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Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Writing in the Zone

Taking the Zone Into Our Subconscious Minds

I realized this morning I was no longer getting a plethora of blog topics from my morning pages. Stopping to wonder why, I realized I’d gotten into the habit of doing exactly what the morning pages are meant to do; turn off my conscious mind and tune into the zone. Interestingly enough, it’s how I write most of my blog posts, but for awhile, I’d spent far too much time thinking about what I was going to write when I was doing my daily free writing.

I started noticing I was blowing through the first couple of pages without even seeing the page on a conscious level. I’d simply get up in the morning, use the bathroom, put my allergy drops in my eyes, select the colored pen I was going to use, and start writing. It didn’t matter what came out. It was merely a vehicle, a vessel into which I dumped the first thoughts of the morning without editing or, as I’m realizing now, conscious thought.

Disconnecting Before We Remember Not To

I’m sure there have been places along the way when I did it without thinking, but somehow, I’d gotten so used to finding blog topics therein, I started paying too much attention to what I was writing in those moments before I’m fully awake or starting to plan out my day. I suspect there actually are some topics hidden in those pages, and I’m inclined to go back and look, but without realizing it, I started using the 30 minutes or so first thing in the morning for the proper purpose.

It’s a bit overwhelming to realize how often I create without conscious effort; how often the words you see on the screen came from somewhere deep inside me. All too often, the words reflect a part of me I’m not usually aware is impacting my life, and yet, it does to a greater degree than I realize.

Tapping Into Our Inner Reactive Selves

We all have habits, either learned or innate which take over from time to time. How many of us https://www.flickr.com/photos/jobber1/36197048070/in/photolist-X9BkiG-6zNVTx-9WcJ3G-dSakbx-dSammr-9TBa8u-6ezpVp-4BqdWY-VXtGBZ-rmenXX-qCVBCH-ebSPFY-on6uCz-7jht6-n98ro-VTXW6M-a1XWoX-aEZ3ZC-GAd7om-aETqXe-5YRvvk-dSfWbY-KEWxyD-7N2mv7-s8WVRA-97x2ND-9FZG7n-kv3uih-7dAKBM-Usjf3C-emcpAz-3EXMtA-U3SSPP-gQb96B-6QtXTY-o36uJj-iwvCcv-54dBjc-opbQb3-7NxyBo-7G7U6q-cS6eML-9FXQcH-ojrwjj-SUbPcQ-7MNAUc-Ee2qD-jZRnbY-a355px-cS691Nactually think about breathing unless we’re meditating or doing yoga? But we also have conditioned responses. We shiver when we’re cold, and maybe put on more clothes. There are things which scare us on one level or another and cause us to withdraw into ourselves. Perhaps we emerge when we believe the danger has passed, or sooner if we determine the danger isn’t as bad as we expected.

I’m learning it’s important to allow those subconscious thoughts and reactions to come to the surface. Too many times, I find mine are deeply rooted in something which happened during my childhood, and which I need to revisit and revise. The soul-deep reactions to certain situations have long-since outlived their usefulness. But like many knee-jerk behaviors, I enact them without conscious thought.

Gently Disentangling Deep-rooted Behaviors

https://www.flickr.com/photos/barnoid/507719383/in/photolist-LScht-aEgvH4-9GQuCD-6W1t6o-7eMLf-9ZapY5-aqyTWF-WVbQua-WUsn2q-5ZnSwb-GBxuMd-WRKktx-8XXrBy-WRBT42-6x6DAm-au6C6L-9aDgzF-6x2uga-6x2uh8-9aDjbx-mY8gjH-6x6DCG-au6CcU-6x2u8v-6x6DFU-aqB62q-2aihRJj-9aDhGR-9aDkma-XMxT3e-WRKjZ6-aqB3Zb-7YvxSK-7YvxHx-7YyNxL-6x2uag-7YyPdQ-aqyTgn-7YyP43-dC5ahP-9jFPTY-cCSL51-6XEnTg-gTzLxk-6XJqmd-gTzzhy-9aGsqG-gTzDSY-aqiF5e-UUKGFNAdmittedly, part of their deep-rootedness stems from the years I kept stuffing things down until everything became impacted. I’ve had to disgorge many of the more recent behaviors and responses before I could get to the mother lode. By now, many of those deep-rooted behaviors have entwined themselves around my psyche in intricate knots requiring a great deal of patience and persistence to unwind.

Though tempting, simply yanking them out by their roots isn’t an option. They’ve entwined themselves around a great deal which has value, or worse, which needs to be untangled and dealt with as well. Harsh removal will only result in stronger, more impenetrable bonds being formed with those outdated, yet tenacious patterns. Shock treatment is not an effective way to deal with the old hurts and traumas which formed our subconscious behaviors.

