a Meditation than Meets the Eye

I’ve included meditation in my daily routine for several years now. I try to do an hour a day, sitting quietly in my living room, but it doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes, I meditate on the dance floor. Others, I meditate while doing my morning stretches. I have even been known to meditate while grocery shopping.

It doesn’t really matter where you meditate or what you’re doing. The trick is to just quiet your mind and allow. Of course, when people hear “quiet your mind” they think you mean turn your brain off. We all know that’s impossible. What it means is to let the thoughts flow without analyzing or judging. In short, you just allow.

I get a lot of ideas from my meditations including both the title and main idea for my latest NaNoWriMo. But I realized today it’s much more than that, So without further ado, here are the 10 things (or should I say 10 of the things) I’ve learned by meditating.

  1. It’s the perfect place to work on forgiving yourself.
  2.  There is no wrong way to meditate.
  3.  A To Do list isn’t just to keep track of tasks I need to do. It’s also a way to show myself how much I actually accomplish even on days I consider lazy.
  4.  You can never have too many accountability partners.
  5.  If you don’t understand a message you receive while meditating, it will come again in a different way and will continue to do so until you get the message and act on it.
  6.  You can change your entire attitude by meditating.
  7.  For cats, meditation is a group sport.
  8.  No matter how frustrating your day might be, meditation will help put things back in perspective.
  9.  You can’t beat yourself up while meditating.
  10.  If you receive a message during meditation which shows you rearranging furniture, don’t ignore it. You won’t be able to settle down, sleep or even enjoy a movie until you do.
Meditation for your Health

Even if I’m pressed for time, I’ve learned to take as little as five minutes out and just breathe. The overall reduction in stress is huge, and even more so if performed with a purring cat on your lap. Reducing stress in any way you can improves your physical, mental, emotional and energetic health. I’m heartily in agreement with those who say it should be taught in our schools. Maybe someday it will be.


My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the message I received today to swap my sofa and love seat and move the cat tree.
2. I am grateful for a week which, while not as productive as I’d like, saw me getting back on track with my To Do list, MyFitnessPal and my accountability buddy. It also saw me becoming part of a mastermind group who enjoy writing about Alternative health and just plain healthy eating.
3. I am grateful that Patches is being good about taking her meds though I try not to let myself think about how lousy she must be feeling to be so calm.
4. I am grateful for a full and interesting life where new ideas and challenges come up often. I’m reinventing myself almost every week and someday I’ll even know who I am.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, friendship, health, well-being, peace, harmony, calm in the midst of a storm, inspiration, motivation, hope, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

April 10, 2015 Letting the Mind Run Amok

A Mind Left to its Own Devices Can Be a Terrible Thing to Behold

By now, my regular readers have seen what happens when my mind is allowed to play unsupervised. Well, that’s what is happening tonight. The writing101 prompts are only given on weeknights, so, for a couple of days, I get to write about whatever catches my fancy. Be very afraid!

Fortunately, I’m sitting her drinking some Dragonswell green tea per recommendations when I Googled “natural diuretics” and am feeling rather mellow. Why would I Google natural diuretics, you ask? Well, since you inquired, I’ll share maybe more than you wanted to hear, but it might help someone else.

A couple of years ago I began experiencing a weird, red, itchy rash on my calves. Fortunately it is intermittent since the first time it happened, I scratched myself into a lovely infection which was, or so I’m told, only a day or two away from landing me in the hospital. As my sweet fur babies aren’t allowed in the hospital, I’m not inclined to spend time there either!

Determining Cause and Effect

Needless to say, when it appeared that this was a recurring condition, the analytical side of my brain began to take notes. I discovered that it is always accompanied by water retention in my lower legs. I also found that icing it can help alleviate some of the itching some of the time. But the most effective method of relief is to get my body to release the excess fluids which it seems to periodically store in inappropriate places.

The first thing I’m always asked is about my salt consumption which I’m happy to report is far lower than the average person. Thus, the cause of this, aside from the usual fall back, age, is still undetermined. However, if all I need to do is ingest green tea regularly, it becomes nothing more than nature or the Universe or something forcing me to adopt a habit which is extremely healthy on many levels.

As my week has been more stressful than usual with two of my cats exhibiting signs of having eaten tainted food necessitating multiple trips to the vet, the bodily havoc on my part may just be how my system handles something which has become almost nonexistent since I quit my day job at the end of 2013. It has certainly given me a lot more time to think about cause and effect, not to mention time to write, study and even indulge in a bit of organizing.

Cleaning the Slate for a New Week

Have you noticed that no matter how diligent we might be, laundry, dishes and paperwork still pile up and must be cleaned and put away? As hard as I try to clean up as I go, I still end up with piles of paperwork which demand my attention. Today was the day to address that since my daughter had commandeered my kitchen.

It really is a good feeling when the stacks and piles which had graced my desk, printer and any other reasonably flat surface are now neatly stashed in folders or binders for easy access when I need them again. (My daughter laughs, but I can always lay my hands on that one piece of paper when something unexpected happens and I need to provide backup for a transaction.)

