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

Posts tagged ‘American Dream’

Healing Our Anger: Hurting Others Isn’t the Solution

An Uncomfortable Walk Down Memory Lane happened to be in the neighborhood, so I took a walk past the house I lived in from the time I was 12 until I was 18, and left to spend most of the year in the college dorms (I actually moved into an apartment when I was 20, but I didn’t consider the house my home after leaving for college, even though most of my stuff was there for a couple more years).

I stood in front of the house, noting how big all the landscaping had gotten. Yucca (one of my mom’s favorites), now towering over the 6-foot walls, and the small patch of grass still ruthlessly manicured around the planter. Through the huge iron gate one of the later owners installed across the archway in the front wall, I allowed memories to flow while noticing changes. The most obvious was a second story added over the master bedroom. The original floor plan had a kind of half second story with a balcony overlooking the family room. In our version, it had 3 bedrooms and a bathroom with on oddly slanted roof which wasn’t good for much, but was a good place for our cats’ sandbox.

Walls and Gates: A Sign of Our Tumultuous Times

That gate made it clear it was no longer my parents’ house, but it also made me sad. The need for such a structure is truly a sign of the times. Friends who live near there report an increasing rash of robberies. People are coming from outside the area to burglarize the homes of people they assume are wealthy.

In truth, some people live in homes that were purchased for 30 or 40 thousand in the late 60’s and early 70’s, but are now valued (at least according to Zillow) from the 900 thousands to over a million. Small wonder those living in apartments and worse consider the residents rich and worth driving for miles to steal from.

It made me sad to realize how many people have become so angry they’re willing to drive for miles and risk arrest to take what they believe they’re entitled to, but can’t see ever having the means to acquire. And it’s not just theft. It’s the words spoken, injuries inflicted, and even murders. For what? The American Dream which has been folded, spindled, and mutilated until only the rare few get to experience it?

What’s Happened to the American Dream?

Or is it simply that we’ve lost sight of what the American Dream really is? It’s not stuff. It’s not where you live. It’s the freedoms we still have and the choices some of us still see we have, while far too many others don’t.

Maybe I’m naive, but I think when people believe they have no way to improve their lives no matter how hard they try, they’re going to get discouraged. When they see their children going without, or even getting shot at in the streets outside their homes, they get angry.

That anger infests their lives, and combines with desperation to create a “nothing-to-lose” attitude. They take risks because they see no other way out of the hell-hole they live in.

Fueled by Anger, Frustration, and Discouragement I took for granted; a nice home, regular meals, new clothes, books, a car to use when I learned to drive; compared to those who are struggling from paycheck to paycheck just to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. I was and still am wealthy beyond anything they know. Kids watch their parents work long hours, never getting ahead. They see the defeat in their eyes. In their position, I suspect I’d get angry too, and feel like I had nothing to lose by taking what I want from those to whom it seems to come easily.

People are acting out their own pain with every act they perform. When it affects someone else personally, their own pain is triggered. It might not be poverty and defeat, but it is their own pain, and can be set off by just about anything because it starts in our minds.

When you add all the hate being spewed on the nightly news, social media, and even social circles, the stew of humanity grows more and more toxic.

When Did We Stop Trying to Get Along?

I talked to an acquaintance this weekend who sought to avoid a mutual acquaintance because of the political views she aired on Facebook. (they ultimately had a very civil conversation, by the way). Is this what we’ve come down to? Hating each other for the views we share?

I got called out recently because I said I was unfollowing people already who were posting political bashes. Someone accused me of dumping friends for small slights. I tried to explain I simply chose to stop seeing their posts on my news feed, but had no intention of removing them from my friends list. My words fell on deaf ears. The man chose to read what he wanted to see. He wanted to be angry with me no matter what. I’m not sure why I tried to reason with him, knowing he’d stopped listening after letting his feelings be known.

Putting Up Walls to Keep Us Safe

In the 1960’s I walked 2 miles across the San Fernando Valley to school alone every morning. It never even occurred to my mom I could be in danger—back then I wasn’t. No one ever approached me on the long walk down city streets. I felt perfectly safe, and actually enjoyed the time alone to think my thoughts and dream my dreams.

In the last 30 years or more, no parent in their right mind would allow their child to walk that far alone. We know it’s not safe; that too many outcasts, weirdos, and just plain angry people prey on other peoples’ children.

The ugly wrought iron gate on my parents’ old house is a sign of the times. People who “have” put up walls, barriers, and fences to keep out those who “have not”, but are willing to risk prison to have some of it. We’re too busy being angry about this cause or that to try to understand why others are angry too.

We’re too angry and misguided by the constant barrage of propaganda to care enough to sit down with each other and try to understand—more, to try to get to the truth buried in the bullshit.