When All Else Fails, Allow

I’m learning the best method is to allow everything to come out in its own crazy, convoluted https://www.flickr.com/photos/sermoa/7289177616/in/photolist-c77Wy9-r361B6-7UmPsp-XGAjhz-64e9v7-2aA91KA-dgqyUQ-45XqnC-9QJ7eT-9QN5fS-sHuD2X-eYWQtB-fbDKCi-RX57Dd-21GaQYp-ap2UBy-2cqyUd9-4BaZUn-XR9iq1-649VdX-GEVNFE-37rTTS-8GD4Ct-21M2mrm-8PB966-kzYvK4-6Vje9y-4Hq3oP-izzeb3-ouihv3-NiJYj7-bua5Bm-iRQDZe-jpV8mm-gJX2L-R36JFv-23NUNNG-2cw7Nyt-2a4658R-npfQy2-RZFcen-M2YpLg-STMqAt-WKMNmd-29UnKjq-owijzY-f4WJBJ-96ELMg-p9Cein-T8HccTmanner, much like writing the first draft of my books. The rule of: “write first, edit later” can easily be applied to working through old patterns which continue to rear their ugly heads, yet hinder rather than help us.

Like dreams, if we seek to grab those patterns and the root system they’ve developed, they’ll slip away, hiding behind something seemingly innocuous. But if we allow them to flow freely without judgement or the slightest inkling we’ll try to fix our re-route them, we’ll learn things we didn’t even know we held inside. Only then can we put forth the necessary effort to change how we react to what used to be scary or painful, but no longer is.

We mature and grow. We lose our sensitivity to pain in many circumstances, but that maturity doesn’t always communicate well with the root of the issue. The root functions on blind emotion. It’s impervious to logic. (How often have you heard “You shouldn’t feel that way”?) Emotion and feelings weren’t created in the same universe as logic so no argument is going to sway them, no matter how much sense it might make.

Reassuring the Child Within

https://www.flickr.com/photos/60740813@N04/34504735502/in/photolist-Uz4MJN-7H8hqz-r2covS-8wbGLH-8wcEVv-8weaum-8wcFMc-r2c6ww-r2iYrg-qmL3eU-8w9Dpr-r2jtjr-riJFWH-8wcT7A-8wcK8r-8wbRuV-8wcj84-8wanQx-8waPPT-8w9c4V-8w97ek-r2j3iV-riCAji-8w8skp-r2cTQq-8wfuwo-8waMUv-8wfDJJ-8wdgXY-qZq9cM-8wd2u3-8wfVzw-8wbq15-8w8bJP-8w9Wdc-8wcQdR-riF3r5-riJvW2-8wbTSq-r2cNH1-8wc6wN-r2d6wG-8wcM6o-r2jiHn-8wdexo-riJBiz-8bQ1eC-8wfeYo-riJJHV-8w9YqrWe go back to those feelings time and time again. Sometimes it’s a reaction, but others it’s because we’re trying to understand why we reacted that way in the first place. We know it defies logic, yet something inside ourselves says run away fast! Danger ahead!

When a child is scared, we don’t tell them:

“There’s nothing to be afraid of! Suck it up and deal with what you see right in front of you!”

Instead, we seek to reassure them what they are perceiving isn’t what’s really in front of them. Those innate responses inside us are no different. The frightened child created them and will continue to see an unchanged environment where a particular circumstance elicits fear, and even pain.

In short, we have to allow our inner child to express themselves before we can address what makes them fearful. We have to give them free rein to say whatever they feel without judgement; without question; without trying to fix them while they’re expressing their fears, shame, and hurt. When they feel safe talking about the heretofore unmentionables, we gain insight, not only into the basis of those conditioned responses, but the necessary steps towards assuaging the fears, healing the hurts, and gaining their trust.

I speak a lot about the dichotomy within ourselves; the child and the adult. Too many of us stifle the child, even denying their existence. Yet we’re unable to explain why time and time again, we react in the same manner, and can’t seem to stop ourselves from reacting. All I can tell you is what I’ve learned myself. We have to take the time to listen quietly. We have to allow triggers to bring forth strong emotions from deep inside ourselves. Only then can we effect a change; a healing which will replace the fear-and pain-based reactions with an ability to assess each situation independent of itself.

Our Greatest Tool is Gratitude

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I am grateful for my child within. She’s taught me a great deal about my self, my past, and my future.
  2. I am grateful for the ability to write without conscious thought. Many insights have come from my process.
  3. I am grateful for Julia Cameron and her morning pages. I have more than two years, and more than half a dozen notebooks filled with my thoughts, my frustrations, my pain, and a great deal of insight into the child who became the woman I am today.
  4. I am grateful for my ability to sit still and write, tuning the rest of the world out, and creating something I didn’t even know was there until I read it on the page after it’s done.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; opportunities, motivation, love, friendship, dancing, kitty love, joy, energy, Consciousness, inspiration, motivation, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

 

About the Author

Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws , of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward

Watching and Forgetting to Participate

When Watching People Detaches Us

As a writer, observing people is part of the job description, or maybe it’s an occupational hazard. There are times I get so caught up with watching people and how they interact with each other, that I forget to interact myself. I wrote recently about feeling disconnected, but as I become more aware of those periods of disconnection,  see there’s more to the story, and I’m confounded by whether the chicken or the egg came first, so to speak.