Unfortunately, organized desk and work area has my mind acting all organized and annoying too, so I’ll bring this little bit of educational drivel to a close this evening.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for Google search as even my most obscure questions find some sort of resolution.
2. I am grateful that I’ve completed over 20 of the 30 lessons in the Gina Horkey freelance writing course.
3. I am grateful for a few days with my daughter, just doing normal, hanging out kinds of things. After the stressful week we both had, it’s wonderful to just relax and laugh together.
4. I am grateful for the habits I’m solidifying under which I write at least something every day and study at least a couple of lessons in one of my online classes as well. I’m finding that I spend more and more time on writing related activities as the days go by.
5. I am grateful for abundance: good food, good company, friends, healthy felines, words to write and resources to consult, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel and my website, http://www.shericonaway.com. I’ve created these pages as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” them or leave a comment! Thank you!

November 18, 2014 I trust my feelings, but sometimes I just don’t get their message! #shericonaway

Sometimes, I wish my feelings came with an instruction manual.

When I went to bed last night (way too late again as I simply had to watch the latest episode of Castle before I started writing) I had what I’ve come to know as “Anxiety Tummy”. You know that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach that you get when you’re worried about something very intensely? Like when you’ve interviewed for a job you really want and are waiting to hear if you got it. Or you’re waiting for the results of tests at the doctor. That sort of thing.

The only problem is, I don’t have anything like that happening in my life right now! The worst part is, I woke up this morning and my stomach was still doing somersaults.

What do you do when your body gives you messages you just can’t decode?

Our bodies are wondrous things and, if we pay attention, can really point us in the right direction (or send us running really fast the other way if we’re heading for disaster, also known as “a learning experience”.) Sometimes, we ignore those messages, to our own detriment, but at other times, like today, I just don’t know what I’m being alerted to.

When I went to sleep last night, I asked my guides for clarification, but if they gave me any, I don’t remember. I’ve sat quietly, trying to allow thoughts to just float into my brain which might explain this weird feeling. The only thing I’ve come up with is my upcoming income verification with Covered California. I wouldn’t think that would be enough to upset my stomach, especially after all I’ve been through with them over the last year.

One thing I have learned is that if I spend a lot of time worrying about what I’m worrying about, it only makes things worse and I get nowhere.

It really is true! Exercise helps put things into perspective!Harvest box 11-18-14 view 2

I opted to refrain from fretting and went about my daily business which, on Tuesday includes a workout at the gym and a trip to Underwood to pick up my veggie box. Call me weird, but I get very excited over things like artichokes and kale, both of which appeared in this week’s box. This week’s new veggie to try is a butternut squash. I’ve had it in ravioli, but little else so I’ll enlist my daughter’s assistance in determining what to make with it. We are both looking forward with gusto to another kale, potato and chicken sausage stir fry this week. I’ve also grown rather fond of the purple carrots which once again were part of the week’s yummy bounty.

Getting back to the point I was trying to make before I waxed eloquent over my veggies, is that going to work out was the best thing I could have done with regard to understanding my body’s signals. Not only did my chest and tricep workout loosen up my shoulder, not completely, but range of motion is much better, but I realized what was bothering me.

I was on track when I thought it might have to do with my Covered California renewal, but as it turns out, the real issue was only indirectly related, and goes something like this: I haven’t made as much money this year as I’d hoped, but to be honest, I haven’t put as much effort into the writing as I could have. BUT when I started looking at what I had accomplished rather than what I hadn’t (sound familiar?), I was pretty pleased. Conservatively speaking, if I say I averaged 30,000 words a month blogging, that’s 300,000 words just in this blog! Add to that the 30,000+ words I added to the novel I started last November plus the 29,000 I’ve already written this year…Do you see where I’m going here?

Now, add to the list the fact that I’ve gotten through two and a half chapters of the copywriting class (chapter 3 alone is over 300 pages) plus the first 10 or 11 exercises, and I’ve worked on two new clients’ books as well as spending some time for my former employer in the early part of the year.

On top of all that, I’ve done a lot of decluttering in my house this year, managed to keep up with most of my chores and improve my environment. All this, and I got away to visit my daughter at least a half dozen times this year.

Whew! Needless to say, anxiety tummy is a thing of the past, though my shoulder is telling me that a massage and energy session should still be part of this week’s agenda.

The moral of my story is, listen to the emotional signals your body sends, but don’t stress out if you don’t, at first, understand the message.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful for a system which reminds me to focus on what matters.
2. I am grateful for my workouts which do my body a world of good and take me away from things which used to tie me in knots.
3. I am grateful for my weekly box of fresh veggies.
4. I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on what I have done rather than what I haven’t.
5. I am grateful for caring friends who share life’s ups and downs, both theirs and mine. It is heartwarming to know that we travel life’s roller coaster in good company.
6. I am grateful for abundance: faith, love, joy, friendship, inspiration, accomplishments, health and prosperity.

Namaste

And now for some shameless self-promotion:
I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheriLevensteinConawayAuthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel. I’ve created this page as a means of positive affirmation and would be very grateful if you’d “like” it or leave a comment! Thank you!

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