Finding Reasons to Be Grateful In Spite of it All

My gratitudes today are:

  1. I’m grateful for reminders to be more open-minded and compassionate.
  2. I’m grateful for the ability to see how much I have instead of how much I don’t.
  3. I’m grateful for a house with no big, ugly gate.
  4. I’m grateful for the walls I’ve taken down over the last decade or so.
  5. I’m grateful for abundance; love, compassion, fact-checking, opportunities, inspiration, friendship, connection, dancing, joy, peace, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.

Love and Light

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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

August 17, 2015 My Generation Has Failed

Why Have We Not Passed On What We Learned So Painfully?

I could see it in her eyes. This young woman was in pain. Her body was failing to support her and the mountain of responsibilities she heaped upon herself. She pushed herself to inhumane levels, striving to support herself while honoring her passions. Yet her body failed her. Or did she fail her body? Her schedule doesn’t allow for down time or for doing things to honor and protect the vessel which carries her through this lifetime.

Have we taught our children nothing about quality of life? Do they not see that killing ourselves slowly, whether physically, mentally or emotionally is not a life? Yet, what chance do we give them to follow their passion and be independent? A decent apartment in a reasonably safe location can cost upwards of $1500 a month. $100 barely buys a bag of groceries. In most areas, public transportation is inadequate, yet cars, insurance and fuel nearly require a second job.

They’ve grown accustomed to smart phones and computers and internet connections that are available whenever they wish to connect. In fact, in many cases, such “luxuries” are practically essential to their lives and careers.

My generation discovered back problems, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines and ulcers by their late 30’s or early 40’s. This generation is finding them in their 20’s.

Learning to Simplify Before We Can Teach It

I know I’m a crappy example with my single-family dwelling occupied by one woman and her cats. It would require at least one U-Haul truck just to move my books. And do not even think about disconnecting me from the Internet! On the other hand, I haven’t moved in over 30 years so my house payment (including insurance) is less than half of what many pay for a one bedroom apartment nowadays. I also buy my cars new and keep them for at least 10 years. I don’t know too many people who can say the same, so hoarding books is a small offense in comparison, if you ask me.

The Fine Art of Money Management

I tried to teach my daughters to live within their means, but I know my example hasn’t been exactly sterling in that regard. Many of us run up our credit cards, eat out when we should eat in, buy things we don’t need, and the list goes one. We’ve taught our children to be consumers instead of savers, debtors instead of conservationists. Where will it end? Is it any wonder so many are homeless? It takes just one devastating financial setback for someone to lose everything.

Seven years ago, at the height of the real estate boom, a young couple bought the house across the street for nearly half a million dollars; a 4 bedroom, 1200 square foot tract house built in 1961! I bought mine in 1980 for less than 1/5 the price, and my next door neighbors bought theirs new for less than $20,000! Craziness! But the story gets worse. The young man lost his job about 4 years ago and to add insult to injury, they lost the house to foreclosure because, by then, the real estate market had tanked and they were upside down in their loan. A few months later, another young couple bought the house for about half of the previous owners loan amount, and recently sold it again for almost what the previous owners had owed!

Once again, a 4 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath, 1200 square foot house in an older neighborhood in a Southern California suburb is going for close to half a million dollars! The simple American Dream we’re all taught to believe in is making people kill themselves at jobs they hate just to get a place of their own. People today pay more for a car than my parents paid for their first house!

The Moon Gets Further Away Every Year

We teach our kids to reach for the moon; that pie in the sky, yet it keeps getting harder and harder to reach. They’re working two or three jobs just to get by and trying to launch their own business at the same time. Our beautiful, wonderful, talented, intelligent children are burning themselves up by the time they’re 30, yet they make themselves keep going because the dream we’ve instilled in them is still out there somewhere, even if it’s getting harder to see as it disappears into the distance.

I just hope that those same beautiful, wonderful, brilliant minds can find the time and the motivation to put an end to the downward spiral they’ve inherited from us; that they can figure out, before it’s too late that the American Dream we’ve passed onto them is more of a nightmare now. I hope they can re-think that dream and create something both sustainable and fulfilling instead of working at something they hate so they can have all of the stuff they’ve been taught they need to block out the life they hate.

My gratitudes today are:
1. I am grateful that I created a simpler life than many do.
2. I am grateful that most of my needs can be met with a cat’s purr and a book.
3. I am grateful for the children who are already learning to be less the consumer, less the hoarder, and who find happiness with less and allow their true passion to rule.
4. I am grateful for my little forum where I can share concerns, ideas, positive affirmations and, of course, gratitude.
5. I am grateful for abundance: love, life, freedom, happiness, joy, pleasure in the little things, motivation, inspiration, peace, harmony, health, prosperity and philanthropy.

Blessed Be

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