In other words, do I become disconnected because watching is so fascinating, or do I begin watching because I’ve become disconnected from the proceedings? Lately, the lines have been so blurred, I honestly don’t have an answer. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the next chapter and wondering where my subconscious is going to take me when I sit down to actually write it. You may have noticed that unlike those who can easily draw a straight line from point A to point B, my brain eschews the linear and more direct path for something quite convoluted. Rarely is a trip undertaken which doesn’t take a few detours, gathering odds and ends along the way.

Conversational Convolutions

Fortunately, because likes attract, many of my friends have a similar thought process so we follow each others’ conversational convolutions quite nicely, thank you. And since I am rarely asked “what did you mean by that” in relation to these posts, I have to believe many of my readers are also able to follow the conversational switchbacks as well.

But again, I digress. People watching, even for the casual observer and not the career watcher can be all-encompassing. Human beings are simply fascinating. And they’re especially so in social situations like bars where there’s a certain level of effort to attract the opposite sex. As my social life typically involves a bar or at least a dance floor, I tend to see certain types with regularity and have, over time, broken them down into categories as follows:

Archetypes in the Social World
  • The Adonis: These are men who typically arrive late so the place is reasonably full. They clearly spend many hours at the gym, and have the skin-tight t-shirts to emphasize their dedication. Upon arrival, they make a slow circuit or two, ensuring that all the women in the place have noticed their bulging pecs. Then they’ll single out one lucky lady to bask in the glow of their awesomeness.
  • The Piranha (sometimes also known as The Limpet): These are single women who keep one eye on the door so they’re the first to see new single men arrive. They are well-versed at starting conversations and holding a man’s attention, but often vie with others of their type for the same men. Scarcity tends to bring out the huntress in these women, and they don’t know the meaning of the words “defeat” or “retreat”.
  • The Safe Ones: Again, of the female persuasion, these are women who typically dress a little more conservatively. They wear a look of serenity and have a similar style. Men tend to gravitate towards them because these women are unlikely to behave in an unexpected manner. They don’t tend to stand out and will likely give a guy her full attention.
  • The Couples: This one really needs no explanation, but for the sake of completeness, I include them.
  • The Free Spirits: These folks typically stand out, either by their attire or their actions, and often both. They aren’t part of the interpersonal ebb and flow as they’re usually just there to have a good time and hang with friends.
  • The Exotics: Like the Free Spirits, these are also unique, but in such a way that they get attention without even trying. They may or may not be interested in attracting someone. Again, they are there to have a good time and for the most part, go home alone. They are often found in the center of one group or another as they’re also very social.
  • The Wall Flowers: Face it. There will always be women who blend in with the scenery. They’re a little socially awkward, but don’t necessarily hang out alone. However, in an environment like a dance club, they’re all too often not asked to dance, or if they are, it’s infrequent.
  • The Weirdos and Freaks: Every club has them, and for the most part, they’re harmless. They can also be amusing. They don’t seem to care what people think of them. They take goofiness to new levels. And they break up the monotony of some of the more normal or sedate patrons.
  • The Charming Charlies: These guys could sell ice to the Eskimos. They’re charming to a fault, and are often nice to wall flowers, old ladies… pretty much everyone. They also tend to have a bevy of beauties vying for their attention.
  • The Drinkers: What would a bar be without the ones who are there to get a buzz…or maybe more than just a buzz? They keep the place in business, and if you’re lucky, they’re happy drunks. Just don’t try to dance with one. They’re loose as a goose, but you’re not, and you could get hurt.
  • The Entitleds: These folks have no concept of dance floor etiquette or personal space or even common courtesy. They believe the world revolves around them and want what they want when they want it. They’ll sit at an obviously occupied table and congregate in pods who hog floor space so others can’t get by them. In the olden days, we might have just called them spoiled brats.
  • The Old Folks: As I age, this category does too. But there are a few who, even in a place where you go to have fun, are crotchety and cranky. They also tend to move a little slower (or sometimes, a lot slower) and don’t handle change well, whether it’s a new dance, new music, or a new place on the floor. They’re treated respectfully because of their age, and, let’s face it, they deserve credit for still being out there dancing instead of sitting at home in front of the TV.

There are also a few one or another of us has given a special nickname. Most of those are affectionate with the exception of one or two who can be especially annoying. A local bar and dance hall is usually a friendly place and if you’re lucky, one where single women can go and feel safe from being accosted. It’s a healthier environment in which to unwind from whatever stresses life might throw at you.

A friend indirectly pointed out that I’d left a key point out of my observations and categorizations. Human beings are seldom as they appear on the outside, especially when surrounded by strangers. We don masks to hide the more fragile elements of our beings. This is what makes not only the observing but the typing so interesting to me. Once I’ve seen where someone fits in the overall social dynamic, I’m free to let my imagination follow tangents of its own, filling in blanks, creating back stories and otherwise delving into the person behind the social mask.

In fact, I’m especially fond of newcomers, not because I flock to them like a piranha, but because I can observe them and create a persona free of any ideas I might have inadvertently formed by seeing how they interacted with other people; with my friends. Aside from which pattern they initially exhibit, these folks are a blank slate, and what’s more fun to draw on?

Going Off on Another Tangent

It seems a post which started out talking about people watching and disconnecting has evolved into something completely different. Instead of focusing on the person doing the observing, it’s somehow morphed into some of those observations. Maybe that’s where it was meant to go in the first place.

At least I have the basic archetypes should I ever write a scene about a bar where people go to dance. This list would easily span both the regular patrons and the occasional visitors though some are more relevant for the regulars if only because they’re there often enough to get a more complete picture of their personalities. There’s certainly a cross-over to other social situations as well.

So there you have it. Proof I spend more time watching people than might be healthy. Yet I suspect I’m not alone in my people watching, even if I fall back on it with greater frequency than the norm. Hasn’t everyone categorized people around them at one time or another? In an airport? A grocery store? On the freeway?

It Begins and Ends with Gratitude

Tonight’s gratitudes are:

  1. I am grateful for my powers of observation.
  2. I am grateful I can amuse myself.
  3. I am grateful that I am never truly alone in a crowd as long as I can let my imagination run wild.
  4. I am grateful for people who give me something to watch and analyze.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; life, love, diversity, personality, character, inspiration, imagination, humanity, friendship, peace, harmony, 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!

Health Benefits of Writing Longhand

Woke up healthy again today

While writing my morning pages I realized I hadn’t been sick since I started dumping all of my thoughts onto a page utilizing my rusty but still serviceable cursive. While everyone else has been suffering with the latest colds and viruses, I’ve been blissfully healthy. Could it be that 30 minutes of writing every morning is enough to draw the toxins from my body and raise my resistance to airborne germs?

I’ve read my share of articles which talk about writing things down to take away their power, or even burning the paper to let go of something you no longer want. The cathartic benefits of writing things longhand are extolled by many. But I haven’t seen anyone mention it’s efficacy in thwarting viruses.

Is anyone else curious about this?

This train of thought which actually began during one of my daily morning pages sessions sent me on a little bit of an adventure. I needed to see if anyone had actually written anything hinting at, or saying outright that writing by hand helps the body’s immune system. I finally found a mention on NaturalNews.com stating that the resulting relaxation which occurs when you write by hand does have some health benefits including:

Relaxation has been shown to lower the risk of having a heart attack or stroke, improve mood, and even help avoid health problems like the common cold.

Now I’m getting somewhere!

What do the experts say?

Further research led me to an article in BJPsych Advances which gets more specific about why writing by hand is good for your health. Building on the relaxation factor, the authors, Karen Baikie and Kay Wilhelm connect that relaxation to a reduction in stress. By now, we’ve all heard the same story from the medical profession: stress kills.

Following that line of reasoning, if stress kills, wouldn’t it follow that reduction of stress heals? So say the results of studies on expressive writing in which patients are instructed to write about their deepest darkest feelings for 20 minutes a day (slightly less than the time it takes me to write 3 of my morning pages each day).  The test results appear to support this logic, as the study found:

The immediate impact of expressive writing is usually a short-term increase in distress, negative mood and physical symptoms, and a decrease in positive mood compared with controls. Expressive writing participants also rate their writing as significantly more personal, meaningful and emotional. However, at longer-term follow-up, many studies have continued to find evidence of health benefits in terms of objectively assessed outcomes, self-reported physical health outcomes and self-reported emotional health outcomes.

The authors include a long list of health-related improvements resulting from their studies including improved immunity as I’ve enhanced below:

Longer-term benefits of expressive writing

Health outcomes

  • Fewer stress-related visits to the doctor

  • Improved immune system functioning (bold and italics added)

  • Reduced blood pressure

  • Improved lung function

  • Improved liver function

  • Fewer days in hospital

  • Improved mood/affect

  • Feeling of greater psychological well-being

  • Reduced depressive symptoms before examinations

  • Fewer post-traumatic intrusion and avoidance symptoms

Putting some oomph behind the gratitude

It comes as no surprise to me that several of the articles and blog posts I found on the subject mention gratitudes and the benefits to be found by simply writing them by hand rather than typing them onto a computer screen. The increased focus and reduced distractions found in writing with pen and paper make the brain internalize what is being written. With that internalization comes an emotional release because you’re truly paying attention to the words you’re writing and the feelings they elicit. By the same token, writing about traumatic events gives them less power.

I’ve written about a number of things which are never intended to be seen by others in my morning pages. Often, they’re things which contain a large helping of guilt or remorse. Though in some cases, I’ll probably write about them over and over, I have noticed some reduction in the guilt and pain over certain events and choices I’ve made.

What I write about…and what I don’t

As I write this, I realize the one topic I have not written about in those pages is my relationship, or lack thereof with my youngest daughter. We’ve been estranged now for more than 4 years, and since then, I haven’t seen my granddaughter either. Yet, when I’m writing about the things filling my head and heart, they never come up.

I’ve filled pages with my anger, hurt, and frustration directed at myself, my oldest daughter and other people who aren’t even very important. Yet there’s nary a mention of Jenni in 5 months worth of writing. My only thought is I’m not ready to heal that wound yet, or that I’ve healed it as much as possible without contact.

Long ago, I came to terms with the fact that my daughters are adults and entitled to make their own decisions. I don’t have to like them, and they certainly don’t need my approval of those decisions. But I do have to respect them enough to accept their right to make those choices. I won’t say some of them haven’t broken my heart and made me wish I could help in some way, but over time, I’ve learned to stand back, be supportive, and allow them to learn their own lessons just as I learn mine…the hard way.

And the point is…

It might seem like I’ve wandered away from the original topic, and perhaps, to those who think linearly, I have. But as my mind couldn’t walk a straight line if it tried, you’ll just have to take my word for the fact that all of this is related.

To tie it all together it’s easier to see how writing by hand can benefit mental health, help work through issues and even just relax us. Making the jump between mental well-being and physical health requires us to expand our minds a bit and make some connections which maybe should be obvious but aren’t.

Making the connection

There’s a certain flow that occurs from the brain to the hand and back again when we pick up a pen and start writing. I suppose in some ways, it isn’t unlike an artist picking up a pencil or a paintbrush. We disconnect from everything mechanical or electronic and are suddenly aware of our physical limitations.

The words go from brain to page more slowly, especially if you type as fast as I do. In that slowed down space, thoughts form, but they also drift away, unwritten. The words which need to come out will always find their way to the page while those errant thoughts which have little impact will float away while we’re busy putting down the ones that matter.

Do we know they matter when they hit the page? Not always. But I’m convinced that if they do flow from my brain and out the tip of my pen, they flow through for a reason.

Is it time to start writing your own morning pages?

I’ve referred to my morning pages several times. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, I invite you to check out Julia Cameron’s website where she offers both the print and online versions of her course, The Artist’s Way. I’ve found it immensely helpful in clearing blocks, dealing with old issues and simply as a way to start my day before plugging in to email, social media and the rest of the technology which is so much a part of our lives these days.

Gratitude will always make things better

As always, I share with you a few of my gratitudes:

  1. I am grateful for the internet which aids my searches and helps me learn new things every day.
  2. I am grateful for friends who have guided me towards books, articles and practices which improve my life on so many levels.
  3. I am grateful for my solitary life. It has led me down introspective paths which broaden my horizons.
  4. I am grateful for inspiration which comes to me in many different forms.
  5. I am grateful for abundance; love, peace, harmony, connectivity, generosity, humanity, peace, joy, hope, 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!

Photo courtesy of A. Birkan Caghan via Flickr

Winning the Weight Loss Cha Cha

Creating New Set-Points

I’ve been playing Winning the Game of Weight Loss for about 12 weeks now, including the 11 day challenge which got me started. In that time, I’ve lost about 12 pounds and to the casual observer, there’s no change. That used to bother me, but I’ve finally figured it out. Today, I was giving myself compliments as I walked around with my head held high and my smaller clothes fitting quite nicely.

It’s been anything but a smooth path and, in fact, it has been a series of “two steps forward, one step back” days. All in all, I’ve released about 12 pounds of fat so far which, if you’re doing the math is a mere pound a week.

But I’ve gained so much more in the process. Today, when I slipped on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt I hadn’t been able to wear since 2012, you’d have thought I was some hot 20-year-old about to go strut her stuff on a beach only slightly less blisteringly hot than my neighborhood, rather than the overweight 60-something I really am. As I walked from store to store doing my errands, I felt like that hot 20-year-old. And here’s why.

  • There wasn’t a single pain anywhere in my body.
  • No matter how fast or far I walked, I didn’t get winded.
  • My lungs expanded and contracted without having to fight the layer of fat which used to get in the way.
  • I could feel my body adjusting to the lower weight, and knew it would continue to adjust its set point downward.
  • I’m loving the change in my diet. No, really.
  • I love cooking up a batch of vegetables or trying a new recipe for chicken or fish.
  • I love taking the sugar and processed foods out of my diet.
  • I even love drinking my coffee black again.
Adjusting My Mindset

It took me awhile to realize that the body’s normal set point can readjust to a lower weight, but I have to be patient while it re-calibrates. We don’t notice when it adjusts to a higher set-point because we’re usually not watching as we just get bigger and bigger until we reach the “Oh my god! What have I done to myself!” stage. At the rate I’m going, it will take more than a year for me to reach that magical place called “My Ideal Weight”, but this time, I’m doing something I never managed before. I’m changing my habits in a way that feels good to me. I’m not missing the pre-packaged meals because I keep my freezer filled with ones I make myself. I’m not missing sugar. I have a little now and then and that’s enough.

I was never a soda drinker and, thankfully, have always kept a glass of water handy day and night, though I’ll admit I’m going through those 5-gallon bottles more quickly lately. I eat bread occasionally as well as rice and potatoes. I just eat more lean protein, fruits, and veggies.

Better still, I find myself leafing through my collection of cookbooks looking for healthy new ways to prepare my basic ingredients. With the recipes as with labels, I am rather militant about using things which don’t contain added sugar. I get plenty from fruit and from the honey I put in my yogurt or tea once in awhile.

Yesterday, I vacuumed the whole house and mopped about half the floors. When I finished, I didn’t feel the slightest fatigue. In fact, I felt great for having exercised so much. The cats are going to have to get used to the sound of the vacuum cleaner on a more regular basis!

Baby Steps Become Giant Leaps Forward

As if I didn’t have enough wonderful, exciting changes going on, I’ve also given up TV. Oh, I still watch the occasional movie on Netflix or Hulu, but I’ve had no desire to plant my butt on the couch for hours and be mindlessly entertained. Instead, the sofa has become my reading nook. This single change has had a huge impact on my life!

  • I go to bed earlier.
  • I sleep better.
  • I get more done around the house.
  • I move more than ever in the evenings.
  • My mind is constantly creating because it’s no longer being spoon-fed stories.

I admit, this isn’t all a result of playing Winning the Game of Weight Loss. Winning the Game of Money has also effected some of the changes. I’m dreaming bigger dreams, setting goals and making plans. I’m even sticking to some of them! Because the major component of my dreams involves writing, I am naturally writing more. Sure, most of it is articles and blog posts for myself or other people, but the words are getting on the page. In the meantime, I’ve drawn within 13 pages of finishing the edit I’ve been working on, and come up with a really cool plot twist for last year’s yet-to-be completed Nano. In fact, I’ve agreed to join my fellow Inklings in the July challenge so I can finally finish it.

Of course, that means getting that last 13 pages knocked out this week! So I’ll bring this post to a rather abrupt end in order to make that happen.


So Much to be Grateful For

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for the things that motivate me to achieve my dreams.
2. I am grateful for the changes I’ve been making in my life lately…even the things I’ve given up.
3. I am grateful for the quantity of writing I’m doing lately.
4. I am grateful for new opportunities in my social life.
5. I am grateful for abundance; love, life, friendship, inspiration, dreams, motivation, challenges, new directions, peace, harmoney, health, philanthropy and prosperity.

Blessed Be

A Clear Space Equals a Clear Mind

For the last week I’ve been finding ways to avoid writing. As mentioned yesterday, my excuses and methods are many-faceted. I thought simply breaking the spell by writing a blog post yesterday would do the trick, but today I discovered there was more to the problem than simply being unable to put fingers to keyboard and type something meaningful.

I woke up this morning after the best night’s sleep I’ve had in awhile, in spite of a howling wind which ripped a limb off my tree and had the cats racing around the house in a tizzy. I further delayed the commencement of writing by making a healthy brunch and doing my daily exercises.

As I continued to procrastinate and waste time, I looked at my desk and realized the cluttered, dusty mess was inhibiting my creative process more than I realized. desk-and-suppliesAn hour later, everything that was on it is in it’s proper place and the dust and cat fur have been removed, albeit temporarily (Dylan has already taken up residence, demanding skritches and spewing fur across the newly-cleaned surface). Now I’m doing something I’ve never done before. I’m writing a blog post which won’t be published until the wee hours of tomorrow morning. In other words, I’m making use of the “publish later” feature on my blog site.

While writing yesterday, I realized that writing regularly must include a post to at least one of my blogs, and starting my writing day with that post is a good way to clear the cobwebs. I’ve also learned while participating in a weight loss challenge that getting up from the computer every hour is just as important as sitting down and getting my work done. Thus, I’ve reminded myself to turn on the mindfulness clock app so I hear a loud DING when I’ve been sitting too long. It occurs to me that hourly reminder will serve just as well to get me writing in hourly chunks and I won’t need to remember to set a timer any more.

To make a long story short, I’m continually reminded that mental blocks are often connected with clutter in my physical environment. Clearing one quite often unblocks the other.

I actually started the clearing process earlier this week when I finally emptied my current year filing cabinet and started files for 2016, enabling me to finally put all of the documents which had been accumulating in a folder into their proper places. I’m seeing benefits to this almost every day. The folder isn’t taking up space on my desk or giving the cats yet another pile of papers to fling from the desk top. Even nicer was how quickly I could put the random bits still littering my desk into their proper places without having to wrestle a folder in and out of the drawer. As much as I hate cleaning, I love the way organized feels. I’m also grateful for the fact that I am still physically able to do my own cleaning, and when I’m mentally deficient, cleaning is a great way to unclog my brain and give me some much-needed exercise.

If cleaning your environment isn’t enough, it may mean you need to clear the energy as well. I keep a salt lamp (an incredibly thoughtful gift from a friend) on my desk, but don’t always remember to turn it on. (Writing this reminded me it was overdue). But the rest of the house gathers both helpful and detrimental energy as well, so a thorough smudging (in my case, with sage grown in another friend’s garden and bundled by her loving hands) is often called for. I’ve heard it should be done at least once a month, though I tend to wait longer. But I rarely have visitors so I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that negative energies don’t enter my home as often.

Thinking about it, I realize those energies can easily attach themselves to things I bring into the house like groceries and cleaning supplies, or to me from people with whom I’ve come into contact. I can even bring them in when I have negative feelings about someone or inadvertently indulge in negative self-talk.

This is a good place to end today’s chat as I need to do some smudging. Be well and clear those energies and clutter. Your own energy will thank you. When all else fails, sit down and love your cat, your dog or whoever shares your space.

My gratitudes tonight are:
1. I am grateful for those de-cluttering urges.
2. I am grateful for the energy and flexibility to do my own housework.
3. I am grateful I can recognize when the energy around me is getting sluggish.
4. I am grateful for the lesson in distinguishing between “friendship” and “friendly acquaintanceship”. (more on this in another post)
5. I am grateful for abundance: clearing, energy, friendship, love, kindness, inspiration, motivation, health, peace, harmony, 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!

Fear: A Mountain or a Mole Hill?

To Write or Not to Write: Is There Really a Question?

Lately, I’ve found it difficult to convince myself to sit down and write. It doesn’t matter whether it’s one of the 3 articles about the events I’ve attended in the last week, a blog post or one of my many literary projects, I’ve been finding any and every excuse to do anything but write. Knowing it’s simply a matter of discipline doesn’t help. It’s as if I’m suddenly afraid of putting fingers to keyboard for any creative endeavor.

This morning, I took my recalcitrant self in hand and vowed to break the pattern, and hopefully, break it permanently. I found myself looking in the mirror as I put in my contacts, asking What is it you really fear? I nearly fell into the litter box when the answer came back immediately. The only thing you fear is yourself.

Really? I fear meek and mild little me? Is that all? Surely it has to be something larger-than-life which throws me back into old, tired patterns at the slightest provocation. So I asked again. What is it you really fear? The voice came back again, sounding a touch annoyed. The only thing you truly fear is your idiot self! Now go do something about it instead of asking stupid questions!

F.E.A.R. Face Everything and Rise

My inner voice sure has an attitude. But maybe that’s the point. If I want to get past my blocks, both writing and otherwise, I need to take a page out of my inner voice’s book and stop taking crap from myself. In a recent weight loss challenge I’ve been participating in, there’s a particular quote which resonates with me: “No shame, no blame, no guilt.” I could add to that, “and no excuses”.

What I’m getting from this is I have a deeply ingrained fear of putting myself out there, whether it’s socially, in print or anything else. That fear has prevented my success on any number of levels. Just as I’ve built several layers of protective insulation around my body and spend a good deal of time tucked away in my house, I’ve held back on sharing my writing. I’ve gotten too good at starting things and not finishing, procrastinating, or just, plain avoiding.

But recognizing the problem is half the battle. I’ve beaten the one which had me sleeping away the day and not rising until 10 or 11. In fact, even the last couple of nights when I was up past 2 AM, my body still woke at about 8 or 8:30 singing Rise and shine! There are things to be done and stories to be written! I crossed the first hurdle; getting up. Now, this is me, leaping the harder, higher one; writing those stories.

A Lesson in Every Sentence

In the months and years I’ve had the luxury of writing as many hours a day as I like, I have, indeed, typed many a word. I’ve also learned some valuable lessons, the most important of which is to just get the words down and edit afterwards. I used to very diligently insert the HTML code into every paragraph as I typed, but discovered it not only slowed me down, but arrested the flow of thoughts clamoring to reach the page. Now, I just type away, letting the thoughts hit the page in whatever scrambled and only partially sane fashion they might wish. There’s plenty of time afterwards to review what I’ve written and put it into what, for me, is a semblance of sense.

I just heaved a huge sigh of relief, much like the one you let out when you reach the end of a bout of constipation. In my case, my brain was feeling very stuffed, very congested for lack of word flow. Other writers may understand how the mind fills with things to be said and unless those thoughts are released in the only way we know how, writing them down, they’ll just back up the works until the brain shuts down. I was perilously close to complete shut-down when I awoke this morning.

Creatively Mind Dumping

Blogging, I’ve found, is the simplest means for releasing my dammed up words. I don’t have a particular story I’m trying to tell or facts I need to include. It is simply the thoughts and lessons I experience daily. Maybe it’s also those thoughts and lessons which need to come out on the regular basis I used to follow, but have fallen away from lately. In a lot of ways, this is the brain dump I used to use when I couldn’t sleep for the thoughts, plans, lists and frustrations flying around in my head. I have, in fact, been denying myself my own personal mode of therapy, and it’s taken it’s toll.

Putting these words on the page feels very cathartic but the proof is in the pudding. I still have those articles to write, books to edit and complete and more to come. The event schedule I share with my photographer friend is continuing to fill up which means more articles to write. She gives me 2 weeks, but I keep saying that’s too long. Yet I still procrastinate about writing them. My goal is to finish all 3 articles no later than Sunday, but sooner would be better.

I have one last task to complete which will ensure my compliance, and that is to build another healthy salad so meal prep is minimal mid-day. It’s on the agenda for this afternoon, after I return from Physical Therapy (which may not go on much longer as I’ve suddenly taken a huge turn, gaining strength almost daily and leaving most of the pain behind).

As I spend more time out in the real world, I have more material with which to regale and challenge my readers. Hiding out in my hovel with my cats is all well and fine, satisfying my inner hermit, but there’s nothing like a little human contact to augment the material I write about; even if it’s just my own inept efforts to interact like a normal person.

Keeping the Gratitude Flowing

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful that the word famine has ended.
2. I am grateful for the realization that my fears are so easily managed.
3. I am grateful for support groups and people who face much greater challenges than me.
4. I am grateful for the creativity which lies inside me if I just get out of my own way.
5. I am grateful for abundance: creativity, support, inspiration, motivation, commitment, joy, love, health, peace, harmoney, 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!

Caring is Sharing

Days One Through Three of #InfinitePossibilitiesProject

I was inspired to start the year off with Tut’s Infinite Possibilities Project, a 30 day plan to, as I see it, supercharge the manifestation of my dreams. As my own twist on the project, I’ve decided to share my journal entries periodically. Read: when they reach an appropriate length for a blog post. As today’s activity (which I could have continued forever, and will probably add to as the day goes on) caused me to reach that point, here is my first of, hopefully, many posts on the #InfinitePossibilitiesProject.

Day 1

For Day 1, we were asked to make a list of goals and prioritize it. Here is mine, subject to change and revision as the month unfolds.
January 1, 2016
1. Write regularly
2. Get published
3. Build relationships
4. Improve health practices
5. Be a mentor
6. Expand my business-gain steady clients

Day 2

For Day 2, we were asked to choose a one-word theme and explain what it meant to us. My theme is Expansion. What it means to me is that I will step further outside my comfort zone. I will create more, but also experience more; meet new people, perhaps travel to a place I’ve never been; attend a writers’ conference or two; write for niches I am not yet even considering and get up in front of a large group of people and talk.

Day 3

For Day 3, we were asked to get into the details and create a passionate sense of excitement. Here is where my imagination ran amok, which if you ask me is a very good thing.

January 3, 2015 Emotional details of my theme, Expansion

Sharing in the excitement of the successes of fellow writers and freelancers and having them share in mine.

Meeting with other writers, feeling the creative energy, the flow, the mass intelligence, the sharing of ideas, the criticisms and compliments.

Standing on the porch of my new home watching the waves crash on the shore far below me with one or several of the cats beside me, a fragrant cup of coffee in my hand. I breathe in the scents of ocean and of the trees and bushes growing around the house. Perhaps I wander over to one of the guest cottages to visit a fellow artist and bring them freshly baked muffins to enjoy with their own morning beverage of choice. We share our progress from the previous day, maybe walk around the property enjoying the sounds, the scents, the feel of nature around us.

Watching the numbers for my book sales rising, and feeling that sense of accomplishment even as new ideas are chasing themselves around in my subconscious. Accepting calls, emails and messages of congratulations while encouraging others in the groups I frequent to never give up on pursuing their dreams.

Standing before thousands of people on the TED stage, my talk well rehearsed, yet still glancing at cue cards to stave off my nervousness. When I start to speak, the nervousness falls away, chased off by the passion I feel for my topic and for the people who listen quietly and perhaps, react positively to what I’m saying. Receiving indications, perhaps only small, but no less valuable that my words have touched at least one person in a positive and helpful fashion.

Tucking my shirt into my slacks for the first time in years. Standing up tall and feeling the strength in my arms, shoulders, back and limbs, knowing that the efforts I’ve made to live a healthier life have had amazing results and have created a more youthful feel when everything moves smoothly and without effort or pain.

Going dancing at new and different places with confidence, joy and passion. Meeting new people and learning about their lives (a writer is always on the lookout for new material). Breaking free of old habits and seeing more of the world in general; maybe even traveling out of the country and using that passport!

I write the very last check to pay off the very last debt. My bank account is full and I finally get to write that $10,000 check to Cat House on the Kings. I set up a regular shipment of food or other necessities. I am able to pay cash for anything I want or need, but have learned from being in debt to live more simply. I have the house of my dreams, the ability to share it with friends, fruit trees and vegetable gardens both for my own use and to share with others. I’m providing employment for a dozen or so people and providing benefits and a living wage. Perhaps some live on the property.

I have a gorgeous chef’s kitchen where I may do my own thing or share it with my daughter or friends who love to cook or bake (Bea). I have gatherings frequently where either I or my guests and I make wonderful, tasty messes. And I have someone who cleans up after me.

Setting the Tone for the Month and Year Ahead

With each exercise, I feel my excitement for the year ahead growing even stronger than it was on New Year’s Eve. My passion is building and the possibilities are flowing almost faster than I can get them down. Above all, I want to share this project with anyone else with a mind to kick-start their year and amp up their goals. If you would like to do more than follow my journey, check out Tut’s Love Your Life in 30 Days

If you do decide to join me, I hope you’ll share your progress, not only on the Infinite Possibilities Project Facebook page, but with me in my comments. If you have a blog and choose to share there, please be sure to send me a link so I can follow you too!

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful to be participating in the Infinite Possibilities Project.
2. I am grateful for all of the encouragement and support which has been placed in my path lately.
3. I am grateful for renewed momentum.
4. I am grateful for love, passion and creativity.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, support, encouragement, motivation, inspiration, friends both old and new, peace, philanthropy, harmony, hope 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!

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